Island of the World

I do not remember the days when recipes were traded face-to-face, scribed by hand. Or the days when five jars of peaches were bartered for a sack of potatoes, when picnic blankets were spread beneath the sun and laid with pies and other goodies to feed the men after the barn raising, when young men and women gathered to dance away the evening in a barn-loft (and I mean real dancing, the kind that fosters respect).

I should remember those days—because we should still be living them.

But we are not. In an age when we are able to connect more than ever before—be it by phone, text, email, or Skype—we have lost our ability to truly connect. Anything done with the heart takes intent and sacrifice and effort, therefore we no longer truly connect because it is too easy to reach out to each other. Our communication has lost its quality. And thus community has dissolved, because community is formed through communication. We need community more than we think, my friends. I need it more than I once thought.

We have become islands. Perhaps I can live a sustainable life on my island, but it is the loneliest place, where one becomes entangled in one’s own self and knows nothing outside this web. I have lived this. I still struggle with this at times—but the struggle is good; it means I am seeking to reach out with the heart. Yes, it requires intent to arrange a coffee date with a friend; yes, it requires sacrifice to drive over on your day off and bake cookies with the neighbor’s kids while she recovers from an illness; yes, it requires effort to host a barbecue for a large family. But in turn, we find ourselves journeying alongside people who share the same joys and pains that we ourselves know, the same virtues and flaws. And sometimes we encounter joys and pains we have never known, virtues we desire, and flaws demanding our mercy. In this, the Body of Christ is revealed to us—every wound and every ray of light extending from those wounds. In this, we grow.

It’s not about the recipes, the homegrown food, the building of barns, or the good old-fashioned dancing. It’s about meeting Christ in those whom He has made in His image. And in an age when imagery is often assaulting us from every angle, we desperately need to seek out the image that is most good, true, and beautiful. Discover this image in the old woman come to sit beside you on the bench, in the child lifting his woodcraft to your eyes, in the grizzly man with an ancient story to tell. Listen to their stories and grow. Tell your stories and watch those around you grow. And perhaps one day we will find ourselves living no longer on islands but on the island of the world, watching together the horizon to see the ship that will carry us Home.

We Must Dream

I cannot help but dream. And dream big—dream foolishly even. Foolish, anyway, to those who do not believe God can make the impossible possible. I think many lose faith in their dreams because they do not have faith in Divine Providence, that mysterious hand that can work wonders in your life, if you let it.

Should our dreams fade with age, as so often happens? No, I believe they should not be abandoned for what is deemed logical, safe, and attainable, because our dreams point to Heaven, to something above and beyond ourselves. Yes, our dreams draw us toward those light-filled spaces, to where every good, true, and beautiful dream is fulfilled.

Should we not reach toward Heaven, though we cannot attain it in this life? We must reach, or what is there to live for? (Or rather, what is there to die for?) Just so, we must dream.

And so I do . . .

Happiness is a Goat

Well, I’ve encountered another unexpected stepping stone in the path that is life. I am spending my last month on Prince Edward Island on the little hobby farm. But perhaps that is not so unexpected.

Ever since I was a child, I have loved the simple life, but there was a time when I thought that my desire to live it out was unrealistic and I would eventually outgrow that desire, or at least be required to shelve it away within me. But I have since come to realize that I will never outgrow it, I will never be able to abandon it among dusty memories—because I am called to live it out. Something as unshakable as this can only be by design. Yes, once again, I find myself immersed in the simple life, unable to stay away, drawn like a moth to light. Here, I am fully alive. And God desires that we be fully alive. In that state, our every movement becomes energized, joyful, prompt. In that state, a goat can make me grin just to look at it.

If you let Him, God will indeed fulfill your heart’s truest (unshakable) desires. Not always right away, though. I think we often equate waiting with wasting—precious time wasting away—but if I’ve learned anything in my twenty years, it’s that time spent waiting can be more effective in moving you toward happiness than is leaping forward without God-given wings. Like a caterpillar within its cocoon, or a chick within its egg, emerge too soon and you will never have the chance to fly.

I pray you will have the chance, as I have. It’s beautiful up here, my friend, simply beautiful.