Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Dark Night of the Soul

It is dark.
Day has broken, but a blackness pervades.
The hills are dark: a dark night for the soul of mankind.
The world churns and souls cry out:
in the Indian Ocean, in Oso, in Egypt.
The soul of mankind separate from God. 

The oceans swallow up the living as we curse the oceans.
The soil under our feet quakes and separates.
The soul quakes and separates.

The grave swallowed Him too. 
Black waves of death washed over Him.
He faced the curse of death and separation from God,
the rending of His soul for the simple. 

A rocky tomb of death sealed Him with rocks.

He rolled away the rocks.

He crushed rocks roiling to encase Him.
Light entered the rocky tomb.

Life entered mankind.
Death was bound.
The chains on my soul transferred to death.

Death now shackled and chained.
My soul free.

Yet, my soul churns. 

It tosses and turns in the dark.
The rain pours down. The soul of the planet groans and quakes.
The dark night of the soul lives on,

where earthly rocks tell time.

But I hold fast to this hope: the grave is overcome.
A real world exists where dark nights are vanquished.

Over the next hill, in a nearby valley, an impenetrable Light breaks forth.
A Light never to be overcome or extinguished. 

One lives there who enters dark souls.
He breathes out Light with each exhale. 
In this valley, the soul of mankind breathes Light.
Human souls: Hope. Live. Pulsate.

Choose the valley of Light.
Choose Light.

Choose the True Pulse of your life.
Live with an eternal pulse.  

The dark night of the soul overwhelms and crushes me.

But I enter it and am not afraid.
My soul cries out and is met in the darkness.

Jesus waits to walk me to the Light.

~ Kim Conolly 2014 
Crying for those we know in Oso, WA who have lost dear ones. Crying for the places our feet have tread and where we've laid our heads, so very near that landslide. Crying for justice for those in Egypt, for surely violence begets violence. No matter our different beliefs, we must take the opportunity to make friend of what some call foe where God calls. Crying for the families of Malaysia Flight 370. May the One who offers true hope be their hope in this devastating time. Crying for the anguish of the world. May humanity know Love. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Contractions at the Cross: Lenten Mysteries

     Jesus lived every fiber of the human experience by entering, engaging, and challenging death. He was fully human - he took no short cuts and pulled no heavenly strings in order to escape death. He bore estrangement from God which the cross inflicted.

      He shared humanity with his mother - he too had contractions. For surely, the contractions of Jesus of Nazareth upon the cross, made it possible for the womb of a hillside rock to split open and give birth to the Rock. 

      The Rock, who split rocks, enables me to enter the inner sanctuary, but he also bids me enter his crucifixion cave. I too, will one day face death and be wrapped for burial. Yet now a disciple, I must pick up my cross and walk with him to death's hill. I must experience death to self, death to dreams, death to pride, death to agendas, death to expectations, and death to reputation. I detest the last one. Am I willing? Will I walk with Christ to Golgotha this Lenten season?
     Simon of Cyrene carried his cross. Was he selected, or did he step forward? We don't know, but I venture this: Christ chose Simon before Simon chose Christ. The cross of Christ, will always choose us before we choose him. Through his gift, given first and given fully, I am enabled to choose Christ. 

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace... (Galatians 1:5 ESV)

      But to choose Jesus, is to choose the weight of the cross. I believe Simon felt the weight of the cross forever thereafter upon his heart. And we too, must intimately know its weight if we wish for his presence. Choosing Christ, choosing the cross, means experiencing death to the world and its' desires, norms, and rules. 

     Like Christ, my flesh must be crucified. Am I willing to be laid down and cast aside? The path of the cross is painful, but it leads to rest in the Rock. He who splits rocks open, overcomes. I find rest in the One who rolls away the stone.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lenten Mystery

There are two moments that matter. One is when you know your one and only life is absolutely valuable and alive. The other is when you know your life, as presently lived, is entirely pointless and empty. You need both of them to keep you going in the right direction. Lent is about both.  ~Richard Rohr
This Lent I'm doing my best to dig deep. I want to make space for God in yet deeper places within. I'm questioning, not Jesus, but what I believe and how I am shaped. Do the gospels define my Jesus or does the current Christian culture?

This past weekend, I attended the Faith and Culture Writer's Conference. I may, or may not, write more on my experience at some later date. I will say, I met prideful people there and an incredible amount of humble people. I struggled with moments of immense angry pride, but I also had moments of incredible humility. Within me, within us all, is the capability for both. I wonder: Are people who are passionate about something more likely to swing from pride to humility in great wild waves? I dare say, I think they might just have those inklings. I pray God will help me choose humility. I pray to stay thirsty.

From Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle:

Each time an unexpected discovery is made in the world of knowledge, it shakes the religious establishment of the day. Now, we are often taught that it is unfaithful to question traditional religious beliefs, but I believe we must question them continually - not God, not Christ, who are at the center of our lives as believers and creators - but what human beings say about God and about Christ; otherwise, like those of the church establishment of Galileo's day, we truly become God's frozen people. Galileo's discoveries did nothing whatsoever to change the nature of God; they threatened only man's rigid ideas of the nature of God. We must constantly be open to new revelation, which is another way of hearing God, with loving obedience. 

 Revelation. Listening. Humility. 

Remember-the root of the word humble and human is the same: humus: earth. We are dust. We are created; it is God who made us and not we ourselves. But we are made to be co-creators with our maker.
The great artists keep us from frozenness, from smugness, from thinking that the truth is in us, rather than in God, in Christ our Lord. They help us know that we are often closer to God in our doubts than in our certainties, that it is all right to be like the small child who constantly asks: Why? Why? Why? (L'Engle 1980)

We are working to keep our child like wonder.
Meet Jack.
Jack is a 15 week old (we think) kitten. He was found in the ditch near our piano teacher's house, and they were not going to be able to keep him. He literally walked up to our vehicle and found us. He purrs instantly the moment you pick him up. He lets you cradle him like a baby. He lets you wipe off his paws when he's been outside. (Seriously, if God ever had a cat for us, this is the one.) He's exhausted tonight, but within 4 hours of bringing him home, he was the boss. What dog? They already share the same water bowl and drink from it together. Did I mention, I will be vacuuming every day for the rest of my life? I guess I'm going to call that my cardio workout. Yep. He's a pocket full of sunshine in our spring, along with the full rainbow I saw today, and the four doves on my run. God speaks. Today. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Lenten Sanctuary

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. (Mathew 27:51 ESV)
Lent invites me to enter the inner sanctuary of God.

As Jesus took his final breath on the cross, the temple veil tore from top to bottom. Access granted. Do I believe it's God's will that I enter the inner room? The Son says it is so. Will I accept His invitation?

Before the cross of Christ, a sinless priest could enter the inner room only once a year. His goal: make atonement before God for the people and himself.  A priest deemed unworthy had to be pulled out by rope - we ought to approach our Lord in awe. It's a wonder priests ever came out alive, but indeed they did, and year after year they went back seeking holiness. Do I seek His Holiness? I have full access to the inner room of God's presence, my cost paid at the cross, but so often I  don't enter in. Often, I have to be dragged into God's presence. Wouldn't it be amazing if people said of us that we had to be dragged out of God's presence?

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV) 

In Lent, let us learn to walk boldly into the thrown room of God and endure His loving embrace. In Lent, let us join our Lord in a wild wilderness and overcome. In Lent, let us lean into discipleship. 

Oh my soul, Lent is not deprivation. Lent is discipleship for the hungry girl within. An Easter feast will soon be laid before me, but first I fast this world and exchange it for the Word.