This last week saw more than a few days clock over 12 hours at the ol’ grind.
And on the drive home late one night… heavied at leaving in the pre-sunrise darkness & headed back in the post-sunset black, I made the decision to call the person I have not been calling on purpose.  Because I purposely didn’t want to have the tough conversation I knew was waiting for us.

Something about being too tired to fight made it seem like the right time, and I heard gracious words so unlike me start the sparring.
I was inflating the totally defeated and deflated heart in my chest to get the words out that I needed the love I felt was being withheld.  I was trying to express for the millionth time, in yet another roundup of words that this time just might make sense, that I hurt far and deep.  And that I not only don’t want to stop wanting things to get better between us, I don’t know how to not want things to get better between us.

After choking back the awkward kind of tears and trying to hear more of the hard stuff, the voice on the other end said…
“Kate… I want wholer things for you… fuller things… you are more than an injured bird.”

This morning at church, between the worship and the message, I saw a spunky little ponytail-swishing 10-year-old with her coffee mug march with confidence down to the front row.

Before the braces straightened my crooked teeth and the flat iron pulled out my permed curls, I was a scrunchie-festooned, bespectacled kid, and Sunday mornings often found me with a mug of creamed-down coffee too, tromping around like I owned the place, with my little hand raised high to answer every question in the grownups Sunday School class.

My dad took some heat for bringing me I’m sure, but the stickers and coloring pages in the elementary classes weren’t cutting it for chatty Katie.
Afterwards we’d talk God in the car home, at lunch, after lunch, at dinner, and through the week in much the same fashion.  Knowing God and understanding Him might have been ignited by my Frank Peretti books and DC Talk cassettes, but conversation and Bible-reading fueled an insatiable thirst for more.  I was unstoppable.
Obnoxious for sure… but unstoppable.

That confidence in my Jesus waxed & waned over the next few years… seeing upswings in later high school and beauty school, in late nights clearing tables and weekends at women’s conferences.  It’s not steady, this passionate life we’re called to lead.  And while you’d think age would make us stronger and the years that pass would add links to our armor… with every passing minute the messier, the darker, the harder life gets.
This last week a perfectly-ten-fingered-ten-toed 3 day old baby of a friend didn’t make it.
Tuesday will mark the 3rd anniversary of an old friend’s sweet sister going home to heaven.
Next week it’ll be ten years since a beloved’s mom had a Valentine tucked into her cold hand by her little girl before her casket was put in the ground.

Death and tragedy hang in the air.
The sweet moments seem to swing lightly between heartbreaks.  As sugary and as easily dissolved as cotton candy, the ribbon wrapped days aren’t the dates we tattoo or etch into gravestones.

But, but, but there they are! There love is! There kisses and flowers are.  There toddler giggles and glitter is.  There the hands held and the birthdays and the graduations and the triple chocolate cake and the prayers and the songs are.

And after funerals and phone calls full of fear, broken hope and prayers that went unheard or seemingly unanswered, begging and pleading and screaming and weeping, the film of a future wedding and family playing behind eyes filled with cartoon hearts being washed out with enough tears to fill a tub or twelve,  desires dashed and dreams unrealized… we just, well, we just stop flying. Fighting.  Figuring it out.

And I’ll admit, that on many more than one occasion, I’ve just come to a standstill in the middle of the road.  Unsure of which direction I’m going, where the final destination is, why the trip itself is so damn hard.
And I bend my legs underneath me, and just sit down.

And I nod my nose to my knees, wrapped in a tight circle, trying to gather my thoughts… my energy… my bearings.

Here I am. 

Wondering what it means to be more than an injured bird.
Wondering where that ponytail-swishing, at-the-ready-to-answer, toe-to-toe with the grownups little girl is.
Wondering how you mount up with wings like eagles when your heart is cracked and your insides are empty.
Wondering if it’s okay to ask someone to scoop you up and love you well.
Wondering what’d feel like to ask without feeling guilty.

Here I am.
Just sitting in the middle of the road, tight in a tiny knot, afraid that every sweet moment will be met with more of an unyielding enemy, storing up the strength to fight back, and wanting my wasted years returned.

Next week I will twirl the tea roses and the tulips together, tie bows of twine around their stems, and nestle love notes deep between petals… I will buy candied cherries and dark chocolates by the dozen and seal letters with a kiss, I will use gluesticks to adhere sequins to cheesy cards and make sure my loves know they’re loved while longing to sip champagne and kiss softly & deeply the love of my life…
I will let the sugary moment dissolve in my mouth and try desperately not to fear what’s around the corner.

I’ll try to sit up, then stand, then fly.  I will hope against hope that the moments in the middle of the road stored up a strength I can count on.

I’ve seen it done.  I’ve seen faces I know twist into faces I don’t know as they looked on darkness I still don’t understand.  And in the moments and weeks and years since, I’ve seen them sit up, then stand, then fly.

It’s a courageous thing, this living… and I have so many beautiful examples of how it’s done well.
We might have to rest, have to recuperate, have to remind ourselves of how to march with confidence into this life, this every day, not knowing what’s coming.

But we are more than injured birds you & I.




Much more.

One Response

  1. Kate, you are such a beautiful writer… thanks, as always for sharing your thoughts and feeling with the world. Lets fly together!!
    Much love,

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