Covid-19 from the farm

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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

Papers shuffled

Nest made

Bible at side…waiting

Candle lit

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

Be still

Be…

It’s that empty, wordless nothingness–

Silence

Stillness

No raging

No questioning

No figuring out

No philosophizing

No doctoring

No leading

No consulting

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!

This is part of practicing Lent.

And what we always know is:

God is God.

God is good.

God loves us.

 

 

Contemplating Lent

Contemplating Lent

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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.

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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,
all-knowing Creator,
for making a way, through Jesus’ life, suffering and death,
His own 40-day fast from food,
to erase the pecan drippings off my sweater,
the white crystals off my granddaughter’s cheeks,
and the “KOGAE” crumbs from Adam and Eve,
and from all of humankind.
Amen

 

A Good Friday Reflection

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:

I Thirst

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.”

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*Footnotes:
1. Dead man walking definition: a condemned man walking from his prison cell to a place of execution. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/dead-man-walking
2. Gen 3:15
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/