Saturday, May 12, 2018

Thy Lovingkindness is Better Than Life.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips. Psalm 63:5

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. Luke 8:37-38

We pray to step beyond the boundaries of what we call kindness. Expand our notion of mercy and enable us to turn toward our enemies even when they do not turn toward us. Amen.

It is clear that He has a much more generous measure than I could ever muster.

I mean, Linda and I were pretty silly as we skipped and danced around my Place, while her friend Doug shook his head in wonder. “I can see how you are friends,” he smiled.

But there is no other response, as marrow and fatness run down my laughing lips. Sweetness permeates every pore of this 98-year-old house with the freshly white-washed walls and the freshly installed white subway tile backsplash.  The afternoon light is lovely, but oh, so is the early morning light, as the day rises to meet the sun. And the evening flickering candlelight isn’t so bad either, with the stillness only broken by the not-so-distant train whistle.

Shaken together, running over, put into my lap.

Yesterday as I was sorting through the last of my tattered cardboard boxes, I found something gifted to me last summer by the teachers in Iraq: a drawing of my name in Arabic, tangled up with the word “Mercy.”

May it be so, dear LORD. May my notion of mercy be so expanded that it becomes part of who I am, tangled up into one beautiful portrait of You and Who You Are.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

All who wander are not lost.

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
 Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.
And He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Psalm 107:4-9

Hans and I put in eleven long hours yesterday.

And it was all the detail stuff, hooking up the brand-new gas stove. Plugging in the coolest refrigerator I have ever seen. Touching up the paint job for the fourth time. Hitting some hidden spots in the built-in bookcases. Tightening the bathroom cupboard doors. And dousing the endless forests of wood detailing and doors with Murphy’s Oil Wood Soap, scraping at dozens and dozens of paint drops with our fingernails because that is really the only thing that works: 98 years of paint drops.

I know that my favorite thing about 39 is the fig tree sheltering the north-facing front porch. And every single day it bursts out bigger and greener and fuller of fruit. And oh yeah, the two huge flowering pomegranate trees and the flowering vines climbing everywhere.

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates. Deuteronomy 8:7

And I walked home last night from the song and dance and poetry and shadow theatre celebration of the Barrio Stories. And oh yeah, little girls in braids were rolling out tortillas to be cooked on a lid-from-a-fifty-gallon drum colmal, and even though they swelled up mightily, I gotta say that -four-year-old Anita’s tortillas were rounder and bubbled up even bigger. And I had to resist the temptation to take away the wooden pin and show them how it’s done. I have rolled a lot of tortillas in my day.

And the streets were very quiet and very dark, and I could see the bright stars and the quarter moon up above. Which reminded me of other peoples and other promises that were made as they gazed upward. And today I read in Exodus how Moses set up the tabernacle that declared God’s presence in their midst… and he reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof…which sounds an awful lot like Hans putting together my brand-new gold brushed steel frame bed, except four of the screws broke on him. 

And when Moses finished his work, the cloud of the presence of the LORD descended and filled that place.

Dear LORD God, I know not the future. But I trust that You are faithful, and You satisfy the longing soul and fill the hungry soul with goodness. 

I praise You for Your wonderful works beyond my understanding. I welcome You into my home. Fill this place with Your presence. I will fix my eyes on the cloud of Your glory and trust You for the right way.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.

In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion. Psalm 71:1

Yesterday afternoon a rather mixed bag of people gathered together along three or four long tables set up at Guadalajara Grill on Prince to celebrate Tom Copps’ seventy-first birthday. And the woman with the cart of salsa ingredients came by and did her magic, and I nursed a happy hour margarita for two hours while the mariachi band, wow, were amazing.

And Tom says he hates the word now, the one he left me with all these years, the word that now casts my vision for life: the Greek word hupomone, which according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Strong's #5281: hupomone (pronounced hoop-om-on-ay') from 5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy:--enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).

I gotta say that I am whipping through a lot of decisions every day, and none of them are frightfully important at one level: which appliances to buy, should I go to Italy or not to host a beautiful bed and breakfast in the northern countryside for the month of June, do I accept invitations for coffee with someone who I haven’t seen for nineteen years, and how long do I sit on hold with the United States Post Office in order to address the fact that I have received absolutely no mail at my house including the electricity, gas, water and sewage bills, my driver’s license and a new electric toothbrush? (Answer: one hour and twenty-three minutes).

And rightly or wrongly, I am simply taking a deep pause, breathing a whispered prayer O LORD I put my trust in You, and leap. And I do my darndest to surround myself with quiet and not confusion, and at the end of it all, I seek to remain under, hupomone.

And it still doesn’t answer the questions as to whether I keep the very cool 100-year-old-claw-foot-tub or put in a simple shower, but in a way it does, because truly there is a cheerful patience that overrides the details.

And I sent off a chunk of St. Francis quotes this morning to a friend, and he does a great job of articulating the day-to-day of this calling: Lord, help me to live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.

So be it.