Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters from Prison
Yours are the heavens; the earth also is yours; you laid the foundations of the world and all that is in it. Psalm 89:11
So really I am sitting on the steps of a back porch in Carmel-by-the-Sea watching extra big and bright stars fade into smeary golden lavender sunrise. Bink bink bink. One at a time they, albeit an incongruous oxymoron, click off silently. And God shook me awake while it was still dark because He wanted to talk to me.
And yesterday after Manuel fiddled with the google.maps he plugged his phone into the speaker system of Uncle Ted’s now low rider crushed velvet and bedangled Cadillac and out poured Bob Marley and Every Little Thing Going to Be Alright as we swung into the Highway 101 merge lane.
And I have been thinking a lot Uncle Ted this morning. The Manuel and Christy road trip is going to take us through Death Valley and somehow its harshly contrasting beauty spoke to the soul of Ted. I am not sure of the veracity of remembered details but the family oral tradition has him making an annual pilgrimage of sorts to the god of irony in a three-piece suit and perhaps a swirled martini.
And really life is a Death Valley pilgrimage for each of us, and I will fear no evil. Because the heavens are Yours. And the earth. And all that is within. For Thou art with me.
And You prepare a table for me, and fill the hungry with good things. And we talked about pilgrimages last night over yet another filled with good things moment of scallopine sprinkled with gremolata and a dusting of freshly ground Parmesan around the table of Michael and Eva.
And I guess at lunch yesterday too, with the artists Anthony and Beryl that we met in Lugo, nestled in their San Francisco rooftop vegetable garden taken over by a voracious passion fruit vine and the glorious spread of lox and bagels and goat cheese and reddest and sweetest fresh-picked tomatoes ever. And their journey to notice beauty and somehow capture it on canvas stacks in vivid color.
And I thought about Marco yesterday as Manuel and jolted up and down the hills by cable car after we visited the de Young modern art museum and swooped up into the elevator of the tower so we could say we had seen all of San Francisco. And how I can really see California beach towns now because Marco took time to notice the beauty through a camera lens so many years ago. Otherwise it is so easy to pass the door stoop sitters by.
And while it was still dark Michael talked to me about life over cappuccino just before he headed off to the hospital this morning. About beauty and peace in the midst of a hard world. And he told me to go outside and watch the stars, so I did.
Just before I left home I was reading Bonhoeffer’s last reflection on life, Ethics. And for him the ideas of ethics is an ironic oxymoron of sorts as well. For him, Ethics is all about man’s attempts to be god, to slice and dice good and evil. For a philosopher kind of guy, at the end of it all, he was not so much about flights of ideas.
Rather Bonheoffer calls us to action. To do the will of God. Just do it.
Do and dare what is right, not swayed by the whim of the moment. Bravely take hold of the real, not dallying now with what might be. Not in the flight of ideas but only in action is freedom. Make up your mind and come out into the tempest of living. God’s command is enough and your faith in him to sustain you. Then at last freedom will welcome your spirit amid great rejoicing.
And Ethics is a book pasted together from the bits and pieces left behind, hidden in shoeboxes, after the Gestapo arrested him but they could not imprison his spirit. Or silence his pen.
And our Monday night book club finished up Life Together. We talked a lot about confession because that is not so much a part of the basic evangelical practice these days. We are a lot more about covering up with pointing fingers. One of my kiddos reminded me last week, “Remember, Miss, when you point, three fingers are pointing back to you.”
Life Together is one of confession. And forgiveness. And in Letters from Prison Bonheoffer had these words of truth: In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.
And my prayer for this odd little trip to fetch the car to Tucson was this: Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see. Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear. Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand. So shall I turn to you and be healed.
The will of God is even more piercingly clear than the fog drifting away from the horizon in front of me.
Again and again because I am such an eyes-on-the-waves instead of Him who walks on the waves storm-tossed follower: Insist not. Blame not. Judge not.
See. Hear. Understand.
Only in action is freedom.
And you will be healed.
And yep that dorky-little-eight-year-old me claimed for her life verse, Rejoice always, I say it again rejoice.