murals in the desert

“You may stand the strain of the most intense labour, coupled with severe suffering, and yet break down utterly when laid aside from all religious activities; when forced into close confinement in some prison house.”–Streams in the Desert

As I walked past the countless murals on the street, I recognized myself: a colorful, hollow attempt at redemption. Paint splashed on bricks to make it all seem new; wide-eyed, good hearted people bounding in to help. But murals don’t change neighborhoods; neither does my showing up.

I am reminded by Psalm 103 to remember the miracles that the Lord has done. In this lonely, awake place I remember what has pointed to the divine in my life. It is my family: my precious, baby-that-almost-wasn’t, my husband, so young and brave and handsome. It is my friendships, so surprising and challenging, with people so unlike me, my Somali and Bhutanese friends. It is the way I continue to plod along after this great love I have heard about and experienced in so many tiny ways; it is the way I feel relentlessly pursued by this love, how it has pushed and pulled me outside of myself. It is the way I have been brought to this place, outside of all of my religious activities, my labours and sufferings, and am finally alone enough where I can recognize how I am a colorful, painted tomb.

I don’t want this to sound depressing; I debated all day on what I should or shouldn’t share, on how honest I can be. I find this odd space, this time of complete newness and being emptied out, to be exhilarating in every sense. I am alive, I have eyes to see, and ears to hear. How often have I been able to say that? Recognizing my own flaws, be they a propensity for pride, self-righteousness, acedia, or melancholy, is a true and vital step in becoming whole. In living life awake, asleep neither to the realities of the world or the realities of my heart. This is where I am supposed to be, and in this moment I am holding it close.


Linking up with SheLoves Magazine today, for their synchroblog on the word “awake”. Come join us?

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15 thoughts on “murals in the desert

  1. This does not sound depressing in the least. This sounds like holy-ground-time, wake-me-up time, listen-to-the-voices-inside-time – your own and God’s. Blessings as you continue to see and hear and open.

  2. How well you write, DL. And what an inspiring life. Blessings!!

  3. Jen Weaver says:

    Oh, how I feel you snuck into my room and read my journal!!! I am literally sitting here and PRAISING God for giving you the gift of filling words… meaning there are a lot of people who have the gift of words-they just seem to be the gift of empty ones. May God continue to give you those ears to hear, eyes to see, and thank you for being vunerable enough to allow us to journey WITH you and to be ministered by you at the same time. Our family continues to lift your family up and please remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

  4. amber@mercyrising says:

    This rings true. I am not sure what the streams in the desert quote fully means and will have to think on it for a bit. Love those kind of quotes.

  5. I agree with Diana, holy ground here. Of a life fully awake to God, splashed full of vivid colors that used to be muted. Thankful you shared your words.

  6. Danielle, I can certainly relate. This one is a big ouch: “Recognizing my own flaws, be they a propensity for pride, self-righteousness, acedia, or melancholy, is a true and vital step in becoming whole.” That acedia. I am praying through “Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals” and had to look it up and realize, yep, this one is for me … I certainly know this as one of my weaknesses. Along with melancholy. I am holding up the mirror, so I can be awake … truly awake to God’s heart and not the world’s realities or the deception of my own heart. Beautifully said.

    • as if you can’t tell, i am reading “acedia and me” and in this time of forced stillness, in intense reflection, i am learning to run towards my troubled thoughts. like kathleen norris says, i am focusing on the mundane (cooking, cleaning, watching the baby) in order to sort through the acedia. and i really am feeling awake, in the most bracing sense of the word. love this opportunity to read the thoughts of others on this topic. thank you idelette!

  7. Brenda Chance says:

    I’m really thankful for your honesty. I agree with you that staying in that honest place while God meets us is not an easy. Thanks for the encouragement to remain awake there. Your writing is so heartfelt. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  8. eloranicole says:

    this was beautiful, D.L – the statement of murals not changing neighborhoods (and neither you showing up) really struck me. i’ve been there before – been the blazing torch bearer for a neighborhood to rise up and “be restored.” and while this happens, and there’s truth in the prayer, you’re right. it’s not murals. it’s not us. it’s Who breathes life INTO us – Who calls us to go and be and do. praying for you.

  9. charityjill says:

    I wanted to be a part of the “Awake” synchroblog, too, but struggled with what to share, because I don’t feel like a particularly “awake” person most of the time. I get that noonday demon, too. But I appreciate your sharing–it is good to bring these things into the light. God bless!


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