Sunday, July 6, 2014

If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary.

Sácianos por la mañana con tu misericordia,
y cantaremos con gozo y nos alegraremos todos nuestros días. Salmos 90:14

Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

I will give thanks to You, O LORD, with my whole heart. Psalm 9:1

No, set your hearts on His kingdom, and these other things will be given you as well. Luke 12:31

Lord, make me have perpetual love and reverence for Your holy Name, for You never fail to help and govern those whom You have set upon the sure foundation of Your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

One of Annie Dillard’s themes in For the Time Being is the transitory grandeur of clouds. That and horrific birth defects and the excavation of mass graves in China, as she sorts through the good and evil in the world and beholds seemingly careless haphazard beauty against the stark stake black of pain.

There is that sweet spot, the billowing sunrises moment when the sky shifts from darkness into dawn. Before the weight of the day bears down there is that fresh sweetness of the last gasp chill just after sunrise, and as I watched the pink and orange evaporate this morning I considered another aspect of faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, the balance that Lewis battled between self will and His Omnipotence.

Today’s psalm is a demand that He act, He satisfy with His lovingkindness. My prayer this morning was a Scripture song leftover from the seventies and a sort of Kumbaya My Lord chorus book that captures this balance: He causes, I trust.
Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust:
Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul unto Thee. 
Deliver me, O Lord, Teach me to do Thy will; Quicken me, O Lord, I lift up my soul unto Thee.

I cannot do this on my own, this wholeheartedness. I am too transitory, too much a crashing particle. It takes away my breath to consider.

“There are 1,198,500,000 people alive now in China.
To get a feel for what that means, simply take yourself - in all your singularity, importance, complexity, and love - and multiply by 1,198,500,000.
See? Nothing to it.”

Jesus spoke clearly: Can any of you, however much you worry, add a single cubit to your span of life? If a very small thing is beyond your powers, why worry about the rest? Think how the flowers grow; they never have to spin or weave; yet, I assure you not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of them. Now if that is how God clothes a flower which is growing wild today and is thrown in the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he look after you, who have so little faith! 

So what then must a man do?

Is there anything beyond Mr. Wisest Man Who Ever Lived Solomon’s observation that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them--for this is their lot?

Last night we had a family over for dinner, the one single family at Desert even willing for a moment to consider opening up their small apartment to just a single one of the 1,198,500,000 people alive in China. And it is hard not to judge my brothers and sisters, to wonder if they have too thoroughly bought into the eat, drink and merry adage, and are unwilling to stand up on tippy-toes to see what this kingdom might really be about. But I cannot live their lives for them. I can only tell stories of the glorious cloud formations that I have seen.

And even if I am wrong-minded and too fixed on tossing sand dollars back into the sea one at a time, my soul sides with Dillard: “There is always the temptation in life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for years on end. It is all so self-conscience, so apparently moral...But I won't have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous...more extravagant and bright. We are...raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.” 

Even one instance of lovingkindness bursting through steady clicking of materialism declares His presence. Thus on this foundation I will plant my sandaled feet and lift up my soul, my whole and undivided heart to You.