Monday, 25 April 2011

Letters to Arden - April 23, 2011

Dear Arden,

Today is Holy Saturday. You are too little to know what this weekend is all about, that today was the day the world fell silent as the grave. It is a busy weekend of worship and presentations and cleaning and reflection. But all that is on hold this afternoon as I take you in my arms. I don’t know what’s wrong, but you are inconsolable. Are you teething? Do you have a tummy ache? Are you getting sick? I try nursing, I try bouncing, I try distracting you with toys, I try a nap, I try cookies, I try funny faces, I try Tylenol, I try giving you to Daddy and leaving the room, but nothing works. You cry and contort in pain and discomfort.

Finally I scoop you up and take you to the kitchen, where the washing machine is spinning and the floors still haven’t been mopped. I turn on the little stereo and its glowing blue light grabs your attention. I put the iPod on the Passion week playlist and turn it up. The music begins – Come and Mourn with Me Awhile, How Deep the Father’s Love For Us, Sing to Jesus. I dance and sing and rock and your sobs turn to whimpers. You couldn’t possibly know what these words mean, yet as I sing the story of the cross over you, you soften in my arms. I sing them by heart and with all my heart, embracing these moments of broken worship, soothing you somehow with Christ’s sorrow. You settle into quiet rest, and still I sing, praying these words will find their way into your bones and blood, that they will grow with you till one Holy Saturday they will spill out of your own mouth like tears of praise.

love Mommy

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The graspable God

You were a real flesh-and-blood man
With carpenter’s hands and dusty feet
Who ate and slept and cried
The graspable God

I find myself longing to touch you,
The human-God you
Even just the hem of your garment

I get how people want to be near the places you were
God-touched places, where physical and spiritual fused together
To touch someone who touched someone who touched Peter who touched you

You embraced the ones you loved
Washed their feet
Let them wash your feet with their hair

Now we cannot cling to you
The closest we can come is a piece of bread, a sip of wine
To remind us that the living bread once lived on earth
By your invisible Spirit and by faith we hold on

But one day
One day I will have eyes to see you
Hands to touch you
And lips to kiss your feet


Monday, 18 April 2011

a Narnian moon

Sometimes when the moon shines through our open window
And the wind blows across the fields
Playing the dry stalks of last fall like so many wooden flutes
We hear Susan’s horn in the distance
And smell the salt spray against Cair Paravel
Then turning to you I catch Magnificence in your eyes
And the squeeze of your hand stirs a gentle valiance within
For a brief moment our hearts beat with the blood of a far off country
And our eyes turn with longing to the closet door


Sunday, 10 April 2011

Single-Handed Theology - Where Are the Children?

Single-Handed Theology: one hand in motherhood, one hand in theology, each inspiring the other.

Tonight, while nursing Arden before bed, all the while humming old hymns and drinking hot lemon tea, I was considering the relationship between Christ and the church. In a sacred mystery I am not sure I understand, the apostle Paul identifies Christ as the husband and the church as the wife. That got me thinking – where are the children?

We’ve got all sorts of relationships pictured in the Bible, relationships that exist among God and between God and humanity. There’s God the Father, and His Son, with the Spirit as the bond of love between them (to use Augustine's analogy). There’s Christ the bridegroom, winning a bride for Himself, the Church. The Spirit may also be seen as the chemistry, or divine electricity that draws and binds each to the other. (Of course the Spirit is also a person, not simply a force, with whom we have a relationship with as well, though He is always handing us off to Christ.)

Surely the greatest romance of all time would find fulfillment in the natural outcome of marriage, that is, offspring. We are God’s children, but the Church as she is now has borne no children.

But of course. The marriage has yet to happen. The Great Wedding is an eschatological event, and we are still the betrothed, not yet a wife, not yet a mother.

When I thought of this, a little tingle of excitement ran through me, and it wasn't the lemon tea. Sometimes when we think about the end of this world, or life after death, or eternity in heaven, we struggle to imagine what on earth we’ll be doing. (And yes, there will be a new earth too, as well as a new heaven.) Getting to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb seems like a pretty ultimate arrival in and of itself. But just think, we will be marrying Jesus, the One by whom and through whom all things were created! With such a creative husband, I wouldn’t be surprised if our union brings about some kind of new life. I’m not thinking of more human children, or a race of demi-gods, but something alive nonetheless, something that will recreate the church anew as baby recreates a woman from the inside out.

Perhaps we will experience a glorious motherhood, perhaps there will be things that need our nourishment and our love, love which has been made perfect through the fires of tribulation and resurrection. Perhaps we will be the co-creators we were meant to be. Perhaps the Spirit will birth new life in us as a surprise wedding gift. Who knows?

There is a reason a veil hangs over our faces as we look past the future into eternity. But you know what they say. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes . . .


Thursday, 7 April 2011

Empty Me

A song for Lent.


In fasting
I am stripped down to hunger,
to desire, raw need.
What are these cravings that gnaw at the pit of my stomach,
directing my heart and mind and hands,
eating into my dreams,
demanding to be fed?

In fasting
I must face hunger,
look into its greedy eyes,
and deny it,
deny myself.

In fasting
my soul growls at God,
honest in doubt, honest in need,
with no bread or wine in sight,
only an invitation to "Follow Me."

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