Bride of the Phoenix

I told her about all of it, the pain, the confusion, the heartache. Because of the trust I felt, the words kept pouring out.

Following our Shepherd through a beginning in a foreign country was a sequence of fiery, painful events. It began with the disturbing pain of miscarriage. And then some crazy housing difficulties.  And loneliness and all its ragged effects on personhood. Missing my best friend more deeply than I had thought possible. Culture shock and the daily shock of living with yourself going through culture shock. Relational difficulties of almost every kind. Fears. Exhaustion. Questions. And many other things we should not name here.

Every day a struggle, every day a wondering, every day carrying barb-like seeds of doubt that tear at the soul.

I told her I hoped this was only the beginning, because the best stories often have terrible beginnings, death coming first and hope coming later.

She looked at me with wise eyes, eyes that had seen these flames before yet had not forgotten their pain, and said, “Maybe you could capture this idea you’re saying of beauty from ashes through an art piece?”

Oh, the moment when He speaks through a human mouth, the mouth of a friend.

It just so happens that the art piece was in my head already. She simply named it, called it out, brought it into the light. “I think I know what this art idea in my head is, now,” I told her, realization dawning.

She got chills.

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“Bride of the Phoenix”, wool & acrylic Tunisian crochet, 40 stitches wide. 

I made it and I named it “the Bride of the Phoenix”, in that name binding myself again to the One who died and rose again. The next day I came across a phoenix reference in my book of devotional poetry. In a footnote I read:

“…Christ is associated with the mythical phoenix,
which dies and is reborn from its own ashes (my emphasis added).”

-Before the Door of God, Hopler & Johnson, Pg. 129

By those last words I was caught.

The phoenix is reborn not just from any ashes,
but from its own ashes. 

The very substance, the remnants, the particles of its own death, still full of memory.

Our deathly experiences are if anything, personal.

When the One who recreates blows over the ashes and the new, fragile creature is revealed beneath, there pulses a living heart marked with scars packed with healing herbs called wisdom, patience, and trust, ready to be multiplied in His hands. Love, compassion, understanding, sometimes even calling, will be spoken from the stories of these scars.

You can count the cost of following Him. But then there is actually paying the cost. And no matter how much you counted, you can’t understand until you begin to actually pay it, sharing in His sufferings.

One of the things I have learned since being here is that truly, the darkness in this world is very, very powerful & will do anything to stop the fragile, delicate, beautiful things in our lives–faith, hope, & love most of all.

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Matted & framed by my friend in the Old City.

So here in this world of burning and ashes,
I call upon the hope of our Phoenix.
Let us rise in Your newness as the embers smolder still,
after we gave up and kept going, somehow.

Ice and ash
to flame and the light of life,
the threatening flicker of flame turned again-pulsing heart–
this is the hope of the Phoenix:

God recreating in us all a different hue of newness after flame, all of us together,
the Bride of the Phoenix.

Bound to Him,
we are baptized into flame and made new as He was made new.

Bound to Him,
we are sure to rise with Him, holding on as tight as we can to His ascension strength.

Bound to Him,
we are more than our own ashes and there is a part of us that cannot burn up,
every one of our hearts a burning bush, resilient, tied to immovable heaven.
He said,

“When you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.”

I know a story of three men who were thrown into a fiery furnace,
& the only thing that burned up was the rope that bound their hands.
Can you hear hope beckoning in their unexpected freedom to move among the flames?

Creating this piece is me saying,
I know my ashes, I see them & I call them what they are
I claim them as only the beginning of our story in this place, looking ahead.
In these colors, the work of my hands,
I claim the hope of our glorious Phoenix.

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Me & baby framed, 37 weeks.

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6 thoughts on “Bride of the Phoenix

  1. So beautiful, Kelly. I am so sorry for your pain but so very thankful that you run to the One who can give you peace, a peace that truly passes all understanding. I’m so thankful for your Chris, your life partner who is always there caring for you. I love you, Sweet Kelly.

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  2. Dear Kelly,
    Such a beautiful testament of your strength. Luckily, you are able to recognize the grace that is given freely to you, Hopefully, the pain you feel will dissipate with time.
    Thanks again for sharing your feelings with all of us. I hope you know your gifts are amazing. I love to see, read, and feel as much of it as I am able.
    Love u,
    Larry

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  3. Oh precious one of God, how you touch my heart. I am so sorry for your loneliness and pain. Knowing you are in the place God has set before you and yet the need to die to self….the comforts and things of this world so that we can truly get the comfort or the peace that passes all understanding. That in the midst of the discomfort, pain, loneliness… For the first time I think I understand the phrase you used… not just counting the cost but paying the cost. Paul’s words Colossians 1… “24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I ]was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His [ak]saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man [am]complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

    Oh precious one thank you for sharing your heart so openly. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I love you. Linda

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