Sunday, April 29, 2012

35 - and Counting...

If you’d asked us on that April 30th afternoon 35 years ago, we would have said that, of course we love each other. And we would have meant it. Even if, looking back, it has become clear that we didn’t know what we were talking about. Neither of us, for different reasons, were much prone to warm fuzzy feelings or tell-tale butterflies. We are only half joking when we say that we got married because we were tired of dating.

Our wedding picture is in the dictionary illustrating the principle that opposites attract. I am an off the scale introvert attracted to her easy way in a crowd. I value education and have spent more than half my life to this point in school while she graduated high school and immediately went to work. I like subtle, understated, sly humor. She loves rude noises, slip on the banana peal, edgy humor. I love jazz and classical whereas she likes pop. My mind works slowly, but hers is lightening fast – especially in an argument. I strive to come to conclusions in a linear manner. She thinks globally and knows things without even knowing how she knows them. I am a map person who must orient to north before I know where I am. She is a landmark person who seems to know instinctively where she is.

Not much of this mattered thirty five years ago. We weren’t even aware of the real under-the-surface differences – but assumed that we could probably help the other to move closer to our “normal” given a bit of time. Then, all I knew was that she was endlessly intriguing. I could never figure out what she was thinking and the mystery was fascinating. Thirty five years in, and I still have only the vaguest idea what she is thinking most of the time. She is as fascinating and infuriating as ever.

Thirty five years has brought us through at least two or three marriages to each other. The first one lasted a rocky seven years and took about three years to recover from – and for me to learn, finally, how to be married in the first place. Her grace and willingness to give me time to grow out of myself is the only reason we survived together. Now, we are heading into our fourth marriage. The differences remain and, in some ways, have intensified. But we have learned how to make room in our “normal” for someone we still can’t quite figure out.

I received a precious gift thirty five years ago – much more so than I realized then. I can not imagine the trajectory of my life without her. She is in no small measure responsible for whatever good I have become. And I still am chasing the mystery. Gladly. Gratefully.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

But . . . True

how what is
truly true

To enter
through a dark
door to
all that is
the other side

To discover
the full life
lived has
only been

To acknowledge
that what
once was
is no longer

To know
beyond knowing
the secret at the
center of the
new life the
bright life the
light life

To be
at home
in the new
to try it on
wander around
explore the edge
and the center

And to rejoice
having hope!
to live
having hope!
to die
having hope!

(1 Corinthians 15:19, 20a)

Sunday, April 15, 2012


It can’t have been something they talked much about in the years following. While so much of that weekend became the stuff of gospel, the simple fact that the text records that they were scattered is a testimony to the reality. In one heart breaking hour, the hopes that had been built up from their nationalistic imaginations, fueled by the wonder that was Jesus, came crashing down, bouncing off the ground like Malchus’ ear. Jesus’ response to that brave but misguided attempt took all the fight out of them. He was giving up – they had no leader into battle. It was over before it had begun. And so they ran – scattered in every direction. Not their finest hour.

A couple of them with contacts found themselves close enough to see the tragedy unfold. It must have been like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Time, formerly speeding along at breakneck speed, suddenly ground to an almost halt – dashing its passengers against the windshield of their hopes. All they could do was watch in horror as the inevitable played out before them. They kept in touch with the horror through the whispers and shouts on the street throughout that long dark night. Some of them were drawn, like a moth to candlelight, to the public spectacle the next morning where a few dozen militants swayed the crowd, and shredded any remaining hope. Only a few had the courage to stand in the long shadow of the cross – and only one close enough to hear.

And then, it was finally over. Huddled in fear, returned to the last place they remembered peace, they waited out the Sabbath. As day broke, they began their lonely journeys, scattering as quickly as possible back to whatever life they had left. They walked with broken hearts and leaden steps. Then, of a sudden, it was day again! Just as quickly as time had stopped, it began to race again. Broken hearts lept to wholeness at the news. “He’s Alive! He’s Alive!” Leaden feet winged their way, barely touching the tops of the mountains, carried aloft by the great good news. “He’s Alive! He’s Alive! HE’S ALIVE!”

Over the next few days, the euphoria settled in to an indescribable contentment – mixed with uncertainty. Things were radically different in every possible way. And it was increasingly clear, that Jesus had no intention of reforming the happy band. His goal for them was clear – they, most of whom had never been further than a couple hundred miles from home were now to be scattered – sown to the nations – seed from which the Kingdom would grow and against which the gates of hell would not prevail. Scattered – again. Now joyfully proclaim life changing news. “He’s Alive!”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nearly Missed

(Luke 24:28, 29)
They must have talked afterwards about how they just about missed it. At family reunions they would tell the story and end up laughing every time at the jaw dropping possibility. It was one “what if” that they did not have to live with. All it took to send them into peals of laughter was for one of them to glance at the other with the meaning that only a long marriage can produce. It was one of those shared moments that defined the rest of their lives. And to think, they almost missed it.
Leaving Jerusalem after the longest weekend of their lives, they journeyed back home to Emmaus. The familiar stranger joined them just outside the city gates and, overhearing their grief and shock at the events of the last week - and especially of the last few hours - asked them what was going on. Surprised that anyone could not know, they proceeded to fill him in. They were more than a little shocked when the stranger began to explain the meaning of their story. He seemed surprised that they didn’t understand. The more he talked, the more they saw the connections, the faster their hearts beat, the higher their spirits soared!
It was one of those journeys that seemed to end too quickly. They got to the turn in the road that would take them home, but their new friend bid them farewell and began to stride confidently away. A quick glance at one another confirmed their mutual desire and they began to urge him to come and spend the evening with them, especially now that the light of day was fading toward dark. Sitting down to dinner later he took the honored place as guest and offered up thanks for the bread, which he then broke and gave to them. It was at that moment that they saw clearly what they had been straining to see all day. The familiar stranger suddenly was recognized to be their risen Lord! And in that split second of recognition, he vanished. They rushed over to the place where he had reclined to eat and looked at each other with eyes filled with tears and laughter - and immediately headed back in the night to Jerusalem.
Of all the questions circling through their minds and hearts, one kept rising to the surface. “What if we hadn’t asked Him in to dinner!?” But they had. And that made all the difference! Life is filled with coincidences that suddenly open up a whole universe of possibility. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Lord's Prayer (A Lenten Meditation - Part Seven)

 "For Thine is the Kingdom,
and the Power, and the Glory. Forever!

More than doxology, more than praise, this is a declaration of an existing reality. In the light of Resurrection Sunday, our prayers have been answered. We do not yet see complete fulfillment, but the Evil One has been defeated and we have been delivered. Temptation has blinked. We have the Bread of Life and forgiveness has become a fact. His will is done on earth and His Kingdom has come.

And so, we celebrate! We sing and shout it from the highest heights to all who will listen. We sing it with the angels. We sing it with all of the creation. The Kingdom belongs to God, our Father - the One in the Heavens! It is His both by right and by victory. Never was the outcome seriously in question - the Kingdom is His. He rules and reigns in majesty. Our song springs from thankful hearts. We know that, because the Kingdom is His, all is well and all manner of things will be well. He is that kind of King. A king all of whose subjects fare well. And what is more, that king has chosen us as His own! We are adopted into His royal family. We share in the Kingdom which is His. We live, now, in the kingdom which is His. We willingly submit all our kingdoms to Him. It is all His.

The exercise of His power and His authority is such as to bring to pass His purposes in the cosmos. The great mystery of God's economy cracks open for just a glimpse at this point and we see that all powers, all authorities, derive from Him. There is no ultimate power except His.

The full, sparkling, shimmering, blinding glory is His as well. There is constant revealing of who He is in Glory. Glory becomes the currency of revelation - it is that which we may see. And when we see, we discover that it is all His. Every glory there is, top to bottom, every essence of being there is, is His! It is all held together in Him! His is the Kingdom, Power and Glory!!

And that is just the way we want it!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Coming In Glory

Any god can be
     when strength is
what you have

Any can be
     when might is
          in your hand

gods in
     our image

“Grant that we may sit –
one, right
     one, left
     in your glory.”

The request of us all
     who want a god
     in our image.

Only slightly embarrassed
     to hear it has been
     prepared for

What God can be
     when weakness is
          all we have?

What can be
          when that is
          our story?

There He is
Our God
In His pain-full glory.    
And there
     one, right
     one, left
          those for whom
          it was prepared.