Monday, November 30, 2009

a place of meeting...

Sorrow is a holy sanctuary, but that is all. It is simply a place, or a long path, in which to meet the seeking, Creator God. Perhaps its this way with all emotions. learning to feel in a way which is not self-focused keeps us from despair, it is the fulcrum between coping and hoping. It's the beauty of agony. its hope. its everywhere.

its Immanuel...God with us.

"I would have despaired unless i had believed that i would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord." ~ Psalm 27:13-14

Stir our hearts, quicken our steps, soften our eyes. Come soon, Come here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Come soon, Come here.

We celebrated the first week of advent this week at church. We sang, "O Come, O Come, Immanuel," its my favorite Christmas hymn. I remember singing it last year when walking to Bethlehem at 2 am with Maegan and a few other friends. it was one of those sacred moments which I am learning to treasure, for we are all fighting an indifference which erodes at the sacred in our lives.

Do you remember in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when Lucy is reading from the magicians book? There is one which reads, "for the refreshment of the soul." As she begins to recite the spell she finds herself reciting "more of a story than a spell." Upon finishing she exclaims its the most beautiful story she has ever read but realizes that she can't at all remember anything about it. When Aslan finds her in the house she begs him to repeat the story to her. The lions response is, "Indeed yes, I will tell it to you for years and years." I thought of this during the sermon today, though its barely related...

The pastor spoke about advent and hope. Advent is a reminder that we are only part of a larger story, a story which continually reveals the Creator God intimatlly involved in His creation, both in an individual and collective sense. Amid the sickness of family members, the pain of broken relationships, the utter devestation shouting at us from the news, the ache of daily evil and all the horrible complexities of sin we dare to talk about a Prince of Peace. We sing Immanuel, God with us. May what our eyes see grant desperation to our songs and words.

Come soon, Come here, be with us in blessed hope.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

a day.

Today i worked outside putting up Christmas was dreary and drizzling the whole day. bleh. depressing. Things just seemed flat, shabby, and worn-out looking, as if the earth was exhausted and needed a break.

then, quite suddenly, the sun broke out for 5 minutes before setting. i love it when that happens. everything was golden and quiet and perfect, a respite in the midst of a soggy day.

i'm still working through "A Grief Observed" by Lewis, here is the quote for the day...

"And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling."

honestly, i'm tired and worn out, but somehow gratefully so. i think thats possible. just like i'm grateful for the grey day because that 5 minutes of sunshine was so perfect and right. does that make sense?

Monday, November 16, 2009

another thought...

mom says she feels God has chosen her for this.
What does this say of her faith? That she is chosen to bear such a thing. what a thought.

Lewis says that time is just one more name for death. my first reaction was to underline it as something that sounds good. my second reaction was to disagree.

Time is a human construct, but it is also the medium of obedience. the timing of daily events which come from the hand of God are what move us, they are the things which shape the character of our own beings.

I am learning to live with irruptions in the day to day, learning to percieve the value and preciousness of the common and the simple. a walk, a conversation with family, laughing with friends, a good book, times of deep silence, longings not fulfilled. i was taking a walk this morning and looked up at the breaking clouds. i remembered a line from Wiesel which talks about all of those who make who we are share in the sight of our eyes lifted to heaven. many of them contribute to our awareness of the ineffable. i thought of mom. and i was glad.

time is of man, but timing is of God. We are not given the chance to choose the things over which we will ponder, we are each placed in reality. what will we do with these few moments? do we even see them? do we "feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal?" (heschel)

tonight was really hard. i wrote in my journal,
"i know You will keep us limping all the way home, but did You have to do this?"
maybe that is asking to much or to simply...or maybe its not saying enough.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

some news.

Last weekend we went out to the Santhouses for the weekend. It was harvest season and we watched the tractors work late into the night in the field behind their house. It is always so refreshing being with them. The wisdom and good questions of Mr. Santhouse, the joy and peace of Mrs. Santhouse and the warmth of the kids make their house a wonderful place to be.

On Monday I found out mom has cancer. Lewis said, "I never knew grief felt so like fear." I feel a lot of this recently. its a learning experience. We still don’t know a whole lot, but it came as a shock to my family. Life really is fragile; I feel it in the dryness of my eyes. When faced with such a terrible reality there are many doctrines and ideas which fail and fall away. Yet we are assured of God’s fidelity every morning we wake up. With that assurance I ask for prayer, that God’s presence would be sensed in the midst of this, and that he would grant patience until it is. This snatched the breath right out of me. I’ve experienced a tightening of my chest, a pit in my gut, a wince of my eyes, and an ache in the depths of my being. To be honest, its all rather confusing. Some things just age you.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about this whole thing. somewhere I read that all a cancer patient wanted was someone to “walk with me to the head of that lonesome valley.” But that’s just it, he wanted the humanly impossible. It seems that one of the horrors of cancer is that its an individualistic disease, a diverging road, a separation which cannot be fully understood.

How do you pray for what is a part of your own heart? Mom is such a part of me that I am not afforded the comfort of having a perspective of distance. Lewis says, “One never meets just Cancer, or War, or Unhappiness. One only meets each hour or moment that comes… One never gets the impact of what we call ‘the thing itself.’ But we call it wrongly. The thing itself is simply all these ups and down. The rest is a name or idea.”

The fact is, “the thing itself” is exactly what I feel in my bones. It’s the glaring word which is imprinted in my mind, the concept which dries my eyes, the ambiguous magnitude which follows me to bed and prohibits rest. Its not the many possible outcomes that I fear, nor the weight of grief, rather it is the memories of years which seem to be swallowed up in the vacuum of “the thing itself.”

Mom said she felt “called” or “chosen” to bear this severe mercy. What a strange and unlooked for reminder. When faced with our mortality it seems that the quandary draws one closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter and drags into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our “normal time.” It seems the afflicted are granted the faith of two people while the few surrounding loved ones are given the worries and fears of two people. Nevertheless, disease and tragedy are doorways into which the suffering God can enter in the fullness of His being.

We have known since the day of our birth
that our primal task is to grow in basic trust to you.
To rely on You in every circumstance,
to know that you would return when you are away,
to trust that in your absence you will soon be present,
to be assured that your silence bespeaks attentiveness and not neglect,
to know that in your abiding faithfulness,
“all will be well and all will be well.”

It is at times like this that we remember that Jesus is not simply all we need, Jesus is all we have. And we are thankful.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Sometimes something really good has to end...
We would as soon that life, God and ourselves were predictable.
Yet in our rare moments of honesty we are grateful that life is doubtful and full,
that God is Himself to us,
and that we are constantly learning...and in constant need of grace.

There are times that I feel like i'm bursting with sighs, that my whole being just winces. its not a bad thing, simply an acknowledgment that He will keep us limping all the way home.