Monday, March 30, 2015

It just makes sense

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

Pieta, by Deignis, DeviantArt.
There are people who say You are myth. They say this is all some grand man-made design. After all, think of it really -- God becomes man, is brutally killed on a cross. We lift that cross and say he rose from the dead, and now life is about sacrificing for others and entering into this so-called mystery of dying with You to rise with You...

Come on.

And yet, as I back up and scan our world, I see a similar pattern: dying and rising, sacrificing ... dying and rising again. He would not have risen had she not sacrificed... Unless she died in that one way, she would not have realized what she was keeping herself from seeing... And he refuses to die to his way of thinking and so remains trapped, static, almost lifeless....

And I turn and bump into You upon that cross. I am swept up into You. I watch Your body come down. I watch it laid within that tomb. I feel my heart stop and squeeze inside my chest -- what if I'm wrong? What if I'm wrong? But then the sun fades, and that curtain is torn in two, and that gigantic stone slides easily from the doorway.

"Why do you look for the living among the dead?" (Luke 24).

Lord, teach us to see. You make sense. This strange, ridiculous, all too unbelievable story ... just ... makes ... sense ... of what we see around us.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Needing something positive

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

We invited the kids to ponder the Stations of the Cross, Lord. We put up poster-sized papers on the wall, labeled each with a station's name, offered a reflection about the station, and then provided materials for them to artistically express their thoughts, feelings. On paper, it sounded very good, but it did not go well. Few responded. And of those who did create something, what they created didn't necessarily relate, at least I didn't think so.

Xavier spent quite some time creating an intricate, multicolored bird, and he put it on the ninth station -- "Jesus falls a third time." I asked him why he made a bird. His answer, "It needed something positive."

The following week, we put up the final stations and invited their response. Even fewer were comfortable making something. And there was Xavier again, fashioning yet another colorful bird -- and this one mythical in its shape and brilliance. It had long legs, a long neck, and colored feathers coming out from its head in all directions. Again, he headed for station nine and taped it there.

I stood there and examined that bird for quite some time.

What did I hope for? What was the objective? To foster within the children a personal connection with You, to nurture their love for You, and to ponder how cruel sin can be. Maybe it presumed too much. Maybe their personal relationship with You is just not so defined as yet. And maybe this extreme cruelty is so very foreign to them that they just could not relate.

And yet, our culture is attempting to do the same -- the Passion of Christ, for example. I don't think it had the impact on the world that its creators hoped -- they, too, had the same objectives as did I. And, for the most part, I'd say, it just didn't work. And because it didn't, we'd best figure out why and begin to act on what we conclude.

Xavier's example will stick with me -- we did need something positive. Your children are ready to experience the joy, the triumph that is assured in our life with You:  "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

They see a lot of pain -- in the news, in others' lives, and sometimes in their own, not as harsh as what we see in Your passion, but painful nonetheless. Rather than impress them with just how much worse sin can make us behave, we need to be focusing on what came after: Your Resurrection. We need to be teaching the hows of Your power that helps us overcome, especially when our ability to overcome, because of You, doesn't make the same loud, vulgar "noise" as does what we're overcoming.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Modify our attitudes, Lord

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

Thank You, Lord, that we can bring ourselves to You for "updating." Thank You for continuing to work on us, modifying us, teaching us, urging us to grow.

Who of us doesn't have a perspective that we need to rub up against You, so You can modify it and give it back, helping us to see much better?

It is just this that happened yesterday. You used another, a trusted mentor, to modify a perspective in me, an attitude that was hurting me and keeping me from being able to be present with others with all the strength and wisdom, with the talents and gifts You've given me.

I took offense too easily. There are reasons why, but they do not matter right now. I took offense and thus drew back. I didn't bring my opinions forward. I didn't offer my gifts. I didn't offer humor, support, and my reticence also kept me from seeing another viewpoint that would have helped the situation resolve itself more fully, more wholly.

Because I understand why I took offense -- and the reasons had nothing to do with the present situation but originated in past wounds that created such a weakness in me -- I can now begin to behave differently when the tendency to take offense again rears its head. I can choose to rise above that; I can be a creator, with You, rather than a victim. I can dive into the flow of Your grace and realize the offering You make through me, the me clear of hindrances to Your work within!

Please, Lord, continue to show me how the weak parts of me get in the way of Your being able to be present, through me, to those around me. Amen.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Talitha koum!

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

Nancy posted that Mexican proverb, Lord --
They buried us.
They didn't know we were seeds.
It has sung in my heart for over two weeks now.

Some might say it is a depressing proverb, given what the poor in Mexico have suffered. Oh, but I don't hear it as depressing! I hear it as triumphant. Its implication mixes with my own rising from the ground, ten feet under. It reminds me of the powerful force of You!

"Talitha koum"
kelleyrenz

I can choose to focus on the 17 years of pain
Accuse You of not being there, buried in their shame.
But these words are not accurate; they do not dance with truth
They betray the transcending reality that was filled with You.
And what they thought they stood upon and ground deep beneath their heels
Broke open and released a power that makes all kingdoms kneel.
For He who hung upon a tree between this heaven and this earth
Comes down to claim what is His own and to which He gives a second birth.
So for those who suffer, O do not mourn! For we hold no broken cup
The Man of Sorrows, with twinkling eyes, comes to raise us up!