I am reclined this morning on one end of a well-worn brown leather sofa, black coffee near at hand, my laptop atop my lap. Conveniently, it is held in place by that protruding portion of my abdomen that overlaps my waistline and also serves as a convenient snack tray. I try to see this is as a blessing, but most blessings I enjoy are well-wrought and gleaming. This one is pasty, soft, expansive, and lumpy.
We are told our bodies are temples. To what heathen god, then, has this been erected? I am 230* pounds of flesh and bone (flesh mostly), underworked and overfed, misshapen and hairy and graying. I am weary from too much rest—so comfortable it hurts. The portal is expansive, the veil is stretched; my altar, I fear, is all table and no sacrifice.
There is a time and place for opulence, but it is not my midsection at 42. Time to tear down this sprawling pagan jumble and put up a tent, a table, a candle, and a cross.
Three days may not be enough.
* * * * *
* More or less…
I sit upon a sofa with two windows on the world. The one is black, but I know what’s beyond: a broken world of sorrow and division; a hard-bitten, scrabbling, heartless place; a gaping toothy maw that roars and devours but cannot console. It darkens minds and hardens hearts.
The other is bright bluish white, a patch of new morning sky fringed in treetops gently swaying. It draws me nearer, and I see the birds pass, two by two: matched pairs of geese and mismatched mallards; a scarlet cardinal singing lovesongs to his rosy bride. On the lawn below two cock robins scuffle; a squirrel rifles through the greening grass, seeking breakfast. The morning sun is warm on my face, and when I close my eyes and breath deeply, I know that I live as they do: for blue skies and breezes, for love and a bit of breakfast. A heart beats between my lungs; my eyes drink deep from the springs of Spring; a soul stirs, stretches, awakens.
The black window looms, flat and opaque, but it’s frame holds nothing for me. Truth cannot slip through so refined a screen. I open the window, and the living world chirps and buzzes and greets the new day with wonder and joy.
Wonder and joy…who knew?
We did, once, but sometimes we forget.
Blogger’s Note: At the Easter Vigil last night, the Resurrection account was from Matthew. The image of the angel appearing like lightning and sitting upon the stone struck me—and Lightning on the Stone seemed like a bluesy spiritual someone ought to try to write. So I did this morning. It’s not quite as raw or ragged as it might be if someone sang it over a blues riff…but I’m satisfied.
In dark we walked to that dark tomb
Your broken body sealed in stone
And lost in darkness, too, Lord
In gloom we came to Golgotha
As black gave way to gray
I asked our sister Mary who
Would roll the stone away, Lord
Would roll the stone away
The Skull grinned blue—when like a flash
Of lightning from the Throne
An angel, gleaming white, threw back
And sat upon the stone, Lord
As at the rising of the Sun
The Daystar shares its rays
Just so my face with wonder shone
To hear you had been raised, Lord
To hear you had been raised
The sky above was brilliant blue
And we rejoiced to tell that you
Were bound for Galilee, Lord
It feels to me as though God is hammering me into something harder and more useful than I have been thus far in life. And that can only be a good thing. But in this moment, I can feel the tongs, the fire, the hammer, and cannot see the pattern.* I don’t know what He hopes to forge or even the shape He desires. I can only stay malleable and submit, trusting the Craftsman’s vision is keener than my own.
That is not easy for me. Which is likely why it must be done this way.
*Please regard this as a metaphor and a sentiment I wanted to capture; nothing more. My current anxieties are minor in the big scheme of things. I just wish sometimes I could see what He sees…
From my Facebook page on Nov. 3:
Reflecting on, of all things, a line from the old song Remember the Alamo: “Young Davey Crockett was singing and laughing/With gallantry fierce in his eyes/For God and for freedom, a man more than willing to die.”
Freedom like that — courage and even joy in the face of persecution, destruction, and death — does not come from politicians, legislation, constitutions, or economies. It comes directly from God. It is not freedom from, but freedom for, and it can only be taken away by the Devil. Only he can bind us, and only if we let him.
Make no mistake, we are free men and women. This next week, and next four years, can only change that if we allow it.
Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful morning.
It’s another beautiful day today. We are blessed by God with life and liberty — may we be as free as that song lyric: free to laugh in the face of power, danger, and death, knowing these things cannot touch our inner mystery: that we are made in His image, out of love and for love.
I’m not suggesting armed conflict is coming, but reminding us that we are always — always! — free to do what we think is best. We may suffer for it, but suffering in this life is expected and temporary. And as the Catholic evangelist Mark Hart says, even when our legs shake, the rock upon which we stand will not be shaken.
Take courage, whatever happens. You are free, unless you yield it up yourself.