What we are thirsty for…


This Lenten season I have been working through an amazing and meaningful experience called Beloved, an online journey into Lent and Easter with Jan Richardson leading us. Each day for the past 5 weeks leading into this, Holy Week, I have received by email an image of Jan’s paintings, a poem blessing, a few paragraphs of prompting and insightful considerations, reflective music, and many questions. Deep questions. Soul searching questions. I know I will continue working through them for a long time.

I tell you this because when I chose to undertake this journey, I suppose I did so with an agenda. I didn’t voice it, write it down, or even consciously think about it, but my hidden agenda was that this Lent I would draw closer to God and he would in turn, draw closer to me. I’m not entirely certain either thing happened. Although I wrote about my experience briefly HERE, still, today, I’m feeling rather disconnected and sad and even a little guilty for feeling this way.

Now I could be feeling rather vacant because school is over and I no longer have anything to put my mind to, or it could be because the season of life I find myself in is with young adult children still in the nest but wings ready for flight. It could be because my husband’s new job has taken him to a neighbouring community which makes connecting for coffee or lunch much more difficult these days. It could be my age. But, in concert with all of these is this soulful hole inside me that is God shaped (or so they say when they talk of spiritual longings such as these, and I do believe mine is spiritual) and I haven’t managed to find a lasting way to fill it or to feel like it has been filled.

And, as I with my heart/soul ache messing about inside me always do, I try to make sense of it. I try to solve it I guess, yet I think that may be impossible. I write to God on my prayer blog, I mess about with thoughts, and as usually happens, I write poetry. Rough draft, rough ideas, still working through. You will find my poem posted just below…

INSERT:  a short time later after posting this blog, I find, “Many a quiet, ordinary, and hidden life, unknown to the world, is a veritable garden in which Love’s flowers and fruits have come to such perfection that it is a place of delight where the King of Love himself walks and rejoices with his friends.” ~ Hinds Feet on High Places

Which makes me wonder if maybe my ordinary life presenting me with rather ordinary things to do and take care of, maybe my life with quiet times such as this one right now is the one God has prepared for me to blossom in. Maybe I’ve become greedy/thirsty for… busyness… being needed… experience… accomplishment… status… acknowledgement… rather than truly longing for God? I’ve been given my quiet and hidden life, and the hardest thing for me to do is to see it as a gift.

I’d love, I’d REALLY love, to chat about these things with you if you are willing to engage. It can be through email at mygracenotes@gmail.com if you’d prefer. Do you ever have these thoughts, these feelings, and what do you do with them?

Here are some questions that might guide our conversation;

What do you thirst for? Are you spiritually thirsty, or for something else that could be met by making a change?

What steps are you taking, or have taken, to identify what you are thirsty for?

In your relationship with God, do you find your thirsts are quenched? Do some thirsts remain?

images-8

I thirst

 

I thirst.

After all is done

and all is accomplished

yet that the scripture might

be fulfilled, Jesus says

I thirst.

 

And I come

not to a cross

but to His wellspring

of life, not for the first

time, but again and still

not knowing what it

means to drink. I long

with a black hole

of need, desire for company,

significance, meaning, chat,

answers. My prayers fall

on thin air, his presence,

his ever expanding mystery

perplexes me, angers me

keeps me asking for what

I do not know. He

is often silent, so often

delivered up on tongues

of men in ways I cannot

digest. We sit around

comparing our notes

patting one another

on the back for discerning

his plans and his will

and I critique the words

as they leave my lips. I want

to bite my forked tongue

into silence. I am wet eyed

at the terror and wonder

of this world and most days

I don’t get the point of it

don’t get God, don’t hear

God, don’t feel like I’ve

come closer to God

in imperfect trying. Peace

does not last. Grace

is fleeting. Words

just words, so many words

my head spins, soul

ache remains. No matter

the long years

of limping toward you

the hole is here.

I am bono-fied ~

cause I still haven’t

found what I’m

looking for. And I’m

looking, I am looking

and I’m asking

and I’m here.

Where are you?

 

Jesus says I thirst.

Jesus does not preach

yet is not silent in his agony.

Jesus states his need,

his simple need

for quenching. He knows

what he will get

yet he exposes his need

that scripture would be

fulfilled. What does

this mean? Only after

they respond, only

after they offer him

the tainted wine, only then

Jesus says

it is finished.

 

You know what I need, God.

I want to know. I want to ask it

if I could just find it.

The words that mean

I am thirsty.

 

 

It Is Finished

28 After this, Jesus, knowing[e] that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Gospel of John, chapter 19

 

 

 

Prostrate…


Left knee-joint from behind, showing interior ...

Left knee-joint from behind, showing interior ligaments. (Lateral meniscus and medial meniscus are cartilage.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I fell on my face, then my left knee. My hands were entirely unhelpful. It seemed to happen slowly. I felt my head bounce. I stayed very still, assessing damage.

My friend, bless her heart, began to immediately ask questions. Can you sit up? NO. Can you move your leg? No. Are you OK? How do you feel? Not sure. Do you want me to help you sit up? NO. I was having trouble saying much of anything with my face up against the asphalt, my fingers finally moving into action to feel around my face a little bit, push myself up a little bit… enough to see blood on the ground. There’s a lot of blood, I said. And, after holding my position for several minutes, holding my breath for what seemed far too long, I moved my body into a sitting position and was cared for by my friend, by her friend now also now my friend, and a security officer who was involved at this point. This was also difficult. Humiliating. Humbling. Involved water, ointment, Hershey’s chocolate, frozen peas, conversation, love, rest, time.

Involved aftermath, like walking around with my face bruised and scraped and obviously damaged. Noticing eyes averted, unspoken questions, looks of pity, need of explanation.

I am fine. No broken teeth. No teeth through lips. No broken bones. Minor lacerations to eyebrow, lip, chin, cheekbone, and knee. I thank God. Three weeks later and there’s really no proof left that I fell, other than a twinge in the soft tissue of my knee when I kneel. But I remember.

Being a poet, I think about what this means, a lot. To lose control. To be out of control. To fall. Down. Prostrate on your face. To be humbled. To be hurt. To be helpless. To be fully reliant on someone other than yourself. How I’ve heard that pride comes before a fall. How might a life position of surrender be related to a physical position of being prostrate. Before God. A heart position that echos a physical position seldom chosen aside from sleep?

It’s been a busy Lent. I began with high aspirations. To set time aside. To be intentional with spiritual exercises. To write a poem a day… I haven’t written much at all. Palm Sunday is this weekend. Good Friday 5 days after that, and then Easter Sunday. I’m on choir. My heart needs to catch up with this, and I’m reminded that I haven’t kept my promise to watch “Passion of the Christ“. I wonder why I need want to lay myself down? To consider again what it all means…falling…down…

SDG,

Lesley-Anne

Do not lose hope…


Crying - گریه

Crying – گریه (Photo credit: HAMED MASOUMI)

to all who mourn the loss of beautiful and innocent life, I weep with you…

In the face of the tragedy and evil of this past week, I’m choosing to shout out for HOPE, for LOVE. I’m shouting out to a GOD who deeply loves in spite of all the vile and devastating messes we, his creations, leave in our wake. In spite of who I am, imperfect one, least of all of these, one capable of horrible things, I am SHOUTING OUT to God for all my Buddy Breathing buddies ~ because I’m thinking you, like me, might be feeling a little jaded, burnt out, alone, overwhelmed, sad, helpless, angry, and may be in desperate need of a breath of life? And I know I am surrounded by millions of souls who ask the same questions with a profound sense of helplessness. Others, like my friend and fellow blogger Rob Rife are writing, asking, shouting, crying out…

God, please help us.

Who of us doesn’t feel the oxygen sucked deep from within as news reporters tell of another kindergartener placed to rest? When we hear details of unspeakable cruelty, when we put ourselves in their place, when we shake our heads in disbelief… who of us doesn’t clench our fists and scream inside… WHY!?!? WHY!?!? And what I can offer may not be enough for you, but it’s ALL I’ve got.

God, please rescue us.

You see, I don’t believe there is any hope, any gift, any point, outside of God and his love. After all the pain and suffering is over, after the devastation, after all of it, in the end GOD’S LOVE WINS. I cannot fully explain the why. I believe what we see is the result of a force of evil at work in our world, but even more than that I believe in a God who wins out in the end. GOD is STRONGER than any evil.

God, please overcome our pain, our questions, our loss.

The message of Christmas is that Christ came for us. Jesus became a vulnerable little baby, so that 33 years later he would choose to die a horrific death for us, to sacrifice himself and make a way for us to right ourselves with Father God. (the Easter Story is the rest of the Christmas Story).

Emmanuel ~ God with us now, in our time of deepest need.

We each get to choose God, or not. We each get to decide for ourselves if we want his gift of loving friendship. We each get to gather up our big doubts and our little faith and choose to believe that God does love us and he will always love us, no matter what happens in our lives here… no matter what. God offers us a healing HOPE, JOY, PEACE and LOVE, that starts now and goes forever.

God, please touch us and heal us and restore us.

That’s all I’ve got. That and all the questions that remain around the events of this week. That and all the unresolved emotions.

God, please show your goodness to us, we are desperate for HOPE.

As this youtube video suggests, may we see evidence that there are still good people in this world. May we know in a real way that GOD IS GOOD.

Hard pressed on every side, SDG.

Lesley-Anne

The road to Easter…


The road to Easter…

Over 2012 years ago you rode into the city that would be the death of you, Jesus.  You rode on a donkey, and people flocked to see you, laying down palm leaves and their clothes on the road before you.  They called out to you with shouts of excitement for who they, in their somewhat narrow minds, thought you were — deliverer from the oppression of the Roman rule, catalyst for a new power, a new age, a warrior prophet – one whose words promised a better way.

“Hosannah in the highest,” they cried out in a euphoria that passed in waves throughout the crowd.   Did they wonder why their future King rode on a donkey? Did they question your lack of weapons or armour?  Did they wonder what action you would take in the capital, who you would see, what you would say?  Or were they merely curious about this one who raised the dead?

And your closest followers – what were they thinking?  You had given them fair warning on several occasions but did they really fully understand that your journey to Jerusalem would be a one way trip?  As the crowds screamed, did the disciples glance at one another in disbelief?  Or did they get caught up in the party atmosphere and miss the look of intent on your holy face?

What gripped Peter’s heart that day?  A warriors heart, was he preparing for a fight?  And Judas, where was his heart as he walked beside his comrades?  Was Satan working evil in his heart even then?  Did he feel discomfort, embarrassment at the spectacle his teacher was creating?  Did he lag just slightly behind the rest, distancing himself from direct eye contact with you?

Who was in that cheering crowd?  How many of those whom you had touched with your healing hands, had received your words of life-change were there watching, celebrating, feeling a renewed overwhelming thankfulness mixed with disbelief at what you had done for them?

Did the man with the once withered hand lay his coat on the road in front of you?  Did the bleeding woman, fully healed, weep for joy?  Did the demon-possessed, now spirit filled one, sing songs of freedom that day?

And then, you passed by, and they watched your figure grow smaller in the distance, the sounds of rejoicing fading with you.  What happened to them then?  As they returned to their homes, their vocations, their families, what occurred in the hearts of so many who, only a few days later, would be part of another crowd of screaming people yelling out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”?

And I see in that fickle crowd a snapshot of myself.  My heart full of adoration one day then lukewarm the next.  My intentions for service, love, relationship grand and strong, and then slowly becoming complacent.  Allowing circumstances to dictate my feelings and overrule my heart for you.  And I , like Judas perhaps, avert my eyes in embarrassment and shame for who I am, for my lack, for my defeat and I drift even further from you as I look inward rather than into your eyes.

I see me in that crowd – euphoric in worship and lofty intentions on Sunday, then discouraged in my real-life by Tuesday.  How many of us experience our faith like that?  Striving, trying, desiring, hoping, but with no staying power?

Fall on God’s grace, some say!  Let go and let God!  Surrender!  Yield!  And my heart cries, “Yes”, while my head asks, “How often”?  How often must I revisit this place of surrender, of repentance, of crying out to God to rescue me from myself?  

Still, in spite of all my limitations I choose to stay close to you, to do my best, to listen for your voice and obey, love my husband and my children, learn to love my enemies, and serve you with the gifts you have given me.

And when I fall and grow tired, when I am complacent and ashamed, I will come to you again and again and again – hungry for  a fresh look into your understanding eyes – and your grace in my life.

I will, in all my humanity, call out, “Hosannah to my King!!!”

Midweek random ramble021


1. Overheard at the Easter dinner table…

  • “I heard these stats quoted that the functional illiteracy rate in Canada is over 40%! How can that be true?” (Check it out here)
  • “It was that time of day where the land is still dark, but the sky is light with dawn… and there they were… three heads poking out of the nest, facing the rising sun… it was SOOOOO cute!”
  • “Choir was exhausting… practises, services, emotions… but we were singing this one song and all of us were swaying to the music and I thought… wow, this is what it’s all about!”
  • “What is Twitter for anyway? I mean really… what’s the purpose of it?”
  • “So, we squirted the fake poop on their pillows, then sprayed it liberally with fart spray!”
  • “Are you wearing a suit or a tux for Grad? So, do you get your date flowers, or what?”
  • “She was down on the ground crying, and the ref didn’t even blow the whistle… he said “play on!!!”
  • “Thank you Lord, for this time together as families, even though we don’t spend nearly enough time together… thank you that we have so much to celebrate together today!”
  • “You can prank our family anytime!”

2.  So I planted some iris in the garden… striped iris!  My hubby’s in disbelief because it’s just not like me to plan something so gaudy! Maybe it’s time to branch out a little more in my planting schemes?

3.  Emmy broke her toe at the dog park a couple of weeks ago. She was running… fast… and somehow got it caught on something. Anyway, her purple cast (colour coordinated with her purple collar) is doing the trick so far, but she keeps chewing on it, licking her leg above it. I can’t imagine how itchy it must be for her, and pretty hard to explain to a dog! She’s not supposed to run on her leg, even though she wants to. She can, however, leap up the stairs on 3 legs, adapting to the ‘loss’ of her limb within 2 days of getting the cast on. Wow! Reminds me of the dog we met in Cancun who was being fitted for a wheeled cart to replace her hind legs that had been paralyzed in a hit and run. That particular dog is now living a new life in Calgary!

4.  So much laundry, so little time. One load at a time, LA, one load at a time!

5.  Trying to recapture fun and humour again… and with it some joy. Life has a way of sucking the joy out of you… if you let it! You know what I mean…

Here are some photos that reminded me of goofy, fun, happy times! Time to check out your own photos… if you need reminding!

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Good Friday 2011


Grace Redeemed

Sleep eludes me.
My spirit engulfed by guilt, grief and loss,
I rise before dawn
and walk to the garden alone,
seeking solace,
seeking peace.

The garden is cool, and the sweet scent of jasmine hangs in the air.
I seek out a quiet place,
and lose myself in thoughts of you.
Your words, your touch, your eyes.
I don’t know if I can carry on alone.

The events of the past week play out in my mind.
From joyous celebration to sudden death.
And I,
weak willed bystander,
fair weather friend,
watched from the sidelines, powerless to help you.

I fall to my knees and pray for absolution.

I feel a presence before I hear a sound.
A stranger is here, standing close beside me.
“Who are you?  What do you want?”, I ask through my tears.

A long moment’s silence and then he speaks.
He speaks my name.

I look up in confusion.
Is this someone’s cruel trick, or a ghost?
He should be dead in the grave,
but there is no denying the voice;
His sweet voice.

I rise to my feet, and look
into the eyes of my beloved.
He touches my cheek with warm fingers,
forgiveness in his smile.

Grace restored, I enter his embrace.
And then, with the lightness of burdens lifted
I turn, laughing with delight, and run to tell the others.

Lesley-Anne Evans, 2009

First light


Sleep eludes me.
My spirit engulfed by guilt, grief and loss,
I rise before dawn
and walk to the garden alone,
seeking solace,
seeking peace.

The garden is cool, and the sweet scent of jasmine hangs in the air.
I seek out a quiet place,
and lose myself in thoughts of you.
Your words, your touch, your eyes.
I don’t know if I can carry on alone.

The events of the past week play out in my mind.
From joyous celebration to sudden death.
And I,
weak willed bystander,
fair weather friend,
watched from the sidelines, powerless to help you.

I fall to my knees and pray for absolution.

I feel a presence before I hear a sound.
A stranger is here, standing close beside me.
“Who are you?  What do you want?”, I ask through my tears.

A long moment’s silence and then he speaks.
He speaks my name.

I look up in confusion.
Is this someone’s cruel trick, or a ghost?
He should be dead in the grave,
but there is no denying the voice;
His sweet voice.

I rise to my feet, and look
into the eyes of my beloved.
He touches my cheek with warm fingers,
forgiveness in his smile.

Grace restored, I enter his embrace.
And then, with the lightness of burdens lifted
I turn, laughing with delight, and run to tell the others.

photo from ‘Along the Narrow Path’.

John 20

The Empty Tomb

1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

10Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

17Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’

18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may[a] believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Empty tomb photo source