Category Archives: Christian

Softening the Surface

Have you ever watched water striders, the spindly-legged creek-surface-dwelling bugs, scoot along the surface of still water? (Did you know that not everyone refers to these wonders as water striders? Some call them Jesus bugs. Ha! They walk on water… Jesus bugs!!)

Anyway, amazing isn’t it that a creature can be so nimble and light they can walk on water? And how? Isn’t it astounding that a water molecule can be created with such precision that its chemical bonding supplies a tension sufficient to hold this creature up?

What a cool feat! To travel oblivious. To not worry about falling, drowning, being submerged or over your head in life’s travails. Amazing … and yet think of all that bug is missing underneath what he travels across.

That little guy has me wondering if I’m not part water spider. Because if I’m honest, I am often pretty darn willing to skirt the issues and keep things at surface level, too. It’s easier that way, and I can operate on my reflexes and survive on my instincts a good while before I am really called to task. Tactics, not strategy has always been my mantra.

So today as I wandered past a rather unkempt lawn sporting dry patches and dried-brown hard pan, my inner water strider felt a bit of a nudge. We’ve had enough rain to support the greening of that lawn, if only the homeowners had sprinkled it just a bit to prepare it to receive the nourishing rain. If only they had softened the surface to let the water seep in.

Oh how that seems true in a dozen other arenas too.

If I research the company, I am better prepared for my interview.

If I read the text before class, the lecture makes so much more sense.

If I practice my sporting skills before the big game, I play so much better.

If I prepare the ground to receive the seed

If I plan the steps before needing to execute them

If I bring extra seats around the table in case of later-comers

If I put out feelers so I know the objections

If I ask the questions so I can address them

All of this, to soften the surface. Seasoning, tenderizes. Marinade, flavors. Swim lessons allow the deep dive. Prayer, softens the landing.

Yes, if I take the time do the groundwork, the provision that follows flows so much deeper.

Just don’t ask me how those Olympic spring board divers rip the surface and enter without a single splash. I, in my exceedingly short diving career, landed my back dive splat on my back. Felt like concrete. I wasn’t prepared for that.

I’ve heard ripples are a good idea. Bubbling the waters softens the landing. Of course, if you’re Jesus, you can walk on water at will and dive under when a rescue is required. Thank goodness for that.

I take a deep breath

I take a deep breath
and slowly
ever so slowly
let it go.

I feel it seeping
into my flailing limbs
coursing through my doing
bubbling through my brain.

It is content
to distribute itself as it pleases
to go where it wants
at its own pace.

No anxious breath has this capacity. 
No! that breath screams to be released.
Forces its way out.
Gasps for more.

This breath is not that breath.

This breath is patient,
content with its status.

This breath makes no demands
except, as it were,
when it has run its course,
and has supplied my need.

And now I need another.

This deep breath 
exits slowly
without fanfare
making way for the next.

I do not thank this breath
do not consider its significance
its magnificence
its wonder.

I simply take another
and another
as if I was made for this
and it for me

As if it would go on forever
as if I would.


What if “blessed are you” really means “get up, go ahead and do something”?

I’ve always been a bit confused by the Beatitudes. You know, the “blessed are you” passages… Honestly, I don’t feel “blessed” at all when my spirit is lacking, I mourn, am grossly overmatched or suffering an injustice. Rarely do I find showing mercy, pure-heartedness, peace-making or persecution to be calm, peace-filled endeavors.

Okay, so you say, but they point us to a future where we will be blessed — as kingdom-dwellers. There we’ll be comfortable heirs, contented to experience mercy, see God, and be received as children. Perhaps true, but still confounding to me, because Jesus always struck me as a present tense kind of guy; not just a wait-it-out-and-you-will-see kind of guy. After all, future promises ring pretty hollow when our today is so gnarly.

So, I was delighted to read another take on the “Blessed are you’s,” described in today’s Richard Rohr’s Contemplation and Action newsletter and quoted from Elias Chacour’s book We Belong to the Land. Chacour suggests that the verb traditionally translated as “blessed are you” from the Aramaic is more accurately, Get up, go ahead, do something, move. You who are feeling low or worn out, move into the Kingdom that’s here now. See it! Hear it! Feel it! Claim it!

Now THAT sounds more like Jesus, to me. So let’s rewrite those beatitudes.

Matthew 5 tells us, “when Jesus saw the crowds (he had been healing from every disease and sickness), he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”

When He said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are poor in spirit because I am here to fill even the hollow places with spirit-wholeness.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are in mourning because I bring hope and a new day.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, because I will use your meekness to bring down even the mightiest strongmen.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who seek justice, for in your seeking you will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who offer mercy, my grace and mercy will rain down upon you.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are pure in heart, for there you will see me.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who work for peace for there I will be among you.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move and keep moving, you who are beaten down and even killed, for today you will be with me in paradise.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. He meant, Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are vilified because of me, for I will stand with you when you defend my name.

In your going and doing, “rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”

Right now.

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