Tag Archives: blessing

Morning Commute…

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The city, of course, puts you among people. And in the city you have to be a little richer to buy space between you and your neighbors. The less you have the more you are squeezed out and among the general populace. One great example of this is turning out to be my morning commute.

For example, yesterday I left my apartment and began walking the one and a half blocks to my bus stop. As I near the crossing my bus flies by me. I begin to run. If any aged ladies are getting on the bus I have a chance. So, my backpack is “fwipping” back and forth in that most ungraceful way we all remember from high school, my toes are trying to hang on to my cute little work flats, THEE pair of work flats, and I realize I’m going to miss the bus. At this moment some kind stranger looks up from his handheld device, notices that I am hurrying, panicked, frenzied, and then, and then (!) makes like he’s getting on the bus. He pretends to step up, he vacillates, glances forward at the driver, and steps off as I run up. “Thought that would give you enough time,” he said. “Thank you!” I said. I was on the bus! Way to go humanity.

Now, the church offices are off a lovely street called Van Ness. It happens to be a wide street and one of the main thoroughfares funneling homeless citizens toward the center of town where reside most of the “product” and the services. The five block walk to work can be, therefore, occasionally eventful.

As I’m walking the five blocks towards the offices I am paused at a crosswalk across from a colorfully dressed woman. Now, I have just finished reading an article on the new Japanese decluttering craze that judges a keeper based on joy and that’s what I’m thinking about looking at this woman, that she is dressed for joy. Every item is a different color bright against the others, artfully arranged, I smile. It isn’t until I notice the teddy bear clutched inside her arm that I also realize that this outfit is probably more appropriately chosen by my four-year old then a middle-aged woman and her teddy bear.

But I’ve been looking at her from behind my sunglasses too long. As I pass her after the light turns green she mumbles under her breath, “Keep moving bitch.” I stopped. “Are you talking to me?” I said, “Because I was just thinking…” Now, this is the part where I am going to tell her all about the new Japanese decluttering craze and how she looks like she dressed based purely on joy. Remember I have been bolstered by humanity just moments ago. But she opens her mouth and proves that there is no joy in her. I am raked over the proverbial coals. I AM the f…ing bitch. Osama bin Laden is mentioned. I’m laughing and smiling awkwardly as this woman continues on her way cursing me over her shoulder. Two cars slow down as they turn the corner to lean out their windows and ask if I’m alright. The neighbor outside his mechanic shop said, “So, I guess you got her wrath.” “Is she a regular around here?” I ask, “I’ve never seen her before.” He shrugs.

I have seen her since, trundling down the street, dressed in joy, with a mouth full of curses. Would you believe that the last time I saw her Osama Bin Laden was mentioned again?

Humanity, you contain a lot.

Benediction Part III: Resolution…

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The sermon this week was on wrestling for blessing. Go figure. I think the Big Guy Upstairs has been reading my blog and decided I needed a little help.

The pastor used the image of a father wrestling with his child. The purpose of which is never to decide a winner, he said, but to know each other and know yourself.

I would say the goals of my wrestling at the onset are a little more concrete. Such as:

I try to wrestle fellowship from Facebook.

I try to wrestle strength from my stash of brownies in the freezer.

I try to wrestle rest from one more television program in the evening.

I try to wrestle identity and purpose out from between the pages and paintings of my own hands.

Like squeezing lemon juice from a banana I go on wrestling for what’s not there, what I’m not really looking for. When, much like my son tackling his Daddy, what I want to know really is, “Are you stronger than me?” “Abba, are you stronger than me?”

Sometimes, the possibility that he isn’t is too terrifying to even try.

Still, sometimes, we try. We try to wrestle him down to the ground with our loneliness, pin him with our doubts, trip him up with our shame, or find him too weak against our hopes and dreams.

But every time I have been disappointed, satisfied not with exactly what I’m asking for but with the knowledge that he is stronger than I. Like Jacob at dawn, when I think I may be winning, I suddenly find my hip out of socket. Like Job, I find my mouth shut in response.

It’s frustrating. “But, this isn’t what I wanted to know!” I cry, “Where is my resolution?”

And yet, I’m satisfied.

Benediction Part II…

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I’m wrestling this morning.

I wrestled myself from bed. I wrestled breakfast onto the table and the boy out the door. I wrestled Legos from my Baby’s iron grip.

And I’m wrestling right now at seven-thirty in the morning for a chance to sit at my computer and get this down while it’s in my head. I’m wrestling against a four-year old girl who wants me to make paper airplanes and a baby who’s lifting up my shirt enough to show a sliver of warm Mommy belly to lay his head on while I write.

I feel like I spend most of my day wrestling for rest.

And I find a bit when I stop and admire a drawing of a strawberry birthday cake with three candles, when I pick up Baby and kiss him in the hollow under his cheek again and again until it smells more like me than him.

There’s an honor in wrestling, you can’t wrestle from the next room. You have to be close, all hands and bodies in hard contact.

And I’ve seen the blessings that come from staying, remaining close in vulnerable friction, from wrestling through frustrating friendships and difficult times in marriage, refusing to let go until some glimmer of life comes out. And, if God is there, life comes out.

For, God is in the business of resurrection. That’s all he does, creates life from nothing, new creations all day long, by his voice, with his breath. But you have to stay close in frustrating openness and sometimes in the dark silence of doubt.

Like Job who wrestled with God until he was answered. Like my baby who has finally gained access to the coveted lap. Like my daughter whose elaborate missives I am now transcribing unto the back of birthday cake drawings and along the length of paper airplanes.

“Birthday cakes, strawberries, hugs and kisses. Flowers and hearts. Love you well. Camping trip. Can you write me a card back for my whole family? Love.”

And isn’t that part of the covenant promise of relationships? Doubts and questions are brought within the context of the relationship first.

First.

Which means God gets my struggles for solitude, identity, and satisfying rest first. That’s the deal. He wrestled his own humanity and death itself for the privilege.

Which begs the question, what exactly does that look like?

Wrestle, wrestle, wrestle…

Benediction…

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I’m not doing the dishes right now or wiping down the table. I’m not going to start the second load of kid laundry. I’m going to sit down amidst all this chaos and try to pull straight this tangled image that’s been amassing in my tired brain.

When Baby wakes up he screams for me. He doesn’t stop until we’re back in my bed, very close and very still. Maybe I fall back asleep, but at some point the milk runs out.

When Baby is satisfied he maneuvers however he must so that his head is on my head, his breath is in my breath. And he takes my wrist in the firm grip of both his hands and lays my palm over his face. He leans into it, from where the hollow under his bottom lip touches the heel of my hand to the tips of my fingers spread along his soft hairline. I can feel his breath on my palm, the wetness of his lips. He does this every day.

And I am reminded of a young boy in church growing up that was developmentally delayed, handicapped in many things except a jolly spirit. At the end of service every Sunday the pastor would step aside the pulpit and raise his hand in benediction. And this boy would raise his hand, too, hovering inches above his forehead, his open palm doubling his blessing.

And then, there’s Jacob who deceived for the blessing, who wrestled all night to earn that blessing.

Why does tangibly wrestling an angel seem simpler than … what, God? What does my wrestling look like? How do I fight for your face in mine, your breath in mine? What does it look like if the first thing I do every morning is pull your heavy hand with both fists to lay it across my face?

You blessed Jacob, the one who went to such great lengths. Let me go to such lengths. Bless me.