Thursday, October 12, 2017

Who is Sufficient?

225,000 square feet.  It seemed like an impossibly large building for only 2 people to care for.  But that is just what was asked of us, barely married for 3 months, while my husband attended college. The caretaker/janitor's position opened up at the new church we had begun attending, and with youthful enthusiasm we jumped right in.  We cleaned and monitored, attended events and washed up afterwards, and became intimately familiar with the church that had a caretaker's apartment built into the upper level for us to live in.  Sufficient for the task? Not at all, but we found ways to push our limits in order to keep going.

This week over at Michele Morin's site, 
Living our Days, 
 where we are in Week 6 of our study of 
Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry,
our friend, Jayber, finds himself taking on the church janitor's work also.  

So it should have come as no surprise when I found one of my favorite scenes unfolding in this week's reading.  Jayber often came to do his cleaning at the church in the evening after he had worked all day at the Barber Shop. Needless to say, the quiet and calming presence of the church was an easy place to rest and even take a nap. (I remember those same peaceful feelings when the sanctuary was empty, and while cleaning, we played our own music through the church's high tech--for then--speakers!)

It was during one of those rest times that a dream overtook him:

 "One day when I went up there to work, sleepiness overcame me and I lay down on the floor behind the back pew to take a nap. Waking or sleeping (I couldn’t tell which), I saw all the people gathered there who had ever been there. I saw them as I had seen them from the back pew, where I sat with Uncle Othy (who would not come in any farther) while Aunt Cordie sang in the choir, and I saw them as I had seen them (from the back pew) on the Sunday before. I saw them in all the times past and to come, all somehow there in their own time and in all time and in no time . . . They said nothing, and I said nothing. I seemed to love them all with a love that was mine merely because it included me. When I came to myself again, my face was wet with tears."

Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) (p. 165). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition. 

The longing that I felt for Jayber to know more about the TRUE Love that had touched him, only grew as I read through the next few chapters.  Sadly, Jayber moved from his own touch with the Wonder of Love to look for love in all the wrong places.  I still have hope that in upcoming chapters he might find where that longing will be fully met.

But my own longings are hanging in the wind,
crying out for GRACE 
when I have none of my own.

In the same way that Jayber failed to see that the One who is all love was right beside him, giving him that dream of love for His people, I too have ignored the call of that ONE.

When I have sought my own sufficiency,
When I have leaned on my own strength,
When I have looked for my own help,

my own Sweet Lord has never stopped calling me.

While chronic illness calls me to 
muster up my own strength,
My Jesus calls me to 
find a sufficiency
deeper than my own
and a love 
that fills every longing.

There is Life from the Lord
that is bigger
than any work of my self,
a freedom
brought from His Spirit.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control"
Galatians 5:22,23 

 Who is Sufficient?

Years came and went
Strength surged
Depended upon.

My ways were laid 
Who sees everything.

Abilities brought out
A way of life.

My heart was crushed
Who sees everything.

Illness has a way
Pointing out lack
Hidden underneath.

My body was broken
Who sees everything.

Mercy invites inside
Seeking to give
What I have not.

My soul was enlarged
Who sees everything.

Grace covers, fills
Living in me.

My Life is overflowing
Who sees everything.

God with me.

And a verse usually spoken at Christmas gives the invitation for each of us to find JESUS,  the son
given to be with us.

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Matthew 1:23 NIV 

May this song of encouragement bless you today. He is with us, and invites us into His Presence where His Sufficiency is everything we need.

You can find Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry by clicking here.

I am linking this week with:
Debbie Kitterman, #TuneInThursday 
Barbie Swihart, #Glimpses 
Meg Weyerbacher, #TeaAndWordTuesday 

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Mama's Cry

 The hospital room was sterile and cold, a shivering place for a young teenager. My Mom had undergone a simple biopsy, but the time for Outpatient Procedures had not yet arrived in our 1970’s small town. So my Mom was awakening from the anesthesia and due to arrive back to her room at any time.  I waited for what seemed an eternity, and as I huddled in the corner, I heard the nurses hurriedly wheeling the cart in, but shouting instructions to several helpers. “Wake her up! Get assistance! She’s not breathing!”  My heart started pounding as the tears rolled down my cheeks. . . 

. . .

I am so blessed once again to share words over at my friend Anna Smit's website, BelovedProdigal.
Join me there to read the rest of this post
by clicking here. 

I am linking today with other bloggers at:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Shade for our Souls

The hot tropical sun baked every pore of my exposed skin. How thankful I was to my Vietnamese daughter-in-law's family for their insistence that I wear some kind of long sleeves.  

Six years ago I was in Vietnam, riding past the rice paddies on my first motorbike excursion. The young nephew who had been assigned to drive while I held on (not too tightly, I hoped) behind him, was very gracious to this American Grandma.

How much hotter could it get, I wondered? The day already felt like I was in a sauna, and I had thought the breeze of the driving might be refreshing. Obviously I had never experienced this kind of baking sun, exposed in the open landscape! I longed for some kind of relief from the fiery heat, as we rode.  And it was then that the verse from my morning's reading became more real to me than it had ever been:

"The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night."
Psalm 121:5-6 

I spoke the verse again and again, until I felt the very Presence of God covering me with His safety, speaking to my burning soul that He would be my true shade.

Is there a place of safety from the burning heat, from the searing of our souls,
that we are meant to share?

We find our friend, Jayber Crow, in such a place for this week's portion over at Michele Morin's site

Living Our Days,

where she has invited us to join in an online book study of Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry.

Jayber, the "bachelor barber," has begun to see himself as a true member of the community, when World War 2 sets in. Having been denied a place of service himself, because of a medical difficulty, he yet found himself saying:

"I was learning what I had meant when I decided that I would share the fate of Port William. I had not gone off to war, but the wounds and deaths of Port William boys were happening in Port William. They were happening to me. I was involved; I was being changed."

Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) (p. 147). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition. 

Jayber had begun to experience what a true community feels like: what one person walks through does overflow onto the others within that community. 

As Jayber became more comfortable in his own shop, there were many nights after business was completed, that he lingered in his own barber chair (how cozy that must have been, in the days before our nice "Lazy-Boy" recliners!) finding it a comfortable spot for reading and relaxing. Often times if another lone soul was out wandering the streets, they might find themselves drawn to the cozy feeling of the empty barbershop themselves, knowing that a listening ear was waiting for them there.

In those awful years of the War, when the searing hot pain of grief became overwhelming, one father wandered in and just sat quietly. From within that peaceful setting, he shared about a dream of his lost son that had awakened a fresh pouring of grief:

 "He told me this in a voice as steady and even as if it were only another day’s news, and then he said, 'All I could do was hug him and cry.' And then I could no longer sit in that tall chair. I had to come down. I came down and went over and sat beside Mat. If he had cried, I would have. We both could have, but we didn’t. We sat together for a long time and said not a word. After a while, though the grief did not go away from us, it grew quiet. What had seemed a storm wailing through the entire darkness seemed to come in at last and lie down."

Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) (pp. 149-150). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.

And the tears that could not be shed by them, were shed by me. This "Shade of God's Presence" is the one constant thing we can offer to those who dwell in community with us. We may not always have a wise word. We might not even be able to serve or help in the way that we wish we could.

But our Lord
Who offers us the True Shade
Of His Presence

Asks us to extend that Shade
To invite others in
Who are burning
in pain and grief.

We can sit with each other
And know
That our restless souls
Only find rest in HIM.

I have found such shade and safety
with ones who have
sat with me.

If there is a burning in your soul,
please let me pray with you,
and join you 
in your own place of pain.

The Community of our Lord,
The Body of Christ,
has a beautiful shade
that is meant to be shared.


 Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry, can be found at Amazon,
by clicking here.

I am linking today with:
Suzie Eller, #LiveFreeThursday 
Barbie Swihart, #Glimpses