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...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You Need to Be here...

I'm sitting in the backyard, studying the Bible at the end of a week when I said good bye to a young man who diedof cancer, and am preparing to attend another funeral tomorrow, and still another on Saturday.

And yet... the fir in the backyard is ripe with cones, and the bees are celebrating their last hurray. The redwood is another green; the shedding parts are yellow, dropping to the forest floor while the living cling to the branch and dance in the wind. Cedars dance too, and wind gives voice to the hanging chimes. Behind it all is what one could best describe as virgin sky - sky untouched by any of we lesser creatures, leaving the blue of perfection to declare beauty and glory.

Though it's on shuffle, Sufjan Stevens begins singing right in this precious moment: "Holy Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty!" and I know in this moment that beyond death, loss, senseless, injustice, mystery, and unanswered prayer, there is still goodness, still beauty, still glory, still holy. I know that all will be well.

I know because this beauty, this moment, is a sermon, the best kind of sermon for me on many days. It won't be captured by camera for the translation would vandalize the pure blue, the dancing wind, the air that smells of evergreen and sweat. I know all will be well because I spent the morning in the Bible, being reminded that the cross defeated Satan fully, finally, wholly, though we don't yet see the full fruits of that victory. I know because I've studied James today and yesterday and am reminded that we're farmers, planting seeds of hope and purity and justice, even though the harvest isn't instant, and even though things not instant aren't popular in these days when we're angry if our browser takes more than 3 seconds to give us our web demands. I know it... but I know because I'm here.

You're there. And no words, no picture, can let you enter the experience. Truly, you had to be here to know this wind, these trees, this blue. Maybe you even needed to know my friend who died, and to have also studied James. I don't know. But I do know this; I can tell you this much: God breaks through!! He does it in spite of our doubts and failures, and in spite of the poison and ugliness that pollutes everything from the atmosphere to politics to the arts, to our own hearts. God breaks through... and I only wish I you could hear what I hear, see what I see, smell what I smell... right now, right here. Then you'd be encouraged.

But since you're not here... these tiny words are the best I can offer.



At 11/9/08 20:27, Blogger Joanie said...

Your words and heart are a beautiful gift. I receive them as a wonderful blessing sent from the Lord Himself...

I needed to hear those words ~ to be here and to know God breaks through! I can see the beauty of His creation all around me and I'm reminded that time spent in His Word and in His Creation gives me strength and hope for another day!

At 12/9/08 00:10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I come here because your words are always encouraging. Today is no different. God is definitely here.

At 12/9/08 05:27, Blogger Myowne said...

The words you wrote took me directly to a place where I could sense the beauty and grace found in creation. Being outside, reading God's Word, listening deeply beyond the frailty of humanity and the painful things that make life what it is, is the peace found in God. You said you wish we were there, able to experience all you did in that moment.

But we WERE there because you wrote of what relationship with God during that time away from the sadness you were privy to looked like and felt like and smelled like. You took us there. Thank you.

At 12/9/08 08:41, Blogger Kristie said...

I almost feel as if leaving a comment to this post doesn't tell the story of how speechless I feel. Thank you.

I sat last night at my cousin's baby's funeral. At the end, in this big catholic church, they showed a slideshow. We wept. To see their 4 year old hold this baby, no longer in their arms. It was so deep, so loving and full of loss. Yet they proclaimed hope, and a joy for knowing this sweet child for only a moment.

I sat there and heard the street moving through the doors outside. I looked over and saw my cousin's daughter Kayla, who just started kindergarten. Her big brown eyes smiled at me with a humor that made me smile too. I could tell that she had left the moment a while ago but was holding it in quite well. There were sobs echoing in the stone of the room, and I imagined that others in the world were maybe coming home from long vacations, and I saw a picture in my mind of a baby being born, and someone was more joyful than they'd ever been. Of lovers meeting after work for dinner, of all these things colliding, of the ocean I drive by every day still lapping the sand and how my friends were probably surfing in it. I saw all these pictures going on in my head at the same time and I thought: this is life. This is the full life...and like you...I think God reminded me of the fullness so I could swim in the deepest sorrow and be hopeful for all the other moments that begin after the sorrow ends...or maybe happen all at the same time. I thought of how layered this life is and that Jesus came into this creation to bring me this hope. So that when a baby dies and a family portrait is no longer whole, He assures us that it's all going to be okay. So rich, so deep, so wondrous.


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