Wednesday, August 29

God Is...

A Kate Braestrup Quote
(From her book Here If You Need Me)

My children asked: why did dad die? And I told them: It was an accident.

" There are small accidents, like knocking over milk at the dinner table . There are large accidents, like the one your dad was in. No one meant it to happen. It just happened, And his body was too badly damaged in the accident for his soul to stay in it anymore, and so he died.

" God does not spill the milk or bash the truck into your father's car.
Nowhere in Scripture does it say 'God is Car Accident' or God is Death'. God is justice and kindness, mercy, and always, always love. So if you want to know where God is in this or in anything, look for love."

I think one reason I like working with crisis and death is that all the complicated and complicating tools of our natal tribe -the intellect, rational analysis, the all-pervasive irony- all these are useless.

It doesn't matter how educated, moneyed, or smart you are: When your child's footprints end at the river's edge, when the one you love has gone into the woods with a bleak outlook and a loaded gun, when the chaplain is walking toward you with bad news in her mouth, then only the cliches'are true, and you will repeat them, unashamed.

Your life will swing suddenly and cruelly in a new direction, and if you are really wise ~ and it's surprising and wondrous how many people have this wisdom in them ~ you will know enough to look around for love. It will be there, standing right on the hinge, holding out it's arms. And if you are wise, you will fall against it and be held.

Monday, August 27

Answers? Anyone?

Today I flipped my Bible open and came across one of the most amazing prayers to be found between it's pages. So I named my list of "People to Pray For" and used God's own words in my conversation with Him about them.

But there's a verse in the middle of Paul's prayer that got me ~ it's making me think differently about God's love ~ it's helping me see our own vulnerability and struggle differently.

Here's the prayer (Ephesians 3:16-21):

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge ~ that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Question: What do you think "...being rooted and established in love, may have power... to grasp..." means? Why does grasping the depth of God's love require power? What sort of power is it?

Tuesday, August 21

I Learned This From My Friend...

It's one of those hard-to-come-by moments.

I am shopping with a girlfriend. We have an agenda, but that doesn't stop us from enjoying quick diversions and moments of connection.

We push through a narrow aisle and stumble upon small objects of beauty ~ things that make us turn to each other with an "Oh! Look!" Things that make us laugh out loud and say, "Remember the time...?"

My friend is gifted in many things, not the least of which is handcrafting expressions of thoughtfulness and care.

She's a little sad, for a moment, as she talks about a recent project. She forms her words precisely, pointedly. "What people don't understand is that when I create, I am praying. Always. I pray for the person who will touch my work. I pray for the people who will look on it. I guess, in a way, the things I make are my prayers."

Her sadness came as she recounted how, sometimes, her offer of the use of her talents is rejected...or disregarded.

I had to admit to her, then, that I hadn't understood the depth of her commitment to her craft or to her friends. I didn't know that she was pouring as much of herself into her work as all that. Of course, I thanked her. But, more than that, I learned from her that day.

I learned that prayers can be solid, lovely, sturdy things.

I learned that the loonies we sometimes leave, just for fun, sitting on park benches or on downtown window ledges could be more than just free coin. They could be touched by our prayer for hope and a future for whomever chances to pick them up.

I learned that homemade cookies and cakes and breads handed out at the door to whichever neighbor happens along first could have prayer worked into them just as deeply as the flour and eggs are.

I learned that thank you notes and cheer-up cards could be so much more than just words on a page. They could be an expression of the petition I raised, that day, for the one who will receive them.

I learned from my friend, that day in the shop. I learned from her determination to keep on crafting, even when her intent is not understood. I learned from her discipline in looking beyond what she holds in her hands and into the mind of Christ for the ones who will, eventually, have her work in their hands.

Her example has changed how I pray, as I've begun to attach prayers to tasks. It takes some of the mystical, 'Oh darn! I forgot to pray for so-and-so' out of the day's conversations with God.

So, who knows? Maybe tonight, when I'm stirring the ground beef or folding the towels, I'll be reminded of you. And I'll talk with our God about you. I learned that from my friend.

Wednesday, August 1

From "The Problem of Pain"

Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them,
but Love cannot cease to will their removal.
~ C. S. Lewis ~