Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dripping Hope

The silent roar of winter is broken not with a blow, but bit by dripping bit, with the radiant sun creeping closer...closer...warmer. 
The sky unzips with wings, floating, calling the sun from its shadows.

The earth releases its iron grip on the white blanket that fails to warm, and I dream of the fragrant peony and the tall and wild hollyhock, and wonder if the berry bushes boxed up in the club store will grow well in my yard, if it would be worth the space on my little postage stamp of the City on the River in the North.

Eyes strain to see the firsts: first tulip sprouts, first robin, first groundhog.
Check. Check, and check. Five robins this weekend.
The sparrows and starlings have been back, and I heard a jay last week, although it defied my eyes.

Soon my eyes will see the trees slowly open their fingers to reveal the hat trick they do every year. It always delights, and every year I think, "I should take a picture of this road every day from first bud to full leaf." Maybe this year I will. Does everyone know the color of the first leaf? It is not the color of summer--it is the color of new.
Very nearly transparent, tender to the touch...

Yes, in hope and the most ancient of wisdom the trees make leaf every year without fail.
Is my hope that wise? That confident? That brash?
To live out loud even though the sky is gray, the earth sepia, and white blankets threaten to suffocate again?
To know and not care that the leaf will once again turn russet, wither, and die?

Yet we must, or we shall die. One year's crop is meant to take us through the suffocating winter. One summer's fruit--oh, how sweet!--made for us to yearn for, work for, protect, and savor.

How is it that we can hope over and over again? When last year's crop rots, our flesh pales, and all is sepia--what do we long for but life and warmth and color?
When it is too long in the coming, do we give up hope? Do we stay under our blanket of loneliness, remembering only the weight of cares? Even then, do we not wish for hope, however out of reach it seems?

If you are stuck in bed, unable to move, listen as Jesus says to you, "Take heart, child, your sins are forgiven!" (Matthew 9:2)
Look him in the eyes, let hope ring in your ears.
Reach out your tired hand for his.
Believe that he gives you the strength that comes from remembering your sins no more

He stretched his hands as far as they could go
LET the nails dig in deep, crushing bone on their way through
His feet lifted up from the ground
The suffocating pull of limbs tied to a tree
He felt everything, refusing the offer of relief (Mark 15:23)

He who was perfect
became the perfect lamb
so I could know the perfect lover
and live
after dying
because he is alive.
Three Marys at the Tomb, by Bouguereau
 And adding hope to hope
He is coming back for me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The New Reality

She says it here. This lady named Ann who found her voice in giving thanks for 1,000 gifts.
radical has to be the Christian’s new normal, that radical isn’t radical but the regular to the disciple of Christ
 And I keep reading about her trip to Haiti, the boys, the Bibles, the thirsty land. I've heard of this thirsty land before. One of our pastors took his family there to live for a while, to bring living water to this dry and thirsty land, a land of thanks-givers who have nothing compared to us, and yet everything.

And her words cut me right through. No, the Holy Spirit cuts through the deception, the self-serving, the thick skin that I put on to keep from hurting. And I see myself a little more clearly, and I don't like what I see. I could turn away, forgetting what I look like. But I keep reading.
...and who is ready to have less so we all have something, or do we all want everything so most get nothing?
We’ve got all of God. Why not share the rest?
Or maybe we don’t — because we don’t really have Him at all?
And I know how I hold back from giving of myself. I hear myself saying, "I want to be there. I want to get for a while."

I am so tired of plowing and sowing, plowing and sowing, plowing and sowing...and just when it looks like there might be a harvest, another pastor leaves from shame or sheer exhaustion. We have seen seven come, six go, and finally we left. Tired, hungry, wounded...and I no longer blame any of those who have gone before, over the 27+ years, while we stayed, plowing and sowing, plowing and sowing. When comes the rejoicing? When comes the carrying the sheaves?

And I just want to sit a while. I am thirsty now, and want to soak it up from others for a while. I want to be there.

And we were asked to be here again. To have meetings once a week. No, I say. I want. I want to be there. Once or twice a month will still give me time to be there without here being too inconvenient.

And there is thirst.

And I read on...
I read about the boy begging for food or drink and receiving the Bread of Life and his huge grin.
And I know what it is about, and what it is about is not me.

In tears, I cry "uncle!" Tell him we will do it here, in our home. Yes. Every week, if that is what is wanted, needed. I give.

I have been thirsty. And in my thirst, I've kept the water for myself, and the fountain has stopped.

John 4:13-14

13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
When I give again, it is promised that my water will turn into a well for those around me in need.

I give.

 A Holy Experience