Tag Archives: crucifixion

Just the way he calls my name

24 Apr

I walked into the garden with a strange emptiness. I wanted closure – the trite rituals of the third day, the cloying smell of funeral flowers, the neatly tied-up threads. Then, I could pretend this was all… normal. All of it. Friday, today – the worlds inbetween.

I longed to be able to weep.

You see, it didn’t even hurt. I didn’t know what to feel. My whole life had revolved around this one thing, and now it wasn’t there.

I remember when it wasn’t there before. But that was different. Then, I didn’t know joy. I thought I did, I laughed and danced in the shadows and thought I found love, and yes, also did find it. The whispers I always heard, it was easy for me to think they were because I was too beautiful, too far removed. Every whisper, whether it was better or worse, than my reality was never the truth. It was never me. So I didn’t even remember to hurt – after a while. I didn’t recognise pain or loneliness. Really.

Because when you’re alone, you don’t miss yourself. You run away from it. And the people who don’t know you, but think they do? In the temple, at the well, in town – I revelled in their knowledge and their knowing grins with this unholy glee. It was easy to escape when you didn’t hear any reminders. The sins they conjured up – those weren’t mine. They were at the door of the village’s official outcast.

Me? I was the only one who knew what I had really done. What I had left undone. What I had said, and the moments I had chosen to turn away from the compelling of my heart, deliberately, uncaringly – because it was easy, and because I was tired. Moments preserved like specimens in ugly jars in the great, churning laboratory of my mind. Nobody guessed my soul-weariness of expected sin, of the convenience to never face yourself because no one knows you and it is easy to forget yourself. Nobody guessed, they had their own wearinesses.

Or so I thought until the day he came. Steady, unfazed and definitely – yes, definitely – looking me in the eye. Few men did that to women, let alone ‘forgotten’ women. It was a long time since I thought of myself as one – a woman, that is. And yet, in his eyes, I suddenly saw my reflection and, for the first time in my life, the brokenness showed. That and compassion.

And he knew me.

When I saw that in his eyes, I got to talking. Really fast. In short, sharp, staccato sentences. Brash talk, the fast kind. The kind that hides any realness, you know. Like you meet a stranger, at a bar, and he’s a little too intense for you when you’re vulnerable. Yeah, that – magnified several times over. So you toss your hair, you laugh at them, you treat them with anything but seriousness. You challenge their assumptions, you say harsh things, jaded observations – and pray he doesn’t notice you’re trying.

Well, you’re obviously a foreigner. Don’t you know I’m not the kind of lady you should be chatting to? So who do you think you are? Seriously, who are you?

No… Seriously, who… are… you? I want what you have with an aching I didn’t know I had.

Because then he goes and says something about water that will never let me thirst again. And I never knew I wanted it – but suddenly I do, with a loud lunge of my heart against ribcage. You know all those times no one ever hears that, and you’re thankful for the privacy of your pain? Well, this man – with his quiet eyes, his knowing eyes – he stripped away all my neatly set-up filters and I didn’t even know until a long while later that they were gone. The tears surprised me. I didn’t know I could cry.

He knew my secrets. My real secrets. It wasn’t that they were better than the ones the town gossiped about. But it was just that they were mine. Old, familiar ghosts that had the right to haunt.

Just like that, he knows me. And I am not afraid any more.

The true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

And, incredibly, he smiled. For the first time, I saw his tears. And for the first time, I was a part of the conversation. He wasn’t talking about someone else. I drank that in. Noisily, all my graces and sophistication in the well with the old water.

When I carried the story, I was so excited the town forgot to whisper.

I want to cry now. To wail and touch the evidence of death, to finish this impossible hole in my heart. I cannot see the body, the stone is rolled away. The tomb is empty and there is just the sound of someone walking, working in the garden.

The soldiers…? But why? The twelve? But surely, surely despite all their misgivings about the ‘strays’ he picked up, they would tell… I… All of us, we miss his voice, we miss his laughter, we miss his sorrow, we miss… Him.

Where is he? Perhaps you would know? Did you see what happened, did they come to take him when you came in to work on the flowers?

Mary.”

Mary.

And just like that, I know Him. The wealth of knowing in the sound of my name, it holds the key to life, my life, ours. He knows me.

And because of that, I know who he is.

“Rabboni.”

Jonah Chronicles

8 Jan

I am reading Jonah. Actually, I have been harking back to this old chap since November… And also Hosea. It started with this conversation:

Me: How can I be forgiven? I, after all I’ve done against you, Lord? Disobeyed you like it’s a relay track?!

God: Do you doubt my forgiveness?

Me: (Unintelligible sound). No, yes, maybe… God, no – I know you do forgive me but what if there are consequences… what if I have despoiled myself from being used in the high purposes that you have called me to?

God: How many times have I forgiven you, over and over again? Your accomplishments are not yours, they’re mine. Anything you have. It’s not your ability to live up to ME, it’s grace… I love you. (I think God whispered this, very softly, into my tears).

And in the depths of my hurt, I sought for an example in the Bible. Something to put before me and take courage from. I thought of Joseph – but he didn’t defy God. Jonah did. In the most stupendously stupid way, he walked right opposite to where God nodded.

So, I thought I would share my recurring journey through this Bible story with you.

Jonah did not just disobey on one scared impulse. He didn’t just flinch from God’s calling – and even that is awful enough, that we would choose to flinch from the one who loves us beyond ourselves, who does exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine. No, no – Jonah took a long series of actions in direct, planned, understanding disobedience to God’s word because he simply didn’t think he, Jonah, could handle it. And he wasn’t honest, unlike this other guy) with God. In Jonah is a man who’d had a lot of interaction with God. He knew God would tell him he could do it, by His strength. He could amazingly, incredibly accomplish all the purposes that God had prepared for him in advance. He knew the plans of God would prevail. And he couldn’t face that conversation again, or face his fears and inadequacies again. So he decided to do a little walking away on the sly – he must have been pretty desperate to hope that God wouldn’t notice. Or maybe he hoped that God would finally give up on his case like he had given up on himself. To live a non-descript coward making no stand for God would be easier – Jonah thought.

So Jonah listens to God, wordlessly. Runs away, heads in the opposite direction, looks for the next flight ahem ship out, buys a ticket, boards and leaves. Really. Not once in all that time does he allow his plaguing conscience to let him reverse track. Not once. He must have been really scared.

Been there? Succumbed to pressure, done what’s wrong even though it’s hurting you physically deep in your heart to know that you are walking away from God?

If you are in that place right now, tell God. Tell Him, actually tell Him you want to do these things He doesn’t want you to do… It’s ironic but it’s beautiful. However hardened a sinner you feel you are, He will be the one to comfort you while you try to hurt Him. I know this. He is… wow.

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