– simple thoughts & writings &c. by Elizabeth Heimbaugh –

Jehovah Shalom

The window of life is uncurtained and clear – look outside all you please and the sun on the grass, the wind in the trees, will give you back the hope you’ve been dying to find.

Can I ask you a simple question?

What is it like to be free?

The thing I struggle against is finding the will to be free from the fears that pin me down. It’s a crazy thing, to suffocate under the pressure of so much confusion, so much darkness and doubt. You’d think the light would reach me here, since I’ve been asking for it to shine on me all this time.

But there must be a cloud that blocks the sun – some tint of obscurity that turns the whole picture gray, takes away the brilliance I’ve been dreaming of seeing.

Yet – here’s the rub:

I can’t tell you what color is if all you’ve seen is gray. How can I describe the burst of hue that dazzles your eyes if your eyes are covered by shades?

The impossible is impossible, unless you bring GOD to the table…. Because His ways are mystery and life.

Jehovah Shalom – The LORD is peace. The LORD is peace and I wish to have His ways entangled with mine. The LORD is peace and I want to breathe the peace of the Spirit – in and out – as I walk and talk and eat my daily bread.

When you ask me what I want from life – I can tell you that what I want is… PEACE.

Blueprint of the Heart

“Pain happens when you care.” – Lisa Cuddy from the T.V. show House

Yes, love is a beautiful thing. The most beautiful thing you will experience in your life, in fact. But it’s not without its struggle, it’s not without its pain. The people who love the most have also, in truth, suffered the most – simply because the heart is not made of stone, but of flesh – and the more the heart is asked to hold, the more the pressure is felt. The mechanics of it are rather simple, you see.

And yet – don’t be discouraged. Your lot in life is not an endless string of Pains. No – what you are meant for, above all, is participation in the act of communion, a uniting of souls that contains so much beauty and so much life that the magnificence of the encounter can’t be put into words. So you must leave off to dreaming about such wonders – and opening yourself to them – on your own.

Don’t wish for something that doesn’t belong to you. When you mold your heart into a shape it’s not designed for, you open a world of difficulties for yourself. The simplest way of putting it is this:

Be who you’re meant to be and the world can’t help but to respond in grace.

The people who are most alive – you know them by their joy, their peace – have taken seriously this injunction to live according to the blueprint of their hearts. Why wish to be someone you’re not – when the someone you are is very lovely indeed?

Do you doubt the path you travel on? The only way to uncover the truth is to appreciate how much you’ve been given. If you feel confused, be at peace – for even the holiest and wisest of souls have doubted the way. You’re doing your best, and that’s all you can hope to do.

Be aware that sometimes, people with good intentions will try to lead you in a way you aren’t being called. The reason they mislead is not because they wish to bring you harm – but because their hearts do not possess the wisdom of GOD’s particular will for you. GOD reveals His will into your heart, so you must turn there first and above all, so you will be led by the proper paths.

If you begin to feel that you can no longer believe your heart, or trust in its counsels, ask yourself if there’s some part of your life you’re neglecting.

That is, is there some area of your existence that you’ve chosen to ignore because it gives you pain?

If you discover a blockage in one form or another, address your prayers (and actions) to this domain and see if things don’t begin to feel clearer and cleaner for you in time.

“Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” – Psalm 4:4

Path through the Woods

Follow the path through the woods and lose yourself among the branches. The key to living an unimpeded life is having the courage to walk a different way. When you constrain yourself to following the paths already trodden by others, you lose a sense of the salt that gives life its flavor. You mustn’t worry about the reception others will give you – it’s more important that you take the chance to wipe your feet and walk in the way you are called.

“Dance until you drop,” she said. “Dance until your heart is about to burst from your chest and your feet are nearly numb with exhaustion. Then – and only then – will you know what it means to be free.”

Be my friend.
By my companion through life.
Be the one I turn to in distress,
the one I cry on in pain.
Be he who lifts my soul
to higher things
and lights my way with joy.
Be for me
exactly the person you are
and I will let myself revel in the garden of pure delight.

Ecstasy is what you desire, ecstasy is what you seek. How will you find it by crawling among the weeds, doing the same things you’ve always done and expecting a different result? Haven’t your heard that that’s the path of the insane? You must have the courage, my friend, to seek out richer terrain, to plant your seeds in fertile ground. Then you will taste the goodness of the sublime – forgetting yourself in the pursuit of a monstropolous Love.

When all we want is light, it’s a grief and a burden to find only darkness.

Where is the candle I lit an hour ago? Where is the lantern I’d laid at my feet?

Has the wax melted down so low that there’s no oil left to burn? Can you live your life and do your work in the dark?

Fumbling encounters, blinded attempts.

The life of a babe still unable to open his eyes to see his mother’s face.

But all is not lost. All is not taken away. The thing to remember is that there glows from the depths an unquenchable fire – neither water nor sand nor attempts to smother can put it out. It is the eternal flame – the stuff of stories, the prize of legends and myths. It is real, it exists – and it can be found by an honest attempt to seek it out. When you are ready to throw off the darkness you’ve been wearing – the shadow you’ve drawn about you like a cloak – speak aloud into the cavernous depths and proclaim your wish. The echoes of your desire will move you step by step along the road you must travel, and your eyes, slowly but surely, will accustom themselves to the light.

Once upon a time, a child was born.

His parents were older folk, and poor, and they cried to see his entrance into the world.

Their joy was simple and sure, but their sadness was equally resolute.

How could they bring a child – a little boy, full of light – into a dusty, darkened home where the winds blew through the door and the crickets chirped a constant refrain?

The mother sighed and the father hunched his shoulders in thought.

After a while, the baby cooed and his mother took him in her arms. The full moon shone through the curtains into the room and the stars glittered with light.

The mother smiled, the father relaxed, and the child stirred a little – in joy.

Betraying Your Heart

Whatever it is that’s holding you back – you must vow to let it go. When you stop yourself from becoming the person you’re meant to be, you’ve committed a mortal sin – mortal, I say, because you’ve separated yourself in one fell swoop from the will of GOD in your life. Sounds harsh, perhaps – but the reality of an unlived life is harsher and harder to account for in the end.

Find me ten people you love and I will tell you what kind of woman you are. For it is in the quieter choices of our own hearts – the intuitive preference for This thing or That – that our natures are revealed, for better or for worse.

C.S. Lewis remarked: “Surely what a man does when he is caught off guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is?”

It’s of no value to pretend to yourself. It’s only the fool who thinks he can deceive his own heart in the silence of the night. “Cathy, how could you betray your heart!?” Heathcliff screamed. Brutish ways aside, the man had a point – to violate your heart is a form of mutilation, an act of violence against the self. If the heart is the wellspring of life, why pollute the waters with lesser things and muddied truths? Drink of the pure waters of Life and live.

I’m getting too abstract, I’m growing too naïve. How can I put it better?

You must listen to the promptings of your innermost voice when it comes to matters of life and love.

If you don’t, you start to lose touch with the force that animates your being and you resign yourself to a smaller way of life. And how, I wonder, could you be content with that?

But come thou and stayest with me the night and we shall find our rest.

A Fool with a Weakness for Hope

Don’t fear what comes next. The most beautiful part of life is falling in love with what is good. When you learn to put aside your selfish ways, you find yourself happier and more satisfied than before. Whoa – the tables have turned and there’s sense in the paradox. What do you think you were given a mind for? To keep everything nice and neat? Or to test the boundaries of what is true and discover for yourself the wideness of the world?

Once there was a man whom you loved. He carried himself tall and straight, with nothing but love in his heart. You thought it was magnificent, the way he learned to live in such an upright way – so you began to follow his steps and walk in the manner of his life. You couldn’t tell whether he was doing it out of joy, or out of a fear of doing wrong – sometimes the difference wasn’t so easy to see.

But whenever he asked you how you felt, whether you were happy or not – you felt a twinge in your heart that told you something was amiss. So finding the courage to examine your soul and look for the truth, you bid farewell to the man you loved and began to walk in the way you were called.

How the moths have found the way
to your drawers—
I haven’t a clue.

They’ve been waiting for years
just to find the food
of your sweeter,
sadder
lives.

Well, the weather is nice. The weather is fine. When it comes to the art of finding Truth, you must be scrupulous in discerning yourself. Yes, you must spare no effort to uncover the motives and promptings of your heart, and make yourself free as a bird to be led in the direction of Truth – unanchored to the desires you have for This to be So and That to be Such. You must desire Truth more than you desire the fulfillment of any particular wish, for otherwise your scales will be unbalanced and your quest for justice will be tipped askance.

Be a friend to those who need you.
Be a mother to those who fear.
Be a lover to those who long.
Be a teacher to those who seek.
Be a daughter to the One who made the Heavens and the Earth.
And all shall be well,
All shall be well.

Can you find me?
I am lost in the hallways of despair,
flashing my light
into the infinite underground.

Boo! The magic of the season has stolen your wits away.

Please, my GOD, point me in the direction of peace.
Show me the way to live a holy life, devoted to You.
Teach me how to fall in love so recklessly that my heart has never felt so big and full of joy.
Let me rejoice in the truth of a more beautiful existence – let me believe in the goodness and beauty of Your ways.
Let me Trust in You as You ask me to.

Elizabeth here. When I want to say something, I can and I will. The only trouble is, my thoughts often repeat themselves, and they make a broken record sound nice. You know, it’s hard to shake the habit of worry, the habit of trying to control and maneuver all the little things that give me pause.

I try to wrap myself in a perfect ball – seamless, polished, unimpeded, whole. But what a lot of self-torment goes into the process – trying to keep everything in line. To be the captain of such a provincial ship – there is no honor in that. Fussing over all the domestic details that should be left to GOD. What un-freedom in the act of trying to turn oneself into a science experiment, always recalling, scrutinizing, and questioning the effects of every morsel of food ingested, the length of every step taken. Hello! We are called to a larger life than this. “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat. Don’t worry about your body, what you will wear.”

I’ve become an expert in micromanagement – to what avail? The honor is unwanted, is without grace. I’ve not even been successful in attaining the outcomes I purport to ratchet under my command. It’s clear that my surrender and trust work far more miracles than my attempts to control.

Why is this such a hard lesson to learn? I thought I was a good student – so why do I need the lesson repeated so many times?

My fear is that I’m insane. I’m worried I’ve lost the truth – or maybe never had it at all. What I mean is – my inner voice keeps compelling me to believe in certain things, and yet the outer world doesn’t align. I’m always so confused by the uncertainty of life – everything seems wrong and right all at once. My inner voice (let’s call it that for simplicity) is one of the only things cutting through the chaos and leading me by a surer, more encouraging path. And to be confronted with the possibility that this voice has been only a product of my own imagination, a projection of my own desires – and not a reliable guide to Truth, a beautiful communion with GOD – leaves me stuck, at a standstill, uncertain of everything, not knowing What is true or Whom to trust…. And yet, my simple heart continues to believe. Does that make me insane? Or just a fool with a weakness for Hope?

The Freedom that Comes from Being Light

 

When the world becomes too much to bear, the only response is to stop and throw all of your cares to the wind. The freedom that comes from being light – how can anything compare?

Years ago, a worker sat down to rest from his job at the factory. His hand was hurting him and his head ached. All of a sudden, there arrived in his mind this thought: “Why do you worry about your body when it is your soul that is sick?” He was dumbstruck and couldn’t move for a minute or more. When he finally came to, he felt a sensation growing inside his stomach – a warm tingling he hadn’t felt before. “Where did it come from?” he asked. “I ate but an hour ago. Besides, this is not hunger, but something more.”

When at last he heard the bells signaling the return to his post, he stood to go. But first, he breathed deeply and said: “The LORD has come upon me today and asked me to change. My answer now determines whether I shall live a free man, or whether I shall die a slave to the torments of a lesser power.” Saying this, he collected himself and turned the corner, lit with a glow before unknown to him. The Spirit of Life took hold of him from that point on, and he became a holy man whom many loved and desired to be near.

What a way to explain the aches of a sorrowful heart. What a way to understand the powers of a force you can’t contain. When you stop to consider how far apart the people have grown – how distant from each other they’ve become – you realize that someone must act, something must move. But how, but why, but who? Your chaos divides you in two and there is little room for the pleasures of a simple life devoted to love.

Four winds from every way
blew toward a single spot.
I came and stood amidst them all
and lost myself in thought.

Lo, how a rose e’er blooing—
petal, petal, petal—free
me from the garden of impossible
woes.

Be yourself, be free.
The simplest thing to do
is breathe.

Wow, my gosh almighty – what a looker you are. What a pretty little thing on the verge of growing up. When the time comes for courting, you’ll be the first one swept off your feet.

Night-time Question

Can you hear the people sing? All the voices are drowning in the echoes of their sweet refrain. But why don’t you keep asking for peace, so that, when it comes, you’ll have nothing to ask for but thanksgiving?

When the moment is lost to more than the sound of truth, you can only ask for the grace to be patient. It’s no longer a question of who is right and who is wrong – no, instead, it’s a matter of principle, a matter of fact or tact, as the case may be. You can only begin to understand once you’ve swallowed the poisonous lies and spit them out. Wave by wave, the sense crashes upon you in a rhythm that calms your mind.

Shakespeare wrote a hundred plays he didn’t use. No, that’s not right – but who’s to say he didn’t? The thing about truth is that it’s difficult to take in big doses. Only those who can handle a day of turning in bed, sick with the stomach-flu, can begin to acknowledge the process of understanding what’s right.

Oh, say can you see. The wind blows through your hair and you remember the word you were looking for. The word you meant to say so long ago to the one you loved. How did you manage to let him go? The wonderful thing about life is that the ebb and flow never stops – one rises, one falls, and the current drives you forward even in the midst of pain. Stupidly beautiful, in its way.

Then, all that remains is a question you must ask yourself at night, when the lights are low. The question is simple: how do you find the will to live? The answer depends on the state of your heart and the state of your mind. If you’d rather take a different tack and pursue the meaning of other things – you may, and you should, but the heart will not rest until the soul is content with your reply. Content with the knowledge that all you live for is safely tucked away in the deepest corners of your being, impervious to the whims of time and luck and the pain of things getting hard.

Star of the Sea

Written from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

What happens when you follow a dream, only to have it plucked from your grasp and torn into shreds? It’s true, you know, that sometimes people miss out on their dreams. Sometimes the heart’s desire isn’t fulfilled. What happens then? What happens to one’s sense of poetic justice in the face of such idealistic collapse? The dreamers aren’t very skilled at recovering from the shock. It’s not in their nature to contend with such ugly truths. A poetic soul is grieved at the loss of beauty inherent in an unrealized dream. The beauty fades, the beauty dies. What is life without beauty?

Can you see the way I’m pining for something more? Can you see how my longing has turned into something all-engrossing, something that won’t be ignored? I’m not sure how to say the things I want to say. The thoughts are big, too elusive for me to catch. But the important thing is to try, to catch the fragments of light that come and put into words what we can. Then we will have a starting point, then we will find a way to build into something more.

Love is always on the tongue. Love is always in the heart. Your senses are clear, clean – like crystal-glass – easy to break, easy to see right through. If GOD had wanted me to be a happy soul, He would have made my heart of sturdier things. But now that He has not – what do I make of that?

The heart so full of longing that it spills over like the sea – a rough-and-tumble CRASH of wave upon wave, onto the shores of a distant land. The horizon never meets the sky – only appears that way. A long-appointed kiss, delayed until the waiting can sustain itself no longer – an explosion of desire on the cusp of the world, the edge of the ocean.

How can we explain such things?

Find me someone who knows the way to peace and I will show you the makings of a perfect man. The sun shines warm on the face of those who keep their heads high, and their humility grounded – mostly because there are too many things to infuriate the people who live life in complicated ways. The simple will prevail.

Star of the sea—
Find me
a place to call my own.

The waves are crashing,
the wind is free—
All I wish to be
is me.

What windy days, what burning questions in need of watering down. I can’t find how to bring it all together in a meaningful way.

My GOD is inscrutable to me, I cannot hear His voice. I am lost at sea without a compass to chart my course—no map to guide my ways. How will I contend with reality in the face of such illusion? How will I move in the absence of anything to tell me to “walk this way”? My faith: a little string of kelp caught in the rudders of our ship, dangling and swaying like crazy to be set free.

How am I to persist when I haven’t the faintest clue what is up and what is down? The emptiness of losing the Friend who has your heart inside His own – how can you put the desolation into words? My hand is weak, my mind is numb. Save me from the thoughts that drown.

Balcony Window (Stream of Consciousness)

The wonderful thing about playing with fire is that the only way to leave the game is to escape. What is the word I’m looking for? There’s something unripe in the meditation on a piece of fruit. Can you hear the sense in all the madness? The Meaning calls you by name, and yet you hesitate to hear. What do you need to make you believe? Is the world so lonely that you need to keep checking in? The pots and pans can take care of themselves, I think. But how are we to know for sure? How are we to take the laurels of victory in our hands and say, “Look! Our King has won! Let’s glory in the triumph of this day”?

It’s not an easy thing to do, when you’re lost amid the piles of madness that fill your mind with muck.

And to say nothing of the heart-ache that weighs you down – how painful that must be! But you know how the story goes – first, you put on your hat, and then, sooner or later, you take it off, only to see how much craziness has been building up inside your head. What a lot of nonsense we speak.

But lo! The balcony window has opened, just a crack. What beauty sings inside? You were charmed by the prospect of feeling alive in a different place – the fancy of going home to a house other than your own. But why stop the dream? Your hands are clapping and cheering you on – it’s tiresome to fight for what’s right in a world that’s full of wrong.

And this is all we have to say, this is all for now. Stay quiet a moment and think – the meaning behind the madness will begin to emerge and take its shape in the cloudy contours of your mind. Peace, peace – my word for you is peace.

The Beginning of Time (Stream of Consciousness)

The beginning of time is the first point of contact with all that is good. When you find the time to pray, start by asking: What is the purpose of my life, that I should wake every morning to find my body dressed in flannel and my eyes all tired with half-forgotten sleep? How can any of us know which way is up in such a sleepy kind of world?

And then! What can you say about the rest of the people who fill your life and mind with so much sorrow, so much hope? You’ve fallen in love too many times for your own good – your heart is feeling the weight of so many collapses.

And yet! Here we are again, wondering how to do things just right, wondering how to be perfect. Well, let me tell you a secret: there is perfection in your failure to be “just so” – for how much life has boiled up and expended itself in the process of getting lost!

Lost, you say? Yes, well, “not all who wander are lost.” A dart in the stomach will only cause you pain if you let it. So don’t be worried about all that is to come – there’s only light and grace for those who have a humble heart that’s willing to believe.