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Posts Tagged ‘now’

tumblr_meydjiDofs1r1mkubo1_500Today marks two months that Mike, my husband and father to our children, passed. Like a goose stepping march, the days and weeks and now months, advance, without pause. How peculiar time feels: some time is like a whirlwind, lived and gone before I can even call it a day while other time slogs its way through the sun’s ecliptic journey.

Don’t let it escape your notice, dear friends, that with the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives. [2 Peter 3:8-9, CEB]

Some say that grieving cannot be measured by time, it is different for everyone, and yet, the two month mark has precedence, a turning point of sorts for most survivors of loss where they begin a true re-entry. I suppose I beat that mark to some degree. Not for lack of love or care, but merely the unassailable demands of food, shelter, and clothing.

I remember many years ago when I was living single in New York City, a struggling actress, making do with restaurant jobs and occasional paid gigs, and a dream of dance/theater company that could make a difference. But, in the end, the personalities of the players were incompatible and we needed to part ways, not unlike a messy divorce. During that time, I told them of feeling overwhelmed and just plain tired of being in one of the driver’s seats and footing the bills. And one friend said, “You can’t fall apart. We count on you too much.” And so, I ran away. I left the City and the group and started over in the Midwest.

Starting over is time-based. It’s a resetting of the clock; it’s restarting the stopwatch.

Every day is actually a new countdown. It’s the measure we humans have all agreed upon. And then, a few specific days make their mark and become an inauguration of a longer period of time, a month or a year, or, as in my case today, a simple reminder of a finale, that other day when the clock stopped for the Mike part of my heart and would not begin again.

But God’s clock is not linear. I’m not exactly sure what that means for me, except for an unfailing Presence that is not put off by my lateness or my laziness, does not measure me by my effectiveness or my falls, does not count my mistakes or my successes. God is now and God is now again. And Jesus, who lived linearly for a human lifetime, is once again now, and identifies experientially with the pain of time.

Two months. 62 days. 1,488 hours. 89,280 minutes. 5,356,800 seconds. plus now. No algorithm for that.

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prophesyProphecy, predictions, and fortune telling: do we really want to know?

Amaziah said to Amos, “You who see things, go, run away to the land of Judah, eat your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s holy place and his royal house.” [Amos 7:12-13, CEB]

We check with the local meteorologist/weatherman every day; we are obsessed with knowing the weather forecast. Most people have it on the home screens of their cell phone. Will it rain? Will it snow? Will my life be changed by either? Nope.

We say we want to know but then, if it’s not what we want to hear, we speak against it. Chance of rain today, 53%  Oh, please don’t rain, I want weathermanto take a run or a bike ride or a walk or go out in my boat. Tomorrow, warm and sunny with only 3% chance of rain. Of course, the day I have to work indoors, it’s going to be a beautiful day. Yada, yada, yada.

And if the message is particularly grim, the messenger’s credibility is immediately suspect.

Originally, predictors about our world’s atmosphere called it “global warming,” but then the naysayers used every snow storm as an example to the contrary, as though their local snowstorm can counter the scientific evidence that our planet is warmer than ever. So, the analysts switched up the label and now use “climate change” to speak to the future. All the same, very few want to hear this prophecy. Like Amaziah, they say, go somewhere else to tell your tale, we’re all just fine here.

fortune tellingAre you curious about your own immediate future? How many fortune tellers grace our city streets? In some areas, they proliferate more than others (New Orleans has a high number of soothsayers on every corner in the French Quarter and Bourbon Street). Is it a game or do we really want to know? Do we believe these strangers have access to the string of our future? Or do we hope for a tantalizingly dark handsome stranger to be in our stars? Something or someone we can keep a look out for.

Not long ago, I finished listening to a new sci-fi fantasy book, Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price (first in a series, of course). The book has some issues, but I love the way it digs into the idea of time, both future and past as well as alternate lives and worlds, seemingly existing side by side. It’s pretty exquisite world building. For one of the characters, it’s Groundhog Day on steroids, but he doesn’t become a nicer and nicer person, he just kills people sooner to get it over with, etc. He is doing his best to manipulate the present and the future.

We are all manipulating our futures by the decisions we make today and living out the decisions we made yesterday.

There is an exercise in which you can do a review of your past and snip out the pieces that you would (if your could) remove from your past. It’s illuminating actually because few of us can do it. Why? Because every snip would change today and the now becomes too similar to the unknown future we struggle with each day. Would I like to snip out my bi-polar mother? Sure. But then, I would not be in the United States because it was her extreme personality that under girded our emigration.

Why did God provide prophets in the first place? And then, why did they disappear after the coming of Christ?

milk and honeyIn the Old Testament, it’s as thought God acted like a Father, giving fair warning about the consequences of certain choices. There were a lot of “if you do this or that–expect this result.” God tried to lay out the benefits, a land flowing with milk and honey, and yet, it was never enough. Once acquired, the people rejoiced, but it wasn’t long before the land was treated like a entitlement and not a gift. And so, God tried a different tactic, and provided one last prophet, one last shepherd, one last message.

Unfortunately, despite knowing and reading and seeing how things have gone in the past, we continue to make the same mistakes. God says: Accept the Spirit of Christ and “heaven” is a given grace. Follow Christ and live differently, sacrificially, in love and forgiveness and the world will unfold in a completely different way, an incomparable future. And yet, despite the prophesied future, we choose idols instead. We choose our immediate desires over a promised future.

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I amSo many times I have read about the great “I AM,” the God of all Gods, the one God who cannot really be named or explained. When Moses asked who should I tell the Israelites in Egypt sent me to them, and he was told:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord [I AM], the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ [Exodus 3:14-15]

But in the notes, this I AM phrase has alternative meaning: I will be what I will be. And decidedly, in English at least, this brings up a whole new array of possibilities.

I am still working on a full engagement with the present. This idea crosses over into a variety of disciplines both Eastern and Western. It is accepting the now, being full in the now, and living it without remorse for what is past or fear of the future.

But now I am challenged to consider as well this more open-ended God who is and will be. Not that I didn’t know that of course, but I find it intriguing to ponder God, perhaps as a point within me for the now and then stretching outward my center self in an ever growing, ever widening funnel of “God Self.” God is now but also God is potential, forever.

God is telling Moses, “No worries: here now and here tomorrow.” All of time is God’s now.

How can we not be grateful for the invitation to be in relationship with this God of today and forever? There are not enough songs to sing, poems to recite, or words to say that can capture the wonder of God in me and in the universe, a personal God and a cosmic One. This is the reason we glorify God. This is the reason we praise. This is the reason we surrender.

Who sends you?

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YouAreHereInTheGalaxyAccording to scripture, Lot was Abraham’s nephew and although he traveled with his Uncle Abraham from Haran to Egypt and then on to the Negev. At some point, both men grew in wealth and decided to part ways. Abraham gave Lot the choice of land, and Lot choice the plain of Jordan to the East, well-watered, and dotted with large cities (among them Sodom and Gomorrah).

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” . . . He [the angel] said to him [Lot], “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town [Zoar] you speak of. But flee there quickly, . . .  Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave.  [Genesis 19:15, 21-22, 30]

Freed by the angels of God, generally negotiated by Uncle Abraham, Lot and his family are given the opportunity to start over. But Lot was a bit of a selfish man and appears to look for the easier way. He chooses the better land when he and his uncle part ways, he chooses to live in the city, he chooses to flee to a closer place than the mountains, and in the end, he even looks the other way when his daughters are impregnated by his drunken self. Moab and Bel-Ammi, are the children born by this incest and they become the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites whose story is intertwined with Abraham’s line through Israel and Judah, but generally it’s a bitter relationship dotted with bloodshed.

This, because of Lot’s choices or passivity. This, because Lot took the way that seemed right to him alone.

From one story after another, whether fairy tale or movie or book, we are reminded that any one of our choices can set huge events in motion. In chaos theory, it is called the Butterfly Effect. But it’s not that hard to look at our own individual lives, so many left and right turns, families made and lost, love seeded and buried, by a single choice, a single conversation, a single word (yes or no).

I wonder if this hasn’t bred the meteoric rise of interest in genealogy. Why, we even have reality television traveling back into the lives of celebrities, church denominations building ancient libraries of such histories, and websites dedicated to helping people go back in time.

How did I get here? We want to know.

I supposed that’s all find and good. But I can’t help but wonder if we shouldn’t be putting more energy into the now. For whatever happened before we are living it. We cannot go back, only forward.

It is for us to respond, to act, to embrace. Whether it was our choices or the choices of our parents or grandparents or great-greats, this is where we have landed. This is where I am, with this family, with these gifts, with this personality, with this day.

And God is here with me. And anything can happen next.

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One day This DayThe difference between Joseph and me is acceptance of today, just the way it is (not the way I think it should be). Joseph went from “favored son” to “favored slave” to “favored prisoner.” Instead of focusing on the favored part, I’d be moaning and groaning about the other transmutations. I’d be comparing now with what used to be. I’d be comparing now with my dreams. Could this day be God too?
Genesis 39: 5a, 19-21
From the time he [Potiphar] put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. . . . When his master heard [believed] the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison . . . But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.
I remember when I turned thirty (back in the day) and I was sure it was the worst day of my life. I had a litany of accomplishments that I expected to have mastered by then: successful marriage, successful career, stable income, maybe a kid, fabulous apartment, and the perfect body. Instead, I was working as a cocktail waitress in a singles bar, living in a tiny one-room cabin back in my home town (having left New York), with no boyfriend (much less a husband), and totally out of shape. Plus, the one date I did have for my “big turning thirty day” stood me up. I was a mess. God? Surely not. This could not be in God’s plan!
Looking back, of course, I can see some incredible events that happened as a result of my circumstances: the people I met, the healing between my mom and me, but mostly the discovery that I could be alone. I needed to learn who that person was (since my nature had been to define myself by others). I see God in my rear view mirror, but I couldn’t see God then.
Joseph appears to have the gifted insight, at a young age, to trust God no matter what. He took what was given and did the best he could within the parameters he was given. He worked it.
It’s time to take my head out of the sand and really look around. Every neighbor, every acquaintance, every brief encounter at work, every pet (accidents and all), every loss, every gain, every child (adult or not), every married year, every relative, every hour, day, or minute: they are all God.
Last week, I learned that one of my oldest friends (from high school days) is in the final stages of pancreatic cancer. I was so angry, Mary, the happiest one of us all, the most content, the healthiest, the most well-centered in God–she was dying? No Fair! And yet, when I spoke to her, I was immediately arrested by her Today God. She was in the now and accepted this journey just like all the other journeys.
She put me to shame without even trying. Really. Today is God. Thanks. Really, thanks for today. God.

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