A crazy quilt

Appreciating the handiwork of colorful stitching

I think the last time we talked I was wandering through the desert. Does that sound right? Well, I think I’m still a’ wandering. It’s been hot, sticky and overwhelming at times. The dry wind has blown swiftly through my crazy weird hair, and not in that model-esque sort of way, but in the way that leaves most of it either up in the air or in your mouth. And, on some long days, I have acquiesced to staying put for the night, unable to look much farther than a few inches in front of me. While those more extreme days have been few, they’ve been felt.

And though those days have been felt, I have woken up from them with a renewed sense. I’ve been able to happen upon a brilliant sunset, bleeding forth miraculous hues of yellow and red that I have never witnessed. I’ve stumbled upon exotic cacti (not in a dangerous way) and tip-toed into refreshing ponds of cool, wondrous water.

You done with the desert metaphor yet? I’ll take a break, for now.

The past few weeks have been calling forth and echoing the same sentiment and conviction about this wonderful, precious life — it is not our own. Not that it isn’t our own to create something that is unique to how we are created. But, that if we looked closely, we are woven (pretty intricately) into the fabric of other’s lives. It’s one big ol’ crazy quilt. Weird overlaps, interesting intersections and lots of thread. Like a lot.

I have gotten the opportunity to be a part of two friends’ lives during a season where we both specifically needed the other. It was as if we were running with arms wide open into hopeful emptiness. And then, all of a sudden, we showed up, clear as day to the other, into a huge embrace. We didn’t know we needed the other so badly, but we did notice afterwards.

Both friends were in a season of transition, to which I am currently all to familiar. In very different places, but also in the same place.

For one friend, she was transitioning from a season of busy-ness, with a loss of her own voice and needs in the midst of it. Many conversations were just processing out loud the stream of thoughts that bombarded her waking moments (and probably her dreams). This very week, she needed a springboard and I was a willing and enthusiastic participant. We clothed each other with statements of affirmation and encouragement, of realizing how important it is to find and hold fast to what makes us uniquely created in God’s image — how am I uniquely an image bearer and what does that mean for this world? Talking through all of these questions brought us both into a season of refreshed excitement and imagination. Who knew something would be there for us both, waiting on the other side.

The other friend was in a place of staleness. The routine of her world had become slightly thin and plain. All of a sudden, this crazy east coaster swooped into her world, mostly unannounced. She, being one of the only friends I had in the city. Me, being a new, needy friend who wanted to do everything her city had to offer — touristy or not. In a moment’s time, our worlds became fuller with the other’s presence. We immediately shared and spoke into the life of the other. She showed me the best spicy thai food, inventive cocktails and place to get trendy triangle jewelry. I, on the other hand, made her go out and do those things with me. I snuggled into her (somewhat) empty routine and sparked some new life, pretty forcefully I might add. She was a willing victim, for which I am immensely thankful. She transformed Seattle from a scary unknown into something warmly familiar.

In a book I’m currently reading, by, you know it, Dan Allender, he writes something about love that strikes a chord with these thoughts:

Love is the most essential, life-giving gift we offer to another human being. It is also the least-likely, -natural, or -consistent response that is offered in the mundane moments, let alone during the difficult, soul-demanding struggles…Rich moments of other-centered care and sacrifice are rare…love is actually the exception, the extraordinary, and the life-altering surprise.

Love for others is risky. It is filled to the brim with moments where we want to turn back. We want to exit stage left and curl up with a rom com. Believe me, I’ve been there with green polka dot flannel pajama pants on. But, love can and should be the priority of our ordinary moments. Moments with strangers, friends, family, co-workers and kitties. It is our attempt to find the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

All efforts to love are made lovely and useful by a great Lover who superintends all our bumbling efforts and turns the dross of mixed motives to the gold of eternal intentions.

So, though I often bumble, I will keep on bumbling so long as I have dear friends who house me and take my desperate self to dreamy thai restaurants. We are both bringing ourselves to the other. To be morphed and changed by the presence of the other. I’m for that.

Because I love a good bookend, I will end with sense of thankfulness and scripture from Nehemiah: Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine the way they were to take.

See you soon.

Ashley Rose