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  • Writer's pictureAshley Lande

Just lil ole me...

I heard His voice for the first time when I was out of my mind on acid, tripping hard, as the parlance went back then: I sat at the window of my city apartment and watched a million undulating rainbow lattices ornament the street below, blooming and collapsing and overlaying each other in a sumptuous visual feast. But even this had an emptiness at its core and despite my desperate hunger for Something Real that led me to assail my brain with chemicals, I was lonely, lost, love-starved and hopeless.

His voice cut through the black mire like a piercing ray of light in the dark: You don’t have to keep doing this to yourself, He said. And here, finally, was not Something Real but Someone Real: the voice I had longed for, a voice which knew the depths of my darkness and was totally unafraid because He’d seen it all before, here was someone who was not lost but utterly found and was foundness itself, was home itself. My tears were tears of relief and grief and regret and joy, all woven together in one polyphonic deluge. I was found. I was known. It was Love Himself.

I wish I could say I was devoted to Jesus Christ from that moment forward, but my path to Him was still winding and forked with dead-end tangents as I continued to chase flittering holograms that promised satiation even as they siphoned my soul, though less and less because I was haunted by that Voice, by the one promise that didn’t ring hollow. And finally I surrendered, sitting and sobbing in the second pew from the back in a church my husband had practically dragged me to, eight months pregnant and finally willing to abandon my idols: both the tangible ones in my Hindu goddess statuettes and intangible in my pride, my delusionally high appraisal of my own intellect, my neurotic white-knuckle hold on the illusion of control.

I was tentative and slow to trust. I still am, sometimes. But I am fully convinced that He himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), and in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (every single last one!) as Colossians 2:3 tells us, as well as all the mysteries and depths of beauty I was searching for all those years I tangled up my mind and sieved my soul with psychedelics.

I am passionate about limning out in words and stories and images how Jesus loves us in the here and now, this beautiful and sometimes terrible place between the kingdom come and the kingdom not-yet-here. Words help me understand more fully what His presence looks, tastes and feels like; how His grace pervades our lives and sustains us and carries us. Because of Jesus, hope is my default and defiant posture.

But it’s not all misty-eyed gravitas, Psalmic agony-ecstasy bipolarity and waxing cosmological around here… just mostly. My husband of 11 years, Steven, tempers my tendency to take myself waaaaay too seriously by doing things like straight-facedly quoting Metallica lyrics when I’m trying to have a super deep conversation. I loved his long hair; he hated it sticking out from the sides of his hardhat while he climbed wind turbines. His solution was, naturally, a mullet. I believe in naked vulnerability to a degree which occasionally chafes him (are you talking to people about my balls AGAIN? Is a question he’s asked more than once when I've written about trying to conceive after his vasectomy reversal) and love big words to a degree that often chafes him (What does ‘apoplectic’ mean? He asks. Really angry, I reply. Then why the heck didn’t you just use ‘really angry’?! He cries). 

I have chicken problems, namely, I cannot stop myself from buying them and am ever searching for more exotic and in some cases unseemly breeds. I love books, especially big thick ones which promise a grand immersive adventure and which, only if absolutely necessary, could be used to soundly clock someone. I feel safest in a library, ensconced by rows upon rows of the things. There is nothing quite like the rich synesthesiatic bouquet of New Book or Old Book or even Library Book. Aside from Jesus and marriage, motherhood is the sweetest thing that’s ever happened to me and I love homeschooling my children, Israel and Arrow.

My favorite words, in no particular order, are: glissando, bougainvillea, frisson, and luxuriate. I love Bob Dylan and weird folk or amateur art and grapes and cilantro and kombucha and broken people thirsty for Jesus. My always-prayer is that my work is beautiful and true because it distills some droplet of The Truth, the living water, Jesus Christ. I would love to hear from you! 

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