Thursday, September 18, 2008

soft bodies/hard world

In the last several months many people I love have been hospitalized from various traumas or illnesses or other kinds of even darker suffering. A couple of weeks ago my little brother was playing an innocent little game of softball and ended up with a fractured skull and a broken face. Soft-ball. The irony of that didn't slip by me. The last week has been especially hard.

We are soft bodies moving through a world of jagged edges...infants in a nursery lined with broken glass. One little misstep, and you're falling off a cliff onto the rocks below. I've talked about this before. It's nothing new for me to be thinking about these things. But it's feeling heavy to me again, so I'm sharing it here. So many things around me are painful these days, and I'm tired.

It's not only the physical suffering that is getting to me. I'm in the middle of some intense interpersonal conflict, and I think that exacts a heavier toll than other kinds of crises. Sometimes I think my emotional skin has worn thin over time. It's like an old woman's transparent, paper-mache skin tearing open with every bump, fine veins clearly visible and easily exposed.

I know I've been especially absent these last many months. I hope all of you understand. I've even considered deleting this blog...vaporizing like a puff of smoke. I'm struggling to be present in ways that make sense, and I'm unclear about the role that blogging should play in my life. I know that I have benefited in surprising ways from the kindness of so many of you whom I've never even met. But I've felt unable to keep up with the interactions, and that's created a new responsibility (and guilt) that I don't know how to handle. It's also created a new level of "public-ness" that is a little disorienting to me.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I felt like it was time to say some of it out loud. I'm launching a new initiative in my ministry tonight (Monday). I wonder if I'm ready. I'm afraid of what it will require of me. I'm excited about the possibilities. I'm resisting the urge to bury myself under my covers and never come out. I'm trusting that God is real. I'm reaching out to him.


  1. terri, i've missed you so much. you were very much at the front of my mind yesterday, & then you came to see me. sigh. how i wonder how you are.

    i remember hearing about this new ministry & all the resources it required, so many of those things demanding so much of your time, passion, & energy. you. and what with softball accidents (geesh) and interpersonal conflicts and life in general, it's no wonder things get to feeling raw & intense, like you've been turned inside-out and your tender insides are bumping up against those hard & jagged things.

    soft bodies & thin skins in a world of sharp & broken things ... when i let those words reverberate i me, i want to duck & cover, to crawl in a tight dark hole. i'm sorry this is how you feel, and that there is no reprieve from the jagged edges.

    i love you, dear sister. and i know that doesn't take away the jagged edges. it doesn't make the sharp things go away. but as long as i have anything to say about it (and i'm hazarding a guess that others in the blogosphere will echo this thought), you won't face the sharp edges alone (even if you never post another blog post or leave another comment every again).

    i so often wish there was more. come, Jesus. come.

  2. Terri, I love your wisdom, and how it rolls around in you and then comes out so gently that I could see how people could miss it.

    We are soft, squashy little things in this big, jagged, pointy world. I want to shudder when I say that, to crawl under my desk and wait for the roof to fall in. I feel your heart here and your confusion about blogging and presence and life makes so much sense to me.

    With all of this new ministry and interpersonal conflict and accidents and all of it following your own illness...well, I feel your unknowing when I imagine myself in that place. I miss your words here, but I also want you to be well. I'm with Kirsten--you're not alone, even if what's well for you is not blogging.

  3. Like Kirsten and Sarah, I miss you. I miss your words and your heart and the you I know through the blog.
    I have no wisdom to say, but I'm sitting here praying for you now, for God's comfort and strength and presence.

  4. Hi Terri
    There is much, much, much to be said, but silence is golden even when it hurts like hell

  5. I've had health issues of my own lately and lots of emotional stresses and have also fallen off the blogging map. I identify with the somewhat manufactured pressure of keeping in touch with the internets.

    Do whatever you need to do, Terri. I've enjoyed borrowing parts of you for a while but if God needs them somewhere else right now, do what's best.

    Peace and health!

  6. Terri, thanks for sharing with us right now. It sounds like sharing is not the easiest thing to do for you in this place, what with all the pain and the busyness and the just plain being stretched out-ness of it all. But it's good to know where you are, as separated as we all are by place around here. (I so wish we weren't. I wish we all lived together in a big, beautiful community!)

    It's good to hear your voice, so thank you for speaking it, even though it's hard to do. Love to you.

  7. kirsten: how do you do that? you express how i'm feeling better than i do. "come, Jesus, come" says it all. i know you've been wading through your own version of broken glass world. i know you're tired too. thanks for understanding.

    sarah: i don't feel very wise these days, but i thank you for listening for that. your own heart is so tender and open. i've been peeking in on you now and then. i hope you know that i'm there and standing with you even when my fingers don't know what to say.

    heather: i miss you too. thanks for those prayers. i really need them lately.

    tammy: i understand.

    johnny: i'm sorry to hear that you get this from an experiencial perspective. that sucks. take care of yourself...

    christianne: "stretched out-ness"...i like that. i wish we were closer too. wouldn't that be heavenly? much love to you...

  8. as Sting says so eloquently "We are spirits in the material world."
    Funny, thought you'd be blogging today. I sort of got excited about your desire to just 'delete' the whole blog, I like the Thelma and Louise-ness of that, the ability to totally let go and surrender whatever you need to and become untethered from yet another thing, however noble and 'good', that no longer helps you feel free.
    I suspect you will resist the urge, and there is a nice dichotomy to that too, to surrender something that still exists is an act of emotional jujitsu that is appealing in it's own way.
    I think we all join kirsten's prayer - come soon Jesus!!!

  9. marcell: "emotional jujitsu" is something i'm learning from you, if i'm learning it at all. and i love the "thelma and louise-ness" thought too. thanks for the way you listen, and for being my friend.

  10. Marcell's comment (though i don't have the behind the scenes interpretation, and i don't need to) it brought some reflections.

    I said something to you, that i didn't want you to disappear like smoke, and while that is true, you should follow what gives you peace, even if it tumbles the apple cart.

    So many people here have come to love you Terri, but seasons change, people change. I am learning some tough lessons lately. Love is not an object it's a force. It doesn't always fit into the little box we want to contain it in.

    Love is messy, you said that once. This may not make sense to you nor anyone else, but anyway..........I can have a vision in my mind of what love looks like to me, and in my mind i may cling to it like a jewel and i want to tuck it away in my jewelry box and protect it from everything, even the environment. I can treasure something so that i fear losing it so i protect it at all cost.

    Sometimes love does not look like that shiny kt. gold cross we wear around our neck, sometimes it looks and feels like a rugged, abrasive, thorn ridden, splintered, cross that we stretch our arms on and die.

    The most honorable crown Jesus ever wore was the crown of thorns. God crowned Him in Heaven and Jesus took off that golden crown and laid it at our feet. Jesus exchanged His glory to buy our honor. The greatest honor that Jesus will ever bestow upon us is to share the splinters that pricked Him, feel the nails that crushed Him and partake of the stripes that tore Him.

    I have no idea what i am saying or even why (to you i mean) I know very well why i am saying them though. I never understood until maybe this moment why Jesus told Paul my grace is sufficient for you my strength is made perfect in your weakness.

    Paul kept crying Jesus take this thorn away from me, and Jesus was saying "Paul there is no greater honor i can bestow upon a man than to give them a cross, to bear the same crown that I bestowed upon My own Son."

    The very things we love the most does not belong to us they belong to God. God spoke something to me a while back when i was going through a really tough time and He said, You love me as much as you have surrendered the thing you love most."

    Those words were a consolation to me because i was in pain over something i had to die to.

    I was talking about silence Terri and i have written you a novel, but i know how deeply those words just pierced right through me. God sneaks up on me sometimes like that cuz He knows mostly i ain't listening.

    I will be making myself a copy of this. Though it is like your pain math Terri, how quickly they fade.
    I hope you don't think i was being preachy Terri, i don't really understand why i am leaving this comment here i am scratching my head a bit and saying should i leave this here? I think i was so preaching to myself. well anyway............

  11. Hey Terri, I've thought about wiping my blog out of cyberspace more than once. And I did in the beginning. An alternative is to password protect your site and only let in those you want, like family and friends.

    Anyway, I hope your new work is rewarding. Take care.

  12. i think my cry has been come jesus, come for the last several months at least. that's my heartbeat and when i read your words i thought: yes. yes. come jesus, come.

    there is so much i want to say, and to hear from you. but mostly i just wish i could give you a hug right now.

  13. Dear Terri—So sorry for the hard times. Hang in there—this too shall pass. Behind the clouds the sun is still shining. No need to answer—just wanted you to know that another reader cares and sends love and good wishes.

  14. Hi Terri-
    I agree that sometimes blogging feels like a thing that might not help -- and it is hard to be "out there" when things hurt. It feels fake or wrong or just -- something.

    All your friends say things in lovely ways -- and did a great job -- so nothing I have can add to those comments other than to say I am really hoping we meet IRL some day.

  15. Glad you feel like you can say this out loud, that you can tell your story. So much of what you have written here resonates with me. Is this a 40-something artist thing happening here? (see my latest post)

    All the pain and all the beauty of life's experience ebb and flow over us, bringing us life and buoyancy, and sometimes pulling us out to sea where the fear of the deep and all the monsters hold us captive, sometimes not sparing our flesh.

    I am often amazed how fragile we are as humans, in our emotions and our bodies, but also how resilient we are. Sometimes I wonder how these two can exist in the same space. I do know we have the ability to hurt and feel so deeply because we have the capacity to love so deeply.

    You say your emotional skin has worn thin. I can empathize with these feelings. I have been wondering if there is any way to prepare for extreme circumstances? After a recent emotional battle, I realized there were many physical parts that led to this (pain meds, no gym time, lack of sleep, too much caffeine) so at least for me, there was a little clarity and I made some changes. But to undergird our minds and our hearts: training them to be strong BUT vulnerable? A tall order, and a process that I want to know more about.

    I visited your blog entry from March and was very moved. When I got to the line, "Sometimes the only thing moving the air in and out of my lungs is the assurance that there is a world where my true name will be spoken and all of my lost love will return to me." My eyes misted over. I agree with Kirsten, "come Jesus, come!"

    So until then, please stick around. Keep telling your story. Because in a real way, I see God in you and that helps me see Him in my life.

    And—you crack me up, girl.

    Coram Deo

  16. hey everyone, thanks so much for the comments. i'm going to come back to this later. i've been going like crazy and i'm not feeling well right now, but i wanted to say how much i appreciate all of you. i'll say more in a bit when i'm feeling a little more human.

  17. Love you Beautiful girl, trusting the process and God with you. I've come to realise over the past few years that God does fulfill His promises, but sometimes I don't think His sense of humor is that funny! :-)

    Love you! xx

  18. Cats out of the bag now Terri Churchill, i know all about that "snow-globe" collection you're harboring. :) If you wonder what i mean by that refer to Marcell's blog.

  19. hoping things are becoming well with the tribe. praying for you all. hoping you know to holler for help from under the covers if you find yourself there (i'll get rob for ya :)

    you know this picture is aweesome terri. that water is so aqua. imagine that. as jagged some of those edges, you know what i can't resist wondering? there's some lake superior agates down in them thar rocks.

    we are heading north to gooseberry falls next weekend. yes!!! will try not to get all lovey dovey like you and davey did (no wait, that's a lie)

    haven't seen that waterfall since reading hinds''ll be a whole new way of looking at it.

    love ya homie!

  20. hello terri, i havent been as active too. i am sending you warm hugs and best wishes.

  21. I hope you are feeling better. One thing I've noticed is that you reply to comments and I just wanted to point out that you're not obligated to do that. Sometimes I mention those who've commented in my follow-up postings, but I've stopped answering each comment and people seem to understand.

  22. i missed you terri...happy new year to you

  23. Just stopping by to say your presence is missed around here.