A Bluebird's Table: Simply Not Chasing the Bluebird Away

(This was written yesterday, but posted now)

This has been by all outward things what should have been a mega stressful day. I'm having issues my health insurance (long story) right when i have some expensive surgury that may be coming up. And my fiance was in an accident last week and it was a MIRACLE he wasnt hurt (thank you thank you God!). Yet there is no escaping that it has also cost us quite dearly, with now not able to afford to move as planned (that was a tall order even before the accident), and also are having to visit a food bank today instead of being able to afford a simple trip to the grocery store. Not exactly a shining crowning moment is life right now.

Or so it seems. And its not what it seems. Right now, as i was thinking about the surprise of joy under underneath where you least expect it, i looked up and saw a blue heron fly right towards my kitchen window. I can still see him if i close my eyes, and it just takes my breath away. He was so close and so ancient and majestic feeling. I've seen herons somewhat up close on the ground before, but never so up close in flight. And something kind of clicked as i saw that heron up there. Something about "this is it", this hidden joy. Something without words, but i find i need words somehow...

Let's see...Something has been hitting lately looking at vintage things. There was this one page i came acrooss recently (not sure of the link now) where a woman from the 40's (?) with a blissful smile on her face was carrying dinner to the table from her sweet little kitchen. And the woman posting the picture said something like, "That woman has had waaaaaay too much valium (becuase such a blissful smile in domesticness can't be real of course). But i still would love that kitchen". This is the all too common message with vintageness...that its fine to appreciate the charm and beauty there, just dont dare to want what is behind that, that deeper feminininity, that being a keeper at home. And its been hitting me how that sort of view is the exact opposite of what was/is so moving in Jeremiah (explored
here). Redbarn has a really nice paraphrase of Jeremiah 29:5 that i love:

"Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile:

build homes, plant gardens, become family. Sing the Lord’s song in this foreign land.

In essence: bloom where you are planted."

And this is the exact opposite really of the message we get today. Remember that little vintage kitchen mentioned above? The woman there was saying the outer part of that held the gift sure enough, but yet the inner part, the womans peaceful smile, was the fluff. In Jeremiah it sings rather that the outward things in life may look bad right now (being in exile), but that underneath them there is still an opening, a gift He has left if we'll open to it, becuase He does not abandon us.That that hidden stuff, that smile we find when we " build homes, plant gardens, become family", thats the heart, what He gives us to care for us, not the fluff. The heart is He gives us these "little" things becuase they mean the most, becuase He doesnt abandon us.

And that just does soemthing to a person, realizing that. Its not a "there are no problems" kind of joy it gives but something quieter. What it says
here gives the feeling better (i find it quite beautiful). She is posting her reflection on the feast of the Assumption and realizes:

"Mary is our example of Catholic joy. "My soul REJOICES in God, my Saviour!" (We) have every reason to be filled with joy, but many times we are not. Joy does not necessarily mean a giddy sort of happiness, but rather an all-encompassing sort of peace. The Lord is mighty, and He has done great things for me and for the world. He is all-powerful, and all shall work according to His will in the end, so I should have no worry or fear. I am in His hands, and because of this I have joy.

Mary is a neat reminder to us to have no fear, but to trust joyfully in the goodness and mercy of the Lord! This is the day which the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

And here's the thing... I think that feeling is usually our first reaction really. Went into this a bit
back here before. Also did a bit in the old blog, but since thats closed right now i'll just paste it in, it was from Yom Kippur of 06 (with a bit added for clarity):

~~I've noticed something that has really stayed with me: Stress "rushes" you. When you slow down more, you notice things, and here is what I've been noticing: when things happen, usually my first reaction is trust and gratitude (oh thank goodness that's fixed now, it all worked out somehow). It really IS the first natural reaction. Frequent complainer than Ive unfortunately been in my life, this came as a bit of a surprise...that my natural instinctive first reaction to things is usually trust and gratitude! Wow!

The problem, the pattern trying to cover this, is that when i'm stressed and too fast inside (which has been far too much of my life so far) then I zoom right over that initial trust and gratitude, so fast I barely feel it, and jump instead to worry and panic (well yes, its fixed now, but look at the problems it caused, and I wonder if there will be long term affects that i or someone i love will be hurt by; and how could God love and let this happen, maybe He doesnt really love and care for me, maybe I dont really matter to Him and he'll be detached and neglectful and let me drift alone without His Care and Covering and Headship...all that deep hidden fear rearing up). This zooming past the original trust and gratitude to the worry and panic instead has become just automatic by now unless I slow down--which I need to be doing anyway. Slower simpler living (not only outside but inside too) is turning out to hold more and more hidden healing.

Gratitude, it deepens trust deep down, thats the real healing there. And thats so much where I long to be.

The present, I realize I can deal with that (at the time i was dealing with being ill from moth ball fumes in a place i was renting). I hate this toxic fume stuff even more than I can express, but honestly its my worry about its future impact on health, and the fear about its stealing the hearth (moth ball fumes can make you more sensitive to wood smoke since they share properties) that do me in. Its when i speed ahead to worrying abou the future that i panic. If i live slowly instead, just live now, then that changes everything. ~~

And there is another quote i came across later that expresses this far better than i did, from
The Fruitful Vine:

"I am amazed to find that, now that cancer has recurred (this woman's husband sadly has cancer), my daily life is not as horrible as I had feared it would be. Fear is one way the Enemy robs and steals from me. Fear robs the joy of the present moment. Fear cannot access the presence of God in the future. Each day is full of the presence of God when I am actually living it. I cannot practice the presence of God in a future day, only today. In other words, when I feed a fear, my imagination of the difficult situation is WITHOUT the presence of God. Don't borrow trouble from tomorrow, for each day has enough trouble of its own.
Thank you Lord, that You are in this day with me.

So, am I to prepare myself for John's possible death in a sooner-than-later sort of a way? I have done this many times over the last two years and it avails nothing. ....When I have tried to "prepare myself" it leads to two things. First, I imagine my life without him. This is a dangerous place to go. It is not reality. It is fear. Second, these fearful imaginings yield an insidious fruit: disconnection. When I fear that John will not be there for me, I begin to take small steps of the heart away from him. This dishonors him and our marriage. It prevents me from staying close through the process. The Lord is calling me to flesh out my wedding vows as a sacramental conduit of His love for John. (Staying in the present, not stepping away from God's presence right here and now, is how i can do this)"

There is just something about seeing things this way. Something that reminds me so much of that amazing passage in Jeremiah, Something that gives us permission to be happy, even "in exile", even when things look pretty darn (understatement) bad. And wow how precious that permission is.

I remember on Easter, my fiance and i were sitting at the table. He had just had his miraculously safe (if costly) accident a few days earlier. There was such an amazing feeling of being protected there, his coming out safe like he did. And yet we had just evaluated finances a couple days before, and it was very (very!)sobering stuff. Our Easter was a quiet one, and we couldnt really afford to buy a traditional dinner or do plentiful little Easter baskets and the like.

But somethng happened as we were sitting there having our tea and cornbread in the afternoon and looking out the wrap around windows. On the little table was a nice potted cedar tree planting that is our "Easter Tree". Out the window were several fluffy little sparrows and a few rather intent little robins, even though the day had been stormy they were just hopping away out there. And it suddenly hit me that deep down i was happy right now, and what's more that it was okay to be happy right now, even with all the practical worries. Its funny how this has to hit again and again. I find so often i have to stop and admit that i'm happy. Its like a part of me is afraid to admit it or feel it, afraid that if i do then helping the problems in life will get ignored or something.

But really its the opposite....i think God gives us permission to be happy, even in exile. Permission we should cherish, for its where the healing is becuase its where He is reaching out to us. Happiness doesnt mean ignoring pain or not sharing it, it simply means the joy of knowing we are still held, He is still here. And when we feel that, it seems like little bits of joy often start to seep in, making the rest far more bearable somehow. Through those little bits of joy seeping in, maybe the burden has been shared through this, maybe its because His hand has touched. That's what it feels like.

In her own way, Jeanne of At a Hen's Pace went into this so nicely a bit back (discussed
here) . And Ann V brings up another layer of this so beautifully as well, in a recent post. From it:

"What compels us to snuff out our own joy?...

Edgy words, tight tone, sad sighs, tongue sharp. My lungs hurt, desperate.

But isn’t joy always mine? My daily luxury, my strength in Him. A light that warms, joy rests in one’s open palm. Steady, sure. I alone can snuff it out...But why would I think that wise, helpful? What compels me to deprive myself of joy’s oxygen?

The swiftness and starkness of the answer startles me: Because you believe in the power of the dark, frigid waters.

I catch the thought, hold it to the light, examining its truth. Do I snuff out joy’s light because I believe that anger will achieve more than love? Do I snap open palm close, extinguishing happy light, persuaded that black fisted complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me up into the life I seek?

And then, in a whisper, cutting me wide open: Do I really think Satan’s way to be more powerful, more practically useful in my daily life, than Jesus’ way?...
Light achieves what dark cannot.

And doesn’t Jesus’ joy, strength radiating, soften, warm, what the Prince of Darkness’ anger is impotent to do?

Ice melts and these lungs fill with air.

Father, remind me when I choose anger over joy, who I really am choosing. Instead of You."

Our outer homekeeping, its
qoutidian (like this), something that is a daily rhythm we must do again and again for a healing reason . But our inner homekeeping is qoutidian too. And homekeeping is far more than just housework, its keeping that candle going, that God given peace in the room...and in the heart. Its reminding ourselves that its okay to be happy, even in exile, even when things look like they are falling apart. That its safe to still be happy, safe to look for that bluebird on the windowsill, simply becuase He has not abandoned us and so we can still trust where He has placed us becuase He is with us.

I'll never forget that blue heron by the kitchen window today. I am so grateful. The memory is now in my little "treasure chest" inside... to remember that the bluebird is here with us, even in exile. And that its safe to simply be happy....

(Images are from
here, here, and here)

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