i don’t recall a time in my life when you weren’t in it

we were always talking about you somehow

always at services whenever the doors were open

week in and week out our lives were wrapped up in you

or what we thought was you

what we thought meant good and right and holy

what we thought was pursuing the sacred

what we thought was pouring life into dead places

what we thought would bring the meaning our faceless lives so desperately needed

i have pursued you for as long as I can remember

hard and strong and persistent I’ve been

striving doggedly to know you and to be known

as a little girl praying my nighttime prayers

to a college student writing out lengthy longings to see you and find my way

year after year after year

prayer after prayer after prayer

service after service after service

work after work after work

song after song after song

going going gone

i found my identity in how I was serving you or in your name

others gave me credence and worth based on outward service too

i thought life was all about what I could do for you

all about telling others about you

or about others thinking highly of my impressive faith journey

or all about feeling good about you feeling good about me and my supposed work

i made it all about walking that straight line and checking all those pretty boxes

i thought the big book was all there was to really know about you

i thought you did most of your talking in those pages

I thought you did most of your moving within those walls

I thought you did most of your changing in those circles

now life has dipped into previously unknown realms of pain and risen to incredible heights of joy

those words point to things about you but you aren’t hiding there

the songs are shadows of your beauty but they don’t contain your presence either

the service helped to take the focus off of myself, or did it?

was I really growing closer to you in the midst of the outward working?

or was I putting a growing distance between knowing you in relationship and knowing you in theory?

relating to you versus knowing about you

intimately being with you versus quoting verses from the big book left and right

the teachings all gave me more and more information

but did they give me you?

the smaller gatherings hinted at the more of you that could be found

but those relationships seldom got authentic and once a common purpose was served it was done

there was really not much life lived alongside of, in the thick of

care and concern met certain agendas and then was lost in the wind as the next task came front and center

when it was all said and done the room of my life was very small and had very few visitors who stayed longer than mere months, really stayed

I know life is busy and not everyone clicks, but where are you in these nonchalant conversations that don’t reach the heart?

where is this true community within the walls of churches?

maybe I am missing something others get, or maybe I, like many others, just simply want you and not replacements anymore

the label has always brought a belonging and a comfort, until now

the book was what I worshipped because when I thought I knew you I really didn’t

the songs were worshipped too, they brought good feelings and soothed with melody

the acts of service worshipped as well, they lifted my sense of accomplishment

the people were all really acquaintances, with only smatterings of authentic interaction here and there

the buildings felt like homes sometimes, but they were really only shells and hideaways, places to run to when we needed to hide from real life

where are you in the midst of all of this?

what really points to you?

how can you really be known apart from all the doing, the singing, the acting, the working, the head-knowing?

you are beckoning to me to come to you outside of all the walls, imagined and real

you cannot be found in things that merely point towards you, they don’t contain you, they are but a dim reflection

I have come to the end of myself to know myself

I have come to the end of the churchy solutions to finally start knowing you

finding you has become a way of life

getting away from the ugliness inside myself has become a way of life

you haven’t gone anywhere

I am not the distasteful skeleton of a person I always thought I was

we’ve gotten this all wrong

it’s all turned inside out and upside down

I’ve been found, you’ve been found to have never left

I know I will never have a future moment where you won’t be in it

chasing my spiritual tail in circles to finally see I’ve been chasing the wrong things

ignoring the sacred

ignoring the real you

ignoring the real me

oh it feels good to find my home

{Hope Wood © 2014}