God in the bushes {guest post}


I met Sarah Murray through the Story 101 writing course, and I was blown away by the brilliance and depth of her poetry. She blogs about vulnerability and the paralysis of perfectionism, and her words are always full of power and raw beauty. It is a pleasure to have her here today:

Church in bush
I am your model church attendee, or should I say, was.
 

I was the one that arrived early to set up, and stayed late to help clean up. I had my name on every sign-up sheet, went to worship practice Wednesday nights, hosted Bible study in my home, and I never took a sick day.
 

That’s what it means to be the church, right? To “give yourself for the cause of Christ?”, to die to your self, and share what you have with those who ask of you?
 

I wonder how we came to understand “build my church” as cement and plaster. I wonder how many of us are giving our lives to programs instead of people.
 

Instead we hold each other at arm’s length, all of us wishing to be seen, none of us sure it’s okay to get our hands dirty. Love is messy, and we as the expression of love should have the dirtiest hands of anyone. We hold cleanliness in too high esteem.
 

We don’t see the thousands of years of the people who had Him wrong. We’ve been told the stories of wrestling angels, whirlwinds and burning bushes, of the dirty shepherds, the demonized, the dead and drowning are a people altogether separate from ourselves.
 

But they aren’t.
 

I am the widow. I am the orphan, the fatherless. I am the beggar trying to live on the crusts from pulpits. I have asked for a seat at the table and I’ve been turned away again and again.
 

This is the suffering of the outcast. This is the heartbreak of the un-gathered, the unseen, the unloved.
 

The truth is, I’m done. I am spent. I am exhausted from the attempts to make myself accessible. I am tired of the constant do more, give more, be more that takes precedence over my real life and my real bills and my real doubt. I am tired of being overlooked. I am tired of being neglected. I am tired of the empty “How are you?”, and politeness that ends at the elbow.
 

I am tired of the white-washed expression of faith. The one that is an empty canvas of “of course I know.” I am tired of the Temple of the Lord being more like a parade of homes than one where I can remove my shoes, share my bread, and rest.
 

I am tired of a baby Jesus who is too innocent and coddled to be able to hold my mess. I am weary of the god of known. The god of expected, the god of “Of course He is; of course I’m right.”
 

I am tired of hoping again and again and again that this house of many rooms will have a place for me, that the hands inside will be warm and welcoming, that the feet will be bringing good news to me saying, “Yes, This is your home! Yes, you are welcome here! We will not leave you. We will not forsake you.”
 

This is the sorrowing of the exiled.
 

I left the church with its high walls and holy curtains. And the steps away are hard. I do not want to leave the home I have known. I do not want to be in the wilderness. I do not want to be alone with the grasshoppers.
 

And although the first steps bloody my feet, I am finding that off in the distance there is a shadow of another person, and soon another. We have tears on our faces and questions on our shoulders. We have aches in unseen places, and the vastness of the unknown is staggering. But we continue to the wilderness.
 

And perhaps this is not an exiling, but a pilgrimage. Perhaps we will find the hidden cisterns and hear God at the mouth of our caves. Perhaps we will find Him in the bushes. And learn the wild of a God who is boundless, and unafraid to touch the dirt on our feet.

 

Sarah Murray
Sarah Murray is a coffee drinking, glitter collecting, poet at heart. When she’s not writing she and her husband Micah can be found riding motorcycles or chasing their two energetic boys. She considers herself a recovering perfectionist and is learning to love from the inside out. She is on Twitter and she blogs at A Lovely Frame.
 

 

Over to you:

  • When have you experienced ‘the suffering of the unseen, the outcast’?
  • Whom have you met when you wandered in the wilderness?

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    19 Responses to God in the bushes {guest post}

    1. Sheri Dacon 16th November, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

      Sarah,
      I woke up feeling lonely today. It is Saturday after all, and tomorrow is Sunday, the day that used to be the happiest and now is the day that is slowly ripping my heart out.

      “I have asked for a seat at the table and I’ve been turned away again and again.

      This is the suffering of the outcast.. .

      I am tired of hoping again and again and again that this house of many rooms will have a place for me, that the hands inside will be warm and welcoming, that the feet will be bringing good news to me saying, “Yes, This is your home! Yes, you are welcome here! We will not leave you. We will not forsake you.”

      This is the sorrowing of the exiled.”

      My thoughts exactly. I am in the desert with you. Thank you for your bravery in writing this post. Thank you for letting me know that even at my loneliest, I am not alone.

      • Sarah Murray 18th November, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

        Sheri, my heart aches for you. I am so sorry that you are experiencing this kind of pain. I am hopeful for us both that the desert is not forever but in the meantime, there’s room next to me if the silence gets to be too much. <3

    2. Beth 30th October, 2013 at 12:10 am #

      You know I love this, and you.

    3. Dusty Counts 29th October, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

      You have found your tribe. Get thee to Charlotte. We are longing to share our bread with you.

      • Sarah Murray 29th October, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

        <3 I'm coming

        • Dusty Counts 30th October, 2013 at 11:49 am #

          For T-giving? We have a place at our table for y’all.

    4. Mark Allman 29th October, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

      Sarah,
      I think these are great words: “I wonder how many of us are giving our lives to programs instead of people.” To be in relationships with people takes hard work and it takes a toil sometimes. I think we should want in this life to impact people not programs. If those programs lead to people interacting one with another then they should be looked at. While I know you left the “high walled” church and not the church of God I mourn when the high walled church loses someone like you for it needs people like you to help guide it; to help it find it’s way to people that need to find the boundless God. I wish you well in your pilgrimage.

    5. Deborah Penner 29th October, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

      My initial (and current 🙂 ) response is “Where would I start with the answer?” So many leavings through out my life … out of one wilderness into another. The first wilderness I left was the one I grew up in .. the wilderness of first-born missionary daughter … that was a drastic leaving … a leaving that said “NO MORE! No more church, no more mean punishing god … mmmm … This is quite a bit larger than this response box. Thanks, Sarah for this seed … and thanks Tanya for the invite to Sarah … Much love to you both <3

    6. Charlotte Orth 29th October, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

      This is just what I needed today. I have been helping a sick relative and my husband wants me to stop. I was reminded that we have to get dirty to serve others.

      • Sarah Murray 29th October, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

        Charlotte I hope you were encouraged, caring for others takes great love and endurance and a good dose of self care. Thank you for being hands and feet.

    7. Rachael 29th October, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      Wow. I love this! Especially the last line. “And learn the wild of a God who is boundless, and unafraid to touch the dirt on our feet.” Thanks for writing, Sarah.

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    1. God In The Bushes | a Lovely Frame - 29th October, 2013

      […] Today I have the honor of being a guest blogger  for my dear friend Tanya Marlow. Read the rest over on her blog.  […]

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