Trajectory

Trajectory
 
 
Persistent ripples
scribe the surface of Bagley lake
evidence
that life breathes,
expectant,
beneath the season's fleeting veil.
 
Painstaking intent
flows along ages-old trajectory.
The Foundation of the world stretches ancient fingers
toward the fullness of time.*
Beginning to the end;
the end itself—endless.
 
Float, if you must
beneath this moment's sky
her sun not wasted.
Nor is winter's gloom,
though we tend to hasten time.
Who knows where our Spirit God hovers?**
 
jfig    9/2020
*Ephesians 1:4-10; **Genesis 1:2

Ephe. 1:3,4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

In August, my Covid19 hiking buddy and I made it to the Mt. Baker Wilderness Area to circumnavigate the string called Bagley Lakes. Though not the most acclaimed hike in the area, its raw beauty still spoke volumes. Questions surfaced, just as they have in the past: are these really lakes, or just snowmelt puddles; and what is the difference? You can see right to the bottom – old logs and a dearth of fish. So what is the point, if you see the air for two of twelve months, with no trout nor tadpoles, and the rest of the time are covered up as if you didn’t exist by layers of ice and snow? Two things refuted my skepticism: Even though the water was crystal clear, the ripples were determined, not just from the wind, but from underneath. In its abbreviated season, the free-running water was determinedly going somewhere. And (2) in retrospect, we felt ourselves a part of the scenery, not merely observers. We could see where our footsteps had traced just 30 minutes prior; right there exactly. We were part of this day’s wilderness story, in a way that my companion visibly understood.

The reminder that any season, whether brief, seemingly benign, or harsh to the point of devastating, can still be part of God’s purposeful trajectory is hugely comforting to me. We don’t get to measure the seasons; they seem to take measure of us. But we can look across the valley to see where we have been; experience some surprise to see others who trudge there now. We can revisit the pages of story: how God’s triune company and unwavering intent have transformed us en route. I hope the thought that your story is not outside God’s trajectory, is comforting to you as well. Sincerely, jfig

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 27 Greyscapes

RW pic grey

RW pic grey ponder

Greyscapes

There is a grey space

murky before the dawn

where questions abound broad and deep.

 

Then and now

is there broad definition— heal

measured not in limbs and cells

counted and recounted

but in communion

weighed in hours spent

cloistered in the sanctuary of suffering

naked need – that seed of knowing?

Did God intend that we not know evil

but embrace knowing him?

 

Then and now

which ones fisted the hem

and did not let go

escaping the mortal bounds of earth

for the expanse

of eternity?

Leaving our hearts

half in Gennesaret

half in heaven.

This pain knows no bounds.

But

God’s love cannot

be removed

that which he births

remains.

 

Then and now

now that we have seen Jesus, scourged and resurrected, we

live in a land where it is not the certainty of knowing—

outcomes veiled

but the certainty of journeying

face to face, heart inside of mortal heart

is this healing?

 

“What’s next?” The world is in a situation where this has become almost a universal question? Although I ask myself, has Covid19 really changed anything for those who daily try to survive the extremes of poverty and vulnerability to secondary infections? When my oldest daughter was working in missions, she said to me, “I don’t know why they call it a mission field. In a field you can see a long way. They should call it the mission forest…” This poem is about that – the ‘what next?s’ of Gennesaret and now.

There is a grey space, murky before the dawn, where questions abound broad and deep, but without the insistence of daylight that one discern an answer. It is a safe space in which to contemplate. Space in which Jesus might ask a few questions of his own. The story of Gennesaret whispers a couple of those questions. I do not have the answers. Original sin was seduced by this slithering lie, ” you will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” We don’t have to know all the answers, though I might try some on for size, to see if they fit. The trick is in remembering that the answers have to fit Jesus, not me. He is the one with the healing robe.

jfig     4/2020

Jesus, we love you, for having held our questions for literally centuries, gracing us time  to wrestle, and the offense of misinterpreting/maligning your intent time and time again. There is a hunger deep inside, to know you and have our ‘needs met’ not by what we want, but by who you are. You are the dawn we seek, Holy One. Amen

 

longings…

longings

 

The seraphim cover their eyes.

I wonder – do they peek

between their bony fingers

stripped lean for flight?

 

And Moses the cleft conceals

yet you can see, his feet,

as breathless,  he waits

while You walk by.

 

My heart sighs

neither, then, should I

surely – neither should I.

But oh, the longing is there

whispered …

Oh, God, I would love

to ‘see’ your face..

even a trace, fingered blind.

 

You replied.

 

 

 

jfig   1/19

 

photo 1/24/2019  Whatcom County, WA

 

One duck…

one duck pic

 

I thought it would rain this morning… but at bus time, the clouds folded in, holding their breath, for one duck. One duck, center stage, danced across the canvas of the morning, the clouds holding their applause, while he plowed a wake.

We – woman, man,  child- so want to make a difference; our clumsy attempts often piling up like refuse; sometimes leaving scars and scrapping our  vows to ‘do no harm.’

The lake is near 400 ft deep in places, places right out there under the duck. It should take a dam; so it seems startling that one duck could  plow such a wake, turning it at will. Apparently there is power in webbed feet and winged prayers.

Spirit of God, hold up my winged prayers. Lift them to the heavens and stretch their weight along the trajectory of your leaning. Only for you, do the clouds hold their breath. Only for you. Amen

photographer’s note: I left the power lines…one duck.

jfig/11/18

 

Transfigure

sunrise 2

 

Today is day 2 of ‘springing forward;’ which usually feels like ‘dragging, one-step-at-a-time,’ in order to adjust to a new schedule.  As I accompanied my daughter, on her distracted and dawdling way to the bus, I marveled anew, that in spite of her profound array of special needs, she can pretty much daily  show up with a cheerful attitude and not too much coaxing and cajoling. The ‘pretty-much-every-day’ is what gets me.

As we trundled our way to the bottom of the hill,  dawn crept up the sky; this dawn, unedited and extravagant, delivering a message.  I was struck dumb, and continue struggling to find words. Even after the bus had come and gone, I stood still and let the majesty and the magnitude of God’s unspoken words wash over me.

I am here. Every day. Showing up.

Though the air is unseasonably warm this morning, there is a brisk wind out of the southeast – that too, an atypical direction. I could feel it picking up as God continued to paint the sky.

I am here in the storm. I was here BEFORE the storm.

I’ve been in what feels like a crop-flattening storm lately, so those words are ponder-worthy: What does it mean for God to have been here, displaying His Glory, before the storm? And why, today, does he deliver a message, not quietly on paper, but painted and wind-propelled,  across the whole sky? In one instant, the sky was 157 degrees of pink, from southeast to west-northwest. Before the day even started…

If God can paint the sky east to west, can he not then paint a life, my life, a different shade of storm-cellar grey? Can he not at least ‘brighten up’ my perspective? Can he not transfigure the bleak questions of this season; questions of fear and unknowing and loss, into some realization of the beauty of his goodness? Some realization of who he is, starling though it is against that stark grey backdrop?

We’ve been reading the book of Mark during this pre-spring.

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
"Mark 9:1 (NIV) - And he said to them." Blue Letter Bible. Web. 13 Mar, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/mar/9/1/p1/s_966001>.

“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him” This after Jesus has told them he must suffer and be killed and rise again. Can you imagine the questions in their minds? ‘Listen to him’…after his stark announcement of impending suffering, even death?

“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.” This… after the radiance, and a sighting of Elijah and Moses. Wouldn’t that still one’s run-on of questions just for a moment? Storm and light, juxta-positioned.

I feel like God completely transfigured the sky this morning. Midst the dismay of surveying what I have presumed to be ‘Crop damage’ from the storms in our life, I feel a bit like Peter,  I’ve experienced a great sense of loss and some hyper-anxiety. What to do, think, feel, say??? So when Peter suggests doing something…ANYTHING…I can relate. But perhaps I should still the questions, and listen…

sunrise transfigure

I was here, before the storm. “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”

And from another story, I am here, in the storm; “Why are you so afraid?”

Jesus Calms the Storm
35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
“Mark 4:35 (NLT) – As evening came Jesus said.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 11 Jun, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/nlt/mar/4/35/s_961035&gt;.
“This is my son, whom I love… listen to him…”
Lord Jesus, the proclamation of the dawn, has left me speechless. Speechless enough to feel a burble of hope shift, and rise above the questions in my soul. Will you unfurl this hope – like the dawn, and transfigure me?

 jfig 3/2018

 

 

 

 

Fissures

Sometimes life quakes, unsettling all our ground, even destroying things we thought were safe. This is a reflection for those times. jfig

fissures 1

 

Fissures

 

My earth splits and shifts

Gaping at awkward angle as splinters race along the fracture lines.

From aerial view, it might look like arteries

On my heart, if the lines rived in anatomical places.

 

What will grow in these at-first unnourished places?

What will grow?

Drip, drip, drip – water oozes into the painful space

left by what blade knifing into my hope and expectation?

What will grow?

In what fertile valley shall I plant my next hope, and the next, or next?

How many plantings will it take?

What will grow?

 

As I let the fissure breathe, moss grows green against the someplace rusted stone.

I can only breathe a few days at a time.

Let it breathe…

Living water trickles, chill lavage

Rearranging mineral deposits

In the rust and stone and green of my heart.

 

Oh, God, that I could feel the green

And somewhere in a far-off spring, the moss spring forth a gentian bloom

Feel the spring: the water spring… and the growth

The widened fissure breathes. New life. New hope. Altered sculpture of my dream.

Breathe

fissures 2

 

jfig 2015

Isaiah 30:19-26

 

Soil

What if…

(audacious thought)

all the toil of Genesis 3

is wrought

in the soil of grace

What if?

 

What if

all the thorns and thistles

briars and invasive species

cannot withstand

this organism

called grace?

 

What if…

outside the gates

of Eden

(and Jerusalem)

the hills are alive…

in the colors of grace?

 

What if, all the toil of Genesis 3, were wrought in the soil of grace?

 

jfig 5/18

RW soil pic

The question that stops me in my tracks this morning, suspending motion, is this: What if God knew all along, that as Adam and Eve, and you and I spaded our way through the clay that sucks at the soles of our muck boots; what if God knew we would keep turning over… grace? That as we scratched out a living, and healing and hope down in the harsh dirt of living, we would turn over… grace? Not in the garden – in the warmth of Eden’s sun- but in the hard, cracked soil of all the desolate places outside? What if at Golgotha, skulls decaying in the margins of error and shame, one man amended the fields forever with blood-red grace? What if he knew that as we turned over life, clumps clinging, weighting the treads of our toiling steps, that this dirt would be good, not just for vegetables, but for journeying souls. What if Jesus allowed himself to be led outside, because that is where we are?

What if the fields of grace are ALIVE, breathing with organisms, to decompose the stench and misconceptions and broken ideas of sin; lies about who God is; lies we’ve propagated? What if this toil down on our knees, troweling through the dirt, painstakingly weeding the small creepers, rooting out this…and that which holds back fruit; what if all that dirt under our fingernails, turned over rich one day, and scratched out painfully the next, what if ALL of it… is grace?

Scripture references:

Genesis 3:17-19   And to the man he said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
though you will eat of its grains.
19 By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.”
“Genesis 3:17 (NLT) – And to the man he.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 28 May, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/nlt/gen/3/17/p1/s_3017&gt;.

Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:32-34a Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“Luke 23:26 (ESV) – And as they led him.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 28 May, 2018. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/luk/23/26/p1/s_996026&gt;.