Posts tagged Lent

Don’t Hold On


Mary Magdalene stayed by the tomb. Lingered in the wake of death. And in her waiting she was rewarded… Until Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”  John 20:17


When I was in the first grade, I entered a kite flying contest. My father helped me handcraft my kite from scrap wood, glue and newsprint. The big day arrived warm and blustery, and he helped me tie on a long tail of rags in preparation for the Midwestern gusts.

The kite leapt in the wind as my six year old hands held tightly to the red handles around which spun the spool of string. I can still feel it turning in my hand, unreeling fast.

“Give it more string,” Dad encouraged.

I smiled watching it rise higher and higher, dipping and diving, floating on the wind. Suddenly, oh so suddenly, the string pulled free. My end of the string had not been securely fastened to the handle. I watched through tears as my treasured kite flew up and up into the clouds.

This childhood memory helps when I imagine how a surprised and overjoyed Mary must have felt when she recognized her beloved teacher standing before her. And how she must have longed to throw her arms around him and to feel his around her. To hold tightly and promise never to let go.

But Jesus said, “Do not hold onto me! I have not yet gone to the Father.” 

Surely it must have been through tears that she let her earthly Teacher go so she might welcome the Savior and then go and tell this good news.

Risen Lord, thank you for the stories you were telling us, even as children, that remind us of your promise to be with us always. Thank you for your strong arms that hold us and never let us go.

Without Doubt


photo 3 (2)-011I will.
What powerful words.
A promise, an intention, a commitment.
If I say I will do it, I will.

I am reluctant to say this to God.
‘I will follow you all the days of my life.’
Because I know I won’t.
I will trip and fall.
I will stumble or swerve or slam on the breaks.
I will not follow, so let me not say so.

But what if I did say so?
Would that not be arrogant and proud?
As if I knew I was a special one,
Selected from among the many,
Singled out for my…my what?

You’re no more special than the other, my dear.
Come, simply at my request,
Come willingly, but without reservation.
Say you will, knowing fully that you won’t.
That is the price —
which I have paid.

And in that instant, the ground under my feet is firm.
Of course, I say.
I see it now, I say.
How could I have doubted?

The very thought!
Oh my God!
I have ushered in my own demise.

The ground begins to crumble and my balance gives way.
My arms grapple with the air,
But there it no holding, no grasping, no righting.
Only tumbling, falling, twisting, turning,
confusion, chaos, peril, and fear,
until, blessedly,

I knew it was too good to be true.
Yet, it is true.
I saw it, I felt it, I was there.
Briefly, ever so briefly.
Were it not for my doubt,
Oh doubt, will I ever be rid of you?

I brush myself off
and attend to my scrapes and bruises –
No gashes, no stitches, no broken bones.
I seem to have survived the fall.

That is why I came.
Falling is part of believing,
It draws us closer.

What can you possibly want with someone like me?

You are free to go.

Where should I go?

You can come with me.

From Black and White to Living Color


So, we wait.

We don’t rush to the finish. We don’t turn to the back of the book for the answers or the last chapter to see how it comes out. We don’t take the short cut through the peppermint forest if we roll doubles. We don’t jump to the front of the line. We wait. cross black drape

What anguish there is in waiting.

  • The physical discomfort of position, perhaps injury or illness or disease.
  • The mental turmoil of wondering what will it take to be well?
  • The emotionally wrenching, what if things don’t get better?
  • The spiritual crisis, why did God allow this to happen?

Holy Saturday sits us here, perhaps personally, or perhaps at the bedside or at a distance but in intercession for another. We wait, and while we wait, we pray.

Jesus knew pain.

  • The physical pain of crucifixion.
  • The mental pain of derision and public humiliation.
  • The emotional pain of grief and loss, sorrow and betrayal.
  • Even the spiritual pain of forsakenness, rejection and loneliness.

Jesus waited a day, and while he waited, he healed. The suffering of physical pain was gone. The mental pain, he resolved “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The spiritual pain was answered, “He sits at the right hand of God the Father.” But the emotional pain…does he still shed tears for his people? He must.

cross floweredHow does emotional pain find its healing?

Where do anguish, sorrow, and mourning go?

Time heals all wounds, we like to say, but that gives too much power and too much credit to time.

Waiting alone doesn’t heal.

While we wait, we pray.

Prayer takes the black and white of Good Friday and colors it in the pastels and bright hues of Easter.

The Father gives hope to those who pray.



How brave the mother cardinal,

perched atop the feeder,

not feeding, but performing,

not performing, but calling.

With words I do not know, but a voice I dearly do.

I am here! I have a message for you! Come!

She calls out and waits, calls out and waits,

for the answering call

in a pitch and rhythm and expression she already knows,

but doesn’t.

“I hear you. Wait there. I am coming.”

How does she know there will be an answer?

How does she know how to call, what to say, to whom she calls?

Yet, without fear or hesitation,

Her voice rings out again and again,

into the silence.

She has more faith than I, this mother cardinal.

More boldness, more courage.

Instinctive – there is no thought at all to this display!

And yet, do not I have this instinct born also in me?

This desire to call out,

in a pitch all my own,

with a tone and a voice and a message uniquely mine

and then to listen,

for a voice I do not know,

and yet I do.

What We Give Away Lasts


IMG_2851What will I have when I come to the end of myself?


except all I’ve given away.

Not, tossed to the four winds

for others to scrape off the sidewalk,

pluck out of the trees,

or dig out from under.

No, what will be is

what I have left with others.

Given to those

who might enjoy it,

who need it,

who deserve it.

These are my eternity.

Who are these?

Eternal Father, let me see these.

Looking down


I’m jogging around a small, oval 3-lane track at the gym,

so slowly, well, okay walking,

in the inside lane —

the one nearest the railing where you can look down on

three floors of people beating themselves up

to try to stave off age, time, years of inattention and just plain sluggishness —

and I see a group of young adults with rags,

wiping, wiping, wiping the railing.

No matter that the one in front has just wiped this spot,

they will wipe it again

and move onto the next

handle, next window, next wall, next surface,

at the instruction of the young woman who calls encouragement and instructions.

“Thank goodness I’m not like these,” I think.

They are not thinking that of me,

but perhaps they should be.


Thank you, Lord, for the body I have that does all it can which is more than some and less than others. Help me live in it today in a way that is pleasing to both of us. Amen.

Just Practice, You’ll Get it


Just practice. You’ll get it.

Some of the most powerful words ever spoken to me.

But I’m an adder.

I add, “if you practice, you’ll get it right.”

When I don’t, I get discouraged.

Because I can’t get it right.

If I did, I could stop practicing, but that is not the way.

So I try again, because trying it, and not just intending it, is how I will get it.

Oh, I could wait until someone else figures it out.

I could watch from my hiding place until it was safe to come out.

And I’d emerge, victorious.

There! I can do it, too!

But there would be no triumph.

I am not a hider, not just a survivor, I’m an engager.

In the engagement, I practice.

I got it.

Does Everything Really Happen for a Reason?


“Everything happens for a reason.” I hear that a lot these days, usually after someone hasn’t done enough to prevent or keep something from happening. It helps us feel better about ourselves and more confident in the “forces of the universe” to think that somehow, they have got this. They ordained this. Nothing I could have done. Might as well just step back and let things take their course. They will, with or without me.

Never do you hear “everything happens for a reason” from someone who has done all that is humanly possible to prevent it from happening. The loss of a child, death of a spouse, mauling, murder, abuse, trafficking. How can anyone look at any of these things and think “everything happens for a reason.”


‘God is in control’ is not meant to absolve us from our responsibility to do everything we can. In fact, that’s a cop out and an excuse for not doing. No, we’re meant to do all we can so that even if we fall short of people’s expectations including our own, we are becoming people who don’t need excuses. Even though we still have questions.

Everything may happen for a reason, but I may be the reason and, if I am, then God will surely be the difference.

The Potholes of Life


Oh, how I love seeing black pavement. The snow banks and drifts have given way to asphalt and sand. My tires have traction and there is actually room for two cars and pedestrian plus dog to pass each other safely along the way. I admit, it makes me a bit giddy to step on the accelerator and pick up the pace.


Until, ba-bump. You hit it and it rattles your fillings. Oooh, that was not good.

This poor pavement, covered in snow and ice for so long is showing the signs of a very long winter. The cracks have gotten deeper and those soft places have given way. Somehow even on the through-ways and parkways there are pockets of craters that look like there has been a strafing from above. And whoa, when you hit them going full speed, you know it. No time to dive out of the lane. Your suspension is crying foul. Your alignment is gonna need some attention.

But then, that’s the way, isn’t it? Life deals us storms that we do our best to avoid, but some catch us unaware. Or, we just can’t swerve in time. Those are the ones that leave us grateful we know a good mechanic. A careful front end alignment, and we’re back on the road.

Lent, this season before Easter, seems such a time. A time to visit the mechanic and see how the old buggy is handling after the rough winter. I can compensate with my steering, but if my alignment is off, those tires are gonna pay for it.

I guess I have those potholes to thank for this. And the snow. It’s hard to believe I am thankful for all that snow.

Putting Fun in it’s Place


sport ballsOkay, competitors, here are the rules: the one who has the most fun wins. Go!

Children do it naturally. Teens do it clandestinely. Adults do it grudgingly or not at all. How have we lost our way? Somehow, in the important-ness of following the rules, doing it right, getting good grades and earning approval, the play has slipped away. Its absence is wreaking havoc with my joy!

What if things go wrong? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I don’t measure up or I’m not what they want? What if I miss my chance? Oh. My. Goodness. Someone send in the Play Police! Somehow, the gremlins have stolen the fun.

For crying out loud, where has the anticipation gone? You know, the excited feeling in the pit of your stomach that has you smiling for no good reason. The delight that whatever happens, it’s gonna be fun. The impishness that has you looking for the perfect opportunity to shake things up and create a little havoc.

What if playfulness was the #1 item on the agenda? The only non-negotiable in your meeting because it, you knew, was the saving grace for everything else that came down the pike. But you didn’t do it on purpose because that’s the nature of fun; it just breaks out – and illuminates and lifts everything and everyone in the room.

What if God’s measuring stick was joy? He/she who has the most fun wins…

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Children do it naturally, and along the way all that is meant to be, is.

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