Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Otto and Everette stared helplessly at the 500 pieces spread out on the small table.

Behold, God is my helper; it is the Lord who sustains my life. Psalm 54:4

To those who know a little of Christian history probably the most moving of all the reflections it brings is not the thought of the great events and the well-remembered saints, but of those innumerable millions of entirely obscure faithful men and women, every one with his or her own individual hopes and fears and joys and sorrows and loves–and sins and temptations and prayers–once every whit as vivid and alive as mine are now. They have left no slightest trace in the world, not even a name, but have passed to God utterly forgotten by men. Yet each of them once believed and prayed as I believe and pray, and found it hard and grew slack and sinned and repented and fell again. Each of them worshipped at the Eucharist, and found their thoughts wandering and tried again, and felt heavy and unresponsive and yet knew–just as really and authentically as I do these things. There is a little ill-spelled ill-carved rustic epitaph of the fourth century from Asia Minor: –“Here sleeps the blessed Chione, who has found Jerusalem, for she prayed much.’ Not another world is known of Chione, some peasant woman who lived in the vanished world of Christian Anatolia. But how lovely if all that should survive after sixteen centuries were that one had prayed much, so that the neighbours who saw all one’s life were sure one must have found Jerusalem! What did the Sunday Eucharist in her village church every week for a lifetime mean to the blessed Chione–and to the millions like her then, and every year since? The sheer stupendous quantity of the love of God which this every repeated action has drawn from the obscure Christian multitudes through the centuries is in itself an overwhelming thought. –Gregory Dix

The passage to Puerto Peñasco is pretty dang bleak. There simply is not so much very picturesque about the tattered plywood and tarpaper shacks and rusty rebar poking out of haphazard stacks of cement blocks. The relentless wind pummels bedraggled creosote and swirls dust into every possible crevice. Unfinished shuttered and abandoned buildings speak of broken dreams on each street corner.

And yet. Small clumps of school children clad in plaid skirts and buttoned sweaters clamber over the barbed wire to take a shortcut home. A woman with two children clinging to her knees offers up three kinds of tamales to those who pause at the blinking red stoplight. An ancient abuelo hunches over a whittling project on a front porch of sorts just down the block.

The horizon is scratched out with bold black jagged lines dividing heaven and earth. Tucked behind myriad steepled chapels of Seventh Day Adventists and Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints and Baptists and St. Michael’s Parish little white crosses gather together to point upward, humble reminders of the obscure yet beloved lives of mankind.

Somehow it is heartening to have an Anglican monk articulate the grand act of worship that overwhelms me on the road…the sheer stupendous quantity of the love of God. And I don’t understand how all the pieces fit together, the shattered pieces of puzzle that at first and second glance appear to have been tossed up by a giant angry or indifferent hand and which is worse?

This morning Richard Rohr reminds me that to choose the path of allowing and trusting, to choose to believe in an Ultimate Love is not the path of fatalism, but leading with a yes. When you can lead with yes and allow yourself to see God in all moments, you’ll recognize that nothing is ever wasted. Trinity is in the business of generating life and light from all situations, even the bad and sinful ones.

And what is true is that I know He has broken through the harsh dividing line, with arms lifted up.  There are too many tales, actual breathe in, breathe out stories, many of which occurred on these very same dusty roads, of Him reaching in to the moment. Reaching in with sometimes a simple bag of potato chips or a double cab pickup truck running on empty all night long.

Let me kneel down once again in remembering. As oft’ as I eat this bread and drink this cup, proclaiming this Ultimate Love until His final act of restoration, the triumphant thunk of the last puzzle piece sliding into place, the beauteous glory of creation whole once again.

It is good.