Friday, April 24, 2009

Charlotte's Babies

Every Spring, there is a foolproof sign that Spring has sprung. It is the presence of thousands of baby spiders floating through the air on their little strands of web. When I go outside, I end up with at least two or three draped across me, and the little spiders are somewhere on my person. The street lamps and signs have web caught on them; they're all over the place.

I immediately think of Charlotte's Web, where her babies are born at the end, and they all float away. But I've never lived in a place where it happened to me before. Our house is in a neighborhood that is set in the middle of open land. I love it, because I love being out of the city. And, apparently, floating baby spiders are part of life in the bigger outdoors.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Resurrection Day!

Today is the day that we Americans celebrate Jesus' resurrection from the dead. This year we are actually probably right, since Passover was Wednesday...and three days later he came back to life. And it's William's birthday. Happy Birthday William!!!

Since switching our focus from the Western calendar to the Hebrew calendar, we've had an aversion to celebrating Easter. Resurrection Day, yes, Easter, no. I've always wondered why a bunny and eggs were so central to our celebration of Jesus' resurrection, but now I realize that they really have nothing to do with each other. Bunnies and eggs celebrate the Greek goddess of fertility. Yes, we can make a connection by saying that we are celebrating new life, and Jesus' resurrection gives us new life.

However, William feels quite strongly about this, so he really can't do the egg/bunny thing in good conscience. The kids like to hunt, and like candy, so that's what they are sad about missing this time of year.

With that background, here is our funny story for today. We went to lunch after church (which was a great celebration of Jesus' resurrection) to say "Happy Birthday" to Will. While at the restaurant, an employee with a very similar build to William wandered the floor with a giant white bunny head on. He was passing out chocolate eggs. And we all got some. I thought it would be very ironic if the Easter bunny would come sing Happy Birthday to William, but along with the Easter Bunny, William is also horrified at being the public spectacle at a restaurant on his birthday. So, to bless him we kept his birthday a secret. However, it seems that fate had conspired for our children to receive chocolate from the Easter Bunny today anyway.

Then, when we got home, we opened a gift that a friend from Germany had sent us. She stayed with our family over New Year's for our big church conference. And, imagine this, it was full of German chocolate. Woo hoo! So, forces beyond our control apparently decided that we needed a blessing from the Easter Bunny, and a whole bunch of chocolate today.

William and I decided that maybe we just need to say that on Passover we celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection, and on Easter we celebrate chocolate. Minus the bunny.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Big Picture

I just have to share something I've been mulling over a lot lately. It has to do with becoming delivered from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they gained the ability to make distinctions between good and evil apart from God. Before that, they didn't even know about good and evil. They were naked and unashamed. And God wasn't worried about letting them know that yet. Perhaps He would have taught them how to see with Him next to them. But when they gained the ability to do it on their own, they had a foundational shift that made all their perceptions sinful.

This thing is the essence of what separates us from God. We look at people, and situations, and ourselves, and we decide what is good and evil. We can do this all by ourselves. And perhaps we are right some of the time. But the big problem is that we are doing it apart from God. I was really good at looking at things and deciding what was good, and then doing it. But that just led to me being proud and self-righteous, and being good at "being good." I had to repent for my radical disconnection from God. I was horrified when I realized the edifice of self-righteousness that I had built over the course of my life. But then I got to turn around, and walk away from it. Whew!!!

When I read the Bible, I see that God is righteous, and He makes statements about right and wrong, like the 10 Commandments. But there are so many places where He doesn't offer the same commentary that we do. For instance....Tamar dressing up as a prostitute and getting pregnant by Judah, her father-in-law. In that story, Judah was the problem. How about Rebecca, manipulating like some kind of nightmare to get the blessing put on Jacob instead of Esau. God doesn't offer any commentary on that either; instead, His plan and prophecy are advanced. How about Rahab....what were those spies doing in her house in the first place? It is so tempting to offer our own commentary on these stories so that we feel better about our (and God's) morals. And yet, we have David being convicted by Nathan for killing Uriah and committing adultry with Bathsheba. And Ananias and Saphira getting killed for lying about their tithe. Obviously God is not a relativist. But He's also not as judgemental as we often think.

So, my point is that God doesn't think like me, and my job is not to be the one labeling everything so that I feel righteous. My job is to stay in relationship with Him, and do what He tells me to do. Obviously, I might end up with a morally similar looking lifestyle, but when I'm listening to Him, I'm not getting puffed up with pride over my own greatness at doing the right thing. It's a whole different focus. And, I no longer have the pressure on myself to always know the right answer, or have an opinion about everything I encounter. I get to go with God, and relax in Him.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Leonard Cohen

Doing errands yesterday, Fresh Air was on, and I was just riveted by a poem being read. It turned out to be Leonard Cohen reading A Thousand Kisses Deep. I vaguely remembered that he was going to be in concert in Dallas, so I checked online, and lo! It was that night. Calling Will, I found out that he had heard on NPR that morning about the concert, and had thought he wanted to go. After some frenzied phone calls, we had a babysitter and tickets.

This is the first time in my married life that I've really wanted to go to a concert. Will and I have never been to one together. I don't know why, I think there just hasn't been anyone we've wanted to see that bad. So you can see how amazing it is that we both wanted to go, and without talking about it. We call that a God Thing.

Leonard Cohen is 75. He looks old, but definitely spry, and his voice has gotten deeper with time. I think his age added a lot of poignancy to his performance. I was amazed by the prophetic significance and weight of a number of his songs--so powerful. And of course his poetry is amazing. I really don't have words to give any kind of justice to the experience, except to say that the first song had me crying, the second was like a thunderbolt, and I just sat there amazed most the time. I think that because I haven't listened to a lot of his music, I had the best possible experience; hearing old songs for the first time ever-live.

I really didn't know what to expect, but one of my curiosities was who the audience would be. I'd say the average age was 50, with a smattering of younger people like us, and some older. It was a very spiritually awake crowd, if that makes sense, but not the ones you'd find in a church. I've been thinking a lot about how God is in the business of Reality. What I mean by that is that hiding from truth because it's painful creates distance from God. God can handle the truth of who we are, in all it's good and bad. I think that there is a weakness in Christian culture where there is a need to look good, because we are "righteous." This audience felt to me like it was on the verge of embracing The Kingdom--and I'm making a big distinction here between The Kingdom and mainstream Christianity.

Leonard Cohen speaks from a very honest place, and that resonates with reality. It's a voice that cuts straight to the heart of the matter. His song "Hallelujah" is like this, but so often when I hear other people covering it, it lacks the "anointing" that Leonard Cohen has when he sings it. The same is true with "Everybody Knows" which I heard for the first time by Concrete Blond years ago, although that one is good.

I came away feeling like we couldn't have done anything better with our time or money last night. It was a once in a lifetime experience.