Psalm 36:7-9 How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. . . For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.
I had an awful dream last night. More about that later, and the glimmer of light God is giving me through it.
Friday evening, we had a several-hour blackout due to a storm. Suddenly it was obvious how much we depend on electrical power, not just to see what’s around us, and do things we want to do, but to communicate with other people. Dave missed a meeting with leaders from several countries. I missed some online connecting I planned to do while he was on that call.
But instead, we snuggled on the couch in the light of a single candle, enjoying an unexpected quiet space just for “us.”
One topic of conversation was how much we take for granted electrical power, clean water, food, etc. etc. Our friends in Venezuela are delighted when they have power for a few hours.
Another topic was a video Dave had just filmed for me, and whether I would find the courage to post it on Facebook. (I did it the next morning; you can see our best-of-seven-attempts on the All I See Is Grace page.) I needed courage because “marketing” is hard for me. My family and close friends have heard me bewail that all too often.
A tough reality for people like me: authors must sell their own books. This is true whether we publish traditionally or independently, in this market where book publishers are fighting to survive. After giving it my best in the few months after Karis, All I See Is Grace was published, I breathed a sigh of relief, said “Whew, that’s over,” and settled into my next writing project.
Last month, though, my spiritual director challenged that view, suggesting this moment, now, when not just the U.S. but the whole world is caught in pandemic and economic upheaval, when we’re feeling the stress of isolation and disruption of our routines and expectations, when we can’t visit our loved ones in nursing homes or hospitals or mourn them properly when they die, when we as a nation are grasping for new understanding of the realities of entrenched systemic racism, when “fake news” and “real news” can be hard to tell apart, when gracious public discourse seems to have all but disappeared . . . this moment is perhaps the moment Karis’s words of hope and joy and love across boundaries can encourage us to turn toward God in new and deeper ways to find the light we need.
If any of this resonates with you, you can help me by sharing the video on your own FB page, and by liking the All I See is Grace page. Even by gifting the book to people who are struggling right now.
We made the video deliberately without “God language,” hoping it could merit a viewing by a wider audience. The book, though, takes people straight to God.
All this makes sense in my mind. Ever since I posted the video, though, I’ve been on the edge of tears. And last night I had this horrible dream.
I dreamed an eighteen-wheeler pulled up in front of our house and dumped a load of large, sharp rocks on our front lawn. Like monster gravel. I ran out waving my arms in protest, yelling to say they had the wrong house, when I saw a caravan of trucks pulling up. None of my arm-waving or yelling or window-pounding made any difference. One by one the trucks pulled up and dumped their loads, until I was forced by the growing mountain of stuff back into my house. Dirt. Garbage of all kinds. Old appliances. Squashed this and rusty that. By the time they were all gone, I couldn’t see out of our windows or open the door. I was stuck inside, trapped by an avalanche of refuse.
It’s as vivid to me now in the retelling as it was in the dreaming.
Lord, what on earth . . . ?
“It’s your fear,” came his whisper. “Your fear of reliving the grief. The losses. The exhaustion. The huge emotional cost of writing the Karis book. Your fear of not having learned all you needed to learn, of not having much to contribute, of letting Karis down by not representing her life adequately. Your feelings of insecurity in U.S. culture and with technology, of not knowing the right things to do or say. Your fears of not using well the limited time you have left in the world, however long that may be. All these messy, rusty, broken-down old fears.”
“It’s not really about the marketing, then?”
“No. You’ll have a totally different experience with sharing Horse Thief 1898. The Karis book pulls so much emotion back to the surface that it’s hard for you to maintain perspective. There’s so much of you in that book, in her story, that you feel vulnerable, out of control, unable to defend yourself. Like in the dream.”
Believe it or not, this truly is a ray of light into my darkness. Because I am delighted with the Horse Thief story and would love to share it with you! And I don’t want that to be as hard as I find talking about Karis, All I See Is Grace. A long post, to say thank you to God who is walking this journey with me, and to you, who are doing so as well. Thank you.
Maybe I do need a good cry to help regain my equilibrium. Maybe in your own circumstances, you do too?