Aside

meditation 10: ‘Spirited Away’

12 Aug

meditation 10: ‘Spirited Away’

fruit of the spirit, kind gentleness-Beauty is…kindness & gentleness, working together as one fruit

People can be raised, born with gentleness, with ‘kind’ touches, voices and seeing yet not probing eyes. Their ‘kindness’ comes in large part from their gentle characters. Some are even born with this ‘gentle’ gift. Some are raised to be gentle. Christians, though, are to be ‘spirited away.’ We are fruit; and we are made, ‘spirited’ by a gift. Then we become one fruit with multiple rich, exotic tastes. Our lives are what are being tasted, by others, our lovers, our children, our family, our friends and community. Ourselves. We are to become gentle kindness.

As I practice the kindness I am not borne but gifted with, I become gentle. Spirited kindness creates gentleness in me. I was borne neither gentle nor kind. I was raised with wolves. Niccolo Machiavelli said in ‘The Prince@ that ‘a man who strives after goodness in all his acts is sure to come to ruin, since there are so many men who are not good.’ Yes, Nick. Quite correct. If I strive, I die in ruin. But if I am ‘Spirited…

Slowly I am reformed in another, His, image. This is the practice of a Christian walk; it is practice and fruit of the spirit. I cannot do it by my own will for any sustained period. If I try on my own, if I strive, l become a Real Zombie soon enough; created by my own sinful desire, without His Spirit. A hallow man. A Zombie who can’t feel; can’t taste. I devour what I see more and more. Even the desire to be ‘goodness’ will devour. I taste nothing. I become Zombies, yes Zombies in the plural. Multiple, real real aspects of my own sinful desires that seek to become flesh, my own flesh and blood. Zombies. And I battle them every day. Sinful desires that also want my Spirit. And I lose some days. But other days I am healed. I become real, living, Spirited.

Paul speaks of how a hurt brother or sister is to be restored in Galatians: ‘Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted’. Galatians 6:1

Paul is telling us, me, a Real Zombie can come back to a living being. We Zombies just need gentleness, kind gentleness. How? Who heals?

Gently, as a physician setting or putting in place a broken bone. That is how. That is the meaning of the English word “restore.” ‘Restore’ translates a Greek word (katartizein), a word with multiple meanings. Its primary meaning as a Greek word is ‘to set a broken bone.’ A broken bone is both painful and useless. The broken leg doesn’t walk. The broken hand doesn’t hold. The broken limb simply doesn’t work. And it is painful. Pain needs, thirsts for gentleness, kindness. My definition of ‘restore’ is Spirited. Physicans gently restore spirit by the Spirit. That is my thirst, a desire to taste His Spirit.

Years past I was hit by a car when crossing a street. My leg was shattered in two places. After many months I started physiotherapy. I will never forget my first day in the physio office: directly across the way from me in an adjoining room sat a woman gently caressing her leg, recently broken and slowly healing. There was, there is something about a gentle touch that heals; even if you do it to, for, yourself. And we, she, did not do it once but many times, back and forth her hands moved over her scarred leg. We need this touch to be, to become human. And then we need the Spirit’s touch to become more than human, but never less than ourselves. We need the Spirit’s touch o become like Him. A living touch that is not afraid to reach out and heal, even a Zombie that threatens to devour. A gentle, kind touch.

This is fruit: gentleness and kindness working together. One is begetting the other; kindness growing as a child forming other acts of kindness. This is His Spirit.: fruit bearing fruit, gentleness forming/engendering kindness. Kindness, in its turn creating gentleness. Goodness ruining evil.

Taste and see; taste and envision; taste fruit of His Spirit and live. This is living fruit that gives life. Good Life. His life. He is good.

Advertisements
Aside

Meditation 5: fruits of the spirit, patience In 1996

25 Jun

Meditation 5: fruits of the spirit, patience

In 1996 my wife, Priscilla had great plans to return to her birthplace, Galway. Her grandfather had survived the sinking of the Titanic and married a Galway girl in America. Neither of them ever wanted to return but their children did. Plans were made for this momentous visit to Ireland along with three of her ten siblings and her Mum.

It was not to be for Priscilla. Her Lupus kicked in with a vengeance and getting out of bed was journey enough in the ’90s.

So this year we planned to go. Excited, Priscilla spoke of walking to her home on St. John’s Terrace; knocking on neighbours’ doors; being invited in; having tea, viewing old photographs.

With over 50 years having passed since she was there, every word she spoke sunk my heart further. How could a neighbour be still alive? And recognise her? I didn’t see it. All I saw was disappointment for my lovely wife of thirty years. I said nothing and prepared to rescue her sorrows.

At the second door Priscilla knocked on, a lady called Sally answered. Sally said nothing. She cried. Priscilla cried. Not a word was spoken.

I stood with my mouth open, unable to move. Thank God our daughter Sarah was with us and had the presence of mind to take the picture you see here.

Sally invited us in for tea. She’d recognised Priscilla immediately because she’s the image of her best friend, Marian. Priscilla’s mum. Sally took out some old photos to show us and gave us some to take away. Some were of Eugene Daly: Priscilla’s grandfather who survived the Titanic.

I can have faith in big things: Jesus died for me; He loves me; Priscilla and my children love me. But the desires of others? Their visions and beliefs?

Priscilla knew by the Spirit someone would be there. In the Spirit Sally waited for 17 years for someone to return from the Joyce family. They saw and believed.

In Luke 2 Anna and Simeon wait with the Spirit for a glimpse of the Messiah before they passed from this world. The Spirit was with, on and within them.

Patiently, they waited and waited. They held true to the vision they had been given; then moved by the Spirit, they saw. As prophets they spoke and speak to us now of what He gave them to see. Priscilla held true to a vision; Sally held to an image; I-I had nothing in my hand.

Praise him that now I have a touch from him: a patient touch of a God who sees and gives vision glimpses even to those to impatient to stop & see. Even to me.

Waiting, it is enough to see as the Spirit sees.

20130820-114010.jpg

20130820-114515.jpg

Aside

meditation 3b: seventeen

31 May

meditation 3b: seventeen

I had Barbara by the throat. She had just said “I love you.”

I spoke.

Never say that to me again.

I let go.

I had to get out of the apartment. Leaving, tearful, I got in our car and drove. The transmission was done by the time I returned.

After seven years of marriage, good jobs, successful returns to school, Barbara had told me she loved someone else. I was alone. But God reached for me that moment. Her Youth Pastor, who attended our wedding as a guest, jumped to my mind. Keith was someone she trusted, knew and spoke well of and often. He had returned to the city to pastor a Baptist church in Brooklyn. We called, made an appointment to see him and spent a year in weekly counselling with him.

It didn’t work. And if it couldn’t work with him, it couldn’t work. Keith never took a dime. He followed through in ways I still cannot understand or believe.

After we ended, I heard Keith preach a Good Friday sermon on Bonheoffer’s idea of Cheap grace and Costly grace. I committed all my pain, sin, anger, hopes and tears to this grace. I have never looked back.

Recently an older woman shared her thoughts on grace with me. She said, “God’s redemption at Christ’s expense.”

That’s what I cost. And I have to earn nothing of that back. It’s for Barbara too.

Aside

meditation 3a: seventeen my next posts, 3a, 3b, 3c,

28 May

meditation 3a: seventeen

my next posts, 3a, 3b, 3c, will be about my being seventeen

I married at 17. It was 1972. Barbara and I were the same age, but different races and cultures. It was NYC, 1972, our first year at City College of New York. She was a nursing student; I an artist. From the moment she placed her foot on my chest at Cathy Richardson’s holiday party, I was taken. Barbara worked in Bloomingdale’s, wore fashionable clothes (at employees’ discount) and waited on the likes of young Robert Redford. Her light amber skin and mouth were attractive in ways I could not understand. Taken in, I lived in each moment with her. A strawberry sweater was matched by her strawberry lipstick. And the more friends and family said we were: too different; too young; too much in love for us to work, the more we lived in, for and with each other.  

12 August 1972 was the day we married. Barbara’s intelligence, beauty was in her desire to be seen. Once, she told me, a client said to her: Leave this country. Go to Europe. You would be idolized there. It’s different there. She didn’ t leave.

In L. P. Hartley’s novel, “The Go-Between” Leo says, “The past is a different country: they do things differently there.” I agree. But Barbara and I are the same there. That is part of our tragedy.