Perfectly groomed bushes line the windows looking out onto a courtyard greener, damper and more alive than I’ve seen since moving to Yakima seven years ago. A giant kiln-shaped fireplace centered in the garden sits quiet and still awaiting the passing of the rain and the arrival of others to warm themselves in its heat. I chuckle at the closed table umbrellas standing tall and upright like stoic ladies in green, puffy skirts. Their task here is to keep one dry from the reliable Portland rain. The Yakima umbrella, although rare, acts as a glorified sunhat and is seldom used anyway. There they curse rain. Here, they wait for sun (if indeed they know what that is).
How I have missed the instant plunge into the deeper regions of my psyche, specifically the creative mystic part such an environment always brings. Like these condensation droplets adorning the windows through which I am looking, words almost instantly form in my mind. I need only mop them up and squeeze them onto the thirsty page.
There are many gifts that come to us from favorite places – both geographic location and the more unnameable geography of soul – suitable to our most natural selves. What has been lacking for me in the dusty, brown, overly hot setting of Yakima has been met in a stable plateau upon which to take a good, long and slow look in every direction. With my feet sunk in a little more deeply into the dusty soil of the Yakima Valley, I’ve known a certain freedom from which to venture into other, hitherto unexplored regions in my own soul. Places in the humility of obscurity, the predictability of nothingness, the garden of faithfulness and the simple, daily routines of life.
From these places, previously visited only briefly with my face pressed up against the glass, I have seen many things. God has pulled me up from the luscious, subterranean waters of my deepest yearnings to the street where the people are. They are those who populate my days and need the nourishment I myself have been given. I am reintroducing myself to the world, seeing familiar and beloved faces again as if for the first time. Ironically, in them, I am finding myself and, even more significantly, I am seeing Jesus. God is equally present above the bald, treeless ground as below it in the dark, thin places where nutrients abound but is largely unpopulated.
Here and now converge more readily as I release the tightly held things I believed indispensable to my wholeness. Slowly, God is revealing to my spirit just how present God is in such places – places formerly reprehensible and ugly. God is nesting more intricately in me. I see God more now and that is setting me free from expectations and demands and leading me to the joys of union, home, and peace…anywhere.
It is the greatest gift I could receive on this, the day of my fiftieth birthday.