This blogging every day thing has been great, but I'm afraid I've overextended myself. Again. You didn't really think I'd make it to the end did you? For a moment I did. Really! But now I have to burrow deep into the work of this novel, and it's going to take everything I have.
Sorry I didn't make it til the end.
My deadline for Wounded is November 30th, and I'm going to go down under and not come up again until I'm done. I'm limiting email, IMing, everything. Until the 30th it's just going to be Jesus and me, and this task ahead. I'll meet you back here on December 1st.
Here's a taste of Wounded. I hope it will remind you to pray for me.
Pax et Bonum! And Happy Thanksgiving, and beginning of Advent!
Coming September 1st, from David C. Cook.
Gina Dolores Merritt
Gina Dolores Merritt
I was sitting in church at the Vineyard when Christ first wounded me. Just minutes earlier Ben had fingered a cross of ashes onto my forehead.
Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.
Sounds like a plan, I thought, and shuffled away from him.
Throbbing pain in my knees heavied my steps--that and the grim mood of my fellow Vineyard pilgrims. The way we trudged back to our seats you’d think Ben had forced us to peer in into our own caskets, our footfalls a solemn largo cadence on the red, flecked carpet, and our movements as stiffly ceremonious as mourners in a funeral procession.
For the heck of it, I pictured my tombstone:
Here lies Gina Dolores Merrit,
the world’s oldest twenty-four-year-old.
Mother of Zoe.
I filled the blank space after Zoe's name with all of the love and lovers I didn’t have.
I could’ve throw down a punch bowl like Florida Evans did on Good Times when her husband died, shaking my fist to the heavens shouting Dang! Dang! Dang!
She didn’t say dang, but I don’t cuss.
That was my darkest moment during the whole service, and it had more to do with my life.
We didn’t do somber much at the Vineyard. Not that we were shallow, but lets face it, joy themes garner more enthusiasm, one notable exception being Ash Wednesday. Today until sundown those of us who’d gathered together in Jesus’ name would wear our dustings of ash like nuns and monks wear habits.
I sat back down in my seat in the near empty balcony, thinking of how our Ash Wednesday service made me feel so happy, deep down in my ragamuffin soul. I could practically hear the dulcet sounds of Donny Hathaway’s crooning, coursing through my soul with the slow ease of the opiates I used to take for pain.
“Take it from me someday we’ll all be free.”
One day I’ll lay down my pain-filled body and bipolar brain, stuttering between dancing with glee and lying in sackcloth and ashes. I’ll take off the cheap polyester dress of corruption, and put on glittering incorruptible resurrection couture. I’ll be with Jesus. Face to face. That’s all I wanted. All I wanted in the whole wide world.
Now seated, I closed my eyes to press the mute button on my senses and surrendered to the sweet delights of silent contemplation—if you can call our worship band softly playing Hillside praise songs silent. But I could contemplate with that. Ben had already darkened the sanctuary so we could focus on an image of Jim Caviezel hanging on the cross. The audio/visual team had projected him onto a giant screen hovering above the worship band.
I definitely wanted to avoid looking at stills from The Passion of Christ. Personally, I found Caviezel way too good-looking to play Jesus, especially when he smiled—which I’ll admit he didn’t get to do much of in the movie. I mean, come on, he played J-Lo’s boyfriend in Angel Eyes for crying out loud. If I looked at him, I’d never get my holy groove on.
So, having avoided movie magic, I did what old, black, charismatic folks sing about and kept my mind stayed on Jesus.
I hugged my arms to myself and wrapped God’s peace like a soft, soothing blanket around my fibromyalgia-broken body. Exhaled. Burrowed my weary soul deep within the consolation of Calvary.
There’s my comfort. The only reason I’m still alive.
Unlike the other crosses in my life, the marking on my forehead, that looked more like a plus sign to tell you the truth, caused me no discomfort. The migraine headache clawing its way up the base of my neck however, raged on like the great tribulation. My limbs burned like they’d been injected with liquid fire, and my knees, two circles of misery, heralded “ouch!” like a couple of talking drums.
I didn’t use drugs, not even prescription ones. None of them—and I do mean none—worked once the “honeymoon” period passed. Now just a few simple words kept me sane in chronic pain, if you could call a bipolar sistah with fibro, who took prayer over Percocet sane.
Share with me, Jesus.
A breath prayer I’d come up with as homework when Ben decided to do a series on the Spanish mystics, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the cross. I dug my little prayer because it was my way of asking Jesus to bear my cross, while at the same time opening my hands to receive a little bit of His.
Yeah. I knew I couldn’t really take on the suffering of Jesus. But if even the desire to give Him a modicum of relief from the agony of the cross pleased Him…
Once again I opened my eyes to see if the image on the big screen had changed.
Jim Caviezel still looked like ground chuck. I squeezed my eyes shut again, my thoughts flying back to Jesus.
You could have could have pulled rank, being God and all, and busted up out of there, leaving the cross far behind You.
But You didn’t.
You knew nobody would take care of our sin problem like You would. And there you hung, naked and nailed through the hands and feet. Your side pierced by a sword. And though none could see it, except maybe your mama, your very heart impaled for the love of us.
Oh, my precious, magnificent God.
Share with me, Jesus.
I could understand what happened if there were something special about my worship, but I don’t think I did anything different than what everybody else gathered there had done. Yet, torrents of luxuriant peace flooded my very being. The grace of it spread through me so profusely that I opened my eyes from the shock of it, and found Jesus, not Jim Caviezel standing right in front of me.
His countenance shone with such blazing brightness tears filled my eyes and I blinked to shy from the pure light of His radiance. All the colors of the prism danced within His body. I think I heard music, unlike anything I’d ever heard before. It felt as if my heart stopped dead.
My breathing ceased and my thoughts, a tangle of questions, halted as if I’d finally found the center of centering prayer. All awareness of anything and everything else in the room vanished.
Time stood still.
Angels must have froze and watched with stunned silence.
The Son of God Himself knelt before unworthy me. He picked up my hand and his mouth descended, then Jesus, with the gentleness of an ardent lover kissed me, leaving a perfect red rose in my hand.