Monday, October 18, 2010

On the third day... (John 2:1-11)

“On the third day a wedding took place….”

Jesus was an invited guest.

Ordinary pots stood by. Like in every house. Necessary to day-in-day-out cleansing, the repetitive, never-finished work. Mundane ritual.

Jesus. Invited guest. Pots filled with household water.

Jesus present. Old pots. Everyday obedience. In the secret place where the hosts face their lack and a woman prays while the party rolls on.

Jesus invited into the secret place. Instructions heeded even without comprehension.

And the ordinary pots spill out the choicest of wine. A marriage blessed and inhabited by His grace, guests treated with the best heaven and earth joined can offer.

“He thus revealed his glory, and the disciples put their faith in him.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fairy Tale

Once upon a time a young princess of noble heritage confided in me a dream. Often in the night, she said, she would find herself in some terrible danger. Always in the dream she would whistle for Shadowfax, who would come galloping across the hilltop to bear her away. If the noble steed’s speed was not enough she would cry for Aragorn, ever strong to save her.

As I listened the dream unfolded as a vision, if you will, a God-bestowed image of her own dignity, her worthiness of an Aragorn’s love.

Over time many princes crossed into her realm, and each was measured against her strong dream. Aragorn, the hero, the ever-wise and strong warrior whose very presence turns whole peoples to life-giving hope, would come and stand beside the suitor. The image was powerful to protect her from frivolous, empty young princes of lesser character, lesser capacity for courageous, tenacious love.

But as years passed this larger-than-life hero became a block. Never a mis-step. No weakness, frailty or uncertainty. The princess could see no other man who fit the measure, not even her own noble daddy.

For the princess regarded Aragorn through Eowyn’s eyes. Lovely, brave, vulnerable Eowyn, for whom Aragorn was knight, completely other, one to adore.

Until finally, one day, the princess noticed that Eowyn was not the one Aragorn could love. His heart belonged to Arwin, the elf-maiden whose gifts, strength and wisdom equaled and sometimes surpassed his own. Arwin, who knew his past and his fears, knew he sometimes longed to flee duty and destiny, and who supported and challenged him so that he became more than he thought he could be. Arwin, who regarded a real human man in strength and in frailty and loved him with her life.

Eowyn, for her part, got over her hero worship of Aragorn and found a better, truer love in the noble Faromir, an equally brave prince of gentler, quieter character. He, too, stood among his people as leader and hero. But Faromir was a man her strength, experience and noble lineage inspired--so that they, too, could love entirely as equals, partners who would enable one another to reach beyond themselves to something higher, to serve well, and to love long and strong.

A wiser princess still watches for her Aragorn, that man of vision for life beyond himself, committed, sacrificially brave and true. She knows herself worthy of such a prince. But she no longer looks for a hero to worship, preferring instead a real man inspired by her dignity and beauty, and who will grow through her as much as she through him.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I lie naked, enfolded in water-sound and mist. The polished stone is warm beneath me, and I am surprised to notice how my aging body rests without pain on its hard flatness. The room is small, secluded and secure.

Firm hands scrub hard every inch of me, then anoint tender skin with oil. Scents born on steam permeate the intimate space and minister calm to my deep inside. Warm water sprays away detritus of dirt and death. Strong fingers entangle long hair to massage my scalp, and more water is poured, again and again, until the suds of cleansing swirl down the drain and all residue is gone.

I think of You, Jesus. You are always here, but today I am conscious of Your presence.

I am awash in the stories of Your naked body removed gently from the cross, of the ministry of loving hands to enfold Your death in oily spices and herbs of preparation. Doing unto You as Your Father looked on.

I wonder how the extravagant anointing of that sinful woman, and later of Your dear friend Mary, felt to you. The fragrance, their tears that understood some small part of all that Your love could mean to them. You experienced their touch, and I wonder today if it was balm to Your soul? You, Lord of All, in frail human body. Incarnate. Physical. Sensual. Did you, too, love the flow of fragrance and salt tears, the warm spread of cleansing water and nourishing oil?

And how about that day when you bent to wash their feet? To scrub with water and the towel. Perhaps to massage away the tight aches of long walking, the bruises of hard ground and stone? The sure touch of quiet ministry to body in a way that penetrated their frightened, weary souls.

I recall the stories. I muse whether the hammam, this ancient Roman bathing tradition, was a way of life for You. But there is more. You are today present here, indwelling my frail tent. As I receive this ministry with gratitude, You also receive. As I dwell in the grace of this moment, we share the pleasure.

You are Lord of the Universe. I am frail child in aging body lying on warm, smooth stone. Somehow invested with Your glory. Full of praise, deeply grateful, a tad mystified.

Blessed be Your Name. Amen.