Thursday, August 3, 2017

And everywhere I go, people are singing “Depacito.”

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures : and leads me beside still waters. He revives my soul : and guides me along right pathways for His name’s sake. Psalm 23: 1-3

Vi que tu mirada ya estaba llamándome. Muestrame el camino que yo voy. –Luis Fonsi

I took out this chunk of time from a fairly tightly orchestrated life with lots of checklists and schedules and emails to deal in order to practice the command to “Follow Me” with no hesitation and with lightness in my step.

And everywhere I go this summer, the song “Despacito,” is being sung in full blast chorus, from those sitting around darkened beer halls or accompanied by blaring car speakers, to a busload of Christian young people and to small children dancing under the sprinklers.

The lyrics are actually a bit detailed graphic for such broad enthusiasm, but so is The Song of Solomon.  And there is something gripping and palpitating and organic about His love for us, for me, His beloved.

Yesterday, after a long WhatsApp conversation with Nicole, I slid on my full knapsack, cinched the hip strap, and headed up the cobbled hills, just to put my old knees and ankles to the test. My itinerary seemed pretty simple: the castle on top of the great big hill, a bank to deposit my costs for Taíze into the church account, and a trip back and forth through Old Town and its swarms of tourists on my way to my next Secret Shopper hostel. Especially with a fully charged iPhone and gMaps with all of the proper pins, easy peasy.

But in Prague, nothing is simple, when guidebooks wax eloquent of fairy tale spires and ancient stone gates, what they really mean are mysteriously convoluted streets and twisting trails up and into dense forests. And sometimes GPS likes to take a little break and just pulse silently and sometimes it leads me right to a cliff hundreds of feet above the bridge I am to cross.

Which was perfectly delightfully fine. It was just me and no one else, tromping past the gilt art deco and through the aching crowds and past haunting doorways into the splattering raindrops.

Nope, correction. it was just me and Jesus. Sent out two by two in order to learn to hear His voice, “Follow Me.”

So I invented a little prayer today, crossing myself as a gentle reminder, as I walked by so many churches reaching up to heaven and so many iron cast outstretched arms reaching out for His beloved world and so many downward looking eyes seeking His lost sheep.

Merciful Lord God, please give me Your thoughts (God the Father, touch my forehead), please give me Your heart (God the Son, touch my chest), ​please give me Your strength and power (God the Spirit, touch each of my shoulders), in the name of Jesus, Amen. 

A simple reminder which I long to become the rhythm of my soul. As we journey on together, two by two, sent.

God, we know that You never fail us. Even in our suffering and loneliness, help us to hear the whisper of Your love. Be our refuge and shelter, and remind us over and over that we are Your beloved. Amen.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

And Ana, the three-year-old Czech girl next door has a favorite Bible story: the story of the resurrection, The Sad One, Happy One.

But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love Him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. I Corinthians 2: 9-10

Blessed is the time of waiting, when we stay awake for the Lord, the Creator of the universe, who fills all things and transcends all thought. How I wish He would enkindle me with that fire of divine love. The flames of His love burn beyond the stars; the long for His overwhelming delights and the divine fire ever burns within me! –Columbanus

Lord, You are coming in glory to bring the fullness of peace, healing, and justice. Teach us to wait when You would have us wait. And teach us to act when You would have us act. Fill us up with so much expectation for Your coming kingdom that we cannot help but enact it now. Amen.

An example of the teacher mantra of “beg, borrow or steal,” I stole from Jay Winslow a long time ago, and would often start out my beginning of the year tirade with his question: Can you think without words?

I just got back from Prague. And I didn’t go in to wander the cobblestoned streets or marvel at the ancient astronomical clock or wend my way up to the castle on the hill, Rather I went into a Starbucks for some reliable internet and I downloaded a ESV Bible and some Richard Rahr and Thomas Merton in preparation for a silent retreat, either in Taize, France or here in the forest. And as I prepare for this silence one way or the other, I consider the request: May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You oh Lord.

Wonder if there are no words of my mouth?
And it seems as if all of my readings these days lead to Jonah and the whale belly. Jesus’ primary metaphor for the mystery of transformation is the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39, 16:4; Luke 11:29). As a Jew, Jesus knew the vivid story of Jonah, the prophet who ran away from God and yet was used by God in spite of himself. Jonah was swallowed by a “big fish” and taken where he would rather not go—a metaphor for any kind of death. Then and only then will we be spit up on a new shore in spite of ourselves. Isn’t this the story of most of our lives?

It is indeed. I am quite sure that each soul wearies of scratching at his dragon-hide and longs for Aslan to rip it away once and for all. To receive Him with the joy of the children, the joy of the community children having a full blown screeching and laughing water fight in the garden next door.

And maybe, just maybe, it is about silence. With no sputtering protests or finger pointing or excuses. Just a simple, Yes, Lord, search me. Your servant is listening.

I don’t think it is supposed to be very complicated.

Except you are born again you shall not see the kingdom of God.