Archive | October 2017

Moving on

Like so many  parents and grandparents I know of we are shocked to see how the “kids” have grown and moved forward while we keep holding on. Our kids are all grown up now and even the youngest grandchild is in school full time. Well, okay, full-time preschool, but you know what I mean! Our walls are decorated with their pictures – first time this, first time that, when they and we were young. Meanwhile they keep climbing upward and onward. kiara on climber

I was thinking of this yesterday when Dorrie and I were doing yard work at our family home in Amherst. The small plastic climbing structure was covered in leaves and fallen crab apples. It had not been climbed on for more than one season and had been passed on to us years ago from our neighbors when their kids outgrew it. There it stood in the overgrown grass; a witness to change. So we did what you do. We hauled it to the street corner and waited for someone to come along and pick it up. I didn’t even get a chance to put the sign on it when round the bend came a neighbor with three kids in tow – the youngest pushed in a stroller. They ran up and the deal was made. Free. You haul it away.

When her husband Izzy came by to pick it up I almost cried but I didn’t because seeing it taken apart and squeezed into his cargo van was too sweet. Instead of it landing in the landfill it was going to have another life.

Our grands are already climbing other heights like preschool and 3rd grade and Middle School. Like Moses standing at the edge of the Promised Land we are not going to be able to follow them forever. I told Izzy about how we inherited the climber from a neighbor and now he was charged with doing the same. Love it and pass it on.

This is just a Nana story. Nothing profound. Our blessed little life.  Always behind and looking back and up. Meanwhile, the girl up there on the highest climbing structure in the playground? She smiles at me and says, Nana, Nana, it is okay. We are all okay.

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Hang tight.

This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

baby hanging

Jesus is paraphrasing here from the Book of Leviticus, the text that focuses on what it means to be, or to approach being, holy. Curious as to what “being holy” means I, like a modern-day Bible scholar, googled the question. What I found is that to be holy means “to be dedicated or consecrated to God.” According to Jesus, and Leviticus, everything – our beliefs, our laws, our traditions and our actions hang on these two commandments.

Why use the word “hang”? Why not something a little sweeter like “rest” or a little more practical like “connect to”? Why hang?

Kyle Oliver, one of my teachers at my writing workshop at Beyond Walls wondered this too and wrote about the idea that everything hangs on love. (adapted here. Poem by Kyle Oliver for prayr.cc (CC BY 2.0)

“I think because we must hang on them, to claw and clasp for purchase, leverage what we have on hand, MacGyveresque.  Something so simple and yet so strenuous can only be conjured by white knuckles, straining arms, a length of fraying rope, a bent thumbtack. Love God with your all, love neighbor as yourself. If these are my foundation, my starting line, my first principle, perhaps my metaphor, is stronger than my grasp.”

What I hear Kyle saying is that it is harder than anyone would imagine to really keep love as our center. We run all the time to “shame and blame” – us or other people. We do not really trust God, ourselves or our neighbors, never mind love them dearly. And yet we can do nothing apart from that trio – God, self, neighbor.

So we hang on Love, as if our life depended on it, which it does. We cannot understand who the Messiah is without hanging on to the Word of God, which for many of us is the Word of Scripture, the Word made flesh in Jesus, and the World that is breathed into life by God.

We have to come close to God and our neighbor to understand who God is and who we are. I was speaking to a friend this week, talking about how we both find God in Nature but even more so in our up-close personal relationships with our neighbors who are suffering. Not because it is sweet or easy but because it humbles us and brings us to the floor. To our knees.

Maybe that is why Jesus quoted ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet’.

Sit at my right hand. Cling to me. Hang on to every word. When you are falling, grab on to me and I will put your enemies, which are also your neighbors, under your feet, so you can feel them and decide – just how are you going to treat them?

Friends – Jesus wants us to come close. To depend on him as if we were, which we are, hanging by a thread. And so. Amen

Theo-logical

The haiku project is shedding light on what calls to me and what solid or shifting ground I am standing on. I am still standing on the side of love and still stretching across what seems unreachable. 20171002_092744

Slatted bridge extends

Over a steep drop connecting

The impossible

As the haiku forms in my spirit and takes it’s own peculiar path, what I thought to be true comes into question. Can the impossible gap be bridged by something so simple as a wooden bridge, a letter to a distant kin, a willingness to sit without grasping, a desire to see another side? This practice of seeking sense raises questions and creates a new sense. The sense of Wonder. A theo – illogical trust. It makes me laugh and that is a seriously good thing.