Saturday, December 1, 2012

O Come, O Come...

As you may know, Phil and I have been in a long season of waiting for a child. In January we will enter the fifth year we began our adoption process and it’s during the Christmas season when I often feel particularly sad, knowing that another year has passed with no little eyes to stare into, no little hand to hold, no someone. Oh, the waiting, the waiting...

Phil is playing the guitar downstairs - O Come, O Come Emmanuel - another message about waiting. How long Israel waited for this Child. I hear the longing in the melody. O Come, O come, Emanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear...

Christmas is about joy and giving and wonder, yes. But this season, I relate with the waiting, the longing, the looking for someone. I think about the fact that after a very, very long time, God fulfilled a long-awaited dream. This one act of power and love is far beyond what I can imagine. And while I am completely aware that Israel’s waiting and need for a Savior is on an entirely different scale than my waiting and desire for a baby, I can’t help but relate to the longing of it.

In a smaller way, maybe that will happen for us too. The wonder of a child brought to us through a miracle, a literal miracle. In the meantime, there is such a spiritual depth and beauty that comes in the waiting. Deep calls to deep. Listen to the song.

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, Thou Dayspring come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel has come.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Thoughts on Easter of Late

Recently, I talked with several people, all from different walks of life, who are going through profound suffering. I guess we all have our tale to tell. We all have our burdens to bear. If you don't already know this about me, I will disclose here that several years ago I went through a very difficult divorce. It almost killed me, literally. I was very sick through that time and disillusioned with God. Every Christian paradigm I knew seemed suddenly shattered and laid in pieces around my feet. Those were dark days to be sure. Through time, I learned that God in His own way was actually delivering me from strongholds, physical and spiritual. I am remarried now and I can't believe how much I love this man. Through thick and thin, we share a spiritual foundation that brings us much joy and wholeness. I am so, so grateful for my Phil. I know that situations in life don't always end happily as my marriage scenario did. For some reason, God saw fit to allow me to see purpose in the events that preceded my marriage to Phil. He allowed me to see how He takes brokenness and creates wholeness. He took my divorce, something that seemingly had no reason, and redeemed it - redeemed me and showed me deeper levels of Himself through it. I learned that no matter what things look like, He is faithful.

Although I don't always want to do this, I am choosing to trust in that faithfulness these days with our current adoption situation. I am 45 years old. Phil and I are a "waiting family" with an adoption agency and we long for the day when we can become parents. We are in the fourth long year of the process and there are many days when I direct my bitterness at God and question His goodness. I think back on when I first wanted to be a mom. I was 26. That's almost twenty years of living in barrenness. The pain is deep and sometimes I question God like I did through my divorce, but something happened today that allowed me to catch a little glimpse into God's higher purposes. I saw that God's purpose for my life is still very tangibly getting worked out through the most surprising situations. He creates beauty through suffering, because He is beautiful.

Then, I thought about Easter. I think we live in a fallen world where we will all, to some degree, experience suffering and sorrow. It is a difficult life filled too often with brokenness. But there is deep significance in Easter. Easter means that God has redeemed the brokenness, the pain, the sorrow, the seemingly random cruelties of this world through His Son. I know that may sound "religulous" but when I connect with that idea, it's so personally meaningful. Here are the lyrics of a hymn I heard today.

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

I think about the words, "View Him prostrate in the garden; on the ground your Maker lies. On the bloody tree behold Him; Sinner, will this not suffice?" How can I need more than this? The idea that my Maker sacrificed so much for me, out of His total, all-consuming love. This is a fallen world, to be sure - but He has redeemed it. Then, I remembered this song ... (I'm not kidding - I was crying on my way home from work as I listened to this. I could barely see the road - don't tell my mother.)

Here the bells ringing
They're singing that you can be born again
Here the bells ringing
They're singing Christ is risen from the dead

The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell His disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead

Joy to the word, he has risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that you can be healed right now
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
Christ, he will reveal it now

The angels, they all surround us
And they are ministering Jesus' power
Quickly now, reach out and receive it
For this could be your glorious hour

Joy to the world! he has risen, hallelujah!
He's risen, hallelujah!
He's risen, hallelujah, hallelujah!

He is the Great Redeemer. He will redeem my suffering. He will redeem yours. And maybe we will get to see a glimpse of His beauty through it all. I will pray that is the case for you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My New Obsession with Breaking Bad

Somewhere out there, I think there must be blog readers; they thrive on the receiving end of the blogosphere - (Forgive me, I said "blogosphere"). Now these unknown, yet all-important entities have yet to collide with my little site here (with the exception of my four precious followers - thank you, btw), but I always hope that I might someday, er... snare a few more of them. Maybe it would be best if I wrote on a subject of some interest - my new favorite little series - Breaking Bad.

As an English teacher who has filled my students' minds with timeless tragedies like Oedipus, Hamlet and Death of a Salesman, I am always looking for that classically tragic pattern in modern day culture - to feel affirmed of its timelessness, I guess. I recently hit pay dirt with Breaking Bad. It seems that Tragedy, in the Greek sense, has found a new medium - serialized television. The writing of this show is so exemplary, so compelling, so multi-dimensional that I wonder if it will make some sort of history of its own. Our hero, Walter White, filled with that classic combo of pride and nobility (reflected in an almost godlike understanding of chemistry), propels himself into one of the most pathetic, awe-inspiring downward spirals that I have witnessed in a long time. I am loving every minute of it! Vince Gilligan's use of the Aristotelian formula is brilliantly laden with dramatic irony, reversals and chain reactions aplenty - enough to send this giddy little high school English teacher into literary euphoria. By the way, for those fellow viewers of the show, did you notice the various deities posted on the backyard walls - fertility god, sun god etc.? The gods are always there, aren't they? There will most certainly be a reckoning.

I should probably add that I am only in the middle of season three and my husband assures me that there is still much that lies ahead, before my beloved Walter White transforms into Scarface. The strangest part of all of this is that I find myself continually rooting for Walt - hoping, praying that one day, he will pull his puffed-up head out of his ass and embrace gratitude. Alas, I have a feeling that is not how things will turn out.

If you are one of those stealthy blog readers, and you have landed, for whatever reason, on this site, will you ring your proverbial bell (or post a comment) if you share my enthusiasm for this addictive (get it?) show? Thanks for reading!!

Lavender. It's sweet, dusty scent graces the twilight air and I am grateful.