Feb 13, 2011

thoughts on soul-flying, mostly

I've been thinking a lot about flying lately. Not flying on an airplane (though I do like that kind) but heart and soul flying. I've been thinking about learning to fly again. And I've been considering the idea that I never knew how to fly to begin with, so maybe I need to learn to fly for the first time.

Yesterday on my Facebook news feed I saw a post by Sara Groves (whose page I 'like'). It said simply "Glad to provide music for 'Date Night' tonite in DC. Love 'Family Life'. A great organization that saved our marriage 8 years ago."

I had several thoughts that flew through my head so fast that I didn't latch on to anyone of them.
DC... I miss that I can't visit my parents on Capitol Hill anymore and shop at the Eastern Market. I wonder if that painter is still there, I loved his paintings... Family Life... I wish it had saved our marriage way back when we were in the ministry affiliated with it... Sara and Troy... I'm glad they're doing well.
Then I remembered her song Fly because, um, I've been thinking about flying lately, and my mind latched on to that.

When I first heard her Fly song (they're all fly, by the way, this one just happens to be named it), we lived in Ohio and things were not so good. They hadn't been good for a while and all I knew was that I could not listen to that song. I loved Sara's music, and I knew that she was authentic like a twenty-dollar bill held up to the light and swiped with a magic marker. But as much as I liked Sara, when that song came on I hit the forward button. I couldn't listen to Every Minute either, the song right before it. As far as I can remember, they were not on my copy of All Right Here.

I remember the first time I heard Sara Groves sing. I was in my kitchen in Burnsville and she was at the Minnesota State Fair being interviewed by the Christian radio station's on-air personalities. She was taking a sabbatical from teaching at Rosemount High School, she said, to do her music. She'd made a record Past the Wishing independently and was taking the year to sing in churches, ministering through song. She didn't know what the future held, but the radio personalities were sure that it held music for her.

I don't remember what songs she played (except that they touched my soul) or what else was said, I just remember thinking, "What?! She taught at Rosemount? That's where JD teaches! She's evidently a solid Christian, obviously down to earth. She sounds like someone I'd probably enjoy hanging out with, someone who speaks the language of my heart. How could JD never have introduced me to her?" I was a little bit incredulous. It didn't really occur to me that it might have been awkward for him to approach her and suggest we hang out as couples. 

I was lonely. I didn't grow up in the Twin Cities and I didn't have life-long friends there as he did. At the time, Rosemount High School consumed our lives. In my mind, it seemed fairly reasonable that if Rosemount HS was going to consume our lives, it would have been nice to know this sweet sounding troubadour whose classroom was across the hall from my husband's.

The next time I heard Sara Groves, it was in the church foyer. "JD!" she called out, practically running towards us. "Hi! How are you? I didn't know you went here!" We hadn't been going to that church for very long, but had decided that it would be our home church. We had no idea it was also her home church. JD caught her up with us and told her that we were in the process of considering going into full-time sports ministry. She was very excited for us, interested in our journey. In many ways we were on a parallel path, she said.  She quit teaching to go into music ministry; we were considering quitting teaching to go into sports ministry.

Her recent album Conversations had been very well received and a record company, INO had expressed interest in signing her and re-releasing it under their label. Inevitably, she became a national sensation, no longer a regional secret. When she was in town, I'd occasionally run into her in the church bathroom. I'd be sitting in the rocking chair nursing Kaitlin and she'd come in to change Kirby's diaper. We'd catch up in the time it took to change Kirby.

When JD and I were in the process of raising support to get to our assignment with Campus Crusade's sport ministry, Athletes in Action, Sara and Troy wanted to know more about our journey, so we went out for ice cream in South Minneapolis. We had a wonderful visit talking about the wonder of the tapestry that is the Bride of Christ and the many facets of living out Christian faith. Then, suddenly someone recognized her and our intimate visit concluded.

Afterwards she invited me to scrapbook with her and her friends who got together regularly to visit over photos and double sided tape. Those times that I joined them were like training wings to my ground bound soul. I hadn't experienced relationships like these. I was honored that they let me crop photos and share life with them. I almost felt like I might be getting a glimpse of what soul-flying could possibly be like.

I was jealous, too, because I didn't have relationships like these women did. I knew that I was leaving soon to our ministry assignment in Ohio, so I didn't want to learn to fly with them only to fall when I left for who knows what kind of flightlessness. Besides, I wasn't sure if I was being invited to fly just because I was invited to crop. It's easier to not fly because you don't try than to not fly because you found out you weren't invited to. (I know. I have issues. I'm in counselling.)

That's why I could never listen to Every Minute. I knew who she was talking about. I felt like I was trespassing on a property that I could never visit again, a place I could never have for myself. A place I could never fly. (Please know that none of them made me feel that way. It was my own insecurities that grounded me.)

The reason I couldn't listen to Fly was similar. I never had experienced that kind of flying - flying because of some one's love for you. I desperately wanted to. I wanted to be able to sing along with the lyrics as passionately as I sang along with Less Like Scars. But I couldn't. I couldn't fly. And I couldn't ask someone to speak in a summer tone so that I can fly. Because honestly, even if someone spoke summerly to me, I don't know that I could have flown. I didn't know how to.

Now I am learning to fly. Not because of what someone else can do for me to make me fly (though I do hope that we get to that point where we can make each other's hearts soar), but I'm learning to soul-fly as I learn who I am, who God made me to be. As I look into the depths of my soul, I'm learning to soar to new heights.

But it's not easy. Soul-flying is hard work. It involves honesty with myself, unearthing beliefs that I've hidden deep down, beliefs that aren't true and that have crippled me. Beliefs that have clipped my wings. And then telling those beliefs to piss off.

I wouldn't be doing it if it weren't for The Crisis. In God's great mercy and astounding love, He allowed The Crisis and the following Revelation, so that we can learn to fly. Individually and together. That, for me, is God's mercy at work in my life and I am in complete awe of Him for it. 

Evidently eight years ago Sara and Troy must have had their own crisis. I wouldn't know because our paths have gone separate ways. But I am grateful for her public honesty about their marriage in her music. Even if sometimes it hurts so much at the time that I have to fast forward it.


  1. So much here, Anne. Now I'm inspired to listen to the Sara Groves cd I bought a couple months ago:) Okay, I got the phrase wrong in my comment the other day. . . the heart says, "She was learning to trust her wings." Would you believe my friend gave me the heart this weekend?! I have a pic up today. But honestly, when I look at it I'll think of you too b/c of your flying theme. I don't know about your Crisis, but I do know about God's mercy and that He has definitely given us capable wings. Love your writing and your heart.

  2. Thanks, Tea Girl. I checked out your heart photo and your friend's blog / art. Very cool. Anyone who is interested should check it out at http://apoemlife.blogspot.com/

  3. Hello, Ann. Thanks for the kind words about my heart sculptures. Amy said I would like your blog - and I do. Loved your post about flying. I think we are meant to fly but oh, sometimes it is so hard to let everything that hinders fall away. I am still taking flying lessons :)

  4. Jennifer, Hi! I love your art. I am just getting back in touch with my creative self (it helps me fly). I agree that flying can be hard. Actually I've been grounded for a really long time, so just those little leaps in the air are exhuberating. Of course it's more like hopping than flying. But I'll take it.

  5. exhuberating? did I just make up a word again? I meant to say exhilarating... oh, yes, just looked it up, exhuberating is a word. I guess it fits too. :)

  6. Hi Anne. It's comforting and heart-moving to read your thoughts. I hope you don't mind that I did. I originally came for the granola.

    Something that helps me to soar these days is a book by John Piper called "The Pleasures of God". As I read about the great relationship that the Father and Son have...it carries me out of myself and gives me a sense of thirst that is being satisfied gulp by gulp...I don't know that I have ever read a book about the relationship between the Father and Son, and being a relationship person I am loving it. Haven't been in touch with you in a very long time because we had 2 or 3 Crises. I am glad He loves me.


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