Bare: A 5 Minute Friday, Embellished + A Photo Essay

I have a love-hate relationship with the wind.
It’s a California weather feature that no one talks about very much.
You hear about the sunshine. Or the smog. Or the fog.
But the wind?
Not so much.

But it’s here and it’s sometimes huge.
When it comes in the dark of night, howling through the canyons,
I detest it.
Sleep becomes impossible, yard furniture tumbles across the lawn,
tree branches click against the windows, power flickers,
often going out for hours.
Demons can loom large in such weather.

When it comes in the light of day,
and the day is hot and the season is dry,
I fear it.
Wildfires are endemic to this climate and they are terrifying.
Massive damage in moments,
families displaced, memories lost, even lives,
if it’s bad enough and fast enough.


But when it comes in the middle of winter,
as storms are brewing and blooming,
the wind is an entirely different thing.
It’s a friend, a welcome, bracing blast of cold, clear air.

And I remember what it felt like when I was an early adolescent,
old enough to be taller than almost everyone I knew,
but young enough to allow a rich imaginative life.

We had a back porch that was nothing more than a steep staircase with a landing.
We had milk delivered to that porch, twice a week,
and I often put the empties out in the case
to be picked up in the morning.

When the wind blew in the wintertime,
I would go out to check on the bottles,
imagining that they might be lonely or frightened,
and I would tell them that everything would be all right.
And I would stand up tall, spread my arms,
lean my head back and close my eyes,
and present myself to the force of that wind,
standing bare before it, willing it to blow me over.

And it never did.

Instead, it reminded me that there was much in this life
that is so much bigger than I am,
and beyond any feeble ability of mine to control.

I was reminded of that feeling yesterday,
and it was wondrous.

I took a walk on the bluffs, following the paths to Coal Oil Point Reserve.
And the wind was blowing mightily.
My jacket zipped to my chin, a brimmed hat holding wispy hair
firmly in place, I walked in wonder,
dressed from head to toe,
yet bare before the beauty.
Bare.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by my life of late,
trying hard to control all the pieces that are coming together
in this month of February.


I am back at work for three months,
something I never planned, nor even thought about,
to tell you the truth —
yet here it is.


My mother will move to my community next weekend,
and various family members will help me make that happen.
That’s not something I planned, either,
even though I have done all the legwork,
checked out the options,
taken my mother to see them all.


Still, I didn’t plan to have to care for her in these late years of her life.
I didn’t plan for her to have dementia.
I didn’t plan for her to lose her eyesight,
her son, her self.

But here we are.

Why, I wondered, did I say ‘yes’ to this job right now?
Am I crazy?
(Don’t answer that.)


I’ve been laying out Lenten services for the last couple of weeks,
enjoying the feel of it, not sure about the weekly commitment
of leading them all, but pondering, with what I hope is an open spirit.
Yet I haven’t felt any strong confirmation that
this decision was one I should have made,
thinking only it is one I have made.

Yesterday’s walk opened something in me.
I guess that’s what being bare can do, isn’t it?
Standing on the edge of a cliff, the wind blowing wildly all around you,
staring off into the wonder and beauty and complete untame-ability
of this world — well, that can strip away a lot of things.

So, as I got in my car to drive home,
after taking these pictures, and saying, “Thank you! THANK YOU!!”
with my arms outspread, my head bent back, my eyes closed —
after that. . .
I drove down the ramp to the 101 Freeway,
I thought about the intense privilege it is to be
asked to pastor anyone, anytime, anyplace,
and tears of gratitude spilled.

I GET to do this.
I am invited to do this.
I am welcomed to do this.
I do not, in any way, have to do this.

I cannot put into words what a gift that experience was to my roiling
spirits and troubled heart.
What’s happening in my life right now
IS beyond my control. It just is.
But it is not beyond God,
it is not beyond hope,
it is not beyond wonder,
it is not beyond joy.

It is gift.
ALL of it.

Thank You. 

Joining late with Lisa-Jo’s community over at the 5-Minute Friday link-up. Five minutes took me to “beyond any feeble ability of mine to control.” Another ten minutes took me to the end of the words. The pictures and the techno stuff with formatting?
Well that took another 45 or so. 

I just read this through, after plowing through HTML to figure out why the font keeps shrinking every time I insert a picture. Finally, the preview matched the draft. And as I read, I wept again — grateful for the windy day, even more grateful for the ways in which God chooses to reveal love and grace to me, despite my anxious heart and control-freak nature!!

Five Minute Friday

adding this tonight to the Monday crowd – Michelle, Jen, Laura and Ann – with thanks for the invitation to think about how God is working in us, how we’re learning through play, and how gratitude changes everything.

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Comments

  1. I LOVE your pictures and actually am going to start by asking you how you put your name in the corner of the pics? I have sooo many landscape pics that I fear will be stolen so I would appreciate an answer to that if you don’t mind.
    Now onto your writing, it was interesting how you seemed to fear the wind and then remembered how freeing the wind was and the epiphany you had regarding your own life and the CHOICES YOU MAKE for it! How freeing? I am very happy to have followed you on FMF! I have been having my own “why me” pity parties lately and you helped me to realize that the ONLY choice I have to make is to follow God and that everything else will fall into its place and that I can be happy if i CHOOSE to be happy, or maybe I should say my cup can overflow, if i allow it to!
    Thank you so much for your beautiful blog and revealing your soul to your readers. 😀

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Marisa. I can only tell you how I do it – I know others have found different ways to do this. I invested in a software program called Visual Watermark, which lets me create a watermark design and then apply it in batches of almost any size to my pictures. However, to use those pictures on my new WordPress site, I have to go through a few additional steps. (Blogspot is easier because Google owns both blogger and Picasa – and I just uploaded my watermarked photos directly to Picasa and could easily dip into those when blogging.) So now, I export pictures from my iPhoto editor to a desktop folder called “To Be Watermarked,” then I import those to the watermarking software. When they’re done, I export them to another desktop folder called, “Watermarked Photos.” Then I go and fetch the pictures from there when I’m working on a post. I’ve learned to upload more than what I may use in my posts to save time and effort. It feels like a ‘system’ now and works pretty well. Good luck! (I believe you can do this one picture at at time in PicMonkey, which is free. I wanted to do batches to save – again – time and effort. I think the software cost about thirty bucks.)

  2. Paul Willingham says:

    Diana:

    Wouldn’t life be a lot less stressful and fulfilling if we approached the various elements with the attitude, “I get to do this” not “I have to do this”.

    Enjoying your musings, particularly when you enhance them with your fabulous photos.

    Paul

  3. I love it that you expanded a five-minute writing prompt into a lengthier reflection with photo essay of those glorious ocean pics. Being a West Coast resident, I love beaches and beach pics. It does sound as if you have a lot on your plate just now, with your mother, the Lenten services, and other things. But God has obviously given you a lot of grace already, and he will give you more of what you need (even though he may not give you what you think you WANT). It’s reassuring to me to know that even people who are active and do lovely things, feel insecure about the happenstances of life. Because I’m have health issues and your post reminds me my “get to” at this time is — I get to rest and not have to exert myself beyond my abilities, just to go to church or meet with a group. I get to talk to God when I have no energy left to be with other people. Thank you for reminding me that this is a gift from God to me.

    • Thanks for your kind words – and I am so sorry you are dealing with chronic health issues. That is never fun, but it is true that the way we choose to look at things can make a huge difference. Blessings to you!

  4. The pictures, the description of the wind! I want to tell all of my friends elsewhere: just look at this one, that says it exactly (except that my dad living with us has Parkinson’s and I’m not returning to the pastorate!).

    I’m glad you’re there, thank you for serving both on this blog and at MCC.

  5. I think there are lots of us going through similar life stages/experiences right now, Beth. We just hosted a friend from Tennessee for the afternoon, taking her to dinner before she drives back to LA, and she has her 95.5 year old mama living with them, dealing with dementia and broken bones and working full time. The balancing thing is tough to do sometimes. A walk in the wind can help clarify and crystallize things down to the bare essentials once in a while! As hard as it sometimes is, this is our life – and we can choose to receive it as gift, right?

    • As a gift. Grace. Did you see Ann Voskamp’s post on Farmer, the Superbowl commercial with Paul Harvey’s words that start with “on the eighth day God created a farmer…” Sort of “for all the things you do,” encouragement, and Ann wrote her own about her farmer and her mothering, and all of us whatever we do. I’m just, not as good a person as I think I am. It’s hard to acknowledge. Hard to keep patience with three very different personalities in my home, each of whom I love dearly. Isn’t that odd? But the gift of each, and the leaning hard on God for his timing, his love, his grace teaching me how to be wife/daughter/mother all at the same time. And just me too: writing, reading, creating, hosting. That’s where I’m at and it is good.

      I don’t think I’ll be able to come hear your sermons but I’ll be praying, and looking them up online. Cheering you on! I’ll plan a walk on Butterfly beach too because of you. Thanking God for you, Beth.

      • Yes, I saw that one – and shared it on FB. NO one is as good as they think/hope they are/might be. That’s why we need a savior and why faith helps so much. Not odd at all that juggling personalities is just about the hardest work we do, ever. Maybe most especially with those we love the most. And Yes, you must also care for yourself and not get lost. I think they’ll be available as podcasts on the church site and I may put the text up on my blog – not sure yet.

  6. I love the image of you whispering to the empty milk bottles. I think that is a picture of your calling. You do it in so many ways, and I’m glad you said yes to doing it again in a pastoral venue for a period of time.

    (And I do hear Californians talk about wind!)

    • Thank you, Megan. I remember animating lots of inanimate objects until I was about 14 or so, when it probably became embarrassing and uncool. Too bad, actually, because I sorta like that piece of me. Maybe it is connected to the caretaking/pastoring parts of me – never thought about it that way. Your insights are always so interesting and helpful to me. Thank you.

  7. Diana, you’ve been on my mind so much lately, wondering how things are going for you!
    Love the photos… and how you experience the wind. We live in a part of the country that gets a lot of wind, so I have my own relationship with it! My small children have occasionally been literally blown over by gusts, doors have been cracked when a gust of wind caught them and slammed them back against the wall, but last winter I saw my 5yr old outside on a really windy day, playing with the wind. He was leaning into it, seeing how far he could go before the force of the wind was overcome by gravity. He’d lean… and lean… and lean and then almost lose his balance and take a step. And then lean… and lean and lean… it was so lovely to watch – just my boy and the wind, playing.

    • Hi, Donna!! Things are. . . going! We move my mom to our community this weekend and that’s a pretty big project and will be hard on her in many ways. I’m hoping she will adjust well and quickly – we shall see. And I’m back to work for 3 months, very part time.

      Thanks for that great picture of your 5 year old leaning, leaning into the wind. I love it! And I recognize it, too. You are right – lovely.

  8. “Instead, it reminded me that there was much in this life
    that is so much bigger than I am,
    and beyond any feeble ability of mine to control.”

    I thought this very thought this weekend when my worries were feeling so big and my control so little. I was staring at an old, old beautiful house, and it felt good to be small.

    Beauty in your words and photos.

    • thanks for coming by, Amy – I am always so glad to see you! And you’re right – it is good to feel small, at least once in a while. Because truly – that’s what we are, right?

  9. Hi Dianna
    I am visititng via playdates and loved these beatiful pictures. I live in South Africa in a small coastal town where we experience a lot of wind, but for us, it is such a gift for we have very hot and humid summers!
    I pray that the Lord will bless you as you take care of your mom!
    Much love
    Mia

    • Thank you, Mia – for coming by and for leaving such kind words. We traveled in South Africa about 45 years ago and loved that beautiful country, especially the Garden Route and the area around the cape. And yes, sometimes the wind is a great gift. For us in southern CA, however, when it’s hot it’s also DRY and we move to wildfire fast. So my affection for the wind is definitely seasonal. :>)

  10. Miss Diana –
    Did you do that purposefully – start the images with up-close shots, pull away to more landscape images, and then focus in on the cross? It’s a pattern we all go through, aye? And I reckon it’s what this Lent is all about, stopping our navel-gazing and refocus it instead to the cross.

    Purty stuff here.

    Blessings.

    • Actually, Miss Darlene, I did arrange these photos purposefully and not necessarily in the order taken. The cross pictures were in the middle of the walk but I wanted them to finish things off because, yes – that is what all of life is about. Not that we don’t ‘navel-gaze’ – because looking at ourselves in light of the cross is really important to do – but that we keep the focal point balanced. Because I believe that as we grow in our relationship with Jesus, it becomes ‘more of Jesus’ and more of me, too. The me I’m designed to be, called to be, the one who looks like my elder brother. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. I guess that’s what being bare can do, isn’t it? I can just see you walking through this post, Diana–hear you thanking God in the car wrestling with all of the everything right now. How wonderful for some congregation that you are working through Lent. And–hard as it is–I”m so grateful your mother will be close to you now. And I can just get lost in these pictures. But I”m still thinking about this: more of Jesus and more of me too. Yes. Oh, yes.

    • We’re in the middle of that move right now. Sitting at my daughter’s after packing things most of today. Tomorrow we load a small truck and drive her north — and then the work of adjustment sets in. Ash Wednesday went well, with a nice turn-out and a sweet spirit. I’m thinking I’ll just have to pray my way through these weeks and trust that all shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well. Thanks for your kind words, dear Laura.

  12. The demons do loom large in the wind! Great imagery. I lived in Wyoming for 20 years and the winds were constant. I loved the breeze in summer though. But winter…yikes!

    • Indeed, they do. I didn’t know you lived in Wyoming for 20 years, Dave! Tahoe – Wyoming – Colorado. I’m sensing a pattern here, a partiality toward mountains, eh? Well, yeah. There’s a lot of wind in them thar hills! Thanks for coming by, my friend. Always glad to see you.

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