Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rest for the weary...

Back from California, where I visited my mom who is 88. She’s had a great deal of suffering in her life, but loves Jesus in a way that is simple, beautiful, and inviting. Having lived her life with a devotion to serving others, it’s now her turn to be served, as world shrinks due to limited mobility and strength. We shared many good moments last week, but the most powerful for me came when my wife had gone out Saturday afternoon to grab some In and Out burgers for the three of us (classic California burgers). While away, mom had gone into the kitchen to get some things. She was gone far longer than she needed to be, so I went to see if all was well. She’d taken something to the trash, and was standing outside, just staring at the trash can.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

“I don’t want you to leave” she said, sighing. And I didn’t want to leave either (and I wouldn’t until the next morning because we missed our flight – another story for another time).

I’m thinking of that passage in II Corinthians that speaks of the outer person getting weak, while the inner person becomes strong. Somehow, in the midst of mom’s outward aging, her love of family, friends, Jesus, is increasingly visible. It was always there, but there’s so much more to life isn’t there? Appointments, obligations, TV shows, work, pleasure, parties, cleaning, repairing, bills to pay, not to mention our phobias and sins, and efforts we display at hiding our sins. Little by little, though, all that fades away. For mom, her love for Christ shines through more clearly than ever as the trivialities evaporate.

It was a hard week. The missed flight meant Sunday morning was a 4AM wake up call, and arrival back in Seattle with just enough time to be driven from the airport back to church as the worship songs were ending, and there was need for preaching - from plane to pulpit without a break. By 9 last night I was fully spent.

Today was full too, with e-mails to catch up, several meetings, and wrestling with both structural issues in the church and personal issues in my heart. Through the whirlwind, I’d find myself stopping at various times, remembering that mom’s journey, her diminished responsibilities, and move from care giver to receiver, is the destiny of all flesh. What will shine through me when all the trinkets are gone? I hope and pray it’s the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

Monday night, I made my way to the writing cabin because I have a talk at a conference next week, and I needed the time without distractions in order to finalize some things for it, and begin preparations for advent sermons and January. The writing cabin though, has been through a storm, and sizable tree is laying on the roof, the tree having been shorn in two pieces by the roof’s ridge line. I go peek into the attic to see if there’s been serious damage. Six inches of a branch is sticking through the shingles, having pierced the tar paper. I wonder if this is like a tire with a nail in it? I’ll find out in the morning.

For now it is dark, and 33 degrees, and raining. After studying, but before going to bed, I light some candles and sit to listen to Sufan Stevens version of Holy Holy Holy (available on his Christmas Album). I ponder the week that is now behind me, and the week that is ahead, as this most beautiful version of this most beautiful hymn echoes the words that I believe mom most certainly believes after a life of love, and loss, and countless joys, and now her own sunset of contemplation: “there is none beside Thee – perfect in power, in love and purity.” The music, the downed tree, the candles, the rain on the roof, the recollections of time spent with mom in Fresno – it’s a holy moment as all elements converge, inviting me to Jesus, who is intensely present in this wounded cabin.

“…none beside Thee” indeed. I believe it, and yet am so easily seduced away from that One who alone will be with me through all my days. I pray a prayer of gratitude for mom’s simple faith; not a perfect faith by any means, but simple, and more significantly, a faithful faith, still held after the loss of children and spouse. “Perfect in power, love, purity” – this is our God. May we rest in His will, His work, His very life.


At 20/11/07 12:08, Blogger Kristi said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. How critical to remember the important things, the center taht should be at the heart of everything we do in the busiest days.


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