jueves, 12 de febrero de 2015

"All I could do was embrace him and weep"

Reminded of the questions we may ask from deep suffering...and the answers we may give...but that surface instead in a tearful embrace.

From Francois Mauriac's foreword to Night after meeting Elie Wiesel as a young journalist and survivor of Auschwitz:

And I, who believe that God is love, what answer was there to give my young interlocutor whose dark eyes still held the reflection of the angelic sadness that had appeared one day on the face of a hanged child? What did I say to him? Did I speak to him of that other Jew, this crucified brother who perhaps resembled him and whose cross conquered the world? Did I explain to him that what had been a stumbling block for his faith had become a cornerstone for mine? And that the connection between the cross and human suffering remains, in my view, the key to the unfathomable mystery in which the faith of his childhood was lost? And yet, Zion has risen up again out of the crematoria and the slaughterhouses. The Jewish nation has been resurrected from among its thousands of dead. It is they who have given it new life. We do not know the worth of one single drop of blood, one single tear. All is grace. If the Almighty is the Almighty, the last word for each of us belongs to Him. This is what I should have said to the Jewish child. But all I could do was embrace him and weep.

viernes, 6 de febrero de 2015

Stop. Asking. Questions.

Image: Billy Alexander
My heart sank the minute my small daughter bit her lip, hung her head and slowly twisted away from me. Thirty seconds ago I had been Pressure Cooker Mommy in a large store with three kids and husband in tow under very specific time constraints dominated by The List. My daughter was at my elbow every minute, asking me question after question until I swung around and spat, without explanation, "Just stop. Asking. Questions."

Now travel in time with me and observe some disciples acting as bodyguards for Jesus, pushing pesky parents away -- you know, trying to get it all for their little cherubs. There is one of them arguing with Peter and nearly pushing past, "Just a blessing! A blessing from the rabbi!"

And what about the children? Years ago when I worked summer after summer in different educational and caregiving jobs, I would have dozens of grubby hands pulling dme in every direction. Every eye would plead for attention. And their questions always bubbled in multiples. We are not told, but I can see the disciples shooing away not only the parents but the children as well: "Jesus has had a busy day. He's got to move on. Get away, kid. Just stop. Asking. Questions. "

Try as I might, I can't find a verse in which Jesus tells someone to stop asking questions. He did get away for solitude, but he took all the questions in stride and asked a lot of his own too. And Scripture says he was "indignant" at what the disciples were doing with the youngest questioners and their parents: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15).

Two things encourage me here: Jesus is indignant that his disciples are blocking the way, and Jesus wants everyone to pay attention to the very people they are rejecting and learn from them. The way Jesus accepts children is great news for the curious, the questioner and the skeptic. Perhaps as such you have felt others barring the way every time you open your mouth to ask a question. Maybe someone has even said, "Just believe. And stop. Asking. Questions."

In Jesus we find someone who honors both the question and the questioner. No impatience. No avoidance. No fear. He, in fact, asks us to be like the children, the question-asking children, to enter the kingdom of God. Of course his statement about the kingdom of God involves a richness and depth we can't cover here, and it goes beyond this one facet of a child's natural curiosity. But may we consider this? That if you have lots of questions, you may be closer to the kingdom of God and to Jesus than you realize.

Today I reflected and asked my daughter forgiveness. I cried when she answered, "I just wanted to be with you." Her heartfelt statement leads me to a final consideration: Where are your questions ultimately taking you? Why are you asking them?

lunes, 2 de febrero de 2015

21 things that saved my life in January

...hats on bad hair days

...A. A. Milne's The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh

...listening to how weird and prosaic and funny we all are on the Spanish radio program Ciudadano García as I drive to school to pick up the kids

...it's enough...it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful (the Nester)

...discovering that, most of the time, reading what I like satisfies me more than watching what I like

...majoring on reading what I enjoy, not what I feel I have to read

...a big down coat that not only keeps me warm but also looks pretty

...a daily Bible reading plan on YouVersion

...shutting it when able...the discipline of silence on bad days

...learning that my children need my written words too

...learning to acknowledge "I can't" even when my pride doesn't want to let go

...occasional homemade Mojito sherbet (recipe in Spanish)

...looking at beautiful scenery around the world on Instagram

...packages that friends or family send out of the blue

...browsing The Clothes Horse and letting the red lipstick rub off on me too

...understanding more about EQ and finding myself listening better when people talk to me: hushing my brain always rushing ahead in practice what-am-I-going-to-say runs

...getting rid of stuff

...the best black leather boots

...not expecting him to be able to plan ahead and surprising him with tickets to the theater

...the new Zara Home butterfly duvet on my bed

...writing for the joy.

Thanks for the idea and the beautiful thoughts, Anne (Modern Mrs. Darcy).

(P.S. My relatives on my husband's side went through a very difficult time of grief in January, and our own children were struggling to put things together as well. My own heart is often still full of pain when remembering January's events. This fleeting "saving graces" list comes at the risk of sounding flippant. For the record, there are greater, eternal joys that ground the heart in times of pain -- namely, God himself grounds the heart as one who has reached down into the depths of our suffering -- but strangely, that doesn't mean the smaller ones are insignificant or disconnected. In January I also found myself writing for the grief, and that was also saving.)