I can still hear Zela’s voice.
“You are a writer, Aunty Ronne? I love stories—what stories do you write? Will you read me a story?” Even now, to be introduced as a writer still causes me to take a step to steady myself. After all the words written, I’m a woman who would much rather encourage your dreams than tell you mine.
I responded, “I write stories about real things. I write stories about the best things.”
I write stories about renegade nuns who believe every human is worthy of great love, stories of young women who stare abuse in the face and say, “You will not define me,” and stories of stooped women who rise tall when they are invited to once again stand in the center of all that God has designed for them.
There are so many real things. But this—this is about the best things.
I think there are three times we come face to face with our longing for Eden—that place of rich, unmirrored conversation with God and walking in the cool of a day that never ends. The place before the brokenness, the space where we and all creation are one with a Creator who hand-stamped us with THIS IS VERY GOOD.
When we cradle our newborn and we feel so small to own the responsibility of tending to another in a world that was never supposed to slither like a snake.
When we carry someone’s weight into eternity, and in death we feel the ache of a fellowship that was never designed to end.
And when we are held together by vulnerability.
I used to think I was meant to crumble in broken places like third-world countries or suburban streets holding dark secrets, that my heart simply shattered into a million pieces to be picked up by tiny hands and then given to God to repair. But now I know it’s not my heart breaking at all—it’s tasting eternity.
I have heard it said that those we love gather ‘round us like stars in the sky so we are truly never alone, even in the darkest of nights. Though it’s only folklore, I find myself longing to believe that it just might have a sparkling thread of truth. Because if there is any substance at all, I have seen the stars in you.
You have shown me how to shine. You have shown me how to have breath even as I struggle to breathe through tears that fall indiscriminately. You have allowed those tears to fall without questioning—as if you know every salty drop is washing away the rough edges of my story and leaving a glittering stone for all to see. A stone that says I am strong with hope. You are strong too.
You are the Church. The Bride. You are the ones dressed in glorious white on a wedding day unlike any other. The world may have delivered its unseemly death sentence, but you have come alive and you now pour life into others. You are Acts 4, holding all things in common and finding your greatest joy in helping others find theirs. You are John 15, laying down your life again and again.
You are a picture of Eden, my loves. Your story is worthy of leather bound and gold novels. You are the best things. I write for you. And I love how you shine.