Friday, January 11, 2013

Goggle Vision

The year started at the bottom of the world, watching in wonder in the very place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans collide. The splash on the surface was nothing compared to the currents dancing down deep. But I could only imagine that part – I couldn’t reach it, measure it, or ever know it.

Cape of Good Hope - Photo by Carly B 
Then I climbed over boulders, took off my sandals, and wiggled my way up close to the Creator’s tides. I put on goggles, paused my lungs and plunged my body below.

It was alive down there!
A whole other realm – living, breathing, beauty unfathomable in the exact places that looked like a dark and scary abyss from above. I couldn’t breathe down there, but there was life. 
Beautiful, better-than-I-could-imagine life.

Life that made me giggle and glow.
Life that enamored me with childlike mystery.
Life I didn’t need to understand or have any kind of control over.
Life that God didn’t have to make in neon colors and that He didn’t have to texturize with His own thumbprints.

The year started with goggles on and with a psalm about the Deep.
Here’s part of my New Year psalm, inspired by Life under the surface and in those places I can’t breathe.

Stories and hardships swirl, but your tide comes in every morning.
Your deep-song comes in for my deepest cries.

And it washes. And it cleans. And it makes new.

The stories aren’t lost out there. They won’t drown.  We won’t be swept away.

Oceans are touching seamlessly, creating beauty in the collision of their currents.
What does it look like when you touch me? And when heaven touches earth?
It might not be a beautiful collision, but it’s my air. I need you and that touch and that current-crash.

Because I could get lost in stories swirling and lunging at promises, but You won’t let me.
Take this life, and make it holy.
Make it a banner for the deep.
For the justice in the Deep.
For the hope in the Deep.
For seeing with new eyes – for things existing in the Deep that can’t exist outside of it.

The promises are like the things in the deep.
2013 is like the things in the deep.
I can’t breathe in there. But I breathe You.

I scribbled that psalm with an ocean view. With goggle-vision.

I came back chanting and cheering for goggle-vision in 2013, for diving to the depths and seeing with Justice-vision, Glory-vision, in the new year. I came back restored, refreshed and ready to go with God where God said to go.

I came back in the high tide of reality – where new beginnings start in recovery mode from the devastation December leaves behind in rural South Africa.  

I wasn’t alone, and I am thankful for that. Because it’s not easy to switch from January 1st goggle-vision to actually going to the places of the Deep for the other 364 days.

Given - Photo by Carly B
We came back to a hospital ward full of wailing babies with unchanged bandages. Tears filled eyes that didn’t deem them worthy of falling. Apathy proliferating and hopelessness permeating.

We drove through a dark community after leaving screaming hospital babies. We found Nandi hiding, dirty, weeping and refusing to go home. And her mother walking away, unmoved by the display.

We spent a late night with that 11-year old in a police station, listening to police tell us Nandi’s just “mentally off”, trying to convince me to take her off their hands, to drop her off at the hospital for the next speed bump in the system.

We spent an early morning at social services, fighting for justice with placating smiles on our faces while the 11-year old child of the streets clung to my knees and sucked her thumb.

Charity - Photo by Carly B
We went to the first day of school with some of our most precious little ones, speaking about hope for tomorrow - and for some sort of surrogate celebration for Lifa’s first day of school four hours away.

We hugged Neli for making it back to school, and she told us her dream come true was slightly tinged with worry because her 3-year old sister was locked in her house with no childcare.

And that was all within 12 hours.

In those 12 hours, I forgot the words and the rhythm of the psalm. Even as I reread it now, I can’t remember what it felt like to write with the ocean-song in the background. The goggles are stored out of reach, and goggle-vision feels further than that.

I feel bags under my eyes, dirt under my fingernails, bug bites everywhere, and a deep, deep hurt for hospital babies, social services babies, and one little baby boy who didn’t start school at my house.

It hurts so deep I can’t really feel it.

But I think I’ve written something before about a Deep I couldn’t reach or know.

Eleven days into the new year, and I’m having trouble breathing.

The promises are like the things in the deep.
2013 is like the things in the deep.
I can’t breathe in there. But I breathe You.

HE promised.

“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:19

I can’t breathe in the middle of the circumstances surrounding me.
But maybe, maaaayyybeeee, I can remember how to climb over those boulders, take off my sandals, wiggle up close to my Creator.

In 2013, can I exchange these eyes on the world for the eyes that see the Deep? Can I pause the lungs that grasp to get it, and can I plunge my heart, soul, hands and feet into the Deep and let Him get it?

Not by myself.

Photo by Carly B's arm
Carly B did it with me this week. And I choked and stuttered and gasped for air.

But, together, we remember the giggling, glowing, enamoring Life under the deep – the place we couldn’t understand or control. The place we could only see and be amazed.

I don’t know what this year is going to look like, but I think we’re going to deeper places. And I’m asking you to come – to at least believe with me that there is living, breathing, beauty unfathomable in the places that look like a dark and scary abyss.

Can we do this together?
And believe there’s abundant life when we plunge into the places where it feels like we can’t breathe…

Tommy and Goggles - Photo by Carly B

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