Wow! Over 100 people entered the giveaway of the lovely picture book, Maybe God is Like That Too.
And the two winners, who are going to be as happy as this boy from the book are…. Continue reading
It’s early in the morning on this Holy Saturday, and if you’re like me, you must be wondering just what was happening in that quiet Jerusalem cave. Perhaps it was something like this…
Jesus had died. Joseph and Nicodemus were sad. They carefully took Jesus’ body down from the cross. They cleaned him. They wrapped his body in strips of white linen and carried him to a quiet cave on the hillside. They laid Jesus down inside the cave. Then they said goodbye. Before they left, they rolled a big stone over the entrance.
Outside the cave, two guards kept watch. The big heavy stone was sealed in place. And for three whole days, all was still.
But inside that quiet cave God was working. If you tried to peek inside, you couldn’t see anything. No eye could see it. If you stood outside and put your ear to the big stone, you couldn’t hear anything. No ear could hear it. If you tried to imagine what was happening you couldn’t. No mind could imagine it. But inside, God was doing something utterly amazing. Something only God could do. Jesus waited. And the world held its breath and waited with him.
It’s hard to believe, but we have reached the final part of our Bible study based on Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart. This book will be published TOMORROW! I feel like the woman in our Bible story for today…..happy! But, of course, Mary Magdalene had so much more to sing about than a new book release… Jesus, the King of the world, and the Lord of her life had just been released from the grave. Let’s tiptoe to that quiet hillside with Mary and see what she sees…
It was a grey, misty morning when the plane took off from Portland’s International airport.
The drive to the airport had been bleak too. Who likes goodbyes? The weather matched my mood.
We gave our last hugs and boarded the plane, Michigan bound. Rain poured down the little windowpane.
But less than five minutes later, this was our view….
Mount Hood’s spectacular snow-capped peak was waiting to surprise us, in skies bluer than the ocean, and brighter than I could believe. We had climbed above the clouds, and left the rain behind.
No matter what, there’s always hope.
And when hope seems to hide… beyond the clouds, or deep in the darkness of the earth, or curled in the shriveled chrysalis… we just have to remember that it’s waiting, unseen, to surprise us.
Because every daffodil that was once squashed deep in the dirt, and every butterfly that was once caught in the chrysalis, and every mountain peak that was once shrouded in mist, they all sing the same glorious song….
it’s the song of hope.
Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. George Iles.
I will not buy a glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. I will not. Even though I know how delicious it is, and I really do want one. I turn away from this tempting stall even though I can smell its juicy, ripe fruit from here, and try to focus.
I’m standing in one of Jerusalem’s tiny, fascinating, cobbled streets. This route is called the Via Dolorosa. I’m one of a group, trying to listen to our tour guide as we follow in the last footsteps of Jesus. The triumphal procession and celebration of Palm Sunday is long gone for Jesus. What lies ahead is horrific, and unbelievable, and unimaginably cruel.
These are the very streets through which Jesus dragged his heavy cross, stumbling under its weight, bleeding onto the cobbles, while people watched and laughed and cheered.
We’ve just emerged from the darkness of an underground room, the place where Pilate condemned Jesus to death. We’re ready to go where Jesus went. I’m behind my sister-in-law and I hear her whisper to my brother, as she slips her hand in his:
Let’s follow the footsteps of Jesus.
I’m already feeling emotional as I really think about where his footsteps would take him.
But as soon as we emerge on to those busy Jerusalem streets, that’s when I see the pomegranates, and the scarves, and smell the coffee. And that’s when I lose my focus.
The narrow, winding alleys are simply filled with life, and color, and busyness, and sound. Everywhere I look there are stalls filled with things I want….
I see that fruit and suddenly, instead of thinking about the sour vinegar- the last drink that Jesus would have- I’m thinking about that freshly squeezed pomegranate juice I could have.
I see a myriad of colorful scarves, blowing in the wind, and suddenly, I’m not thinking about the crown of thorns that Jesus wore- I’m thinking about the pretty blue scarf I could wear.
I see the little Israeli coffee stall and suddenly, I’m not thinking about the smell of blood and sweat as Jesus fell to the cobbles under the weight of his cross- I’m thinking about the delicious aroma of freshly ground coffee mixed with cardamom seeds.
Let’s follow in the footsteps of Jesus, she said.
But I’m terrible at it.
It’s so very hard… to walk with Jesus through this Holy Week, to truly contemplate the meaning of Maundy Thursday, and to experience the grief of Good Friday. But for Jesus, it was the only way, the only way, to that empty tomb, to Resurrection Sunday.
And if I wanted to, I could skip right through Holy Week. I could jump straight from Palm Sunday to Easter morning. I don’t have to go through any of it… because Jesus did it for me.
Help me, God, amidst the busyness and distractions of Holy Week, to try to remember that.
My husband can draw. My sons can draw. I can’t.
I don’t know how old I was when I discovered this sad fact. But one day, I realized that my pictures didn’t look like they were supposed to. So I gave up.
When my husband was a young boy at school, the only thing he remembers about his art teacher was the day he looked up to see him taking out a large, black, permanent marker from his jacket pocket as he bent over to ask my husband a question about what he was drawing.
What’s that Nellist? He said, pointing to his picture.
It’s a cloud, sir. David replied.
Oh, I see, the teacher sniggered.
Then he promptly took his big, black, permanent marker and drew a large, ugly arrow across the sky, accompanied by a label that read: A CLOUD.
Fortunately, my husband survived that scar. He is, in fact, a wonderful artist.
My grandson, at four years old, is a wonderful artist too. Totally uninhibited, he picks up the pen and creates life on the page. No-one has told him that rain is not purple, or that buds on one tree cannot possibly be multi-colored. He is not yet scarred by perfectionism, or skepticism, or the idea that he cannot draw. He simply draws.
In his picture, we are enjoying large blue lollipops together.
There’s the merest sprinkling of rain, but the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds, drawn by Grandma, as per his instructions.
And center stage is his masterpiece…. a tall tree in spring, like the one we looked at outside my window, bursting with buds, and perfect in promise. It fills the entire page from the green of the grass to the blue of the sky. And If you look closely, you can see the multi-colored buds curled, like they are holding a secret; waiting to be opened.
There’s a song in his picture. And color. And hope. And two cars, because his little four-year old world always has wheels in it.
And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all live in that four-year old world, where buds on trees are multi-colored, and lollipops are huge, and there is no scarring, or labeling, or teachers with permanent markers in their pockets, just waiting to scribble on our dreams?
And I think everyone needs a picture like my grandson’s….pinned on their fridges, helping to remind them of sunshine
and new life
and the promise of spring,
even when there’s rain.
There are always flowers for those who want to see them. Henri Matisse
Of course it helped that the sun was shining that day; that birds were singing high in the treetops; that blossom was blowing in the wind; that voices were raised in song, echoing around The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem and filling it with peace.
We wait patiently in line for our turn to step inside. I see the small doorway cut out of the rock; I see a huge circular stone standing nearby, like the one that would have been used to seal the entrance;
I see people stepping out of the tomb. They are smiling.
And then it’s our turn.
We step inside. It is quiet. And empty. And for a moment, we don’t say a word.
But when we do, it’s my sister that says,
This is a happy place.
And I laugh at her perfect pronouncement. She is so right! And I don’t feel like I have to whisper in here, as I have done at most of the holy sites. And I don’t feel like I have to tiptoe in here, like I did as a child in the graveyard, afraid to step on the tombs of the dead.
This is a happy place! This is not where we find the dead, but the living!
And we step out through the open door, just as Jesus did, two thousand years ago, where sunshine waits to greet us, and promise whispers in the air.
We step from darkness into light, and celebrate with every spring flower who has pushed her way out from darkest earth to find the place where she can bloom.
JESUS IS ALIVE!