Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for March, 2014

Morning Star

Part of my post today will be guest blogger and dear friend Lorna Derksen. She’s offered to share her story of where she’s seen God in a difficult time. But first…

My story

Every Thursday evening for the last 6 weeks, I’ve been marking an anniversary. Thursday, February 6th was the evening that my friends Lorna and Marilyn and I went cross-country skiing at Windsor Park.

It was a beautiful night, not as brutally cold as it had been, and we were enjoying the ski when suddenly, as accidents go, Lorna fell on a hill and broke her femur. During the 45 minutes it took for the paramedics to skidoo to our spot in the park and get Lorna to the ambulance, Marilyn and I began to sing to Lorna to distract her from the pain. The words of songs we normally sing at Sunday morning worship were incredibly apt in this difficult circumstance. “I will hold the Christ light for you, in the night-time of your fear…”; “… born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.”

As Lorna has been recovering from her accident and surgery, Marilyn and I decided to keep up the “Thursday night singing” tradition.

Me, Marilyn and Eldon

Me, Marilyn and Eldon

We have been making our way through the whole Watershed songbook, occasionally adding songs we sing at Lion’s Manor (songs by the Beatles and from World War II era). It’s been a “win-win” for us all. Besides being just plain fun, the songs stay with us after we leave as songs do, Words from God weaving into our thoughts and in night time tossing.

Like the question of this blog, the question for Lorna became, “Where is God in this difficult experience?” She certainly didn’t have to wait long to find out. I am writing today to bear witness to the many ways God has already accompanied her during this unfortunate break and the pain she’s had to endure as she heals.

Lorna has had a parade of visitors, helping and accompanying in the most creative and touching ways. Friends have washed her hair, prayed with and for her, cooked, baked, sung with and for her, brought their dogs over for pet therapy, cleaned, shoveled walkways, and the list goes on. It takes a village to raise a child, and a community to heal a leg.

In the process, her heart has also been healed as she has seen God’s face over and over again, realizing how incredibly loved she is. Her recovery has been a glowing light, an example to me that none of us are ever alone. God will see us all through in every situation.

On one recent Sunday morning worship service, the scripture was about God’s Word being like the morning star. Lorna had been asked to tell a bit of her story in light of that verse. It had been 3 weeks since her accident at that point.

Lorna’s story

You should give that word your closest attention, for it shines like a lamp amidst all the dirt and darkness of the world, until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19

The morning star, it is said, rises before the dawn. It signals the promise of what is to come.

Pre-dawn is of interest to me these days in ways that I have never been interested in pre-dawn before. For most of my life I have slept like a baby through pre-dawn. Now I’m whining like a baby. Well, hopefully not, but pre-dawn is probably the most difficult time for me since breaking my femur and having surgery. Around midnight before going to sleep there is the hope that maybe tonight the pain won’t be so bad, maybe one of the two positions that I’m able to lie in will be the ticket to sleep tonight, maybe my mind won’t locate me in one of the major wars of the last century.

photo 2But at pre-dawn, hope for a good night’s sleep is gone. It’s the aftermath that I’m dealing with. I’m tired from not sleeping. The meds are wearing off and there’s no way to adjust my leg to reduce the pain. I’m trying to understand the World War Two conspiracy that my mind has concocted to make sense of the pool of sweat in which I wake.

If there is any time that needs to be illuminated by the light of the morning star, pre-dawn is it. As of yet, I have not had the mental acuity or discipline to invite the light in during this literal pre-dawn time, so I’m going to stretch the metaphor out and talk about the metaphorical morning star that has been appearing during the mornings that my husband Dave and I have spent doing lectio divina this past week.

Lectio divina is a way of praying the scriptures. We’ve been reading John 9, the story about the man born blind who is healed by Jesus and then questioned by the Pharisees. We read part of the passage, usually just a few verses, and identify a word or phrase that jumps out at us. Then we read the passage again and talk about our questions and associations that the passage evokes. Next, we read the passage for a third time, and pray out loud, whatever prayers of confession or gratitude or frustration have resulted from our conversation. Finally, we read the passage a fourth time and spend 20 minutes in silence, following the directions of centring prayer as taught by Father Keating.

Every morning there has been a word that has invited me out of the monotony of pain and immobility and into gratitude. The word has tended to be something like “Look and See” or “Spot the Miracle today”. And every morning we’re able to pray in gratitude for the extravagant ways that we’ve been accompanied and blessed by so many different people.

One particularly memorable morning when I was miserable and overwhelmed by the pain, we read of how the Pharisees were so concerned with a Sabbath healing that they seemed to be missing put on the amazing miracle of seeing colour and movement and form for the first time after being blind for one’s entire life. Wouldn’t this be an amazing moment for all who witnessed it? How could such a miracle be dismissed? Was there a miracle that I was dismissing?

Dave directed my attention toward the gift of this quieter week after a couple of weeks of non-stop visitors. “We have the time to absorb the extravagance of all those encounters,” he said.

And when he said that, a couple of images came to mind… My friend Marilyn holding me on the ski trail where I have fallen, in agony, but am held in her consoling and accompanying presence. Our friends Don and Wendy standing in the waiting area at Concordia emergency holding my ski boots and my purse while I lie on the wooden board on the gurney. In recalling these memories I felt this wash of gratitude flow through my body, like a physical sensation.

That’s when I realized  that my pain is in the moment, but the blessings that I’ve experienced are eternal, accessible through memory to convey the promise of the morning star. The promise, pointing toward the dawn, is that we have been accompanied, we are accompanied and we will be accompanied.

Called by Name

Last week, I was given an unusual assignment. A school-wide art project will get underway next week, and we are to draw a picture for a ceramic tile on one of the human rights. The human right assigned to our class is Article #18 – the right to freedom of thought and religion.

I posed the question to my students: “What do you believe in?”  and the answers flooded in. “Hockey!” “Santa Claus!” “Friends!” Some students who attend catechism said “Jesus”.

I’m a Christian; a follower of Jesus, and the assignment got me thinking. How would I represent my deepest belief in a picture? Christianity has obviously been so badly represented and the cross has been radically misused in culture that it’s something I realize I don’t readily talk about. And yet, it’s the symbol I kept going back to when I considered what I’d draw on my tile. The story and person behind the symbol give me the deepest hope and meaning that I know.

So it was that I spent a part of this past Friday evening checking out the artwork of Ramone Romero, a Christian living in Japan. My friend Verda shared his art with me a while back and somehow his pictures of Jesus keep opening my heart and reminding me of the truth that we are all inexpressibly valuable and loved by God. I keep one of his pictures in my mind’s eye each day. I wondered whether my ceramic tile could reflect one of his paintings of open hands with hearts on them.

As I looked at his pictures, one of them leapt out at me and struck a deep chord. I found it comforting.

“Called to Shine”

“The Lord builds up Jerusalem;

Called to Shine by Ramone Romero. Used with permission.

Called to Shine by Ramone Romero. Used with permission.

He gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.”
(Psalm 147:2-4)

It is easy for me to forget that God is constantly gathering and building us up. Isn’t it more realistic to take a “glass half empty” view on life? Lately I have resumed the old spiritual discipline of combing through the day before I go to sleep, finding things to be grateful for. No matter how I’m feeling or how successful (or not) I’ve felt about my day, my search never takes long. Most often, it is the small things like someone’s genuine smile or kind word, a thoughtful deed or a woodpecker at my feeder. Or it’s bigger things like the loyal friendship and encouragement of dear friends like Lyle. A particular study night or worship time often comes to mind with the way they lighten the heart and provide guidance and community. Like the stars in the Romero’s picture, the examples are never ending, provided by a loving God who never forgets me.

I think of those hands with hearts extending towards me and towards the entire universe. I confess that lately my heart has been a bit stony and brittle with forgetfulness, but I am comforted that even if I forget, God never forgets me. I’m reminded that the focus of belief is not a “what” but a “who”. Like the Psalm says, God is forever calling my name, binding up the broken bits, gathering us all up, reminding us that we are all infinitely beautiful in His loving hands.

Tag Cloud