Saturday, March 21, 2009

Heart Ponderings

Every Christmas morning, my family gathers and listens to the story of Christ's birth read from the Bible. And while I have grown to take this seriously and am learning to reflect on the significance of such a passage, there is a verse that over the past couple of years has really stuck out to me. It reads:

...But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart...

Luke 2:19

I'm not an expert on scripture and I cannot say for certain what is happening here, but I'm drawn to the response of Mary. I imagine this was probably a pretty crazy time for Mary. She has recently given birth to a beautiful boy who is not only her son, but also the Messiah. That's not exactly an everyday occurrence. She is surrounded by new people-shepherds who have traveled to witness that which the angels had told them, wise men, etc. Things are turning out much differently from what she had probably grown up expecting. I can't help but wonder what Mary was thinking. Maybe she was tired and wanted some peace and quiet. Maybe she loved the excitement. Maybe she questioned her calling or her ability to fulfill her role in all that was yet to come. Maybe she was feeling a million things that words could not describe. And so, we read that she "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." I think I like that.

I often find myself feeling a mixture of things that sometimes only tears, or laughter, or silence can come close to expressing. For as big as language is, it fails me quite often.

It is safe to say, my heart has done a lot of pondering lately. Last Tuesday, Katie and I visited the prayer chapel at the Grotto in Portland. As we sat in the glass chapel that overlooked hills, and houses, and highways, my thoughts tried to find a way to articulate the ponderings of my heart. The best I could come up with was, "I wish life was different." Not exactly the most articulate way of expressing all I was feeling but at the time, it was the best I could do.

But oh how I do wish life was different. Some days I can float through life and not think too much about it. Yet other times, I am burdened by the weight of it all. How my heart aches for a life-for a world, that is different from this one. A life lacking loneliness, uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. A world void of depression and alcoholism, starvation, materialism, disease, and apathy. A place where children grow in the warmth and stability of loving families and we forget the meaning of the word orphan. A world where hope, and faith, and love prevail. Always.

Such things are not a constant reality, but for the time being, I believe we are called to embody them (faith, hope, and love) in efforts to make them a reality. That's hard sometimes.

Russia is coming. Or rather, in a few short months, I will be coming to Russia. I think I am currently experiencing what one could call, selective denial. I know it's coming. Some days I just wish my departure was here already. And other those I've been experiencing lately... the thought of leaving brings me to tears or makes me want to head straight for my bed.

I'm scared.

In a million ways I wish someone would come with me. I want someone to hold my hand, tell me they understand what I'm feeling and tell me they feel the same things. But at the same time, I know this journey wouldn't be all that it will be if I had that. I need to let go. I need to step out. I need to let change, and independence, and trust, seep into who I am and transform me. I need to have faith that God has the power to do great things in and through me. And I believe he will. However, in the meantime, my emotions continue to ride the roller coaster. And as much as I'd like someone to walk beside me, for the moment, I'm walking this path alone. I think that's okay. I'm clinging to the fact that in all the ponderings of my heart, there is One who doesn't need words to understand what I feel.
Thank God for that.


katie said...

Words fail, yes. But I hope you know that prayer does not. And I am praying for you today. I love you, Elizabeth.

Mom said...

If only you knew how often I struggle to find the words to explain what I'm feeling as I look toward the future, your future. I am so grateful that God knows because no one...and I mean no one...knows what is going on inside of me. So often, I disolve into a puddle of tears as I'm driving home from work, or sitting by myself at night. No words to explain what is welling up inside of me. No words to express the pain and the joy that I'm feeling. No words. So,even though it has taken me a lot of words to say this, I do understand. And I wish I could be the one to walk beside you on this journey. But I am trusting you to someone more capable than me. I love you.