Beth Morey is an artist I connected with through a mutual friend on Facebook. She has a way with words and art that moves me and inspires me to live just a little more openly and real. I am so honored to share her work and story here with you. It is raw and vulnerable and honest and I absolutely love that kind of story. The work of redemption is anything but clean and pristine, and Beth so perfectly and poignantly gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to be in that process.
|"Soul At Sea" by Beth Morey|
After we returned home from the hospital, empty armed, I was brokenhearted but determined. Determined to grieve well, to to feel it all, to let God use it. And I did, and he did, I guess. I don't know, really, who did what, only that I showed up to the pain, to the searing of reality. And it changed me – and it changes me.
In the church, we like to talk a good line about redemption. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Jesus is redemption with skin on, after all. But we – especially we here in the first world – like our redemption to be neat, tidy. We often want to come in on the after of redemption; not the before, and certainly not the during.
|"Soul Rising" by Beth Morey|
It's odd to me, that we have become so ill-used to mess. Jesus' life is anything but orderly and expected. He went to the wilderness, willingly and often. I don't think you can go there and come back anything but unkempt, with tossed-about hair and a strange new light in your eye. I wonder if it's the desert that gave Jesus the courage to live and die and live again as he did.
After my Eve girl died within my body, after my first pregnancy ended in birthing a dead body, I tried so hard to be the after of redemption, even while I accepted that grief was unpredictable and long. I thought that if I could be – or really, act – faithful enough, Eve's death would be somehow worth it, redeemed.
Perhaps it inspires you that I could birth my dead daughter and still profess to love the God that didn't save her. If it does, I am truly glad. May he lead you ever deeper through my attempts.
But it didn't work for me. I was trying to force redemption, to get to it as painlessly as possible, in spite of the raw and seeping wound that stillbirth had inflicted upon my heart. And you can't. You can't force redemption. It's not neat. It's not clean. You can't get to the after until you walk through the fire. And fire burns. It hurts, and rages, and consumes. You cannot walk into flames and come out anywhere near recognizable.
|"A Brave New Magic" by Beth Morey|
I am not sure if I have reached my after yet. I don't know if I ever will. I think I might be in the during at last, now that I have given my soul permission to flail, to falter, and to doubt. This place, it is a desert place – harsh, with few comforts and fewer companions. The daylight burns and the night freezes. There is nothing tidy about the desert.
But the desert does make you stronger. The fire does incinerate the unnecessary, the facades and crutches and everything you were (I was) using to convince yourself that you were just fine, thank you, when you were anything but.
This is the work of redemption – to live in the desert, the wild of the fire. To let your skin be scorched, your heart melted like molten glass and fashioned into something new and wonderful. Jesus was here, and is here, in the muck and the mire. He is not keeping his hands clean, because it is not about clean hands. It is about open hands, hands that help and heal, hands that give and receive and give, hands that caress a baby's new-soft skin and soothe the forehead of the dying.
It is not about clean hands. It's about new hands, born of fire and clay, and pain and love. This is redemption. It is not easy, but it is worth it. I have lived the truth of this. I live it still.
Friend, the desert calls.
Beth Morey has stopped running from the questions, and all the old adjectives don't quite seem to fit anymore. You can find her throwing her soul into the mess of not-knowing and Divine-seeking at . She also is the artist behind (www.epiphanyartstudio.etsy.com), and founder of the (www.madecourse.com). Beth lives in Montana with the Best Husband Ever, their rainbow son, and their three delightfully naughty dogs.