• Dana L. Butler

The Invitations in the Crashing Down

Photo credit: By Jennifer Upton

I didn’t write at all for two weeks.

No words scribbled in a journal; no thoughts pulled up from my depths and laid bare on my computer screen.

And while I have been more consistent about spilling randomness and guts onto journal pages this past week, I didn’t know whether I was going to write in this space this week until about 5 minutes before I sat down and began.

What do you say when there’s so much you can’t exactly say?

In case you haven’t already put two and two together, I’ve lost a valuable support system recently. Actually, the deterioration of said support system has been in process for quite a while, but it culminated in the last number of weeks, essentially resulting in a total loss.

And the knowledge that the loss was impending has by no means diminished its accompanying grief.

Jesus has been tangibly near though, and His faithfulness to speak, to sustain me inside, to fortify my heart through my husband’s strength — it takes my breath away.


Enter the last 10 days. In which another key emotional/creative support system has come crashing down. And even though in this instance I’ve mostly stood on the sidelines — watched and grieved and prayed as many of those I love are devastated — it has affected my heart profoundly.

In this most recent crumbling, I do have faith that relationships can be rebuilt, at least to some degree. With time. But my ache for those I love who’re hurting is still the last thing I think about before I fall asleep at night, and one of the first two or three thoughts to flit across my mind when I wake up each morning.

In the midst of so much loss, I’ve been thankful over and over again that the God who created us to need depth of relationship with other humans is also the One who catches our broken pieces when those relationships become the context for deep hurt. Thankful for the intimacy that comes when we lean into Him in simultaneous pain and trust. When, in the midst of the breaking, we let Him gather our shattered bits and press them into His heart.

That intimacy is where cracks can be filled with gold.


There’s a pattern I’m noticing in my spiritual journey as it relates to my creative life. A holy invitation that whispers and winds its way around my heart when my life is flipped upside-down, when I find myself pressed by external circumstance and internal desperation into a deeper, rawer heart-cry of whom have I but You?

“Come further up; come further in.”


“Mom? Mom! What is this?”

The question jolts me out of my thoughts and I leave my task of cleaning the kitchen for a moment to look at a picture Isaac’s showing me in his recently gifted children’s atlas. I’ve never heard a Ferris wheel called an “observation wheel” before, but that’s what this one is, apparently. It’s in London, if I remember correctly.

The picture intrigues me and I stare at it for a while with him before returning to cleaning the kitchen.

The next day a friend writes a blog post and includes an image of a very similar “observation wheel” in her post. A day later, two more photos of them pop up in a Facebook group I’m a part of and by now I’m thinking, Okay Lord, what are you speaking to me through these recurring images?

I can’t gaze at them long enough.

The photos pull me in, and the divine drawing of my heart to come further up, to see with heavenly perspective all the loss, all the crumbling and hurting — it’s far from lost on me.


In recent weeks I’ve continually found within myself a longing for the energy-consuming, terrifying, exhilarating intentionality of grabbing the hand of Jesus and letting Him lead me deeper into my core — into further soul excavation and a more grounded authenticity — both in my art(s) and in my everyday interactions with my fellow humans.

Some seasons don’t lend themselves to having the energy or focus for such creative/spiritual surges forward. {Or deeper, rather.} And in these months of extended waiting, until now, I’ve mostly been grieving and healing and worshiping and mothering and pressing into my marriage… just making it from one day to the next, leaning into Him.


Something is shifting inside me — a new strength, a fresh wind. Desire breathes life and the oomph it takes to set my alarm a half hour earlier and consistently scribble words into a notebook again, regardless of whether my foggy, pre-coffee brain can compose anything profound or coherent, or not.

The practice is about gaining fluency, staying sharp, being ready when the excavation reaches new depths and the words or songs or conversations start to flow a little more free.

Take My hand. Come deeper in.


So grief and anxiety are giving way to fiery intentionality. The transition is slow, but apparent. And I find my heart a little more steadfast in this journey with Him; my eyes less and less often darting around to this or that person’s opinion or assumption; my gaze a little more firmly set on the path ahead.

Onward. Further up. Further in.


Sharing my journey as usual with friends in Lisha and Kelli’s communities. With gratitude and love.

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