Saturday, November 15, 2014


Grey trees have barely given up their leaves before dark, swirling skies trace those limbs with white. The rising and falling of the seasons in their steps of the Great Dance have nearly made their circuit. Consequently, my mind is recalled to the beginning of this year, with all its fresh hopes and vague possibilities. Memories step out, one by one, only to be swept back into the dance of time. Grief and Beauty waltz together. Sorrow beats time with Joy. Suffering looks quietly into the eyes of Hope. Bitterness clasps hands with Forgiveness. The motif of the Dance this year seemed strange when originally given to me by the Instructor Himself back in those fresh, first days of January: Fearlessness.

In the nativity of the year I thought being fearless meant meeting obstacles and adventures head on. I had inklings of what some of the hurdles might be, hopes of what the adventures would contain. I little knew how difficult the hardships would be. I did not reckon that adventures were risks that could fail and wound miserably.

Much of the year held such sore trials that it seems to replay in black and white rather than colour. Deaths. Friends and family worn out with the things required of them. Betrayal. Being cast out by loved ones. Uncertainty. Deeply wounded hearts. Bitterness. Prodigal children. Loneliness. Certainly not all of these things visited me, but they have been visited upon such close friends and family that they have affected me very personally. I look back upon this year and see marriages crumbled; dreams burnt up; loved ones buried; relationship turned to cold, dead embers—I see ash.

Woven throughout, like intricate dance steps, are flashes of colour: lime and ochre aspens, glowing in warm sunlight. Dazzling white smiles of friends visiting and visted. Lavender and white cosmos along my walking path. Pink, brown, green, and black ink, flowing with words of hope, cheer, and life. Orange-red sunlight, pouring over the foothills at dawn. Bright blue eyes filled with whimsy. A rain of golden leaves falling like a shower over me and a friend. Sly red foxes on night walks and gift-mugs. Green in every crevice of long-dry mountains and sidewalk cracks. Mottled grey, brown, and red stones, illuminated by liquid sunlight in a chuckling, clear stream. Hazy blue mountains and burnished clouds at sunset on my solitude hikes. The navy velvet of the night sky, pierced by silver stars... All the colour of this year radiates from Beauty, love, and personality.

The Psalmist reminds us to worship the LORD in the Beauty of holiness... It is the Beauty that leads us to worship, that breathes life into dead places. When we see a wildflower in the wilderness, hear a single burst of birdsong on a chilly morning walk, know the love of another, it is then that the breath of life rushes into our souls.

I am tempted to look at the snow out my window and see flying ash. So many dreams and hopes have become but fine dust in my hands this year. Instead, I do the only thing I can: I pour every last handful of ash on God's altar, asking Him to raise a flame of Hope. Not a fragile "thing with feathers" as Emily Dickinson calls hope, but a solid, weighty anchor for my drifting soul. I ask for new, richer dreams; for restoration to rise like a phoenix from these pale ashes.

I am learning that to be fearless does not mean to be foolhardy, but to hope in the midst of burning dreams. To be fearless means to love, because perfect love casts out all fear.

Many months ago I read something about pain and fear... It broke my heart then as it does now—and every time I re-read it. It is the real Hope and Beauty in the midst of sorrow that stares at me from these words:

I wrote in my journal: So here is what I want to remember and never forget: Anxiety is the devil. Fear is a taste of hell because it cuts us off from the ever-offered rest of God’s love. And fear cannot do one damn thing to avert the thing feared. 
Sorrow, on the other hand, is a kind friend, and when it comes, grace comes, too, and all the tender mercies of God. All fear is the fear of loss and death; all love comes with a price tag of pain; all true sorrow has its counterpoint of joy. And it’s real. We’re living it in the most vivid way. 
 And if we’re running along the beach laughing at one moment and weeping over the grief that is coming the next, well then, this is life abundant, the full package. And the joy is more real than the grief because the joy is forever and the pain is for but the passing shadow of this life.
Lanier Ivester, Love Begets 


  1. Lovely, eloquent, and poignant. Thank you for sharing, Jody.

    1. My pleasure... You know, you inspired (breathed life into) me for some of these reflections. Love you!