Hello Friend

 Hello friend. Let's gather here at the ends of the waves, cords and fibers that allow us to commune at a distance. I give thanks for our trusty computer and smartphone screens, yet acknowledge the allurements woven throughout our internet world, rife with booby traps that only the present of mind may navigate with restraint and one-pointed focus. Why yes, facebook, I will click on that ad for the exact thing I was searching for on amazon yesterday...you know me uncomfortably well, facebook.  

    I wanted to talk about unconditional love. Not because I feel other people should have it for me or each other, but because I remember what it is like to feel it, and want to feel it again. Sometimes I float through my days without once thinking of God or grace or the love that I have felt in my earnest seeking. And sometimes I give myself that moment of solitude in which God can reach my heart and coax me into surrender and the puddle of tears that love summons. It is a gift I give myself, this willingness to seek God.  

    And I'm not writing this because I feel I have something to teach or preach, I'm writing because not writing would feel like a withholding of something valuable from myself and you, my brother, my sister. I feel sadness when someone shrinks away from my use of the name God...I grieve the the unfortunate deeds of the ones who have misused the word to suit their purposes, and ones they have influenced to propagate a false idea of who and what God is. I may also be among their ranks, feeling at one time so adamant that the path I trod to reach God was one that all must walk in order to know real and true love.   

    For this I feel regret. If you are in my life and I have ever hurt you because I have wanted you to see it my way, thought that I could save you, change you, fix you - I was wrong and I am sorry. I can't promise that I won't make the same mistake again, but I am willing to correct myself if and when it happens.   

    So yes, unconditional love. Patience is a quality of that love. Kindness. Sincerity. Humility. Empathy. Last Sunday as my little red Mazda worked its way north and east from Kansas along the straight and winding Missouri and Iowa farmland roads, I had an encounter with God. 

    It had been a sometimes solitary, sometimes busy, sometimes delightful, sometimes disappointing trip. Among my experiences in Kansas City were the blessings that have now become a normal part of my daily life. I was given a window into the rich and vibrant quilting community, full of new friends and warm-hearted people. My host family received me with generosity and provided for all of my needs without question and without my having to ask. And upon my return, the companions who supported me while I was away welcomed me home with hugs. If friendship and kindness are water, then my cup is full and overflowing. And if God is the fountain, I will never be thirsty again. 

    I made the journey south to sell exquisite, meticulously-made thimbles at two quilt shows over the span of one and a half weeks. I've recently been hired as the studio assistant to Tommie Lane, a master silversmith who has specialized in sterling silver thimbles and quilting tools for the last fifty years. An aspect of her thriving business is to travel to quilting shows all over the country to sells these ingeniously designed, beautiful and functional items. As a last-minute favor to Jan, Tommie's licensed seller and former apprentice, I agreed to travel, alone, to my first ever quilting shows and had my first peek into a world that is as diverse and fascinating as any other microcosm of our awesome universe.  

    Homesick, enriched, tired, and contented after ten days of exploring a new city and learning a new business, I began my drive back to Fairfield - back to the dusty gravel driveway of where I live, back to the rolling hills populated by precious few trees and abundant prairie grasses that grow taller by the day in the high sun of late June. 

    I like to sing when I drive. I enjoy taking long road trips alone simply because I can sing with full passion, full abandon and at full volume with no concern that anyone will be disturbed and no worries if my pitch is not perfect or if my voice may crack. I've collected a library of instrumental tracks to popular songs in my vocal range - some songs I am still learning, some are so chiseled into my memory that years may pass without hearing, yet I will remember the tune word for word, each vocal nuance and inflection in tact. Like lovers' carved initials into a tree, these songs are carved into my soul.  

    I don't remember which song touched me, or what sparked my desire to lower the stereo volume and just drive, but for a precious moment I allowed myself to notice the bump and bounce of road beneath my tires and feel my feelings. I felt my innocence, my earnestness, my strong desire to feel loved. I melted in that moment and let God's love enter me. I cried until I could take no more and corked the bottle of my soul into which the golden substance of love and nourishment flowed - a bottle that is infinite in it's depth, yet not able to be filled unless a bit of what is not love is poured out to make room. In my case, painful memories stubbornly hide in the shadows just below my awareness. God's light illuminates these dark corners, exposing my shame, guilt, disappointment, and sadness. Oh how sad it is to understand how I have been afraid to embrace the beauty of my soul and the beauty of love.  

    This sadness is truthful and pure, messy, painful and heartbreaking. And at the end, when my tears have dried, I am restored. Doubt and insecurity are replaced with strength and an unwavering faith that I am the child of a loving, merciful and benevolent God.  

So that is all, friends. Just a brief glimpse into my soul and the beauty of the love that God has placed there. How good it is. <3

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