Tag Archives: lent

BREADCRUMBS: Little Things

For the past few months, we have not been able to figure out why the dogs go crazy when we let them out at night. They run into the side yard and start barking. The youngster, torn ACL completely forgotten, runs into the woods and comes back with the biggest smile on her face.

One of my friends came over last night and as we sat outside, kitties started appearing at our feet. One, two, three – We petted them and enjoyed their company as we talked. Later, I remained outside for a little bit and started counting again. There was a herd of kitties.

Our yard was a kitty amusement park.

You see – I haven’t taken down my last Christmas light that shines into our woods. It is one of those star projectors with dancing red and green lights. They roam all over the trees, bushes, shed and grass right off our porch. Hubby and I enjoy watching those silly lights bounce around. Apparently, the kitties do, too.

So last night, I spent some time watching kitties run hither and yon while pouncing on every light they could see. Laughter gurgled. I closed my eyes and let the little kitties tamp down the sadness of our broken world and resurrect that peace that the Shepherd always brings.

It is in the little things, right?

“He made everything beautiful in its time.”~Ecc 3:11

Prayer doesn’t come easy for me. Since I was little, I haven’t felt like I am good at it. My mind skips around to everything under the sun except being still. It even as the audacity to yak at me when I already told it a thousand time to shut up because I need to listen. Even after reading tons of – alright – maybe not tons – – but quite a few – devotionals on how to pray, I still end up with a stumbling tongue and a frustrated head.

It is then – in that choice moment – that I start giving thanks.

Thanks for a stumbling tongue that makes me work a little harder. 
Thanks for role models in my life who can string pearls as they pray. 
Thanks for the WORD who lifts me up from my bruised knees by His grace. 
Thanks to the Holy Spirit who groans – probably with a chuckle at how often she has to jump in for me – speaking the words I cannot find. 
Thanks for a millisecond of quiet from my brain every now and then when I can hear My Shepherd call my name. 
Thanks for a Savior who carved my true name in the palm of His hand and cradles me when there is sadness beyond explanation.

Thanks for the little things.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”~Phil 4:6-9 

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BREADCRUMBS III: The Sigh.

Tiny black notebooks don’t stay tiny for long. Just like all other baby critters, a notebook can grow with a life all unto itself. Stuffed into whatever corner of light found in my varied classrooms, that tiny notebook flourished.  Over the years it became stuffed with teaching ideas, notes from students, a few stories/poems that students gave me to keep, very few pictures, and even fewer pieces of my own writing (believe it or not, this writing teacher needs to write with her students), that notebook grew into one larger version after another.

In other words: one glorious treasure chest of memories.

Not sure what started me on this journey today. Had no plans to dig into this particular treasure chest. After all, my room is still cluttered with enough stuff that I need to organize from my mom’s last box of memories. But there I was my hand resting on a black notebook that had been stuck totally in a back corner of my photo closet with no other explanation except that a breadcrumb had landed on it and caught my eye.

I sighed and pulled it out. Papers stuck in between pages fluttered to the floor, and I laughed. What else can you do when there is some paczki sitting in my fridge on King’s Day or Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras or Carnival or whatever you want to call the day before Lent? You stuff your face with one kind of sweetness and fill your eyes with another kind – sweet memories.

One of the things that fell to the floor was a Peanuts cartoon. Linus holding his blanket. Bossy Lucy sitting in front of the TV. A sigh hanging between them. I remembered this cartoon and a note from a student back in 2000 saying they thought of me when they read it. I smiled and I sighed.

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.”

It is the beginning of Lent. The symbolic remembrance of a singular journey. A day when a young Rabbi arose before daybreak to walk into the darkness. A custom that started his day and ended his day. A whispered prayer that started and ended each day for him and all the generations of Jews before and after him.

“She-ma yisrael, adonai eloheinu, adonai echad…” 
Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One…

Alone time with his Father before he woke the others. A time of reflection. A time to look deep within himself and out over the countryside that waited for his first step. And somewhere deep inside me, I think, he smiled, took a deep breath and sighed.

The Father knew what was in the heart of his son on that first day. That day when Yeshua turned his feet towards Jerusalem. He knew the humanness that pulled at his first born. He knew the atrocities that lived in the heart of His other children. He knew of the love and repentance of others. And – perhaps – like His son – He, too, breathed deeply and sighed.

Two sighs united in eternity. Two hearts beating in two different realms. A Father – – A Son singing notes that could not be expressed in words until the Holy Spirit harmonized with them. A single note with all the harmonics of the universe blended into one focused purpose. A trinity united for one purpose – Grace began its journey toward Jerusalem in that breath – that sigh.

Valentines Day seems to be the perfect day to start Lent. Whether we give something up or give something away or give of ourselves to others, Lent is an active choice of Love enacted in life. A time to set our sights on Jerusalem, take a step into the darkness and pray for strength to walk forward in a timeless sigh towards Grace.

“And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.”~Rm 8:26-30 Peanuts 2000 051[google image]

UNENDING QUESTIONS

Today I ventured out into the world beyond our quirky house. Seeing as how Hubby doesn’t like to grocery shop, and my slight flu/cold/whatever virus was somewhat better, I ditched the comfy clothes and headed out to see if the world-beyond-our-neighborhood had changed.
 
Lucky for me – it had not, and I found plenty of good food with relative ease. Not so lucky for me is I was really, really tired when I came home and have felt kind of crappy ever since (so much for the virus being completely gone). Lucky for me, I will get good night’s sleep and wake up feeling even better.
 
Like usual, when I am tired and wanting to crawl into a fetal posture to recover but can’t because I’m still 20 minutes from home, I distract myself with mind explorations of things that have been at the back of the filing cabinet of consciousness. Like: I wonder what it was like for Yeshua in those missing years.
 
It is one of those questions that has been around for a very long time, and I’m sure that I’m not the first one to ponder it. The first time I remember thinking about it was in my pre-teen bedroom. Beside my canopy bed was a night stand. On that nightstand, sat a tri-fold cardboard “stain glass altar” that I made one year in Summer Community Bible school. In front of it, I set my childhood Bible. And – at some point or another – I found this verse.
 
“But Yeshua was growing in his stature and in his wisdom and in favor with God and the children of men.” ~Lk 2:52
 
And here we are some 55+ years later, and I am still wondering and trying to picture it. We know he grew in stature. Did he have best buds that he hung out with after he worked all day with the wood? Did they laugh and joke? Hang out somewhere and eat? After all it said he grew in favor “with the children of men.”
 
Was it irony or a mystery that his hands grew strong, calloused, scarred as he worked with wood? Shaping it. Sanding it. Spending time to find the beauty that it held inside. Wood that would eventually bare the stains of his blood and hold the nails that pierced those same hands and feet?
 
Did he find the pleasure that a fur-baby can bring in this life with nearby shepherds or a dog that cuddled by his side at night? Did he laugh with his family daily? Did he shake with grief or indecision when his earthly father grew sick? Was he tempted to stop it? Did his family ask?
 
Did he dance at weddings? Sing while he was working? Pray constantly? Lay back in the grass on a Sabbath and rest in blessing of the day? Play jokes on his younger sibs or friends?
 
We know from his experience at the temple when he was 12 that his wisdom was manifesting even at that age. Did he continue to debate with the rabbis in Galliee? Did people seek him out even before he declared his ministry? Did he struggle with illness, fear, love?
 
There are so many nuances to life. Yeshua – a name that comes from the base word, yasha, which means “to save, help, defend, preserve, to make free, attain victory, heal, or bring to safety”, had many nuances. He was God. He was man. He was born of woman. He experienced life with all its complexities, sorrows and joys.
 
Love wondering and someday – I hope to ask Him, face-to-face, but tonight – I think I am saying prayers, curling into my pillow and putting all these questions out of my mind. Because – like David – I know:
 
“I waited patiently for the LORD;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in Him.” ~Ps 40:1-3
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21 DAYS

It is 21 days till Easter. 21 days of a journey left. 21 days to follow a path. 21 days till the stone exploded, breaking the binds that tethered it to an earthly kingdom and releasing the radiant light of Grace from the spiritual kingdom.

For the past few weeks, I have not written much. Instead, everyday I have been reading, walking, observing, writing, praying, and drawing a small inked cross on the inside of my wrist. I didn’t think of this idea myself. One of my favorite authors has been doing this on a regular basis for a while now, Ann Voskamp. She talks about it in her book, The Broken Way.

At first, I wondered why she would do this. What possible difference in a spiritual walk could a tiny, inked cross on a wrist do for anyone? Yet, during this Lenten walk, I have noticed a difference. A difference that – perhaps – is more on the inside of me than the physical ink on the inside of a wrist. However, true to my silly Gemini self, that ink is often different colors. One color layered on top of another on some days. Other days, completely washed away by the blessed business of the day.

There is a path just down from our house that our neighbors have given me permission to walk. The dogs and I love it. There are no cars or even so much of the sound of cars, lots of smells, lots of deer prints, and I’m sure a few snakes in the grass that I hope I never see. (Lucky for me, the dogs always run ahead of me.)

As the temperatures warmed, the grass began to appear until it has become a green carpet that pulls us forward every time we walk. Trees and tall grasses from a not too distant past line its edges. Occasionally, a fallen branch from a recent storm also lie beneath our feet waiting to trip us up. Further up the way, there are other vestiges of an older life as well. Man-made reminders of that which was: large trees around a yard of a small deserted cabin, a log shed, horse-pulled tools now covered by weeds, a small, empty water trough.

As always, I wonder about the people who walked these lands before me. Indians, slave, indentured servants, landowner. I wonder and in some weird strange way, find myself praying for them as they walked these lands.

The cross on my wrist catches my eyes as I switch the button on the camera in my phone. For a minute my breath catches, “Baruch Hashem Adonai,” I whisper, “Blessed Be the Name of the LORD.” Koey sniffs the scent of something and is off running. Ryndi rolls in the leaves and tall grass for the umpteenth time. All, just reminders that this world is temporary, and all our education, ownership, accomplishments are -eventually – just “dust in the wind”.

Baruch is the Hebrew word that means “to bless”. It also means “to kneel”. When God sent His Son to walk a footpath on this earth, He knelt in front of all humanity. He squeezed the limitless into a limited body. He folded His greatest sacrifice into His greatest blessing and laid it on the path for all to find.

Easter. Grace. Salvation.

“Therefore strengthen your hands and set your shaky knees firmly. Make straight paths for your feet, that the lame member may not fail, but that it may be healed.”~Heb 12:12-13

My knees don’t bend so well anymore, but there are times when I force them because I can’t imagine not kneeling when His presence is so close. Tonight, it is warm in our house. The cross on the inside of my wrist is faded and fuzzy. My eyes are hurting as I try to hold them open for a few more minutes. It was a warm day in NC and when you have a bit of a fever, the house feels even warmer. But – it has been a blessed day. A day to sacrifice a little. A day to sleep a lot more than usual. A day to whisper a few more times, in thankfulness for these 21 days, “Baruch Hashem Adonai.”

NAP DAY

Today was the absolute, perfect nap day. The book I am reading was almost finished. The dogs were already curled up on the sunny deck. Me? I thought about going out and curling up in the sunshine, but it was just too chilly. High 50’s and a consistent breeze are really not conducive to a restful nap.

I usually don’t take naps during the day, but a cold has been trying to grab hold of me, so I didn’t go anywhere today. I slept a little later this morning and decided to pamper myself with essential oils and sleep. After all, if the dogs could do it, so could I. I traipsed around the house, but we don’t really have a sunny window area, so I just curled up in my chair.

Luckily for me, I can fall asleep at the drop of my eyelids. Often, short prayers will dash past my lips, blips of stories might also drift through or perhaps, or a lullaby of songs may carry me off to sleep. Today, just the notes of a song did the trick. No words. Just notes. When I woke up, the words of that song had made their way to the forefront of my mind.

Stretching, I sat up and realized it was the first Christmas song I had ever learned that sang me to sleep and woke me up. However, it was not the first verse that most of us sing routinely, but the last verse that was singing through my mind.

“Be with me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay….”

The dogs came running in from the deck. When I looked at the clock, I knew why they were bouncing and smiling at me. It was supper time and heaven forbid, if I am ever late in getting it into their bowls. As they munched away. I started preparing our human meal for the evening as I sang the words softly to myself.

“Close by me forever and love me, I pray…”

The nap was a good thing. The blessing of the song was the best thing. I’ve been thinking about it all night and wondering why it was that song and that verse. Lent is generally a time when people “sacrifice” something they love in honor of what Christ “sacrificed” for all of us. Last year and this year, I’ve kind of walked away from that.

I’ve been reading a book by Anne Voskamp, The Broken Way. In one chapter she quotes an Auschwitz survivor and author, Viktor Frankl. Man’s search for the meaning of life become clear when it “…points, and is directed to, something, or something other than oneself…by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love.” p.92

Such a perfect description of Christ’s journey on earth. Every step He took for three years was devoted to pointing exactly towards how to find our meaning for life. We were created in His image. A Father who completely empties His bucket out for those He created. A Father who continues to seek the lost sheep. A Father who sent His Son to point the way.

“Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care…”

So this Lenten cycle, I am trying to pour out my bucket for those who have been placed in my pasture. Writing letters to shut ins. Giving time to others. Crocheting more prayer shawls for those in need. Scrounging change out of the dusty corners to share with groups that I admire. Praying more than I ever knew was possible. And still, there are a couple of other things I want to try, but until I do them, they are just ideas, and I haven’t really emptied my bucket.

Lent is a time to direct our steps just as Christ directed his steps towards Jerusalem. I’m not sure where this journey will lead me. I’m just focusing my steps day-by-day. Today, they led me to a nap, a Christmas song, and bouncing, smiling dogs who are now curled in their beds. Hmmmm….I think it is time to join them an listen to my lullabye one more time.

“And take us to heaven to live with Thee there
And take us to heaven to live with Thee there.”

ASHES

The winds pushed through the warm house carrying the constant, varied notes of the multiple wind chimes that encircle our quirky home. When the hail began to pelt the tender plants trying to arise from their winter brokenness, the fearless labs suddenly wanted to be under my feet. Thunder boomers gave way to brilliant flashes, and I looked outside at the early darkness.
 
The ashes of a day drawing to a close.
 
Lent.
 
The period of time when a man pulled his mantle about him and began the final portion of his own days on earth. He knew what lay ahead. Perhaps not the exact ways, hows or wherefores. After all, He was still a man, and it was imperative that the perfect lamb be a lamb of this world in all ways The Spirit of the Father rested within the mantle of Rabbi Yeshua’s shell for the past three years and he pulled it physically and spiritually close around him as he turned his feet towards Jerusalem.
 
The Holy Spirit of God on earth – outside the tent of the temple – inside the soul of a man.
 
The storm has passed by our house tonight. The wind has gentled and only an occasional note blows through my open window. The fearless girls have drifted back to their beds and the ashes of my day are dwindling down to just a few tiny pieces.
 
As always I wish I could have been a bug on his shoulder, a child at his feet, a flower that he picked to give to a friend. To hear. To see. To sit at his feet. To feel his hand on my head as he prayed for a field full of seekers. A rabbi full of wisdom and the Spirt of His Father.
 
The Bible describes some creations that surround the throne of God praying and praising continuously. I used to wonder, ‘Wouldn’t that get boring?’ Wisdom whispers, ‘Wrong’. And I laugh. There is evolution in all things. Learning. Sharing. Praising. Knowing.
 
When the perfect lamb walked towards Jerusalem, he understood that the curtains would be torn and the outer doors of the court would open on their own as a testimony to all who had eyes to see and ears to listen. No longer would the Spirit of the Father be separate. No longer would they stand outside the golden doors waiting for priests to open them. No longer would a curtain separate them from the Holy of Holies.
 
Rabbi Yeshua wore his mantle and talked to the disciples of things they did not understand yet, but they would. He did miracles that they could not do, but they would. He told them to be salt in the earth, and they would. He talked about not faltering, and they didn’t. He talked about sharing love, and they went into the world and changed it forever.
 
As the Perfect Lamb made his way towards Jerusalem, he knew that the ashes of the sacrificial fires would be blown into the annuals of His-story and used only as a reminder of his last journey. Dark ashes spread across the forehead. Dark ashes that speak of an ending. Dark ashes that show the remnants of a dying former life before the glorious birth of a new day – a new covenant.
 
Tonight as I wash my face, I will remember. I will pray.for understanding. Pray for miracles that are yet to come. Pray to be salt. Pray that I don’t falter. Pray that I continue to share love and change the world in His holy name. Blessings!Be!
 
“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
until justice prevails throughout the earth.
Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction”~Is 42:1-4
[google images] [art work entitled: “Jerusalem” by Yoram Raanan]

SIMPLY THAT

462c5a9440ae12beb5875986b41683b50c857935“As I’ve gotten older, I realize I’m certain of only two things.
Days that begin with rowing on a lake are better than days that do not.
Second a man ‘s character is his fate.
And, as a student of history, I find this hard to refute.
For most of us, our stories can be written long before we die.
There are exceptions among the great men of history,…
but they are rare, and I am not one of them.
I am a teacher… simply that.” Wm. Hundert, The Emperor’s Club

Simply that.

I haven’t written for awhile. Craziness of moving. Unpacking boxes. Finding new homes for old familiar treasures. Walking the land. Planning unseen gardens. Waiting.

It is often harder to wait than it is to do.

After watching an OSU victory in March madness, hubby fell asleep, and I decided to watch a 2002 movie: “The Emperor’s Club”. I’m glad I did – it got me out of my tired funk of moving this, picturing that, wondering if I will ever see the top of my desk – seriously – ever again. Instead, it got me thinking about the Teacher who guides my life.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” — Proverbs 19:21

Students swarmed around me as the spring sunshine warmed the top of our heads and the breeze blew dust in our eyes.Their stories bouncing off my ears as I tried to keep track of 60 moving bodies and monitoring the drama of the day so it didn’t escalate into warring factions of tears and anger.

Simply that…

From the beginning monologue to the ending one, Wm. Hundert (Kevin Kline) got me thinking. It will probably keep me thinking. I took a break this past month from teaching. I haven’t written birthday blessings. I haven’t gone out of my way to listen to those around me. I haven’t invested myself in what I am supposed to do – teach.

El has a way of bringing wisdom to the forefront of my mind when I am in open rebellion and taking backward steps. It is Lent, yet here I was,doing what comes easily – straying into old habits of procrastination and excuses that I was so good at in my youth. I guess old ways never truly leave, they just wait to re-emerge in our weakness.

Simply that….

In this fourth week of Lent, the bowl I had wanted to fill with all my talents sits on my baker’s shelf – almost empty. My Bible has gathered dust of a different kind this past month and my heart is so heavy that I just sit on the path with my head in my hands.

Which brings me to the final monologue of the movie I watched tonight. “The worth of a life is not determined by a single failure or a solitary success…” Teachers are not perfect – save One. Yet – even He allowed us to see His weakness. His sadness. His tiredness. His sweating of blood. His prayers. His total surrender to the holy will of the One who loves us best. [Matt 26:36-56]

A Teacher – in all ways – simply that…

Sometimes we fail. We fail ourselves. We fail our students. But part of a true teacher’s journey is to share our failures as well as the successes. We tend to think we will look weak if we share those things that are not perfect. However, we learn from empty bowls as well as from full bowls. And if we are lucky, we gather the wisdom stones that we tripped over, push ourselves into a standing position or at least to our knees, and begin our forward journey once again.

“However much we stumble,it is a teacher’s burden – always to hope that with learning, a boy’s character might be changed.And, so, the destiny of a man.” Wm Hundert, The Emperor’s Club

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FILLING THE BOWL

Lent is about to begin.

Where has time gone? Wasn’t it just Christmas? New Year? Moving Day?

The days have been a blur of planning, executing, meeting obligations and wishing that it would go even faster, so that our new house would quickly become a home. From the time I get up in the morning until the time I fall into bed, I have not spent my day the way I really need to spend my day.

On my knees.

In continual awe.

Within holy prayer.

jan 29 2016cI am productive. The house is shaping up. Furniture will start to appear in their proper place this week. A kitchen should start to surround the stove and refrigerator. Hubby is planning an escape to warmer climes. I put up the bird feeder for the multitude of song birds that are hunting food in these wintry temperatures. We’ve found the rock upon which to build a garden around and bless with the Biblical covenant verse that we always use upon our properties. We’ve started to dream even more dreams for this land we have been lead to inhabit.

But –

I have not brought my gifts before My Father. I have not laid them at His feet. I have not even spent time in study. or quiet prayer. I have let the physical world eat up my time in the spiritual realm. I have taken too many steps backwards.

So –

As we approach Lent, I have been thinking more and more about what I need to do to enter the holiness of these 40 days. And – I have decided that I do not want nor need to give anything up. Instead, I need to gather my tiny stones and place them into my bowl, fill it to the brim and bring it carefully to My Father who loves me despite my short-comings.

Questioning.

Learning.

Singing.

Writing.

Reading.

Witnessing.

Creating..

Praying.

These are the beginning stone gifts with which I want to fill my bowl and carry into His presence during this Lenten season. Praying for others. Learning to sing a new song. Finding His wisdom. Absorbing His sacrifice into my life. Writing His WORD in my heart. Creating – dedicating all things I do to His glory. Entering my war room on my knees – beseeching and leaning into His teachings in all my ways.

This is the Lenten gift I want to bring to Him.

Rabbi Yeshua knew where His feet would lead has he turned towards Jerusalem. He understood the Rock upon which he stood would crack beneath the weight of the sin he carried A frightening storm would shake the earth to its deepest core. The curtain of the old covenant would be torn asunder and His people would cower in fear.

But –

He also knew that the Grace which would rise on the 3rd day would seal the crack forever. The Light of the world would shine more brightly upon all His creations. And – He would roll back the stone from the Path of Life that leads towards home. His children would be free to set their feet upon His path and follow.

Lent is coming. Shove Tuesday. Ash Wednesday. 40 days to choose once again.

Tonight, I am picking up my bowl. Washing it out. Polishing it. Preparing to fill it with meager, dirty, stone gifts, at least that is how I feel when I compare them to His gift. Where this Lenten path will lead, I have no idea. I never do. But – it always leads to something new and treasured. A step here. A step backwards there. Gifts gathered until I stand once again upon the Rock in this new year of GRACE.

“Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”~Josh 4:6-7

[Janet Searfoss art  http://janetsearfossbatiks.com/ ]


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SHROVE TUESDAY

pancake_1400cYesterday was a change-over day. As I gathered the Christmas candles from the windows, those final vestiges of Christmas, the darkness appeared a little darker,,,a little scarier. The bright reds of Valentine love were replaced with the gentler shades of shamrocks, little faeries peeked out of their hiding places and whispered, “Spring” to my home, and a transition began within me as well.

Today is “Fat Tuesday”.  It is the literal translation of Mardi Gras. Raised by an ex-king cakecommunicated Canadian Catholic (because he married a protestant), my mom always called it “Shrove Tuesday” which means to strive – to confess. Celebrations from Epiphany to now are culminating as the King cakes and paczki are replaced by fasting, sacrifice and confession. The Lenten season has almost arrived on my doorstep.

I looked out the window for a while tonight. Watched as the snow/sleet mixture covered our front yard as the dogs romped and slid around, enjoying the rare chance to roll in such cold whiteness. My approach to the Lenten season has been different this year. The usual enjoyment has been missing. I’ve been —- I don’t know what I’ve been. Contemplative, perhaps is the closest word I can find. I’ve been reading a lot, praying more and digging into my faith with a big ol’ shovel.

I turn from the window and listen to the dogs and the hubby snore. I smile as their noisy breaths become synchronized. Mumbles emerge out of each of them as the snow/sleet mixture piles a little higher outside. The night has become quieter, and I am listening. For what I do not know. But I am listening.

According to Jewish tradition and law, we are in the middle of a Jewish Shemitah year (Sept. 24, 2014–Sept. 13, 2015). A time to honor God by resting the land and forgiving debt. The 7th year of a 7year period. 2015 is also a Jubilee year (the 7th year of 7 consecutive Shemitahs or in other words – the 49th year in a 50 year period).The 50th year then becomes a year of freedom for the Jewish people. It makes you wonder how closely the Jewish nation is tied to our nation, when you consider the recent history of Shemitah years in 2001 and 2008.

So as Lent approaches once again, I find myself waiting by the window. Listening. Watching. Praying. It is the nature of Lent. It is what Rabbi Yeshua did as He turned His feet towards the cross. I can do no less.

“Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” Lk 29-31

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Lenten Journey/Journey of the Cross #32

It has been a long week for some reason. Haven’t really done that much, but every day was different. As if the wash cycle had switched to the spin cycle and then back to wash. In essence the water kept building up all week, soaking deeper and deeper until eventually, the machine just chugged to a stop. Eyes barely open; zoning out watching a favorite musical (Meet Me in St. Louis) and yawning every two seconds. Don’t know why I can’t write these journals at 5 o’clock instead of 10. And yet – here I sit – thinking about this journey. Introspection continues when I really wish I could just go to sleep. Is that how the disciples felt? What is it about this journey that pulls me in year after year after year?

And yet – it does -and has since I was a toddler and rejected a cuddly bunny for a crucifix that still hangs in my room.

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matt 12:40

Early in His ministry, Rabbe Yeshua began dropping hints of what was to come. Metaphor upon metaphor. One repentance story linked to another repentance story. Steeped in Jewish wisdom and Jewish tradition, Rabbe Yeshua taught for three years in the physical heart of the earth…Israel. But this time, He would expand the heart to include Gentiles and eventually enlarge the heart to cover the world. Salvation in practice. Instead of unblemished animal sacrifices and intercessory priests, Rabbe Yeshua would drink …”…a cup is in the hand of the LORD…” Ps 75:6

He reached out, “Then I took the cup from the LORD’s hand…” Jer 25:15

Even in His first night’s journey in “the heart of the earth”, He reached into Himself – the WORD – and brought forth the words that would link the past to the future. An unbroken chain that ties us all to Our Father. From the first garden, designed to be heaven on earth, to the garden where He wept and let the cup begin to spill upon Him instead of letting it spill upon us. He took Our Father’s wrath and spun it into unending LOVE. Love for you. Love for me. This Rabbi Yeshua Barabbas did this for all of us.

“Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself! Arise, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk from the LORD’s hand the cup of His anger…This is what your Sovereign Lord says,
your God, who defends his people: “See, I have taken out of your hand
the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath,
you will never drink again.” Is 51:17,22

The day of pain, suffering and agony is over.

lucasgrail