Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Beautiful

Beautiful walked in. The night had been so good, the music was hoppin', the drinks were plentiful, and she was still young, and beautiful. Somehow things got ugly, and she ended up in a bar brawl with some other woman. Maybe the other was beautiful, too. Maybe not. Whoever she was, she tried to take beautiful's head off. Maybe they were both drunk, beautiful was, but maybe not.

So beautiful walks in, and she is striking. Her eyes are an amazing tiger's eye gold. She is statuesque. Her face is cut and she'll need stitches. She is poised. She's handling things well. When we are alone, she asks if she can go have a smoke. I keep and eye out for her. I want to protect her. She is beautiful, but she is fragile tonight, and I can always see fragile, even under pretty masks.

She returns as an ambulance is bringing in a guy, and he really looks jacked up. I say to her, "I hope your night gets better." And she says, "I'm not coming in like him, so I'm good." And I say, "See, it's better already." And we laugh, and I'm glad because laughter can be scarce around here.

I see her an hour or so later when I change stations. She is in the hall on a stretcher, and she is crying. She came in alone. The ER is a lonely place to be in the middle of the night, alone. By now she is crying. I try to soothe her. I ask her what's wrong, and she tells me that she's worried about the scar. I tell her she is beautiful, and she'd be alright. But I don't think she beleives me. And I'm sorry about that.

I don't know what it is to be that beautiful. My sisters assure me that I am very pretty, but I never really pulled it off. I got pretty words, and most days, that was enough. But I wonder about beautiful. Is she a model? Will that scar end her career? Will she be unable to be the center of attention at bars on Monday nights? Will she become a mere mortal? Will she still *feel* beautiful?

How hard it is to be a woman. How we desire to be beautiful. How it hurts, when we are not--or think we're not.

Beautiful, I am praying for you, that God will heal that scar that's on the inside.

We are all beautiful to the One who made us. Let's stop doubting that.
raga d

Monday, June 28, 2004

Night Shift

I work the night shift. I get here at 11:00 pm, and I don't leave until 7 in the morning. There are doctors and nurses, and clerks, and radiologists, all kinds of folks. We don't sleep like normal people. We drink too much coffee, and talk too much trash, and are a little kinder than the day and afternoon shift. I think that's because we all understand that you never get use to it. You always feel a little tired, and out of time.

God works the night shift, too. I've seen it. While nurses pad around in soft shoes, God dispenses healing, here and there. Sometimes, he'll take a person Home. Sometimes, he'll bless a visitor, worried sick, with a bit of sleep--a respite from the long day.

But, He doesn't just work the night shift here in the emergency room. He works it all over the world, singing sweet lullabyes into ears, whispering His love to the broken in spirit. He heals us while we sleep, and the depressed wake up with a little more hope, and the worried with a little more faith. Sometimes, we go to sleep in pieces, and while we were sleeping, he has knit us back together, bone by bone, muscle by muscle, bleeding heart and all.

Sometimes, I am fortunate, and I end my shift at the check-in desk. This is right in front of the main ER entrance. The last time I worked there, I sat, amid the laughter of nurses who'd worked way too hard, for too little recognition, and I interuppted the cozy chatter with this:

"Ladies, look outside. If you needed a new mercy, there it is with the rising of the sun. That's what the Bible says."

And for a moment we were all quiet. We were smitten by this new born sun, full of mercy and compassion. I think we all took our mercies, applied them where we needed them, and thanked God. 'Cause who doesn't need a new mercy every day?

I left work with my load a lot lighter, because even when I'm awake, and working, God still works the night shift for me.

And He does it for you, too.

From a brand new mercy,
raga d

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Blue Tuxedo Man

I was walking across the street the other day, and I remembered blue tuxedo man. It was years ago that I met him on a balmy summer day. My friend, Daphne, had decided to try a Christian dating service. This was back when the internet was used by people in the military only, and there was no dot com to meet your every need.

She was excited. He seemed like a real love connection, and we waited, all giggly and girly, for prince charming to arrive.

He arrived.

He was about 5 feet tall and wide, and he was wearing a powder blue tuxedo. With royal blue, velvet trim. And enormous lapels. And a ruffled white tuxedo shirt, that had that same royal, velvet trim on the ruffles. Even in 1971, 10 years after this tuxedo's finest hour, it would have been an atrocity. And now it was well into the 80's, and speaking of 80's, it must have been 85 degrees outside, and poor blue tuxedo man was sweating profusely. Daphne decided to pass on this one.

As he was leaving a little later, I saw him. I was waiting for a bus at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Middlebelt Road. This is a busy intersection, and I was on the opposite side of the street from blue tuxedo man. The traffic signal turned to "Walk", and blue tuxedo man proceeded to cross the street. Now, Michigan Avenue is a wide street on this part of town, with four lanes of blazing traffic. About half-way through, the light began to flash the red "Don't Walk", and I watched as blue tuxedo man ran like he was on fire to get back safely to the side of the street he'd just walked away from. I was puzzled. The "Don't Walk" signal stopped blinking, and the traffic passed, and when it was through, I watched the cycle start over again. The signal turned to "Walk" and he'd get about half-way across the street. The signal would blink "Don't Walk" and he'd tear back to the curb. Again, and again.

He'd tried to change his strategy a few times, and get across the street really fast, but that darned "Don't Walk" would blink on and off again, and no matter how fast he was, he just couldn't beat it.

When I could take no more of this painful exercise, I crossed the street to go to him.

"Do you need some help?"

"Praise the Lord, sister. I'm just trying to cross the street."

"What's the problem?" I was genuinely concerned.

"The light keeps changing."

"I know, but when it's blinking it's just warning you it will change to "Don't Walk" soon, so you won't dilly dally getting across the street."

He was appalled by my ignorance. "Oh, no sister. The scriptures say to obey the law of the land."

I stood staring at him, confused. "But...but, you're not breaking any laws. It's just a warning light."

"Sister, it says 'don't walk' and I have to obey."

I shook my head, my heart breaking. "You'll never cross this street, because it always changes in the middle."

Blue Tuxedo man thanked me, and walked down Michigan Avenue, maybe to find an intersection that was a little friendlier. I fretted over him. I worried how he'd make it home--how he'd make it in this world where lights change right in the middle. I wondered when the burden of the law would break his back. I wondered why this Christian gentleman, who'd caught a bus in the middle of the summer, wearing a tuxedo just to impress his girl--I wondered why he didn't know enough about grace to cross an intersection.

I pray for blue tuxedo man, wherever he is in this world. May you know the One who fulfilled the Law for love alone, so that we can all cross on over to the other side.

On the grace filled side of the street,
raga d

Monday, June 21, 2004

Just A Little Walk With Jesus

It was the day of the last game of the Finals. I was expecting my beloved Pistons to give the Los Angeles Flakers a spanking. I sat eagerly in front of the television, in daddy's esteemed reclining chair--and I don't know how I pulled that off. Then, right there in living color on my television set were the Bad Boys in red, white, and blue, standing somber and fierce and awaiting the National Anthem. Detroit's own Aretha Franklin rocked the house. YES!

So, why did God want to take this moment to talk to me?

Remember the hymn that starts, "I go to the garden, alone, while the dew is still on the roses."

Well, the Lord was calling me to the garden, only it was a park, and the dew wasn't still on the roses, because I work the graveyard shift, and most days, I'm at work at dewy roses time. I sigh, give a nod to Aretha and head out to a park I'd never been to before.

It was just as well, There is a dream that I have that had been heavy on my mind. My sister and I would like to start a Christian community for people who are recovering. Recovering from what? Alcohol, drugs, but just about anything that ails. This wouldn't be a joint where you get your pee checked, but a place for grace. I like that. I'd like to call it "Restoration", the place for grace. And it would be beautiful, and art would be everywhere, and we would feed the bread of life and let grace reign on us. I pray that God will use it to cure our collective ails.

But where would we get a big house? How do we begin? Are we even qualified? What if nobody likes art? All these things were beating me up, making my heart feel like a boulder. Other things weighed on me too, like that deep existential question, "how come the Pistons lost that second game?"

I stumble around my neighborhood, groping for God, when I finally make it to this strange little park that I'd passed by, never moved to go to because there's a perfectly good park across the street from my house, and it has swings and a sliding board. I found it, and I must have taken two steps inside, when I saw the sign. It said, "Restoration is in progress. Please stay on the designated path."

Well, that clears that up. I laughed, because God is wild enough to use anything to speak to you.

On the way home, a man stopped me. He just started a conversation with a perfect stranger. He says, "Nice evening," and he took a drag off his cigarrette. I say, "It sure is", wondering why this man stopped "me" out of all the *other* overweight middle-aged women who were out walking that night, instead cheering for the Pistons. Then, he told me that the Piston's were up by six and we were going to win.

Of course we were, and I was glad to get the score on the game.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, he answered my deep, existential question, "We only let them have that game in L.A. so we could hear Aretha sing." Of course! That's two for two, Lord. I told the man how funny it is that God works things out that way, and I went on my way, silently thanking God for speaking to me, again.

Finally, I made my way to the little park across the street from my house, and sat on a little bench. It was nearly dark now, and the park was empty, but I felt my time alone with God wasn't over yet. I looked up, and there was this tree, and honestly, it looked like something from a Dr. Seuss book. It was Horton's hatching tree, even though Horton was not present at the park, thank God. There was one little patch of leaves, and the rest, just bare branches. I was struck by how it seemed like those bare braches were pointing up to God, and I thought, why does this tree have bare braches in June? None of the other trees, and I looked, looked like that, but that was *my* crazy looking, Dr. Seussian, pointing to God tree, and I sat there, sang a worship song, and everything was going to be alright.

Truly.

"And He walks with me, and he talks with me,
and He tells me I am His own,
and the joy we share, as we tarry there,
none other, has ever known."

(or something like that)

Walk with Him,
raga d

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Blues Brothers and Sisters

We see through a glass darkly.

Sometimes that glass is very dark. Sometimes that glass is like those black Ray Ban wayfarer sunglasses that the Dan Akroyd and John Belushi wore in the Blues Brothers. Most days I can't see Jesus right in front of me. Too often I can't see Jesus in what Mother Theresa called, "all of His distressing disguises." My eyes are dimmed to the big blue Heaven that sometimes shows up on this small planet so often through the people we love the most.

I don't know about you, but I find my self feeling a little bound by my sin blackened blues sister suit and tie. I can still dance, but it constricts my moves. I find myself stumbling all over love. Some days I don't love anyone right. I'll love so much that it's shameful. Or too little. Or inappropriately. I hate it when that happens.

I have a friend that I love. I loved him a long time ago. Our lives are different now, and I have to love him different, but I trip over love when I talk to him, and embarass myself. I long to erase all my love mistakes, and love him with the pure light of Sweet Jesus, but I just keep getting in the way. So when I think of him, I long for our Heavenly home, when I won't be wearing shades, and everything is clear and love is no longer a messy affair. I wanna love you with a clean love, friend. But I'm bound by this black suit that I can't take off until I put on incorruptible.

One of my best girlfriends questioned her significance today, and I missed it. I should have seen that coming, but those dark glasses...and that black suit, and I'm not all of myself on this earth. I'm not all that I will be. I'm sorry girl, I'm trying, but know this: I'm feeling that deep blues you're singing today, and I'm adding my voice to your song.

I know a lot about the blues. The blues--it's your sad songs, but there's always hope in them. That's the best part of the blues, the hope. 'Cause, baby, there's always gonna be somebody whose blues looks bluer than yours, and when we raise our voices together, and the sound of the guitar wails, and we give God our lamentations, we just kinda know, in the way that God speaks to you way down inside, that everything is going to be alright. So we nod our heads together, and we feel the rhythms inside of us, and we laugh and sing too loudly. We know all the lyrics, and sing and sing, and we drink too much wine. We stand and shout, "Sang that song!" Everything's gonna be alright, baby. He promised us that.

But for now, love remains a complicated melody.

So take heart, blues brothers and sisters. One day our blues will be redeemed. One day we'll trade our black suit and ties, for white robes that have been washed in the blood of the sinless Singer whose Song is celebration.

I can't wait until that day.

In Love,
raga

Monday, June 14, 2004

Come

"Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way out."

Did you ever have a thornbush block your path? Thornbushes are prickly. They pierce you, leaving raw and burning flesh. Thornbushes hurt like hell, especially if they are blocking a perfectly good path.

Ever have walls? Not walls you erect yourself to fortify you from hurt, but walls that God puts there. You can't climb God walls. You can't get under them or over them. You can bang on them, cursing like you've got Tourettes, until your fists turn into ground meat, and they still won't move. Not God walls. They don't move when you want them to. Finally, you give up and say, "God, there are walls here." As if He didn't know.

"She will chase after her lovers, but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them."

I don't care how long you look, you can't catch a lover God doesn't want you to catch. Not when you're in the God walls. You can look for 20 years, and later find that they were on the other side of that same damned wall, looking for you, too. You can chase after lovers whose contours you still remember, whose familiar whispers still hold allure. You can eye potential lovers from a distance, wondering if they will fit you, if they will feel you, if they will fill you. They are all so much safer than He. They don't ask for much...a little bump and grind in the dark, and a lie that lets you feel known for a moment, but He, He wants everything. If you could just bust outta those walls, you'll take a little feel good to soothe the soul and quench the fire temporarily. But other lovers don't satisfy, and He--He a jealous Lover. He demands that you release them. He tells you that it is He, it's always He that you are looking for, no matter how much your flesh burns, and you are naive if you think it burns for others that are not He. All lust masks a deep desire for Him.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her."

Hot. You are burning, woman. You are the woman at the well, parched and spent. Desire blazes and you've gone through one man, and then another. Then more. You stopped counting. It hurts to remember. They don't stay. You are too damned hungry. You are too damned needy. You are scary and intense. You are looking for something, dying for something that lovers can't give you, that even your husband can't give you. Any man can only give you a shadow of it. But He--He speaks tenderly, and by now you are so defensive--I am so defensive, that I wouldn't know tender if He placed a gentle hand upon my cheek and whispered, "I Am called Tender and Mild. You've known this since you were a child." And then I remember, vaguely, through a glass darkly, yes, He is tender, mild. He does speak to me.

"In that day," declares the LORD, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'master'." (Hosea 2:6-7, 14, 16 NIV)

No more Master? I really don't mind being your slave. But husband? Oh, God. Lover of my soul, do you want this burning lust in me? This desire. I am ashamed of it. I don't understand it, I only know I can't contain it. I need your walls to keep me safe. I need your new name, 'husband' and, my Bridegroom, I need you to speak tenderly to me. Speak to me until you Come, and I come, and I don't even care how that sounds--in fact, I want it to sound as orgasmic as it should, because I thirst, and I burn, and who can satisfy but You? You, my Safety. My Satisfaction. God, who reveals Himself in sexual terms in the Word, reveal your self to my sexuality *and* my spirituality. I am your creation, body and soul. I was made for you.

Come.

I am terrified of this prayer. What if You say

Yes

And Come?

I lie supine and waiting, powerless to You.

Come.

grasping for ecstacy,
raga d

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Sunday morning.

I miss church. Most of the time I don't go, and when I do go, I go with a burden of guilt for all the times that I don't go. I keep feeling like a big 'ol failure--someone suspect, untrustworthy. But I long to be a part.

I went to so many kinds of churches. As a child we were Methodists, though I visited with the Baptists, who had the better kids programs in my neighborhood. When I was a teen I was Church of God in Christ. This was where I learned to worship with passion.

I was a Christian throughout the eighties. I survived the fall of the big tele-ministries and the muddy waters of Word of Faith theology. I was card carrying member of more abusive independent churches than I'd like to remember, by far the most damaging to my soul. Then I left the church. I chanted with the Hari Krishnas, devoured the estatic poetry of Rumi and whirled like a dervish. I let Unity bore me to death, and called on the African Orishas. Everywhere I went, I saw Jesus, who calmly, patiently drew me back to Himself.

After I backslid, I came back to a small storefront-- independent, accountable to none. Oh, how painful it is to recount this unfortunate history. There were more churches, mega churches that left me feeling lost, predominately white churches, that left me feeling token and invisible, and finally the little church that loved artists and ragamuffins. I loved it there, but I was so depressed and sick in spirit at the time that, and it too, was predominately white, and I missed people that look like me, that understood me, and praised the Lord like me.

So I went back to Church of God in Christ, a wonderful ministry with a great history. And you know what, they were so set, I didn't feel needed at all. Then I missed the little artsy ragamuffin church, so I went back, and it still feels too white, and I still feel too guilty when I walk through the door.

Maybe a fresh start is what I need.

I dunno.

I only know that my soul pants for the courts of the Lord.

Lord, what do you want me to do? Where do you want me to go?

church homeless,
raga d

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Breathe

A bad day.

A day that is a month. A day that you are a red ball of fire burning everyone around you. You yell too much. You talk too loud. You have fists, not hands. Your stomach is a tight, tight knot.

You want to be alone.

You are limbs flying in different directions making contact with all the wrong stuff. You are afraid that you will hurt yourself, or someone else, and you wish--oh God, you wish you could be tightly swaddled like a newborn, the blanket a temporary womb keeping you safe from your own thrashing.

Safe.

Don't talk and you won't say something regrettable. Don't move and you won't do anything bad. Go to bed. It's too early for bed, but you go anyway because it will keep your house from turning into one big crime scene. Don't do anything. Don't read don't pray don't think.

Just breathe.

Breathe, and soon your very breathing is a vertical line to Him. You need Him. Your breath is an invocation. You are burning sand in the desert. You are hard, and cracked and dry. You thirst.

Your heart begs for His presence.

Your exhale reaches for Him--spirit arms groping in the dark, fumbling upon His presence. Having found Him you hold on like your life depends on it, and it does. Your yearning cries out, "God hold me. Please don't let me go."

He becomes the air you take into your lungs, and somehow you know--you know that you are saved. You are joined, breath of His child holding on to God, breath of God, embracing you, His child. His breath is rain on the parched, white-hot spaces that is you.

Sometimes breathing is all you've got.

Sometimes, it's all you need.

Just breathe.
raga d

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Captured

I was on my way into the grocery store one afternoon when I saw Diane. Diane is a woman I used to go to church with in yet another one of my unsuccessful attempts to join a church and stay there. I have major church issues, and God is helping me with that. But, this isn't about me and church.

We greeted each other, and it is mostly good to see her when I bump into her at Kroger or Target. I like Diane. She possesses a genuine kindness that moves me, but I am always a bit uncomfortable with the glimmer of sympathy in her eyes. I know I'm awful, I just wish she didn't know it, too.

We exchange pleasantries. She asks about the kids and I say they're fine, and am grateful to God that they are. Then she asks a big question, one that she's probably wanted to ask me for a long time, and somehow, she found the courage to on this day.

"Are you still with the Lord?"

At first I wonder if I'm wearing something that looks totally hoochie. I've been losing weight, and I'm turning 40, and occassional lapses in sanity that effect a sista's modesty are an unfortunate side effect of my midlife crisis. I wasn't looking hoochie, though. A little scattered, but by no means ho. Mind you, I know I haven't been to her church in over a year. It really looks bad for me. I *have* been to church, just not that one, and okay, I really do suck when it comes to going to church. But she didn't ask was I still in church, did she? She asked if I was 'still with the Lord.'

I almost laughed. I answered her like this:

"Yes, I am, but even if I tried to leave Him, He would pursue me. He's funny that way."

It only took all my life for me to understand that.

Diane looked thoughtful, and shook her head. I don't think she expected me to say that. I didn't expect it either. She went on to her car, and I into Kroger, and rather than feel badly about ME, and MY lack, I felt pretty good about God. HIM, and HIS great big love, that holds on tight and has never, ever let me go.

"I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me." (Song of Songs)

Isn't that a psychadelic trip? God loves me. Oh, honey, there are times that I leapt with wild abandon straight out of the right hand of God--only to be caught with His left. Did you hear me? I said He caught me in His left hand. He hasn't dropped me yet.

He is unwilling that I should perish. He doens't want you to perish either, and whether you are aware of this or not, dear reader, He is at your heals, chasing you. You--His desire. Ha! Did I say He is at your heals? I meant heels, but heals works, too. He is at our heals and heels, chasing us.

I am His, and He is mine.

God is the Great Starry Eyed Romantic, and I the object of His affection.

I have this image of myself. I am running, a fair maiden--always a fair maiden in His eyes, and He is pursuing me, His prize. I cannot outrun His hunger, and He catches me by the waist, and draws me to Himself, ravishing with me with His good, good love.

At long last. He has caught me, and given me His Good, Good Love.

Here is my re-write of amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace. I'm in His Arms
My Love has captured me.
It's in His Love
That I belong
Thus bound, I now am free.

Stop for a moment, loved of God,
and let Him give Himself to you.

raga d

Saturday, June 05, 2004

How Soon We Forget

There are three main reasons why Jesus performs Miracles. Sometimes He works miracles so that we could see who He really is. Other times, He uses them to teach us things we just don't seem to get out of a book or on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, but a lot of times He works miracles just because, "He was moved with compassion." I believe this is His primary motivation. Love alone.

And then there is us, receivers of miracles. Sometimes we get miracles and the veil is lifted and we see Jesus for who He really is--and we see the Father, loving, benevolent, good to us. Sometimes, our miracles are the wall where we see God's handwriting, and we learn some of the greatest lessons of our lives. Other times, a miracle is the cloak that covers an outpouring of love. God is feeling us, baby. And it's all good.

But sometimes we are mentally challenged. Like Peter.

Jesus had a long day. He had fed about 15,000 people (if you count women and kids, and of course I do)and had sent the guys ahead so He could chill with God. After some major chillage had taken place, Jesus decided to go to the boat, that pesky little detail gravity being of little concern. I say, if you've got it like that, why not walk on water. It *had* been a long day, after all.

So the guys spot Jesus, and they start tripping, as people tend to do when the laws of nature worship Jesus by bowing down to Him. Jesus identifies himself, and Petey--one of my personal favorite Bible folks--the resident cut-up, stepped up to the challenge and said, "Lord if it is You, Command me to come to You on the water." (Matt 14:28).

Of course, Jesus said, "Come." He's cool like that.

Petey did it. He got on the water, and got his walk on. The scriptures say, "But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord save me!"

Okay, whose idea was it for Peter to walk on water?

I'm glad you agree that it was Pete's. He asked for that. And hey, what did the wind have to do with anything? Did he think "no wind" was what was making him skim those waves?

"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Jesus asked after he saved Peters butt. Again. It only took about 30 seconds for boyfriend to forget that God had worked a miracle on his behalf. But this isn't about Peter.

It's about ME!!!!

In 1995 (my sister reminded me) when I had come off of one of the most awful times in my life, and I was a single, very depressed Mommy with an infant only weeks old, a toddler, and a preschooler. And we lived with my sister in her one bedroom apartment. And we slept on a twin mattress in the living room. I asked God for a house. And He gave me one.

When I say He gave me one, I don't mean someone let me house-sit. I mean, I had a deed, with my name on it. It was MY house, and they gave it to me, for FREE because I asked God for a house and He loves me.

Yes, I am mentally challenged. And ungrateful, and forgetful. And...evil.

So never mind that whole I-wonder-if-God-will-give-me-a-house thing. He will. He did. Been there. Done that. Got the house.

Sigh. How soon we forget.

Praise God, my Heavenly Father, giver of bread and houses, and stones too, but only if you ask for a stone. He remembered all along that He had given me a house before, and yet didn't bop me on the head about those whiny entries, or my constant existential angst in this regard. And at the very least, I deserved a bop on the head.

Your thick-headed sister,

Who God loves inspite of her appalling attention deficits, and apparent long-term memory losses.

raga d
(that doesn't sound like raggedy for nothin')

Thursday, June 03, 2004

If You Ask God For Bread...He Will Not Give A Stone.

Who is this Father God?

I loved my daddy. One of my most painful life stories is the separation between my family and I that took place when I was 15 months old. Suddenly, I was placed in the home of another family, and my earliest memory is of loss. But, in my new home, I had loving parents, too. I had a daddy who was the strenght and stability of our home. He loved me completely. Spoiled me rotten, and died before I made it to sixth grade. My biological father didn't fill that big empty space. He made it worse, with his drunken phone calls, empty promises, and endless apologies. He still apologizes to this day. Poor guy. I forgave him long ago. Didn't I?

How I missed a daddy, not just when I was 10, but when I was a teen. I remember going to the mall when I was 15. There were two beautiful girls, shopping and trying on clothes in a boutique. Their poor daddy must have been there for his cash supply, but he was there. He was laughing with them, teasing, and exaggerating his responses to their selections, and I wished I had a daddy to fuss over my clothes. I wish I had one to put the fear of God into my first boyfriend. I wished I had one at age 24 to protect me from the abuser that I loved that tried to kill me. I wish I had a daddy to teach me that I was beautiful, at every stage in this life game that he were with me.

John Dawson,in the Father Heart of God, writes, "I believe that God wanted us to come into this world totally dependent and helpless because He intends the family unit to be a place where His love is demonstrated to both parent and child. As parents we begin to really understand God's heart towards us as His children. And as children, it is God's will for us to see His love revealed through parental tenderness, mercy and dicipline. But what if the ideal did not happen? What if you have been failed in some way by parental authority?"

I add to this, what if your earthy abba was suddely gone? You experienced love, and then love disappeared. Or your earthly abba was unreliable-- a great big love bug that never comes through no matter how clear his intent. Might make you unconsciously guard your heart. Might make you wonder if father was untrustworthy. Might skew your ideas about God, the Father of fathers.

Jesus I know, I say, but, isn't Jesus the looking glass that reveals the True and Living God, our Father. In John 10:30, Jesus tells us, "I and the Father are one." How can I not be utterly devastated by the love of the Father when I look at the person of Jesus. "When you see the me, you see the Father," Jesus reminds me. What I see, even through a glass darkly, is good.

That's what the Father was getting to when He asked me why I didn't believe he'd give me a house. He knew there was still something there that was keeping me from seeing Him clearly. And He wants me to see Him. He wants me to know Him. A house? Not too hard for God. Trust and obey, there's so much more to everything than we can imagine. The longing, it comes from God, and in the end, the fulfiller of longing is He. Oh, brothers and sisters, it makes a woman swoon. "God makes a home for the lonely (Psalms 68:6 NASB). Lord, I qualify. He speaks to my spirit, "A home? You've got home in spades, baby girl--one in Heaven, and an earthly home is not too hard for Me. Trust Me."

I am imagining being on my knees in a lighted room, whispering a prayer into my own clasped hands. I am asking for bread. I am smiling, with my palms warmed by the expanse of fresh bread rising between them. It's fragrance fills the air. My mouth waters, and I taste in it a tiny bit of the bread of life to come. Who says carbs are a bad thing?

Eat to your fill.

raga d



Tuesday, June 01, 2004

If You Ask God For Bread...

I was reading Oprah's new home magazine, and the next thing I know, I'm crying so hard that I can't see the pages that I keep turning anyway. I don't know if he heard me from his desk in the living room, but Ken turned up at our bedroom door. I try to tell him what's wrong, but I can't speak. It's all hysterics, and it was only the gentle rock of his strong, steady arms and his warm whispers into my hair, "It's okay," that stabilized weary me. The longing was so BIG.

Now, I'm not incredibly materialistic. Something about the canopy bed covered in roses--an astounding, dreamy bed, that released the grief about my lack of home I keep so deep inside that most days I can pretend it's not even there.

I'm a renter. I've been here 9 months. Must have moved 10 times in 15 years. I can't afford it, but I like Ann Arbor. I'm afraid to say I love it. I wonder every month if this will be the last one before the notice to quit, and then the painful eviction and me dragging Ken and the 6 of our 7 kids that live here behind me, all the while spouting with my frozen smile how God will bless us, barely able to let the words escape my mouth. Nothing feels like home. It hasn't for more years than I can remember.

I want a house--a house of my very own, with art, and mix matched ceramic dishes that I've made with my own hands. I want tiles that Ken and I handpaint above the kitchen sink. I want walls that are anything but eggshell white. I want hard wood floors. I want dogs--a black lab I'll name Inky, and a brown one I'll name Cocoa, and maybe a cat. I want something stained glass, somewhere.

I don't pray for a house much. I try not to think about it, that is until an innocent perusal of a magazine makes me my own tower of babel. And in my spirit, so far deep that the only voice you hear there is God's, I hear, "How come you don't believe I'll give you a house?"

He really knows how to get to the heart of the matter. Even if that heart has been smashed in a billion pieces.

Me, who believes that Jesus cares about the small things--the hairs-of-my-head-count for the day, I can't believe I can ask for that one big thing I want so badly that it hurts.

And it's got to be about a whole lot more than a house. Is the Lover of my soul, merely emotionally involved with me? Is my Father God, my Abba, a poor provider? That sounds like a whole lot of men I know. That sounds like *my* father.

Uh, oh.

He asks again, "How come you don't believe I'll give you a house?" and I imagine me on my knees, praying in the dark into my own clapsed hands, asking for bread, feeling the miracle of a cold, hard stone emerge between my palms.

Jesus I know. Who is this Father God?

More tommorow,

May He illuminate your dark places, and mine,too.

raga d