I’m a kidney stone factory. Over 20 in my lifetime. Now on day 7 struggling with the current invader. Wears me out physically and gives me a clouded mind. A fond friend prayed for my healing, but his words included a request of God to give me the grace to bear up under the pain. My journal entries dwindle, so I peeked back at some entries made two years ago and found something to cling to. It sure looks like the grace I so long for and need.
12/30/07: Distracting thoughts, in their barrage, settle as dust. With a gentle puff, I blow. They scatter. Christ, see me with the eyes of your heart. Hear me and know me in places underground. Give me words and pictures to capture the essence of what’s going on:
Light floods in through the cracks at the side and beneath.
Light of hope.
Making way to where I am,
Now, this moment.
Hope for now…Your presence.
Hope for tomorrow.
Direction yes. But timing hidden.
I bask in this light enough, unashamed.
You found me!
All a fresh reminder that life in my interior, introverted world, doesn’t have to make sense. Time is kairos. Glimpses are of eternal things. Demandingness melts. Christ reveals. God invites. Faith blossoms. Wonder spawns. We dance.
My blog title has a humorous story behind it. A story that I had a dramatic (nonspeaking) role in. ‘Twas my birthday. Yes, the day of my birth. As I remember, it went something like this:
My parents were ranchers in rural northern Idaho so home birthings were not uncommon. So, Ol’ Doc Christensen informed my dad that when mom’s labor pains, with yours truly, reached a certain intensity, he should summon him for the 30 minute drive to the ranch house.
With mom screaming in the background, Dad made the call. “Now would be a good time Doc.” In fact, “NOW would be a really good time.”
Doc: “Hate to say this but a young boy just showed up with a broken arm I need to attend to first.” “But, come on down and fetch my black (of course, aren’t they all?) instrument bag so that Plan B could be implemented if needed.”
Plan B meant that Aunt Margie, a registered nurse, would have the instrument bag available for her use if urgency was suggested. One wrinkle in Plan B, however, was Aunt Margie was enroute, but about an hour away.
Poor mom and I were left backstage while dad skidded around all the corners of the steep, graveled grade both to and from town to transport the crucial black bag. Upon arrival, mom was in a tither. I can understand her excitement, but why all the crying and fuss?
Hey, urgency was suggested, but still, no Aunt Margie. No problem. Dad discovered a Plan C. Inside the black bag was a shiny silver can of ether. Now what loving, caring husband wouldn’t have done the same thing my dad did to comfort his wife under these circumstances? Yep! He’d seen it done before. A tiny sprinkle of ether on a handkerchief gently lifted to the nostrils should do just fine in pain management therapy.
Dear reader. Picture this next scene in slow motion. I have decided it’s time to enter center stage. Mom disagrees and protests with anguished screams that probably made the grazing cattle lift their heads and stare. I imagine the startled horses with alert ears cautiously circled the corral at trot. Even the birds stopped their spring day singing and held their breath. Dad unscrewed the lid from the silver ether can. But what’s this? A continuous layer of aluminum covered what he thought should be a hole from which to pour the ether. “Oh God, Emil, heeeeeelllllp me!”, mom contributed.
So, my ol’ Pa came up with a solution on the spot. With a strong grip, he simply ripped the aluminum top off the can. Now, you and I both know that the top was not meant to be ripped off, but to be pin-pricked with tiny holes to allow miniscule amounts of ether to be dispensed on to a handkerchief. Instead, gaseous fumes of ether silently, invisibly filled the room with a cloud. And, you and I both know that one characteristic nature of ether is: “It’s FLAMMABLE!”
Enter stage left, simultaneously and still in slow motion, both Doc and Aunt Margie to the rescue. Dad was congratulated on his heroics as the ether can was wrested from his grip and properly capped. There were no fireworks that day. My memory gets a bit sketchy here, but I remember a “whoosh.” I saw smiling faces gazing on me as I sucked in my first breath of…..well, ether cloud. Dreamy, elevated, surreal ether cloud.
The birds caught their breath again and resumed singing. The horses settled and the cattle lowered their heads and again tore mouthfuls of grass.
My paradigm shifted. Where was my true home? I found myself in two atmospheres. When I open my eyes, surely I am earth-bound. But with eyes closed, just as surely I am at home in the ether cloud. That mysterious atmosphere twixt outer space and heaven. From there I will describe to you my observations.
I believe my faith has moved from “truth and principle” as the driving force to a picture of God initiates, Ron responds. I’m leaving behind: Ron does A, B and C….so God will do D.
Love grows. Strong initiator + eager responder.
We have serious questions about each other. Why suffering? Why unexpected death, illness, financial struggle, relational struggle?
Scripture looks less like truth and principle and more like paradox, irony, with beautiful relational interplays. And Oh? Did I mention mystery?
Communion shifted from somber reflection on sin and failure to a “kiss from God,” “God and man at table are sat down.” What is it about bread? So plain, ordinary, often accessible, that, when brought to Christ, yields a kiss, a healing, scales falling from my eyes?
“Hunger and thirst, O Christ, for sight of Thee
Came between me and all the feasts of the earth.
Give Thou Thyself the Bread, Thyself the Wine
Thou, sole provider for the unknown way.”
~Radbod of Utrecht~
I notice a shift from “I choose,” (that Armenian shadow placing undo power and hubris in my hands) to “I respond.” Response means I’m watching intently for God’s creative new initiations (do you hear the chimes dancing in the wind?) and readily responding, often secretly, to His whispers, crumbs, presence. Hey! The good news is not truth nor principle as much as the Person behind it all.
Now, that ushers in art! Art is a way I can explore this person. Art is the means of my discovering how wonderful I’ve found Christ to be. The passions run deep and strong. Passions that look like a Cellist weaving and swaying, eyes closed, as music fires like neuronal transmissions from his fingers and bow.
No more dulling my pain, suffering, confusion, or blasphemies. I remember Christ, the suffering servant I notice alongside me. Art lets me catch the hints, the glimpses. For the moment, that’s enough.
O, how can I write about this?
O, how can I praise with new words right for these moments?
A wave of depression (OK, in the Psalmist’s words, “downcast and disquieted soul”) bowled me over. Think, “stuck,” “prevented,” “held back,” “denied.”
I entertained thoughts that led to a conclusion that I’m not experiencing security, significance, reward, provision in life like I believe I deserve. Like I’m entitled to? Can you relate this to your own circumstances? Maybe like me, you’ve bought in to the conclusion that God’s holding out.
If so, we’re in good company with David and Job as examples:
Psa 42:5 Why4100 art thou cast down,7817 O my soul?5315 and why art thou disquieted1993 in5921 me? hope3176 thou in God:430 for3588 I shall yet5750 praise3034 him for the help3444 of his countenance.6440
Why so depressed and bent low, O my soul? And why are you raging, moaning, clamoring at war inside me? Hope, wait, be patient, remain in God: for I shall yet extend the hand to him for the deliverance that comes face to face.
Pictures behind the Hebrew letters:
Yod = Open hand
Het = Fence
Lamed = Learn
Ron, yes there’s a fence! You are experiencing legitimate longings for what is on the other side. However, God’s hand is open, not closed. To hope means to learn to see His open hand while remaining inside the fence.
Lord, I repent of declaring that You are holding out. You’re not! You must know what I need and I must see it freely offered, not withheld. I have what I need and I’m where you want me. Certainly, my groans and heaviness are valid, for they lead me to the next step of hoping, waiting, tarrying, expecting.
Could it be that my earthly longings are shallow? Maybe my passions are too weak and for the wrong things? Let a strong, roaring passion for heaven draw me to You. With patience from You, I will wait. I will trust. I entwine.