The truth is that the Lenten Journey comes naturally to me. The Lenten journey leads me to face what I already know is true. But the Easter Plot Twist is news. It is the good news which catches me off guard. It is the surprise which we cannot just innately know without hearing it proclaimed and lived. 1 John writes that it is a truth to be seen, heard, and touched. It is a truth to be revealed (not just known intuitively).
We march in the lillies and wear our Sunday best, but even the most extravagant of our “Allelulias” seem to be not enough after eight weeks leading to the cross. So I begin this year a new personal practice of an Easter Season. If Lent was a time for accepting the reckoning, then Easter is a time for expecting resurrection. Continue reading
Tonight, our oldest will accompany me to our Tenebrae service. Seated next to me, I will envelop him with my black-robed arm wrapped around his little body, as he watches the scene that unfolds – haunting melodies, dramatic scripture readings, descending darkness. I wonder how wide his eyes will become when we reach the pinnacle of the service and the Bible is slammed shut, the candle extinguished, and we sing in the dark. Continue reading
Quietly as I can, I turn off all the lights in the kitchen, leaving only the candle’s flame to light the way, giddy and erratic. I turn the chair around, slowly and methodically, to face out the window. I breathe in the state of the world – the sleeping boys, the snoring dog, the rising world.
For a moment, the only important thing to do is to see the branches.
Taller than the window allows me to see, the trees hold last night’s snow. The heaviness cannot defy their slender frames. Subtle at first, the branches move. The stiller I become, the more I realize that they are in constant movement. I recognize the persistent winds that blow across the top of our house on a still morning.
How still do you have to become to notice the branches move?
How dark does it have to become to witness its shape in the morning light?
The child longs for perfectly presented objects of desire placed underneath the twinkling lights and all the time in the day; for normal life to cease and fantasy land to commence, the imagination alive with possibility.
Anticipation mounts the joy. Mystery multiples the wonder. Hugs are sweeter. The air is thick. It is confirmed: life is good.
The house is (what has become) a familiar sight. Boxes stacked in corners. Cabinets hold only a few essentials. The to-do list ebbs and flows by day’s end. We will celebrate Christmas this year in liminal space – with one foot in our first home and one foot in our forever home.
Stripped of any sense of settled, I have foregone even the dream of the idealized Christmas painted in the classic songs. I have found myself most drawn in gratitude for the Advent truths in the liminal spaces. Wrapped in the rough and worn packaging of ancient texts, I have already received the greatest gifts Christmas has to offer – time spent with a God who reveals what we have not known before, concepts that provide ever-constant openings to a new future, and truths that save me daily.
With busy lives (tasks with deadlines; needs with accompanying cries, whimpers, and whines; minutes that tick by without permission), how can we live with centered hearts (the kind that focuses our caring labor on the long-game care of humanity; not the kind we assume comes from the labels that people use to define our personhood), swelling gratitude (the kind that is born from the “enough” around us; not the painted calligraphy kind that is purchased at craft stores), and abundant grace (the kind that comes from the wells of forgiveness for perpetual imperfection; not the kind from ballerinas or naive optimism)?
If not for the Divine Parent who loves our busy lives, forgives our imperfect attempts, and redeems our busyness, I know not how. Continue reading
“I sought the Lord, and God answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears…
The poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
and was saved from every trouble…
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears,
and rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions o the righteous,
but the Lord rescues them from them all.
God keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”
– Psalm 34: 4, 6, 17-20, 22
“Silence the contending opinions you have within your heart… You do your best to call a halt to these noisy crosscurrents of personal feelings, opinions, and ideas. You start over… You center upon what God’s estimate of this person was in creation and is now in God’s redemptive wisdom and love… You choose to center down.” – Wayne E. Oates, Nurturing Silence in a Noisy Heart, 43.
Weary, I collapse. The tool belt hangs heavy and clumsily around my waist, creating a loud thump as I fall to the ground. The tools weigh me down and leave me grounded wherever I have fallen. Where I sit, there I am stuck. I lift my eyes towards where I wished I had landed instead – a cushioned seat, a place with a better vantage point, a spot in the company of friends. My body pulses and aches, and the distance between where I sit and where I wish I sat grows further and further.