Thou Mayest

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My summer is almost coming to an end.  Well, the sweltering heat that is a Kansas City summer might still come, but in just a few days, I will have to say goodbye to days of blissful mornings of drinking coffee on the front porch, uninterrupted hours of art making, and spontaneous afternoon adventures in the sun soaked city that I love. It was the best summer ever. I think I say claim this superlative every year, but this summer truly was magical, in its quiet rejuvenation.  It was a gift in that I was actually able to enter into and accomplish dreams and ambitions that I had- indulging in my artistic, adventurous, free spirited side without the hindrance of… well, a 9 to 5 job.

I was feeling a bit of end-of-summer blues, and when I explored a bit deeper into my melancholy, it was because I was feeling like I had to say goodbye to this wholehearted, well-rested, artistic Allie that I had come to know. That I would quickly slip back into the to-do list fiend, the spread slightly too thin, need-to-veg-on-Netflix-because-my-brain-is-fried person that I was more familiar with last May.  Suspecting a multiple personality complex, I was dreading the change within that the upcoming change of pace would “inevitably” bring.  But when I thought about it, it rather seemed to me that I might be submitting to something that I didn’t need to.  Maybe the way I live my life, regardless of the season, can be wholehearted.  Yes, there are different facets of me that come out around different people and in different seasons/circumstances, but 

“But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed – because ‘Thou mayest.” (John Steinbeck)

Let me explain why this beautiful quote has been on my mind lately.  On my quest to go to 15 new coffee shops this summer, I was delighted to find a new coffee shop that just opened up in the Crossroads, called Thou Mayest.  Not only is this the quintessential coffee shop, complete with all the components I have been searching for in a cafe, but its name is near and dear to my heart.  In one of my most favorite pieces of literature, East of Eden, characters Samuel Hamilton, Adam Trask, and Lee discuss the Hebrew word found in Genesis 4:7, timshel.  When translated into English, it is often interpreted as must (a legalistic command), but a closer translation to the Hebrew would be Thou Mayest, an invitation into real joy and freedom.  

I do believe that God is sovereign, that He is in complete control over everything.  And yet, the God of the Universe invites us into the process.  As those who bear His image, we are co-creators. We can choose to be active participants in the life that He intends for us.  Far from being passive recipients of the circumstances and seasons that come our way, we are can confidently approach God and ask, petition, intercede.  And he actually listens.  He gives us the freedom and desire to contend with that which doesn’t bring life, to actively choose paths that will bring freedom.  Our walk with God, far from being a duty-filled series of transactions, or chance encounters in meticulously manufactured environments, is rather an intimate and sustained interaction, a dance, of Deep calling out to deep.  Miracle of miracles, it is a friendship.    

So, I am free to enter into this coming season with a sense of confidence and peace.  To continue to carve out time to create art, simply because it is something that makes me feel alive.  I am free to love on and laugh with and challenge these twenty eight-year-olds day in and day out, expectant that their lives will be changed as a result.  I am free to discard the lies that my identity is wrapped up in my performance or productivity– free to throw myself heartily into the work that I do as a teacher, because I believe it is important, and I am equally free to leave the classroom, with things left undone to head home and enjoy a glass of wine.  I am free to continue to live Wholehearted, working and resting and playing and worshiping because I am trusting in a God who is continually inviting me into Life.  Because he has whispered, “Thou Mayest.”