Inspero Retreat Reflections by Erin Nolen

February 7, 2022
Erin Nolen Photography

Why is there ice in some places and not in others?

This was the question that came into my head as I walked down the gravel driveway. There had to be water before there could be ice. Would the water that used to be life-giving and refreshing ever move again? 

My heart has been frozen for a while now. I’m not exactly when it began to form the first icy edges but it’s been pretty solid ice in there for a while now. No one needs me to say that it’s been a hard few years. BUT IT’S BEEN A HARD FEW YEARS. 

For a long time, I felt at home in the church. It was safe and comfortable for me. And then it wasn’t anymore. I no longer knew how to reconcile the Jesus I had been following with the American evangelical culture. I had a lot of questions. The way of Jesus felt toward the edges, toward brokenness, toward suffering. I’m so grateful to have been unmoored from the places where I had become comfortable. These were spaces where other people didn’t know that they were welcome or weren’t sure if their was a place set for them at the table. If everyone isn’t welcome, I want to sit at another table. But if I’m honest, it’s been lonely trying to find my seat. 

Last weekend I found myself wandering a country road in the hills of Tennessee on the coldest weekend of the year. The icicles hung thick and strong, daggers threatening and scary. I stared at the sheets of ice that covered the sides of the rock. I could see movement underneath, quick little rivulets racing underneath the solid surface. I wondered at the magic of it. I felt loved by the beauty of it. 

And I had questions. 

How long, O Lord? I’m not the first person to ask. But Jesus continues to chase after me and show me that this way of upside down, weak is strong, love gets the last word IS the story that I want to be in. It is a road marked with suffering, one that feels all the horrors of death and shows us his scars, even in glory.  A place that welcomes questions. A place that honors mystery. A place where Jesus reminds me that my questions are from him, not roads away from him.

Erin Nolen is always seeking to capture the ephemeral, sometimes with a camera and sometimes with words. She asks a lot of questions and finds her heart is most quieted while connecting with other people or spending time outside, preferably in her flower garden. She currently runs her business, Erin Nolen Photography, as well as her busy household of critters including three children, a dog, a cat, a bunny and five chickens. Married to singer/songwriter and fellow photographer Corey Nolen, their home is full of big ideas, big feelings and lots of messy piles.

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