Playdates with God: How Tears can Baptize

No rain falls that I do not at once hear in the sound of the falling water an invitation to come to the wedding. It is rare that I do not answer. A walk in an evening rain in any setting is to walk in the midst of God’s loving attention to his earth, and, like a baptism, is no simple washing, but a communication of life. When you hurry in out of the rain, I hurry out into it, for it is a sign that all is well, that God loves, that good is to follow. If suffering a doubt, I find myself looking to rain as a good omen. And in rain, I always hear singing, wordless chant rising and falling.
This morning right before I drop Jeffrey at school…the sky opens. I try not to be too glad because I know folks have to drive in this stuff; but it is our secret love language and each drop—a kiss falling from heaven. 
It thrums a sweet rhythm as I head back home and when I pull into the drive, the robins scurry to-and-fro—splashing in the rain-soaked earth. 
It’s been a busy few days, with lots of meetings and gatherings and that hour of sleep we lost feels like an entire night and I am tired. I haven’t had the time to pause and look around. But now?  I do. 
The beauty of a cloudy day is tangible…the air so thick I want to hold it in my hands. I taste it in my breath, feel misty ribbons flow inside of me. The moisture in the air weaves a white cloak over the mountains—soft like the breath of God. And the streets glisten, winking in the early morning light.
In our small group last night we continued our Easter journey. We talked about regrets and wondered over the different paths of Peter and Judas. Baby Luke joined us for the first time and having that bit of softness among us must have tendered our hearts. There were tears. And I was reminded how tears—like the rain—can baptize; how tears can create a holy place. 
Oh, sweet baptism. Receiving it all with a dewy smile today. 
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

The Playdates button:

 

Sharing with L.L. Barkat today also: 

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Playdates: The Last Supper

Good Friday looms gray and the sky roars. We awaken to pounding rain, the house shakes with thunder. I press my forehead to the window and look up into white skies, draw breath at swaying trees.

Surely the Kingdom is breaking through…lamenting the memory that bleeds deep into the earth on this day.

It is also the first day of spring break. The boys stand beside me and stare at the rain. They know. There will be no wildflower hike today. No badminton or a day trip to one of the state parks. It’s an inside day.

By noon the rain has slowed to a soft drizzle so I pile them in the van, grab my Bible and we go searching for a holy moment in this soggy day. I’ve wanted to see since I heard the testimony from a dead man—his dear friend spoke of how his deceased friend brought a small group to this place…how it moved them all.

But it seemed odd to look for life in the place where the dead sleeps. So I never went. But today, I need life-giving moments. I need to remember. And I want them to too.

So we drive to the cemetery.

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I get the key to the mausoleum from the office and the caretaker asks, have you been here before? Have you seen it?

No, I say. This is the first time.

He smiles and says he hopes we enjoy. It’s life sized, you know.

We drive up the narrow ribbon, squeeze in between the dead and my boys are quiet. I wonder to myself, have they ever been to a cemetery before? And the answer is no and for a moment, I shiver at God’s great mercy.

The flowers have been placed and they roll out endlessly before us and there are sculpture gardens in between and I say, it’s pretty, isn’t it? But the place we are going is in the very back of the cemetery and I park and we get out and they still don’t have words.

I unlock the door and we enter slow, peek around the corner.

They want to know why there are names on the walls. And, what does it mean if there is a birth date, but no date of death? They speak in hushed tones, as if the dead will wake, and they run fingers over names carved in stone.

We have arrived and when they see it, their questions are stilled. We sit in the chapel and let the memory fall over us. For, we do remember this night. We remember it in hearts and veins and synapses. It is part of our story.

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We stand in front of the table and study the faces and breathe deep. A sculpture, a piece of art cannot capture it all. But it helps.

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Close your eyes, I say, and listen.

They do and I read the scripture. And we hold hands and pray. When we leave, the sun has come out. I lock the doors. We drive around and look at the other sculptures. Until it starts to rain again.

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When I return the key I ask the man about the artist. He doesn’t know the name. I think he is deceased now. It’s been part of our gardens since the 1960s, he says. He first made one for a church in St. Louis. We had to have one, so we commissioned him to make another. In 1964 it was featured in the World’s Fair in New York.

But he didn’t know the name.

We are quiet the rest of the day. And the rain keeps falling.

How about you? How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. And come tell us about it.

 

Grab the Playdates button from the sidebar:


Sharing with L.L. Barkat today also:

On In Around button


Eating Color

Tonight we watched our boys in a re-enactment of the Last Supper and the way the light shone through the stained glass onto their faces and the scripture reading and the candles and table set…It all reminded me how our God loves to create. It is Divinely given, this need to paint with words and color and pass stories to the next generation. Because we were created in his image. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. How art feeds–nourishes. The Lenten season–such a thin place–awakens the hunger for beauty; gives it a voice–a name: Jesus.
I asked Emily about it.   
Tell me what it means to you to create.  
She’s an artist. A word-weaver. Songbird. She’s amazing. I am so very pleased to welcome Emily Wierenga to the Wellspring

Blooming
I’ve left the can open and he’s 16 months and he tips it, white on carpet on wall and there’s so much white I laugh.
Soap and water and clean what son has spilled and it’s the one place I can breathe. This easel, this canvas, my church. This place between brush and canvas, this place between paint and world. I find calm with color, and suddenly I believe again. 
I make bright and the world makes right. Hansa Yellow Lemon and I recreate the wrong. 
Music now, and I sing with my brush, and my tools are Tupperware and paper towel and nothing fancy for this girl who’s never taken a lesson. For simple makes the art. 
It’s taking that child with the bruise, or the man without a leg or a world sick with cancer, it’s taking all of this and making it beautiful again. 
Globs of color and it’s acrylic so I don’t have to wait long, for the beauty is addicting and I paint when son naps or when he’s awake and happy, I paint when the sun’s out or behind a cloud, I paint when I have nothing to write—the editors are quiet and I need to make something or my soul will go stir-crazy. 
sunflower city
They ask me for my secret and I have none. When do you make the time? They say, and it’s impossible not to. Art is oxygen is faith is sanctuary.
 
The carpet and wall are clean again and son’s playing with crayons now and there are 64 colors, 64 shades of hope and he’s trying to eat them and I gently extract from mouth but secretly, I get it. 
I would eat color too, if I could. 
Paintings: Blooming and Sunflower City by Emily Wierenga. Prints available at the artist’s website.

Easter Volley

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Jeffrey has discovered badminton.
He dug deep in the old Rubbermaid chest we keep in the garage—the one with the bubble wands and the forgotten sandbox toys, the one with the spiders and deflated basketballs—he dug deep one day in boredom and pulled out a bent up racquet and a birdie. And then he found his dad’s old racquetball racket.
For me.
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Every day before time to start dinner, he enters my space and casually asks, “Are you doing anything, mom?”
I always am.
Most days I stop what I am doing—whether reading, or writing, or laundry, or whatever—I put it down and join him in the front yard.
This youngest son of mine is always up to something. But I’ve never seen him sacrifice his body for a birdie serve. Reluctant though I am to give up my doings…I am soon laughing at his antics and joining in the good-natured taunt volley. There is no net so some of his returns are rather iffy, but I don’t care. We laugh and giggle while Lucy Mae watches.
It’s plain fun.
I read the devotional at dinner time, and we pray together the thanks for this amazing sacrifice. We each have given our own sacrifice this Lent but don’t talk about it so much. You’re not supposed to, you know. I feel changed by the days but I don’t know. I don’t know if they do. I am memorizing scripture and we walk together and I talk Jesus to them and I try to live Him every day. But the Easter egg days are over and the baskets have lost the shine. The boys will help to hide the eggs for the little ones at church tonight.
I read about Seder suppers and lit candles and foot washings. If I mention these things, a collective groan rises in my male-dominated household. Every year I try something new but this year, I just live it and trust.
The boys’ youth group is reenacting the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. And last night Jeffrey wrote a poem about Easter. It talked about eggs and candy and baskets. But it ended just right—with Jesus.
Their faith is becoming their own, and though I celebrate the beauty of this, it frightens me a little. What if it isn’t important enough? What if they forget?
Last night, as I tucked the littlest in, we parted the blinds to stare up at the almost full moon. That big orange glow in the sky always moves deep places. Gravity, I think. But I can’t help thinking and I tell him the same thing I do every year, about the Hebrew calendar and how it’s related to the moon and how we know that Jesus looked up at this same orange face and must have marveled at its beauty.
The moon has seen it all.
Yesterday, I bought a new badminton set at Kmart. It came with four racquets and four birdies. And a net.
I can’t wait to try it out. He is so going down.

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Sharing with Jen today:

And Bonnie:

And my sweet friend, Emily:

Sunday Sermon Notes

I Am the Resurrection and the Life
John 11:25-26

When they brought

the cross
in, I gulped
and wondered at
the ease; at
Him
doubled over under
dense wood. And
when small fingers
clasped stems, tucked
them into wire…
death breathed
life and I sat
straight in my
pew. daughter of Jairus,
Lazarus, and Him—
knew first breath
two times.
she spoke of bats
and pea soup and said
resurrection can come only
from that which
is dead.
Tennyson, she said, called
it “passing the bar”,
and someone else,
“a dreamer’s sleep”…
but I do not fear
death.
how dare I beg
God not to take one
into the joy
of the resurrected life?
How dare I, she said.

Rejoice for them.
Rejoice for them.

And I felt the truth
of those words.

But…
two rows behind
me–the couple
who lost
love
to cancer
last year.
we begged
for
him.
hope does not
disappoint, my husband
said. but I was just
looking for
humility…
compassion.
joy
on this Easter morning.

so i touched
him
on the shoulder as
we filed out.
and he knew.

photos: the flowering of the cross at church this morning.