A new friend told me yesterday that she just discovered my blog and, as is her practice, she started from the very beginning and is working her way toward my newest posts. My first response was horror and terror (you know, the very topic I’ve spent the last five posts discussing how to overcome). I quickly scanned my memory to recall what in the ever-loving-world I wrote about when I started, and even more quickly offered a disclaimer of “I’m not who I was!”
But who is? And why did I react with fear? If we are the same people we were five, seven, ten years ago, we’re doing it all wrong.
We have explored the ideas of fear and Love through the last five posts—that we begin life knowing we are fully loved, then fear enters, and we forget. From that fear, we act unlovingly and unwisely, attempting to prove to the world and to ourselves that we are, in fact, worthy of Love. We discovered that Love is a force, filling all the spaces of creation, including our very souls. Merciful and mighty, uncontained and tender, this Love frees us from our fear and leads us to a life of peace and abundance. Love is the key that unlocks the door to our wholeness.
We need only to remember we are loved. Season by season, day by day, minute by minute—it is a resting and a listening and paying attention. It is consciously making our hearts and minds tender to the voice of God, who is Love.
How do we remember? I suspect it is different for every person. Just as there are “love languages,” I believe we also have “worship languages”—that is, ways in which we individually best connect with the Spirit of God, which could explain our diversity of music styles and liturgy within the Church and in life. In my process of self-knowing, I have discovered I most powerfully and transformationally encounter Love in the woods.
As I revealed in the introduction to this series, the serenity of trees and grass, sun and sky, earth and color quiets my mind and tunes my thoughts to the incredible art and metaphor and truth of Love. For example: winter, with its bitter wind and dying landscape, reminds me that we are all existing in a continual process of tiny deaths and resurrections, that the stuff of earth dies and fertilizes that which is to come. Hope exists underneath.
In each season, there among the trees, God reminds me of the fulness of His presence in creation and in me. I know I am loved when I am still, when I quiet my thoughts and listen. I often listen to music when I walk—Gungor and Jon Foreman, mostly—music that invites me to relax into the garishness of life and the permanence of Love and the beauty of mystery.
I remember I am loved when I practice gratitude—when I interrupt my anxious thoughts to remember all that is good, to remember all God has done, to remember how far I’ve come and how God has never left. I remember I am loved when I realize despite my mistakes, He has still brought me to this place on this day to witness all this beauty. Oh yes, God is Love in all its power and mercy, its goodness and delight. It is higher and deeper, longer and wider than we are capable of knowing. What can man do to me? What could ever separate me from this Love? Where could I ever go to escape it? How could I ever outrun it?
Thank you for taking time out of the busyness of your life to slow down enough to read all these thoughts that have found words. May you know light and Love, free of fear, full of abundance and hope. May Love make us brave to be all we are created to be.
Amen and amen.
PS: I’ve created a Spotify playlist of some of my favorite woods-walking music. You can find it here. I’ve made it collaborative, so feel free to add your favorite songs that cast out your fear and remind you of your Belovedness.