Back in Los Angeles for the first time in a long time. What feels like a long time, at least.
A quarter mile of flat sand separates boardwalk and tide. Vendors, cars and morning hustle surround us. We take off our shoes and march toward the water. As we approach, fog blossoms and eclipses the sun. It puts to rest all sight and sound behind us, pulling us toward the waves.
At last, the great ocean. At last, silence in my soul. The High Priest Pacific is all I see and hear. Abrasive pastels and cackles left behind, all things are now laid low at the altar of water.
Roots press and reach into cool sand. Salt water swirls and gathers up my heart. I am pulled out of both time and place, and guided into Presence.
For me, I aim to speak love into existence through metal and fire. I aim to beat my chest and call down a miracle like Baal’s prophets, to make love and keep love as if it were an object most at home behind a fence or on a mantle.
These are my natural ways and rhythms.
But His ways and rhythms are different. Rhythms of sand and water, of power and wonder.
His love is a foreign language, I think to myself.
And, thinking further, He might say the same of me.
Reminded of the words of another, who said that people used to build ziggurats, or towers, in an effort to bring themselves closer to God. Closer to the stars, closer to God.
And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be closer to God. There’s nothing illogical with believing we’re beyond His reach, cast far and away from the Divine, and we have to build that bridge, jump that chasm and bring ourselves back into right relationship. This is our hero’s journey.
But the work has been done already. The ultimate work of reconciliation has been accomplished. The only journey we have is the journey of saying ‘yes’ to a love which we had no part in building. The journey is to abide in such Love and to share with others, to say ‘yes’ again and again.
Such Love gives way to Grace; a Grace that places you in fellowship with people who highlight your weaknesses.
That’s a nice way of saying I’m acutely aware, now more than ever, of my own bullshit; more aware of my heart’s forgeries and counterfeiting ways.
In my vanity, I seek to make monuments. I seek to build a ladder and carve my name into the ceiling. In my vanity, I twist and maladapt the works of my hands into crooked means of ascension.
Wax wings. Cash-money-bling wings. Blood-sweat-and-tears wings.
But the work, praise the Lord, won’t ever be a ladder. It won’t ever be a pair of wings. Yes, it can be forgery. Yes, it can be counterfeit. But it can also be a song. It can be an expression of love.
If we pursue work and nothing else, we give it permission to grind us down to dust, and out of such posture we speak dust and hold dust in higher esteem than we do His Grace and Love.
I have never been traveling back to the Lord. Truth is, He’s always been knocking, and I’m the one who hasn’t yet slowed to His rhythm, the person who hasn’t bowed low and paid heed to His whisper.
An astronaut and a coal miner are the same distance from God. Deep sea divers are just as close to His Love as mountain climbers. Run, and He is there. Fall, and there God is also.
Milky ways, tidal waves and mine shafts are all wondrous places. And they all make for great confession booths.
So thank you, Lord. Thank you for reconciliation. Thank you for your closeness.
Forgive me when I pass myself off as something more than I am. Something other. Something I feel I need to be or ought to be, rather than something you’ve made me to be.
Over and over again, Lord, forgive me when I seek to build a tower. Forgive me when I believe it’s my right and necessity to ascend and build a road to heaven.
Forgive me Father, and lead me beside quiet waters. Beside those who fear and tremble. Lead me beside rushing streams. Beside the proud and ruthless. Lead me beside crashing waves. Beside the joyful and the heartbroken. Amid milky ways, tidal waves and mine shafts. In sunlight and shadow, in chaos and calm.
Call us all, wave by wave, across the beach and to Presence at the water’s edge.
My heels are filthy with sand. And my cup runneth over.