30 Days in Gennesaret: Presence Day 18

Presence

The air in the market

electrified the dawn

Bow scarcely nudged shore

and people were running

 

We thought Him a ghost

but what stole our breath

was the sea settling still

beneath Jesus

 

If the sea ‘believes’

then might I?

 

His damp hem

people persist in touching.

The still—move

the agitated—still

 

If the frail believe

then might I?

 

The able-bodied rally

no riot – just intense industry

passing the ‘poor in body’

toward holier translation of peace

 

If the strong believe

then might I?

 

Jesus keeps walking

step by even step

until his feet land—

at me.

“Who do you say that I am?”

 

If He believes

then might I?

 

I am struck again, Lord Jesus, by the fact that you keep presenting yourself to us – to taste, to feel, to touch – your broken body, your proven suffering and scars, your wearied robe. Do you know that we aren’t allowed to touch stuff in museums? And that we get impatient when kids tug our skirts? You present yourself to us, for grimy fingertips, and the rare bottle of expensive perfume. Today we pause, to see you, not just the insistent need that we bring, but you. Tell us your story – the one in the garden, or the one at the tomb, or even the one with breakfast on the beach. We will try to sit still, long enough to hear your voice. J

jfig     4/2020

 

30 Days in Gennesaret: Was Anyone Six Day 15

Was Anyone Six  

for anyone who has ever loved and hoped for a sick child

 

Was anyone six

who lay on a bed

bruised and broken

afore he had…

lived?

 

First trip to market—

or do child and corner already belong

claimed by a cup

where alms trickle across his palm

(instead of caterpillars)

 

Did someone tell a story?

Who first

Jesus or lad,

imagination’s energy quite different

from one small.sickly.frame

 

Is mother at home?

heart shackled to his side

hope her companion

she – begging

for life

 

Did Jesus speak?

some have heard these words

“I know what she needs…”

“She is merely asleep.”

“Rise up and walk.”

“No one sinned.”

“I might be glorified” through

one small.child’s.dance

 

What did the child hear?

“Shhh…it’s our secret…”

pound right here

 

Did he remind Jesus of seven

hide-n-seek in the crowd

the game of a thousand temple questions?

hammer and nails…

hammer and nails…

 

There are bumps and bruises to be had

I must be about my Father’s business

hammer and nails…

 

Was anyone six?

did Jesus hold back a grin

for another tale to be told?

what hearts did he heal

as child clambered up…

 

Finish the market piggyback—

Does this not offend?

Child swagger

grounded

in hanging on to a bigger hem.

jfig     4/2020

 

IMG_5182

 

Dear Reading Friend,

This poem took me on a lot of tangents. In following them, I stumbled onto ideas I’d never considered before, so it was worth the journey. Thank you for joining me.

Questions to ponder: 

?   In what way is Jesus inviting you to ‘hang on, childlike, to the hem of his garment?

?   We are often reminded to ‘have childlike faith.’  In what ways do children uniquely image their creator?

The poem references these passages:  Mark 5:35-43; John 9:3; Matthew 18:3; Ephesians 5:1. You can access scriptures at https://www.blueletterbible.org/

Also, I lost a day somewhere…I’m not going to worry too much about that.  If you are still on day 15, we are not lost from each other, nor hopefully from the one who is leading the way. jfig

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 8 Helper, Helper

Helper, Helper

My soul yearns

to see this thing done—

healing painted over

my friend’s story

in glorious color

She likes pink.

 

In despair I bow my head

touching the stone named

How can this be…

and hear Jesus whisper,

“It is not she who needs the miracle,

my child.”

 

Deep inside that web of heart and soul

where sustaining hope

and willed goodness try to seed

and flourish,

my seeds – often

are earthbound.

 

We need Jesus

who ever cultivates

the hope of eternity.

Eternity—

that country where ‘help’

is defined.

jfig     3/2020

 

Mark 6:53-56 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout the whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever the heard he was. And wherever he went – into villages, towns or countryside – they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed. 

“Mark 6:53 (NIV) – When they had crossed over.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 8 Apr, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/mar/6/53/p1/s_963053&gt;.

At times, the weight of another’s pain, feels more than I can bear. This poem alludes to the positive motives in that desire – goodness, hope – but I have sometimes felt the need to see others well for reasons of fear, exhaustion, boredom, the need for reassurance that Jesus truly can heal, that there is hope. Mercifully, God never loses sight of where we are going on this journey called faith.

Ephesians 1:11-14; John 4:13,14; I Peter 1:3-5

 

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 7 Hope is Lean

waiting…we are not very practiced at it nowadays. Jesus healing in Gennesaret does not (I think,) preclude any waiting that may have occurred that day, or even for long seasons before. This poem is a perspective on waiting midst suffering, for healing to come.

Hope is Lean

Hope is lean

Her oiled sinews stretch

Straining toward belief.

Precipice after precipice

She clings.

 

Hope is lean

Conditioned.

As hardship disciplines

She perseveres

While God sculpts charity.

 

Hope is lean

Earth’s fleshy questions litter about;

she scavenges for precept

some days haggard, hungry.

Bold precept remains,

Midst empty wrappers

Of fear and uncertainty.

 

Questions remain.

They, too, grow lean with examination.

Deceptions strip away

Expose this truth:

It is God who clings.

 

Still, desperation beckons

Tests one’s strength.

Gutsy—hope resists;

The recklessness of despair

is a deep crevasse.

 

Hope is lean

Suffering’s muscled core.

It is Almighty God who clings.

jfig   11/19

close up photo of plastic bottle
Photo by Catherine Sheila on Pexels.com

 

1.Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  NLT

3-5. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. NLT

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.

30 Days in Gennesaret: Day 6 In the Weeds

I am here, Jesus

tripped, in the weeds,

caught on a pricker

starting to bleed.

 

My friends were helping

pointing the way

but when I fell

they all ran away

 

I suppose you know

Just how that feels

Restore me, Sweet  Jesus

Find me today.

jfig   3/2020

 

Dear Friend, So many times in the journey of faith, I have gotten lost.  For a moment – or for days. Precious moments go by, as I try to pick myself up, dust myself off, fix my appearance, so that no one will know I am hurting. But Jesus does not seem to care about appearances. What he seems to welcome is the offering of honesty. When I entrust Jesus with the painful truth, it is then that he changes me. And his artistry is always better than mine.

Jesus, I’m grateful that you are powerful to heal and humble to invite, the likes of me into community with you. Amen

Apartments

For all those quarantined in apartments; this blessing of keeping for you…

As you descend the levels of quarantine

may you be protected by the ‘natural supports’ of the bark which encloses you

nurtured in your micro-habitat by all which bustles there in creative industry

upheld by strengths beyond yourself.

May you be enlivened in the company

of those above and beneath you

in new definition of belonging —

intimacy reassessed.

May you ascend the rungs of quarantine

enriched by beauty

you had not imagined.

God grant you peace, hope, and love

from those watching from afar;

we see the signal fires of your watchtowers

a welcome alert that you.are.here.

Amen

 

jfig

 

RW pic spider apartment
spider condo

30 Days in Gennesaret: Formation Day 4

Formation

I have lain in the dust

I have borne a pallet

Undone by mercy – my heart has been changed by each

 

Encounter—who is this Jesus

whose vestments vibrate

sage power to heal

 

Heal quickly , my soul

Heal quickly

This Jesus, I must follow

 

I have lain in the dust

I have borne a pallet

…might I wash his feet?

This Jesus, I must follow

jfig     3/2020

 

Dear Reader, we encounter Jesus from so many different postures as we go through life. I hate to think of some of the stances I have taken as He has approached. In using reflection as a tool, I find it helpful to ponder those different roles and attitudes. Where are you today, with regard to Covid-19? Are you fearful, resigned, waiting to see what happens? How does where you have been in the past, inform what you need today? Jesus is nearby; with what will you encounter Him?  Thanks for reading… jfig

PS. I chose this image for its attitude of enthusiasm.

30 Days in Gennesaret: Brought Day 2

Could they see the sea

feel the boat bend the land?

Do they hear pounding footfalls

feel the coarse scrape,

wayward elbows brush sand,

those borne on pallet?

 

Shared hope of sacrifice

eclipses beauty of either sea or sail

Jesus did not heal in isolation.

Those who had been brought

engage this One, atrophied limbs lifted

to beseech the fabric of wholeness.

 

The healer Jesus

disembarks

and the land vibrates.

Runners

with resounding echo,

cadence of hope.

 

Brought begets beauty

in surging tide of need and service.

Tended rope-this

its braid lifts all eyes one inch

to the fraying hem

of Jesus’ garment.

 

jfig   3/2020

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days in Gennesaret: Invitation and Offering

Dear Reader,

Mid-February, I was tucked away at the beach – reading, walking, writing – when the scene of Jesus healing the sick in the marketplaces of Gennesaret again caught my eye. As a caregiver, and as one who experiences brokenness, this scene intrigues me. Four brief verses of scripture, but so many perspectives. Upon the advice of my writing friends (a beautiful gathering of wise, faith-filled women), I have been practicing poetry. There at the sea, not unlike Galilee, an idea sprang to life. 30 poems for 30 days  –  I can do poetry month!

During those first hours of scribbled thoughts, I did not realize, at least consciously, how fraught with anxiety our sense of community and global health would immediately become. Nor do I want to ‘capitalize’ on the moment, rather be taught by it. So here, in words, we search, if not for a microbial cure, then space for our hearts and minds to breathe.

These poems are an invitation to reflect, to create, to ponder various perspectives, to pray. Reflection opens up teachable space, allowing us to sift through our anxieties and fears, our unanswered questions. I am convinced that we continually form and reform our beliefs about suffering, whether we register them as ‘theology’ or not. Throughout life, we pace the ground of hope and healing for individual lives, or that of community, It is our privilege to tread carefully toward nurture, or unaware, trample that which might sustain life. 30 days in Gennesaret is an invitation to be intentional in reflection. For this project, I have used as prompt the passages in the Bible from Mark 6:53-56 and Matthew 14:34-36.

When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored there. And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. Wherever he entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well. 

“Mark 6:53 (NKJV) – When they had crossed over.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 30 Mar, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/nkjv/mar/6/53/p1/s_963053&gt;.

If you would like to submit/share an original creative piece (poem, painting please, etc) to participate in this project, feel free to contact me directly. Thank you!   

…and Offering: almost ALL of us are caregivers in one form or another. I have been a mother, a physical therapist, a hospice worker, a good-intentioned but less-skilled listener, a neighbor, a special needs parent, a meal-maker, a daughter (my Mom does 3/4ths of the work), a wife, a friend. In what ways have you been a caregiver for the ‘sick’ in the territories of your life? When have you, yourself, been sick and reaching? All of these inform our observation, and our offerings of hope and perspective to one another. Not to mention what we offer back to God as belief.

As we approach Gennesaret, we are with the disciples, in a boat; it’s storming. We recently felt the death of John the baptist. Before climbing into the boat we observed the feeding of the 5000, that one small lunch… And frightening moments ago we pondered what it is to walk on water. The disciples’ conclusion as Jesus steps into the boat and the wind ceases, is to worship him, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  I’d like to complete this intro then, with a prayer, taken from my journal. It is what I hope my heart will remain, as we explore the marketplaces of Gennesaret together.

Sincerely,  jfig

 

A Follower’s Prayer

Father God, may my thoughts be so characterized by you:

that the psalm is on my lips in tandem with the questions

that the voice of fear is stilled to righteous caution

and the perverse seed of bitter entitlement is bled by informed compassion.

You, oh Lord, know my frame; its weakness and strength.

May that strength ever be, the wonder of who you are.   

 

 

 

“Matthew 14:22 (NIV) – Immediately Jesus made the disciples.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 1 Apr, 2020. https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/mat/14/22/p1/s_943022.

Blanchard

pic cross down

Blanchard

What if…

someone had cut down the cross

before it.was.finished;

that earth-shaking, soulchain-breaking

echo lost… what if?

 

Who am I, then

to bury my hands (hide them)

in pockets deep

before carrying the dank, rank soil of shame?

Even such waste

decomposed

can grow a flower.

 

jfig   4/17

Brokenness and shame, words that are now in the front lobes of our ‘helping conversations,’  make us ask what is true – about brokenness and grief and shame. What is taboo? How do we navigate toward health and wholeness? My poem is meant to convey, that under God’s tutelage, those things that pain us most, can be worked for our, and others’ good. Perhaps I did not say it exactly ‘right,’… but I am more concerned that it be true. It takes careful hands –  starting with those beautiful nail-scarred ones of Jesus to sift the soil of our brokenness. If the poem was of interest, perhaps you would like to read:

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Romans 8

Your comments are welcome. jfig