Calling Card

When God Walks Away: A Dark Night Companion

When God Walks Away: A Dark Night Companion

An early-morning walk on the first day of a new school year. A six or seven-year-old girl with blond hair almost too short to gather into a ponytail had tugged hers in a curling tail at the crown of her head. Clad in a Christian-school polo and kaki skirt, she stood in her driveway, looking outward. What struck me most was the way she’d accessorized her school uniform: with a string of waist-length silver Mardi Gras beads. I wondered how long she’d be allowed to wear those at school: I hoped all day. We need all the confidence we can muster when facing a Daunting New.

She watched my approach, then threw up a hand in an eager wave. I waved in return, feeling that all-too-common pull between not wounding a child’s open soul and not wanting to be perceived as a threat by her protectors. Where were they, anyway?

As I moved along as she bellowed, “Stop!”

I stopped.

“What if…” she mused, “a doggie was to be a swarzie, and…” then followed a string of English and nonsense words that would have done Dr. Seuss proud. As she spoke, she gazed around, finding inspiration for her story in her surroundings. She wrapped up with: “…and what if the doggie would not go into the street because cars were there.” (Cars barreled by on a nearby road.)

I nodded, considering the wisdom of the doggie’s decision. My feet remained stationery; I didn’t know if we’d finished our chat. She stood in silence for a moment, then, “You can go now.”

Not wanting her to feel I’d not appreciated her story, I said, “Have a good day!”

“Have a good day, too!” she responded as she wandered back toward her house.

I walked on, thanking God for the calling card (in my book, When God Walks Away, I describe God’s calling cards as unexpected experiences that remind us of God’s presence—especially when we feel alone). A child, nervous surely, on the first day of school and seeking a place to set her mind until leaving time, stands outside, watching the world’s business. She spies me and decides in an instant to trust me to share part of her morning, to hear her imagination, and not to dismiss or shame her. Perhaps she would have trusted anyone strolling by, but she also responded to my wish for her to have a good day with a hearty, reciprocal wish. We had created a bond, however fleeting.

I hope the interchange was good for her. I know it was for me. She named who I want to be: someone who deserves to be trusted by children, who honors them, and who encourages the child in each person to imagine and create.

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Taking It To the Streets–Warning: Temples on the Move

Pentecost

Warning: Extreme God Geekiness to follow.

So many specs!

  1. Prophet Ezekiel receives a full-on tour of the worship house in God, enthroned, will place the soles of God’s feet. Once the Israelites learn their lesson, Ezekiel is to provide them complete specs for the edifice (Eze. 43, 44).
  2. The book of Exodus provides specifications for building the tabernacle: a moveable worship house.
  3. Generous ink is given in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles to the building specs for Solomon’s temple.
  4. Ezra and Nehemiah describe the raising of the Jerusalem temple.

I wonder why Scripture focuses so much attention on the layout and construction of a worship house. What difference do the measurements make (except for the perfect cube of the Holy of Holies—that’s a clear metaphor)? But the types of wood, metal, and fabric? The building’s exact length, breadth, and height?

I posed the question to my husband, who reminded me that the Ark of the Covenant, which was also made to exact specifications and which resided in the Holy of Holies, is believed to be a perfect conductor of power, which is why the priests carried it on poles and why Ussah died when he placed hands on the Ark to prevent it falling (2 Sam. 6). (I hope God greeted Ussah personally at heaven’s gate with a fruit basket and an apology.) It’s also what melted faces and made Indiana Jones famous in his first crusade.

Could it be that, like the Ark of the Covenant, houses of worship were designed to conduct God power: that these specs were blueprints for the perfect conduit? The idea’s mind blowing, because Jesus called Himself a temple (John 2:19) and Paul extends that role to each of us (1 Cor. 6:19). To recap: scripture details a temple-yet-to-be, a moveable tabernacle, Solomon’s temple, and the Jerusalem Temple, Jesus called His body a temple, and Paul described our bodies in the same fashion.

What if we are constructed to conduct God power? What if we have within us the force to transform what we touch? What if each of us is a carefully, thoughtfully, lovingly designed and constructed temple, engineered to transit God power? What if we just need to clear away some sludge to access that power(hence, spiritual practices)? What if, instead of feeling shame at our bodies’ needs and urges, namely hunger, thirst, and desire, we recognize these as temple furnishings? What if, instead of shaming ourselves for our humanness, we give thanks for our temples and their incarnated capacities. What if ours is not a religion of shame, self-abnegation, and self-denial, but one of yes, of full-hearted embodiment, of self- acceptance, of love power?

What do we do with such potency, literally, at hand? We’d each serve out of our true selves, expending our resident power in a unique, personalized fashion. And honor others in doing the same. We’d home in on those needs our particular specs address. And honor others in doing the same.

We are holy dynamos let loose on a hurting world. Let’s go out there and give ‘em heaven.