Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Orphan Girl at the Graveyard

"Orphan Girl at the Graveyard"-Eugene Delacroix
"Delacroix is an extremely active artist. When he paint Orphan Girl in the Graveyard, she is not a tearful or passive orphan, but a vibrant young beauty, avid for life, alarmed and alerted by the nearness of death, but slack-mouthed and bare-shouldered as she looks away from the graves toward rescue. HEr eyeballs have the gleam of a frightened horse, but the tenseness of her neck muscles is completely healthy. She is not a victim, despite her label."

I wrote this in my journal this week and wanted to share it:

      Buddy Odom shared this painting and it’s description with me in the earlier days of Advent but she has follow me through the season faithfully. The girl is in a graveyard; a place of death and darkness, of hard memories and a lot of pain. She is alone, not only in the painting but in life. The girl is an orphan; no family, no place to call home. I imagine she is there, crouching down over her parents graves like she has done for days..months..maybe even years feeling the same ache in the depths of her heart that reminds her of a world that is not the way it is meant to be. Her eyes fill with tears for longing...groaning to be made whole again. To be called “daughter” and “loved.” Oh, how I long to meet her. We would have so much to talk about, so much in common. I know how she feels. I know her pain and her hurt and her brokenness. I know the longing for home that goes so deep in your bones that it makes you feel like you weigh a hundred extra pounds. When I first heard the name of this painting, I immediately started weeping because that is exactly how the past few months have left me feeling... Like an “Orphan at the Graveyard.” My heart longs for healing. My soul longs for comfort. I have felt the desperation for Christmas this year more than ever. 
But as the Orphan’s eyes fill with tears, something grabs her attention. Her eyes are full of fear and awe.  She looks up. She lifts her eyes from the hopelessness of the graves towards the “rescue.” It looks, to me, as if she is about to spring up from the ground and sprint towards whatever her gaze is lock on! Whatever it is that lights up her face, she wants, she needs. Oh, sweet Jesus I need you! I need your rescue. You have not left me in a cemetery to weep alone, you have not abandoned me. But you COME, O SAVIOR, you COME! You have come for me! I want to run to you, my Lord. I want to run as fast as I can out of this graveyard and into your embrace that is HOME. I want to hear your tender voice whisper “I love you and I am HERE.” Even as I write this, my heart leaps in excitement! I am not a victim, but a DAUGHTER. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

this Christmas.

"The only worry children have about Christmas is whether or not they can possibly wait for it to arrive.  Perhaps this is because only kids seem to understand the secret of Christmas: It isn’t really about giving; it is about receiving.
     According to the Gospels, the only person giving at Christmas is God. Everyone else is simply receiving this silent, holy miracle that breaks into the night.  Much later a few wise men show up with gifts, but their giving is only as an act of worship in response to what God has given us.
     Christmas is a poignant illustration of a dynamic we live with every day of our lives: we spend most of our lives trying to make things happen for ourselves and for the people we love.  But life is not reduced to what you give or know or achieve.  Nor is it reduced to your mistakes, your failures, or your sin.  Life isn’t even defined by whom you love.  Rather, it is defined by the God who loves you. In other words, you are not he central character—not even of your own life’s story.  This is not meant to demean you; it is meant to set you free."
 (Sacred Thirst by M. Craig Barnes)

Every Christmas since I was a baby was spent at my grandmother's house on my dad's side...and Christmas at my grandmother's house was a BIG deal. My grandmother passed away this summer and there is an estate sale going on at the house that I know to be lit up with Christmas lights and decorations and family this time of year. My mom, unlike my grandmother, has never really been big on Christmas. It usually takes a lot of begging from me for her to even bother with a Christmas tree. But this year we didn't bother. We didn't bother with Christmas lights or decorations. We didn't even bother with Christmas presents. Our family's only Christmas tradition has been to go to the midnight candlelight service at a church down the street from our house, but this year we didn't even do that. I went to church by myself on Christmas Eve. 
All that to say, this Christmas has been different to say the least. But this Christmas has felt more like Christmas than any I have known before. This season of Advent has been a hard one for me. I was READY for Jesus to come. To come and heal my in-pain heart. To come into my lonliness. To come into my broken and oh so dysfunctional family. To come into the relationships I have made messes of (and there is many). To come into my insecurities. Just to come save me!!! I have become aware of my groaning and longing and waiting so much more deeply than ever before. However, along with the groaning and longing and waiting was the excitement and joy of knowing that I was doing it all in expectation of receiving the best gift I could ever ask for, and I almost couldn't wait to open it!!!! It took all that I had to leave the gift unwrapped but it made opening it today sooooo much more than I could have dreamed! Today was not defined by what I got or did or said. It was not even defined by who I did or didn't spend it with. But today was defined by a baby that laid wrapped in dirty cloth in a dirty manger in a dirty stable. Today was defined by the GOD WHO LOVES ME enough to COME. To come after me and to rescue me and to SAVE me! Hallelujah, WHAT A SAVIOR! 
Merriest of Christmases to you, my people! 
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