Sunday, February 12, 2006

Violets


A loud moan woke me from a restless sleep.

Brenda was trying to scream from the depths of a bad dream; only a strangled gurgling sound came out.

I placed my cheek against hers, woke her with soft words of safety and encouragement. I prayed over her, stroking her hair, holding her close.

I can only partially understand the psychological demons that plague her subconscious. I can only partially understand the spiritual demons that plague our home. I can grasp a little better the emotional, financial, and physical demons that prowl the edges of our life together.

I love this world.

Really... I do.

This terrible place where babies are born dying of AIDS, where land mines amputate children at play, where bombs fall from the sky, and placid oceans rise up and sweep away villages.

I love this world.

From where I am sitting I see tiny violets blossoming in my lawn; the mower will crop them within a day or so. They grow where they cannot survive. Ephemeral, beautiful.

I love this world.

Brenda asked me how a good and just God could let evil things happen to a child.

That is the central question to the Book of Job. How could a good God...

I can see in my mind’s eye the photo of two years ago, a Haitian child making cakes out of dirt and lard to feed herself and her little brother.

I sat on a rock the other morning. It was good. I went back that afternoon. And again the next day. I watched the river flow.

It is very beautiful. A heron glided in, landing in a tree across the river. A coyote yipped, startling the deer by the trees a hundred yards away. The river swirled below me, dark and swollen from an unusually wet winter. In places it flowed the wrong direction, a backwater sweeping foam through the clutching branches of trees that, for this year, this season, find themselves standing in dark water.

The Willamette River flowed past my perch, almost exactly as it did when Jesus let men stretch him out on a roughhewn post and drive nails into His body.

I love this world. This place that is so painful, so hurtful.

I love this world that has me confused and searching for steadiness where all is swirling in ways that do not seem to make sense.

I love this world filled with things of beauty destined to be mowed.

I love this world of confusion and choices.

Our choices. My choices.

Place my desires first, or follow His commands?

It’s freedom. Freedom given us by a God who wants us to love Him and each other because it is a choice.

He lets us have our way for a century, give or take a few years, so we can have choices.

How could a good God? Because He wants us free to choose to not think of ourselves first.

We can choose to follow a difficult path, or we can bail. (So many bail. So many hurt and hurting.)

This freedom means there are people who become monsters, hurting children, and there are people who run into hallways where bullets fly, pulling children to safety.

Tonight our church is voting on the architect's plan for rebuilding our church from the fire my child started. The cost for the new building is $800,000 more than the money received from the insurance company.

Tonight I will worry a little about my home, my children, my wife, my finances, my spiritual growth... and the oh so many questions and emotions that churn within my heart, and I will ask Him once again to show me the next step on this shadowed path.

Tonight I will try my best to set aside my fears for my family, my strange mix of emotions regarding the fire, and prayerfully, worshipfully, make choices about that new building, just as anyone else in the membership will do.

Tonight I will approach this meeting with thoughts about my wife’s nightmares, and the fears still hidden in the hearts of my children, torn from horrors and placed in my home, and the apprehensions about my work, and the repairs my home needs, and the lawyers sniffing around for assets, and the rashes on my hands, and... and...

And I love this world.

You see, in this place, this world, I am learning what cannot be learned in Heaven. I am learning the difference between being a naturally selfish man and a servant of the God who wishes so much we didn’t hurt and cry and ache and moan in our sleep.

In this place I can leave crowded cities and walk in woods and watch herons fly and sit on a rock above a confused river.

In this world I can stop and pick the violet from the grass, and lay it on my desk while I type a blog post, before the mower comes.


27 comments:

Fred said...

I think you got it right, CS. The world is indeed a dangerous place. Just look at any large city. Within minutes of danger, you can drive to the outskirts, where the air is clear, and the scenery is devoid of concrete.

Either way, we need to understand both worlds, and make a choice. Do we want to make it better, or ignore the dangers?

Christopher said...

“I love this world that has me confused and searching for steadiness where all is swirling in ways that do not seem to make sense.” -- It does seem so random at times. Maybe some of it is random-- when our free choice mixes with the free choices of others in a free living creation where things like cells mutate and atoms jump mysteriously all around us.

“This freedom means there are people who become monsters, hurting children, and there are people who run into hallways where bullets fly, pulling children to safety.”-- I was watching a documentary this weekend on PBS about girls kidnapped and sold into the sex slave industry; they’re victims of the darkness and their exploiters do such shameful things in the cloak of darkness (Eph 5.8-14).

“. . . I will ask Him once again to show me the next step on this shadowed path.” –-One day the darkness and the shadows will end. Scripture gives us this hope: “The gates of the city will stand open all day; they will never be closed, because there will be no night there.” (read in context Rev 21:22-22:1-5)

Maybe heaven is the best (and even the unimaginable) of this world that we love—all of the good violets redeemed. Thank you friend, my prayers for your comfort through the shadows around you.

Felisol said...

Dear Curious Servant.
Just one word of promise from God himself:

Hebrews 13
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said,
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Deut. 31.6, 8 · Josh. 1.5


6 So that we may boldly say,
The Lord is my helper,
and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Ps. 118.6


And finally Job's own statement:
Job 19:25

But as for me I know that my Redeemer liveth, And at last he will stand up upon the earth.

I feel like an idiot sending these too well known words to you. But then again, reading about your growing pain and agony, it seems like the only thing todo, try and reach out and soothe your burnings.
Forgive me if I'm doing the wrong thing, and delete this message.
I wish by no means to act like Job's friends and add stones to your burdens.
From Elise

curious servant said...

Elise... those words are sweet, comforting. I think most who read this blog have read the Bible clear through... yet I haven't heard of anyone objecting to someone pulling one of those previously read passages out and sharing them once again.

Fred and Christopher... thank you once again for your comfort and care. I appreciate both of you a great deal.

Gina said...

Speechless. Rich and thoughtful. It blessed me. Thank you.

Seeker said...

The violet will bloom again.
It's called faithfulness.
You are that violet.

throughhiseyes said...

CS,
As always I am inspired and blessed by the words He gives you to share...

I have switched over to wordpress if you want to visit me there...I lift you and your family up daily and so appreciate your continued prayers for my situation...Please forgive me for being invisible lately. You have been in my thoughts and my heart.

Blessings,
Donna

4evergapeach said...

With out darkness there could be no light, with out cold there could be no warm, and with out pain there could be no joy. Here is one of my favorite poems:

The Way to God
If my days were untroubled and my heart always light
Would I seek that fair land where there is no night;
If I never grew weary with the weight of my load
Would I search for God's Peace at the end of the road;
If I never knew sickness and never felt pain
Would I reach for a hand to help and sustain;
If I walked not with sorrow and lived without loss
Would my soul seek sweet solace at the foot of the cross;
If all I desired was mine day by day
Would I kneel before God and earnestly pray;
If God sent no "Winter" to freeze me with fear
Would I yearn for the warmth of "Spring" every year;
I ask myself this and the answer is plain--
If my life were all pleasure and I never knew pain
I'd seek God less often and need Him much less,
For God's sought more often in times of distress,
And no one knows God or sees Him as plain
As those who have met Him on "The Pathway of Pain."
Helen Steiner Rice

Just something I'd thought I'd share. I too love this world, but if I ever start "wondering" then I turn to this poem.

bjk said...

And so we follow...and so we share your joys and sorrows as much as we can from reading here....You point us back and always to Him...thanks

David said...

Brenda asked me how a good and just God could let evil things happen to a child.

This is an old question that we as mortal men can never answer. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people. Why did God allow my sister-in-law to get cancer. Why did God allow my daughter to get involved with drugs and ruin her life and our marriage? I just wish I knew the answer.

I feel your pain - you cannot go and undo what your child did. But you can love that child the way God loves you and you can love your wife the way God loves you. And you can go and sit on that river time and again and meet God there.

Lillee said...

Awww. Don't mow the violets..not yet.

van.diesel said...

Well met - thank you for sharing this.

Pia said...

Happy Valentine's Day!

God bless you as always. =)

Anonymous said...

today hug your wife, your kids, and yourself, and Say God thank you so much for my family, I don't know what this day has in mind for me, but I know that you are with me all the way,

Lord thank your for this family,
and Lord I know that, you have your loving arms around them!
amen!

Blessing CS, and Family
huggs
j

Hikingalong said...

Dear CS, As I read your post today and thought about all you've been going through, my heart ached for you. Only a wonderful, loving God could allow you to go through such a trial. While the world watches and sees the horrible destruction the fire caused, remember that God will use this situation to bring glory unto Himself if you and your family will be faithful and allow Him to work in His timing. Your family bond must grow stronger and stronger as you trust the Lord. Comfort each other with arms of love, words of praise and comfort found in the Scriptures. Know that you and your family are loved and prayed for daily. This time of your life will not last forever...this too shall pass. God bless all of you, my friend.

Jim said...

Sometimes I compare our fate as humans as against the animals of the world. They get maimed and have no understanding of what their travesty is all about.
We are not like that. As Christians, we have hope. Those animals just suffer in the dark.
I sure wish you had an attorney friend to talk with. Very likely you won't be liable for any of this. Of course it can get into a tussle about what you could have known. At least around here, parents aren't liable for damage caused by their children unless it is malicious.
..

Vicki said...

Your writing speaks to my heart and I'm blessed every time I come here. When did you change your template? It's beautiful--I like it! Will be back for more. May I exchange links with you? I'm updating my sidebar and links, and your writing is important to my faith walk as well.

Happy Valentine's Day, dear friend.

curious servant said...

Sure you can link to me.

Here is how I handle links. If someone links to my page, I return the favor as a matter of course. I don't nescessarily seek them out, but I am honored when it occurs.

If someone changes their blog and removes my link, I don't take it personally (things change, they have total freedom over their blogs) I simply update mine as well.

I've never not linked because I object to a web site, though that is conceivable. I try to be welcoming of all points of view.

Generally I watch where my traffic comes from and if I see new links I then add them.

As a side note about traffic... I received 10,000 visitors between June 27 and Christmas eve. Since Christmas I have received another 8,000 visitors. It looks like it is accelerating!


Thank you, all of you for your visits, but I am most touched by the prayers and words of kindness and encouragement.

God bless!

Coco said...

to love life, and to celebrate the meaning of "life" each day... thank you Lord for all your blessings.

my thoughts and prayers are always with you...

whenever i stop by to visit you, it is always my time to reflect and pray with you.

blessings.

Fox's Mom said...

Happy St. Valentine's to you and your family, CS, and remember- those with us are always more than with them...Bianca, 14th Feb '06

Lorna said...

God bless you and your family. May God's will be done in all - including the church meeting. May He hold your hand, caress your faces and wipe away the tears and the fears. You are loved, and your life if more than the beautiful violet. Much more

MrJ said...

Our Spiritual formation is quite curious. (Curious Servant) As long as we continue to sanctify our troubles are not in vain. (vane?) You do write beautifully and I am always touched when I visit.

Peace Bro,

JeffGeorgia said...

I think you would really like the book by Anne Rice - Christ our Lord. She goes into such detail on how Jesus as a boy learned to obey his earthly parents and Heavenly Father.

P.S. It doesn't take 4 walls to build a church - it takes people. 800K - oh my G-d!

van.diesel said...

i re-read this post again today and it struck me deeper than the first time. thanks again for your words here.

Vicki said...

Still need to add your link to mine..it's been crazy. It's on my weekend list here.:-) Love this place.

mind power said...

Love the blog--good luck with it. For some powerful mental training tools, take a look at www.mindmint.com

Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY! » »