Underneath The Rubbish

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They can be such flimsy, wasteful things on the one hand and killer knife blades on the other. I run to the backyard where I seek refuge amongst the sticks and stones.
No one sees tears here.

So much has fallen down this winter. Tree branches. The arbor. Me.

I climb over the dead christmas tree to get at some of the branches wedged between the fence posts. Some of the limbs prove too heavy for me to move to the burn pile. I will need the chainsaw.

I break smaller branches over my knee. The crack of the dried wood echos my own heart’s cry as I muscle my way through the mess of things here on the ground. We have all messed it up so badly, I think.

I have messed it up so badly.


The knife edge of winter is still present in the spring breeze and I pace the yard to keep warm. There is so much to clean up I don’t know where to begin. I turn circles in the yard and in the twilight I see a little white orb blooming underneath winter’s rubbish. A dark countenance shrouds the petals trying to break through broken things.

There are just six of them. They look like jewelry. Delicate. Refined. Exquisitely white.


No one.
No one but God Himself knew they were there.
Now I do.

I kneel down in my sorrow of a day gone south and push aside the dead things, and suddenly the words that spat in the kitchen only moments ago fracture and fall into an ash heap. Kneeling precedes repentance and, as I free one of the blooms from the clutches of a dead leaf, I hear His still, small voice whispering to me: This is you. 


My vision blurs.
I gently wipe the dirt from these littlest of flowers and I smile because truth doesn’t always shout loud. Sometimes it comes softly, slowly like a petal opening up after a long hard winter.

It is in this moment God wipes the dirt off of me.




I look out the window and there are flurries. Again.

My wool coat hangs close by in the closet.

I am still wearing gloves.

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The snowbanks edging the front lawn are covered in sand; small dirt mountains that pockmark the landscape. These dirt mounds line the sidewalks and fill the lot across the street washing the view from my front door in a brown blur.


It seems like nothing ever changes. Everyday, when I look out the window I think the whole place is in need of a good scrubbing. My town is wearing her ugly dress.


But, I am blind.

Blind to evidence….hidden evidence forming underneath the dirt-crusted snow. I cannot see it but I can hear it..the faint trickle of water somewhere. I stand quiet along the road like I’m in Narnia when someone says, “‘The witch’s magic is weakening.” And  (like) Lucy felt that deep shiver of gladness that you only get if you are being solemn and still.”

It is not until days later that I see what has been happening beneath the surface of things.
I see the evidence of water doing its work.
I see mud.

I am Lucy’s Edward when he realizes the spell of of the white witch has been broken and winter loosens its grasp for good.


“All around them, though out of sight, there were streams chattering, bubbling, splashing and even (in the distance) roaring. And his heart gave a great leap (though he hardly knew why) when he realised that the frost was over.”


The man sits in the road, just another part of the landscape in another place and another time where nothing ever changes. He hears, but he does not see. He was brought forth from the blackness of the womb only to remain in the dark. No blinding lights here. No squinting baby in his mother’s arms. That day he became destined for beggary.

But…God. But…mud.

The man hears voices.  He hears the word, Rabbi. The voices are asking this rabbi if he, the man, low and in the dirt, is a sinner. Or was it the sins of his mom and dad that kept the light from coming into his eyes?

As if all suffering must be the result of a wrong choice.

The man isn’t a novelty. Lots of blind people seem to show up alongside the road when this rabbi is around. Part of the furniture, really, the way these guys are talking like he’s deaf, too.

But, this rabbi didn’t step into the blue planet to make a connection with wood and nails.

Instead, He embraced wood and nails to make a connection with the broken flesh of humanity.

The Ancient of Days Person turns to a made-from-the-dust-person, connecting with the man face-to-face, sighted eye to blinded eye, getting low to the ground where the broken and blind live, and, with His back to his friends, He divides their very souls and marrow with these words.


“It was neither that this man sinned,nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Then He makes mud.
Spit and dirt.
He smears it over the man’s eyes.
He dirties him up and then He tells him to go wash.


See,  blind person, Jesus is Lord of all creation.

He is Lord of all the dirt and grime and muddied up places.

And He is Lord of the cleaning up.


This is where we see the works of God. When we, the blind, the broken, the loneliest of lonelies, are changed from being just a part of the furniture, no longer not seen, but seen and see-ing.
We are known and we now know.


It is only a holy connection with wood and nails that could accomplish this sort of thing.

Yes, we’ve been sin-dirtied. We’ve had mud smeared on us, but we’ve had a proper washing up and now His Spring is displayed in us.

We embrace mud season because we know it points to a promise.


This is Easter.