Try as I might to hold fear and suffering to the periphery of my vision, it is difficult to keep them there; like a morning fog clutching at the ground, bad news creeps out and covers everything, distorting truth and color and light, yet so seductive by softening the rough edges until reality hits.
Maybe I can turn away Maybe it won’t reach me Maybe it is all mirage, someone’s imagining.
Still, I can no longer be mere audience to the events of the day, too weak in the knees to do anything. The trouble that lies beyond this hill touches us all.
I kneel in silent witness: to wait, to listen, to pray for a flood of stillness to cover us.
These woods on the edges of a lake are settling now to winter darkness. Whatever was going to die is gone — crickets, ferns, swampgrass. Bare earth fills long spaces of a field. But look: a single oak leaf brown and shining like a leather purse. See what it so delicately offers lying upturned on the path. See how it reflects in its opened palm a cup of deep, unending sky. ~ Laura Foley, “The Offering” from Why I Never Finished My Dissertation
Winter still has us in its chilly grasp for another four weeks. We feel caught up in its wintry web as viruses continue to swirl among us despite efforts to monitor and quarantine, and we wonder when our own turn will come.
The natural world, its joys and its threats, has always had the upper hand. We are dumbfounded, never quick enough to catch on to its tricks and sly mutations, unprepared to respond in the moment.
Like a withering leaf soon to become dust, we offer up what we can when we can: our reflection of the light, our hope of better things to come, our gift of beauty back to a despairing world.
Last night the sky was dancing;
waves and sweeps and swoops of clouds feathering the horizon.
I am mere audience, not dancer,
too weak in the knees to do anything but kneel in witness,
knowing that fear and suffering lies beyond this hill
and how much I don’t understand of what has been
and what is to come.
I was happy the sky was dancing amid
…Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you… Ezekiel 2:6
In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? ~John Stott
Today I will make wild blackberry cobbler, facing down the brambles and briers that thwart my reach for the elusive fruit. I gather more berries than scratches to prove that thorns must never win and I must not yield to them.
Painful thorns have always been part of life. They barricade us from all that is sweet and good and precious. They tear us up, bloody us, make us cry out in pain and grief, deepen our fear that we may never overcome them.
Yet even the most brutal crown of thorns did not stop the loving sacrifice, can never thwart the sweetness of redemption, will not spoil the goodness, nor destroy the promise of salvation to come.
We now simply wait to be fed the loving gift that comes only from bloodied hands.