Sunday, January 17, 2016

And at the end of a very long day, Panchita was still laughing.

Knit my heart to You. Psalm 86:11

Jesus taught the people, saying: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, ‘My boy, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not go,’ but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, ‘Certainly, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “In truth I tell you, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you.” Matthew 21:28–31

Jesus taught us, saying: “Whoever holds my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.” John 14:21

Jesus said to us: “In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:34, 40

Who knew?

Yesterday I went to pick up Panchita from her friend’s house, the most innocuous ranch-style home ever, tucked behind Myles Elementary on Broadway.  Her ninety-two-year-old friend with mostly bright red hair and a double-knee replacement so she can’t really walk very well. So Panchita went over because the lady hadn’t had visitors for a long time and then Panchita got distracted because the freezer was so filled with frost that the door wouldn’t shut so Panchita took everything out and cleaned it and under the kitchen sink because that was pretty scary too and then she made her chilaquillas because it had been a long time since she had eaten a good breakfast and could I please come and pick her up?

And the thing about this house is that this lady likes Christmas. Year round. And literally hundreds of Christmas stockings were hung up on every single vertical plane. And manger scene after manger scene are neatly arranged to fill each horizontal plane.

And the thing is, I drove down this street of small cookie-cutter ranch houses from the fifties, pulled into one driveway of one house with a faded number painted on the curb and knocked on the door with no idea of what lie behind it, just picking up Panchita and Judy so they could clean my house.

An explosion of red, green, tinsel, felt, sparkles, glitter, fringe, buttons, stars. Who had any idea of how many Christmas stockings have been crafted in the history of mankind? I now know that there are of course Snoopy stockings, and Smokey the Bear stockings, and My Little Pony stockings, and tie-die stockings and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves stockings.

And man, that lady loved hobbling through her house showing me her stockings and her crèches and the pictures of her grandchildren and of her and her brother, who started El Charro Restaurant.

And the point of this is that each and every person lives behind a door.

Each Imago Dei, made in His image, person lives behind a door. Each For God So Loved the World person.

Who knew?

We all know.

Every morning chapel Reverend Susan reads from her big book of fables from around the world, from all the nations, from all who will be gathered before the Son of Man who has come into His glory. And what is clear is that He has indeed written eternity on each heart. Everywhere tells the same stories of forgiveness and kindness and mercy and honesty. We are each without excuse.

We all know that we are to love the LORD our God with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Even the despised Samaritan knew that.

And yesterday I went to a funeral. Well, actually I was late and I missed the funeral but I did make it to the reception in a side room of the church where vegetable platters with dip and chocolate chip cookies were being served on plastic platters. And I hugged the husband and the son who is my age, and met his kids. And that was pretty much it. A life.

But I will never forget that life. Because that lady who died suffered from diabetes 2. And I have known her for a long, long time, like since high school. And she never could walk very well. But every time I saw her, she was serving someone, whether it was heaps of lasagna, or labeling missionary newsletters, or knitting.

Mrs. Hosterman loved to knit. So my mom hired her to knit blankets for everyone. And we all have knit blankets. And there are two cream-colored knit blankets in my living room that pretty much everyone I know has wrapped around themselves one time or another. And there is the blue knit blanket that Ali did not take with him when he moved to Texas that is folded neatly over Alan’s big leather chair. And there is another smaller blue knit blanket for Everette to curl up with as she looks at books in her secret room with twinkly lights. And Panchita washed all of these blankets yesterday, because well, they get around. So now they all smell like Tropical Ocean fabric softener.

And every single morning and evening I wrap myself up in Mrs. Hosterman’s love.

And my prayer verse for yesterday was Knit my heart to You.

And I tried to think about it a lot. What does it mean to have my heart knit to His? So tangled up in His love and compassion and goodness that where He stops and I begin is indiscernible?

And really I have a long way to go. I get distracted a lot by the outside of ranch-style homes. And they are kind of bleak and weed-ridden. And bunches of times, I just sit out in my car out in the driveway and honk my horn.

But, then there is Panchita.

And really, I am without excuse. Because like those Pharisees who heard Jesus’s story about the man who was beaten by robbers, I get to see how it is done, every other week. Like yesterday Panchita opened up the door, walked in and knelt down in front of the grimy grease-caked gas stove and started scrubbing the cracked kitchen tile floor probably for the first time in fifteen or twenty years. Scrubbed six times, the whole thing.

She sure sees every grimy detail of our grimy little lives, but it does not slow her down.

Just as He sees every little grimy detail of our lives and still, for the joy set before Him, He picked up His cross. We who spit in His face. We blasphemers. We behind closed doors.

Knit my heart to You. 

That I might open those doors.

The doors to your vineyard.

And today after I go for a bike ride, I am going to church. And the name of our church, both of them, is The Vineyard, so we don’t forget.

But we do. I do.

Knit my heart to You.