Friday, March 29

Seeing What's Left

Rewind the tape back forty days.  Though no one rewinds tapes anymore.
Here I sat, head in hands, praying for provision, filled with fright.  This Lenten fast loomed before me, a covenant commitment.  Calendars aren't dictators but Lent wouldn't let go.  

At first we saw provision to the penny.  Marvelous no matter how cliche.  That standard, textbook God-response made my shackles of unbelief fall.  

Now I just get what I can, when I can.  If I can't I can't.  I don't pray for the miracle, just live with the tension and trust.  The unexpected happened.  The starter did need to be replaced.  The karate tournament fee was essential for my son to demonstrate great courage.  The traffic ticket surprised us both.  I took it all out of the seventy five percent rather than ask for help from others out of my own fear.  If God saw fit to fill in the gaps, then he did.  I have a ten dollar refund from the dentist waiting to be cashed.  I don't know why it came.

With relaxed hands it was easier to move into the river that was already flowing, something Richard Rohr mentions somewhere.  So often we fight the current instead of just moving into what's already happening.  Letting go of the rocks was the first hard step.  From there it was easy to float.

Lent wasn't about making seventy five percent turn into eighty or ninety, yet I started to pray for God to do it, to give more, to "show up" according to my perfect vision.  Lent was about abstaining from plenty, sometimes from enough.  But it wasn't about multiplying.   

That phrase, "Beggars can't be choosers"  is unfortunate and devastatingly true.  But beggars can see and re-envision.  I've needed help seeing but I've known that's been my choice.  My quarter offering could give someone a new way of seeing and introduce choice which is of course the garden that God places us in.  

Fast forward forty days.  When there's nothing left in the house to eat today I do not sit down with my head in my hands, go to the store and overextend -- not even for butter or oil.  I look deeper and somehow make French Onion soup and a loaf of wheat bread.  When have I ever made that?  A cup of granola for the just found unopened yogurt.  Why was it left unseen?  Leftovers will be redesigned for tacos.  That Christmas gift mix in the darkness of the pantry will be scones at breakfast.  Iced Tea is always forgotten, and yet always ready to be made.  When will we learn to see what is here instead of what isn't?

What was in the tomb when Jesus called Lazarus forth, mourning friends all around?  An impossibility or a body preserved and ready to respond...

What was left to say the deepest thank you when Mary's livelihood was returned?  A wasteful, pointless expression or the hope-enshrouded alabaster jar from an interrupted death...

What was in that dipping of the bread seen by John and Judas?  A devil's identification or a friendship offering at the very last moment...

At the end of Lent, what is really left?  Abiding.

"The point of simplicity is not efficiency, increased productivity or even a healthier, more relaxed life.  The point is making space for God's own self."   Jan Johnson.  Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace
I am not leaving Lent panting for the dinners out, the put-off products, the coffees or other wants.  Our celebration on Sunday will be a celebration of life sustained and prolonged.  And we'll go and buy a few things that we need and even a couple wants, like candy for some boys' Easter baskets.  But we won't be undoing it all.  We'll still be saying, "You are enough."

{Giving Out of Poverty. Lent 2013}

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For two years I have had comments turned off as a discipline to write for myself. I'm seeing the other side. I just ask that you comment with grace.