Staring At The Dirt

Today has been a day of water.  Water in the form of torrential down pour, hail, sleet, snow flurries and misty wet wind. With this water comes mud.  I hate mud. I am surrounded by it. Everywhere I look it has either been tracked in, or clings to  shoes, fur, coats, pants.  It covers the driveway, and the yard and you can’t glance outside and not see it.  Gone is the blanket of white hiding the dirt. Now is the season where you have to look at dirt.  Wet, sticky, heavy, clingy, odorous….dirt.

I don’t find it a coincidence that today has overwhelmed me with water and dirt, as today is also  Maundy Thursday.  This day of Holy Week we celebrate the remembrance of the Last Supper.  We remember the Savior’s aching plea to observe and remember.  His powerful demonstration of service when he laid aside his rabbinical robes and donned the garb of the servant…a towel, and poured water into a basin and washed the dirt from off the feet of his disciples.

John 13:3-5  Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jesus, from his secure place in the Father’s love, humbled himself as a lowly servant and looked at the dirt on his disciples feet.  He didn’t just stare.  He didn’t point out who had the dirtiest feet, he didn’t comment on nail fungus or callouses,  he poured water, and touched them, and wiped them clean.

What a lesson for ministers of  SoulCare-are we washing from a place of identity that is securely fastened in the love of the Father?  Do we know deeply whose we are, and where we are heading before we pick up the towel?  Have we seen our Savior wash our own dirty feet,  before we ever dare to look at the dirt of another?  The dirt of the journey through this broken world that clings to the peace of the wounded bringing them shame, and the inability to move freely. The dirt that dries like concrete, and rips the skin off when bumped too harshly.

Jesus didn’t use a scrub brush.  Jesus didn’t stare at the dirt.  He saw the heart under the sandals he unlatched.  He wasn’t moved by the dirt, because he himself was the living water, the walking pool of Bethesda, the wine from the water at Canaan, the baptism of Jordan, the rock of water that followed the Hebrew children in the wilderness.  He is the river of life, no dirt can cling to the soul of the one who is washed by this eternal stream.

My prayer this (muddy) Thursday is this:  May we remember the washing as we gaze at the mud.  May we  allow our souls to be reminded of our identity in the Beloved.  May we lay aside any robes of entitlement and reach for the towel as we kneel before the sandals in our care.  jesus-washing-the-feet-calvin-carter

 

Heir To A Grave

I opened the official looking envelope from the county and stared at the title deed to the plot of ground where my mom is buried- I am heir to a grave.

The weight of this inheritance sat with me through the days as I pondered the necessity to prove ownership of my mom’s bones.  Would there ever be a time when someone would dispute my right to mourn my dead on the land purchased and titled?   There across the news the battles in the the Holy Land of who owns what places to put whose bones in blare across the screen. Riots over ancient sepulchers  seemed a bit close to home in my meditations this Holy week.

Bones.

Abraham’s petition to the sons of Heth:

Gen 23:4 “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”

Joseph’s Godfather like command:  “Carry my bones”

Gen 50:25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”

Even Jesus’s life evolved around the tomb.  The healing of the demoniac that lived among the tombs, the miracle of Lazarus, the care of Christ’s own bones.

Mat 27:57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.
Mat 27:58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.
Mat 27:59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud
Mat 27:60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

Joseph had title to his own tomb, and laid another man in it. A man who would not stay dead.  Who would not leave his bones in a borrowed tomb.

Seed.

1Co 15:36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
1Co 15:37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
1Co 15:38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.

I know my Mother and Father will experience a resurrected body. I am strangely comforted by the fact that they will rise together and experience transformation together. In life they strove to grow as a couple, to be intentional in “doing” life together.  What greater satisfaction can there be than to have the one your soul is knit to, and cleaved to experience the most dramatic physical transformation with you that there will be?  I have pondered how they cared for the dieing kernel of each other’s earthly bodies often with despair and frustration. I think of the days that we sang them and  sowed them back into the Earth they came from.  I look towards THE DAY when the ONE who is the first born from the dead will give their mortal bodies a new life, a new form, and the rejoicing there will be when what was once sickly, and weak, knows resurrected life.

So, I close the envelope and place it with the other important papers that define life and I know that death is not the end for those who believe.  It is only a seed. falling into the ground, shedding it’s kernel, only to be called again into the eternal life giving purpose for which it was created.

1Jn 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

I thank God, that Jesus had bones. tomb-2

 

 

 

 

God Came Cold-Old Smoke pt 3

God came cold on Valentines Sunday to the Preacher’s church. The sister found him curled up in the February frost in front of the doors to the sanctuary-he’d been there all night.  She called the Preacher and the Preacher called the Gardener, and we looked at each other and knew…”Old Smoke.”

The Gardener hurried to shower and dress turning to me with his hand on the door his steel blue eyes pierced me with their intentionality.

“We have to be very careful with this.  I’m telling you, this is a gift from God today, and how we handle this is going to make all the difference…you know?”

I smiled and lowered my eyes, “oh, I know, it is more than just a homeless man on the steps of our church…this is GOD, I’ll be right behind you! ” The Gardener smiled and nodded and raced off the mountain into the valley to be there to care for God in disguise.  Like Abraham rushed to attend the mysterious guests on that dusty afternoon where the fate of a city hung in the balance,  we found ourselves rushing to be present to the need of love that left itself at our doors. Several times I had to let my foot off the accelerator as I traveled the windy gravel road to town.

“Why am I speeding?” I mumbled to myself with a shake of the head as I crested the hill that overlooks the valley and began my decent. As I gazed at the spring mist filling the valley floor, and pondered my need to rush to church, the presence of love filled my truck and a tender voice whispered to my heart-

“Because, love compels.”

I wept. This is what it feels like?  This is what love does to you when you know who you are really serving, giving, caring for?  This is what it feels like to have your feet racing to do good?  Love compels the heart to give all it has, all the time, in every situation.  Love compels the extra mile, the only cloak, the humble turning of the smitten cheek. Love compels the cross.

I threw the truck in park and rushed into the sanctuary only to find The Sister weeping gently in quiet attendance to the man sleeping in the chair.  She had offered him a cup of coffee and a roll, wrapped him in her soft blanket and set him next to the fireplace, where he promptly fell asleep.

“This old man, was someone’s baby boy.  I want to hold him, and tell him it is going to be ok. Is that crazy?”  She choked out the whispered words, her hands trembling with compelling love.

“No, it’s not crazy”  I whispered back through my own tears, “You see, this is God, this is our Valentine gift from Heaven.  We get to love the least of these well today.”

We nodded, and wept and tucked him in a little closer to the fire, and waited to see what the congregation would think of God.

India Daily Life

We Are All Just Squatters-

You know how everyone is always telling you to listen for God in the everyday?  You know in the grandeur of a sunset, the promise of a sunrise, the awe of a storm, the gentle whisper after the rain?  Well, the other day, I got yelled at by the chicken lady.  She waved her arms and shook her stick at me as I maneuvered past her hundred chickens trying to cross the road.

“Slow DOWN!”

I wasn’t driving fast, the chickens were just walking slow.

They say she is just squatting there, that she doesn’t really own the place, she is carving out a life off the grid from an abandoned trailer and an old camper, a dog on a chain and at least a hundred chickens.  It must be like Easter every day come egg collecting time.   She held off the wild fire this summer, and refused to leave her plot of earth.  Brave, or   desperate?  I smile politely waving at her angry face and chuckling at the chicken jokes in my head when it hit me.  God just yelled at me in the face of the chicken lady.

“Slow…Down!”

I have been on the run lately, finding it much easier to busy myself with stuff, and plans and doing, than to sit quietly in my sorrow and learn how to walk in the empty spaces.  I took a deep breath and told myself the truth.

“You have lost both of your parents in a matter of months, you have permission to grieve.  You can’t run from this.”

The tears came then as I felt the weight of their absence and the weight of my existence.  The longing to share moments, and jokes, and how Dad would love the chicken lady.   I could hear the Holy Spirit nudge me to re-examine the encounter.   We are all just squatters here really. The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and this is not our home, not really.  We may be brave and we may be desperate but we are all looking for the eternal city where  The Lamb is the light.    Mom and Dad are citizens finally.  No longer wanderers in a world full of hardships, toil, and lack.  It is my time to sojourn and leave the plots of earth better than the abandoned wrecks I found them.  I am to make my space matter in the moments of Earth time I am given.  Love carries on.  Nothing else.

I am the squatter now, herding my chickens off the road so some clueless motorist doesn’t smack them with the front end of their vehicle while driving blindly past a lesson from God.

6a01156faa621f970c015436f534e6970c

 

 

 

 

Old Smoke pt. 2

The Preacher gathered up his tender boy with a prophet’s name who loved to coax seeds out of the dark, damp earth into the spring light.

“I think the Lord is about to teach us a new kind of gardening son.  The kind where one’s heart is torn open and the tilling hurts.  The kind of planting deep from our own storehouse into someone else’s life –He’s going to teach us what benevolence really means.”

With that The Preacher and his Boy helped Old Smoke gather his miss-matched hand me downs for the down and outs into The Preacher’s truck and together they made their way to the city where there was more opportunity for grace.

“We got him settled into the motel for a week” The Preacher phoned, “took him to Community Action, and we got him some food, and a few more clothes.”

The Preacher paused in his telling as the weight of the questions:  “How much is too much, and when do you stop, and what if he is just using, and does it really matter?” Found their way into the vibrations of his speech.

“He looks good.  The room was clean, like he was afraid to even sleep on the bed when we picked him up!  I don’t think he can read very well.  I have some applications he could fill out, but he is going to need help.  I want him to make it….to really make it.  Maybe you and The Gardener can stop by and check on him?”

Family!  This was the sound of family on mission. Family being brought to a soul who didn’t know tending, or tilling or what it meant to be watered after a drought.   This was seed bed plowing, and kindness sowing and I could feel the expectation of life out of the ashes- the redeeming love of God blowing and warming the earth of our hearts.  Then the whisper comes from over the hedge wall, the cold north wind of the deceiver…”did God really say?  What if he doesn’t want help?  What if he doesn’t change?  You‘ve believed in him…what if he fails?  What if you cost the church all this money only for him to end up under the bridge?”

I sit on the bench outside of the café waiting for The Gardener and Old Smoke to arrive.  I wrestle with the thoughts of the flesh and the desires of my heart and I pray.  I pray to God to make it not matter what the deceiver whispers.  I pray to God to make this conviction of giving because God gave a reality in my life.  I pray for Old Smoke to want to be tended.  To want to live under the warmth of The Son, to want to believe that love doesn’t judge you based on your old cloak.  Love sees the golden heart.

The door swings open and a fantastic looking cowboy hat struts into the café.  The Gardener grins behind Old Smoke’s back.  “Evening Ma’am”, and there it was.  That sound that first broke my heart, the gentle voice that doesn’t match the weathered face, and that proud tilt of the hat that speaks of other days.  I choke back my tears and hug him.

“Hungry?”

We sit down and Old Smoke pours our coffee a gesture of hospitality that moves me into a memory of those ‘get up before the rooster mornings’ with my Dad.  Times when I got to ride down off the mountain with Dad instead of having to take the school bus.  We would leave early to stop for coffee at the local bakery.    I would climb up on those old wooden stools next to the soda fountain and rub the sleep from my eyes.  I can still hear the Bakery bell chime and smell the fresh rolls and taste the maple glaze on the Big Horn Dad would order to keep his coffee company.

I look at Old Smoke’s hands.  Rough, wrinkled and I remember the way Dad’s bear paw would cup his ‘mug-o-Joe’.  It was always three spoons of sugar and molasses dark. That was the way Daddy drank it.  He taught me to love that dark bean when he let me sneak my gingersnaps into his coffee when Momma wasn’t looking.  It didn’t matter how full I was, or how many cups of coffee I had that day, I always had room for one more when Daddy was pouring.  I looked down at the mound of paper work we needed to fill out just to get Old Smoke a roof, four walls and a toilet.

“You GOT to make it”.  I busted in on their quiet conversation.  My daughter heart beating, my mothering instincts in full force “No one is going to give you a rental reference, no one is going to stand up for you, I can’t have you living under a bridge! ” They both stared at me in their mid-sentence.  Then Old Smoke smiled and nodded.

“I knew the guy here in the City, the one who lived there under the bridge.  He was a friend of mine.  He died. ”

All of those rooster mornings, and molasses coffee moments crashed like breakers over my heart.  Not on my watch. Not with this blood in my veins is he going to live under a bridge. “I.D.  Do you have any form of I.D?  Post Office Box? Social Security Card?” Old smoke moved by my desperation began to fumble in his pocket-

“Here, I managed to save my wallet.”

I grabbed his creased, old leather wallet and began to rummage through the details of his life in frantic desperation.  That was when I felt the Gardener’s strong hand on mine, pressing my manic search for answers against the wooden café table.

“Stop.”  I felt the Gardener’s piercing gaze as I met his eyes.  The Gardener turned to Old Smoke with a tender voice.  “You ok with this?” Motioning to my raccoon rummaging fingers in what was left of his identity spread across the table in between his uneaten pie and my onion rings.  Okay with this?  I was fighting for his life and against all the whispers of the nay sayers what do you mean ok?

“If this makes you uncomfortable, or you don’t want us to go through your wallet you just say so, we don’t want you to feel violated in any way”.  Honor.  The Gardener was honoring Old Smoke’s dignity and I had allowed my fear and worry to cause me to plow in to the one personal possession he was able to save, without a thought to how it might make him feel.  I felt the heat of shame rise in my cheeks.

“Nah,” came his soft drawl.  “Who do I have but you guys….You and The Preacher, that’s all I got in the world.”

Tears hot and wet rolled down my face as I met Old Smoke’s gaze.  “You have to make it”  I said softly.  “I need you to make it.”

A rhythm of Preacher and Gardener in and out of that old motel must have had heads shaking at all the fuss over one old man.  But he was more than that.  He was a secret garden, a God in the flesh lesson of benevolence, a cross roads for a community learning to live the truth on the street and in their homes.  That Sunday envelopes began to emerge in the offering plate, marked special for Old Smoke.  People were owning their plot of ground and staking claim in the promise of God coming close to the broken and the humble and the giver.  He became family to more than just the tender Boy with the prophet’s name who loved to see green things grow.

The Gardener called me on his way home tonight.

“ I am going to stop by the motel and check on our man, haven’t been able to connect with him the last couple times I have stopped, just a little worried about him, I’ll call you when I am leaving the City”.

I hung up and felt the old familiar tightness.  What if he ran?  What if he bailed on us knowing the week was almost up?  I closed my eyes and prayed.  I prayed that he wouldn’t run.  Prayed that he wasn’t high, or drunk, or lost, I prayed that he would let himself be tended.  Hours passed, then the phone rang.

“Just leaving the City.” There was a smile in The Gardener’s voice.  “yeah, Old Smoke had to show me his new place.”

“New Place?”  I stuttered, heart pounding.

“He made it honey.  He did it.  He got himself into a place, and he is going to have money coming on the first and he has a plan.  It’s not much of a place, a small apartment but it is his.”

The Gardener’s voice was thick and trembling with the laugh only a soul vested in another soul who has come to life can hear.

“ The police officer who investigated the fire came to see him while I was there, he found a box of Old Smoke’s things that survived the blaze. It had his Mom and Dad’s wedding rings in them.”

I could feel the weight of my Dad’s hand pouring me a ‘cup -of -Joe’ on that old bakery stool.

“Where is he now?”  I stammered through my tears.

“Oh,” The Gardener laughed, “I had to take him downtown, to that old church on the street.  He was in a hurry and didn’t want to miss the meeting.”

“Church?”

“Yeah, that’s where he has been every night, they are having special revival services and he didn’t want to miss them.  He says he has met some good folks, and they are even going to give him some furniture for his new place.”

I exhaled the breath I had been holding and let the tears of gratitude flow for that church on the street who had found room in their hearts for a broken man.  That church on the street we had become where God has hands and feet in the dirt.  That place where homeless hearts and wandering gardens are tended.  Where the Old Smokes meet the Heavenly Fire and learn that what stands the flame of suffering becomes gold- Pure Gold. That place where we are enlarged as we give until it hurts without counting the measure of the gift.  That place of benevolent dwelling….where God is.

 

 

 

4198ec9f0bf8db107acfc14869405221

Old Smoke

I met an old smoke today. A Lucky Strike, unfiltered, roll your own kind of born in the 30’s man. A child of the Depression who was taught-

“there ain’t no one lookin’ out fer you but you so you best get at it”.

I met him as he watched what little he had in this world go up in flames from a heater that got kicked over in the old motor home he didn’t have a license to drive, but that he and his dog Pup, and his blind cat called home.  I sat behind him in the ranch truck as The Gardener and I took him to get some free clothes.   I was taken by the softness of his voice.  Didn’t match the leathery face, and hard hands under the puffy coat someone had given him as he stood shivering in the January bitterness wondering if his cat had got out.

I watched him out of the corner of my eye as we filtered through donation clothes searching for a pair of someone else’s brother’s, father’s pants that just might fit a 32, or was it a 34?

“It’s alright ma’am…I can always wear a belt”.

I studied the way his hands were ashamed to take what he hadn’t paid for, but how they trembled with the need.   It was over the box of underwear that I felt the intensity of tending to another’s soul.  Here in the pile of bleached fruit of the looms, the fruit of the Spirit was manifesting. Love, joy, peace, patience, perseverance, kindness, gentleness, meekness,self-control…..  We exchanged an awkward smile as he nodded that the pair I was holding up might fit, and we moved on to socks.

It was the Gardener’s shout of delight at his great “find” that broke the ice and bonded our hearts like only a perfectly formed and fitted cowboy hat can do.

“It even has a feather!”

The Gardener placed the cowboy hat on Old Smoke’s head and we wondered in amazement at the fit.  As if the weathered brim and the bend in the back were shaped by his own hands.

“Yep, that is a nice hat.”

The Gardener nodded and somehow, Old Smoke stood just a little taller, and his shoulders squared just a little more, and the old cowboy boots he was wearing seemed to somehow make him walk just a little straighter out the door.

The Gardener sat with him outside the grocery store and talked fishing and the best lures for bass on the river, as I went in to fill my cart with things I knew my Dad would have loved to eat if he was waiting for hope, in a hotel, without his dog.  I choked back the tears as I passed over the cans of mixed nuts we always bought Dad to munch on during T.V. time. I smiled as I remembered how one of those nuts broke Dad’s front tooth on his dentures.  Mom was so mad, it cost so much to fix that silly tooth.   I put the can back and settled for popcorn and chocolate chip cookies.   Old Smoke only wanted bologna and bread, and “could I have one of those raspberry teas? I don’t need much maam”.   I ached with the need to feed and care for a stranger’s soul as I would my own.

Do I love him as as I love myself?  Do I  Love him as I love the clean, and beautiful ones I sit on the pew with each Sunday? Do I love him as I love the children I have bathed, and soothed, and fed and raised.  Do I love him as I would the lover of my soul whose inconvenient knocking upon my barred heart’s door at midnight leaves me with the smell of myrrh and dew? I felt my heart break for him and for myself as I scanned the aisles for good things to eat from a microwave.  I felt the holy moment of wonder as this juncture of time and need and God came to me in the shape of a “least of these” with hazel eyes, and a soft slow drawl.

I climbed into the back seat of the ranch truck with my bags of goodies and felt the compass of my heart spin due north as grief washed over me.  I missed my Dad.  I had walked into the empty spaces during my aisle browsing.  Spaces that my Dad and I had filled together in hours of conversation, old movies and peanuts.  For a moment I felt the heavy weight of his absence threaten to capsize me as I slowly put away the cookies and the popcorn, and bologna and bread in the hotel refrigerator.  I hugged Old Smoke as I left, brushing away his noble attempt to pay.

“What can I do to thank you folks?”

“Nothing,” I whispered as I hugged his old frame.   “Thank you, for letting us help”.

The Gardener and The Preacher went to visit this evening and tell the bad news of no room in the Inn for someone who might smoke and fall asleep and burn the establishment to the ground.  They couldn’t quite form the words in their mouths so they hugged him instead and told him they would see him in the morning. Both knowing something must be done, and space must be made for this grace to continue.  The Gardener lingered as they stood to leave,

“You need some smokes?”

“Yeah,” came the slow thankful drawl, “I am out, don’t need nothin’ fancy, just get me the old kind, generic…no filter…”

4198ec9f0bf8db107acfc14869405221

 

Dimah-The Weeping

A wooden carving of Virgin of the Seven Sorrows is displayed in a church in the Andalusian capital of Seville

Dimah

The Weeping

There is an ancient word for tears, a woman word, a feminine word, a womb word-

Dimah

The bitter shedding of the blood of the eyes.  The kind of bitter that comes from hearts ripped open by the ravage of divorce, death, addiction.  The kind of bitter that comes from wrong roads wrong loves, wrong gains and the feast made from them.

Dimah

The way the mother heart spills out all over the place like a gut pile from a kill, helpless to defend against the vultures unable to put itself back into its body, laid bare to the picking of its pieces.

Dimah

The sound that moves in the emptiness of home, that echoes in the ashes from the cold hearth shadows of life sounds that has been shattered by the violence- the violence of dishonor, departure, divorce.

Dimah

The blood of the eye that drips down with each glance at the babies the ones who never get to be. The ones who are but don’t know why, the ones who are but think they aren’t and so they disappear from the earth taking their beautiful life force with them, nd we wade in a river of blood that comes from our eyes…

Dimah

The blood of the eye that is ever present as we watch the ones we’ve held to our hearts and our breasts be flailed against the rocks of life in a relentless pounding of pressure. We long to give our bodies to the ragged edge, to weld for them a bridge of peace, but our hands don’t reach that far, all we have is the scream.  The here I am where are you? The scream we hurl at God, to God, desperately groping the blackness for the thread of light begging for his ‘here I am, I see you’ in the silence of the crucible.

Dimah comes unsummoned from the depths of us as we put one foot in front of the other and live because that is what we do. Dimah comes in the circle of the tribe as we lift weary heads and trembling hands to wipe the blood from another’s eyes away.  Dimah comes in the collective life lived and the common bond of sorrow as we raise one voice, shed one consolidated tear.

Yes, we know the ancient word for weeping.  She is with us an integral part of the living and breathing of mothering.  Yet, she comes with a promise, that the valley we have cut out from the torrents of our tears will one day become a door of hope. And so, we weep with you who weep, we mourn with you who mourn, we wipe the blood from your eyes through the haze of red in ours.  Together, we wait for the dawn and the day star to arise in our hearts and we hope.

 

Tell Me The Story That Will Heal My Soul

The Beauty of She

wheat

I have been teaching an in depth course on the spiritual interpretation of the Song of Solomon for the past few months which has kept me happily immersed in the beautiful language of love, but as this season is winding down I am taking a Spring Sabbatical to flesh out the new inner workings of The Spirit stirring in my heart.  This beautiful message of the Indwelling Life of Christ.  I have found myself vacillating from anger ( why didn’t anyone teach this to me sooner) to a beautiful sense of the eyes of God upon my frame and his wonderful timing of things in my life.

As I find this message coming out in the strangest of places and conversations, I know it is time to put pen to pad and chronicle this journey…and so we begin with story.  Beautiful wonderful story.  Thank you to Major Ian Thomas who has passed…

View original post 345 more words

30 Seconds To Midnight

Midnight

 If this fire and loss of my father has taught me anything, it is that in light of eternity, very little matters in this temporal world. I don’t say that lightly. I don’t say that with pompous airs of detached stoicism.  I say that from the trenches of gut wrenching tears and an agony that leaves you unable to breathe.  I say that from the underside of the mud in my face, from the taste of my own blood in my mouth, from the bruised knees to which I have fallen. I say that from the place of stripping and knowing in the nakedness, the shame of this life is nothing compared to the glory of his presence.  The beauty of his face, the knowledge of an eternity with the Desire of the Ages is going to be worth all the pain and suffering this life can bring.  Those are not just words but an ever nearing reality.

What do any of us have to say to each other when the world as we know it is crashing and fading, and falling and shifting?  When we can’t look back and point to anything standing saying “this is irreplaceable…truth, stuff, belonging, being” the message of this hour is actually quite simple in it’s terrifying narrowness:  “Do you know your God, does he know you?”

It is 30 seconds to midnight, do I have oil and some to spare the long darkness? Or will I be sent away to discover the truth only too late, and be shut out from the closeness of his presence?

Have I heard my name upon his lips?  What does the sound of his voice feel like?  What is the rhythm of his heart? What moves him in this hour?

The message is simple.  Am I my Beloved’s?  Is He mine? It is no longer a matter of debate or theological argument.  Either I am madly in love as a bride espoused to the groom of her youth, having learned to “love one another as I have loved you ” or, I have grown bored in the waiting and turned to other things to occupy my time trusting that the fiery affections of my first love will be there when I need it.

It is 30 seconds…where am I? What is my message?