I saw on Facebook yesterday that it was National Daughter’s Day. I missed it :-/. But I will post belatedly today.
I can’t easily say with words how much I love and respect my daughters, but I will try. They are both loving, kind, brave, courageous, persistent, intelligent, capable, insightful, beautiful, caring…. I could go on and on. They have been one of life’s greatest blessings.
It’s such a mystery that when Hule and I found each other and married, and “made” these two humans together—joining our DNA and histories, nature and nurture, that made the possibility for them to exist. Without that specific equation, they would not exist.
We are not always created from happy, blessed unions—and if we’re not, it does not diminish our value. Every human’s value is in the ONE Who formed us from earth’s dust and rib, created our DNA, made us in His image, and breathed His life into us. God, is our ultimate Parent—we are His daughters and sons.
Life is a Miracle. Family is God’s original plan—Edenic hope.
Sarah Jo and Julianne Kay, you bring grace and joy to this world and to your Momma and Daddy’s hearts and souls! Today we celebrate you.
“I see it, I see it,” said Hazel, pointing to my small paisley decorated retractable tape measure.
“What do you see?” I asked.
“The virus. I see the virus!”
For over a year now our lives have been rerouted and turned upside down because of “the virus”. Hazel has often referred to “the sickness”. Hazel is four and, despite being her grandma, I declare she is nigh a genius. 🙂 Her mind is continually picking up things said, things seen, things smelled, and integrating them quickly into her vast repertoire of knowledge, then easily figuring out a way to express those new discoveries. So, like a true nurse educator and science lover, I said,
“Oh, nobody can see the virus except with a very powerful microscope. But Hazel, here… (I pulled up the image on my phone), this is the coronavirus. See, they made a picture of what it looks like under a microscope.”
Even Julian, my curious two year old grandson, came near to see it too. They both studied it.
Hazel paused for a while…..
“But, is it real?” she asked.
“Well, this is a picture of it, but this is not the actual virus here in my hands.” I said.
“What?” answered Hazel.
“Well–like when I have a picture of you–see?” I showed her a picture of herself on my phone. “That is a picture of you. You are real, but that is not you. You are real, but that is just a picture of you.”
At this point I was even getting confused. We started taking pictures of things with the iPhone and then showing the real thing next to the picture of the real thing, but she kept saying,
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
This was the first time I had encountered Hazel being stumped and it surprised me.
But it got me thinking. Thinking about this world she’s raised in. Watching TV, animation and news come into the living room back to back. Every Christmas and Easter we walk the tightrope of whether Santa or the Easter Bunny are real. Then there’s God and Jesus. We read Bible stories and then Paw Patrol stories, Anatomy books and books of fairies, then of angels. We go to church and say grace at meals and even whisper prayers in the air from time to time:
“Is there really a Chase and Rubble? Is that really what my body looks like inside? Are angels real? Are fairies? Is God really real? Is Jesus God?
What is real?
And, how do you explain that to a four year old. And how do we even know that ourselves?
Because of art and books and movies and TV, and video games, anyone’s imagination can become visible. So, anything and everything seems real when brought to the vision and hearing–especially to that of a child. Is this touching on why Jesus said:
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Children are sponges and readily receive the reality of the kingdom of God. Even great thinkers like C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton entered kingdom realities through the portals/wardrobes of childhood’s believing. To my logical mind, this seems reckless. Hazel has imaginary friends and talks to them. Who knows, but that to her, our prayers seem like talking to imaginary friends. We have “pictures” of Jesus, but we explain that’s not really a photograph or even painting of the real Jesus–nor is the picture the actual Jesus himself. And then there comes the explaining that not all people even believe that God is real. And not all people believe Jesus is God. He wants us to come to him in faith. Our belief in him is what takes us to the doorknob to open the door and “see him”.
But this is not just a God conundrum. There are some who do not believe there is a coronavirus and they live as though there isn’t. There are consequences to that action; but the virus doesn’t exist or not exist, infect or not infect, its substance and reality do not change, based on whether we believe strongly enough in it. It just is what it is.
The God of the Old Testament introduced himself as, “I Am Who I Am.”
The substance, the reality of God, does not rely on our belief, but our faith in him opens or shuts the door to our friendship with him. Jesus asked, “Who do people say I am?” and “Who do the crowds say I am?” Then Jesus asks the REAL question: “But what about you? … Who do you say I am?”
Jesus introduced himself as I Am:
“I am the bread of life.”
“I am the light of the world.”
“I am the door.”
“I am the good shepherd.”
“I am the vine, you are the branches.”
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” he asked.
Do you believe this? Is God real? … even if we don’t have a microscopic close up photo of him? Are you living like God is real? Today Jesus asks each one of us what he asked his disciple:
“But what about you? Who do you say I am?”
Scriptures referenced above include Exodus 3:14, Mark 8:27, Luke 9:18, Matthew 16:15, Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20, John 6:35, John 8:12, John 10:9, John 10:11, John 11:25, 26, John 14:6, John 15:5
Hule and I have decided to do more this year for Advent. That’s new for me. Lent had been new for me the last few years: not the concept of Lent—just the idea that it’s more than the horrific prospect of no chocolate for 40 days! In a similar way, the concept of Advent is not new to me, it has just mostly been a time for slick purple and pink candles in crunchy Styrofoam wreaths, opening little calendar doors each day, a countdown of shopping days ‘till presents, cookie baking and tree decorating. So, being a virtual “nubie” at Advent and an information junkie—I went to the stacks. (Thank you Richland County Public Library.)
I checked out about a dozen books on Advent and have been reading the Advent Lessons and Carols Scriptures for this year: Genesis 2 & 3, Isaiah 7 & 53, Luke 1 & 2, Hebrews 1 and John 1. I’m finding that Advent is a time of waiting for the Messiah—the fruition of all of the Messianic promises. Wait, Prepare, Rejoice, Love are the 4 “watchwords”. This week is about waiting. Ireton informed me that: “In Hebrew, the word for wait is also the word for hope.” (Ireton 2008, 22)
Hope has been one of my special words lately–one I’ve thought about a lot. Hope=Esperanza in Spanish; the name I would give myself if I could rename me. It seems there are two kinds of hope. One is a hope in people: fallible humans. This hope is less sure. This hope has the capability of disappointing. “I hope he will do what he said.” “I hope she will make it.” It implies some sort of trust, some kind of vulnerability, but the open-endedness of not being certain. Secondly there is hope in God. If we cannot hope in God, in whom can we hope? This is a more certain hope—a hope that does not disappoint. Here, once one believes God is true and good and all-powerful, then hope feels more like waiting, and our hope is in that we heard his promise correctly, discerned rightly, what he meant when he said in Isaiah (about 735 years before Christ came): Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. In Isaiah 7:14b Immanuel means God with us. God doesn’t mind making us hope a long time—wait for many years. Just as we wait now for Christ’s second coming! And so, part of Advent is to put myself back in that time between 735 B.C. and C.
C=Christ is here!!! Christmas!! Wahoo!!!
I’ll have to admit that it takes a little pretending to wait—hope—for the Messiah when I know he has already come. It’s like Good Friday when we mourn for Christ’s death but we really know he will rise again. I guess it’s also like watching a really sad movie the 2nd time around: crying, hoping, fingernail biting is not the same when you know it will end well.
And so this week, I wait… I hope… for GOD WITH US!!!
Ireton, Kimberlee Conway. The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2008.  Thank you ESV Study Bible
—The writing above is from a 2011 post on a previous blog that I wrote when I was newly worshipping with the liturgical calendar in “the Anglican way”…
I was born into motherhood nearly 39 years ago. It is one of the highest privileges and deepest mysteries I’ve ever encountered. Birthing and Mothering allows women to participate in Sacrament—in unconditional Love, Creation, Christ-mas, Baptism, and Communion.
I’ve written a poem for all mothers and their children, for my daughters, granddaughter, and for my mother. It only scratches the surface of this unfathomable mystery. I share it with you here:
I am Mother
by Loretta Goddard
I lie down and surrender to love and risk.
Protection withdrawn, my womb opens to receive another.
My fertile bed prepared by God opens its lips to the seed.
The race is on—unpredictable and exciting—one possibility meets thousands and chooses one.
A match is made
A fire strikes
Burning and burrowing beneath the soil of blood and mystery.
I wait. I look to stars.
I con-sider. I lie still.
We test “waste” to know your presence. We listen and peer in with sound waves.
I lie down once again and look to screen and risk seeing you and falling madly,
forever in love.
I carry you around in my purse and pouch and put you on my refrigerator and marvel at the blurry, fuzzy jelly bean sized person in me,
Who is you.
I wait. I look to stars.
I con-sider. I lie still.
I begin to pant and feel squeezing—tightness
I risk death with joy and moaning, for you.
You have kicked in me, punched my ribs, rolled like a bowling ball inside me.
How I have longed to see you and touch you and now it is immanent and I am scared.
As you emerge I am born.
I am mother.
I hold you.
I wait. I look to stars.
I con-sider. I lie still.
I give my days and nights to you.
I give my body once again—my rest and food, vitamins and drink all churn inside me until milk comes flowing through my chest to nourish you…sustain you.
My hours are yours, my body is given—scarred, stretched, engorged.
This is my body, broken for you. Take and eat.
You snort and grunt, draw near to suckle, your hands knead like a cat on a blanket, like a baker with his dough.
I slept late this morning. Night before last I barely slept. During this time of Covid-19 and “Stay at Home” orders all structure has been thrown out the window.
Actually what I have now is what I long for often–long periods of time alone to read and pray and journal…and drink coffee; less biddings to go and do, less social necessities, a monk-like/nun-like existence: Ora et Labora, Ora et Labora. That is it mostly.
My evangelical Christian worldview brings guilt that I need to be out there spreading the word, helping people. Indeed that is what Jesus and the disciples did. They didn’t hole up and stay in caves praying–quarantining. They didn’t even stay in one place like the desert mothers and fathers, or in a monastery or Christian commune, and let others come to them (except maybe some like John who was exiled to Patmos and Paul in prison).
But I am not Jesus nor His first century disciple. The early church had a mix of calls for each person according to their gifts–according to what “body part” they were, according to their unique vocation. And this pandemic time is a unique, likely, temporal time too.
My very good friend, Jan Kaneft, is the Archdeacon at Church of the Apostles in Columbia, SC. She wrote a devotional during this time that really spoke to me. I include it below:
SCRIPTURE: The LORD your God is in your midst, a Mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
THOUGHT: Last week we ZOOMED with dear friends in North Carolina. Almost immediately, the conversation centered upon our grandchildren, a common occurrence with grandparents. Bill, our friend, laughingly described his new garden apprentice-his three-year-old grandson.
He loves to help me feed the birds. We end up with more seeds on the ground than in the feeder. It’s always messy. It would be easier and much quicker to do it myself, but I just love being with him.
He went on to say, Time spent with my grandson reminds me of what our relationship with Jesus is all about-He doesn’t need us; He wants us.
The prophet, Zephaniah, proclaims a similar message to the Israelites in Judah. God, the covenant keeper, initiates with His people a call back to relationship. He is faithful even when His children are making messes of their lives. He blesses with His presence because He delights in His people. Pure and simple, He just loves being with us.
Locked in the constraints of COVID-19, much of our activity has been curtailed. Has this restraint unveiled a fear inside that busyness has kept buried: does God really love me? Many of us believe that we are required to achieve something to prove to God and to the world that we are worth loving. In other words, what we do engages His love. The doing can become a lifeline to our significance, affirmation, security, acceptance—our value. It is difficult for us to believe that He just wants us. If this is your struggle, let the words of Zephaniah remind and encourage you today: God rejoices over you with gladness. God quiets you with His love. God exults over you with loud singing. Friends, He doesn’t need us; He wants us.
First, this includes one of my favorite Scriptures–Zechariah 3:17. This reminds me–We are/I am not socially distanced from God! He’s in my midst. He’s here.
And, as Jan reminded me, He loves me more than I love my grandchildren, Hazel and Julian, from whom we’ve been “socially distancing”. And He wants to be with me more than Hule and I long to be with Hazel and Julian. Wow! That’s a lot. Being around them, distancing 6 feet away and outside, and not getting to hold them was excruciating. So I’m asking myself:
Do I distance myself from You, God?
Not going all the way to embrace You and sit on Your lap and be quieted by Your love?
Receive Your cheek kisses?
Hear Your ho-ho-ho; Your songs and shouts of joy and gladness over me?
I watched yesterday as Hule previewed a new video just sent of the grandkids. Hule’s face was priceless–rejoicing over, smiling deep, deep face furrows of joy watching their every move.
God, if You indeed, rejoice over us–over me–in that way, it is an amazing privilege. I want to acknowledge and soak it in. I want to live seated in Your lap, in Your embrace, surrounded and covered with Your love and never let the wetness of Your kisses on my cheek evaporate.
Once again I’m reminded of another of my life Scriptures: Romans 8:38 & 39.
What can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus?
Not social distancing
Not job insecurity
Not economic catastrophe
Not sickness or even death
This incomprehensible, unbelievable, ever-present love of God is the eternal foundation of life!
I began the morning while it was still dark–6:30ish a.m.
A quiet house
Heating blanket on
Furnace catching up from nighttime turn down to morning turn up
67 to 72 degrees
No coffee yet
Bible at side…waiting
A week ahead
The new way…
Last week I was “off” from babysitting because it was my daughter’s spring break; but the whole world is shuttering now for the novel coronavirus–isolation, lockdown, shelter in place…. On Wilmore Anglican Church’s Sunday morning sermon Facebook feed, Hule echoed musings by Andy Crouch who was referencing Osterholm, an infectious disease specialist, asking: Is this a blizzard? a winter? or an ice age? We went into this thinking–a blizzard–just a few weeks. Now it’s apparent it will be at least a winter. But with political stalemates and the tenacity of those numbers and climbing curve, and the falling stock market, we are all wondering if it’s ushering in a new metaphorical ice age.
Lord, You are in control and You are good! Hule’s quote of “Granny Rene” is right:
“God is God. God is good. And God loves us!” This is what we know.
But God, what are you up to?
I am reading the Old Testament book of Job. What God was up to in Job was not apparent to Job’s children, his employees, his country, his wife, his friends–not even to Job; but from heaven’s perspective it was made clear. In human eyes we might say, “That’s not fair!” “I don’t get it!” But God is God. His ways don’t have to be explained or justified. He is sovereign. We are not equipped to push back the works of God, or meant to question them. God allows Satan, with limits, to seemingly wreak havoc at times for His own purposes. Jesus himself experienced that:
His corona–His crown–His thorny, blood-stained crown, because God loves us;
His isolation and His own body shut-up, quarantined–in a cave, a tomb,
While hell was harrowed.
And Job lost it all: his livelihood; his house and farm; his children and his wealth. When he faced the sudden calamity, the sudden blizzard, he said:
Naked came I from the womb
Naked shall I return.
The Lord it is who gives
and the Lord takes away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord!
And “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” God is good.
Then entered winter.
Satan was given even more permission and Job’s body was ravaged. Was it a novel virus that was unleashed on him? His wife told him to “curse God and die.” And Job said, “Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?” “And in all this Job did not sin with his lips.” When we never acknowledged that it was the Lord who gave and it was the Lord who provided good all along–when we think it was our own goodness that brought it about—besides being extremely blind and arrogant–we don’t know what we don’t know.
How is it that we believe so often that we create the good but it is God who brings the bad? And how is it that we believe it’s all about us? That our purposes are at the center instead of God’s purposes? Do we fault God for acting like God? …for putting His purposes above our own?
The suddenness of Job’s losses brought on a stunning: a sitting together on the ground in silence together for 7 days before a word was uttered. A 7 day silence. 7 days of ground-sitting together before a word was spoken. Something gigantic is there–something absent from our culture; a language few of us speak! A practice foreign to our list of possibilities: sitting together 7 days in utter silence.
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know that I
Be still and know that
Be still and know
Be still and
It’s that empty, wordless nothingness–
No figuring out
No data collecting
But sitting still with the circumstance together with a few friends in wordlessness–on the ground:
We are but dust and to dust we will return.
Naked came we–Naked shall we return–Blessed be the name of the Lord!
Something about the liturgical seasons bring me into contemplation and make my pen long for paper. In this Garden season of planting seeds, tending, waiting, watching and expecting, Lent, literally meaning Spring, I focus my attention on the church calendar’s observation of Lent–a season of a 40-day focus on Jesus’ coming, suffering, and dying for us. During this time I have chosen to fast from certain foods (including sugar), from excessive screen time (tv, phone surfing, etc.), and from a life of distraction and distance from God.
Two days ago I was questioning the relevance of fasting from foods during Lent, likely with the intention of a justification for modifying my commitment. “Shrove Tuesday” (another name for Mardi Gras) is intended to precede our Lenten fasts. It’s a time to clear out our pantries of sugar and sweets and the things we’re likely to be fasting from beginning Ash Wednesday–the first day of Lent. Apparently, I did not adequately ‘shrive’ my pantry and I found myself drooling over the pecan sticky bun on my counter on this, my first day of fasting from sugar. Yikes! And, so, seriously, unlike myself, I “woke up” after a pounce upon the prey, and a quick devour, with dripped pecan pieces on my sweater and a cat-that-just-ate-the-canary expression when my husband walked through the door a little while later. Yes, I confessed…after a few hours…and started the fast again.
How does this relate to Lent?
Humankind’s journey toward this Lenten season began with a Garden of planting seeds, tending, waiting, watching, and expecting and with eating something that was not good for us. Genesis relates that Adam and Eve were invited to eat every tree in Eden except one–the tree of the Knowledge Of Good And Evil–I call it the KOGAE tree. But when Eve saw the fruit from this one tree that was to be avoided, fasted from, she pounced on and devoured it and then suggested Adam do the same. They both had metaphorical pecan drippings all over their ‘sweaters’ when God walked up, and their cat-that-ate-the-canary expression started it all.
In this season of life, I have a new lens for contemplating everything. Four days a week I have the privilege of helping to watch my two precious grandchildren–ages 1 1/2 and 3 1/2. Now, my grandkids love sugar and sweets about as much as their Grandma does (please, no judgement!), and it’s hard not to pull out the goods just to be in the bask of the delight in their eyes and the baited breath of expectation when I offer them some. But, discipline says, reason says, health says, this cannot be all that I eat, nor all that they eat.
And so, the other day, when I found my little grandchild with her hand literally in the sugar jar, crystals all over her cheeks, and a cat-that-ate-the-canary look on her face–it helped me connect more dots, and take these 40 days of Lent to pray:
Thank you, kind Father,
Gardener, Provider, and Caregiver,
for making a way, through Jesus’ life, suffering and death,
I find myself praying today for a friend’s imminent childbirth. Giving birth is such a thin place, where we join in creation and fall simultaneously. It’s a miraculous space: liminal—in-between. The father, mother, and child, pass through a limen—a doorway—from unknown to known and from known to unknown. There is a change in “I am-ness” to each participant—even for every sibling and every grandparent.
When my first grandchild was born, I stood at the head of the bed and experienced the miracle unfolding. I saw my dear daughter rock in pain with contractions and reach in joy for her new writhing, crying, little human-gift. I observed the furrowed brow, outstretched hand, and deep concern of my son-in-law at bedside; then the outrageous excitement of seeing the emergence from dark to light of his firstborn, Hazel—with a holy hush followed by one last push.
When my second grandchild, Julian, was born, I stayed at home with Hazel. It was a different kind of vigil—from far away. It was hard not being present and I was grateful to God and His sure presence with me and with my daughter simultaneously, and His constant bent-ear, listening for our intercessions and supplications. I wrestled with the thought that my daughter would need to struggle with pain, maybe blood, and difficulty for this birth, and I recalled the reason that the Bible gives to aid in answering all, no, most, of my questions.
The night before Julian’s entrance, I birthed the following thoughts. I pray they might help you or your loved one in grappling with, and entering past the veil into, this angel-filled, Trinity-immersed, Cloud of unknowing which we encounter at the emergence of every new life…if we have eyes to see.
As we turn toward this event
This liminal passage—
A new life liminal passage—
We remember that You Lord, are a Parent
A Father and “Mother” to a boy, Adam and girl, Eve
Formed long ago in the womb of your garden,
“born” into your household.
And even before that
(really not before, but always)
Your only Son—begotten, not made—of one Being with You.
But there came a fall—
Jack and Jill tumbled
And pain in childbirth came,
Not the original plan,
But a consequence.
So now we embark on a new in-between space
One that, despite our knowledge and advancements, will likely bring some
“Like the pains of childbirth,” we often say:
A groaning of earth in an Eve-like form.
We come here through remembering also that you overshadowed blessed Mary—
Dripping in Eve-ness—
To bring hope and healing
To bring back full joy and to ease the pain of Eden’s losses.
Today, on Valentine’s Day, I picked up an old “Magnolia Journal” which I have carried around in my book bag for nearly a year without taking the time to read. A big quote page drew me in. It asked: “If fear wasn’t part of the equation, how would your life look different?” The article, a short half page, was written by Chip Gaines. It’s no surprise that he would be encouraging the world to risk failure. In his funny antics he does it on most every episode of Fixer Upper—jumping off of precipices, bursting through walls, trying for the impossible basketball shot or attempting to pick up too-heavy objects. He lets his failures be fun and entertaining.
For me living from the “fear triad” of the Enneagram, “Failure” is a terrifying word—something to be avoided at all costs. Something primal in me tells me, though I wouldn’t usually acknowledge it, that if I fail in an attempt, I am the failure. Of course, I know that isn’t correct, but it is my default modus operandi as I approach life.
“Fear-less”[i] is the name of Chip’s article and, as a wordsmith, I love the twist of turning an adjective into a verb-adverb and thus to receive a subtle shift in paradigm. This is exemplified again in Chip’s statement: “The courage to take your shot is half the battle. The other half? Viewing failure as a teacher and not an enemy.”
Risk, courage, and potential failure arise continually. Valentine’s Day is a day of risk:
Sending a Valentine
Asking for a date
Saying “Yes” to an invitation to a date
Saying no to an invite
Not getting married
Not loving anyone
Initiating a Friendship
Watching the winter Olympics I’m always amazed at the number of courageous athletes. Really what they’re doing over and over and over is risking failure. Of all the competitors, what are the odds of getting the gold? And even for the medal winners, they are up on the podium only because they’ve allowed failure to teach them through multiple previous failed attempts at their sport.
Now my rational mind immediately can bring up exceptions to fearlessness such as when the consequences of failure are grave. As mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal pointed out in his “wager” that it is staggeringly more risky not to believe in God than to believe in him: “I would have far more fear of being mistaken and of finding that the Christian religion was true, than of not being mistaken in believing it true.”[ii] This is not the kind of fearlessness I choose to embrace.
On the other hand, yearly, monthly, daily I make decisions not to risk. I choose “safe” often over living life to the fullest, over fearing the possibility of failure, and in doing so I miss opportunities, adventure, and even life lessons. I know that:
The sun still shines—after I fail.
People still love me—after I fail.
I love myself—after I fail.
God loves me—after I fail.
I really like the book of Proverbs of the Bible. I’m re-reading it now in The Message[iii] and seeing passages with new eyes, hearing with new ears. Proverbs comes right up to us and tells us to Fear! “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom….” (Proverbs 9:10, NIV) The Message puts it this way: “Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God….” But the same book of Proverbs also tells us to be bold and risk everything to find wisdom. “Sell everything and buy Wisdom. Forage for Understanding…Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom!” As Blaise Pascal alluded to—there is big risk in not choosing God. The God of love, peace, grace, and mercy gives us a choice. Fear of God or Denial of God. “Lady Wisdom” asks to be our filter—our first filter on whether to risk or what to risk. The fear-of-God need be our main fear— “bowing down to God”; “paying attention” to God: “Lady Wisdom will be your close friend, and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion. Good Sense will scout ahead for danger. Insight will keep an eye out for you. They’ll keep you from making wrong turns….” They’ll keep you from risking what shouldn’t be risked. “Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy—you’re in good hands.”[iv]
For some of us predisposed to fear, we hear the first part of that verse but forget the 2nd. We—I—forget the part about, “then relax. Now you can take it easy—you’re in good hands.”
Living life is taking risks. Living, abiding in, dwelling in safety by choosing to climb up into the lap, the embrace, the love of God, frees us to relax–frees us to walk forward fearlessly toward joy and peace, beauty, fun and adventure, and yes, even walk forward through failure and loss—because we can choose not to ever risk letting go of the One who is Love and the Love will not let go of us.[v]
[i] Magnolia Journal, A Look at Risk, Summer 2021, page 116-117
As the rain comes down today and I see my packages of seeds awaiting the earth of my garden, being prepared for the death of a seed in the soil, to bring up the resurrection of something new and green–with the un-watering of the sky above; I see the correlation of Jesus’ death on the cross–to bring about a resurrection of hope and redemption offered to us all.
Today our church had a good Friday service in which we contemplate the last 7 words of Christ from the cross. I was asked to participate and I chose Jesus’ words “I thirst” as the focus of my sharing:
By Loretta Goddard, Good Friday 2019
“Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, ‘I’m thirsty.’ A jug of sour wine was standing by, someone put a sponge soaked with wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth.” John 19:28, 29 (The Msg)
I have been with three people as they died. One, we were trying to keep alive. I gave CPR to him as we awaited an ambulance. The other two were in hospice—one a friend, the other, my father. There were distinct differences in the death we were fighting and the others we were resigned to accept—even welcome.
Jesus’ death was one of acceptance at this point. Those who had eyes to see would even have welcomed it—for it was bringing about their way to redemption! To the Romans and most Jews at the crucifixion, Jesus was the “Dead Man Walking”* —the death row inmate already in the electric chair. To the disciples, the dismayed disciples, it was a horror they were resigned to accept. To Jesus it was the completion of something that began in the garden of Eden when Love, Who wouldn’t let go, began to formulate this plan. Moses wrote about it—the serpent’s head crushed by this woman’s seed* ; as did David, in Psalm 69*, prophesying of this very moment when Jesus would thirst and be offered sour wine.
When I sat with my friend and my father, as they lay dying, I observed that death is:
• an un-breath-ing and
• an un-water-ing.
When we fight death, we start IV lines and push fluids—we know that dehydration is part of dying. When we receive death, ice chips only are offered—or very small sips. Every breath “un-waters.” We offer moistened cotton swabs to cracked lips.
So here on the cross, Living Water was being poured out.
Just a few years prior to this, Jesus sat near a well and told a Samaritan woman: “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.” He said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”*
So now, on the cross, the Giver of Living Water Himself is thirsting. He is dry—parched—poured out—in order to quench our thirst. To bring us the living, gushing waters of saving grace, He is being un-watered with every breath.
Since this “Rock of Ages” gave water for the Israelites in the wilderness* —
Since this God-baby was birthed from amniotic fluid in a stable—
Since coming up from the waters of His baptism* —
Since that day with the woman at the watering well—
Since the dehydrated, un-watered, bleeding woman’s touch of the hem of His garment*-Since the moisture of a kiss of betrayal from Judas to His cheek—
Living, Loving, Water was being poured out.
This Word of God who formed the earth “out of water and through water,”* now allowed Himself, to be un-watered.
Life Himself became “Dead Man Walking.”
The Healer, the Great Physician, was passive. This is the “passion” of the Christ*: He became a patient—a hospice patient—submitting to death —
Allowing the un-breath-ing, the un-water-ing, of His death;
to bring us—
to offer us—
fresh living water.
Jesus said, “I thirst” so that we, can be filled with poured out Living Water, and “will never thirst—not ever.”
3. “They gave me poison for food and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” Ps. 69:2
4. John 4:10 Message, John 4:13/14 Message, italics mine
5. “and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them and the Rock was Christ.” 1 Cor. 10:4
6. Matthew 3:16
7. Matthew 9:20
8. “…the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God….” 2 Peter 3:5b.
9. “The English word passion takes it root in the Latin, passio, meaning passivity, and that’s its real connotation here. The word “patient” also derives from this. Hence what the Passion narratives describe is Jesus’ passivity, his becoming a “patient”. He gives his death to us through his passivity, just as he had previously given his life to us through his activity.” http://ronrolheiser.com/the-passion-of-jesus/