The sacred moments, the moments of miracle, are often the everyday moments, the moments which, if we do not look with more than our eyes or listen with more than our ears reveal only…a gardener, a stranger coming down the road behind us, a meal like any other meal. But if we look with our hearts, if we listen with all our being and imagination.. what we may see is Jesus himself. ~Frederick Buechner
We can be blinded by the everyday-ness of Him: A simple loaf of bread is only that. A gardener crouches in a row of weeds, restoring order to chaos. A wanderer along the road engages in conversation.
Every day contains millions of everyday moments lost and forgotten, seemingly meaningless.
We would see Jesus if we only opened our eyes and listened with our ears. At the table, on the road, in the garden.
The miracle of Him abiding with us is that it truly is every day.
Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows flaunt forth, then chevy on an air-
Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, wherever an elm arches, Shivelights and shadowtackle ín long ashes lace, lance, and pair. Delightfully the bright wind boisterous ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare Of yestertempest’s creases; in pool and rut peel parches Squandering ooze to squeezed dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches Squadroned masks and manmarks treadmire toil there Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, nature’s bonfire burns on.
But quench her bonniest, dearest to her, her clearest-selvèd spark
But vastness blurs and time beats level. Enough! the Resurrection, A heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, joyless days, dejection. Across my foundering deck shone A beacon, an eternal beam. Flesh fade, and mortal trash Fall to the residuary worm; world’s wildfire, leave but ash: In a flash, at a trumpet crash, I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am… ~Gerard Manley Hopkins, from “That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection”
A day of wandering through peerless beauty vanquishes the darkness of our times. When surrounded by the hope that comes with emerging spring, it is possible to push aside grief and discouragement to welcome a promised resurrection.
I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am…
He came and saw how desperate we were and His mercy was abundant. He turned night into day, dark into light, dust into living flesh, flesh into bread and wine in remembrance.
We will remember he sent grief away. Oh, we will remember.
The warning of the Book of Job is that it could happen to us too: everything we have strived for, cared about, loved and valued taken away.
If we are stripped bare naked, nothing left to us but our love for God and His sovereign power over our lives, will we still worship His Name, inhale His Word like air itself, submit ourselves to His plan over our plan?
I know I fall far short of the mark. It takes only small obstacles or losses to trip me up so I stagger in my faith, trying futilely to not lose my balance, falling flat-faced and immobilized.
When I’ve seen people lose almost everything, either in a disaster, or an accident, or devastating illness, I’ve looked hard at myself and asked if I could sustain such loss in my life and still turn myself over to the will of God.
I would surely plead for reprieve and ask the horribly desperate question, “why me?”, girding myself for the response: “and why not you?”
The invitation that I most don’t want to receive, scary and radical as it is, is from God straight to my heart. He invites me closer, asking that I trust His plan for my life and death, no matter what happens, no matter how much suffering, no matter how much, like Christ in the garden, I plead that it work out differently, more my own choosing that it not hurt so much.
The invitation to His plan for my life has been written, personally carried to me by His Son, and lies ready in my hands, although it has remained untouched for years. It is now up to me to open it, read it carefully, and with deep gratitude that I am even included, respond with an RSVP that says emphatically, “I’ll be there! Nothing could keep me away.”
Or I could leave it untouched, fearing it is too scary to open. Or even toss it away altogether, thinking it really wasn’t meant for me.
Even if, in my heart, I knew it was.
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ ~C. S. Lewis
He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute. ~Augustine
It turns the mind inside out~ created inside His creation, cradled within an earthly embrace by way of heaven, bathed while cleansing the bather filled from emptying breast to become food for the hungry.
In the beginning the Word breathed and articulated life with such eloquence, knowing its utterance must come from human lips and tongue and throat
whether as infant’s cry, toddler’s chuckle, child’s whisper, adult’s prayer of praise, the aged’s last sigh.
We, who are ineloquent aside from the Word, are speechless, listening.
Man was added to Him, God not lost to Him; He emptied Himself not by losing what He was, but by taking to Him what He was not. ~Augustine
Look upon the baby Jesus. Divinity may terrify us. Inexpressible majesty will crush us. That is why Christ took on our humanity… that he should not terrify us but rather that with love and favor he should console and confirm.” ~Martin Luther
He was pushed out to take his first breath on earth, birth-bloodied, then cradled and held in human arms.
Three decades later, He was pulled down following His last breath, death-bloodied, cradled and held in human arms.
The symmetry of His birth and death mirrors the symmetry of our lives, a consolation that He belongs to us as much as we belong to Him.
The blood shed at birth is his mother’s alone. The blood lost at death is God’s alone, pumping through broken human heart and arteries, soaking the wretched ground below.
He empties wholly because He is fully human; He returns risen and whole because He is fully God.
We, who would be terrified, are deeply loved: cradled, consoled and comforted by such inexpressible divinity emptied into our humanity.
“When a newspaper posed the question, ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ the Catholic thinker G. K. Chesterton reputedly wrote a brief letter in response:
‘Dear Sirs: I am. Sincerely Yours, G. K. Chesterton.’
That is the attitude of someone who has grasped the message of Jesus.” ~Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God
O lovely apple! beautifully and completely rotten hardly a contour marred–
perhaps a little shrivelled at the top but that aside perfect in every detail! O lovely
apple! what a deep and suffusing brown mantles that unspoiled surface! No one
has moved you since I placed you on the porch rail a month ago to ripen.
No one. No one! ~William Carlos Williams “Perfection”
I am what’s wrong with the world and so are you.
Not one of us escapes the rottenness that lies not-so-deep beneath our shiny surface. We are full of wormholes, inviting the worms of the world to eat us alive.
One look at the news headlines of the day is enough mar the most perfect surface. No one moves to save us from our over-ripening fate; we sit untouched, withering and shriveling.
We are the problem and the problem is us.
We need rescue by a Savior who is the one good apple among a barrel of contagiously bad apples. We are so tainted, it takes Someone who truly is Perfect to transform us from the inside out, from worm-holes back to wholeness and on to holiness.
May we fall to our knees, weeping and grateful, that Christ, who is the Leader of all in His Kingdom, will grant us a grace and sanctuary we emphatically don’t deserve.
May He pick us before the worms do. We are in this together.