After the barn, I needed to be still in my soul and checking my email tends to stir things up on the inside for me. So I’ve avoided it and I’m trusting there are no emergencies in my inbox.
The real emergencies never show up that way anyway.
On Friday I wrote a post called This Might Not Work where I shared with you how excitement and risk were doing their work within me on the eve of doing something I’ve never done before. Today I want to offer you some initial reflections from the Barn, but remember I’m a slow processor so there may be more coming in a later post. You’ve been warned.
“One who really wishes to know oneself has to be a restless, fanatical collector of disappointments.”
Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon
I haven’t read this novel, but I have been thinking for the past week or so about this line I saw quoted from it. I can’t get it out of my mind because I think I completely agree with it.
When I wrote A Million Little Ways it was an attempt to remind myself and hopefully the reader how we have been created in the spectacular image of God, how Christ lives within us, and how he wants to come out through the unique filter of our personality. When we move toward what makes us come alive, when we dare to be who we really are (not who we wish we were instead), art comes out.
I set out to somehow poke-awake the sleeping soul and I know, at least for some, that is what has happened.
When my family and I sat together in my sister’s living room last May and talked about hosting a small gathering around the subject of my book, I told them I wanted it to simply feel like a living, breathing chapter one.
I knew better than to expect one afternoon event could cover all I wished to talk about, but I hoped it would at least be another layer of inspiration for those who came – to stir up questions, longing, and life.
As I sat in front of the 80 gathered in that small barn, I watched as desire welled up from the depths, watched and listened as the image bearers brought glory to God simply by being themselves.
But I also saw furrowed brows and tears and heartache because when desire is touched, it releases longing as well as something else.
The reason this quote from Mercier comes back to me this morning is because whenever you open yourself up to desire, you must also realize you are now vulnerable to deep disappointment.
Our deepest desires often hold hands with our most profound disappointments. And this can be terrifying.
Which is perhaps why a lot of people choose to avoid desire in the first place.
It takes courage to honestly consider desire in the presence of Jesus. Am I brave enough to acknowledge what I most long for? Am I willing to expose my desires in the light of the love of God? As we begin to uncover the desires we may be reluctant to face, remember the Gospel makes it possible for us to confront whatever we see.
There are many things I’m thankful for in regards to The Barn on Saturday, the first among them being the fact that people came. Kind, gracious, artists came – from close to home (Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem) as well as from far away (Colorado, Texas, New York). I still can’t believe they came. They came!
And I tear up thinking about what a privilege and honor it was to sit among those who showed up, to serve with my family, to stand with my husband all day long.
So many made the day possible – my sister, my parents, friends, volunteers – and I will share them with you in my next barn post, complete with the most beautiful photos from the day, captured so generously by Mary Anne Morgan (I seriously can’t wait to show you her photos – here’s one:)
But for now, I simply leave you with this small, partial thought on what is happening within me and within John as a result of our time at The Barn:
We are building our lives at the intersection of desire and disappointment. We are setting up camp here on the corner, waking up to our own deepest longings as well as our most profound fears. The life of Christ was one of divine courage as well as undeniable weakness. It’s true, He experienced victory over death, but first he had to die alone, enduring the most profound disappointment the earth has ever seen.
As we celebrate our smallness in the presence of Christ, we realize together there is no place else for us to go. And so we simply stay here on the corner, awake to desire as well as fear, inviting others to join us here. At the Barn, they did just that.