“‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord.” —Jeremiah 29:13-14a
In keeping with my found theme this week, I have the joy of welcoming, my dear friend, Lynn D. Morrissey, as she invites us into her “lost and found” adventures, laced with unexpected discoveries and real life lessons.
“Oh, no!” I shouted to my husband from the kitchen. “I found it!”
“Where was it?” Mike yelled back.
“On the kitchen counter right where I left it.”
Normally I would have been elated to find the *third* cell-phone I’d lost in less than a year, but my husband had also lost no time in replacing it with a more expensive model. The trouble was that just a day later, I had found the old phone. Ugh. I felt badly for wasting our money. A wayward sheet of paper had migrated 🙂 on top of the phone, obscuring it from sight. I hadn’t looked carefully enough.
When I was a child, my grandmother was fond of telling me, when I’d finally find something I’d lost after a tear-out-my-hair frantic search, “Lynn, if it had been a snake, it would have bitten you.” And she was right. Things were in front of me, but either I’d looked too carelessly or hurriedly, or else something had blocked my view. I had neither the patience to endure the search nor the right eyes to see.
I’ve thought lately about things lost and found. Our family has been doing some serious decluttering, a task I find singularly unpleasant and which I have postponed for years. I had no desire to rummage through boxes stored indiscreetly away, out of sight, out of mind, in dark basement hiding places. Still, God has impressed upon me that this must be done. It’s now or never!
I knew I needed a perspective pivot. So I asked God to give me the mind-set of an archeologist seeking buried treasure. I knew I’d need stamina and patience for the long-haul search and new eyes to detect the valuable among rubble. I call it heartsight. I needed God to open (what Paul calls) the “eyes of my heart.” With heartsight, you see differently and intuitively, developing the ability to see beneath the surface, to see treasure amid what others call trash.
And so it was with my subterranean excavation. Down-under in the basement, I found some things that I thought I’d lost; but because I’d asked God for heartsight, amazingly, I also found things I didn’t even know I’d lost—new discoveries among old detritus!
I found a letter to childhood friend I’d penned when we moved from our old neighborhood. I’d no idea I’d written this, but it now became a window to my twelve-year-old soul. On a piece of crumpled construction paper, which I presumed was debris, I found my kindergarten interpretation of George Washington and that infamous cherry tree, rendered in bold crayon strokes. I found a two-inch cardboard “Bible” my grandmother had given me as a souvenir that I don’t remember ever seeing and my Sunday-School graduation certificate. I unearthed more finds too numerous to relay.
But the most meaningful discovery of all was hidden among a large stack of my father’s old college papers, which I’d almost discarded. Something prompted me to separate each one, scanning them slowly, sharpening my vision. What I found was staggering. Amid notes on calculus, history, biology, and music, was a single-spaced typewritten sheet that my father had composed for some kind of religion class. But this was more than an assignment. It was a strong statement of his faith in Christ and how his teen-age friend had witnessed to him about the Gospel. My tears flowed. There had been times when I doubted my father’s faith, but before Daddy died, several circumstances converged to give me hope that he knew the Lord. Now, I read my father’s remarkable testimony in his own words. Had I not had persistence to find treasure, had I not eyes to see, I would have lost this resounding assurance.
There are so many ways we can develop heartsight, so many ways we can sift through junk to find gems, to sort through the excess to unveil the exquisite.
And in my circuitous way, this brings me full-circle to Kel’s request to share what we in the journaling biz call “found poems.” To create these requires heartsight—a sifting through strings of words for pearls of wisdom. When we’re willing to “lose” the words we don’t need, we find personal meaning and inspiration in the process.
Here’s how you do it: Select a text and photocopy it. It may be something that you have written, prose from a book, text from a newspaper, or even another poem. Read through words not for meaning in how they are connected, but rather in terms of how they resonate. Underline *in pencil* those that speak intuitively to you in the moment. You may underscore single words or word phrases. “Lose” whole sentences, or even paragraphs, and find only words that make your soul sing. Go back and read through those underlined, seeing if they speak to you. If the message doesn’t seem sensical, you can always erase and underline different words. But usually, you won’t have to. Once your decisions are final, highlight your chosen words with colored pencil or box them in ink. Voilà! You’ve found your poem. Though it’s easy to read just the highlighted words, I like to transcribe them with line breaks as you would any poem.
I’ve taken the liberty of showing you my found poem, titled “All-Pervasive August,” which I composed from words I found on pages 49-50 in Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s classic Gift from the Sea. Actually, I started with p. 50 and worked backwards to p. 49 just to mix things up. Obviously, I don’t take total credit for the poem, because the words were inspired by Lindbergh and the creativity by God. But the process of finding the poem, rather than my creating it from scratch, spurred heartsight, opening my eyes to new thoughts and surprising juxtapositions I wouldn’t have coupled together otherwise. Here’s the poem. Meet me on the other side, and I’ll tell you what it means to me.
by Lynn D. Morrissey (condensed from text by Anne Morrow Lindbergh)
time is inviolable when being alone.
[Those] who practice it like a secret—
the most important times in one’s life,
alone to create,
the writer, to pray—
women need the indispensable center,
that inner stillness.
Key to the problem in their demand, [are]
time and energy,
inner convictions of outer pressures as invisible,
as all-pervasive as high humidity
on an August afternoon.
What this found poem teaches me is that how I spend my time can become an exhilarating expedition for exploring God’s goodness, beauty, and joy. When I don’t take this for granted, then I will carve out solitude with Him. It will be our intimate secret, just between God and me, as I make inviolable this time alone with Him . . . to create and to write, which for me is often prayer. My “indispensable center,” my soul, where I commune in stillness with God, must be sacrosanct. Though I know this, I allow my time and energy to become threatened by my own inner convictions that the outer pressures in my life are more important than time set apart with God. If I’m not careful, then these invisible forces, though real and sometimes menacing, will become all-pervasive as high humidity on an August afternoon.
I love these lessons God taught me in such an unexpected way. And isn’t this what God-centered creativity is all about—having eyes to find new insights, as we awaken from complacency to behold beauty in hidden places, ultimately to find God Himself?
Lynn D. Morrissey, is a Certified Journal Facilitator (CJF), founder of Heartsight Journaling, a ministry for reflective journal-writing, author of Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer and other books, contributor to numerous bestsellers, an AWSA and CLASS speaker, and professional soloist. She and her beloved husband, Michael, have been married since 1975 and have a college-age daughter, Sheridan. They live in St. Louis, Missouri.