As light as incense,
soft on the air was her life.
Fragrant, but in a moment gone–vital but fragile.
To hold our moments as precious,
to not measure our eternal weight by our fractured souls,
is my broken prayer.
Shaken deeper than deep, hiding in the shadows from authorities and creeping fears—named and unnamed,
no light, no hopeful horizon even with the bending rays of first light.
But morning breaks the mourning in thunderous quiet within an unblocked tomb, in a soft step in the garden, and on dusty Jerusalem roads.
and from the inside out a cry of liquid joy flows like a stream—He’s alive.
Just as He said, but we missed it, were blind to it—to Him.
But possibility and promise have rocked the dark kingdoms, and God’s Own has broken through, leading a parade of captives.
I was one. Praise Him.
Is it just another day, another ritual performed,
a chance to wear new clothes and serve festive meals,
a celebration to mark our days and orient ourselves in a new year?
Is it just another obligation,
a compartment to fit in all the praiseworthy things
we ought to feel,
hope to feel,
about One so distant, so long ascended?
Has the burning in our hearts been quenched by familiar practices
Has the finger-in-the-side-faith lost its exclamations,
replaced by programs, distractions, and holy soundtracks?
Has our communion in the garden become commonplace
rather than ablaze with revelation and intimacy?
Oh, God of the resurrection,
God of the unruly and easily sidetracked,
burn within my heart this day.
Renew this shabby faith, these tattered shreds of almost belief,
with an obsession,
and an urgency to love the faltering, the lost.
To be the Kingdom person you suffered to make me is my Easter prayer.
Do you hear the silence in the tomb—hard and lifeless—vacuous hopes of my heart buried in a borrowed grave with one who would save us?
Do you hear the silence in the streets where palms, faded and brittle, blow to the wadis by dry desert winds—blow along with our visions of an overcoming respite?
And the pain of that black moment has dissolved in my tears and loss, and we mourn for him, but probably more for ourselves—myself.
And in the weeping and the regularity of another’s day, a great silence fills and empties me of will and belief. Behind my eyes, inside my head, the palpable quiet pushes out hope and in my hands where once we held his bread and wine, I hold despair, pressed down, dark, and bloody.
L-ife is to be lived with love as our mandate; but too often,
I-maginations are soiled with the cares and constraints of bolstering up this
M-ansion here, rather than the one
P-prepared for us. Wishing to stay and wishing to go
I-s for those closest to heaven’s door and
N-ot for those distracted with position and purpose,
G-rounded, it seems, in earthly things. And we wound each other with
C-areless words; and we
H-arm the weak and disarm the strong, without
U-nderstanding we are servants one of another, chosen not by destiny but
R-edeemed and uniquely
C-hosen by Christ. He is the One we serve—not ourselves—with grace and
H-umility, forgiving one another, seeking each one’s best.
T-herefore, as God’s people, let us clothe ourselves with compassion; let peace
R-ule our hearts, forgiving all grievances, responding
I-n love as Christ has loved us,
U-nfettered by ambition and pride and blind passion.
M-aster of all, Lord of Your church, it would seem our faith
P-aralysis is not a reflection of You but our
H-alf-hearted devotion, our crippling sins.
A-rise in our hearts; revive your chosen ones that we might
N-ot be so earthbound, but set our hearts on
T-hings above. This is my broken prayer.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High,
look to Him as a definitive defense, a protecting shadow, planted, rooted, and
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty,
find a peaceful sleep, a breathe-easy embrace in the threatening storm,
the coming chaos.
This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge,
my place to regroup, recoup, and take quiet, desperate respite,
my place of safety,
protection from threats without and disabling fears within;
He is my God,
Provider, Healer, Revealer, the One Who sees, Lover, my Abba Daddy,
and I trust Him
because in this upside-down world, who have I but You.
Psalm 91:1-2 (NLB)
I miss my mother.
Not the pained days and her lonely, disorienting moments,
not the frontal lobe disintegration that turned a stable woman of integrity into a silly, flirting schoolgirl,
not the numbness and loss of dexterity that stole the pleasure of creativity from her busy fingers.
I miss the laughter, the sneaky tricks, the Scrabble games at midnight. I miss the hint of mischief behind those blue eyes. She saw it so clearly in us because it was self-diagnosis.
I miss her dedication to home and family that gifted us with pies and cookies, doilies and quilts, music and ministry, prayers by the bed, and testimony in every routine act of living.
Discipline was not always pleasant, but forgiveness was metered out with hugs and affirmations. When I finally got caught stealing Daddy’s pocket change and hoarding it under my mattress in an old condom box, I got the just talking to, but my repayment plan was probably a third of what I stole and so much less than what I deserved. Perhaps part of my debt was paid in the moments of laughter behind her hand.
I miss her full mind, her surety, her security in faith tested. If she ever doubted, her passion and love for the lost washed over any questions she may have had.
I miss her determination to press on through bad memories and disappointments, betrayals and sorrows.
Her commitment to work in the church and community, to pour her energies out to bring along the weaker and the worn, kept her going past her physical strength and only faded with her fading mind.
On that day, your spirit soared as I flew homeward, and I like to think I met you in the air as you left this hard place, though whether heaven is up, down, or sideways, I don’t know; but I know
you are surely there, as surely as life has gone on.
There are some days in this topsy-turvy world,
I really miss my mother.
Words, syllables, inflections,
breathed and yelled, soft and loud,
mouthed and thought, heard and not,
written and spoken,
valued and ignored, but so weighty for the one who owns them, for that one desperate to be treasured.
When we begin, words tumble out in disjointed digraphs and stutters,
cheered and encouraged by proud parents who imagine brilliance with each blurb; but
with time and teaching, the excitement diminishes, and like with any drug, the content needs to be more potent to illicit the same reaction, from spelling bees to grad speeches to wedding toasts and dissertations.
The audiences change, and the stories get retold; successful soliloquies get notched on the belt of significance as the words ebb and flow with the rhythms of life. But then
those who are really listening grow fewer, and more and more voices fill the air, diluting, refuting, and polluting
the pulsing megabytes,
the pixelated opinions that fill our moments, competing with our aging soul-words.
And it is that—soul.
It is as if we start to live a little less, feel a little less, when our words fall to the ground just beyond our lips, buried in the myriad messages that surround and clutter the unnourished imagination.
And I wonder if all this noise will be forever the way of things—if loss and longing, poetry and song, description and discerning will lose their distinctiveness in the throes of hashtags, vlogs, and all the literary litter that swirls like gnats.
When there is the shock of loss–a sudden departure–and
you feel like you need to do something to fix things and to take the sting away; and yet,
there is nothing to be done in this shattered moment, but
you feel guilty doing anything else, all the mundane things we do over and over in our life without remembering
that we are living on this fragile edge.