Good Friday

O come and mourn with me awhile,
O come ye to the Savior’s side
O come, together let us mourn,
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

 Seven times He spake seven words of love;
And all three hours His silence cried
For mercy on the souls of men;
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

Chorus: O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act Your strength is tried;
And victory remains with love;
Jesus our Lord is crucified!

 O break, O break, hard heart of mine!
Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
His Pilate and His Judas were:
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

A broken heart, a fount of tears,
Ask, and they will not be denied;
A broken heart love’s cradle is:
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

John, giving me a big bear hug after the Tenebrae service as Grahm hugs Molly: Come ‘ere, (squeezes me tightly),  you girls gonna be okay? You gonna make it to Sunday?

Only because we, unlike the ones who were there and witnessed God put to death, know that tomorrow hope springs anew.

but for now,

for now we wait.

4/20

today on the radio they talked about it being 4/20…

Goodman: it’s a little cloudy out there
Caller: and you gotta wonder, is it really foggy? Or is it just drifting down from Boulder?
Goodman: haha, yeah man, they’re getting started early this morning.

ahhh, the joys of living in Colorado on national pot day.

springtime at the HUB

I wrote this during Adullam’s Gathering on Sunday.

I miss SEattle today. I think it’s because things are blooming and the air is heavy in a very un-Colorado-muggy-kind-of-way. Not that Seattle is muggy, that is more reminiscent of Chicago. But when I stepped otuside this morning, the air was cool and sweet. THe tree in the backyard is green and fuller than I remember last year. It reminded me, the air and the tree and the soft wet earth, of Easter in Seattle. I thought of walking to church that first year, in a dress that didn’t fit and slipping over patches of mud in the black shoes I’d bought for Josh’s wedding. The air was clean, sometime between the death and resurrection it had rained and the world felt washed in hopeful sorrow. And then there was the year i Had joined a community group at church. I remember the darkness gathering on Good Friday as we went to a party that clelbrated the saviour’s death. A bizarrely morbid and joyful affair as we mourned the death and waited rather expectantly because we’re on the side that knows what is coming in a few days’ time. I went to Lynden that year, shared a creaky bed with Caitlin and hardly slept. It poured rain that morning as we attended Oikos and rearranged the furniture for a family luncheon to which I had no prior reference in my haphazard nomaid life (lived far from the reaches of blood relations). But the dreary grey was warm in a way. It kept us huddled together as we laughed and celelbrated the man who put aside the clothes of the grave and stepped into the sunlight and blooming green and hopeful air of spring. I miss Seattle sometimes. Though in all honesty, i will say I do not wish to return. But the springtime air and the creepy plants, the wet muddy earth that stains my hand scrubbed floors and the sigh of relief as I drove to the tune of the Black Keys…Thank God he comes this week and comes again.

And even as I sometimes miss Seattle, miss the vairous homes that I have known, I’m at peace in the springtime as we contemplate the coming death and hopeful return.

Behold the Lamb of God.

[Selah]

among the people

I’m reading Jeremiah right now. I love it. I don’t think I can say that vehemently enough over the internet. It’s a beautifully written book, full of poetry, calls to repentance, cries for mercy, shouts of judgment and laments for the lost who are creating and wallowing in their destruction. I’ve read it before, but last time was a bit rushed as I was reading the Bible in a year. There isn’t as much time to meditate on Scripture when you’re flying through verses and chapters at break neck speed. Don’t get me wrong, reading everything and finally absorbing the Bible in the full, rich context that it was meant to be…it’s a beautiful thing. But there is something sweet and heavy about reading chapter by chapter and sinking into the word.

Last weekend, in a very bizarre night that will perhaps never make sense to me, I sat down in a friend’s kitchen and began to cry. I actually think we could call it weeping. I’m no expert on weeping versus crying. I would say I’ve only had one Old Testament grieving experience, and this wasn’t it. I didn’t tear clothes or pull hair. But my heart was so broken for the friend with whom I spent the night and the other company that was there, wasting their night away in video games, food and drink. All I could think of was Jeremiah. How long will he wait before returning to wipe clean the earth? How long until he comes to wash away the dirt, the mess that we have smudged across the surface of his good and beautiful creation? I am so grateful that he came as a child, that he went to the cross and suffered so that I–so that we–do not have to.

But he’ll come back, you know, and in that one he’ll be the person we always expect to see when read about the pharisees. Chandler laughs, he says that we must read through the gospels and wonder why God, the one who hold backs the waters on the shores of the raging seas–how does he contain his rage against the thieving liars? Who could destroy them with a blink of an eye. But he doesn’t. Someday he will. He comes back with a tattoo on his thigh and a robe dipped in blood and a name no one knows. But now, now we have a moment of grace and peace in the midst of the strife; between the cross and the battle, we have the chance to repent, to come home. I cried in the kitchen away from my friends because I was struck by their brokenness.

But there was something more to it.

I was consumed or overwhelmed by how blinded we are. I’ve been thinking about the difficulty of being a Christian in America. I’ve been in some unfortunate places, and I would never say that the persecution here is akin to what our brothers and sisters suffer across the world. But the subtlety of the suffering here has been pressed upon me lately. And I’m astounded by the blind eyes that surround me in my friends. They keep going back to the things that have already failed them countless times. They think that this time, this relationship, this night of drinking, this new job, these things will be satisfying. I just didn’t have the right one, the right amount last time. That’s what the problem was. But they’re wrong. The problem is that the thing they are worshipping cannot satisfy. And the problem, ultimately, is them–it is us. You. and Me.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m trying to say here. It’s a bit mixed up in my head still. I think, in reading Jeremiah, I have been thinking a lot about my friends who are wallowing in their sin and making mud pies in the mess of their lives without a clue what life could be if only they’d rinse off, pack up and head to the seaside for a vacation. It seems a very apt book to read as I spend time with my debauched friends who live only for the weekends and the parties that fill up those two nights. And it isn’t just my nonChristian friends. Sometimes I am surprised by what we consider permissible in the church. ARen’t we meant to be moving towards lives of holy and righteous living? But so often we aren’t. We’re obsessed with the fact that God meets us in our mess and we forget that he also calls us to repent–to turn away and follow him out of the cave and into the brilliant light of day.

I love the world. In more than one way. I will always struggle not to be distracted by it. There are shiny things, glowing lights, music that haunts me and relationships that will unwittingly steal away at my soul. I will always struggle against worldliness. I’ve tasted it in small doses and there is a part of me that delights in the sensation. But I came away empty and found myself longing for the food of my Father and not the pods that we threw to the animals. And on the other side, I love the world because I so desperately want them to see the light of grace and be freed from their self imposed slavery to sin.

Come away from it all! I want to cry with outstretched arms. Do you not know, do you not see?

You make broken cisterns that can hold no water! You are losing what you did not even have!

I told my family recently that I sometimes just want to shake my friends as though I could force some sense into them by the whip-lash. You! I would say to him–she will not satisfy! Sleeping with her doesn’t help! And you! I would say to her: the drugs won’t help! They only mask the pain that always returns, come and be healed! be made whole! And You–grow up! Realize you are not trapped in that past any more if you only choose to let it go and move forward! But no one can make you choose this, only you can do that! And you: put your trust in the Lord and not in things! They rust! They fall apart! But only God makes all things new!

But I can’t shake the life and sense into them. Keeleh reminds me that free will’s still in effect, despite the fact that we are both predestinationists.

Jeremiah calls. He calls to repentance. He begs mercy from the Lord.

and it’s up to us to actually do something about that. How do we respond in our lives? And how do we respond so as to influence and love those around us so that they might also choose to respond?

contrition…or something like it

I’ve been thinking…about a lot of things lately.

Tonight, while on the treadmill, I was barely into the first mile and some things seemed to clarify. I was not yet in too much pain, that usually comes after the second mile has finished and I’m rounding three. So, with some Jesus centered music playing rather loudly, I had time and space to collect myself. The unfinished basement, with her disfigured, pock marked cement walls was cool and inviting. The grey skies had given way to sun on my commute home but darkness had settled by the time I finished cooking and eating some chicken dish I invented. The house was quiet and except for the furnace hiccuping, I felt alone, serene, at peace.

The words started coming out again tonight. I felt a rush of relief. I haven’t had words in a couple months–and believe me–I’ve tried. Nothing fast and concrete. But there were phantom thoughts, dialogues and pieces of narration. The up tight feeling in my chest loosened and I knew that it would be okay.

I thought thought about Brett who recently told me that he tries to put himself in my head and see himself through my eyes which usually leads to a good deal of judgement and then he gets angry with me. I remember that I chuckled, albeit in a dismayed sort of way, and told him that wasn’t fair. Because I don’t judge him–he does it to himself. He really has no grounds to be angry with me for something he’s done because he can’t correctly interpret the thoughts of my mind and the feelings of my heart. He shrugged, he knows this. But he also thinks he knows how I view the world and him, so he thinks that he must have some element of truth in his judgement that he apparently assumes are equivocal to my own. The flips and flops of his logic were hard for even me to follow. But what I find most intriguing in the situation is that ultimately: Brett is the one who judges himself and finds himself immoral, unworthy, ungodly, materialistic, or whatever terms he uses. Brett does this to himself. Couldn’t the most important point be not that he considers this to be my view, but that deep down, it is his own view?

Another friend told me that he has realized he’s in a bad group of people. We are struggling with some similar things and he came to the conclusion that while he loves his friends they are not the sort that are going to encourage and influence him towards good decisions. He said he started thinking about this after talking with me a couple weeks ago. I told him I didn’t like the idea of causing contrition or conviction. It makes me uncomfortable. He just laughed and said it didn’t matter. It was me, it was the conversation… It was the startling conclusion that no one in his life really talks to him about “the right stuff” and that he should find people to do that.

And then today at work, a kid I only met yesterday started talking to me about Jesus. I told Ghena and Caitlin tonight that I was actually kind of mad at God. I didn’t’ take this job to attract another one of these. I took this job because I needed a pay check. I have so many people already. I’m the persistent widow* on behalf of too many others, I don’t need another one of you people! I know I should get excited that I get to evangelize. Woot! After all, it’s only my second day knowing him and I’ve already invited him to church. We talked about Protestantism and Orthodoxy. He meant Eastern Orthodoxy, I was trying to say I’m little-o orthodox, but not big-O. But I do love the Orthodox church and I have been to services. I told him I’d stood in the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir and felt it to be holy. He nodded, “Russia? That’s cool.” I shook my head and stared at the checks on my desk. Cool? Russia? Maybe, I thought. Pakistan would’ve been better. I never did get to wear the hijab. And why is Russia cool? What’s eight days in Russia? I came home, didn’t I? I’m still here, in Colorado, with bipolar weather and surrounded by suburbia tucked among cows and sky scrapers, I’m here and not there, aren’t I?

I was frustrated with God,  because I don’t do this well. I’m not an evangelist. This isn’t my gift. I don’t have words to say when Jackie cries in my car. I get yelled at by Christians for being legalistic. I get picked on by nonChristians for being too Jesus-y**. I just want to go to seminary, sit in the back of class, mumble the answers like I always did in Dr. Davis’ class, and I just want to be invisible for awhile. I mean, seriously. I may have sung Be Thou My Vision outside Jackie and Dan’s in the rain the other night, with Kevin and Brett and Jax…but just because I sing a hymn doesn’t mean I want to explain it! Come on Jesus! When did we get those wires crossed? What’s gone wrong with this translation between heaven and earth? Hello? Are you up there in the void? Do you find this amusing? I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry about this!

But  no! No, you’ve got C asking me about being a slave to sin, walking away from the church, being a Sunday Christian and Eastern Orthodoxy!

This isn’t it! I have to laugh. I’m not supposed to have  heart for these people! I mean, for Christ’s sake*** they are Americans! When did I start liking Americans?!

Funny how God changes things…isn’t it?

___________________________________
*Kyle and I talked about praying the same thing over and over. He mentioned the persistent widow parable. I’m trying it out. Finally! A use for my endearing ability to be a nag!

**S: He tells me I’m ‘too Jesus-y”
G: Did you inform him that Jesus-y is not a correct modifier? I mean–
S: (laughs) it’s not even a word!
G: (laughing) it’s terrible grammar!

***No pun intended… mostly

newsies

it’s all I can do because I’m dead beat.

Tonight I think I met my heart at Solid Grounds in the form of a 23 year old boy who plays barista and seminary student. It was like talking to myself. Or hearing myself, as he talked to me.

Tonight on the drive home (home!) I listened to Mumford and I cried at the words of The Cave and I shouted at the stars barely seen beyond the dirty cracked windshield: you are freaking awesome! because he is.

Yesterday I hugged Jackie three times and shared a plate of pasta with her and talked about Psalms and prayers while Brett sat by  his amp and twiddled away on the guitar.

Yesterday I sat with Brett and cried and tried to tell him everything I’ve been trying to say for a year. I said we would never date and he didn’t like that, because he never likes it when I pretend to know the future.  But I know this, I said. And we talked about God and Jesus and I said he was looking to be filled in all the wrong places. I said it. But it came out all jumbled and mixed and broken. Just like it has for a year.

Tuesday I drove Colfax and decided I like it. I love the city. I love the country. I love the wide open spaces. But there was something hauntingly beautiful in the world of Colfax. With the black kids and that tacky bouqet of roses. The homeless vets and the gap toothed grinning men at the bus stations. The bizarre mixture of Hair Braiding salons and Adult Movie Stores that litter the sidewalks. The posters and scraps of paper that toss in the wind. With the boy who followed too close so I almost snapped at him: what up loke? just so he’d leave me alone. But in my pencil skirt and black sweater with sassy green scarf I couldn’t say the words of a crip (and with luck he’d be a blood and I’d be in trouble). And I fell in love.

Tuesday I had soup with mum and dad then worked on scholarship applications.

Monday was my first day. I didn’t wear pantyhose because I didn’t have any. I wore them the next day and put my thumb straight through them, high up in the leg where the skirt hides and the nail polish prevents spread. I thought to myself: how do women do this all day, every day?!

Monday was my last day with Daniel and Stacie and it was so sad to leave that.

And tonight I am exhausted. I’m going to bed. I like my job. I finished scholarships and fanangled that FAFSA and even returned an email. I talked with Ghena and confessed and apologized and she smiled and let me raid her closet for work in the morning. And then, in a quick perusal of my blog posts from yester-year, I found this:

After a conversation with Brett:

It was incredible. I had no answers. I couldn’t even text Kristen and ask her to pray because just what I was afraid of happening at my job was taking place not even a week after we’d talked about it. All I could think of was sleeping at Jana’s and our conversation over breakfast while we watched the temperature drop outside amidst the snow flurries. I told her that I was nervous this would happen, Itold her I was afraid of being in the states for a long time and working with suburban-ites. I said that to Jana because I knew she’d understand the sickly horror I feel when I think about staying state-side for too long. But here it was, Brett asking me questions and me wishing I had better answers than the stumbling, disjointed responses I gave to his questions. It was kind of scary.

But it was also kind of cool.

And in the car, on the way home, David Crowder’s “You are Glorious” came on. Oh my word. He doesmake everything glorious–like this stupid job that I don’t even like, and my stumbling, broken mouth that has no answers.

And really, I do only want to be His.

maybe someday, Slayden will too.

I’ll be the persistent widow. I am going to beat down that door. For me. For him. For her. Even if not while I know them, live here, work there. Because I’ve been praying over a year now. And something’s got to change. I can feel it in the air.

and it isn’t just the wind.

because life is getting better and deeper and thicker every day.