America’s Dark Night of the Soul

Everything is really dark right now. The forces of evil appear are fighting to maintain the upper hand and are clearly determined to drag us as far down the ugly path of cruelty and hatred as they can with willing support from people who ought to know better but are under the thrall of hate and so don’t care. People have revealed themselves and it … Continue reading America’s Dark Night of the Soul

Wrestling Hope

“Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante’s hell is the inscription: ‘Leave behind all hope, you who enter here.'” Jurgen Moltmann

I’ve wrestled a lot with hope in the last few years. Mostly to try and send it away. “Hope deferred makes a heart sick.” I’ve had enough of being sick. But allowing oneself to venture into hell is a dangerous thing as well. I know – I’ve wandered into hell more than once as of late and couldn’t muster the strength to find my way back out.

I’ve taken to resisting comfort. I’ve fallen for it too many times before. I’ve read the words of scripture and their promises that God will not abandon me or let me fall. My heart has leapt at them only to find that holding onto comfort is like holding onto water as it slips out between your fingers. And God is no where to be seen but my failure is all around me. Better not to let myself try to grab hold any more.

I’ve gazed at the cross with its promise of redemption after suffering. But Jesus’ suffering lasted for a weekend and mine is lasting for years. Jesus’ suffering was probably greater than mine, but it’s not a competition. My neighbor’s broken leg doesn’t make my broken heart hurt any less. I’d say I just want my suffering to end, but the damage has already been done. What difference does it make now?

And then I realize that it is an evil thing I’m fighting with which bids me to remain in hell and refuse comfort as too little too late and far too quickly gone. Continue reading “Wrestling Hope”

Mary, The Bondservant Who Waited

Sometimes I think about Mary. When she was told that she would bear a child who would be “Son of the Most High” she agreed by declaring herself a “bond-servant” of God. Shortly after, while visiting her sister-in-law Elizabeth, she spoke what is known as the Magnificat. Her poem or song shows that unlike many of her contemporaries, Mary understood that the purposes of God were social, personal and redemptive – not political. She really got it – the redemption, the care for the least of these, the re-ordering of the world into the Kingdom of God. As Scot McKnight put it “Mary’s vision is the realization of the long-expected hope when God will create the society he promised to his people and through his prophets. This society will marked by justice and peace, by fear of God and holiness and mercy/love.” This was the mission she was signing on for when she agreed to God’s will for her life. Continue reading “Mary, The Bondservant Who Waited”

Psalm 44: “You have made us a byword among the nations”

We have heard with our ears, O God;

Our fathers have told us

what you did in their days,

in days long ago.

I heard a story the other day about a woman who needed potatoes.  To make potato salad.  And apparently she needed a lot of potatoes.  I probably wasn’t listening very attentively, because I have no idea why she needed to make potato salad – church picnic, family reunion, Paula Deen was coming for a cook-out, I don’t know.  But the woman needed potatoes and had no money for potatoes which was causing her a good deal of stress.  People were depending on her potato salad.  And then she got a phone call from a friend who worked at the weigh-station outside of town: “there’s truck here that’s 150 lbs overweight.  It’s full of potatoes – do you know anyone who might need 150 lbs of potatoes?”  Why, yes, yes she did.  And potatoes fell down from the heavens like manna.

At the completion of this story, another man in the room exclaimed, “isn’t it amazing how God provides?  Over and over I have seen things like that – even in my own family, God provides in the most unexpected ways.”  Several others in the room nodded in agreement.  Not me.  I’m like the psalmist – I have heard of these things, but I haven’t seen them. Continue reading “Psalm 44: “You have made us a byword among the nations””

Seed Catalogue Dreaming

This is not what my yard looks like

I have been resisting the temptation to look for a couple of weeks now, but . . . SEED CATALOGUES ARE HERE!  I love seed catalogues.  I can sit and pour through them over and over again during the short days of winter.  But this leads to dreams of turning my scraggly 2 acre yard of reclaimed brush land into a lush garden oasis.  I develop delusions of having a thriving vegetable garden with well planned rows and patches.  Maybe this will be the year that we try our hand at growing giant pumpkins.  Visions of sunny sunflower patches.  Rose bushes!  A koi pond!  Maybe even cluster of blueberry bushes and a few fruit trees at one corner of the yard.  I can just see my children frolicking about the gardens, stopping to pluck a flower to adorn their curly hair while I sit with a glass of iced tea and soak in all the beauty of it.  If only my yard didn’t actually look like it was waiting for a Chevy on cinder blocks to adorn it.  One day.

For years I started seeds in a spare room under lights each spring.  Each morning one of the first things I would do is go into the room to check and see what had sprouted or put up a new leaf overnight.  Frankly I couldn’t even tell you why, but not much makes me happier – especially when it’s snowing in April – than seeing these little green shoots emerging from the soil.  A few years back I had to leave town for a few days in late spring before I was able to plant out that year’s crop.  The qxh, apparently not understanding that my request that he water them daily while I was gone wasn’t really optional, didn’t.  When I got back about a third of my plants were dead.  I’m normally a pretty tough cookie, but I cried for days.  Continue reading “Seed Catalogue Dreaming”

The Long Walk

Since I was in high school I have suffered from cluster headaches. Fortunately, it has been several years since I have suffered an episode. However, for years I lived with persistent daily bouts of scathing pain for weeks and sometimes months at a time. One of the things I discovered from living with pain was that over time, your ability to cope with fairly minor … Continue reading The Long Walk