Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Much to Bear

There are days that can only be classified as overwhelming. There seems much to bear, whether in prayer or in how we converse about our "daily lives" when others are buried under concrete. The death tole from the earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday is expected to be in the hundreds of thousands. we just don't have categories for that kind of suffering, an entire country made homeless, what must that be like? And God, where is He? Closer to home we found out the results from moms pathology after her surgery last week, it was not good news. And so we grieve and cry and recognize the gift of a single day and ask for strength to live well, to enjoy the depth of our human pilgrimage.

Some would say He is terribly absent, others that He is especially near. Still more would say that an earthquake is from His hand, and that the many questions that arise from this ambiguous calamity must be asked. Eventually though, we must deliver many of them back to that black box of mysteries, a box which is infinitely deep because our God is infinitely and wonderfully deep.

And we pray, always, desperately. daring to hope.

Friday, January 8, 2010


We are back from the hospital. The initial wave is over. Mom is ok. We can start breathing again; start figuring out how to live with this reality in mind, rather than living around this reality. They kept her overnight because the pain was not subsiding with normal relievers so they wanted to put her on morphine. I spent the night in the lazy-boy next to her bed, which was great because it gave us a chance to finally talk.

And now its back up to Moody for another semester. I’m looking forward to the drive up because it always gives me a chance to think. I need that. I feel like I’m going into this semester a little confused, rather tired, but very expectant. A 6 hour EMT class plus 15 credits at Moody and 20 hours of work will make this a busy semester, but it will also make it full of opportunities. I find that in the rush of the temporal I am forced to sit and wait for the refreshing stillness of the eternal. To wait for Him until He comes. When you envision something so much that it actually begins to change your mood, you are finally approaching faith. A vision like this acknowledges both the depth and pain of our own human pilgrimage as well as a God who is relentlessly initiating death and new beginnings. And there’s hope in that.

I heard a story of an old violinist who was traveling around Europe on his last performance tour. At a show played in Brussels there was a young man who sat awed at the aged musician’s skill. The man was quite sure he had never heard the violin played so beautifully. After the concert he approached the old musician and said, “I would give my life to play like you.”

The violinist looked intently at the eager admirer standing before him and replied, “I have given my life to play like me.”

We will all give our lives to something. I am reminded of the stories of squander in the Bible, the rich young ruler, the widow with her last pennies, the disciples, Jesus’ life. Setting out to be given over to God is in itself committing an act of hope. In “The End of the Affair” Sarah writes in her journal to God, 
“You were there, teaching us to squander as you taught the rich man, so that one day we might have nothing left except this love of You.” 
Lewis has a similar thought in his “Weight of Glory”, 
“Can anything be added to the conception of being with Christ? For it must be true, as an old writer says, that he who has God and everything has no more than he who has God only.”
 Thank you all for your prayers and concern with mom’s cancer. We pray for His peace upon this next season, His immanence in our weariness, His joy in our eyes. Have a great week friends. We live with hope.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

These days...

These have been good days, much needed time with family and friends apart from the stress of work and school. On Christmas I made sweedish pancakes for breakfast, a tradition that has been in the family since I was 5 or 6. Papa taught me to make them and we would do them together each Christmas morning until he passed away 2 years ago. I have tried to carry on the tradition, though I doubt they will ever turn out as good as his. Christmas was small this year with all my grandparents now passed away and Maegan in Turkey. I have been spending a lot of time reading, mostly it has been the EMT textbook but I have found time to finish reading Brueggemann’s “Praying the Psalms” and Lewis’ “Weight of Glory.”

Last week Ryan and I hike Mt. Bierdstadt, a 14,060 ft. mountain just west of Denver (see pictures below). It was breathtaking. We had to snowshoe to the foot of the mountain, but decided to rough it up the rest of the way though it involved a lot of slipping and careful stepping. The icy snow came in handy on the way down when we slid down snow field after snow field, the longest of them being about 200 ft.

Mom goes into surgery on Thursday for her breast cancer. I can’t accurately express all the emotions and thoughts that daily go through my head on this issue. She hasn’t looked at all well this week, which has brought the cancer to the forefront of my thoughts. It is a reality that we live with as a family now. Between the alkaline diet, the oxygen treatments and the unthought-through, well-meaning words of those around us it becomes impossible to pass a few hours without the realization that mom has cancer. It makes me pray differently, makes me think differently, and constantly serves to remind us of how fragile and momentary life is. Running the other day I watched the sunset for a long time and was again reminded of the sheer gift of life.

Our longings are chasms which we don’t know how to bridge, they are reflections for the things which won’t be lost, or taken, or destroyed. There are moments where the present awe of a thing, an image, molds with the secret longing lying dormant in our hearts and ALL OF US BECOMES WAITING, from “the bottom of our toes to the edges of our fingertips.” God works in our life with images and we are wont to revel in them alone, failing to see that the glory is not IN them, rather it comes THROUGH them. I am guilty of this. That is why when I read Donnes “Batter My Heart” I am deeply moved by the line “Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me” but fail to bring it into actuality because I’m not sure I’ve ever been “ravished” by God. Perhaps I am still waiting. I love the words, the idea, but fail to understand them.

Lewis says,

“In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you – the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually happened in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.”

Does this “betrayal” come through in how you pray?

Have you been “ravished”?

I’m not sure I’ve “allowed” God this – the ache for it is there, but so is the fear.