Monday, March 28, 2016

Never Give Up

I grumble as I stuff the pastel plastic with gummy bears, sour worms and jelly beans. No Dove chocolate this time around!

This is ridiculous! They are far too old for egg hunt. They’ve outgrown it. Tell me, which teenager’s parent is doing THIS – I point at the pile of plastic eggs and opened bags of candy, my mouth filled with sour worms – on the night when we should be thinking of Jesus and all He’s done for us???

This is not the first – or the last - time I find my parenting colliding with my spirituality.

My husband looks at me over the newspaper. Then returns to his reading.

You know, you have to make it extra hard for them to find the eggs this year, I frown.

The man of the house is the designated egg hider.  

No more easy raking of all that teeth-rotting candy, I continue. In fact, no egg should be visible. None at all. If they want the hunt, they’ll get THE HUNT. Make them WORK for the eggs.

Sunday morning, desperate for the resurrection, we greet each other with,

He is risen!

He is risen indeed, even as I wait for the second cup of java to kick in and make effectual the ‘rising from the dead’ inside my foggy brain.

The egg hunt commences without pomp. They already know what they are supposed to do.

Within minutes our house is turned upside-down in search for the hidden eggs.  They climb on top of counters, chairs and tables. Every couch and cushion moved. Every cabinet door and every drawer opened. Stove and dishwasher. Toaster oven and microwave and…

We didn’t hide any in the freezer! I shout.

They dig the eggs out of some rather difficult, creative spots. Others, which seem pretty obvious to me, they overlook again and again.

This is HARD! They moan.
This is FUN! I gloat. Are you ready to give up yet?

NOOOOO! Again they are united, so who am I to object.

The search continues on with only few more eggs left to be ferreted out.

But I don't know yet that the biggest surprise has been reserved for ... me!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Hunt is On

For the past ten years or so, each Easter morning, we’ve had a family Easter Egg hunt. We didn’t intend to turn it into a tradition or anything remotely of that sort. I feel like already there are enough rabbit trails and distractions surrounding this unprecedented day in history. Already too much frivolity as if to sugar-coat the violence and cruelty of that day and today. No need to add our clutter to the collective clatter.

But, the kids were so adorable... they were having so much fun looking for eggs, and we were having so much fun watching them have fun that we kept doing it year after year.

Now that the adorables have overnight morphed into teenagers, the hunt feels a bit antiquated. 

They are too old for it. 

WE are too old!

On Saturday night, the eve of the big day, just to be sure, I slip in a rather self-evident statement, making it as casual as the yoga pants I am wearing.

You guys don’t want to do the Easter Egg hunt this year, right?

Nooooo!!! They cry out in unison. We WANT the Easter egg hunt!
The fact that they agree on anything at all during the season in life when just about everything can be turned into a WWIII-worthy argument, instantly grabs my attention.

You are way too old for Easter Egg hunt! We are too old! It’s too much hassle and you don’t even care.

We do care. We want the hunt!

Thus the decision was made and it was final.  The hunt was on.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Useless Donkey Enters History

He would still be wallowing in the ocean of self-pity if one day, completely out of blue, he didn’t overhear a conversation between his human master and a stranger speaking with unmistakable Galilean accent.

He was so used to the big world and all its important people and events -  the real life – passing him by that he almost missed it.

The Lord has a need of him…. The stranger insisted.

The beast lifted its drowsy head, wondering what the fuss is all about.

The Lord… what??...  

The fleeting thought was so preposterous he immediately dismissed it.  This donkey has learned the lesson that life is not about him, perhaps all too well. 

Still his long donkey ears and his fluttering donkey heart couldn't rest. 

But... but... what if...?

Just then the door to his pen opened, the master walked in, untied his rope and led him out into the blinding sunlight. 

C’mon donkey.  You won’t believe it, but this is your lucky day. Out of all the useful beasts under the good heaven, the Lord says He needs you!

The Lord…?!!!

Has a need…???? 

How can the living Lord of everything have a need??? 

And that need is … 


I remember that year as the year when the donkey - the useless, worthless donkey - entered timeless history according to the predetermined plan of His Lord. 

This same beast of burden became the unlikely courier of my personal Easter message that year.

 I’ve never looked at another donkey quite the same ever since. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Useless Donkey

It’s usually a good beginningOr so I think. 

I jump-start my week with the cheering Palm Sunday crowd, the grand parade welcoming Jesus as He enters Jerusalem riding on the strangely anti-climatic beast - a donkey!

One year this is as far as I got.  It was as if the donkey slammed on his hoof-brakes, mid-parade and spoke to me, as donkeys sometimes do - although this was the first - and only time so far - a donkey spoke to me.

If you heard this donkey’s story, you couldn’t help but feel a lot of kinship towards the lowly beast of burden. 

His was an intensly sad tale of a creature who wanted so badly to be of service, to be not useless but useful. Still he remained tied inside his donkey pen day after day, chewing his hey, bypassed, ignored, marginalized and flat-out denied as his life flitted away.  

All other donkeys got to feel good about themselves and how wonderfully helpful they were to their masters.  

But not this donkey. 

Every other beast of burden could flood their Facebook wall with pictures of all the wonderful projects they’ve been a part of and all the amazing people they got to meet, important and famous people who even patted their backs in gratitude for their much-appreciated service.  

But not this donkey.

This donkey fought his valiant battles stuck inside the smelly stable, swishing flies with his matted tail.

The gargantuan battles against the onslaught of doubts.

Does the Creator even remember him? Will he die here, useless worthless donkey?

The hoof-wrestling matches with envy, and discouragement, and hoof-stomping rage, and hopelessness and utter loss of purpose.

Why does every other donkey get to live a meaningful donkey life, even FUN donkey life???... Every other stinky donkey except for him???

Alas, all the poor depressed donkey received for all his torment and all his suffering was... silence.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Holy Week Unraveling

Every year starting with Palm Sunday I determine to re-trace His steps as I follow along through Jesus’ last week. This is the culmination of Lental season. The fulfillment of not only so many prophecies but also ageless hopes and dreams of humanity riddled with questions like, 

Where is God when it hurts? 

How can good God allow so much evil in His world? 

I feel like I’ve been sharpening my focus for several weeks now. I am as ready as I ever can be to join the writers of the four gospels who have meticulously recorded the words and events surrounding the Lord’s final moments. 

Earlier in March I even got a jpeg of the Holy Week graph - all I need to do is read through the scripture references that fit inside a given day of the week.

How difficult can it be??

Well, this year I finally figured it out.  It’s not just difficult. 

 It’s impossible!

If you’ve never tried, you wouldn’t understand.

See, there is so much compressed in this one short week.  So much love. And so much hate. There is a ton of hype. Misunderstanding. Cruelty. Intensity. Insanity. Scheming. Betrayal. Denial. More love. More betrayal. I know of no human language which can adequately express the motion, the emotion of this unprecedented week in human history.

Over the years, I learned the harder I try to wrap my mind and heart around it the more the Holy Week seems to unravel.

Stunned silence might be the most appropriate response to what unfolds before our eyes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Broken and Beautiful

One would never know when entering the quiet unpretentious neighborhood with large trees casting giant shadows over narrow streets the magic that takes place inside a steamy garage of 905 Littlewolf Lane.

My friend Valerie lives inside the house with the garage – steamy-hot not only during the sweltering Florida summers but also during the shortened winter days when all true Floridians don their musty ski jackets to compliment their flip flops worn over mismatched ‘cold weather’ socks.

It was Valerie who first introduced me to Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with precious metals, like gold, silver or platinum.  She explained to me that in this ancient art rather than trying to effect the repair in such a way in order to minimize the visibility of the breaks, the artist actually accentuates them, considering the vessel all the more beautiful not despite of its brokenness but because of it.

The brokenness and the repair process thus become a part of its history, its beauty and the testimony to its continued usefulness despite the damage.

Such artistic approach as well as the philosophy of life is quite contrary to the imaginary standard of flawless perfection often espoused in our world.

I admit I am the first one to ditch the dinged, broken, old or simply out of style things. I’ve gotten to a place where I  simply don’t have time, energy or motivation to work on repairing anything.

It’s just not worth the trouble, I explain.

It’s cheaper to get it new, start fresh, I argue.  

Perhaps this is why the old Japanese tradition became so fascinating to me. 

I can't help but marvel who in this fast-paced, hi-tech, perfect-is-good-enough world of ours has time for such a thing??

Who possesses the patience, the thoughtfulness, the attentiveness, skill, wisdom and LOVE for such tedious, laborious, honesty wasteful process?

What kind of person do you have to be to find joy and satisfaction in the repairing what others deem unrepairable? 

Mending what most dismiss as the unmendable?

Monday, March 07, 2016

The Repair Shop of the Soul

I am rather overwhelmed by the extent of the brokenness of this place, this Nemours Medical Center for the soul. Everywhere I turn, something is broken!

Broken jars, promises and hearts.

Shattered plates, dreams and worlds and memories.

Twisted ankles, loves, desires and perspectives.  

Displaced, dislocated people.

Neither quite at home here.

Nor at home there anymore.

Sure, there is room for all of this, for all of us in this magnificent mansion of the Person, but aren’t we missing something? Haven’t you missed something, Lord? Is there not something more… something better than life – yes, it’s a very spacious, roomy, expansive life - but life condemned to perpetual brokenness – both on the inside, as on the outside…?

The questions linger in the air like partially deflated helium balloons…

It takes something like eternity to pick out amidst all this the rubble the steady rumble of the words of hope…

Not only that...

No, this is not all. There is more. Much much more... than simple spacious coexistence of all this brokenness...

Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. Colossians 1:19-20
There we are!

All the broken is here!

All the dislocated, displaced are welcome here!

Not carelessly overlooked.

Not forgotten.

Not left hanging unnoticed.

Not ignored as trivial and unimportant.  

Not banned, barred, frowned upon, walled out.                    
Not tossed on the garbage heap of the world worthless, useless, because they are ....broken... because they are different, because they just don't fit in.

To the contrary!