I don't read much. I have many books. I am a slow reader. So instead of reading whole books, I read chapters. That also seems to be my recent approach to reading the Bible. Thankful that books are marked in chapters for those of us, maybe just me, who can't do the whole book very often.
I am almost through Shauna Niequist's book Cold Tangerines (chapter one began in November so March is great for me!) The chapters are only 4ish pages long...doable for multiple chapters when I pick it up or just one when it just isn't the day to read...and they don't build on one another in regards to a story line, which is better for my feeble mind. Each chapter is a little story...part of the greater story that is approaching everyday life with Jesus.
So today I read a chapter on "Shalom." I underlined most of it, but it resonated with me today.
"There is a way of living, a way of harmonizing and hitting a balance point, a converging of a thousand balance points and voices, layering together, twisting together, and there are moments when it all clicks into place for a split second...-that's the place I'm trying to get to."
Ok, well yes, me too. I had that once. It was before my first child was born. The month of November 2005. She was born December 6. But in those weeks leading up to her birth, I had everything on my list done, checked off. Christmas gifts were all purchased and wrapped. The tree and all the fixings were carefully placed mid November. Her little nursery was decorated and everything was washed and put away. Hospital bags were packed. It was a dream come true. I even had time to read whole books, while rocking in a rocking chair with my feet up. I had coffee with friends. I meandered down the aisles of TJMaxx. I wrote (most) of my thank you notes. I spent extra time with my church high school small group gals. I finished homework in my bible studies. I made dinner for my husband, we dated too. All my ironing and mending was done, store returns taken care of. A total dream.
"It (shalom) is the physical, sense-oriented, relational, communal, personal, ideological posture that arches God-ward."
My mom told me to enjoy it, because it would never happen again. She was right, for certain, at least about the having it all done. Maybe again one day when all 5 kids are grown and out of the house it will happen again, but I seriously doubt it. No offense Mom, but you still don't have it all done and we are out of the house, but not out of mind and our stuff you are housing and taking care of is not out of sight!
BUT...this Shalom feeling. This need to be harmonized and balanced goes deeper than tasks. I want it, crave it and pretty sure I need it even with all the chaos going on around me. Here I go again quoting, its just easier because she nailed it:
"...I am given more life, more hope, more moments of buoyancy and redemption, the more I give up. The more I let go, do without, reduce, the more I feel rich. The more I let people be who they are, instead of cramming them into what I need from them, the more surprised I am by their beauty and depth."
Give it up more = Get more (of the real stuff, like balance and harmony and peace and freedom that only Jesus offers in FULL!)
As a professional organizer all those years ago when I would be with a client and they were overwhelmed by their stuff yet overwhelmed with the decision to let it go when it came time to make a decision, I would place both my hands on their shoulders and press firmly and then release and say, that is what it feels like to have all this stuff and then the burden is lifted and you are given more life when you get rid of this stuff. It worked 85 percent of the time 15 percent of the time I just reorganized or shuffled the stuff around to make it look like less but the ones who released...they were the ones who found that "buoyancy" Shauna is talking about.
Last quote, "Shalom is happening all around us, but it never happens on its own. The best things never do happen on their own, and shalom is the best thing. In the same way that forgiveness never feels natural until after it's done, and hope always feels impossible before we commit to it, in the same way that taking is easier than giving, and giving in is easier than getting up, in that same way, shalom never happens on its own."
So to bring this back to Jesus, because that is just how it is for me. I get that from my mom too. Nathan says, "You spiritualize everything!" I am ok with that.
When I can release to Jesus, lay it all down which is so what this last couple of months have been about; learning to LAY IT ALL DOWN and not feel like IT is being taken from me, IT is what I think my life should look like, then I get to this place of Shalom. That pushing and making something work, only works when their is truth involved. Freedom and peace is only harbored because I let IT go and gave it back to whom it belongs.
"It happens when we do the hardest work, the most secret struggle, the most demanding truth telling. In those moments of ferocity and fight, peace is born. Shalom arrives, and everything is new. And when you've tasted it, smelled it, fought for it, labored it into life, you'll give your soul to get a little more and its always worth it."
Laying my soul back down at the throne and running fiercely hand in hand with my Jesus into the day, maybe even the dark yet when I do I will get more because I know there is more getting in giving than the latter.
A little bit of peace and a little bit of freedom add some balance and harmony and there and that sounds about perfect.
Now to go get my running shoes on and run into the day!