Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Tension Between Hope and Faith

The wind had picked up some time during the night.  All I knew is I was awake, now, to the thundering torrent of monsoon rains on the tin roof, just feet above my head.  It would come in rolling waves of sound, each gust throwing the drops with  unchecked fury against our little house.  The mat wall at the head of my bunk gave a thin illusion of shelter from the elements outside.  The wind was angry that night.  

It had hurtled over untold leagues of ocean, to our lagoon, where it beat the friendly water into an unfamiliar beast.  It strong armed the supple palms, who tossed their heads in defeat, letting loose their coconuts with emphatic thuds onto the saturated sand.  The village huts, low and hugging the ground, hunched their shaggy shoulders as the monsoon wind bullied up and over and through them.  

I lay scared and still in my bed up close to the sloping roof.  Our house wasn't a village hut.  It did have mat walls, but it was built on stilts, two yards up from the ground.  The metal posts were sunk several feet into the island's sandy ground, and were attached to our floor joists with flimsy L-brackets.  With every gust of wind that pushed against the house, it swayed like a drunk man on its feet.  And with every sway, my mind's eye saw it rising up off its stilts and twirling into the gale, Wizard of Oz style, out to the waiting sea.  

I had no hope in my heart, in that moment, that things would turn out well.  Everything was dark.  Everything was loud and wet and scary, and the wind was certainly too big for me and even for the house.  So clearly could I see the inevitable unmooring of the house from its stilts, that I planned what to do when it happened.  I would flatten myself out on my bed.  I would kick a hole in the mat wall.  I would jump from the house just before it landed into the ocean.  The disaster would happen, of this I was certain.  I just didn't know which roaring gust of wind would be the one.
I did not have hope that all would be well.  But, perversely, my heart trusted.  I was certain the house would fall, but I was also certain that God was there.  I could feel Him, in the dark, in the fear, sitting with me.  My heart could hear His love in the midst of the chaos.  I knew that He was there, and that He knew what would happen, and that He loved me.  

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This is the paradox I've been mulling over lately.  It seems to me that often in my life, I have either no hope but lots of faith, or I have lots of hope and little faith.  

For example.   

When I was 10 weeks pregnant and started bleeding heavily ... I had little hope that the baby would live.  But I had lots of trust that God was there and He cared for me.  Conversely, when we were in the process of negotiating for our current home, I had a stubborn hopefulness that refused to go away, that it would be ours, but I had very little faith that God even cared where we lived.

If you graphed hope and faith along an axis, they would look like sine waves of inverted positive and negative polarity.  

Hope waxes and wanes along the axis of life, and so does faith.  Sometimes hope is rising while faith decreases.  Sometimes hope decreases while faith gets stronger.  Sometimes, they exactly coincide and these are the moments when everything is the safest.  It feels the safest and most comfortable when your hope for the future is bright, while at the same time your faith that God is for you and loves you and that you are hearing Him clearly, is strong.  

What's hard is when either your hope or your faith wane.  Because then, there is no surety.  Then, you're not holding onto the monkey bars with both hands, but with one.  And you cling desperately with the one hand - cling either to the hope that refuses to disappoint, or to the faith that's sure of the Unseen.  

But who knows.  Maybe, as you grow and mature in your journey, the hope and faith waves begin to flatten out until finally they are coinciding most of the time.  Maybe.  But maybe that's just me being hopeful.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Taming the Wind

One thing that continues to amaze me is how you can  meet a person, who you think you probably have nothing in common with, until you begin to talk with them.  And then you realize that they speak your soul's language.  I am honored to call Shade Ardent, over at the unspared rod one of these sorts of soul sisters.  We were talking this morning about the wind, and realized that we both have very similar memories about it.  So we decided to both write our experiences, and cross link to each other's posts.  I encourage my readers to go over and browse her blog - her voice is strong and poetic and hauntingly beautiful.

Here is her post on wind ...

And here is mine ...

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It was monsoon season.  The rain had been coming for days, driven almost sideways across the island by a ferocious wind.  It pushed incessantly through the front mat wall of our house, and our veranda floor was constantly damp.

Everything was constantly damp, for that matter.  My clothes, hung on a line strung between the stilts under our house, never got quite dry.  Little black dots of mold had appeared on all my T-shirts weeks ago, and now they smelled faintly sweet and musty after a few minute's wearing.  Even my foam mattress and pillow had that not-quite-dry feeling.

And then one morning, the sun finally came out.  It shone hot, hard diamonds on the puddles and dripping leaves.  The wind blew joyously off the lagoon and we all celebrated with it.  Onto the beach we ran to meet the wind.  It had been a hard thing, needling the rain and shaking my house on its stilts.  But now with the sun it became a wild, boundless thing that called to us a challenge.  Will you tame me?  Will you catch me?  I couldn't help but respond.

On the white, wet sand I stood, my layered lava lavas clapping fiercely at my calves.  I felt it, pushing primal and free against all of me, impatient in its rush in to the defiant bush.  It set the palm trees bowing, lava lavas and t-shirts flapping horizontal on the lines, and snatched words from my mouth almost before I'd uttered the sounds, flinging the echo of my own voice mockingly past my ears.  The sun shone above with a blessing and a challenge.  Will you tame it?  Will you catch it?  

I unwrapped my outer lava lava, leaving the inner one still tucked around my waist.  Taking two corners of the fabric, I tied them together around my hips.  Now I had a rectangular train stretching behind me.  A little waterspout formed cheerfully out on the edge of the lagoon.  The wind pushed.  My hair pulled out in a frizzy replica of the swirling water.  The wind pushed.

I took the furthest corners of the lava lava, wrestling them to me against the flow of air.  Stretching my arms above my head, with one end of the lava lava tied around my waist and the other clenched in my upraised fists, the fabric gave a snap.  A pop.  And back it pushed, a sail holding the wind.

My body the mast, my lava lava the sail, I held the wind.  And then I ran.  Into the rush, into the flow, my sail full, I ran.  I ran, and I jumped, and for a minute the wind held me, held me up, defiant of gravity.  For a moment, I was weightless.

For a moment, I was free.