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Where My Piece (and peace) Fits

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever— he issued a decree that will never pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills,fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the Lord. Psalm 148

I discovered that I am very much like the main character in the children's book Are You My Mother? as I search endlessly to find where my shape fits. Until last week at Tybee, I didn't have language for this state of searching in which I so often live. Like the mesmerizing jigsaw puzzles that require attempts at fitting pieces into one another only to discover that as close as they come, they aren't quite the two that go together, I realize this experience of continual dissonance is what leaves me in a low level (and often more acute) state of anxiety. "Are you my mother?" may better be translated, "Is this where my shape fits?"

Standing beside, sitting before, walking along, swimming in, or paddleboarding on the vast ocean set beneath an expansive sky, I am wonderfully small and delightfully insignificant. I can't disrupt the tides nor can any of the troubles in the world from which I've taken a week's break. The clouds in all their varied shapes and pastel colors, the beautiful sunrises and glorious sunsets will not be interrupted or deterred because humanity can't get along or is battling a pandemic or has just learned some new bit of information about another pending crisis. And so in this extraordinarily soul-nourishing place filled with seagulls and pelicans flying in long lines back and forth from Little Tybee throughout the day, filled with morning glories that wake up with the sun and close up in the evening, filled with blue crabs, horseshoe crabs, ghost crabs, stingrays, sharks, and dolphins, filled with sea oats, palmetto plants and palm trees, and filled with my children and husband and extended family, I found where my piece fits. Effortlessly, without friction, without notice my shape finds its home.

In contrast, life at home is filled with the demanding voices (primarily my own, but also in ample supply on social media and community) yelling at me to fit my piece in here or there, quickly and passionately. They have defined love of others and role in God's economy by choosing sides, by aligning 100% with the thoughts and feelings of the friends and neighbors with whom you desire to connect your shape, by accomplishing measurable and specific actions, and urgency of accomplishment. The poor around us need to be fed, housed, employed, educated equitably, and empowered. The people of color need not to be offered seats at the table with the implication that the table still belongs to the white people, but need co-ownership of the table and probably would be most beneficial leading the table. White people need to pick up the pace in dismantling the white supremacy in our hearts, not simply realizing that whiteness is a cultural force but that it has embedded itself into all areas of society in such a way that it favors those who most easily excel in that culture's values and rules. Voting needs to be accessible to all and votes cast need to count. Mental health needs to be diagnosed and treated. Pick a side. Pick a cause. Fight for it.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15
And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thes. 4:10-12

It is not wrong that we are called to "do justice," to actively lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters and neighbors who include the foreigner, refugee, orphan, widow, sick, poor, oppressed, and unjustly treated. We were made to tend the Garden and make it flourish. We long for the restoration of all the broken places and are inspired by God's promises of repaired cisterns and lush gardens. But standing on the beach on the south end of Tybee gazing across the water at uninhabited Little Tybee, the grandeur of my surroundings sets my own smallness in place, and I realize that this is where my shape fits.

If all of creation points to God the Father and tells of His beauty and power and eternal nature, then I can accept that my shape fits best here because it is a tangible experience of being engulfed in Him. "In quietness and trust is your strength," and further, quite contrary to the internal pressure I feel to perform, loving all of God's family more and more includes minding my own business while "quietly" setting about the work before me each day. "Quiet" is repeated and isn't what anyone would characterize as my natural bent. But quieting is what being in God's presence provides. No more trying, like a toddler with a plastic shape sorting toy, to jam my piece into a space where it doesn't fit.

And though I cannot bring that landscape home with me, the God of that landscape and the Truth it proclaims is with me wherever I go. He will quiet me and gentle me and fit me in the shadow of his wing. Might I then answer the anxious cries around me with an invitation into this place of rest and trust? The troubles of the world and the hurting experienced deeply by people I love are big and genuinely threatening and reason to despair. But standing by the ocean, I can hear God's invitation not to fear with confidence that He is bigger, stronger, and can outlast and overpower the worst of what our broken world has to offer. And He does this by His grace which doesn't just outshout or dominate for power's sake but overrules with greater beauty, unfathomable peace, unreasonable love, and total restoration. This tangible experience at Tybee must become faith at home, but His surety never changes.

Truly my soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 162:1-2


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