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

Grace in 12s: a reflection on pain

Wiggle Room

When pain is raw

out there pulsing on the floor

like a live thing—

wiggle room is scarce.

 

When pain thunders deep and wide

echoes reverberate

beneath one’s breastbone,

the fortitude to engage grace—

give and receive

is spare.

 

When suffering is long…

we don’t really know how long,

do we?

unless one asks, or has been there

trudging alongside

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.

 

jfig     6/2020

RW pic grace & fire

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&gt;.

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&gt;.
“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

 

Questions in the Margins: Vigil

 

Barn

 

Vigil

Visceral despair—

to feel oneself abandoned

by the human race.

This crisis is not in the streets,

where twin daggers of hatred and despair

fell souls

before a body ever hits the ground.

Crisis is in our hearts

each blooded muscle seen

by the holy eyes of God,

first with love,  then with untainted justice.*

To be mourned is the heart that has so swelled with fear,

then hatred; another who so fears judgement

that neither can beat in rhythm with their Creator,

synchronized…in the brother/sister-hood of humankind

by the recurring image (image) ((image)), of God.

 

What do I know—of fear?

That is part of the problem.

If I am uncommonly awake with it now,

may its shallow gasp turn to vigil;

keeping watch, prayer-like

over others like me, if only in that they, too, bear the image of God.

Prayer-like, because my prayer alone, is not big enough for this;

must be joined by other choirs.

Fellowed, not by default

but by inventive grace

that keeps one on her knees

patellae buried into soil rich and deep

where mighty oaks might grow.

Once there invaded

the poisonous oppressions of sin,**

but I have seen a flower—

gentian purple,

sprout and flourish

against a broken bed of shattered rock.

 

My bent frame

can see

just that far. ***

jfig     5/31/2020

 

* Php 1:1-7

** Isaiah 61

***Isaiah 58: 6-12

 

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 29 Ship’s Log II/Stranded

“After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. They brought the boat to shore and climbed out. The people recognized Jesus at once, and they ran throughout the whole area, carrying sick people on mats to wherever they heard he was. Wherever he went—in villages, cities, or the countryside—they brought the sick out to the marketplaces. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.” Mark 6:53-56 NLT *

Ship’s Log II

Left Gennesaret at dawn.

Too many stories to tell.

We just drifted past a lad

walking on water.

Was that the six-year-old?

I am sure it was he.

 

Stranded

Shattered

got here too late—

accustomed to my sanctuary of pain.

Jesus and his disciples have left

the shore – boat outline

receding in the distance

 

“He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might

he increases strength.”

 

There is a question

dropped like a pebble on the sand,

“Who do you say that I am?”

jfig     4/2020

 

**Isaiah 40:29

***Matthew 16:15

Recently, a young man asked me, “You have been a believer in Jesus for a long time. What ‘advice’ would you give to a younger follower like me?”

In your lifetime, Jesus will many times ask you this question, “Who do you say that I am?” This is an invitation…

Be honest with yourself, and with Jesus, when you answer. Life-changing conversation will follow.   jfig

Mark 6:53-56 Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
** ***Scripture quotations 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.

You can access scripture passages here: https://www.blueletterbible.org/ This is a terrific site from which to access multiple translations, commentaries and concordance info.

Dear Reading Friends: Thank you. It has been so meaningful to have your company on this 30 day journey. One more day… Thank you for reading, for commenting, for pondering and following along. Over the next 30 days, I plan to stop in and see what you are up to. In all things heavenward, Godspeed. jfig

 

30 Days in Gennesaret: Altars Day 28

Altars

There is an art

to the ministry of receiving.

It requires some deep clearing of one’s pride

the cleansing (in me) of resentment

that I can not somehow

be more, all on my own.

Flex my bicep a bigger bump

to carry my own weight.

 

Aaaah, but biceps were made for lifting

not pushing oneself up on whatever crutches.

So carry I did

for a day in Gennesaret.

And the pain loosened round my chest

and my eyes cleared to look at the lost and hurting

and my exhaustion faded

(for a moment).

 

The bicep

(now strengthened)

was reminded to lift in supplication

at the altar in Gennesaret

to One who dragged his robe

through the streets of the marketplace

to make us whole.

Amen

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 26 Resonate

And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him
and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. Mark 6:54b-55 (ESV)

accident action danger emergency
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Resonate

Today I cried in my car

the radio said

15% of $ raised will pass

person to person,

buckets of silver encouragement

handed down the line

to be poured on the fire of sickness and death.

I could almost hear a spiritual singing out of the slavery

gifts no longer earthbound.

I cried because I know the person at the head of the line

fighting the fire

giving his all

 

Yesterday I cried in my throat

the county food bank picking up slack

of 5 ‘shutdown’ small banks

expanded mobile delivery

no child goes hungry…here

I cried because the effort

blew off the edge of the spreadsheet

shot heavenward

in a silver streak of visioned compassion

 

Last week I cried in my chest

foster parent added one more small wiggly body

to nurture like a fragile sprout

tho will take a while to grow

leaving question marks

what does it cost…

I cried because

I have raised a child – clumsy as it was

it takes more than one has in storage

 

I cried in a puddle in Gennesaret

because the people ran

ran the butcher and the potter

ran the farmer and his daughter

not just for their own

but for all the ones Jesus would own

by the bursting of his heart.

I cried because his heart

burst the confines of sickness

no death here

precursor to the grave

which could not hold him bound

 

Was it respect

with which Christ folded the grave-cloths

dismantling death’s power

but not the grace of having suffered?

Our all is earthbound

but when brought to Jesus – Gennesaret-like

human by human

penny at a time

minute offerings take flight

those ones that feel the coined weight, share the suffering

those ones marked all soar heavenward

toward eternity.

 

jfig     4/2020

 

photo of kid playing with kinetic sand while watching through imac
Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

The title, I know…?
Today, listening to stories on the radio, of ways in which people are stepping up to HELP midst Stay Home Save Lives efforts, I just started crying. People are trying so hard both to cope and to care. Giving everything they’ve got to teach at or from home,  to serve frontline or across the lot line, wrestling with questions of safety.
This crying is not new. When our children were younger than they are now, they participated in the Jr Ski to Sea Race, a multi-challenge relay in Bellingham, WA. Every year I watched kids from all over Whatcom county, with varying levels of physical agility to apply, put great heart into this fun, crazy race, I would be moved to silly tears by their all-out effort, their enthusiasm. The same thing happens when I watch a cross-country meet.(I know – some people cry at the movies, I cry at the moving…)
During this reflection series, I have studied different words in the Mark 6:53-56 passage, comparing translations. Often the nouns and verbs change slightly, but this one word ran stayed consistent across multiple translations and then in meaning for more, with the use of the word hurry. When the townspeople recognized Jesus, they went all out, to get their hurting friends and neighbors to Jesus. Perhaps that is why this passage intrigues me so. Jesus gave his all on the cross. He also gives his all here, in Gennesaret, healing each one… The townspeople gave their all, running to bring the sick from among them, running until they had brought them all. Should we let this move us?
On all these occasions, perhaps what moves me to tears, is this giving of one’s heart in compassion toward a person or toward life itself. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in  and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Mark 6: 19-21. Perhaps what catches our hearts in our throats when we see the goodness of others giving their all, is the image of Jesus, captured in that moment, in Gennesaret and in the here and now. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
What have you seen Jesus do, or others do with his heart of compassion, that moves you?
Scripture quotations 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.”

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 25 Bandwidth

My friend Nancy talks about bandwidth – how much physical and mental energy one has to apply toward what enterprise.  How strong one is to carry emotional weights.  How able to discern relevance. She also talks about missional theology, and news that tells the truth, about the Psalms, and how they allow us to spill our fearful guts. When I think about women in my life from whom I learn how one might make a difference, these attributes come to mind: informed, determined, passionate, ingenious, focused. They are people who ask questions of situations and the status quo. They are my children and my parents; they are their friends and my friends. They are mentors who process through research, through reading, through listening to stories. And from these stories, these women gather nuggets of compassion whenever and wherever they find them.

When Jesus arrived in Gennesaret, the people immediately recognized him, setting off a community reaction – of running to bring the sick. (This astounds me, given our love for committees and task forces, lengthy assessments and decision-making trees). I am wondering, what stories they had heard…what nuggets they had gathered, by which they entrusted their sick to this almost stranger.

Bandwidth

Disembark, hem still damp

wind-scuttled.

IMMEDIATELY…

only yesterday

 

Jesus and co. navigated to remote space

refuge and rest

bandwidth narrow

 

Disembark rest

to teach

sheep devoid a shepherd

close up photo of a herd of sheep
Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

Disembark the late hour

to serve full banquet – fish and bread

to just 5000 (plus women and children).

 

Disembark the crowds

to pray.

Alone

 

Disembark striding the waves

to calm fear

suspend chaos…shepherd with sheep

 

Disembark the boat

close, but confused company

to heal the masses

 

relevance – we are sick; not he, she, they

these are our sick

can they come out to play?

 

we have heard…

this name

of Jesus.

 

jfig     4/2020

photo of people on street
Photo by Oscar Chan on Pexels.com

30 Days in Gennesaret: Mixed Metaphors Day 23

RW pic compassion celebration
Compassion Celebration: gleanings

Mixed Metaphors

Isaiah 61 has a plethora of mixed metaphors

sprouts, bridegroom, priests

everyone gets new clothes

as many as touched him

Gennesaret met with

extravagant benevolence

Jesus disembarks

strews healing around

prayers like confetti:

Praise and honor

glory and power*

unfurl the banner

market spice

not just anyone

can unleash such compassion

celebrate

we have a Jesus

who heals

jfig     4/2020

RW pic seahorse fern

 

Healer Jesus, we recognize that there is nothing indiscriminate in your extravagance, but that you invite all—all of us anywhere to receive from the storehouses of your grace and mercy; and in the marketplaces of Gennesaret, your healing. We acknowledge that you came to be about your Father’s business—that business of healing the scourges of sin, raising the dead, and giving LIFE in abundance. Restoring the beauty which you created. We are blessed to call upon your name in hope and longing for your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to do our part; reach up the shallow distance to your threads, come to the table and bring others with us. Today we are flying your flag and singing your praise. Amen

 

You can read the full text of Isaiah 61 here: “Isaiah 61:1 (NIV) – The Spirit of the Sovereign.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 26 Apr, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/isa/61/1/s_740001&gt;.

*You can read the full text of Rev 5:13 here: “Revelation 5:13 (NIV) – Then I heard every creature.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 26 Apr, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/rev/5/13/s_1172013&gt;.

photo backstory: Compassion Celebration. Sa had recently returned from the Peace Corps, teaching physics in Africa. (in Portuguese!) Overstretched and overfull, she was willing to share all the goodness with cousin Bfig.

30 Days in Gennesaret: Imperatives Day 22

In writing this morning’s poem, I realized that I have come to hold some of it’s ‘observations’ as facts.; when , in fact, they are observations.  Aaah, the lovely thing about Jesus; He holds each story unique. May you feel the power of his reading of your story, and writing you into his own. J

Imperatives

I. we run toward healing

concept of ‘fix’ clutched tightly in hand

imploring

 

healing, the way things were before

before divorce, before cancer

before loss

 

before diagnosis of mental illness

if only we could heal ourselves

I should, I must

whooshing up the chimneys of one’s soul

cyclone-like

 

when the fire has burned itself out

hospice begs one consider another question

healing?

breathing better, or peacefully

allowing to breathe one’s last *

 

II. in Gennesaret,

healing comes

in meeting the Healer

face to face, masks cast aside

 

in ‘condescending’

to receive. Jesus could

heal a man (delicate subject)

while having breakfast over the ashes

 

if you are invited

say yes

one must let go of the clutchings

to take hold of the fringe

    jfig     4/2020

 

cooking pot near burning wood
Photo by @rrinna on Pexels.com

I reality, I have been ‘writing’ this poem for years, pondering the imperatives we bring to God when we ask for healing. The woman who was bleeding: what happened in the twelve long years leading up to the moment in which she finally reached out and touched Jesus’ robe, and He felt the power of faith go out? I recognize that thoughts of peaceful and breathing midst our current picture of Covid 19 seem mutually exclusive. If you are experiencing pain and personal loss as a result of Covid, I cannot begin to speak into your story in the moment. Only Jesus…

If you would like to explore further:

John 21:1-19; Luke 8:43-48

 

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 21 Puzzles

When we received confirmation from the genetics clinic, of a diagnosis for our seven year old daughter’s disability, our other children were 11, 13 and 14. They had some questions: “What does this mean?” “Well…if Jesus healed her, would he change everything?”

Puzzles

Where are the disciples? Has anyone seen Thaddeus…Andrew, James, John

? Did any come with leprosy. Who brought them? After how many seasons in quarantine??

? Did some wait sun-up to sun-down and into first light, like refugees, lined up with diseases like displacement and poverty, the adverse experience of terror

? Did Matthew really mean all: he was a numbers keeper, you know:

     “soon the people were bringing all their sick to be healed and all who touched him were healed.”

? Was there a panic, what if I can’t get there in time?

? Did anyone get sunburned, lying in the marketplace.

? What ointment did they have

? Who carried cups of water

https://water.cc/

? What questions did the children ask  ? What answers were they given

? Did people talk to the beggars – or were they considered ‘unclean’ And at the end of the day?

? Did anyone, listening to the stories, sneak away to the harbor,  freshly healed—to attempt walking on water. This I would really like to know…

? Were some taken aback at transformations; others’ ills completely unknown. Not just acquaintances, but family members, friends…

? Were the newly healed, newly clothed. By what method?

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10 ESV

? what did healing look like. The way things were before, or did God’s kingdom coming in the Healer Jesus bring a new normal

? did old scars go away – the jagged lines disappear

? Does Jesus see me

? Who is He – really…………………………………………………who will I say that He is?

jfig     4/2020

 

“Matthew 14:34 (NLT) – After they had crossed the.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 24 Apr, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/nlt/mat/14/34/s_943034&gt;.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) – I will greatly rejoice in.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 24 Apr, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/isa/61/10/s_740010&gt;.

Scripture quotations 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

One response that you could make to this post, is to share your heart’s awareness of  the names of organizations/nonprofits that you feel are carrying out the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Thanks…j