Thursday, August 3, 2017

And everywhere I go, people are singing “Depacito.”

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures : and leads me beside still waters. He revives my soul : and guides me along right pathways for His name’s sake. Psalm 23: 1-3

Vi que tu mirada ya estaba llamándome. Muestrame el camino que yo voy. –Luis Fonsi

I took out this chunk of time from a fairly tightly orchestrated life with lots of checklists and schedules and emails to deal in order to practice the command to “Follow Me” with no hesitation and with lightness in my step.

And everywhere I go this summer, the song “Despacito,” is being sung in full blast chorus, from those sitting around darkened beer halls or accompanied by blaring car speakers, to a busload of Christian young people and to small children dancing under the sprinklers.

The lyrics are actually a bit detailed graphic for such broad enthusiasm, but so is The Song of Solomon.  And there is something gripping and palpitating and organic about His love for us, for me, His beloved.

Yesterday, after a long WhatsApp conversation with Nicole, I slid on my full knapsack, cinched the hip strap, and headed up the cobbled hills, just to put my old knees and ankles to the test. My itinerary seemed pretty simple: the castle on top of the great big hill, a bank to deposit my costs for Taíze into the church account, and a trip back and forth through Old Town and its swarms of tourists on my way to my next Secret Shopper hostel. Especially with a fully charged iPhone and gMaps with all of the proper pins, easy peasy.

But in Prague, nothing is simple, when guidebooks wax eloquent of fairy tale spires and ancient stone gates, what they really mean are mysteriously convoluted streets and twisting trails up and into dense forests. And sometimes GPS likes to take a little break and just pulse silently and sometimes it leads me right to a cliff hundreds of feet above the bridge I am to cross.

Which was perfectly delightfully fine. It was just me and no one else, tromping past the gilt art deco and through the aching crowds and past haunting doorways into the splattering raindrops.

Nope, correction. it was just me and Jesus. Sent out two by two in order to learn to hear His voice, “Follow Me.”

So I invented a little prayer today, crossing myself as a gentle reminder, as I walked by so many churches reaching up to heaven and so many iron cast outstretched arms reaching out for His beloved world and so many downward looking eyes seeking His lost sheep.

Merciful Lord God, please give me Your thoughts (God the Father, touch my forehead), please give me Your heart (God the Son, touch my chest), ​please give me Your strength and power (God the Spirit, touch each of my shoulders), in the name of Jesus, Amen. 

A simple reminder which I long to become the rhythm of my soul. As we journey on together, two by two, sent.

God, we know that You never fail us. Even in our suffering and loneliness, help us to hear the whisper of Your love. Be our refuge and shelter, and remind us over and over that we are Your beloved. Amen.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

And Ana, the three-year-old Czech girl next door has a favorite Bible story: the story of the resurrection, The Sad One, Happy One.

But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love Him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. I Corinthians 2: 9-10

Blessed is the time of waiting, when we stay awake for the Lord, the Creator of the universe, who fills all things and transcends all thought. How I wish He would enkindle me with that fire of divine love. The flames of His love burn beyond the stars; the long for His overwhelming delights and the divine fire ever burns within me! –Columbanus

Lord, You are coming in glory to bring the fullness of peace, healing, and justice. Teach us to wait when You would have us wait. And teach us to act when You would have us act. Fill us up with so much expectation for Your coming kingdom that we cannot help but enact it now. Amen.

An example of the teacher mantra of “beg, borrow or steal,” I stole from Jay Winslow a long time ago, and would often start out my beginning of the year tirade with his question: Can you think without words?

I just got back from Prague. And I didn’t go in to wander the cobblestoned streets or marvel at the ancient astronomical clock or wend my way up to the castle on the hill, Rather I went into a Starbucks for some reliable internet and I downloaded a ESV Bible and some Richard Rahr and Thomas Merton in preparation for a silent retreat, either in Taize, France or here in the forest. And as I prepare for this silence one way or the other, I consider the request: May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You oh Lord.

Wonder if there are no words of my mouth?
And it seems as if all of my readings these days lead to Jonah and the whale belly. Jesus’ primary metaphor for the mystery of transformation is the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39, 16:4; Luke 11:29). As a Jew, Jesus knew the vivid story of Jonah, the prophet who ran away from God and yet was used by God in spite of himself. Jonah was swallowed by a “big fish” and taken where he would rather not go—a metaphor for any kind of death. Then and only then will we be spit up on a new shore in spite of ourselves. Isn’t this the story of most of our lives?

It is indeed. I am quite sure that each soul wearies of scratching at his dragon-hide and longs for Aslan to rip it away once and for all. To receive Him with the joy of the children, the joy of the community children having a full blown screeching and laughing water fight in the garden next door.

And maybe, just maybe, it is about silence. With no sputtering protests or finger pointing or excuses. Just a simple, Yes, Lord, search me. Your servant is listening.

I don’t think it is supposed to be very complicated.

Except you are born again you shall not see the kingdom of God.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Once again as the day rises to meet the sun.

Your statutes have been my songs
    in the house of my sojourning. Psalm 119:54

So every morning my Common Prayer liturgy includes a song. And I do a little search and listen and relisten to a YouTube in this odd internet world. I am not the best singer in the world, but I can mutter along with the best of them. These songs have a tendency to get stuck in my brain along the lines of “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” or “The wheels on the bus go round and round,” and I drag them along with me throughout the day. And sometimes poor Laura gets stuck on my song too, as we fearlessly step into the traffic of Two Sides or weave our way across crumpled sidewalks.

And this is a good thing.

Those busted up sidewalks remind me of the busted-upness of life, a scrolling history full of upheaval and brokenness, exemplified in this ancient city of passionate and bright-eyed souls. And yet Jesus declared that the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom that I pray each day will come, is within us.

Within me.

Come, Lord, and open in me the gates of Your kingdom.

Sigh, now I really need to work on that Bravalo Arabic app downloaded onto my phone months ago.

Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; only, may the Lord establish His word.” I Samuel 1:23

For the Lord is a God of knowledge,
    and by Him actions are weighed. I Samuel 2:3

Guide my feet, yes my Lord, while I run this race, for I don’t want to run this race in vain.

I have decided to return to Mar Qadark School in the fall for another eight to ten weeks as an instructional coach, curriculum specialist and odd-jobs lady.

How does a child of God make decisions? Reading about Hannah today, she was pretty bold. She knew in her knower. And part of this journey was practicing the leap.

I started off with the understanding that I am a sent one by Jesus to announce His coming, as one of the “others.” And His instructions were pretty well scaffolded… but even though He said, “Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.” I brought a wad of twenties and a brand new Kelty knapsack and three pairs of sandals and three sort-of-professional outfits and even a bathing suit if I ever need it, but it all fits inside Ryan Air carry on, with centimeters left to spare.

And I greet everyone on the street with touch to the chest and a cheery, “Allo.”

So I kinda feel like Jill and Eustice who missed the first of Aslan’s signs.

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.  Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Luke 10:5-8

And well, I haven’t eaten everything set before me. Last night in celebration of my return, the school administration set a plate of roasted lima beans and a plate of roasted green beans and a bowl of hummus and a bowl of pistachios and a hookah and a bottle of red wine and a kabob plate with a large pizza-sized flat of bread, and then a second flat of bread hot out of the wood oven and then a whole rack of chicken wings before me and I did the best I could.

And after meeting with the principal, I paused. And said maybe.

And chatted with the team here. And messaged a few more.

But really, His directions were pretty clear.

This place is chock-filled with sons of peace. Who have responded to the many smashing strikes to the cheek with grace.

And of course, this first chunk of time has been a lot of stumbling and getting back up, brushing off my knees and heading down a different direction. Monitor and adjust every day. Every class period. Sometimes even in the middle of the period. And how with relationship and time and bearing, I will be much more helpful. So it makes sense. Too.

It doesn’t always have to make sense. But it does.

And these Scriptures do talk about establishing His word and weighing actions.

So Calendar is clicking into place and arrival dates and the departure dates are starting to come into focus, ready to be plugged into Kayak and CheapoAir searches.

But then there is today.

Today with the final presentations. Today with the individual conferencing. Today with the presentation of certificates.


Lord God, our hands are open to You. Our ears are listening to You. Our eyes are watching You. Our hearts are trying to beat with Yours. Live in us and love others through us today. Amen.