Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March 11th

The words won't shake lose. For several days now, I've felt the weight of some words stirring restless here at the bottom of my heart, where I cannot quite reach them.

To tip myself upside down, I need time and space and who has those things these days?

I had an open window and spring poured through it, in the evening and something unseen was rustling in the woods behind the fence. Whatever it was, it didn't disturb the singing of newly awoken things in the grass and bushes, so it didn't disturb me.

I have one hour before the baby wakes; maybe less. Then I'll be creating something else, but that's slow, slow work and disappears down into her life and when it returns, it will be something different- whatever she made of it.

Do you see the pines? He whispered. Do you see how they are scarred and broken? That is also My face, Myself.

It's so scandalous- that God should be scarred. Don't we want Him perfect? Shouldn't He be?

It's Lent and for the first time, I am marking it. I have done the obvious thing and have gone off facebook. There's a lot of quiet now, and focus.

"You're not like I thought You'd be," I told Him- the Son of God!

How dare I even speak to Him, let alone question Him?

He has to teach me all over again.

"I thought You'd be on Your throne."

That would terrify you, to see that.

Just to know that I am seeing Him can be awful- in the oldest sense of that word: solemnly impressive; inspiring awe: the awful majesty of alpine peaks. Full of awe; reverential.

Do you know Me as King?

He is, but I do not know Him that way. That is not the way He comes to me.

The Christ, the Son of God, comes to me as a six month old infant girl, sitting on my arm, leaning against my heart. He comes to me as a scarred pine, as my husband whispering, "I love that you love me." He comes like spring through the window.

It leaves me breathless all over again; the way God makes Himself vulnerable, how willing He is to be born again and again into this world. Hasn't He enough scars?

He emptied Himself- I read that phrase this morning, and thought again about it- how the manifest glory, the living wisdom, the Holy One having all the fullness of the Eternal, held in the heart of the invisible God, the only begotten- He emptied Himself and became human.

Either I do not understand what it is to be human, or I do not understand what it is to be God. Very likely both.

We are living at the heart of a breakable and awful mystery every single day. We walk in it. We talk to it. We touch it.

It's so scandalous- that we should touch God.

I think of Him sometimes, clothed in dignity: a man in a Middle Eastern, patriarchal culture of honor and shame, a traveling sage, a teacher of the law and a prophet. He holds the whole Torah and hundreds of years of their interpretation and tradition easily in His mind and He can weave with them, debate with them, parry and thrust and pierce, laying bare the heart.

He wears the simple long and layered robes and the tallit and He is tired and being shoved, pressed in on, and the racket of shouts echoing off the sun baked stone and His rabble of disciples- the zealot and the collaborator with Rome and the traitor, and the passionate boys eager for positions at His right hand, eager to call down retribution when their Master is rejected.

And there is this one woman- unclean all her life and impoverished by it in every way. The very part of her meant to bring life is destroying any hope of a life of her own.

Just to be out of the house brings her shame and just being near to the Rabbi brings Him shame and yet she hopes to do worse; she is determined to touch His clothing.

How dare she?

She does dare and He calls her daughter.

It's all too much to believe. The whole thing.

I read a story based in the gospels the other day, it described Jesus as exuding an air of majesty, calm, collected and dignified, always in control of Himself and the situation.

I had a hard time recognizing this Jesus.

"But You are Lord of lords," I have insisted.

Yes, of course I am- this said as if I had just told Him the sky was blue.

When I was a senior at a Southern Baptist private school, I sat in the auditorium and listened one morning to the principal speak. He told the story of the determined, desperate and faith filled woman and he waxed fervent. He declared that if we could only strive for a perfect, holy life in every way- in all we did and wore and said and thought and listened to and looked at and touched, we might also strain to reach the hem of Jesus' robe.

The look on his face was ecstatic but I went away puzzled and never forgot it. How could we long only for the hem? And who by patching together all the rags of their self righteousness could dare to touch even that?

Does the King's family, in His own house, call Him by His name or by His title?

"Well, I suppose if they were at the breakfast table or something like that, it might be a little silly and excessive for them to call Him by His title..."

This afternoon I was driven by my loving soldier in uniform through the glare of pollen season to the P/X for my eye exam. He waited with our daughter while I tried to read letters. My eye sight, I was told, is terrible. I could tell from their solicitousness alone that something must be wrong. I have eyes bent like footballs as well as nearsightedness and so I can neither see straight nor far away. It's a wonder I can see the computer screen.

"Will You teach me?" I asked Jesus a few days ago. "Will You teach me everything when I'm fully there?"

I already am.

"Again, again, You say this- I already am!" I cried, laughing. "Can't You just for once say, Yes! Yes I will! I will teach you everything once you are here.?"

Fine! He cried, as full of laughter as I was. Yes! I will- I will teach you everything once you are here, because...

And He waited, looking down at me with those dancing eyes and I had to give in. I threw my hands up. "Oh, just go on and say it!" I told Jesus, laughing.

Because I already am!

"But I don't understand how that's possible," I said, seriously. "How could You be teaching me everything right now, when I can't begin to understand it, or see it, or grasp it?"

Because, He told me, the seeds of everything we need to know are planted here and we are growing into them each day of our lives. Our lives are wound around lessons so large we can't even see them, but we are learning all along.