Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Miscellany


"Oh!" I said to the Milk Guy. "You have violets in your lawn!"

"Yeah," he confessed. "I just mow them down, though."

"Of course you do," I said. "But you still have them."

Also, I took the photo of the nest in the forsythia, which is currently my profile photo, back when there was little to indicate that the plant was forsythia. Look at it now, though!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Seriously

Sometime just before Good Friday I was thinking, "Whoa--this blog's way too serious again. Something funny or trivial had better happen so I can lighten it up."

On Waiting Saturday I actually had an idea of something banal to tell you all, but I thought I should probably wait until after Easter. And now I don't remember what it was.

So I'm spending my 400th post telling you that I meant to write something so dumb that I forgot it. How do you like that?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Partying It Up

This morning I woke up and it was a sunny day off and it was Good Friday, and I felt that kind of gratitude that you can't drum up yourself--the kind that comes when you realise disaster has been averted and you could in no way have averted it any more than, um . . . an egg could descramble itself. That's a kind of silly simile, but I think it gets the point across.

So I went downstairs and thought, "I am going to make myself a Really Nice Breakfast, to celebrate Good Friday with Jesus." I was about halfway through deciding on the menu for this Really Nice Breakfast before it dawned on me that this is not normally how Christendom, or even this particular Christian, observes Good Friday. I have fasted on Good Friday before. I have been sombre and silent and spent the entire day not talking to anyone unless I went to church at some point during the day, and even then not a whole lot of talking went on. I have seen The Passion of the Christ and (to me the more moving experience of) the Life of Christ at Wintershall in England. I have cried my eyes out during the former and, with an unexpressible mix of emotions almost wiped the blood from Jesus' face in the latter.

This kind of thing is good for me, I think. I would be a pretty calloused individual if I couldn't mourn the part that I myself have played in torturing and denying and betraying and killing God.

But today? I made the Really Nice Breakfast. Because, as is the way with most things Jesus-related, Good Friday is both simple and complex, both a horror and a Good--a paradox. And today I'm celebrating. I'll celebrate the Resurrection on the day I'm "supposed" to, but the fact that God would come down here and sacrifice Himself because I couldn't relate to Him otherwise and He wanted it that much, and the fact that He has called me into the same adventure of sacrifice and forgiveness and joy is such a big deal . . .

Today my dad read me the following over the phone. It says what I mean better than I'm saying it I think:

This table is different. This table of the Lord isn't where sinners find Christ but where sinners celebrate being found …

Maybe some morning, instead of solemnly passing these trays, we should dance for joy. Maybe we should sing every born-again song we know. Maybe we should tell our "homecoming" stories and laugh like people who no longer fear death. Maybe we should ask if anyone wants seconds and hold our little cups high to toast lost sisters found and dead brothers alive.

Lee Eclov, "The Sinner's Feast," PreachingToday.
I propose a toast to that very thing. I don't have to punish myself anymore because my sins killed God--He's the Judge. And He took the punishment. Now I can celebrate that He did. So today I'm toasting Him--and you and me and Life (which would be Him again--did you notice?). You in? Cheers!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Catching Up With a Tree

Remember this tree?

I stopped taking walks sometime in October, and only started up again the day I talked to Pagan-Jerry, who lives in the opposite direction of the tree. Yesterday I remembered how I had hypothesised about what would happen to it if a really big storm hit. Well. A really big storm did hit over the winter, and trees that were a lot more sheltered got shredded and are never going to be the same. So I decided to walk down and take a look at it and see how it had fared.

I expected damage. I expected the yard still to have branches down in it, because everybody's yard still has branches in it. I expected huge blond gashes in the wood where limbs had been ripped off by the force of wind and ice.

What I saw instead was a beautiful, strong, straight-growing tree. Some of the lower branches were a little more disheveled than they had been, maybe. But I only saw three specks of blonde, at the very top of the uppermost branches, as if a few twigs had let go, nothing more.

Something about the sight made me very happy.

Plus there was a pair of cardinals today. Ever since college, for reasons that probably wouldn't make sense to anyone else, cardinals have seemed like a sign from God to me--that things might get tough, but ultimately they're going to be all right.

The sky is pouring its heart out right now, and it's cold. Spring's arrival is a struggle this year, like so much of everything, and I could do what I usually do and anticipate tragedy and disaster, but the tree survived the Ice Tornado and the cardinals have returned. Maybe I should stop expecting damage, as if to do so would prevent it, deal with it when it comes, and instead focus on the signs of life.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Freedom

I've been coming at Lent belatedly this year. I remembered Fat Tuesday with pancakes and friends, but I couldn't come up with anything meaningful to "give up" until halfway through the season, and even though I've been going to Wednesday night dinners at New Church since Lent started, I didn't really start interacting with the meaning of it all until about two weeks ago.

Then it really hit, and I've been bombarded with books and thoughts and conversations about sin and Jesus' passion and God's justice and my repentance and what place, if any, guilt has in this and dying to myself so that Jesus can live through me . . . and on and on and on. And I love it.

I think that might qualify me, in many people's estimation, as a weird chick.

I think part of it is that I love paradox. I love the idea of the impossible becoming fact and the dark becoming light and the least becoming great and things not being as they seem and the powers that be being turned out and the world itself being turned upside-down.

Even though I like fantasy novels to a point, I don't think I could get into pantheism like Pagan-Jerry because there's not enough paradox to validate it, or something. I mean, I guess it's something of a paradox to hold that we're all ignorant gods who are secretly all-powerful if we could ever figure it out but in the meantime we're trapped in these little finite bodies making a mess of things. I just don't find that one very satisfying or compelling, maybe. Plus it's the oldest lie in the book. Like seriously:

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil” (Genesis 3.4-5, NLT).

We've been through this before, but that whole thing makes me so mad--that we believed we weren't like God to begin with and decided to try to become like Him without Him. And then we wonder why we aren't more godlike. We believe lying spirits who tell us we are without beginning and end instead of being content to be glorious creatures, capable of bearing the One True God to the rest of creation.

I don't know. Maybe I'm lazy or don't like the responsibility, because even the biblical promises that the children of God will one day reign with Jesus kind of freak me out. But I really don't get what's so great about being god all by myself. Or about my neighbor's being god, either. I don't see that either I or he have enough of a clue to make things better, but I do happen to know the genuine relief and release that comes from confessing to sin. Not confessing to not knowing enough. Not confessing even to "making bad choices," though I suppose that's what it comes down to. But confessing, like the Prodigal Son, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your [daughter]." I don't have to maintain the facade of being a secretly perfect being who accidentally mistook something. I don't have to say I don't know why people kill each other.

It's not to say I don't do these things. In the last week I noticed for the first time how much I lie to make myself look better, and here I always thought I was so honest. I'm just saying . . . when I get to the end of myself, I'm really glad there's an end to myself, and that I can get there, and then there's Jesus, who lets me put my sin on Him and then throws it into the depths of the sea.
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