It seems God has called me to write one more blog post before I “retire” from Faith Squared.
On Thursday, June 6th, my best friend/soul-sister/Faith Squared co-conspirator Alizabeth Rasmussen suffered a stroke. She spent five days in the ICU, then several more getting medically stabilized in the hospital, and is now in an Acute Rehab facility, where she will re-learn how to walk, talk, function, and comprehend herself and her world.
Her progress has been amazing; her courage unfathomable, but not the least bit surprising. The road before her is full of challenge and blessings and unceasing hard work, and Alizabeth is the quintessential explorer/pilgrim/pioneer. And the map to this new and mysterious landscape? Firmly in God’s capable hands.
As is Alizabeth herself.
That’s the extent of the detail I’m willing to go into here. This is not my story to tell. It belongs to Liz, and I hold fast to the expectation that she will tell it if she chooses, when she’s darn good and ready, in a way far more powerful, more eloquent, and more honest than any of us ever could.
All of us who know and love Liz are experiencing our own critical re-wiring in the wake of this abrupt and life-altering storm. And that’s all I will say about that.
I’m writing this post because I wanted to let all the F2 readers know that at the moment, the near future of Faith Squared is in a state of profound yet hopeful uncertainty. Erica, Robin, Melissa, and Nora—the four talented writers who only just climbed on board with Liz to take Faith Squared into its new incarnation—will have their own stories to tell about what comes next; their posts will follow in the coming weeks.
But mostly, I’m writing this to ask your help in honoring my extraordinary friend.
I want you to help me create a new and purposeful storm, a swell of prayer, full of faith and certainty and complete, divine healing. With a nod to Liz’s years-long, near obsession with the band U2, I want heaven to rattle and hum with her name. Any and all prayer lists you can get her on, please do so…and give her a regular shout out in your own sacred deliberations as well.
I want to ask that you not make Liz a social media thread. As present as she has always been on the Internet, Liz is also a supremely private person, and until she herself can post on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else about this experience, I’d rather none of us presume how, or if, she would even want to.
And I want to ask that you help me hold the space for her as she works her way back, by celebrating her in real time, with joy and deliberation, in some decidedly Alizabeth-an ;-) ways:
Play with words. Peculiar, pretentious, delicious words; the kind that taste good when you say them out loud. Seek them out, look them up, make them up; use them to flummox and amaze your equally language-besotted friends. And pride yourself for being a world-class, self-proclaimed typo/grammar Nazi.
Play Scrabble. Preferably online, so the games (yes, plural…as in multiple-games-going-on-at-once) can stretch on over hours and days, and make sure you kick everyone’s ass, repeatedly, winning the vast majority of the time by easy margins of 150 to 200 points. Play particularly pretentious words like “livering,” and “qi”…especially on a Triple Word tile. Then be sincerely apologetic for annihilating your opponents yet again, without surrendering one iota of your impressive competitive streak.
Go to Chipotle Grill, or your favorite Mexican restaurant, and order your most coveted dish. Even if you ate the same thing just last week, act as though it’s been forever, and you’ve never tasted anything so amazing. And make sure it has guacamole. Lots of guacamole.
Go to Central Market or Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, and buy some really good, really dark organic chocolate. Or better yet, make your own. Constantly change the recipe, even though each batch is completely fantastic…because as any great chef knows, well enough can never be left alone when it comes to food. And whatever you do, don’t write the recipe down. Then, even if you ate some just a few hours earlier, act as though it’s been forever, and you’ve never tasted anything so amazing.
Go for a hike in the woods when the sun is slanting like a fairytale through the trees, preferably with a very cute and very goofy dog in tow who looks like a Dr. Seuss character come to life, and who will most certainly bring home half the forest floor tangled in the fur of his Who-like ears and feet.
Go and watch a Select baseball game. (Now, I have it on very good authority that a Select baseball team is not the same as a Little League team. What do I know? I’m just the Auntie. But I have been schooled…and let me tell you, the boys in The Show could learn a thing or two from a certain Select team about focus, commitment, love of the game, and the power of teenage cool.) At said game, sit in the stands calmly and quietly, a paragon of Zen amid the chaos of ordinary spectators. Then, when your favorite player gets a hit (which is pretty much always the case) stand up and yell your head off with shocking zeal, surprising everyone around you, thereby keeping the crowd slightly off-center with your unpredictability, and ensuring your favorite player knows how incredibly cool he really is.
Go out into the world with an artist’s eye. Look for the beautiful, the wacky, the simple, the unexpected. Find bottle caps and fallen leaves and dumpsters signed by angels. Take photos, or take notes, then go home and write a poem or an essay or an email to a friend, or make a collage that makes life feel a lot more magical. Write a love note to God on a 10-cent postcard, with a masterpiece you snapped “by accident” just by holding your iPhone down in the grass. Take the risk and let what wants to be seen through you be seen. Let God be seen.
And let God lead the way. Even when you could swear He must have you mixed up with someone else. Question Him, argue with Him, shake your fist at heaven, if necessary, but go where He asks you to go. Follow His lead with the heart of a monk, even if your human self is kicking and screaming. Then, in the quiet of contemplation, after the storm has passed, ask for clarity and own the epiphany that results with the kind of faith and determination that continually inspires everyone around you.
My beautiful, brilliant, funny, courageous, soulful friend Alizabeth. If anyone can get God in this experience, and come back with a smile on her face, a story to tell, and an even deeper reverence for the mystery, Liz can.
I want to ask you, dear readers, to help me walk in the world for her until she can again. And hold the space for the miracles that are always found in the dark places.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Alizabeth's family has created a CaringBridge site, where you can follow Liz's progress, leave her messages in the Guestbook, and stay connected. Click here to visit (Site Name: alizabethr2013)