I’ve been losing my stuff a lot lately. Keys, wallet, sunglasses, notebook.
When a couple of pages out of my daytimer got torn out – I thought that was bad – until I lost the daytimer. Am I losing my mind? It certainly feels like I’m losing control of things.
One helpful Christian suggested I was just getting old.
Someone else noted that this kind of forgetfulness is a symptom of grief.
When dealing with loss, the mind has a way of letting go of all of the peripheral things that we juggle daily. Things fall out of the juggling act because we’re reaching deep down inside looking for answers – answers that are not readily, easily found.
Grief also affects our vision. When we find ourselves in those deep dark places of searching – the world around us can look pretty grim.
Annie Dillard – a contemporary American writer – whose prose is like a rambling poem – wrote the following paragraph that I came upon this week in her slim and weighty book “Holy the Firm”. She is writing from a place of grief; from that place in her heart – she describes the landscape she sees.
“Of faith I have nothing, I know only one truth;
God is a brute and traitor, abandoning us to time, to necessity and the engines of matter unhinged. This is no leap; this is evidence of things seen: a child lost, one sorrow, one sensation bewildering the heart, and enraging the mind, and causing me to look at the world’s stuff appalled, at the blithering of rock and trees in a random wind, at my hand like some gibberish sprouted, my fist opening and closing, so that I think: Have I once turned my hand in this circus – have I ever called it home?”
You might say that grief has blinded her. That the accumulated loss of love has become too much and she is no longer able to take the leap of faith – even those little leaps that daily let us see up over the grim facts of a brutal world piled up at our feet. How do we manage to make those little leaps of faith to see over those walls that close in on us – to see all things bright and beautiful – all creatures great and small – how the hand of the CREATOR is constantly making, re-making, re-deeming…
Faith requires a leap.
The evidence of GOD as traitor accumulates daily if we only turn on the radio, read a paper, talk to a neighbour. If we do nothing – tragedy seeks us out and finds us in our carefully crafted safety. But Leaping requires energy – I think of a spring lamb leaping as if gravity has little hold and the ground is a trampoline responding to the spring its step.
Not only does the faith to leap require energy, but to generate and sustain energy - takes work.
I broke bread this week with a couple who travel 50K three times a week to spend money on the physiotherapy that will keep them on their feet – defying their aging bodies that threaten to call a halt to their sacred practice of enjoying, savouring, stretching each day’s pleasure out to the last drop.
It takes energy to produce more energy. Energy is an illusive commodity.
We can become blinded by all the bad news, discouraged by the evidence of a distant, angry, vengeful, heartless GOD. What’s the point? Why not just fade away?
We can end up like Blind Bartemaeus begging on the side of the road while the Jesus celebration party goes by. You can find the story in Luke chapter 18.
But this beggar – somehow – finds just a mustard seed of faith to leap up and cry out “Jesus, son of David, have mercy.”
The party goers ignore the beggar, tell him to shut up and go away. They want to keep the party moving. They’re riding on the wave of a great teacher and revolutionary – they’re going places – they’ve got momentum.
But Jesus, the source of the energy that the party is rolling on – stops - stops in his tracks. He turns back and with this subversive act tells his highminded followers “It’s not about the party. All the miracles and wonders and hope is not about making a bigger better church, business, life, home, holiday, bank account, political party...
The source of the energy that drives us towards such grand, important, glorious goals – returns – turns back – drops everything – to go back and ask the beggar “do you really want to see?”
Do you want to be transformed?
Do you want to leave the safety of the side of the road behind?
Will you risk leaving behind the neediness that keeps you alive – the charity of pennies of pity that support you.
How many of our churches live like this?
Content with begging for the pennies that keep them alive. Maybe not content – but willing to accept their place where they’ve been pushed to the side of the road – no longer movers and shakers in the life of the mainstreet – but sitting, begging, blinded by the loss of sight.
Have we Lost sight of where our place as Jesus people is? Are we Lost in the accumulated grief of so many losses until we’re in a place where we can’t muster the energy to leap up and cry out for a vision? Have we Lost sight of our mission as yeast, as catalysts, as poor and foolish dreamers willing to risk it all, put it all on the line, for a better world. For a better day – today.
Have we instead turned to the safety of the side of the street where we hide within our buildings to keep us safe and pure with clean hands. We’ve taught our children the codes and morals and lessons to keep them safely on the side of the good and sane.
Have we taught our children how to spend their lives with the abandon that Jesus invites? Have we shown them how to risk – how to engage in leaps of faith that risk ridicule, heartbreak & failure? Have we taken them to places where they can see what can’t be seen from safe vantage places?
Or, have we kept them safe and taught them how the world works – how to get first what they need to be secure - while they slowly went blind – losing the GOD-gifted imaginations that could easily see a world without limit – a world of possibilities - beyond the walls that failure and fear and loss create in those who grow old and weary.
Jesus tells Bartemaeus “your faith has made you see”.
He gets it. He catches the vision. He sees what GOD sees. He sees the limitless possibilities of what little leaps of faith can do. And the crowd leaps up. Springing up – buoyed by the new miracle of a blind and begging church with a vision beyond the place where they sadly sit.
Bartemaeus leaves the side of the road and enters the mainstreet where the crowd of unwashed, silly, sinners is on their way already to the new place that the Spirit of Jesus – not the church of Jesus – but the Spirit that blows where it will – that blows past where blind beggars are stuck and lifts the sails of any and all who with just a little leap of faith – will cry out and ask to see what GOD sees.
As Spring emerges all around us. As the sun shrinks the snowbanks and feeds the energy of deep dark waters. As those waters awake and rise – throwing off the blankets of ice they slept beneath – the whole world transforms, becomes muddy and new. The birds sing their praises calling the tree-sap to run up against gravity. Calling the whole world to remember the circling, eternal, source of life that reveals truth of answers not found – but made - when the deep dark tunnel opens out into a new day, a new point of view, to search no longer - but stop and circle back to respond to the budding seeds faith of the blind brothers and sisters who see again for the first time – that everything is a miracle.