A Summer Magnificat

2021, so far, has been a year of fragmented drafts. I have barely made time to blog, but I miss this place, this sweet sacred space for my own experimentation and exploration that I’ve used since I was 16 until now, at 23. The last time I wrote on here was in January, and it’s now late July (somehow). During these past six months, I experienced real depression for the first time, I failed at important things, I was hard on myself, I exhausted my emotional capacity, I ran a lot, I watched spring emerge, I swam in oceans, I laughed, I chopped my hair, I finished Anna Karenina, I was lonely, I was overwhelmed, I ached with sadness for human suffering, I was angry, I was tired of screens, I was bored, I was selfish, I hugged, I cried-with, I was held, I loved, I tried.

I was reading through my journals and found this entry from March 5, a time when waking up every day was just the worst thing and I felt so fake. Reading it over now, I’m stunned that I even wrote this:

Now I’m sitting in the sun, begging the earth and sky for grace. Asking for newness, to see myself in love and not hatred or judgement. Here I am, unsure, sitting in the sun on a cold morning, listening to birds chirp. Feeling alone and like I want to be anywhere but here. But then I feel this cold breeze on my face, the sun baking through the cold air onto my arm. And I feel that—in this moment—I am alive and ok. I will have to go back inside. I will have to put on my extravert self again and again as I do. I’m absolutely exhausted. Yet I somehow know that things will be ok, somehow I know this to be true. Help me today.

our lil spring backyard

Help me today help me today help me today. Watching spring emerge from winter this year was a total inward transformation. I went for so many walks and saw icy plants thaw into budding flowers, and I really felt spring from winter in my bones, in my being. I had brief moments where I understood that Easter is a constant happening, that mercies are new every morning, that, like Dostoyevsky wrote, we “go on living in spite of logic.”

I guess I just wanted to write on here—mostly for me—to remind myself that I am surviving a brutal year thanks to the gifts of friendship and humanity, to the breath of life that I inhale without thinking. This year I’ve become angrier and angrier toward injustice in the world, and at the same time have encountered within me a quiet knowledge of that peace that passes all understanding, a deep and unexplainable presence that could never be of my origin. A holy contradiction.

Rock Creek Park

A few weeks ago, one of my spiritual mentors told me to write my own Magnificat, to begin to put words to the gratitude that’s been swelling within me. And I did, in a flurry of a moment. I’m so, so excited and grateful for the next stage of my life—the Spirit is opening doors for me that I never ever could have imagined. Why me? Why am I a recipient of so much goodness?

Words fail, as I realize they do more and more nowadays. Why should I be filled with so much peace right now, especially in this world that is so full of suffering, especially after a year that absolutely broke me? But re-reading Mary’s words in the Gospel, her words of praise, her proclamation that God has looked down with favor on God’s lowly servant…The Almighty Lover has done such great things for me… God has shown the strength of God’s own desire for justice, God scatters the proud and the deceitful. God has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly! God has filled the hungry with good things! God has sent the rich away empty. God has come to help us, God remembers the promise of mercy. The promise God made to our ancestors, to all of us, forever.

Blue Ridge mountains

And so, with our Holy Mother, I sing my own Magnificat. No other words to write than praise, than life overflowing from my veins—Praise overflows from my very being, every ounce of my heart is steeped in a holy gratitude that I could never be the origin of—my heart that is undeserving but praises all the more in its undeservingness! Wouldn’t be where I am without the prayers of others. It is a miracle that I am so small and insignificant yet God is doing these miraculous things in my life even in a year where I have been distracted and mistrusting, God has kept knocking on my heart’s door, kept knocking the breath out of me with beauty and goodness, making my heart burst and ache with wondrous gratitude because how do I capture so much in my weary tired heart? I am yearning. I yearn. I will always yearn, yet this all feels like an answer of sorts to my yearning, a gift beyond all gifts that the path is being laid before me—Spirit you are so good—I deserve none of it but I rejoice in the fact that though I deserve none of it I am loved and deserving to You, O Holy One Who Loves, Jesus who I love—I choose, continually-wanting-asking to give my life to you, to love as you love, to embody good news to the poor in all my actions and thoughts and words. Truly my God. Thank you. Thank you. I love you Holy and Ever-Living God, Please be with me, be with me as I take these next steps. I love you my God. I love you so much. Thank you. Your love sustains me, and it makes no sense, and I can’t explain it. Amen amen amen.

Outer Banks

Not too much else to say right now. I’m writing in a coffeeshop in Chicago, where I am moving in a month, and I can’t wait to write more about that. Lots of transitions. Trying to be gentle with myself in this liminal space—which, a good friend reminded me, is a time when we are on the threshold of something, a beginning and an end, a time where we are stripped of control and find ourselves humbly postured to tune into our heart’s ear and listen. In a world of tender, still-hurting hearts, may we be gentle.

I’ll end with this journal entry, written on March 28 from the Outer Banks, about a moment in which I encountered myself again with joy after sad and lonely months:

This morning I woke up at 6:45am, saw mist and little droplets of water clinging to the holes of the screen door, put on my still-damp swimsuit and walked barefoot on the quiet street and asphalt, seeing little bits of pink starting to shine through the silver clouds of morning. I said to myself in my head, this is a moment no camera can capture, this is a precious moment, this is the body and heart I’m in. I walked over the wooden planks to the pathway of soft, cold sand among the reed-riddled dunes. Pinks and oranges and silvers in the sky, running to the shore breathless, stepping on cold sand and sharp shells. Watching the waves with their white foam dance to the shore in high tide. Stood in the cold, freezing ocean, but not feeling that cold because the wind was warm. The pink glowing sun coming up behind the cloud that was shaped like a crab. Rays of light slicing across the silver sea. Seagulls and pelicans all getting their breakfast—diving fast and hard into the water right in front of me. I felt so alive—plunging under the shallow waves—pushing myself up with my feet in the cold salty sea. So cold that two dives in a row made my head ache and I had to catch my breath. I’m in love with the ocean. Feeling so myself. I do not want to leave. I picked up a shell beneath my feet, all the questions of the universe answered in this beautiful little shell. How can such beauty exist, truly? Here I am, sea salt in my hair, a smile that won’t leave my face. Here I am, broken and learning. Here I am.

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