The barrens

Yes, I have been barren.
In many senses of that word.
                depleted…parched…unbearing…fallow…wasted and….empty.
Have we all somehow, somewhere, endured some reaching, grasping, please-let-it-stop-God-just-let-me-see-You barren moment of time?
                                                                                        (He gives the barren woman a home… Ps113)
of time.
of hope.
of children.
of salvation.
of happiness.
                         of Joy.
of peace.
of safety.
of meaning.
                        of Faith.
of guidance.
of direction.
of calling.
of rest.
of believing.
……………………………….. of Love?
                                                 (The Lord is gracious and merciful… abounding in steadfast love…. Ps145)
Barren moments that stole my fragile breath, my living air.
heaving for absent light.
Creeping threads of night that shear a heart and soul stretched thin and wide and unveiled.
naked to every worldly, fleshly thing that can steal life and
whittle away
a minute
a day
a week
…a life.
…. the things that fill lungs and mind and heart with loss and disappointment and abandonment and betrayal and
::::: everything that the Lord does not and will not author unless He weaves it together for our good and His glory…
                                       (He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted… Is 61)
                                 The moments that can take you somewhere you do not want to be:
When you are nine.
You wanna take a walk down to the park?
Leave your bed.
We just had lunch.
Thanks for our favorite ice cream bon-bons.
I don’t want to watch tennis with you… I think we should pick some peonies.
Thank you for the hug. I love you, too.
      Leave your glass right there. Please. Please?
Raise the shade.
It’s sunny.
Barren.                                     Yet He saw me.
When you are ten.
Door closed.
In a yellow and blue flowered room, surveying a ten year old self in the mirror,
alone, fingers-in-ears singing,
trying not to internalize,
the sounds, the shrill, the banging of the family tree being sawed off at the rotting trunk,
bleeding the sap of broken lives.
Barren.                                        Yet He did not abandon me.
Same room.
Same mirror.
Different girl.
I know I left that house.
For good.
I just don’t remember it.
That moment.
That day.
Even now.
That moment without a memory.
Barren.                                               Yet He held my hand.
Walking down the crooked path,
Leaving the Lord behind me… oh, but I knew He was there…
boyfriend… that was not my husband…
bible tucked in my flowered bag cinched up tight on the dusty dorm shelf,
no worship,
bed before marriage,
those idols.
                                      (The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, He saved me… Ps116)
                                                       Yet He kept calling to me.
After the first bliss of sheer joy,
On the floor, writhing,
with the glimpse of knowing
that my womb would continue its swell without the thrumming of life,
Barren.                                                         Yet He healed me.
Scalpels and “we’ll take good care of you, I’m so sorry” under glaring white lights.
Medical mumbo-jumbo in stark paper piles of reports that say words “fetal tissue” and “cutterage”
                while I howl the only word “baby” deep inside
until the word rips through my lips
and l lay lost in my husband’s arms devoided
of the life I loved already.                                                      (My hope is in You… Ps38)
Can’t see.
This month.
Barren.                                                         Yet He gave us children.
33 and 8 years married.
Yoked unevenly, bound to him, he to me
with all of our family suitcases,
baggage stuffed full,
busting open with nowhere to hide the unbelief,
the ill-preparedness,
the blackness,
the pushing away of the Truth,
in some secret corner, out of the way,
where we won’t look,
where we won’t see what is happening when we only trust ourselves…
binding us,
spilling out into our marriage bed,
with Temptation and Distrust and Hurt and Accusation and Guilt…
all of them.
nestled comfortably between us.
sleeping contentedly.
(Your adversary… prowls like a roaring lion… resist… firm in your faith… 1Pet5)
The gut-wrenching wailing of sin
when I say it is all over
when he says it is all over
and I leave him there in our mess and go back
600 miles away
running to a place I cannot remember anyway.
Barren.                                                           Yet He redeemed my marriage.
When those early morning calls come from your family in a span of only one year
and you start to dread the ring before 6am
and you look at one another searching each other’s eyes without searching for the phone
and the voice says:
:he drowned last night; your brother was there,too; his lungs are full of water too and he can’t talk to you right now;
:he has cancer, there’s a tumor, they are running more tests; I’ll call when I have more to tell you;
:there was an accident and they couldn’t do anything; he was just running to the store and the other person ran the light;
:his house just burnt down after he just lost his son, can you come?
Barren.                                                             Yet He used us for others, as He comforted us.
Driving in the early morning, it struck me as I passed many of the Blueberry Barrens on my way…. acres and acres of plants and rocks and hills boasting some of the finest blueberry harvesting in the country.
There is nothing barren here.
My car slows to pause on the tallest hill, barrens on one side, barrens on the other.
The fog is rising in shadowy, misty white columns from the earth revealing the lay of the land beneath:
Gorgeous. It overtakes me.
Lord, I need to stop and watch.
Your earth is glorious when it is praising You…
These barrens:
The leaves heavy on the blueberry bushes: they are crimson red in the late Autumn sunrise,
More beautiful to me now then when they are blue with fruit in August…
stretching across miles of rolling soil, made perfect for bountiful crops to spring forth.
The sun pours down on the tiny leaves,
Rain soaks the sandy soil to strengthen the roots.
Shoots emerge bearing clean, white flowers,
clean, washed and white…
there they are after an arduous Winter…
dripping off the branch…
the Branch…
The flowers, nurtured, pollinated, fed,
Surrender themselves to the fruit…
The fruit,
That can only come,
After the Winter,
After the nurture,
After the thirst for the Water,
The growing.
If that is what happens in the barrens….
If this is what happens in the barrens…
I… am humbled.
I am nothing…
Nothing but
as I’ve walked the barrens.
But for you, who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.  ~Malachi 4:2
Praying for you, for me, today, that we all bring Him glory with our fruit. 
That we continue to seek His strength and not our own, that we praise Him in every storm, that we ask Him when we don’t understand….
that we know, that we KNOW in the deepest parts of ourselves that He loves us, He does not accuse us, but rescues us and weaves our stories of life together to bring Him glory. That’s what it’s all about… bringing Him glory. Praise God.

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