Saturday, July 5, 2014

A humility that passes understanding

Al de firme propósito guardarás en perfecta paz, porque en ti confía. En arrepentimiento y en reposo seréis salvos; en quietud y confianza está vuestro poder. Isaías 26:3

O God, You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on You; for in returning and rest we shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be our strength. Isaiah 26:3

The LORD’s will stands fast forever, and the designs of His heart from age to age. Psalm 33:11

So I just did a walk around the arroyo across the street. The sky is the classic representation of the “leaden” sky that authors such as Keats and Doyle and London are so very fond.  As in ”Where but to think is to be full of sorrow and leaden-eyed despairs.”

It never rained as promised yesterday and the desert is quite sullen.

And stark. A great black bare branch stuck up awkwardly from an ancient tree. That I was quite sure the owners would chop off if they could afford the thousands of dollars that it would cost to remove such a hazard to their home.

And a hawk settled comfortably and began preening his pin feathers. Black against the still leaden sky. But then I noticed two doves also perched in a nearby lower branch. Quietly. In rest. And my understanding of this branch shifted. Suddenly I started thinking words like “timeless” and “stand fast.”

And perfect peace.

Yesterday I tried to re-rip through The Problem of Pain by Lewis between the neighborhood Fourth-of-July parade and the packing of books and bowls for my friend and Colombia losing to Brazil.  Pain is a problem. And I thought ol’ Lewis might offer up a flashlight of clarity as I hold some recent conversations in my heart and prayers. Well, first of all, The Problem of Pain is not a rip-through book, no matter how many times one has read it, Lewis is of course full of brand new pregnant pauses that demand sorting and reflection.

And this weekend I am going to revise and “polish” (my instructor’s term) and submit my thoughts on the silently angsty ram strapped down and headed towards a clicking MRI machine. And that picture makes my soul ache. As do the thousands of children and single mothers warehoused while politicians pontificate in McAllen, Texas.

And Lewis sets forward his philosophical rationale for pain, and the tangle of purpose and human will and Omnipotence, as well as approaching Christ’s declarations from yesterday: Blessed are the poor, blessed are the persecuted. But most of all Lewis explores capitalized Love. And one of my most memorable teaching moments ever was when seventh-grade Ben Winslow lit upon this idea, that pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world, and he was so excited that I think he couldn’t even sleep that night just thinking about this capitalized Love. 

But mostly this morning I am full of the George McDonald quote with which Lewis leads:
The Son of God suffered unto the death,
not that men might not suffer, but that their
sufferings might be like His.           Unspoken Sermons, First Series

For the joy set before Him. Arms lifted up in love, to draw all people to Himself. Purposeful.

And I think about those early-morning doves. They were not huddled. Or shrinking. Or picking nervously.

And in my returning, or repenting in Spanish which means re-thinking, there is rest. And may my thoughts be fixed on Him, in quietness and trust. May I not be the naughty little toddler of my imagination sticking her hands into dark octopus holes, or Lewis’ puppy after the hated bath, shaking myself as dry as I can, and then racing off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, May I, through practicing His presence, grow past the needed megaphone, and listen for the quiet, steady voice of His capitalized Love.

Perfect peace.