While They Were Tending: An Advent reflection – Zacharias and Elizabeth

Zacharias and Elizabeth

And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. Luke 1:6

Empty quiver
empty womb, 
barren walls, 
too quiet home.
Waiting...
Pillars

Bent with age
and with leaning
extremities of body and will entwined—
together 
falling toward Yahweh.

Through sweeping rhythms
of hope
lament,
one's grief wringing clockwise
the other counter.

Grief will knock you down
but two did not collapse, defeated.
Pillars: righteous and faithful
ushering in
the faithfulness of God.

Do you hear the pillars echo—
Falling toward Yahweh?

jfig     12/2021

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12  Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.

Reflection questions:

In spite of individual and shared losses, as well as prolonged waiting; Zacharias and Elizabeth pursue faithfulness. Do you have access to spiritual friendship that steadies you through difficult moments or seasons?

How would you like to express faithfulness to Yahweh during this season of waiting and expectation?

Holy God, we rely upon you, the third strand that ties us together with one another in pursuit of you. Bless us with fellowship that corporately leans toward you. It is of your design. Make us dependent upon others in all the right ways, so that others can depend upon us, to point the way to your salvation. Amen

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Seen

In the waning light of hope,
 you are seen...

Growing up in the treed hills of western Pennsylvania, with two loving parents, my farm-based childhood was anything but oppressed. My father was present every day, and my mother, at 89, still lives a determined life of empowering others, though no one ever called it that, way back then. I have been slow to add my voice to the out-cries of women oppressed, though I feel its alarm bells viscerally. Now it is Holy Week 2021. I walk the stations of the cross, neither scholar nor historian, but a disciple, like so many others.  I am startled at what is whispered, the juxtaposition of Jesus' statements in the following verses, echoing even now, with great resonance.  Mine are just one pair of ears, but with grateful heart, I share it here - the utter compassion of a Savior who invites us to 'keep watch' as he re-writes history.  In his own darkest hour, he keeps watch himself; and continues to do so while we wait, between the cross and His resurrection of life.

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19: 37-40

“Luke 19 (ESV) – As he was drawing near already.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 3 Apr, 2021. https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/luk/19/37/p1/s_992037.

Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26: 38-39

“Matthew 26 (ESV) – Then he said to them.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 3 Apr, 2021. https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/mat/26/38/p1/s_955038.

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Luke 23: 27-31

“Luke 23 (ESV) – And there followed him a.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 3 Apr, 2021. https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/luk/23/27/p1/s_996027.

Seen
In the waning light of hope,
women wait, bewildered
A few dare to believe—
the probability of change
Passover

Resolute voices cry Hosanna
but palmed branches bend
serrated question marks lying in the dust.
History has not been kind
Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

Jesus falls on his face
Do his fists pound the earth?
If it is possible—TAKE THIS CUP AWAY
love poured out, to the
very.last.breath.

Over his shoulder
'Women, do not weep for me,
but for yourselves...your children.
You are seen
 in my very last breath.

You are seen
In my very last breath
hanging between sons' choices gone awry.
Love poured out, as
thieving Satan steals.

You are seen
in my very last breath
as humankind betrays its own flesh
again and again and again.
Disconnect.

Women, do not weep for me
History continues to be unkind
will ream the linings of your hearts
and wombs.
You are seen—when do the stones cry out?
When do the stones cry out? 

You are seen.

jfig     4/2021

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

 

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