Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kingdom Living

*Find a quiet time, a quiet place for the 7 minutes you'll spend listening to the video. You won't regret it.


I see myself as a dot connector.

It's as if certain moments in life are tabbed as memories worthy of future reference: dots, if you will, that – when linked to events I'm living in current time – help create contours that deepen and enrich my existence.

The moment I realized I was falling in love with Mark is such a dot.

I let him know this way: "I'm in love with your voice."

It was December 1984 during downtime in a Christmas performance of our singing waiters' group – two months before we would dare to share our first kiss. Letting him know I loved his voice seemed a safe start. Loving all of him seemed too scary, too real.

I didn't want to find my life partner yet. Still, I think I knew that I had started to fall in love with a higher percentage of him that what his voice represented. Somehow, his voice was my safe entrance to a relationship that had the potential to last our shared lifetimes.

His voice was most vibrant when singing; what I loved about his singing was the way he interpreted music. For Mark, singing was a full-bodied experience, and if the music had a happy theme, his broad, toothy smile couldn't be contained no matter the complexity of lyrics and rhythm.

But his transparent spirituality is what ultimately captured me, promising to challenge my notion of faith as long as my heart had ears to hear.

Mark's faith was fearless, a youthful arrogance tempered by a willing inquisitiveness. My brain found the mix annoying, even challenging; yet as a matter of the heart, it intoxicated me. I was arrogant; I was inquisitive too.

Imagine my drunken delight upon hearing him sing a song that spoke to my soul's passion: justice for life's least of these, a category of people I knew of intellectually yet kept at an emotional distance.

I liked the idea of the least being greatest among us – of the poor regarded as rich and the downtrodden lifted up. The life I saw laid out before my 20-year-old eyes had me claiming a role as one of the fortunate people who could understand the power of such paradoxes without having to live them. I could, I believed, share their truth without sharing in their heartache. I could be one of the good rich ones, couldn't I, because I already got it.

Less than two years later while listening to Mark sing lyrics about God's kingdom come to earth, I felt ready to assume my adult role with him at my side. We were soul mates bonded by an understanding that our lives were to be used for good. We would marry. We would minister together as we saw need, and surely, we would be rewarded for our efforts.

Imagine my wonder 25 years later upon realizing my life's richest moments have come as one of the least of these – as one who identifies with the poor, the lame, the powerless. A weary woman with an often tired spirit who feels she can do nothing more than profess that God's kingdom truly does exists – not on a mountain, but in the messy, dirty streets.

My life's dots continue to lead me into the murkiness of life – into the kingdom of the streets.

Thank you, Mark, for capturing my heart with your voice, and for continuing to remain fearless even when harboring fears about our future. I promise to keep walking with you down the darkest streets; and as we walk, I can tell you quite a story, and you can sing me quite a song. Let's keep dreaming about tomorrow in the darkness of our nights.

* In memory of our dear friend Beth DeBerg, our first and most fervent accompanist. We miss you, Beth. You've been gone for so long now, but we still remember; we will never forget. Thank you, also, to Ken Medema, for an unbelievably beautiful song. Incredible.


Carolyn said...

My oh my. That was more than beautiful, that was holy.
Thank you for sharing this as it re-claimed my heart, my passion, and my commitment as a new semester begins on Monday. May I continue to share it?

Joy said...

How kind of you to say ... please do. And have a wonderful semester!