“…The words I was reaching for, of course, were the words of grace. But the conversations at the table unfurled like a snail amid the happy clatter of silver…I realized that in this particular case words of grace were unnecessary. Why? Because that’s what the meal itself had become, for me certainly, but I suspect for some of the others, too: a wordless way of saying grace.
-p 407, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan (a great read, totally worth the investment of time)
Eating and I get along very well, thank you very much. A great meal shared with friends or family ranks high on the list of best ways to spend an evening. I like that two of the stories surrounding the events of Holy Week find Jesus at a table, eating with his friends. Before Palm Sunday, he eats with Mary and Martha and Lazarus, and they are friends who have had their lives utterly transformed by Jesus. He raised Lazarus from the dead. Their home is a place of celebration, of safety. Jesus receives worship as God in their home, but he receives hospitality as a friend. That picture strikes me as profound and beautiful.
The Last Supper must have been emotionally charged for Jesus, who knew precisely what was happening with the awareness that his very best friends would be unable to understand until later. So he broke bread and dipped it in a cup with the hope that the symbols would carry them from Friday until Sunday and then open their eyes wider and wider as the post-resurrection kingdom was handed to doubters and betrayers whose love looked feebly human. Jesus is profoundly simple with them, and the symbols continue to carry us today.
We eat bread and drink wine and laugh with friends and share with neighbors, and we experience the good stuff of life in simplicity. When we do those things, a bit of intentionality can take us back a couple of thousand years to a God who was man sitting and eating with his friends. I am amazed at the compassion of Jesus. He used something so common, so necessary to reveal his ways. He is good. All is grace.
I’m tired, and it is Palm Sunday, and I know I should be preparing my heart for Holy Week, for Easter. But I’m tired having (shockingly) over-committed this weekend. I should be considering worship and God and the great story of redemption that Palm Sunday was a part of thousands of years ago. The world is transformed. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard has been utterly transformational in my faith. I reread some sections yesterday, and this quote stood out to me. I want to camp out on these words as Holy Week begins. Maybe this will help you too.
Now we need to understand that what simply occupies our mind very largely governs what we do. It sets the emotional tone out of which our actions flow, and it projects the possible courses of actions available to us. Also the mind, though of little power on its own, is the place of our widest and most basic freedom. This is true in both a direct and an indirect sense. Of all the things we do, we have more freedom with respect to what we will think of, where we will place our mind, than anything else. And the freedom of thinking is a direct freedom wherever it is present. We need not do something else in order to exercise it. We simply turn our mind to whatever it is we choose to think of. The deepest revelation of our character is what we choose to dwell on in thought, what constantly occupies our mind- as well as what we can or cannot even think of…
May we be intentional about fixing our mind on the life and death and resurrection of Jesus as the traditional, historic rhythm of this week invites us to remember the big picture story of Jesus by recalling the details of his humble ride into a city as King where the crowd who worshiped him Sunday crucified him Friday. May that rhythm beckon our wonder as he works that act for the good of those who love him in his triumph over death on Easter morning. May we be amazed that this God saves us. I want to be intentional with my thoughts this week… This story reveals a vast love, a costly love, a love given to humanity by a God who became like us to set our lives straight. Amazing.
“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow”
Some days come with a heightened awareness of purpose, hope, love, joy and the possibility that we can live with some degree of intentionality to bring these things to the world. Those days make for very good mornings indeed. Storms yield to sun. Hopefulness defeats weariness. Focus returns.
“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. “
If this is real life, then may we be real people who look each other in the face and see each other as we are, not as we want to be. This week belongs to some new friends, as they need some help for a little while. Being around them allows me a lot of time to be fully present with them, as that is what they require. Being fully present with somebody, anybody creates the possibility for genuine relationship to develop.
I think we’re supposed to live there, regardless of the various other cultural and non-relational pulls. It creates a bigger, better, more beautiful world. And when you look someone in the face and see them as they are-the good and the bad, the beautiful nuances and the awkward quirks, the real and the fake- if when seeing them as they are you are able to look at them and love them, well, then you are choosing to live a redemptive kind of life. I think that’s the better way.
“…Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”
It was a day that could be summed up like this: I am ready to go; I am willing to stay. That, I think, summarizes the journey of faith. The readiness heightens a paradoxical sense of both anticipation and impatience. The willingness makes concrete peace undefined by circumstance, which is where humanity lives best. Individually. Collectively.
Stories to come, but for now, just photos.
wide-eyed and wanderlust-y, fresh faced with desire and curiosity
hungry for something but (not sure what) uncertain
and then standing in front of you the Reason Why in the face of so many reasons why
so belief adhered to decisions and plans and gave birth to hope
growing up and owning the things that propel change
because they have been Gifted
sometimes a glance backwards propels forward
as stark consideration of the current page
reveals that not enough is only the case because there is more
this is what some call good news
gospel: reconciling reality through a grid of hope reinserts fullness in the Way you go
you went and this. this saved your life.
“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked”
She is the baby who arrived about eighteen months ago and started this story.
This weekend some of Bridget’s best friends came to visit, and Ma calls her Gertrude. Bridget is my oldest sister and has known Kara since they were in college. They have stacks of stories. Meghan and I joined some of their latter chapters by attending Bridget’s thirtieth birthday bash in North Carolina a couple of years ago. Kara was pregnant with Lucy at the time, and when Lucy arrived, I went to do her newborn pictures. As happens in large families at times, I adopted Bridget’s friends as my own. This year when Lucy turned one, I returned to do more photos. Bridget didn’t even go with me. Kara and I had transitioned from being friends-because-Bridget-was-friends-with-Kara to being friends because we’d spent time together. We laughed together. We ate together. I kissed her baby. She listened to my boy drama. The good stuff of community…
I really, really love kids, so the bonus of becoming friends with Kara has been being auntie to her two sweet girls. Lesley, her older girl, age 3, is a bit confused about my auntie status. She has called me Uncle Erin since Lucy’s newborn shoot, and I don’t think I could be any prouder to have been nicknamed by a then-two-year-old’s confusion. If my sister Bridget was her Aunt Bridget, surely I was her Uncle Erin. I’ll say this about being Lesley’s Uncle Erin. That little girl loves me through and through. And if you’ve never been loved by a little kid not related to you, then you’re missing out. It is the best thing, some of the best stuff of community. The genuine affection of little people ought to make us review how we love those around us. They love with messy hands and mismatched vocabulary, and they love with their whole little selves.