Some days, instead of wondering if something will live up to my expectations, I worry that I cannot live up to life. Today, will I be me, or will I be this cardboard cut-out version of myself, propped up in times I am expected to be present, but knowing I simply can’t be all-in? We just went on a short two-day getaway to Montreal. Our first day there I was anxious I would be that other-girl, that not-quite-girl. I know she is a part of me, too, just as much as the girl who stares at stars and the girl who drinks her coffee black and her whiskey straight. But I haven’t quite yet learned what do with her.
The second day I felt no different, but I strapped my camera across my shoulder and we took off. My camera helps me sometimes, skews my angle, adjusts the amount of light I’m letting in. I thought, Maybe today I could be the girl who sees things differently.
The Norte-Dame Basilica in Montreal is a site simply begging to be photographed. The space curves around color and light, calling it into corners private, quiet, then throwing it high into the air to bend and shimmer. My family meandered off in different directions, and I found myself alone, with quiet and space to stir the curiosity that urges me to bring the camera in the first place.
I felt quite removed from the religion of the place. I wanted to be respectful, but the arched ceilings seemed to say that God was high above, the long aisle to the front seemed to echo— God is distant.
This is not the God that collects my tears.
This is reverence.
But is it faith?
It was beautiful, and I could sit in the stillness of it, but I did not imagine that God could meet me in it.
A group of nervous teenagers began to file past the ropes in front of the chancel, lining up right in front of everybody. A tone or two— and, does everyone know the note where we begin?
Then, a collective breath in.
O Lord, my God,
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works
Thy hand has made
Lofty words describing a powerful God, but, one I know, now, because I know this music. This music is home to me in foreign space, it is a hand held out where I thought there was only air, and distance.
On they sang, all songs familiar, songs old and new, and crowds gathered, perching on the edges of pews as if no one was sure that this is what was done in church— this worship.
I zigzagged through the sanctuary, through the songs, continuing to snap pictures. There was just so much to see, so many ways to see it.
My family was getting antsy. Already we’d been there a while. I’d been afforded time and space, but now I needed to recognize the reality of agenda. Watches checked, and heads nodded, I began to pack it in.
My lens was gently capped, my camera was zipped away, and I was headed out the door, really, I was, when one single voice began:
You call me out upon the water
The great unknown, where feet may fail
I sat back down slow.
Oh, the time I have spent aching over those words, over the certain coupling of the words “call” (Call! He calls me!) and “fail” (oh, how I can fail).
I know calling.
I know the burden of believing— knowing— just what the call is on my life.
I attach to this call strings of concerns and expectations, wind them tight all around myself,
and still I go to pieces.
The potential of this call frightens me just as much as the idea that somehow I’ve missed it, somehow I’ve messed it up.
I would love to tell you that as I sat there, a great weight was somehow lifted, and right there in that moment I just knew it’d all be fine.
Does any such magic exist?
My call has not shifted, or changed.
My fear has not suddenly been blown away like ash from a dwindling fire.
The prayer is the same as it always is:
I don’t know if David fully understood the complete capacity of the calling on his life as he ran from Saul— writing words inspired by God Himself. And did David ever think—this is not what you called me to. A life of running and hiding and writing—I am meant to be king! You chose me yourself! Instead, this…
We set a certain precedent when we use the word calling. It holds weight. It means something more than simply, “I like to do this thing.”
It means I must.
I must because there is a space I’m meant to fill.
I must because there is a work I’m meant to do.
I must because if I do not…
if I do not…
there is not air
there is not light
there is not me.
I start with prayer.
I spend days writing page after page of prayers in an attempt to answer the call.
I hope it will lead to something…the word I want to use here is more.
Something worthwhile, as if prayer is not enough.
Something that proves that the time I spend in it has produced something of value.
Something someone can see
and if we’re lucky, can feel.
Is the weight I’ve put on this calling diminishing the communication I’ve come to cherish with my own Creator, who has instilled in me this reflection of Himself, this driving need to create?
Maybe I need to whittle down that word— calling.
Maybe it is not something I am meant to fulfill only one way, each day I manage to rise for one more go.
Maybe I need to take it back, pry it from the clenched fists of my own expectations.
Maybe today, just today, the calling looks nothing like a place I have to reach, or a person I have to be,
maybe the calling is as simple and exquisite as God— Himself— saying,
“Come, meet me here.”
What would happen if— today— I answer that call?
Answer how I know best, pen in hand, expectant of the creation.
God doesn’t give me words the way he did with David.
This— this is different.
This isn’t inspiration as much as it is communion.
My words are not God-breathed.
But, in a world where I consistently catch myself living and loving and moving in stunted hesitancy,
This is a full cycle of breath.
Lungs replenished with fresh air, and no longer waiting for the pieces of myself to all fit together before I exhale, and draw in again.
Come, meet me here.
I answer the call, look for the right word to fit such an invitation. Honored? Humbled?
Ah, there it is.