Between Midnight and Dawn: Choosing to Wait

tiredtrillium

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,”
he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.
“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?
  Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Once more he went away and prayed the same thing.
  When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

Returning the third time, he said to them,
“Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come.
Mark 14: 32-41

rainygrass

lilysunrise

The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did, maybe
the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn’t move,
maybe
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wild awake.

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be part of the story.
~Mary Oliver from “Gethsemane” from Thirst

fidalgotree2

fogtree

Jesus,
Apple of God’s eye,
dangling solitaire
on leafless tree,
bursting red.

As he drops
New Eden dawns
and once again
we Adams choose:
God’s first fruit
or death.
—Christine F. Nordquist “Eden Inversed”

fallenapple

It has always been a choice
~no longer forbidden~
as He invites us to wait with Him.
He, the first fruit~

He offers Himself
broken open
to feed us who sleep through this life,
unaware, oblivious,

so our hearts
might burst red
with Him.

We do not know what to say,
so we weep.

trilliumweeping

During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

Lenten Reflection–Pressing Hard

Andrea Mantegna Agony in the Garden

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.
Matthew 26:40

“Gethsemane” means “oil press” –a place of olive trees treasured for the fine oil delivered from their fruit.

On this Thursday night the pressure is turned up high on the disciples, not just on Jesus.

The disciples are expected, indeed commanded, to keep watch alongside the Master, to be filled with prayer, to avoid the temptation thrown at them at every turn.

But they fail pressure testing and fall apart.  Like them, we are easily lulled by complacency, by our over-indulged satiety for material comforts that do not truly fill hunger or quench thirst,  by our expectation that being called a disciple of Jesus is enough.

It is not enough. We fail the pressure test as well.

We sleep through His anguish.
We dream, oblivious, while He sweats blood.
We deny we know Him when pressed.

Incredibly -He loves us anyway.

So, like the disciples who walked alongside Him, tonight I’m reminded to deliver my best under pressure:
to remain watchful,
to be faithful under stress,
to stay awake praying
when I’m needed most.

Garden of Gethsemane Olive Tree

Lenten Reflection–Trembling at Dawn

photo by Josh Scholten

Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming.
It is close at hand—
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains…
Joel 2: 1b-2a

How can we prepare for the darkness of what is coming? It is so close at hand. We know our death is inevitable, that our return to dust is a given, yet we tremble in fear at that awareness. Even God Himself, praying in the Garden before His arrest, faced the inevitability of His death with painful anguish. As one of us, locked in our flesh, His heart beating and bleeding, He experienced doubt, acknowledged abandonment, knew betrayal. God forsaken of God.

Overwhelmed by the army of locusts descending in the cloud as described in this Chapter of Joel, our darkness has become His darkness.

Only one who knows that suffering can lead us out of the gloom into the dawn of a new day, into a new life.

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart and not your garments.
Joel 2:12-13a