Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Where is God?

Of the thousands of pictures from the recent Japanese calamity, this one epitomizes great human (and animal) needs - the need to be comforted when one is afraid, the need to be cared for, the need to care, and the ability to express the need.

This is a panda in Japan being comforted by a man who has probably brought food (see the green plastic bin in his left hand).

When you were afraid, wouldn't it have been nice to be comforted? Didn't you ever want to just hang onto someone in complete disregard for what might be appropriate? And, haven't you ever risked yourself by offering comfort?

The universality of comfort is one of the reasons I believe in  God, Immauel (God with us). We humans need far more comfort than other species. We need that God With Us feeling a lot. We need to know that someone is walking beside us to comfort (and to guide) us as we journey through life.

Of course, I know how inappropriate this would be (and probably how smelly), but some days I would just love to curl up in the arms of that panda and be encased in warm fur. God with me in the form of a panda. And other days, I want to reach out and scritch someone's head just to let them know they are not alone; someone cares.

God cares mightily for all of us. God is with all of us. And, I don't know why bad things happen - like earth quakes and tsunamis and nuclear meltdowns. All I know is that God is with us all the time...whether in the man caring for the panda or the panda in need.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Let's talk about wilderness. Let's talk about stability. Let's talk about decisions. Let's talk about Lent. Lent is the time before  the Feast of the Resurrection when Christians give up something, take on something, make a change in life that inspires reflections. One year I gave up chocolate, one year Coca-Cola; one year I read and studied a spirituality book. I see that some friends are keeping a gratitude journal all year this year.

I'm in the wilderness again this year. The habit is life-long. I'm always making decisions that land me smack dab in the middle of some quagmire, a searing breathless void, a blowing dirty wind. And, if my life were a murder mystery, I would be leaving a string of dead bodies behind - jobs that could have matured into real professionalism, boxes filled with...filled with heavy rocks of things in my life, credit card debt, stops and starts that cost me time and money, spouses who moved along to other relationships, friends who slipped into the duskiness of a time past. My life is not that kind of story but I do have plastic tubs of memory things. I do have an analysis of lots of decisions that were precipitate. I do still operate on the fight or flight mode, and fighting is not my style. So I flee. Snatched from the jaws of success, happiness, good things.

On the other hand, I have a great sense of humor, a wonderfully creative mind, intuition, a loving heart, a willing hand. I have made positive influences in a lot of lives. Recently, three wonderful young women drifted back into my life - three best friends in high school when they were 16 or 17 and I was a cool Momma figure. I have created programs that helped hundreds of people. I have written words that brought joy and wonder to many. I have hugged and listened and loved all sorts of people.

Lent is very personal to me as you can see. It's the time when I think about and write about all the people I've hurt in life, all the times I've made a mess and failed to clean it up, the dead ends I've pursued, the pain that I and others have suffered because of my decisions.

God is good, all the time. I never face this task alone. I know that God has been along this path before me and with me on other trips along this way. Jesus wandered this path, too. He had to decide what was good and right and reconciling. God and human. Choosing which to use when - or maybe using both all the time and recognizing humanity's abilities and inabilities.

Jesus: Okay, if I turn these stones into bread, I can feed all the hungry people. And, if I can turn these stones into bread, then I could turn them into anything else I want. Ooops, better not go there. Back to the bread and the hungry. Okay, let's see, since I'm human, this body will eventually die. No one else can turn stones into bread and feed the hungry. By then, they'll be dependent on me, and when this body does its "dust to dust" business, they'll be starving again. Okay, turning stones into bread equals bad idea. I could teach them to bake - well, but then they'd need all the supplies and equipment, and the people who have them are going to want something in return. And, I am not a baker anyway. I could learn, but it's not my forte.

Jesus to sharecropper: No, it's not your forte either. We've been down that road together. You did okay with that home repair program for a while, and then you found something that sounded more interesting and you passed that one off to someone else. Did some good while you were on it, but gone by the wayside now. And, remember the Kid's Cafe that you and Miriam cooked up - fed the kids supper, got tutoring (at least some) and helped keep the little kids off the street. That worked out okay for a bit; then we all got tired, and the school took over, but they went under and you don't know what's happening to the kids now, do you?

Jesus: Sigh. Here I am plodding along this path or snake track when I could be sitting in that beautiful pool in the ruler's house in Jerusalem. Why am I doing this? I want a drink of cool water! Now! Ummmm. Thanks, Mrs. Raven. I apologize for shouting. Yes,, yes, I know that producing a cup of cool water out here was not the easiest thing in the world to do. But, why am I out here alone, cold at night, hot in the daytime, dazed from the sun and watching for rattlesnakes? Why don't I have people waiting on me? After all, you know who I am. Sigh. Who am I? Right now, I'm just another Joe doing what thousands have done before me - looking for answers, for my spot in the world. And, I don't occupy that great house or bathe in that pool or have human slaves.  I'm out here because I need answers. Last year I was in that fetid swamp doing the same thing. Who was with me then? I've forgotten. Oh yeah, that was sharecropper.

Jesus to sharecropper: Are you back out here again? I thought you had it all figured out. No? You couldn't breathe? Why are you always getting into situations that leave you breathless? You think too quickly. And, you think too much of yourself. A computer guru? Yeah, right. You did well enough on that, but some things are still hanging. Where are you with them right now? You don't know the answers, I see. Hey, computers are not my thing; don't ask me. And, what about your godchildren - those individuals that you promised to help sustain spiritually. Your goddaughter still in that bad neighborhood and not going to church. No transportation, you say. Where are her children who call you Grandma? And, what about that young fellow HIV positive? Have you encouraged him lately to stay off the crack? You're asking me about stability for yourself???? If you'd just stay still long enough you could find out about stability. And, that need you seem to have for chaos and confusion. I'm surprised that you've missed the rattlesnakes as long as you have. Oh, I see the scars. Well, why don't you watch out where you're going? Ask for a little help with that, okay?

Jesus: I'm so special that I could throw myself off this cliff and I wouldn't be hurt when I landed at the bottom. Why I might not even land at the bottom; I could float right back up - like a bungee cord. Tee Hee. Headline: Jesus Experiments with Bungee Jumping. What an attraction that would be! I could get them all out here and do my stunts and then tell them about being one with God and how they can do it, too. Oh, wait. I forgot. They probably couldn't master that bungee jumping stuff without getting killed. And, I don't want to see them dead before they reconcile. Bad idea, I guess. Or maybe, they would see me as their Saviour. That's what I want to be - a saviour. I'm going to go around and save people. I'll solve all their problems and they will realize that God is good all the time. Yep. That's the ticket. Hmmmm. We're back to that business of this body wearing out again and some other details that I'm sure I've forgotten. Maybe that's not the way to be a saviour.

Jesus to sharecropper: You did what? Since last year in the swamp? Tell me about it. You got scared and ran away. Sounds like a good idea to me. Running away when you're scared can be a good thing. But you hurt a lot of people, and you made some bad decisions about money, and you lost most of your friends, and now some people who trusted you think you're a charlatan? Maybe a little more processing time could have helped that situation...a fighting flight is not what was called for. Now you're complaining about ... Oh hush. You know how to do things right and justly. Stop sitting on your bottom and get busy with the things you're good at doing.

I'll see you again later during this journey. Watch out for the snakes, take your time in deciding what you're doing, and get up and do it. See ya later, sharecropper.

sharecropper: Wait, I want to be with you. We can make decisions together. You're good at this stuff. What? Oh yeah, I remember the Passover and what happened to you. I thought that was what was intended. Maybe not? I'm tired of talking about all this sad stuff. Let's sit in the shade during the rest of this hot day and doze. No more decisions or reflections. No snakes right here. Let's just be copacetic for a while. Thanks. a little tent would be good. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz