First, thank you for the continued flow of creative and constant love. Since my last post, I have been the recipient of comments that have melted my heart, nostalgic emails, cards, letters, and just plain, inexcusable love.
Individually, these things are precious to me; collectively, I am floating in the ocean of your fierce love. It is a lovely way to prepare to go home.
As I write, I’m listening to Leonard Cohen singing such rich words:
“Every heart, every heart to love will come,
but like a refugee.”
This has certainly been my path in this world. Maybe it’s all of our paths. We are all refugees, because love seems so inaccessible and unattainable. Then, shockingly, God sends it thundering into our lives that it might have its way with our hearts.
Yes, we the unloved become the beloved.
Living loved in this world requires, though, that we hold both sorrow and hope together in tension. Embracing this tension is what helps us to live, and then die, well, I think.
There’s a great story in scripture of two of Jesus’ disciples on the road to Emmaus shortly after the crucifixion of Christ. Suddenly, a third man joins them and asks the topic of their discussion. The question stops them in their tracks.
Incredulously, they look at him and say, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
They, of course, were referencing the most horrific event of their lives – the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. Their sorrow and grief, having witnessed this event, had left them in a place of hopelessness and despair.
The man who had just joined them seemed clueless, though, only asking, “What things?”
This question has always undone me. It makes me cry and then laugh and laugh and laugh. You see, the person asking it, and the person who had just joined these men in their sorrow and despair, was no one less than the resurrected Christ Himself.
It was a setup, folks – a divine setup. God in the flesh was acting clueless about the cause of their deepest sorrow and pain. Ever felt that way – that whatever you’re going through, God is uninvolved, or worse, clueless? I do – almost every day.
But He wasn’t clueless and He wasn’t absent at all.
He came to these men playfully, I think. He acted clueless so they could spill their grief out to Him and tell of their sorrows. But He was actually at the very heart of their story and pain. And if that weren’t enough, He, in fact, had a bigger story to tell:
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”
“. . . He explained to them what was said in all the Scripture concerning Himself.” Is your hair on fire? It should be. What would you have given to have heard those words that day?
You want answers concerning your troubles? I sure do, damn it. But here’s the deal: we will one day get more than we ever knew to ask. The answers will come and something far greater.
The God who has, in fact, suffered for us will prove Himself to have never been absent from our grief and He will explain all things.
This doesn’t necessarily make our lives easier now (trust me), but it does make them incredibly meaningful. We matter – and we are deeply loved. God is for us.
All my life I’ve pretended to be too good to need love (damn perfectionism). It was less messy that way. Plus, I could get my love, if I wanted it, the old fashioned way – I could earn it.
Here I am now trading in my false goodness, turning from it with disgust, so that, like a refugee, I can receive what I never could have earned.
Maybe your issue is different. Maybe your sticking point is the shame of being too bad to be loved. If this is you, this wonderful hymn stanza might be of help to you:
Come ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall
If you tarry till you’re better,
you will never come at all.
Oh, the guys on the road? The story wraps up with us being told, “Their hearts burned within them.”
Two men standing in a broken world where horrible things happen. Only now, with their hearts crushed and broken open, the seed of hope had fertile soil in which to be planted.
Oh, the world was still heartbreaking in so many ways. But in the midst of that brokenness, miraculous love had now come – and their hearts, with that seed implanted, were about to bloom.
Love, when it comes to us, does that. We dance, even while we groan.
“What things?” Jesus asked, gently teasing these men to teach them. “Really? All that bad crap happened? I’m so very sorry. God’s peace be upon you. Oh, there’s something else, though. I have a story, also. In fact, it actually relates to yours. I’m pretty sure you might find it interesting.”
One day soon, I’m going to hear Jesus re-tell my story and expand it in a way that will boggle my mind. I ‘m concerned, though. You see, the Bible says there are no tears in heaven and I’m certain all I’m going to want to do is cry and cry.
For now, we live with both sorrow (it took the death of the Son of God to save me?) and burning, hopeful hearts (yet He did, and to seal the deal He then rose from the dead?).
Leonard Cohen, again, leaves us with the only response possible:
And even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand right here before the Lord of song,
with nothing on my lips, but
Yeah, it’s all gone wrong for me, but more and more there is nothing on my lips but hallelujah.
Except when I’m an ass, which is a lot of the time.
But I’m still a loved ass, apparently!