My friends, I have a brief story to tell you today, and a few priceless words for you to read that, for the first time in the history of my blog, aren’t my own.
Several months back, I found myself seeking ladies with kindred hearts, writer-friends who had a grid for living radically awake and aware of the nearness of Jesus woven throughout the everyday. Women who exuded passion, presence, authenticity, and a deep groundedness in Him.
And I discovered Ashley. I fell in love with her heart in her 31 Days of Right Here series back in October, and in subsequent months she’s become this cherished friend to me. A woman who overflows with grace, who writes and loves with a love that is so genuine and substantive, sometimes it shakes me in my core.
I asked her to write the first ever guest post for my blog because I trust her heart and words so thoroughly, and because she’s become one of the few whose blog posts I read every. single. time. they land in my inbox. And, simply because y’all are so dear to me and I have so wanted to share with you the treasure that is Ashley Larkin.
SO. Without further ado, please welcome and receive my friend’s heart today. And may her words resonate in your deep places as they do in mine.
We snuggle under our favorite quilt on the living room couch and read page after page of Charlotte’s Web, and we city girls are right at home on Zuckerman’s farm. My Lala girl, who’s five and has a touch of a cold, keeps finding my eyes, and we’re there — in the conversations between animals, the contents of Wilbur’s slop, the young pig weeping lonely without Fern, the beginnings of Wilbur’s friendship with unlikely Charlotte.
The light falls softly on the front porch, the sky a gentle blue, and I think how rare these late mornings under covers will become, time ticking toward full-day kindergarten. When we read of the farm birds’ sweet songs, I feel my throat tighten. When I read this, my chest aches:
“In early summer there are plenty of things for a child to eat and drink and suck and chew. Dandelion stems are full of milk, clover heads are loaded with nectar, the Frigidaire is full of ice-cold drinks. Everywhere you look is life; even the little ball of spit on the weed stalk, if you poke it apart, has a green worm inside it. And on the under side of the leaf of the potato vine are the bright orange eggs of the potato bug.
It was on a day in early summer that the goose eggs hatched. This was an important event in the barn cellar. Fern was there, sitting on her stool, when it happened.” (pp. 43-44)
It’s partly the ache of childhood gone, and going. Partly the bursting bounty of flowers and drink. Partly the wondrous miracle of life in secret places. Partly the joy of bearing witness, like Fern, as everyday sacred plays out before our watching eyes.
It is all this and something more that continues stirring this longing, seeking home.
I read John 15, and this Vine is home with roots and Love that remains when I do. I read Brother Lawrence and am reminded that seeking is a remaining journey, a returning again to home, knowing I am wrapped in God, the Holy Love that “rests in the fund and center” of my soul. (The Practice of the Presence of God, p. 29)
When Fern’s age (and older), my seeking scoured landscapes for approval, acceptance, affirmation, purpose, results, wondering always if I’d missed the thing still covered. In this late-30s journey, my seeking feels more and more like an invitation to let the scales fall, baby. See and receive what is — the acceptance, love and grace of the One who’s seen me all along.
Because sometimes it is when we stay put that we are found, bearing witness to the miraculous right here on the farm.
Ashley Larkin is a story collector, wife to Michael and mother to three shining daughters, ages 12, 8 and 5. Ashley longs to be a place of welcome and one who seeks hard after the hope and beauty found in broken things. She is passionate about justice, sisterhood and encouraging people to walk in the truth of God’s love for them. You can find her blogging a few times a week from her 110-year-old house in Portland, Oregon on her blog Draw Near and on Twitter @AshleyMLarkin.