When my girls were small, I had magical healing powers. I could kiss a scrape or bandage a cut and presto! It would be “all better.” They would smile and go back to playing. Today, these girls are young women, and I no longer have that power. They spend their days working hard in places far from home, and when they hurt they’re on their own. They’re old enough to know that kisses do not work long distance, only in person.
I’m grateful that my girls know that Christ can be such a person, thanks to Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, mentors and pastors. Thank goodness, because the world my kids navigate is very different from the one I grew up in. It’s different, even, than the one they knew as children. Today, it seems, there is more shouting and posturing, more blatant hatred and prejudice, and more evident disrespect for persons and planet on a global scale. Nearly everywhere there is rubble, covered in dust.
This is the world my children have inherited from me, and the world I receive today in news, navigation and neighborhood. So many dusty images flood my mind, of collapse and heartbreak, earthquake and explosion, fire and flood, with medics and rescue personnel searching desperately for survivors.
In Mexico City recently, the collapse of buildings brought rescue efforts to the scene of a school. Oh children, especially children — the weakest, youngest and most promising among us — bid us to pause… hoping, waiting, listening, praying.
How in the midst of all of our commotion can we hear a tiny cry, barely a breath? But when together we pause and a hush falls, we do hear it. Then suddenly there is furious digging, hand to hand and shoulder to shoulder, cobbling through earth and stone and rubble to reach the tiny one before it’s too late.
Shovelfuls of earth yield to hands which brush away dirt and debris as the small, still form is lifted to safety. Silence doesn’t dare hope. But suddenly, there are shouts: “The child is alive!” Oh, such cheering and joy must reach through tear-stained cheeks to the very ears of God. Out of the dust there is life.
Hope is there when brother acknowledges brother, father welcomes son, and foe becomes friend. When we all gather with one cause, one intention, and one mission, our hopes are realized. We do this for our children, for all children.
“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” (Isaiah 58:12)
The business of rebuilding the ancient foundations falls to us. We will be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings. Dwellings where our children can raise their children, with loving care tendered to kiss scraped knees, and all children can play together.
Lord, thank you for the resilience and tenacity of children. Help us to love them well by providing sturdy support and a firm foundation on which they can build.
Ah, fresh baked bread. Remember the smell of that kitchen? The rounded loaves, crisp and golden. Two handfuls torn open to the white, fluffy softness that melted the butter instantly. Mouth watering goodness.
Ooh, crystal glasses of deep red bounty set before each place. Remember that first sip? Tangy tartness or oaken boldness, swirled from lip to tongue to teeth to tonsils, dancing and twirling. A heart’s deep thanks.
The blessed sacrament: a meal we know. So like the one shared in Grandma’s kitchen and at Papa’s table. Now, a feast partaken among friends. Eat. Drink. Fill your hunger, slake your thirst. Yes, but first, come to your senses. Look at the elements, offered for you. Touch it, smell it, taste it. Partake and be nourished. Kneel and give thanks. Listen, to what calls you from this table and from this meal.
We, in the flesh, are met here to be filled. Flowing over in abundance, we are sent.
Flinging open the sanctuary doors, the wind whips our faces and stings our bare skin. The stench of septic assaults our noses and we hold our breath against the onslaught. An arm thrown over our eyes for protection, we dodge flying debris as we lean into the gale.
“Friends! Friends!” I call. “Come. Come and have lunch.”
In the distance, a child rises to come quickly, but a woman presses her back, staring at this woman dressed in church clothes, with church purse, and designer shoes. Staring at me. Surely, I do not mean them.
“Neighbors! Neighbors!” I call. “Come. Come and have lunch.”
Stepping nearer to them, the stench no longer assaults me but is fragrant. The gale no longer pelts, it’s a mere breeze. My hands are free to extend to this family, who did not know my Grandmother’s fresh baked bread or my Papa’s full bodied wine and do not know me.
A child, the smallest of three I now see, wriggles from her place. A grin starting at her lips and a query forming in her eyes, she steps to me and mimics: “Come … have … lunch.” Pleased with the effort, her eyes sparkle and her grin grows. She opens both hands to receive mine.
Her tiny fingers, darkened by nature and worn rough by destiny, are a surprise of firmness and warmth. She took me, the bread and cup of me, and we had lunch.
Blessed Sacrament, you are Holy.
“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” ― C.S. Lewis,
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” ~ Matthew 7:24-25
Towers topple, but mountains stand, even in a storm.