Tag Archives: spirituality

How will they know?

Meditation

Psalm 139

 

“Even before there is a word on my tongue,

God, You know it all.”

 

Why don’t we know how beautiful we are to you?

You know our very thoughts.

Why don’t we know how beautiful we are?

You listen for our every sound.

Why don’t we know?

 

“You have enclosed me behind and before,

and laid your hand on me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

it is too high, I can’t attain it.”

 

What have you made in us?

What have you made?

We know such a small piece,

mostly hidden from us by pain,

by experiences that steal,

lost to us through negligence,

unintended neglect,

of our own and others’.

 

But “ …I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

…Your eyes saw my unformed substance

and in your book they were all written,

the days that were ordained for me,

when as yet there was not one of them.”

 

How I grasp to know the planning

to know the care that went into me,

and continually goes into me this day.

How I strive to know,

to put to words the truth of it,

the incontrovertible truth of what you wrought in me,

of what you fathomed and fashioned,

and left for me to fathom—

the intricacies, the organization, the complexity,

the grand infintessimal structures,

emotional expression, reception, and retention,

the gathering of characteristics, of capabilities, of soul,

of dust shaped differently than any other,

of the dust where 200 billion have trod.

 

“How precious are your thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.”

 

Your thoughts of us are like that.

Like the dust.

Your unquestioning love,

your inexhaustible forgiveness,

All you give is the dust,

as infinite as the light that falls from the stars.

 

I don’t know why you love us so much;

But I believe in your love.

I don’t know why you believe in us;

But I believe what you believe.

I don’t know why you made us;

But I believe in what you made.

I don’t know how you can know all you know of us—

what was, what is, and what someday is—

and keep loving, keep caring.

But I believe in what you know.

 

I see this

and believe

and know.

 

How will they see how beautiful they truly are?

How will they see?

How?

The place of excrement

This post is made from recycled, post-consumer content.

 

    But love has pitched her mansion in

    the place of excrement;

    For nothing can be sole or whole

    That has not been rent.

                    –William Butler Yeats

 

You know those maps in the back of your Bible? They were mysterious treasure maps to me as a kid. I’d flip through all the places Jesus spoke, never really thinking about them beyond the fact that they were some color in an otherwise black and white book.

 

But zoom in and go to where Jesus gave his sermon on the "mount," which was probably more of a natural rise in the landscape and you might get a new perspective. I think there really is treasure there.

 

The places Jesus traveled—Caesarea Philippi, Ephesus, Laodicea, Rome—this is the landscape that provides perspective of the upside-down message of Christ. In the ancient city of Sardis, early Christians worked to establish the revolution of grace in the city squares and cultural centers. Jesus stood overlooking the city, outside of it, probably where some shepherds had been the night before, sitting around a campfire, never imagining a huge crowd would be there tomorrow listening to a lesson on how to live life. How to be better people, enjoy life more, get to heaven, get healed, please God. And about how to be salt.

 

The shepherds didn't have firewood, so they'd sat there mixing the sheep dung with salt they'd brought for this very thing. It became night, and as someone created a fire, Jesus grabbed a patty and broke it, like the bread he'd done earlier. In his hands. “You are the salt of the earth,” he says. Maybe his disciples remembered how he'd picked the mustard weed and crumbled that in his hand too, how he used it to explain faith. Now they were supposed to be the salt? And the earth was the dung? They’re to be in the dung, but . . . what? “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” Of course, it can’t. So we're to be in the dung, but not become like the dung just because we’re surrounded by it. We have to be careful.

 

Sure, salt is used in food too. Flavoring the bread and the fish. Without it, the food would be bland. But also, we're to be the agents of hotter, brighter, longer-lasting fires. And that requires being mixed into some pretty nasty stuff. And still not losing our essence. Makes sense, doesn't it?

We’re capable of  hotter, brighter fires if we're willing to have our assumptions challenged, even as we work to challenge others' assumptions. The most subversive figure in history gave us a timeless call to impact culture. Down in the slimy, disgusting fact of humanity, pulling it apart, analyzing it, and transforming it with supernatural love.

 

What could be more honest than that? Chosing safety over cultural impact is losing saltiness. Don't do it. The crap of the world will affect you. It will influence you. But that is how you'll be made whole.