Category Archives: Lent

In a mirror, grimly, and yet

If there’s one thing I like, it’s a clean bathroom mirror. Toothbrush splatters, water spots and the random dust and debris just don’t belong there. I like my reflection unimpeded. I shouldn’t have to squint through all that.

So I, like my mother before me, keep cleaning supplies close at hand. An under sink wash rag stands ready for the counters and sinks. A spray bottle of glass cleaner and a hefty roll of paper towels are tucked a little further back. OK OK, I know. I was a bit hasty recently applying the wash rag (it was clean, I swear!) to the offending splatters. Lesson learned: efficiency leaves water-splotched streaking behind. But they were nothing several spritzes of window cleaner and some healthy swoops with the pristine paper towels couldn’t handle. Voila! Pretty darn sparkly.

Until the morning came. And with it, the sun’s rising brilliance blazed in the transom window. Something about that beam delivered from just that angle at just that moment — a picture-perfect framing of my magnificent mirror handiwork. Which was, in a word, embarrassing: overlapping swipes and smudges that were simply a re-distribution of the mirror dirt I hadn’t removed at all. By this light, it was as if my pristine paper towel was nothing but a greasy rag or a re-purposed cloth working overtime.

Nary a clean speck to be seen.

And here I had been admiring it so … from a distance. Under careful examination, it was a mess!

Isn’t it glorious to know that our Maker, though seeing us through and through in that examinating and illuminating glow, doesn’t despair? Even as we spiff ourselves up to present our best, He neither chuckles nor dismisses. Oh what self-restraint it must take to look upon my grimy presentation, I think.

And then, in the fleeting flash of a spirit-ignited moment, I think better.

For just that moment I see that illuminated square of mirror in a dazzling display of sparkling pure reflection. Nary a hint of dust, dirt, smudge or swipe. Pristine. And in that split of a second I am immersed in gratitude for a Savior, the gift of God, who has offered himself that our mirror might actually be clean. A clean that our best efforts could never achieve.

Reflection, how I stand before you, unsatisfied with what I see. And yet, the crystal clear view from the other side sees me differently. Yes, as I am, but also as one day I may be. When, through the eyes of Love, I am able to see Thee for myself just as now I am seen.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

What a good, good thing is Good Friday, that we may look fully upon the anguish, the ugly and even the evil perpetuated on humankind by humankind and let it invite us to call upon the One with the power to cleanse even this.

Thanks be to God.

Is that you, God? It’s me, Wendy

Merlin, the Cornell Lab Bird ID App makes every walk better. Instead of listening to the constant chatter inside my brain, it has me attending to the bird song all around me. At the push of a button, I am recording and the app (and I) are listening, patiently. We wait and wonder together until, like magic, the app produces images of the bird who is singing and calling to me. Or perhaps several suggestions of who it might be. It’s not always sure, but it usually designates a “most likely” candidate.

How cool, I got to wondering, would it be if I had a God ID App. You know, point and record, and my phone tells me whether what I am listening to is God.

Wow. That is rich. Would my phone explode with God-sightings? Yeah, that one and that one, too and that over there and… OR, would I, after waiting a good long while eagerly anticipating the undeniable God-moment, give up in frustration when my App wasn’t able to definitively conclude that God was within hearing. A still small voice is, after all, a very difficult thing to hear. Not sure we can rely on technology to detect it.

Still smiling, I move along the meandering path, phone recorder at the ready. I do not hurry. I am listening. Along the way I greet the dog walkers I pass with what is probably a little more enthusiasm than is called for. The pups seemed especially glad to see me. I excuse myself when, in my attention to the App, I veer a little more on their side than is allowed.

Then, I hear the perfect bird. It’s singing solo up in the branches to my left. I point my phone in its direction, punch up the recording and wait. Northern Mockingbird, it tells me. Wait, it also might be a Brown Thrasher.

Then I see it. Perfectly illuminated in the dense green of the tree. Unmistakable. RED. It’s a male cardinal. I look and listen. I can see the sounds coming from its beak. Its partner flies in to greet it. Female cardinal for sure. Merlin App, you have failed.

Wow. Wonder if I can trust this App at all. Maybe it’s been messing with me all along.

So much for that God App idea. Clearly, these human-made versions are only so good. But, still, there is something about the walking while not hurrying, the listening, the expectation, even the waiting… that all felt pretty darn good. Sort of like an inward glow of positivity. Hopeful. Friendly. Constructive. Creative. Maybe there’s something to this.

Perhaps I don’t need an App at all. Maybe I have all I need, not at my fingertips, but at my disposal. If I wander and listen and wait patiently, love will show up.

I wonder what those dogs saw in me.

There’s a light in our darkness

I didn't see the light left on. 
It was such a small beam directed downward.
A task light, meant to illuminate
what was cooking, to give a
progress report on the scrambled eggs
which had been long since consumed.
I didn't see the light left on. 
What with the sun's rays drowning it in their showy display,
splashing their way across the fingerprint-streaked kitchen appliances and reflecting onto the floor,
where yesterday's crumbs mixed with this morning's paw prints all clamoring to be cleaned.
I didn't see the light left on. 
The overhead luminescent so immediate and far-reaching.
The days' news face-up, unwilling to wait with its urgent communications,
and night-before items strewn, awaiting retrieval,
while two impatient hounds whine their displeasure
from sleeping quarters half-a-room away.
I didn't see the light left on. 
Those perpetual under-the-cabinet LEDs so unforgiving!
Every corner exposed, every surface uncovered.
"Coffee's ready!" insists a tiny green light, dismissing its "2:00 AM" digital display.
Little liar. Pay no attention to the coffee pot clock.
It used to brew on command, back in the day.
I didn't see the light left on
until it was time to leave; and I
switched off the overheads,
extinguished the LEDs and
bid the sun's rays farewell as they moved mercifully
onward taking their attentions and affections elsewhere.

"Excuse me," beckoned the light,
its beam still focused on its solemn assignment --
standing sentry over the cooking coils,
long cooled and fully forgotten.

until the darkening dared it to proclaim itself.

"I'm still here."
I wonder what else I am not seeing,
drowned as it often is in the invading ambient light.
I wonder what else I am not hearing, 
quenched as it often is by the parading ambient noise.
I wonder what else I am not sensing, 
habituated as I've become to the pelting of ambient turmoil.
I wonder what I might discover, if
I let myself attend to the light left on:

Its dedicated beam
Its resolute stare

Its stalwart attention
Its deep concern

What is it trying to show me?
what is it trying to tell me?
What is it dying to say?
Perhaps only darkness could bring this to light.  
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