My two-year-old granddaughter was happily splashing in her tub, enjoying from head to toe the profusion of bubbles that I’d allowed her. When she announced she was ready to get out, I said, “OK, let me rinse you off first.”
“No! No!” she shrieked. I turned on the water and got the handheld shower head ready, stood her up (not without a struggle) and sprayed the soap suds off her, all while she complained loudly. When I turned the water off and deposited her on my lap in a towel, she said grumpily, “Now I’m all wet!”
Isn’t this just like all us big humans? If we’re in a situation which we have chosen, we’re fine. But if we find ourselves in the same circumstances dictated by someone else, we cry “Foul!”
One of the mothers I admire most (other than my own dear departed, whom I wrote a bit about here) was Ruth Bell Graham. Her courage, devotion and persistent life-long faith are inspiring to me. She loved and prayed for a prodigal; her writing refreshes my hope for my own prodigals. Below is one of my favorite poems of hers. I offer it to all praying mothers, in honor of Mother’s Day. May we all bow before the Infinite Wisdom.
Had she been another mother:
Had I been Joseph’s mother
I’d have prayed
protection from his brothers:
“God keep him safe;
he is so young,
so different from
Mercifully she never knew
there would be slavery
and prison, too.
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
I think I’ve mentioned previously that our theater company is presenting a play about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s resistance work in Nazi Germany. So his life and words are on my mind a lot just now. One of his most famous quotes (cited above) was the topic of discussion at rehearsal recently.
Bonhoeffer felt that call. Forced to witness the travesty of twisted dogma which was promoted by the new German State Church under Hitler, he could not keep silent. 6,000 pastors formed a new movement called the Confessing Church.
But still, many others caved under the threat of persecution, imprisonment or death, and took an oath of fidelity to Hitler as part of their ministerial vows. Many Germans willingly turned a blind eye to the punishing new decrees against the Jews and others deemed unworthy to be a part of the “master race.”
I’ve been burning the candle at both ends…and let me tell you, all that melted wax is no picnic to clean up. With little time or energy for original thought this morning, I turned to one of my favorite little books, Joy and Strength, by Mary Wilder Tileston.
In the same spirit of my post from Sunday, please read and take to heart this quote by Rev. George Hodges, b. 1856 – 1919, who was dean of the Episcopal Theological School at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
My sweet two-year-old granddaughter experienced her first bout of the stomach flu this weekend. She tried to tell me that she was in pain (which was obvious), but she had no words for ‘nausea’ or ‘gastric distress’. So she had to show me, by emptying the contents of her stomach onto my going-to-the-theater clothes.
Poor little sugar plum, not only in pain but frightened by that bizarre event. I wiped and cuddled and soothed, and she clung to me. “You not leavin’ me, Mama. You not leavin’ me!”
No, baby. Mama definitely can’t go anywhere now. It’s not that Papa couldn’t take good care of you. But you want me, and I want you to know that you can depend on me.
Step 1: Set your clock for a bit earlier than usual, so that you can write your first draft before the two-year-old wakes up. Then hit snooze until the German Shepherd sticks his cold nose in your face and wills you to let-him-out-for-pete’s-sake-what’s-wrong-with-you.
Step 2: Brew a large cup of coffee and decide to check your email while the coffee is brewing. 30 minutes later …when you’ve answered three emails, deleted 12 others, caught up on Facebook (including taking your turn in Words with Friends) and checked the weather… your coffee is cold, and the toddler is stirring.
It’s one week later. If Easter was a mountaintop, this feels like a dark valley. Yet the invitation to come is still there. It wasn’t a one-time offer. And even if we’ve already held out hungry hands for the bread of life, we can still find ourselves weak again, and needing to heed that call once more.
Too bad to be true.
That’s how it felt. All a bad dream, a nightmare, and they’d wake soon. But when two nights passed and they’d cried themselves dry, they got up and chose to be practical. Feeling empty, needing something to do, they gathered up the spices. On the road, with the first golden beams of sunrise in their faces, they worried about the stone. “Is this trip for nothing? What if we can’t get in?”
Looking up, they see the stone. “That’s not the way it…is this a trick of the light? It’s been moved already. Who’s been here so early? Nicodemus, maybe?” Slowly they peer into the dark interior and see a patch of white. The body. No! It’s sitting upright. Their hearts pound now. “Not more bad news. They haven’t taken His body, have they? Is there danger? Should we run?” And yet their feet keep moving forward.
Back in the high priest’s chamber, Malchus stands waiting for his next orders. His head is bowed, eyes to the ground by law; his breathing is shallow still, his thoughts skimming along the surface of the sounds of accusation breaking over and around him. Sounds he hears with two good ears.
Ridiculous, wild statements, outright lies, preposterous tales fall to the floor around Jesus, but don’t seem to touch him. That’s the carpenter’s name, then. He’s heard stories about a Jesus. This is him? Finally one claim–”He said, ‘Destroy the temple and in three days I’ll rebuild it!’”–rang true.
Caiaphus standing in his weighty robe of authority, uses his most commanding, intimidating voice. “I order you, by the living God, to tell us the truth. Are you the Messiah, the son of God?” Continue reading
Rousted out of bed in the dank midnight, he fumbles into his robe and follows as he’s ordered. He didn’t quite catch why it was that he was part of this group. Now as they wind their way up the hill, the torchlight flickering on the path is not enough to prevent stubbed toes and stumbling over rocks.
They’ve been commanded to be silent, so any injury produces no more than a close-lipped grunt. Some pebbles roll away from their passing, but there is no other sound. He tries to glance before and behind without tripping. It appears that all the household slaves are here, as well as Caiaphus’ armed guards, and some others he’s seen in the Temple courtyard. A variety of swords and cudgels swing from beefy fists. But not from his. He is not permitted to own a weapon. Where are they going? It looks like a grove of olive trees. He can see the outline of their twisted shapes against the moonlit sky. Continue reading