True Stories

Around here, nobody knocks and everyone uses the backdoor. Around here, you talk over each other, interrupt freely and opinions are passed around like warm butter and cornbread at a chili dinner. I'm exhausted, but loved well and I suppose this makes up for it. I sleep well here because the stars are out and even with my blinds closed I know they are out there still. I sleep better under the stars.

It is hard to explain how beautiful this is to someone else. I try and it comes out sounding like a storybook life and I don't mean for that, because here there are hard, hard things happening and hard, hard story endings for people. But the beauty? The beauty.

The salmon are jumping, the tree tips are burnished orange, and the air is warm and cool at the same time. I am on the side porch, the water rushes past me below, there are voices from the kitchen, they're walking past me with their arms full of freshly picked apples, kayaks rest their weary bottoms on green, green grass by the garage cottage. Gulls sing to the herons and the herons stand taller still. The afternoon sun kisses my toes and God's mercy is on my lips.

I say to someone yesterday that it is like a marriage in my soul to be here. All the good, good things that I have learned this past year brought to this place I love so much and so deeply. All of that is quick on my lips in this beautiful place where in the past it has been so easy to curse God for all the times He didn't come through. The thing is, I say this morning into a microphone at the newest campus of my old church, God was good and coming through then too.

It is easy to live a facade wherever you are. Easy to live somewhere beautiful and have a broken heart. It is easier still to live within a beautiful body and cloister the brokenness inside. You feel that it will be safer there, that people only want to see the beautiful things.

And we do. Oh, how we do.

But it's the beautifully broken things that make the best stories.

And that's why I love it here. Because here, in this home, with these people, I am familiar again with my brokenness. I am reminded of my doubt. I say it in front of them. I say that the doubt wrecked me. Praise God. It wrecked me.

I had a conversation the other day with a friend. We are plain girls, we two, cheerfully scrubbed clean, unaffected, natural, confident, but no great specimens of beauty. We ask one another how difficult it must be to be beautiful, to have that to carry around with you always. It is easier, see, to be plain because people aren't as surprised when you open up the inside and show them the wickedness on the inside.

This place. It's so beautiful. God's kingdom. God's land. It's where He spread around the colors on His palette because He knew there would be little else to sustain when the going got rough. And the going gets rough here, I'll tell you. The going has gotten rough.

But I'll tell you what happens when something beautiful opens up and shows the deep, deep brokenness inside: it births beauty in the form of changed lives.

I am a life that was changed.

So happily ever after.

My view, right about now.