Remembering Red On This Good Friday

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The red runs through it.

It gets on everything.

Levitical priests up to their hems and elbows in blood trying to make everything clean from the inside out.

First the bleating, then the bleeding.

Temple rooms filled with a sweet blood pungent splattered everywhere.

Red flecked on dishes and silverware and walls and altars.

How did anything ever come clean? Having scrubbed at the end of the day was there a missed drop on the cheek? On the sleeve cuff? Under the nails of fingers?  Did it matter if the sacrificing had to be done all over again anyway?

This day I think about the pouring of the red. All that pouring for me, a thief.IMG_7293

Yes.

I am a thief.

I have stolen the spotlight, the credit, the entitlement package.

I have stolen minutes, hours, days for myself.

I have stolen glances at what was not meant for me.

Yet I have whispered with that other thief:

Remember me.

Remember me, Jesus, when You come into Your Kingdom.

How could I think He would ever forget.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

God’s words for a wayward people. Surely, I will never forget you.

See, He has taken on an engraving, a piercing.

My thievery has marked Jesus, but it is His river of shed red that gets all over everything that has transformed me.IMG_7297

It is the only way I have been able to come clean.

Broken Pipes Rich

Digging a well, I suppose, is a hard doing.

All that earth and rock and going down deep.

All that mustered faith that there will even be water down there.

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When everything in you wants to settle, to put down roots and put up roofs, it’s the shovels that are the first to come out.

Thirst trumps shelter, so wells get dug first.

Ancient people dug them right in the middle of things where everybody could see.

It was the drinking washing samaritan meeting place.

It’s the place where vulnerability meets the one true God, human- thirsty and just wanting to talk.

It is the place of real.

Once upon a time a red pick-up truck bounced along ice cracked ground when our lungs breathed frost.

Winter glistening ice cycles

The pipes had frozen again.

Kids huddled tight until we were sprung from the truck’s cab, winter’s bite sinking deep into our faces.

We’d traveled two miles down a frost-heaved road to where a cistern stood holding water that flowed from a pipe shoved into the side of the earth.View details

The cistern was four feet high and three feet in diameter and the water spilled cut diamonds. When I peeked over the edge I could see clear to the bottom. Not a leaf, not a twig swirled upon the liquid mirror.

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My sister and I made quick work as we helped our mother bring down the large plastic barrel from the bed of the truck. We lifted it up over the lip of the cistern and bent one side of it to fit under the pipe. The water spread quick and I watched it gush into the barrel and I hated it.

I glanced at the dented pickup, its hazard lights warning and it leaning cock-eyed to one side of the road like a drunk trying to stand up straight.

I turned back toward my mother, little in my dad’s barn coat, struggling to keep the barrel steady.

I saw my sister barely tall enough to hold up the back end of the barrel, mouth fierce and eyes declaring resolve to hold steady against the weight of the water filling filling filling.

Does anyone not care that we are on a main road heading into town where everyone we know will see us for what we are,  beggars at the side of the mountain?

I was ten.

I was desperate for invisibility.

I was a little girl all too aware of the difference between the working pipes people and the broken pipes people.

The haves and the have nots.

I was a little girl who did not know her desperation was in the wrong thing; that it needed to be in the wanting of the power of a holy provision and that being poor sometimes means you end up getting the very best.

No water from a faucet could match what came out of that iron pipe. One drink and there was no denying the jolt of purity,  the rush of cleanness coursing through every part of my body.

I did not see then that broken pipes and no money to fix them meant I got to drink from the best water in the county.

I did not see that I was broken pipes rich.

I recently went back to that cistern with my mother. Our samaritan place.

Empty now but still sacred, like the tomb after the Resurrection.

Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh  bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.

I went back to the cistern place where I first learned that when you don’t care about how poor you are, then your thirst is able to trump the shelter of pride, the shelter that kept me from receiving God’s best.

I was pretending that day by the road. Pretending I didn’t have a need when my need was so clearly on display. We cannot hide who we truly are for very long.

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It was on another mountain where Jesus stood up and declared, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Poverty, my need for all things God, is not something to be despised, but celebrated. When I embrace my poverty, that I am nothing without Jesus, then I get Him.

I get all the cleanness and purity heaven has to offer.

The cloak of invisibility slides off and I drink deeply.

I am broken pipes rich.

 

Swimmers head emerging from the water

Will The Real Steubenville Boys Please Step Into The Light

There are two sons, brothers they are.

One walks quiet and bangs drums fierce.

One walks quick and talks big passion.

Both share a love of music and film.

Both have grown into gentlemen.

Gentle and genteel men. Especially in their way with women.

Growing up, their mother admonished them.

The way you treat your mother is the way you will eventually treat your wife.

Honor your mother, young man, and your wife will thank you.

When they were little she said things like:

Hold the door for me… like this.

Carry this for mommy, please.

Let your sisters pass first.

Growing up, they watched their father make their mother laugh to pull her out of a bad mood. They watched him sneak her kisses in the kitchen and surprise her with yellow roses. They saw him stand in front of her, a shield against the barrage of momentary teenage angst and rebellion. These two brothers saw their father honor their mother and now they honor their wives.

These are not the Steubenville boys.

Poor Steubenville, having to wear the taint and stain of a few bent on violation.

Where are you, gentlemen Steubenville boys?

You boys to men that see girls to women as the God-breathed precious gifts that they are.

You’re the ones who still hold a door for a girl, not because she is unable, but because you have chosen to honor the girl.

You’re the ones who keep your eyes and hands from wandering in lustful places because you have chosen to honor the girl.

You’re the ones who value God’s brilliance in fashioning a female person in the first place. He could have stopped with Adam.

I know you are there. Step into the light so that the world can see you.

Let Steubenville be known for its gentlemen.

It is not too late for redemption.

Not even for the Steubenville boys.

It is not too late to bestow honor on the girl.

St. Patrick Was A Fisherman

He used a shamrock so they said.

For the Telling of the Trinity.

The same one who drove snakes from the emerald place.IMG_0235

It is the stuff of legend and myth and the reason to put on green and share a pint.

Some parade their revelry without shame and wish the holiday wasn’t on a Sunday this year.

We aim too low.

We settle, down down down into the legends and myths and miss the truth of the matter.

The truth that contains the real wonder, the real reason to celebrate.

The truth is this;  that the boy, Maewyn Succat, woke up one morning not knowing this day, like all the days the Lord has made, was an ordained one. He was about to be captured by a band of Irish raiders and sold as a slave to a fierce and terrifying druid romancing darkness on the Emerald Isle and God was in the whole thing.

For six years Maewyn suffered under the ill treatment imposed by the druids, not the least of which was the terrible loneliness he endured as a shepherd.IMG_0247

He was forgotten, a foreigner, an exile on a brutal island painted green and godless.

But loneliness is fertilizer for God who makes something out of nothing and from it He grew the boy into a prayer warrior.

Maewyn’s prayers….his conversations with God yielded a boy grown to manhood who knew the Shepherd’s voice.

One day in the perfect timing of things ordained, Maewyn dreamed.

He dreamed a voice speaking:“Thy ship is ready for thee.”

So Maewyn went.  He escaped through 200 miles of hill and dale and black thorn and cragged rock  to the ship,  but when you know the Shepherd’s voice you will follow Him anywhere.

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Maewyn returned home on the ship to Britain and thinking he would continue his walk with Jesus there, he studied and applied himself to become a priest.IMG_0411

Then one day, again, in the perfect timing of things ordained, he dreamed.

He dreamed of a man coming to him with letters penned with Irish words. Maewyn heard  voices.

“We beg you, young man, come walk amongst us once more.

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So Maewyn went.

He took the name Patricius and went back to the land of his enslavement. It was here that Patricius lit a bonfire to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and it was here that he met the wrath of the Tara’s High King. Only the High King of Tara was allowed to light the first bonfire…anyone else doing so was executed. Fury consumed the King of Tara and he summoned Patricius.

When summoned, Patricius opened his mouth.

When the words, May God arise and His enemies be scattered spilled out of his mouth and a darkness spilled down from heaven and the king’s guards took each other for the enemy and the ground began shaking, It Was Finished for the King of Tara.

The next morning, Easter day, the pagan king came humbled and kneeling like we all do when we witness resurrection power. So began the mission of Patricius, Patrick the saint, of lighting fires in the hearts of the Irish for the next four decades. God was in the whole thing.

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A St.Patrick’s Day worthy to be celebrated is the one where we remember that God is in all of it and He will waste nothing. He will even take our enslavements, our dire circumstances, whatever the enemy has meant for evil in our lives and use it to bring freedom to others.

We are Joseph and Naomi and Esther and Maewyn, the rescued and the rescuers.

The St. Patty’s Day legend pales in the redemptive light of the real man called Maewyn who said this:“We ought to fish well…and diligently as the Lord exhorts. Hence, we spread our nets so that a great multitude and throng might be caught.

Perhaps this is the best of Irish blessings:

May you fish well.

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If The Shoe Fits, Or Doesn’t

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I had to walk and it took everything in me to get out of the chair. I didn’t care that it was January cold in the middle of the first week of March. The sun burned high like it does when Spring is coming and this day the sky was flint glint blue and the snow fields washed a hard white.

I needed the sun’s brilliance to cut through the gray of a long winter, so I lumbered the lumbering gait of a woman heavy and gorged with baby life.IMG_7257

I was just trying to make it to the dirt road.

I was just trying to make it to breathing easy.

I was just trying to make it.

I thought of the four young ones at the house excited for a new sibling and me breathing puffs past peaking pain.

Where am I going to put it? The baby and my patience and my understanding and all this joy, too?

Our house sat tiny on a little rise with a wee loft for the boys and a wee room for the girls and the bathroom shoved into the loft’s corner too low for a shower.

I lumbered and breathed labored.

I wondered about living tight in house no bigger than an old shoe already full of children along with a bi-vocational husband working a job and overseeing a ministry and how I was already at the end of my laces when the pink line appeared.

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Three days I lay on my bed while the days tick tocked near my head,  my pillow wet with lament and worry.

What if recessive genes come bearing bad news for this little one and we reel and suck in breathless like we did with the boy Drummer?

How am I going to give this child the best of my mothering when I am already stretched and marked way past my abilities?

But God. Words a friend says all the time.

Despair-killing, life-resurrecting words.

A little word right before the uncontainable Word.

But God of the little teeny tiny and….infinity.

But God, Who stretches things like the heavens and tent pegs and wombs.

Who transforms water into overflowing vats of wine and streams into overflowing rivers.

Who fills twelve baskets reed-stretched full of fish and bread because a boy gave up a his fixings for a sandwich.

Who crams the Creator of the Universe into a feed trough.

I inhaled the last of winter’s cold air and made my way back to the tarred road, back to the little house on the rise and later that night the womb gave up a tiny girl baby with stand up straight hair and a ski-jump nose.

I placed her next to her sisters in a make-shift trundle bed shoe-horned into the corner under a window.

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The girl grew but stayed small except for her wide mouth and her even wider heart. There were days when I had to put my finger to my lips and say.”Hush…we are in a no talking zone for fifteen minutes.” There were days when I marveled  at her boldness to stand up big for Justice and to speak big about Jesus.

I think back to that morning, me shifting in my gait past the farm where we got our eggs and then walking down to the edge of where the dirt met the main road.

I smile remember.

How silly I was…how silly I am….to question how things will all fit.IMG_7268

Instead I wonder because it is a wonder.

It is a true wonder that the One Who has put the stars in their place knows where everything belongs. He knows where it all fits.