the exceptional thing about god's love, a dedication*

I dedicate this post to those in our Mormon community who may feel unloved or disenfranchised, especially my friends and family who identify as LGBT. We are frail and broken creatures working towards Zion one softened heart at a time. I am confident that the mountains sing and the trees clap for each of us as we journey on.

Vincent Van Gogh, Mountainous Landscape Behind Saint-Paul Hospital, 1889 (Image courtesy of Web Gallery of Art

Vincent Van Gogh, Mountainous Landscape Behind Saint-Paul Hospital, 1889 (Image courtesy of Web Gallery of Art

The exceptional thing about God's love is that it is without exception. 

I look at Ezra's face this morning, his hair askew and sleep still settled in the corners of his eyes, and a knowing rattles my heart. There is nothing Ezra could do that would diminish the intensity of my love for him. My love is a mountain unto itself, immovable and untethered to his agency. The Alpha and Omega of love, really. And in the muted light of the morning, I begin to understand, in a very small way, the nature of God's love. Its generous depth. Its infinite breadth. Its magnanimous hue. 

I carry that knowledge around for the rest of the day--the expansive, perennial nature of God's love for me, His child--and it is a superpower. It is an invincibility cloak that protects me from pity (for self and others). It is a truth shard that glitters gold in my pocket. It is a burst of air beneath each heel, lifting my feet and quickening my step as I move through the world. There is no telling how far this knowledge can ferry me on its gilded wings. I shout "Amen!" and "Hallelujah!" as I am transported to a life that is both holier and happier. 

All the same, I know that I am not special. Ezra is not special. None of us are special in this regard. God's love is as constant and democratic as the air we breath. Available and inevitable for

every.

single.

one.

of.

us.

Without exception.

God can't help Himself.

We are His. 

It took the titanic earthquake of motherhood for me to begin to understand the nature of this immovable, ever stable love. How any of us come to this knowledge is a journey as varied as the bodies we inhabit. The more rigorous journey, perhaps, is the one that follows wherein God asks us to spread the good news of His love to others. Our charge, as I see it, is to tell our sons and our daughters, our neighbors and our naysayers, our endeared and our enemies, "It is your destiny to be loved without exception." Without exception. 

How can this be? 

"God can't help Himself. You are His." 

Once the knowledge of His divine love has quieted the deafening roar of our monstrous egos, we will have no choice but to bury our rickety weapons of war, our rusted rebellions, and our ramshackle fears deep into the soil of repentance, a fertile ground from which empathy, inclusion, and Christ-like compassion (for self and others) can grow. 

And so we, the fractured and the faithful, journey on towards a knowledge of God's exceptional love, buoyed by Isaiah's celebratory words: 

"For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."  --Isaiah 55:12

Of this I testify. Amen. And hallelujah. 

 

 

 

 

holding infinity in the palm of my hand or the parable of the plum trees

Hiroshige (I), Utagawa, Uoya Eikichi, The Plum Garden at Kameido Shrine, 1857 (Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum)

Hiroshige (I), Utagawa, Uoya Eikichi, The Plum Garden at Kameido Shrine, 1857 (Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum)

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand,

And a Heaven in a Wildflower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour."

--William Blake

"She took of the fruit, thereof, and did eat." --Genesis 3:6

We have two stout plum trees growing near our driveway. In the late days of summer, the heavy branches drop their fat, purple orbs onto the ground below, only to be squashed by our heedless feet or two-ton tires.

"Like tossing pearls before swine," the trees sigh. 

The inelegant deaths of these plums are honored, at least, by the beautiful, blooming rorschach stains they leave behind.

And then there is that rare plum fortunate enough to avoid such a fate, plucked straight from the branch and admired.

"See," I say to Jacob, "it looks like a tiny purple globe with veins that curl along the borders of Africa and Europe."

I cradle the plum in my hand, look closely at its freckled, wine soaked skin, hold its curve in the middle of my tongue, and bite down into its bittersweet flesh. We find joy in this exchange, the plum and I. Together we have fulfilled the measure of our creations.  

Here is a truth I have learned: 

Every moment of our lives is a road diverging. With each breath, the universe gives us two choices: to engage with the holiness of that moment or to ignore it. Every slipping second we have on earth gifts us with beauty, truth, and transcendence if we will only choose to embrace the holy.

I don't often remember this. Actually, I rarely remember this. But when I do look toward the plum trees and hold their orchid hued offerings in my hand (instead of unceremoniously squishing them beneath my distracted feet), I am blessed with the most poignant and precious remembrance of God, an entity so merciful and full of good graces that He would embed Heaven in every mundane moment of our lives, in every mottled plum, in every poet's wildflower. 

Fruit in hand, I am blessed with the knowledge that we need only to choose, and Eternity is ours. 

 

  

a new blog and so i am changed

With each major transition in my life, I have started a new blog. Like Hansel and Gretel, I leave a path of (blog) bread crumbs trailing behind me. For some reason new spaces to write within and new titles to write under are important to me when everything else has changed. Thank you so much for joining me here.

The Adoration of the Magi, Geertgen tot Sint Jans, c. 1480-c. 1485 (Image Courtesy of The Rijks Museum) I love this painting's content: new motherhood amidst a shifting and crumbling landscape. 

The Adoration of the Magi, Geertgen tot Sint Jans, c. 1480-c. 1485 (Image Courtesy of The Rijks Museum) I love this painting's content: new motherhood amidst a shifting and crumbling landscape. 

Since becoming a mother 10 months ago, my life has undergone a seismic shift. Before you become a mother, you hear that motherhood changes you. But you can't know it until you're in the thick of it. The details of your environment change, and so it goes that the geography of your inner life changes, too.  

For example, my days are now catalogued by the following sounds:

Baby babblings

Squeals

Shrieks

Laughter (mine and Ezra's)

Crying (mine and Ezra's)

Music (Paul Simon, Eensy Weensy Spider, Marvin Gaye, If You're Happy and You Know It)

Exclamations! ("No, that's not for babies!" "Are you ready to go on an adventure?!")

Just these few changes in my audial landscape are enough to unleash a cacophony of mother thoughts. "Am I talking to Ezra enough? Will he have healthy language development?" "Will he appreciate good music as an adult, and can I love him unconditionally if he loves Nickleback?" "Does he know how genuinely amused and endeared I am with him?" "Does he know he makes me cry in frustration?" 

And this is just sounds. I haven't even begun to mention the impact new sights, movements, smells, and tastes have had on the-way-I-used-to-think.

If our neurons form complex pathways in our brain, morphing when we adopt new information and ways of being in the world, doesn't this make motherhood a form of map making? I can testify that mountains of self-indulgence have been erased and replaced by rivers of self-sacrifice, a new watery outlet sketched onto my body with each mundane and majestic mother-interaction.

Or maybe motherhood is a type of natural disaster. Like an earthquake, it is a jarring and abrupt transition that leaves your old self a crumbled, muddy mass and creates space for a new self that is more flexible and forgiving, more generous and gentle. 

Either way, my environment is changed, and so my thoughts are changed, and so I am changed. I can see now how God would want it to be so.