ONE OF THOSE DAYS RIDING THE WAVES

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imageThis has been one of those days! A real roller coaster of emotions for my extended family, my own family & for me. Friends suffering the breakup of their marriage and all the emotions of grief surrounding the celebrations of others’ anniversaries. The highs and lows of a lost and found bipolar family member, who is even now being admitted to the psych ward for treatment.
Good old facebook, as much as we deride it, was the instrument of sharing to get the word, her picture, and her need across a broad section of the city. Strangers found her, called for help, and miracles happen. I can only hope one day I hear good news about my own daughter in California.

Richard Rohr wrote about the wave in Buddhist thought. It can strive to be a great wave and be proud of itself until it crashes upon the shore and becomes small, or it can remember its true nature, which is always to be water. If the wave remembers its true Self always, then whatever happens to it doesn’t matter. It is always united with the wave.

imageToday I was repainting one of my old works, working a theme of the Christ wearing the crown of thorns by Fra Angelico with the landscape, or the world.

It reminds me of the verse (John 16:33)– “I have said this to you,       so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution.    But take courage; I have conquered the world!”image

Most of the time the iconographers paint Christ enthroned on a quadrangle, for the four corners of the world. Christ appears as a king in majesty, regal, often with angelic attendants. This Christ suffers with the refugees fleeing from Syria and Iraq, and bleeds with the innocent who die on the streets of our world every day from crimes of violence against humanity.

I may live a more cloistered life today, but the world still presses into my small cell. I try to be one with the wave, and remember that the hand that created the wave can also still the wave.

THE CURRENT HEAT WAVE HAS ME CRYING

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Cultural ChristActually, that’s my stunt double. Just like Chuck Norris, I’m too brave to cry. Or, the heat dries up any form of moisture that escapes my eyes. The stuff oozing from my pores is a different matter altogether. I think those 3,000,000,000 holes scattered across my body are each an eye leaking the tears our real ducts can’t cry.

The real Chuck Norris never sweats. He breaks any sweat that comes near him. Sweat is afraid of Chuck Norris, for he is the epitome of cool. How cool is Chuck Norris? We could defeat global warming if we unleashed his massive forces of chill. His sustained energy could bring down the ocean’s temperature by 4 degrees. In fact, Chuck Norris has the cooling equivalency of two Antarctic continents plus the Arctic ice cap.

Many things make my stunt double cry. Mostly they are those events, situations, or conditions that I cannot fix or make better for someone else. I spent years helping my daughter try to overcome the effects of her abuse. Others also gave their best efforts also. Her mental illnesses haves always impaired her ability to trust others or to stay on a treatment plan. Once she became an adult, she could choose, even if she didn’t make good choices, or have the ability to choose well.

I could cry about this forever, or let my stunt double have this role. I chose to grieve about this loss, shed enough tears, and find a way to live my own life by meeting the hopeless, the suffering, the despairing, the lost, the victims, and the ones “who’ve been down so long , it looks like up” to them. After all, this is where Christ met me. I knew if he could reach into my dark pit and pull me up into the light, if I offered Christ to others, he would the same for them.
When I get to the point of dragging out my Chuck Norris stunt double, I know it’s because good old Chuck is a cultural Christ figure. When I want a power for good to make a difference in my world, I call on this Texas Ranger. Instead, I should call on the spiritual power that flows through me:
“My soul clings to you; your right hand supports me.” (Psalm 63:8)

I may not be able to relieve the suffering of any one person, but I know God in his mercy understands and has compassion on all who suffer. God didn’t withhold God’s own son, but gave him up to suffer for all of us (Romans 8:32). Through this suffering we are united with those everywhere who experience wretchedness of any sort. Too often we hear that the winners of this world are our heroes, but faith tells us that those who lose their lives will gain their lives.

If we are to best grow into the Christ life, we cannot forget those who suffer while we are being healed, nor those who hunger or thirst while our stomachs are full. The real Chuck Norris would not send his stunt double to do good in this world.

The One Who Shows Weakness Is The One Who Is Healed

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Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (Mark 3:1-5)

Jesus is all about the change or the cure. Jesus makes the difference in a person’s life from being on the margins to being brought back into community. This is the original good news of the Gospel, but we in the modern church seem to have relegated this message to “scripture alone.” We are more about showing only our “fixed up faces” rather than our “withered hands” that need The Lord’s touch to make us whole again. The former we can fix with make up and masks, but the latter needs true spiritual power.

No wonder that when our paintbox is exhausted and our good hand is weary of holding up the disguise of competence before our faces, our carefully constructed facades of “managing” begin to crumble. One more tilt in our tectonic plate will cause the whole to crumble like a Haitian slum dwelling. Yet we persist in thinking that “If I only try harder to hold onto my strengths, I will make my way through these hard times.” We don’t understand the gospel message of surrendering to our weakness in order to receive healing and wholeness.

We tend to think of healing as the absence of disease, but often healing is acceptance of our condition and making the changes in our life necessary to live in “wellness.” When my doctor said I was insulin resistant and on the way to becoming diabetic, I began to exercise more and count calories and carbohydrates. I lost 50 pounds, am stuck there now, but have my blood sugars in the range of normal. I still have the low blood sugars, so I’m not out of the woods yet, but my lifestyle change is a form of “healing.” It’s not a miracle of course, but my faith and the Holy Spirit empowered me. Likewise, for one who is depressive or bipolar, taking medicine regularly and participating in therapy sessions is a part of their wellness plan.

We move so quickly each day, throwing on the mask or the makeup, that we don’t engage our selves in the mirror except to think, “my upper lip needs waxing again!” Or “how did my eyebrows get so brushy?” Then we are on our busy way, filling up our hours and minutes with activity both meaningful and mind numbing. The searching of our heart of hearts, or introspection, isn’t our long suit, anymore than long term planning. We tend to do what is immediate and before us. Because we have constructed our masks so well and worn them for so long, our heart of hearts is buried under many layers.

If Jesus came to our place of worship, would he be able to see these withered hearts? Are any of us as brave as the man in the synagogue, that we would offered our withered heart out for all to see? The one who shows weakness is the one who is healed.