Once upon a time, there was a recently untamed wild woman. I say recently untamed because most of her life was spent completely focused on taming all that was within her. She used all of her creativity, power, and energy to make things more neat, controllable, and palatable for those around her, and thus, for herself. The wild woman clung to this system tightly, holding her rubric of perfection in constant view. She never rested. She never breathed. She never let go.
Until something happened. This something is not like most somethings in most stories told. This something was subversive and unexciting. It was gradual. The wild woman had clung for over twenty years to these ideals, but for several years, she was beginning to see glimpses of the danger in clinging to systems over life.
The wild woman finally started to loosen her grip. As she did, things got way too messy; it felt way too uncertain; she had no idea what was happening. So, she quit. She grappled and clung. She distracted herself with more ideas of perfection, berated herself more, and tamed her wild. It was like returning from a long vacation and getting back into your own bed. She finally felt comfortable.
Until, she didn't; she couldn't. She realized that there was no going back. She entered the season of tension unwillingly, but without any other options. She didn't thrive in the excitement or attention or growth. All that she began to seek was honesty. She had no interest in anything but that which was sincere. She sought the raw, the truth, the unfiltered. She didn't know what to do but this, so she opened her eyes and began using all of her creativity, power, and energy to seek that which was real.
As she sought truth, she also began to see that she had no idea what true love was. As hard as it was to stop berating herself, it was all the much harder to give up the God that berated her too.
However, over time, she realized that she could not seek truth and keep her god. Yet her god remained everywhere, reminding her of how much of a distaster she was, how imperfect, how inadequate, how unloved. He was powerful. He filled her with fear. Until, she learned one of the most important lessons of her wild life, how to create space.
Guilt ridden and confused, the wild woman left the church. She stopped keeping a Bible by her bed. She stopped labeling things devotions, prayer, and holy. The system continued to haunt her. She was for sure going to the hell that she no longer believed in.
Time passed. The wild woman couldn't find her footing. She lost everything. It felt like nothing from her past life could live into her new life. Everything died. She took time to bury it all, having no idea what would become of all this death.
There was life.
There was death.
The wild woman had never been well aquainted with death. It is nearly impossible to seek control and perfection while honoring the mystery of death, and she always chose certainty over truth.
Until now, the wild woman let death take her certainty, her god, her community, her sense of self, her family, and all that she ever believed in. To her, it felt worse than dying because there was no rest. It felt final, yet it kept going. There was no redemption, no peace, no comfort, no grace, and no love to be found. Maybe, she had already made her way to hell.
I don't know if it was 3 days, 3 years, or an eternity, but the wild woman waited. And in her waiting, she sought truth, and she also started to seek love.
Slowly, the wild woman stopped spending all of her creativity, power, and energy seeking truth; she started to experience truth. As she learned to experience truth, she started to see that love was still mysteriously alive. It sprouted up like dandelions in a field of dirt. It was ambiguous. Many people told her that it wasn't love, that she couldn't know God anymore. She was too far gone. But in the dandelions, she saw beauty and hope where others saw weeds. She even started noticing beauty in the dirt itself.
Ironically, this season of new life was a season of funerals. The wild woman went to more funerals in one year than she had in the last decade. Each one was more compelling than the last. At funerals, she was overwhelmed with truth, connection, grace, and love. She noticed how the stories were like the dandelions. She found truth. She found love. Things that she had trouble finding in life, she found in death. Death was paradoxically the most painful and truthful thing that she had ever experienced.
Death stopped feeling so final and terrifying.
And so did God. The wild woman no longer obsessively read her Bible because the stories came alive in her mind and kept her up at night. The wild woman no longer prayed because she started breathing, and her breath was her prayer. The wild woman no longer kept a checklist of to-dos for a God that she would never be enough for because she finally realized how silly that was. God became love, and love became mystery, and the wild woman let go of explaining it all.
Each time that she let go, she found divine mystery, love, creativity, grace, connection, breath, rest, and the sacred. She started to realize that all of the things that she was finding seemed a lot like God.
One day, the wild woman came back to the dirt to visit the dandelions, and it was overtaken by wild flowers and other weeds. She took off her shoes, and stepped onto the holy ground.
The field was an unruly, beautiful mess. She laid down amidst the chaos of diversity, mystery, confusion, uncertainty, and breathed in the smell of the sun, the flowers, and the dirt. She breathed in the life rising from death. She started trying to make sense of it in her mind, but remembered all of the pain that simple equations to explain mystery have caused. She remembered how it felt to cling to power and control and systems and being right. She now knew that there was no life to be found in the clinging. However, part of her longed to go back to the world of created, false certainty, but she knew that she no longer had a home there.
She was filled with tension, but she breathed in redemption.
Photo by A Fox: https://unsplash.com/@redfox