Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither. ~ C.S. Lewis from The Joyful Christian
The night sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. ~J.R.R. Tolikien, The Return of the King
We long for a heaven that feels so elusive;
we who are so weary
and with so much need
seek out Light so seemingly
beyond our reach.
Yet by reaching beyond the here and now
we find heaven descended to us
in His incarnate earthliness.
No shadow cast in this worldly darkness,
and no iron nails
can quell the beauty
of His everlasting brilliance.
The gospel writers paint their portraits of Jesus using a kaleidoscope of brilliant “emotional” colors.
Jesus felt compassion;
he was angry, indignant, and consumed with zeal;
he was troubled, greatly distressed, very sorrowful, depressed, deeply moved, and grieved;
he wept and sobbed;
he was in agony;
he was surprised and amazed;
he rejoiced very greatly and was full of joy;
he greatly desired, and he loved. ~ G.Walter Hansen, The Emotions of Jesus
God could, had He pleased, have been incarnate in a man of iron nerves,
the Stoic sort who lets no sigh escape him.
Of His great humility He chose to be incarnate in a man of delicate sensibilities
who wept at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane.
Otherwise we should have missed the great lesson
that it is by his will alone that a man is good or bad,
and that feelings are not, in themselves, of any importance.
We should also have missed the all-important help
of knowing that He has faced all that the weakest of us face,
has shared not only the strength of our nature
but every weakness of it except sin.
If He had been incarnate in a man of immense natural courage,
that would have been for many of us almost the same as His not being incarnate at all. ― C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis
Lord, long expected,
needed and wanted
in rainbow colors of our emotions
Your heart beat
breathing each breath
until a fearful fallen world
and our breath
You shine a kaleidoscope of light
through the shadows of death
to guide our stumbling uncertain feet.
Your tender mercies flow freely
when there is no consolation
when there is no comfort.
You express joy and amazement
and encourage our celebration of life.
You hear our cries
as You cry too.
You know our tears
as You weep too.
You know our mourning
as You mourned too.
You know our dying
as You died too.
Only You can glue together
what evil has shattered.
You just ask us to hand You
the pieces of our broken hearts.
We will know Your peace
when You come
to bring us home,
our tears will finally be dried;
we are glued together
“‘What day is it?’, asked Winnie the Pooh. ‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet. ‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh.” ~A.A. Milne from The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Saturday is usually everyone’s favorite day of the week: it’s usually sleep-in day, catch-up day, play-hard day, enjoy-everything-about-it day.
Yup, me too.
A day to meander, gaze off into the horizon, acknowledge one’s blessings and then fall asleep blissful in the food bowl.
Saturday is the one day of the week I keep unplanned from start to finish with no particular choreography or have-to places to go.
Just a day to be.
I know Pooh and Piglet are right. Any day is our favorite day simply because it is Today: a new start, a time to celebrate, an undeserved gift of time to be unwrapped the moment our eyes open in the morning.
And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment … a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present… ~Wendell Berry from Hannah Coulter
My clinic days are filled with anxious people, one after another after another. They sit at the edge of their seat, eyes brimming, voice shaky. fingers gripping the arms of the chair.
Each moment, each breath, each rapid heart beat overwhelmed by fear-filled questions: will there be another breath? must there be another breath? Must this life go on like this in panic of not knowing what the next moment will bring?
The only thing more frightening than the unknown is the known that the next moment will be just like the last.
It seems a serious deficit of acknowledgment of NOW, no recognition of a moment just passed that can never be retrieved and relived. There is only fear of the next and the next so that the now and the now is lost forever.
Such worry and angst is more contagious than the flu virus rampant in the waiting room.
I mask up and wash my hands of it throughout the day.
I wish a vaccination could protect us all from our unnamed fears.
I want to say to them and myself:
Stop wishing away your life.
Stop wanting this moment, this feeling, to vanish.
Stop expecting some one, some thing or some drug must fix it.
Stop being blind and deaf to the gift of each breath.
Just stop this moment in time
And simply be.
I want to say to them and myself:
this moment is ours,
this moment of weeping and sharing
and breath and pulse and light
and yes, sometimes despair.
Shout for joy in it.
Celebrate it for what it is.
Be thankful for tears that can flow over grateful lips.
Stop me before I write
out of my own anxiety,
yet another prescription
you probably do not need.
and be blessed–
in the now and now and now.
and the harsh falcon its flightless young. ~Dana Gioia “The Prayer” (written in memory of his infant son who died of SIDS)
When we think of those who wait for us on the other side,
and who we will wait for when it comes our time,
I know there is One who watches over all these reunions,
knowing the moment when our fractured hearts
heal whole once again.
Let us step outside for a moment As the sun breaks through clouds And shines on wet new fallen snow, And breathe the new air. So much has died that had to die this year.
Let us step outside for a moment. It is all there Only we have been slow to arrive At a way of seeing it. Unless the gentle inherit the earth There will be no earth. ~May Sarton from “New Year Poem”
Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.
I don’t pay close enough attention to the meaning of my leaking eyes when I’m looking for kleenex to stem the flow. During the holidays it seems I have more than ample opportunity to find out from my tears the secret of who I am, where I have come from and where I am to be next, so I keep my pockets loaded with kleenex.
It mostly has to do with welcoming family members back home for the holidays to become a full out noisy messy chaotic household again, with puzzles and games and music and laughter and laundry and meal preparation. It is about singing grace together before a meal and choking on precious words of gratitude. It certainly has to do with bidding farewell as we did yet again this morning, gathering them in for that final hug and then that letting-go part.
We urge and encourage them to go where their hearts are telling them they are needed and called to be, even thousands of miles away from their one-time home on the farm.
I too was let go once and though I would try to look back, too often in tears, I learned to set my face toward the future. It led me here, to this marriage, this family, this farm, this work, our church, to more tears, to more letting go, as it will continue if granted the years to weep again and again with gusto and grace.
This is where I will go next: to love so much and so deeply that letting go is so hard that tears are no longer unexpected or a mystery to me or my children. They release a fullness that can no longer be contained: God’s still small voice spills down my cheeks drop by drop like wax from a burning candle.