You were the one for skylights. I opposed Cutting into the seasoned tongue-and-groove Of pitch pine. I liked it low and closed, Its claustrophobic, nest-up-in-the-roof Effect. I liked the snuff-dry feeling, The perfect, trunk-lid fit of the old ceiling. Under there, it was all hutch and hatch. The blue slates kept the heat like midnight thatch.
But when the slates came off, extravagant Sky entered and held surprise wide open. For days I felt like an inhabitant Of that house where the man sick of the palsy Was lowered through the roof, had his sins forgiven, Was healed, took up his bed and walked away. ~Seamus Heaney from Opened Ground.
These moments of summer revealed as if the roof has been ripped open and the light let in~ the veil is torn down and dark corners lit up in early morning glow~
the sky suddenly enters into unexpected spaces, an extravagant grace opens wide and the miraculous happens because we are bold enough to invite ourselves inside.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130: 5-6 from a Song of Ascents
Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps. — Henri Nouwen from Bread For The Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith
To wait is a hard sweet paradox in the Christian life. It is hard not yet having what we know will be coming. But it is sweet to have certainty it is coming because of the footprints we have seen: He has been here among us.
Like the labor of childbirth, we groan knowing what it will take to get there, and we are full to brimming already.
The waiting won’t be easy; it will often be painful to be patient, staying alert to possibility and hope when we are exhausted, barely able to function. Others won’t understand why we wait, nor do they comprehend what we could possibly be waiting for.
We persevere together, with patience, watching and hoping; we are a community groaning together in sweet expectation of the morning.
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25
“Jesus moves among men and women–even if it means passing through doors locked from within” Fr. William M. Joensen
Many of us frequently–or continually–bolt the doors of our hearts from within, yet we long for Christ to come to us. We can have great hope . . . for He is the One who can enter “through doors locked from within.” ~Sr. Dorcee Clarey “Witnesses to Hope”
19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. John 20: 19-20
We’re bolted in alright, to ensure we’re safe from confronting our greatest fears and our most fervent longing.
But there is no lock or latch or deadbolt that can keep Him out. He knocks, waiting for us to answer and let Him in, but if we don’t answer, He’s ready to move right through those barriers we carefully construct.
This child through David’s city Shall ride in triumph by; The palm shall strew its branches, And every stone shall cry. And every stone shall cry, Though heavy, dull, and dumb, And lie within the roadway To pave his kingdom come.
Yet he shall be forsaken, And yielded up to die; The sky shall groan and darken, And every stone shall cry. And every stone shall cry For stony hearts of men: God’s blood upon the spearhead, God’s love refused again. ~Richard Wilbur from “A Christmas Hymn”
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19: 37-44
So much conspires to keep us silent~ Faith is not fashionable A crutch for the weak Outmoded, obsolete, Outrageous belief.
Far easier to worship the earth Or each other Or nothing at all Rather than exalt the Living God Everlasting.
His name no longer spoken At school or work Remembered one hour a week By some, Forgotten by most.
So we shall sing of His glory In joy and gratitude Imperfectly sincere, Never to be silenced While we have tongues.
If we do not shout out loud, Nor spread branches at His feet, Or worry what others might think, The stones will cry out and will not stop, As He, in turn, weeps for us.
Beauty, to the Japanese of old, held together the ephemeral with the sacred. Cherry blossoms are most beautiful as they fall, and that experience of appreciation lead the Japanese to consider their mortality. Hakanai bi (ephemeral beauty) denotes sadness, and yet in the awareness of the pathos of life, the Japanese found profound beauty.
For the Japanese, the sense of beauty is deeply tragic, tied to the inevitability of death.
Jesus’ tears were also ephemeral and beautiful. His tears remain with us as an enduring reminder of the Savior who weeps. Rather than to despair, though, Jesus’ tears lead the way to the greatest hope of the resurrection. Rather than suicide, Jesus’ tears lead to abundant life. ~Makoto Fujimura
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” John 11:33-36
Daily I see patients in my clinic who are struggling with depression, who are contemplating whether living another day is worth the pain and effort. Most describe their feelings completely dry-eyed, unwilling to let their emotions flow from inside and flood their outsides. Others sit soaking in tears of hopelessness and despair.
This weeping moves and reassures me — it is a raw and honest spilling over when the internal dam is breaking. It is so deeply and plainly a visceral display of humanity.
When I read that Jesus weeps as He witnesses the tears of grief of His dear friends, I am comforted. He understands and feels what we feel, His tears just as plentiful and salty, His feelings of love brimming so fully they must be let go and cannot be held back. He too is overwhelmed by the pathos of His vulnerable and visceral humanity.
Our Jesus who wept with us becomes a promise of ultimate joy.
There is beauty in this: His rain of ephemeral tears.
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”
It has always been a choice no longer forbidden we are invited to first fruit
He offers Himself broken open
so our hearts might burst red with Him
The tree of life my soul hath seen Laden with fruit and always green The tree of life my soul hath seen Laden with fruit and always green The trees of nature fruitless be Compared with Christ the apple tree
His beauty doth all things excel By faith I know but ne’er can tell His beauty doth all things excel By faith I know but ne’er can tell The glory which I now can see In Jesus Christ the apple tree.
For happiness I long have sought And pleasure dearly I have bought For happiness I long have sought And pleasure dearly I have bought I missed of all but now I see ‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.
I’m weary with my former toil Here I will sit and rest a while I’m weary with my former toil Here I will sit and rest a while Under the shadow I will be Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.
This fruit does make my soul to thrive It keeps my dying faith alive This fruit does make my soul to thrive It keeps my dying faith alive Which makes my soul in haste to be With Jesus Christ the apple tree.
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.