Independent, but not Isolated
I strive to embody these traits. I want my daughters to embrace them, too. I want the heads of our churches, and governments and businesses to lead through examples described by these words. The world would, no doubt, be a better place if we all placed our priorities on the shoulders of these words. I look up to those who demonstrate even just a few of these in their daily lives and interactions. But these adjectives describe figures of dedication and courage, those who have suffered and sought and fought and failed before getting up again to continue to grow more profound.
A dandelion is all of these things effortlessly. To be a dandelion, as far as I can tell, means that you are strong, persistent, brave, independent (but not isolated...no. No, usually you come in huge honking clumps of at least five). Dandelions are influential and even bright. Like really bright. Like you can see them from 500 yards away bright. At night.
I have mixed feelings about dandelions.
As I was contemplating them this weekend (extricating them, cursing them, tossing them) it occurred to me all the fantastic words I could use to describe them. And how these words are typically considered positive. But, when we want to loathe something, do away with it, assign it as other, we seamlessly turn these traits on their head and make them negative.
Those damn dandelions won't quit. It's nearly impossible to dig them up completely because their roots are so deep. And even if you do, they only come back again the next season, even stronger than before! If you don't catch them in time they burst into a million tiny soft torches that fly through the wind landing wherever and without prejudice. They are blasphemous bright yellow beacons that flood the yard and lure me outside.
Oddly enough, I wrote another post about dandelions nearly one year ago. You can read it here.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
"And it's like that long Saturday between your death and the rising day
When no one wrote a word, wondered is this the end
But you were down there in the well, saving those that fell
Bringing them to the mountain again."
- Caedmon's Call, "Valleys Fill First"
None of the four gospels, the books which tell the story of the life of Jesus in the Christian Bible, describe what happened the day between His crucifixion and His resurrection. I can only imagine how Jesus' followers, His close family and friends, His mother, felt and behaved on that long Saturday.
These men and women had dedicated years (or more) and had left all they knew to learn from Jesus and stand with Him as He ushered in a radical new way of living. They sat together with the poor and infected, the prostitutes and tax collectors, the lowest in Israel and defended and tended to them. They seemingly ignored the long standing laws to act out of love of God, not obedience to man.
And then, Jesus was gone.
He had repeatedly promised them His death would not be the end, but they had missed the message (I'm sure I would have missed it, too). On that long Saturday, I imagine they felt completely stripped of hope. I imagine they felt completely surrounded by darkness again. They thought the light they had been following had been extinguished.
But what if they had known all along that Jesus' death was not an end, but another beginning? What if they had known that death was just a part of life and while difficult, would be redeemed? How would that have changed that long Saturday?
We spend most of our lives on a long Saturday, in the belly of the fish, if you will. There are days, or seasons, when we experience death, whether literal or metaphoric. Life is made up of little deaths, of suffering, of mistakes.
But most of our days are spent living a long Saturday, in the middle ground. We are able to breathe (some days more than others) and daily detect something "more" moving in the world (some days more than others). But we are not whole.
However, if we remember the message Jesus' first friends missed, it won't be a lost Saturday. The suffering we just endured, the mistakes we just made are not the end. So stand strong. Stand tall. We are surrounded by "more." We live in a valley and "valleys fill first."
The egg cracks and cracks and cracks before the baby is born. Jonah was spit back up upon the shore. And Jesus lives, completely changing everything we thought we knew. And we can live like He did. We can "die" and rise again and again and again. This is a long Saturday, but it is not the end. Tomorrow is coming.
We are not whole, but we are part of more. We are holy.
Friday, April 14, 2017
“I don’t follow Jesus because I think Christianity is the best religion.
I follow Jesus because He leads me into ultimate reality.”
- Rob Bell
"Jesus had given us the ideal eyes by which to see the real nature of reality"
Today is Good Friday. A day people like me solemnly reflect on the death of a man named Jesus. This man, Jesus, I believe, is God in human form. God, the Creator of the universe, that spark of Spirit in each of us, became like me because He loves me. Because He desires relationship with me. Because He desires me to desire Him.
Through Jesus, God teaches me how to connect with Him, how to connect with others, and how to live life to the fullest. Through the incarnation of Jesus, humanity has been made holy. Every person matters.
But I am broken. We all are. And it is easy to feel that hole in life. It is a darkness that mocks me, causing me to question: is this really all there is? Is life really only LuLaRoe, death and taxes?
I believe that, thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus, darkness has been conquered. I can live in the light of the Spirit now and well after my body is gone. I, like Jesus, can be fully connected with God, finally complete, broken no more, in perfect relationship with Him.
But more than belief in the life and death of Jesus is my hope in the life and death of Jesus. Instead of putting my hope in myself, or someone else, or my church or money or success, or even religion, I put my hope in the spiritual realm, in the ultimate reality. In more. In grace, in mercy, in peace, in unity, in love.
I put my hope in the way Jesus lived and the reason Jesus died. I put my hope in the way Jesus made all things new. How he showed us that death is a part of life. It is rarely easy. The darkness still exists. But when choosing light, I have never been disappointed. It is a good Friday, indeed.
"I have done what was mine to do; now you must do what is yours to do."
- Saint Francis