There’s an Invisible Man Under My Sticky Notes!
Is there an invisible man in your life?
Hiding under your bed
Behind your curtains
In the shower
Under the covers
Behind the wheel of your car?
These are all places I’ve gone looking.
Not really searching
But definitely seeking.
Where thoughts can drift
and ideas jump out at you.
Sometimes they startle and you scream.
Sometimes they delight and you giggle.
Sometimes, they awe you into silence.
Those times, you marvel.
And scribble them onto a sticky note –
A Post-It note for you sticklers.
Over time … those notes gather.
Until one day,
you toss them together
and they take shape.
how long have you been waiting for me to find you?
Good Grief, Multiplied
A dear friend has died.
She gave her life to her family, her friends, her church, her God. She had given everything but the last of herself, and now she has given that.
In his book, Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen says, “In the giving we are chosen, blessed and broken not simply for our own sakes, but so that all we live finds its final significance in its being lived for others.” We are given. Given as bread for the world. Who can we be for each other? How can we out-do each other at serving, helping, supplying a need, lending an ear, loving?
In life, Mary Anne was for me, my certain reader. On any given day, she was the one I knew was reading this blog. If I posted, I knew Mary Anne was reading. Sometimes she would comment or respond or share something in reply. Always, she was listening to what I wrote, and that was life-giving to me.
When I sat down to craft some words, I could picture my sure-reader. I knew exactly what she looked like, where she was, how she might respond. This is gold to a writer, to be able to picture their audience. In fact, it is essential, to write to the one and let others listen in. It’s what draws life out of lifeless words and animates ideas, otherwise dormant.
Today’s is the first post Mary Anne is not here to read. How then do I write? To whom?
Nouwen offers, “If love is indeed stronger than death, then death has the potential to deepen and strengthen the bonds of love…. and holds the potential to … multiply itself to fulfill the needs of countless people.”
Somehow, by freely handing over life to death, it takes on greater life to all who would receive it. A sumptuous meal will be served around the table, with enough for guests, newcomers and the wayfarer happening by, and still there will be leftovers. It multiplies itself in the giving.
I remember a conversation from years ago when Mary Anne shared the difficulty her aged mother was having, physically ailing as well as confused and forgetful. Having no experience with this, I wondered about correcting the poor disoriented woman to help her remember. Mary Anne advised patiently, “Even if they don’t remember what you said or even who you are, they’ll remember how you made them feel.”
Even in grief, we carry goodness when we touch the heart of the other with our presence which speaks the love for us. When the hearing is gone and the words no longer make sense, Something else speaks.
Sunday morning last, I woke up to the roar of a rushing wind. Pentecost Sunday had arrived and with it the Spirit of God who swooped close to claim and collect His own.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. ~ Acts 2: 1-4
Funny, I think Mary Anne read the Kinesthetic Christian because she seemed to marvel at the way I could speak a language she understood but couldn’t write and thought she didn’t have the words for. Now, she has expression for everything she desires. Thanks be to God.
“The spirit of love, once freed from our mortal bodies, will blow where it will, even when few will hear its coming and going,” Nouwen supposes.
Mary Anne, I can still hear your voice clearly: your clipped phrasing for what was not acceptable to you, your sense of humor, your honesty, your fierce loyalty, forthrightness and clarity. Oh, you knew what you were in for and what was coming just around the bend. I know you held on for as long as you could and then let go gracefully. Probably with a “To heck with this body. Bring on the new one!!”
How quintessentially you is the opening to your obituary: “Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the age of 68.”
Yep. Mary Anne to the core, to the end, and to the everlasting. How you embraced dancing in the rain. Sleep in heavenly peace, dear lady. One day, we will see each other again. There will be dancing and not a chance of rain.
Getting it Straight from the Source
We live in a world where new and improved is always better than old and decrepit. Of course. New has the benefit of advanced methods, complete research, and dedicated study applied liberally over all that has come before it. Old, well that was just a starting point. Those were the blocks we stood in to give us leverage when the race began.
One of the things that new has ushered in is statistical…accuracy. We can fact check, provide proof, cite our sources, justify our positions. We can qualify, and oh boy, can we quantify! We know exactly how many people would vote thus and so, believe this and that, trust him or her. We know. We are new and improved people. We are reasonable.
So, it’s a bit alarming to read in the morning paper that “Recent polls show that 29 percent of Americans and nearly 45 percent of Republicans say he (President Obama) is a Muslim.”
How do we say this? We tell a pollster who reports it, I guess. Do we know this when we say it? Have we asked Mr. Obama about his faith? Have we read deeply concerning his opinions, positions, actions and responses? This would seem reasonable before we say anything.
What we report in the media is, perhaps, what we believe to be true. Given what we think we know, this is what we conclude. Perhaps those numbers reflect what people believe about President Obama, but that doesn’t make it so. (The article actually goes on to debunk this belief.) Just because we think it, doesn’t make it so. Any more than thinking I am President makes that so.
If we think we can do make something true, right, happen, reasonable, or real, just because we think it, we are mistaken. That isn’t ours; that’s God’s. God thinking something actually does make it so. When we think something, we move in its direction, but we’d do well not to presume that our thinking it actuates it. That would presume we are God, which has very grave consequences, indeed.
Fleming Rutledge, an Episcopal preacher that a friend has me reading, writes concerning what she calls the battle of the billboards. “Upon entering the Lincoln Tunnel you stare at a billboard showing a Nativity scene and the words ‘You know it’s a myth.’ When you come out of the tunnel you see a billboard with a Nativity scene and the words ‘You know it’s real.'”
She goes on, “The atheist billboard says, “This season, celebrate reason.” I revere reason as much as the atheists do—up to a point. But what faith knows is that although reason is a gift, it is not a god. Reason cannot explain everything. Certainly it cannot explain the purposes and promises of God.”
Our believing, remembering, repeating or tallying does not make something so. But setting our minds on the things of God may bring them nearer.
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4:8)
When God remembers His mercy, He is not calling it again to mind. He is taking action on our behalf. As Rutledge puts it, “God’s mercy is not static. It goes forth from God as a promise already becoming a reality.”
We can pray to be like-minded. That’s as old and original as it gets.