"the change never came"

From the dramatic reading Heather wrote six years ago, when we led the Easter service soon after moving here (this is the end of it, before dawn Easter morning, John speaking):

I can't, I can't, I can't believe it. No. I still can't. God! What has God done!

I knew. There was no question. I knew him. We broke bread together every day, how could I not know him? I watched him break the bread on the hillside, how his eyes were alight in the doing of it, how the bread never ended, his hands giving and giving. His hands. I saw his hands weary with touching cripple after cripple, I saw them go away dancing. But it was more than that. More. I saw him on the mountain, standing between Moses and Elijah, shining with an everlasting light. I knew.

He was the one.

[To God, low and angry] So what have You done?

You were testing him. I knew, I saw, I know what You do! You test Your people beyond endurance, you rule them with a rod of iron, you put them through the green heart of the fire—and then you snatch them out and they're purest gold. You send them to prison, you drive them into the wilderness, you throw them in cisterns where they sink in mud up to their necks. You made Abraham put a knife to his son's throat before you called out to him to stop. I was willing. I know it's your way, for me, for him, for all of us, I know it's the only way—he was willing and I knew he was. I sat on the ground in the garden and watched him sweating and crying, his face to the earth, a few paces away, and I saw that he was willing. He could have stood up and walked away. Anytime, he could have. But he was willing. He loves You... loved You. And where is he now?

I was with him. I heard him scream. I stood there under his twisted body shaking, waiting every moment for the change. For the veil to be torn away, for him to be revealed in the glory of his Father—oh, if they saw, if he had ever showed all that was in him. And I waited, and waited, and listened to him try to breathe. And he pulled himself up and I saw what it cost him, the pain, the breath, and he gasped to me to care for his mother. To care for his mother. When he was gone.

And the change never came.

I never thought. In my wildest and most terrible dreams, I never thought of this. That You could let your servant pass into the fire, and never snatch him out. That I would hear him scream why have you abandoned me and look up into the darkening sky and hear the silence. Only silence. I never thought You were a God like that. I knew You weren't. I knew. He knew. He trusted You.

Was he wrong then? Answer me. Was he wrong?

[then Mary, pounding and calling in a loud voice:]

Peter, John, let me in! You won't believe what I've seen!



walking it

Not a lot to write about lately, it seems. There’s been a few retreat contacts, and I’m waiting to see if those will develop into anything. Other than that, it’s been spring cleaning, caring for our elderly neighbor, and lots of baby sitting (when it seems like I’m constantly trying to get him to go to sleep). Lots of time doing the routine things. Enjoyable enough most of the time, but it doesn’t seem very significant, or much different from yesterday.

I’d like to have more spiritual insights or breakthroughs or chances to talk (or write) about some of the ideas I’m passionate about. But I’m reminded of something I told myself often when I was on a long walk. When the routine daily things started to feel like drudgery and I wished I was having interesting encounters or being more of a “witness” to others. I’d remind myself: I can’t tell the story of the walk until I walk it. This was the walking. Later, if it turned out well, there’d be an interesting, encouraging story to tell someone.

Another thought I had occasionally while walking had to do with family life. I’d encounter people with families who felt the kind of radical dependence on God I was talking about sounded good, and was perhaps possible for a single person, but didn’t seem practical for someone with a family. And I thought it might be valuable to try to live it with a family, if I got the chance, to show it is possible. Or at least give a little encouragement to anyone leaning in that direction, who felt hindered by their obligations and situation in life.

I’d still like to do that. But in order to tell the stories about how God made it possible, I have to walk that life first. There’s a little to tell so far, but many more (and bigger) challenges ahead. So I’ll just keep reminding myself that I have to walk it before I can tell the story. And trust that God will have some use for that story somewhere down the line.