Because you once traversed

Trees line the road to Domremy, France, the village where Joan of Arc lived.
I traveled that road once and now it belongs to me. April, 2007.

“These trees are yours because you once looked at them.
These streets are yours because you once traversed them…
You once spoke to Him, and then God became yours.
He sits with us in darkness now…”Kamand Kojouri

We talked here recently about how, in a sense, experiences in our past belong to us for always. What happens does not un-happen simply because of loss and change. Albert Einstein is widely quoted as saying “the dividing line between past, present, and future is an illusion.” Whether or not the quote is an accurate repetition of his words, his work seems to point to that conclusion.

This idea becomes sharply relevant to those of us who have endured great deprivation. It’s one reason why people blessed with long years of life will often seem, to younger generations, to live mostly in the past. When the entire landscape of one’s life is swept away as if in a natural disaster, the foundation established in earlier years becomes terra firma to unsteady feet and a disoriented mind.

Likewise, as Kojouri points out, the foundation of faith remains with us even when all contact with God seems to go silent. Many of us have had the startling experience of emerging from a period of long, lonely darkness and finding God still there, bringing the absolute conviction that we were never alone even when we felt ourselves most deserted.

Truly God sits with us in the darkness, knowing that dazzling benevolent light will eventually return to bless our silent waiting with reassurance and rebirth. I believe this because it has happened before in my life. I trust it will happen again, for me and for whomever sits in the shadows alongside me. Together we trust, and hope, and wait.

32 Comments

  1. Paula Escobell

    Amen, Julia. Thanks for the relevant reminder!
    Paula

    • You’re welcome, Paula. I’m so happy you are here!

  2. MaryAnn Clontz

    Julia, I’m praising our Lord as I read your heartfelt CHOICE to “trust, and hope, and wait.” How beautiful to share with us on your journey! I love you more & more! Your light in the darkness is bright to your readers. I keep you & Matt in prayer & deep in my heart!

    • Mary Ann, you have such a gift for encouragement. You too are in our hearts and prayers, and there are no words for the gratitude I feel when I think of your friendship. Love you!

  3. Julia, I pray you find that blessed light in your life soon. I keep you and Matt in my heart and prayers. Love and Light! Cherie 🌟💖🌟

    • Thank you, Cherie! Your love and light reach us from far away, and it means so much.

  4. Jack

    I believe I could send a long and boring list of all the hardships I think I’m enduring, but all that would do is reaffirm the certainty of my “glass half empty” mindset. I am loved and cared for by a God who sees through the lens of abundance, even when all I see is emptiness.

    When my spiritual ticker is working correctly, I look back on my 59.5 years of living and see that my greatest gifts were God’s love expressed counterintuitively: addiction, selfishness, a tendency toward shortcuts, all of which were designed to drive me to Him. I came running 15 years or so ago, out of answers, sanity on the precipice. I came to God to get answers, but what I got instead was God, and an ever increasing desire to know Him better. If I’d have known that when I came, I think I probably would have stayed away.

    • WOW Jack, does this ever hit home! I can totally identify with what you say here (aside from the addiction, although I am addicted in my own way to non-substance reassurances of one sort or another). I told my older son awhile back that I know now why so many of the saints were, at least for a time, hermits who lived in chosen or forced isolation. When all is stripped away and we have only God, we get to know God far better than we might if we were somehow able to maintain the illusion of control or even efficacy in our own lives, or in our loved ones’ lives. As Anne Lamott has written, “God is not a short-order cook” though so many of us fall into the trap of trying to send back the food that arrives at our table, complaining “this is not what I ordered!” 😀 Thanks for your presence here and your thoughtful observations.

  5. Jack

    My favorite Anne Lamott quote, ” by the end I was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards.” She’s a brilliant speaker and author and example of humble sobriety in my view

    • Jack, that’s the trademark self-deprecating humor that has made Lamott so beloved to readers. I had the opportunity to see and hear her in person in Atlanta a few years back. The biggest surprise to me was how beautiful she was. She tends (intentionally, I now think) to publish not-particularly-flattering photographs of herself in black and white, that do not capture her glowing presence. I do not agree with everything she writes, as she tends to be far left of me on the political spectrum, but I agree that she’s a dynamic communicator who has many important and delightful things to say. Probably my favorite Lamott quote is “You can safely conclude you’ve created God in y our own image when it turns out that he hates all the same people you do.” 😀

  6. Amen, Julia. It is an honor to sit by you and God.
    -Alan

    • Thank you, Alan. I’m so happy you are here!

  7. Harry Sims

    Some of the most sordid and unhappy stories of all time are heard in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

    “We will not regret the past to shut the door on it.” —One of the promises of AA, Published the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

    We’d like to bury them deep inside but tell them we must get if we want to be healed.

    Harry

    • Harry, thanks for being so candid to share your AA observations with us. The thing that amazes me is how many sordid and unhappy stories there are in every corner of human existence. I think we (we meaning humanity) spend huge amounts of time and money trying to escape or cover over our transgressions and wounds. But when we hide even seemingly small malignancies, they fester and grow. You are right to point out that healing requires coming clean. I think AA offers much food for thought for everyone, whether or not substance abuse is involved.

  8. Michael

    Reminds me of john, prologue 1:4 , “A light was in the darkness and evil could not extinguish it.”

    • Mike, that’s one of my favorite verses, and the various translations (some say “evil could not comprehend it”) all have a haunting significance as a prelude to the amazing story that follows. One of the all time great introductions of a book, for sure!

  9. Michael

    “God is not a short order cook? I don’t know those folks at Waffle house work very hard.

    • I think Lamott means that you can’t just dictate an order to God and expect him to deliver what you ordered, as they do at Waffle House and other places.

      And yes, they work very hard at Waffle House. Once when we were there with Grady and he left a mess of the kind that can only be created by a toddler, I could not leave that table without cleaning up everything on and under it (it looked as if several egg biscuits had exploded leaving crumbs everywhere). I didn’t mind doing it because I knew the staff had plenty to do, and at the rate they are paid, some things are too much to expect of them. Why add an unnecessary burden to what is already a tough job?

  10. Good morning, Julia!
    And how can we say “good morning” as we sit in the dark of night?
    Two things, as you and Kojoury note, (and I paraphrase):
    1. We still have the mornings past, shining even brighter in our memory, by comparison
    2. God is right there, in our dark. Reach out and touch Him, for in Him there is “no darkness at all” and “even the night (darkness) is as day to Him.” We are so close to the One True Light, Who will go through any darkness to reach us!
    Thank you for testifying to the Light!
    Love to you!

    • Good afternoon, Susan! It’s bright outside right now, but I agree with you that we can say good morning or even good afternoon whether it’s bright or gloomy or dark. Thanks for reminding me of those favorite quotes from the Bible. And thanks for believing with me! It helps more than you know. ❤

      • Sending big cyber hugs!

        • Thank you, Susan. I just love those cyber hugs. 🙂 Received and returned!

  11. Sheila

    Julia, I’m so weary from such a long week of evacuating, a stressful drive back from Winston Salem, and just being out of sequence in general. Garden City is much better off than so many areas close by. Flooded conditions will only get worse as rivers crest next week, including Ashley’s residence on the Waccamaw River in Conway. My devotional today was about “trials and hope”. They really do go hand in hand! Sorry for my absence this week, but just didn’t know if I’d even make any sense. Always hopeful though…..Love y’all, Sheila ♥️🙏🏻🇺🇸

    • Sheila, you have been on my mind so often since the storm began. I went online and found where someone had posted videos from Murrell’s Inlet, just driving through neighborhoods showing footage. The person was saying how grateful and surprised they were that it was not worse. But I know just the evacuation and disruption to daily life is terrible to deal with, and of course all the newscasters say that the worst is not over. I’m so sorry to hear that Ashley’s residence is in jeopardy. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. Don’t worry about not being here; I understand completely and I was able to keep up with “your neck of the woods” through the wonders of online communication. Hang in there my friend. I’m sending you a virtual cup of your favorite coffee beverage (because you need the extra caffeine 😀 ) complete with whipped cream and a big cherry on top. Let’s put that retractable awning out over the Virtual Verandah and grab a few minutes of respite. Sending Love and Hope! ❤

  12. Mike

    Thanks for the reminder on Lamott. Just checked out her e-book on “Mercy.”-“Hallelujah Anyway.” In it she mentions the Candi Stanton song of the same name. I was not familiar with this song and I have listened once. Kind of up beat-hip hop. Not sure?
    Did I mention my son Kris has had his wallet stolen twice inthe last month in NYC? Second time was walking home from the Costco with a load of groceries. According to the store managers- there is a professional ring of pick-pockets who hang out around the Costco exit in E. Harlem. I really wish Kris and family could move out of there,but he loves NYC. Right now I really don’t.

    • Mike, I got a copy of that book, but haven’t read it yet. Speaking of Candi Stanton, did you know that her career was one of many that were launched by Rick Hall at Fame Studios? She was married to Clarence Carter, who introduced her to Rick. BTW I still have not forgotten my promise to send you a copy of the movie Muscle Shoals, I just never did get around to it. Maybe I’ll send it for Christmas. 😀 Recently when I was visiting my sister, we went out to eat at a restaurant near the modest but historic building known as Fame Studios. It was sad to drive by and know Rick was not there anymore, but his legacy lives on.

      No, you had not told me about Kris having his wallet stolen twice. Pickpockets can be amazingly good at what they do, as I found out in Barcelona. I can sort of understand how he feels about loving NYC in spite of it. In 1974, I visited a friend who was doing social work in what was then a very dangerous neighborhood, East New York, Brooklyn. I took only $40 with me, all of which was stolen (from her apartment, while we were out — thank goodness I was not mugged) and I had to borrow money for the subway to get back to LaGuardia. But I still loved New York, still do and probably always will. Not sure I would EVER want to live there, though. It definitely has its drawbacks.

  13. Mike

    That movie may be on Netflix. I had never heard of Candi Stanton and the Fame studio is in North Georgia? He was your uncle right? Did I mention I went to Dahlonega last week? Did a little panning and got a couple of flakes. Took about 20 minutes but they showed me how to do it correctly at the Crisson mine. Very quaint town with lots of neat little shops ,but I did not get to the Gold museum- so maybe next time.
    Anne Lamott is a little iffy at times. For example I would not use the term(WTF) in the Lord’s presence. And as I have kidded youi before any caucasian lady with dreads is suspect. If you want to see some other dreads on a Caucasian impostor who also claims to be black watch Rachel Dolezal’s documentary on Netflix. She is from Washington state and near Seattle- a very talented lady who has some issues. Her parents outed her as actually being white while she was president of the NAACP in Spokane =Wash. She taught African studies at Spokance community college and was- after the outing -fired. I feel bad for her parents from whom she is alienated as are her three-or four mixed race kids. She is also very intelligent and I think she is articulate and did a lot for the African American community in Spokane, where now she is kind of a Pariah. She totally baffles me. She claims to have a black father and has pictures of him in her home.
    Also did youi know according to Judah Freidlander – Washington State is the lamest state in the nation as it is the only state that you have to put the word state after it’s title. Also I grew up there in Vaancouver and you had to say Vancouver -(USA) as opposed to Vancouver, Canada- about 125 miles north. Beautiful city.

    • Mike, FAME Studios is in Muscle Shoals, AL. I think the FAME stood for “Florence area music enterprises.” Rick was my mother’s second cousin. I have vague memories of going to Dahlonega with my school class when I was young. Not all of us got to pan for gold, only a lucky few they chose to demonstrate the process for us. They probably explained to you that the gold on the Georgia capitol dome was all mined at Dahlonega, at least the original gold. Not sure whether it has been redone since the beginning.

      I saw a film where Anne Lamott was explaining how she ended up with dreads. She has super frizzy hair (as I did when I was younger, and still do to some extent) and she got tired of looking for ways to style it. As I recall, she said that black hairdresser who looked at her hair said that her hair (unlike most white women’s) would actually be suited to the style, and the rest is history. It has become a trademark of sorts for her. I agree with you about the profanity. I don’t like it because I think it takes away from her message. It’s a distraction even if one doesn’t object to it on other grounds, which I do.

      I had heard a bit about the woman in Washington who was passing herself off as black. I suppose some would argue that if she identifies as black, the genetics don’t matter, much as they say chromosomes don’t matter with gender identity, but I can see where it might anger some African Americans to have a white woman running the NAACP. Did you read about the young man who calls himself trans-racial? He self-identifies as a filipino man even though he has not one iota of that ethnicity in him. I guess it was only a matter of time before this sort of thing happened. I will refrain from commenting about the transabled community; as of now, it’s still considered a disorder to want to blind or maim oneself, but who knows whether that will soon be officially deemed just another viable choice?

      I agree with you about Vancouver. It’s lovely, as I think the whole Pacific Northwest is. I guess all that rain makes for a beautiful landscape.

  14. Mike

    Have you heard of Lee Atherton from Canton who has the Little white church recording studion in Canton? He was a pioneer in gospel music in N. Georgia and also sang with the “Miracle Men?” Also had a home course by mail for gospel piano that was very popular. There is a monument to him at Heritage part in CAnton.

    • No, I have never heard of him. You probably know more Georgia history by now than I do. I will have to get around to visiting Canton some day.

  15. Mike

    That is a new term for me -transabled?

    • I think it’s kind of a new term for everyone, just like many other current sociological categories. As I understand it, a transabled person is one who feels as if he/she should have been disabled (it varies from person to person, but the “desired” disability can include blindness, loss of a limb, etc.) and actively seeks, with physician assistance in some cases, to become disabled. I find it horrifying since I have lived with the challenges faced by loved ones of a person with disabilities, as well as the heartaches and rewards. Yes, there are many who live full and important lives with disabilities, but I doubt that any of them would have chosen to create the disability in an otherwise able body. The idea of mutilating oneself in any way, even for cosmetic purposes, has always been distasteful to me. To me, it seems to indicate deep self-loathing which is really sad.

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