In Confetti Fields, Scattered

Related imageOver these beauty-strewn flower fields
my heart overwhelmed at last, it yields
to the clamour and the clash of shields
and bombs bursting in air.

And I imagine how the ghouls
of war and battle grab handfuls
of humans gathered here, like fools
to fight for something there

in those fields,

their hearts snatched cruelly from their chest
thrown up, confetti, and the rest
a bloody mass, the reeling guest
of Death astride its Pale Horse…

But now, the field is strewn with flowers,
confetti fell and by Love’s powers
became Her blossoms and Her bowers
of healing evermore

and never again, please,
never again war
In Confetti Fields,
Scatteredtumblr_n9flnk9Gz31r1vfbso1_1280

To those of you with mastery over your feelings…

…be merciful to those of us who don’t.

Either you are really strong and awesome, possessing all the skills of Siegfried and Roy combined with the Crocodile Hunter mixed together with Dr. Doolittle…

…or our feelings are Godzilla to your Gollum, and untameable.  And the fact that we are surviving speaks of unspeakable courage and persistence and never say die stubbornness…

either way, if you can master your feelings, take it easy on the rest of us mere mortals

 

The Crossing

Shuffling back and forth between…

night and day
week and week
(weak and weak,
strain and struggle)
sighs and sorrows

…the pain of this passage
of time and tears
is present always,
palpable still,
pulsing in my yearning heart
gone nova with the memory.n-DEPRESSION-large570I lay awake midst pain and memory,
I neither sleep nor slumber
but instead ache and remember…
I re-member, piece by peace,
arrivals and departures.
We wear memories and longings
like stained t-shirts and chinos
and shod in our torn sneakers
we shuffle down the path,
so pebble-strewn and painful,
so rough hewn, uneven
and inevitable.

As soon as we arrive,
our hearts know we have to leave.
As soon as we leave we burn,
knowing that we must return!
Each journey punctuated
by our songs sung in the night…

songs of lament and longing
songs of suffering and sorrow
songs of remembrance and redemption
songs of deliverance and the coming day

…alas…memory is like a river terrible
that must be crossed.
The crossing…the crossing!tumblr_ni5q4aSy9j1tqunino1_500That’s the common factor present,
primary and consistent,
pervasive and persistent

and it moves,
from background
to foreground and
back again

while it waits its turn to step up and partake
of the Communion Feast, its Sacred Supper,
the Holy Sacrament of our Sojourning Hearts.tumblr_n085xbZFtY1swai75o1_1280I’m decided, I am settled.
I’m on the right side of pain!
I’ll not let anyone or anything keep me captive,
stranded on the wrong side of memory

and out of phase with time!
I intend to feel the pain of others,
bind their broken hearts,
be marked by suffering…
…no, wait:  be marked
with suffering by my Mama!

In this looming collision between
uncomfortable mystery and unyielding mercy
and that suffering, ahh…
I can neither sleep nor slumber
because She who inhabits Eternity
neither sleeps nor slumbers but Is
Awake with those who suffer
and There with those who faint, who fall
and falter in the crossing…

tumblr_nhtxuwxJiv1s3m0ero1_1280She is there (I’ll be there too)
in Her house held up by beams
from that battered rough-hewn Cross,
shining fair with great doors open
thrown wide open to receive
all Her suffering children broken
in the crossing…in the crossing
and Her invitation spoken

Come and rest here at Her table,
there’s a place for every person
in the ending of between
and arrival of the Present
Oh, the greatest Gift of all, the Present!
When the crossing’s done …

I neither sleep
nor slumber, waiting…
pregnant in this moment
and present in
the crossing.tumblr_n5bpl7KAie1rywysso1_500

The Suffering One

Dear Constance…a fabulous devotional today.  I will not comment much except to say this:  God deals with suffering by entering into its bloody throbbing core, and never leaving.  May you always have the grace to look for Them there, in the crucible…for They are there.

Love, Charissa

tumblr_n3wsl5BznS1spq83no1_500

“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary…  The Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back,” writes the prophet Isaiah.

The words of Isaiah 50 are full of intense language of compassion and obedience, suffering and humility. Isaiah describes a deeply mysterious and suffering servant in a confronting passage of Scripture that is hard to take in and harder to ignore. How are we to take the descriptive words of servant-like humility that note, “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6). What are we to do with this servant who suffers to sustain the weary?

Isaiah was equipped and willing to do the work of a prophet, to stand between God and humanity with difficult words as his only buffer. His words are political, poetic, and prophetic, enduring well beyond his life, reverberating in creative ways unknown even to the one called. In this chapter, Isaiah gives us the song of a Servant. He speaks of intense faithfulness in the midst of unjust opposition and steadfast obedience to God in the midst of extreme suffering. Isaiah speaks words that Christians believe are abundantly verified in Jesus Christ.

Almost 700 years after Isaiah’s words were uttered, Jesus came with a message to sustain the weary, teaching as one with an instructed tongue, speaking as one with authority, and indeed, living as one who had set his face “like a flint” upon the will of God the Father. He suffered in utter humility; he offered mercy to his tormentors and forgiveness to those who simply looked on (Luke 4:31-36, Isaiah 50:5,7). Isaiah likely spoke well beyond his own understanding, but he nonetheless asks his hearers to decide what we will do with this suffering one.

The Gospel of Luke describes a time when Jesus and the disciples go about the land teaching and preaching and ministering to the crowds, yet avoiding Jerusalem because of those who were plotting to kill him. And then almost as abruptly as their ministry began to spread, Luke recalls a deliberate change in direction. He writes that Jesus “steadfastly and determinedly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

Knowing what waited for him there, knowing the cross in the horizon, Jesus set his face as a flint toward his own agony. Exactly as was prophesied 700 years earlier, Jesus voluntarily and determinedly gave his back to those who would beat him, his face to those who would spit and mock, and his very life to present the jarringly redemptive mercy of God.

Can we still think that God does not care for us? Can we still think that the heart of the matter is what you and I will do with God? Perhaps in the light of this mysterious human Servant, the question becomes not “What will I do with Jesus Christ?” but “What will he do for us?” Or better still, What has he already done?

The altogether human Son of God invites a weary and burdened humanity to come and receive rest from him. “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” The one who became one of us and was destroyed by suffering stands and mediates the life-changing, life-giving presence of God.

Jesus takes us as we are—broken lives, clouded visions, weary hearts—and invites us to abide in all that he is, in all that is enduring, in all that is truly human. He remains the mysterious, suffering, captivating servant of God… in whose presence we are both undone and made new.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wrinkles In Time

Good Morning Constance Dear…gosh what a difficult night it was for me!

The deconstruction of my self in order to conform to who I must be in order to earn money is a very rough thing.

It tears me apart!

One of my helps that keeps me centered and knowing myself is the devotional writings of Jill Carattini…I share this morning’s here for you.

Love and Grace, Charissa, who is suffering

tumblr_n7toayaEkz1sifsb9o1_1280“Uncanny” was one of the vocabulary words on my sixth grade vocabulary list, which was to be found within the book we were reading as a class. I remember thinking Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was exactly that—uncanny, peculiar, and uncomfortably strange. Yet I also remember that it stayed with me—the story of a quirky girl named Meg, her overly-intelligent little brother, and their time-transcending journey to save their physicist father with the help of three mysterious beings. Madeleine L’Engle, the writer whose books invite readers to see time itself differently, passed away not too long ago. But her stories will continue to perplex sixth graders, and stay with us long after we have set them aside.

L’Engle is the writer who first showed me the incredible difference between two words in Greek, which we unfortunately translate identically. To the English reader, chronos and kairosboth appear to us as “time.” But in Greek, these words are vastly different. Chronos is the time on your wristwatch, time on the move, passing from present to future and so becoming past. Kairos, on the other hand, is qualitative rather than quantitative. It is time as a moment, a significant occasion, an immeasurable quality. The New Testament writers use the word kairos to communicate God’s time, it is real time—it is the eternal now.

So it might be said for the Christian that when Jesus stepped into time to proclaim the kingdom of God among us, he came to show us in chronos the reality of kairos. “Jesus took John and James and Peter up the mountain in ordinary, daily chronos,” writes L’Engle. “Yet during the glory of the Transfiguration they were dwelling in kairos.”(1) With this story in mind, L’Engle describes kairos as that time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, time where we are completely unselfconscious and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we are continually checking our watches.

Whatever your view of religion, it is likely an experience you can recount; a moment so sweet or magnified it seems to stop time. But L’Engle presses the Christian to see it as something to be expected. “Are we willing and able to be surprised?” L’Engle asks. “If we are to be aware of life while we are living it, we must have the courage to relinquish our hard-earned control of ourselves.”(2) If we have the courage to see it, the kingdom of God is close at hand,kairos breaking through like Christ into the world.

I imagine Jacob, too, discovered the difference between chronos and kairos when he set aside the past which was about to catch up with him, along with his paralyzing fear of the future, and found himself living in “none other than the house of God.” The prophets and poets describe similar moments of waking to the present and finding the eternal dimensions of time. The shepherds in Bethlehem were going about their ordinary work when the glory of the Lord captured the moment. “Do not be afraid,” the angel announced. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:13-14). At this invasion of kairos into the routine of chronos, the shepherds chose to respond with action: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (2:15).

Uncanny encounters with time are a part of the human experience. The Christian is given a language to explain these encounters. We live somewhere between the already and the not yet, caught by the eternal now and the one who dwells within it. The implications are both temporal and unending. Will we have the courage to look for glory in the ordinary? To release control of our calendars and watches and note the eternal in our midst? The apostle joins every prophet and poet who proclaimed the coming of the Messiah in history and the return of the king to come, “Behold, now is the time (kairos) of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Like Christ, glimpses of the eternal come quietly and unexpectedly; they come and upset our very notion of time and all we discover within it. Why should we be so unreconciled to time if the temporal were our only concern? Or could it be that the eternal Word stepped into flesh, into our bounded realm of time, and literally embodied the reality that time is meaningful because of the eternal one in our midst.

The Christian insists that kairos is breaking into chronos and transforming it. With Christ it proclaims, “The kingdom of God is close at hand”—and the temporal world invited to break in along with it. In ordinary moments that hint at such a radical invasion, might we have the courage to be surprised by one who comes so near.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art (New York: Bantam, 1982), 93.
(2) Ibid., 99.