Coracle Moon

The moon was a luminous coracle adrift in a cloudy sea.Aviary Photo_130505071358153409

Gosh, it was pretty. Early in the morning, the waning moon drifting in and out of clouds. Dawn broke, soft and pink, full of clouds that were fluffy like cotton candy, but I was still pondering the pre-dawn moon.

Recently I heard the story of Columba, a 6th century saint, about how he was banished from Ireland, set adrift in the North Irish Sea in a round boat known as a coracle.  The story was meant as a way of explaining liminal space, that place where we are unsure of everything, where we are “unmoored.”  Part of the legend of Columba was that in this round boat he had no means by which to steer and that his fate seemed hopeless.

I wish the speaker had told the rest of the story — how Columba had landed his coracle on the Isle of Iona, how from there he worked spread the news of Christ to the people of Scotland, and how his “unmooring” actually advanced the church.

In C. S. Lewis’ book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Reepicheep the mouse sailed off in a coracle.   Strangely, he did not feel unmoored.  While he didn’t know his final outcome, his sole purpose was to pursue Aslan’s country.

“My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.”

~~ Reepicheep the Mouse

My coracle moon, drifting in and out of the clouds that morning, seemed unmoored.  Yet I knew that it was held in its orbit with the earth by that invisible magic we call gravity.

And the earth is held in its orbit with the sun by that same unseen tether.

When I feel unmoored, like a coracle tossed on the sea, I know that, despite what I feel, I am being guided by a mighty unseen Hand.

Like Columba, like Reepicheep, I can rest in God’s great plan.

Maggie and the Rabbit

Maggie bolted out the door this morning when I went to sit on the deck for my quiet time.  She loves laying in the cool morning grass.

When she was a puppy, I had to be vigilant about watching her because she would take off chasing a squirrel and end up three blocks away.  Or worse, she would (re) discover the stream and splash up and down it becoming a muddy mess.

Now, she’s much more mature and self-controlled. She runs out, lays down in the grass, and waits.  I’m never quite sure what she’s waiting for, and I can’t break myself of the habit of being vigilant over her. So I sit on the deck and watch her while she waits in the grass.

I read and pray and watch her. And she waits.

This morning Maggie suddenly perked up her ears, and her head, and her whole body, alert to a visitor in our yard. Off in the distance, under an old apple tree, a wild rabbit hopped, lippity-lippity, along.  It was also enjoying the dewy early morning grass.

Maggie, at the very least, would have loved chasing the rabbit.  The rabbit seemed oblivious to its danger.  It nibbled the grass and hopped around the apple tree.

Maggie, tethered only by her own self control, watched its every move.

And so the little non-drama played out for a good half hour.Aviary Photo_130503424926524578 Maggie was a good dog.  Though she watched, she never made any move to chase.  She showed the same self-control that I’m attempting to exercise around sweets these days.

The rabbit, though, the rabbit fascinated me. Unaware of any danger, so engrossed in its little patch of clover and the few green apples that had fallen, it didn’t seem to see the dog watching its every move.

And I got to thinking, how often am I like that rabbit?  I lippity-lip along in my own little world, unaware of those who want nothing more than to destroy me, or, at the very least, make me run for my life.

But therein lies a bigger truth.

Maggie can run fast.  When our neighbor got a Doberman, we were very happy to discover that Maggie can outrun the Doberman.  Not that we want her to have to do that.  It’s just nice to know that she can.

Still Maggie could not have closed the distance between herself and the rabbit fast enough to catch the rabbit. So, in fact, what looked like a dangerous situation for the rabbit really wasn’t dangerous at all.

And I think that is true for me as well.

Sometimes I see the scary monster and am immobilized by fear.

But God is always watching, and He has equipped me for whatever comes.

Perhaps I misjudged that rabbit, too.  It wasn’t quite as heedless as I thought.  As soon as Maggie rose to her feet to join me in the house, the rabbit scampered to the safety of the brush.

For a good half hour, though, it had enjoyed the coolness of the early morning in spite of the presence of a predator.  It didn’t live in fear.

I, too, have nothing to fear.

How’s Your Hearing?

Aviary Photo_130484340449123176My sister warned me that the person speaking at church might be “a little dry.”

I found the bulletin when I was cleaning out my bag and she must have been right.  Even the notes I took don’t jump out at me with meaning.  The doodles are equally painfully bad.

But he told a joke, and the joke I can remember.

In fact I’ve thought about it a lot since that Sunday. He could have told that joke and sat down. It was a joke fraught with meaning and not just because the audience was largely senior citizens. I needed to hear it.

A man suspected that his wife was growing hard of hearing, so one day he decided to test her.  She was working in the kitchen with her back to him as he stood in the doorway, so he said, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”

She didn’t answer, so he moved closer. He asked a second time, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”

Again, nothing, so he crept up until he was standing right behind her. Again he asked, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”

“For the third time, CHICKEN,” she snapped.

So, how’s your hearing?

Pentecost

Every year I try to get my mind around Pentecost, but, really, who can?

For the Jewish people, they also call the holiday Shavu’ot. From Judaism 101:

The period from Passover to Shavu’ot is a time of great anticipation. We count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavu’ot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival…. The counting reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavu’ot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavu’ot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. Shavu’ot is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day…

Remember that Jesus was crucified at Passover time, and then the disciples were gathered in Jerusalem on Pentecost. Acts 2:1-3 says,

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.

Our church’s symbol is the cross and the flame. The cross reminds us of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the flame reminds us of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Our sign outside

Our sign outside

The walkway leading in

The walkway leading in

Centuries before God sent His Holy Spirit to indwell each of us, He had given us the Law — fifty days after that first Passover and flight from Egypt.

What an amazing God, who interacts with His people in the most intimate ways, guiding us from without (the law), and then guiding us from within (the Holy Spirit).

2 Corinthians 3 contrasts the Law (which Paul refers to as condemnation) and the Spirit –

 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory...

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

I love it, even though I totally can’t get my mind around it.

Our pastor reminded us, “Pentecost is on Sunday. Wear red to church!” Red is the color to symbolize Pentecost.

My mother always told me that red wasn’t one of my colors. Just for Pentecost, she may be wrong.

 

Bergdahl and Grace

I irritated Laurel by listening to the same song over and over yesterday in the car. She started pushing control buttons to advance to the next song, but I pushed it back.

Richard Shindell wrote a song called Bye Bye, a haunting little song about parents mourning their daughter who left home and never came back.

Ten years to the day her father’s in the garden
He keeps it as it was the day she went away
On every life some rain must fall
But that doesn’t mean we let the roses go…

Shindell imagines a different ending to the story,

If I could bring her back to them
With a few strokes of this fountain pen
All’s forgiven, start again

The song makes my heart ache. I feel the parents’ grief. I wish she came home and her parents had that happy ending, but Shindell ends the song with these words,

I could bring her back to them
But that’s not how this story ends
As is written, so it ends
Bye Bye

When I got home, I looked up the story behind the song. He wrote the song because he wanted to update to The Beatles’ song, She’s Leaving Home. Suddenly many of the lyrics made so much more sense.

Knowing the story helps.

So often we know only a little piece of the story and respond to that. The more we know, the more heartfelt our response.

Yesterday the radio was abuzz with Bowe Bergdahl stories. I responded to what I heard with anger and frustration. A deserter. Men died looking for him. Our country at greater risk because of him. Five enemies of our country now free.

Maybe that’s why I switched to the Richard Shindell CD in the car.

But a funny thing happened in my heart as I looked up the story to Bye Bye. I realized that I hadn’t known the whole story about the song.

No more than I know the whole story about Bowe Bergdahl.

Richard Shindell said, “Once I got into it (writing of this song), I came to the conclusion that providing that story with a resounding conclusion would be false and graceless.”

Ah, grace. Why did he have to use that word?

Suddenly I felt like the older brother in the prodigal son story.

Grace requires something of us because it forces us to require nothing of the other person.

If we, as Christians, fail to show grace, we fail to reflect Christ.

What the government and the military do with Bowe Bergdahl is different from what the Christian’s heart response should be.

What would Jesus do with Bowe Bergdahl?

I think He would squat down and write words in the sand.

Heroes

DSC01400I started to write a lengthy post about a flat tire. Suffice it to say, however, that getting a flat tire on the way to the airport at 4:45 AM on a back road is less than ideal. No flat tire is ideal, but, really, with the time of day, the hard deadline we had to make, and the remote location, this was bad.

The jack slipped while Bud was trying to get the flat off. A tool was missing from the trunk that he needed for the operation. The clock was tick-tick-ticking. We were still at least twenty minutes from the airport, and the flight was boarding at 5:35 AM.

Who do you call in such a situation?

At home, the children were sleeping. None of them heard the phone when I tried to call there.

I ran through my list of friends. It’s like a sieve that my mind filtered names through, ruling out one for this reason and another for another.

I settled on Roxy. I knew that I could call Roxy.

She’s our single mom neighbor. She’s got a generous energy around her, like Pigpen’s cloud, but not dirt — it’s happy, joyful, giving.

I know I woke her up. “I’ll be right there,” she said, even though we were 15-20 minutes away.

I had to give her directions by landmarks because I didn’t even know the name of the road we were on. “Go over the bridge, over the train tracks, and take that sharp right with a quick left.”

“Where are you?” she asked again, and I repeated the whole thing.

About 5:10, she pulled up and Bud piled in. We barely said hello because I was on the phone with AAA.

She called from the airport at 5:32 AM. “I just watched Bud go through security,” she said.

He later told me that he basically walked through security and onto the plane.

IMG_3881[1]Roxy drove back to where I was waiting with our car. She got there the same time as the emergency road service guy. I sat in her warm car and chatted while we watched him change the tire.

My hero that morning wasn’t AAA. I’m thankful they came and changed the tire (and then jumpstarted the car because the flashers wore down the battery), but he was just doing his job.

My hero was an amazing woman who jumped out of bed at the crack of dawn because we needed her help.

Jill Phillips sings a song called “Show Up.” She says,

You don’t have to change the world,
All you have to do is show up.

In her song, she even quotes Mother Teresa,

No great things have I done,
Only small things with great love.

Roxy didn’t save the world the other morning.

But she showed up.

And she saved the day for us.

I’m so thankful for her.

Birdsong

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

~~ Lou Holtz

Outside my window every spring and summer morning, in the darkness of the pre-dawn, somebody lets me know that the day is arriving.

Cornell came out with bird identification game called Bird Song Hero.

Very fun, but I think my memory is full. If I could purchase an upgrade, I would. For my memory, that is.

Instead, I think I’ll just close my eyes, listen, and pray to the sound of birdsong.

In order to see the birds, it is necessary to become part of the silence.

~~ Robert Lynd