Darkness is not prevailing Covid 19 fell like an avalanche wiping out practices of life as we knew them. Racial unrest surged— the dam broke:its torrents of pain and violence carving tortuous new paths through community. Brick and mortar rubble: fires and tornadoes, and air-sucking anxieties darkened the atmosphere. But darkness is not prevailing. Real people unfolded wallets and schedules from their safety nests the kindling of kindness burgeoning in their chests as match to wick kindness set candles of compassion aglow in the darkness - like question marks. Kindness is the middle child sweetness by which the Spirit of Holiness tutors us in how to live and grow hemmed in, yet disconnected from one another Middle child in the house down the street kissed the Stone called Selflessness, and asked Mommy, how can I help? Nickels and dimes gleam in the grand scheme of things winging like iridescent butterflies. Hidden neighbors, hungry for righteousness (it's taste not wholly familiar) felt the palpable thirst of colored skin and asked the Keeper of the storehouses of snow and hail, Won't you fill the deep racial crevasse? Shovel in hand, Won't you fill...? A stick cross middles the hill marginalized outside of town; outside of belonging or protective walls, outside of resources. A lone transceiver picks up the signal of hearts in distress. Kindness kindles Compassion roars into flame - jumps another crevasse. It is finished. We are the embers of this eternal flame from which hope is born, and reborn Kindling of kindness finding the margins—Hope is reborn. jfig 10/2020 Often we feel marginalized, either in our distress; or in our ability to help. I've experienced both this week, my energy dampened by weariness and discouragement. When I sent out a quiet distress signal, asking people for help, it was the small measures offered with kindness, that made a huge difference and reset my outlook. An email saying I am praying for you, a shared moment of laughter, a flower intentionally put in my hand and another gently taken from it all pulled me back from the brink of despair, and filled me with both gratitude and hope. There was some chocolate, too. But since it is still in the wrapper, it was the kindness of the gesture and NOT the chocolate that made my heart happy. We are all on journey, some aspects long and wearying, others glorious and exciting. You may get to travel only a short leg with someone. Remember the kindling. Another's matches may be all wet. Ephesians 2:4-7 says that God gifts to us the riches of his mercy and grace...in kindness toward us through Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus, might we, by the power and leading of the Holy Spirit, celebrate and emulate God's gifting of kindness toward us, and thereby become couriers of his mercy and grace. Amen
When pain is raw
out there pulsing on the floor
like a live thing—
wiggle room is scarce.
When pain thunders deep and wide
beneath one’s breastbone,
the fortitude to engage grace—
give and receive
When suffering is long…
we don’t really know how long,
unless one asks, or has been there
seasons of the journey.
Mud and muck cling to one’s shoes
and laughter bursts
at hidden ridiculousness.
Oh, God, let us
keep sharing laughter
in journeys long and deep.
When pain is raw
the wiggle room to extend honor—
grace-filled speech and action,
is narrow – barely squeezing by
CAUTIOUSLY: so I don’t tear open wounds
that might just begin to heal.
My power to heal
to effect and sustain change
is only so great as the source from which I draw it.
Come to the well, dear sister.
Come to the well.
I am talking to me.
After a career-long of assessing and addressing pain, it remains apparent to me, that each person’s pain, is enough. That our service is not so much to avoid or get rid of it, but to hold it with and for one another, in order to strengthen what remains. To carry it for seasons, in often less than capable hands, through the grey dusk of mourning, while we wait together for healing to come.
It is not hidden in scripture, that God commissions his followers to heal. I love the passage in Luke 10:1-11, regarding this commission:
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. Luke 10:1(ESV)
Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ Luke 10:8-11(ESV)
I love that we are sent – invited to go – where Jesus himself is about to attend. I love that we are invited to bring Jesus close to the hurting. I’m reassured that we are given permission to leave when we are not wanted. That we are not meant to carry away with us, the weighty dust of, ‘You are not welcome here.’ That we are meant to leave with the attitude of our message intact: Nevertheless, the kingdom of God has come near.” Jesus also reminds his followers, (vs. 20) that the thing to be celebrated, is not the ‘works’ they have done, the authority they have wielded over demons. The thing to be celebrated is that they are among the company of those who have received grace unto salvation. The thing to be celebrated is grace. So far as I can tell, none among any of us is given the authority to say who receives grace unto salvation. None.
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 (ESV)
Raw pain demands our attention. We look at our smallish hands, stunned…how can we, as individuals, as a society, hold this much pain? “Nevertheless, know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.” Oh, that I might be a bearer of the kingdom… with smallish hands.
The story in Luke 8, where Jesus, in the middle of a crowd, is called to the bedside of a dying girl, speaks. The child is ‘about 12 years old.’ Jesus is detained in responding. He chooses to be detained, to engage a woman who grasps his robe, pleading for help. She has been bleeding for 12 years. As long as the young girl has been alive. Each person’s pain is enough. Jesus attends to all: to the girl and to the woman; to the father oppressed by fear. He draws each of them up with kindness. He also has choice words for the ‘advocates’ in both situations. Please see Luke 8:40-56
“Luke 8:1 (NLT) – Soon afterward Jesus began a.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 11 Jun, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/nlt/luk/8/1/p1/s_981001>.
Jesus, may I be one who bears the news of your healing presence, as you draw near to those who are hurting. May I quiet myself enough to realize where you are about to make yourself known; what town you would have me visit. Open my eyes, not just to the pain of the one who is dying a distance far-off, but also to one who is bleeding out along my path. Help me choose to carry kindness, the comfort of your impending presence. Give me caution to not fan the flames of false heroics, nor torch anyone with my words, or actions, but to look for the fire of Your Spirit in the night sky, and follow where you lead. Follow you toward hope and healing, toward freedom and abundant life. Gird me with patience to hold the pain of others, its hot unwieldy expressions; that together we might see the healing dawn of your powerful grace; watch you resurrect life from the ashes of our self-absorption and hatred, our disdain for others, and woefully, for You. We need you, Lord Jesus. We need you, Father God. We need you, Holy Spirit. Bring your healing love that honors and resurrects life in the tiniest of increments. Come Lord Jesus. Amen
“Luke 10:1 (ESV) – After this the Lord appointed.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 11 Jun, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/luk/10/1/p1/s_983001>.
“Scripture quotations marked ESV are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, 2007, 2011, 2016 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
Photo: Corinthians 1:8-11