Thursday, October 27, 2011

Giving Birth to Our Dreams: Miscarriage

For those who have never suffered a miscarriage, it's probably hard to know what it's really like. The elusive emptiness; the hollow sorrow of losing something that you never held; something that never had visible substance, yet had become real to you.

It became real because your imagined it. You found out that you were pregnant and soon your mind was alive with images, with wonderment of what it would be like, some day, to hold this little child in your arms. And when the miscarriage happened, all those dreams had no where to go, no funeral, no place to be buried.

Our first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. We hadn't planned on or tried to get pregnant. But once we found out, it took no time before we let our imaginations frolic along the path of future parenthood. It felt like a cruel and unbelievable prank when, at 14 weeks, I lost our baby.

I felt so very alone in my pain. Nothing to show for it, other than the dreams I'd dreamed. I ached and wept for days, cocooned in a dark space of disappointment and bewilderment. It took weeks to come to terms with the loss of this dream and with God. Over time, I suppose I did.

Strangely today I feel some of the same anguish. I've grown up a bit since my first miscarriage and learned a bit more about the nature of life and what to expect of it. But today I feel that same elusive emptiness and hollow sorrow. Not because of the loss of a human life within me, but the loss of a dream--a dream that had captured and consumed my imagination for weeks.

In the process of giving birth to this dream of a retreat center (SFI), David and I found what looked like a viable property. It was a little, hand-hewn log home in a cluster of woods with a stream and pond on 5 acres of land. It had much of what we wanted and the setting made our imagination combustible.

Then we found out on Monday, the same day we also found out that we had a guaranteed buy-out on our home, that the cabin had sold over the weekend. So..., here we are, wondering and grieving; aching and wistful as we reminisce about what could have been.

When I had my first miscarriage, God met me in a particular gospel story. Interestingly, last week, before we "miscarried" the dream of our little cabin in the woods, I spent time in imagining prayer in the same story: John 11.

This chapter tells about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The narrative explains that Jesus dearly loved Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Yet, instead of coming to them when he heard the news of Lazarus's serious illness, he tarried and Lazarus died. All along, he told his disciples that this sickness would not "end" in death. And days later Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

As I used my imagination in prayer, walking through the story with Jesus, the theme that surfaced was the reality that God often brings life from death. I know that to be true. My journey with him illustrates that reality over and again.

So, right now I am looking for life, trying hard not to keep my eyes narrow but wide open, studying for signs, even in unlikely places. Maybe the most important thing of all, I'm allowing my dream to continue to inspire my imagination. Perhaps miscarriages have that affect.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Giving Birth to Our Dreams: The Risk of Desire

One of the greatest risks in giving birth to our dreams is the risk of desiring. Desire is what spawns dreams. Desire--an unweildly beast--is what rises up within us like a caged animal wanting to be released. But something in us knows that if we open the cage door, life will never be the same. Pandamonium may result.

(Yes, I'm using this analogy on the heels of the national news story of the guy in Zanesville, Ohio who "collected" wild animals for a hobby and two nights ago let them out of their cages and then took his own life.)

It feels like I've let desire out of it's cage and it's running loose. Not only have I embraced the desire to establish Sustainable Faith Indy ( ), but David and I have let our hearts go for a specific property to house SFI. After we found it, we immediately put our house on the market and have been earnestly moving forward to see if we could purchase it.

We wrote a contingency offer on Friday (contingent on selling our house) and yesterday we found out that someone else has put an offer on it--without a contingency. Now it hurts to desire. It feels like a trick to desire. Our imaginations had run wild with desire as we envisioned ourselves, our family and Sustainable Faith guests retreating at this property.

Now what do we do since desire is out of it's cage? 

I'm not sure. That's what I am asking God this morning. All along we have prayed deeply about our dream and this property--prayed that if it's not the place, that God would redirect us. I'm still not ready to give it up; not ready to let this particular property go. Perhaps the desire it evoked can lead us to a better place, a different property that has the same, or even more potential.

Yes, it feels like a risk to desire. At the same time, it seems unimaginable and even tragic to keep my desires caged inside me. I know that true desire needs the freedom to roam, to explore its surroundings and establish itself. So, even though it hurts right now to desire, it's still worth the risk. (And it certainly beats shooting it--the fate of the lions, tigers and bears in Zanesville. How very sad.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Giving Birth to Our Dreams: Waiting

The for sale sign is in the front yard. We stuck it in the ground together, ceremoniously, and with a lump in our throats. We've lived deeply and well in this home for fourteen years. It means a lot to us. We've raised four kids and owned two dogs while living here. We've worn traffic patterns in the carpet. Gotten our hands dirty in the garden, planting and transplanting.

The sign in the front yard represents movement--our overcoming the inertia of fourteen years of staying in one place. We've put it there in faith that the dream within us to give birth to Sustainable Faith Indy is a God-dream. And so we wait--something that's never been easy for me.

We wait for the one person to walk through our home and say, "This is it!", so that we can, in turn, say the same to the person who owns the property we have identified. A chain of events. A sequence that must be followed for this dream to have it's day.

This morning, as I was reading The Inner Compass by Margaret Silf, she provided a very helpful prompt for prayer. She invited me to visualize leaving my little, secure cottage at the edge of the banks of a river, and to step out onto the stepping stones in the river (of life). The river around me might be racing or it might be calm. Either way, I must stay planted on the one stone, waiting, until God provides the next one. (Oh, and by the way, I can't see the riverbank on the other side.)

Silf writes, "As time passes, I learn to recognize God's ways, and to trust, when I stand in the middle of the fast-moving water, that he will always bring me one more stone--just one--and call me forward to one next step."

So, I'm waiting for one more stone to take one next step. That's all I need. A chain of events. A sequence that must be followed for this dream to have it's day.