This painting by Jack Baumgartner portrays Jacob Wrestling the Angel from the book of Genesis. It’s a central metaphor for this blog – wrestling with life, health, urban issues, and even with God.
In 2010 I traveled to Costa Rica with Erinn and Cate for surgery. It was rumored that this procedure could do a lot to alleviate some of the significant symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis that I was experiencing.
I’m now in my 4th year of not going to church in the summer. It’s too hot and humid. My tolerance for humidity gets worse each year due to MS related complications. Humidity simply sucks the life outta me. It’s hard enough as it is. So back when I told my doctor about how I feel when I go to my wonderful, yet old and non-air conditioned church, she told me I’d be wise to not go in the summer.
It seems as though I am in a struggle for at least a part of every day of my life; a wrestling match. I often feel like I’m wrestling with things like life, my health, poverty/justice issues, and most certainly, with God.
So I’ve been working out lately. I’ve been going to the gym. I’ve even been swimming again.
And to take it up a notch from things I’ve done previously, I’ve hired a personal trainer. I go to this high intensity gym where all these people are crazy strong and do unbelievable things, and then there’s me and my scooter.
There is an outdoor kind of lounge/garden area that I grew to love when I would come and visit her. It seems that almost no one knows about this place. It’s beautiful and barely anyone ever visits it. I view it now as my own personal Secret Garden. This is the first time I’ve come here on my own since she has passed. I feel close to her in this place.
Life truly does have a funny way about it. There is so much joy, love, beauty, and wonder.
And there is also so much pain, suffering, confusion, fear and doubt.
There are many days where I wish the downside of life just didn’t have to happen.
But I know that it does.
This Carmelite monk dude that lives in the monastery told me about a secret pathway down over the hill to the edge of the river. All I had to do was go down the road a little and look for the sign that says ‘do not enter’ and then, well, enter.
That of course is my kind of path!
The thing about this drug is that it is the first ever medication that addresses issues related to progressive MS; the kind that I have. Apparently it can significantly slow down the progress of the disease. That’s a very big deal if it’s true.
In our churches, we often hear sermons with complex theological perspectives on the crucifixion and resurrection. But our community isn’t looking for sophisticated theology. Precise understandings of “crucifixion” and “resurrection” make for good debate and discussion in the hallways of seminaries, but they provide cold comfort on the street.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
Lord, it’s on this Holy Saturday that we are meant to remember the day that you were dead and buried in a tomb
On this day we try and imagine what it must be like to not have access to the Father through you
On this day we remember those who were celebrating the evil deed of murdering you and getting rid of their perceived threat to their power
They were delighting in evil
There was no love in their hearts
It’s so easy to point my finger at them on this day and wonder as to what depths of darkness they must have fallen
It’s easy for me, knowing how the story ends, to not go into the same kind of grief your followers must have felt on this day when they believed that you had been defeated
But I keep forgetting that I too would have either been amongst the mobs crying out for your murder or at the very least would have been amongst those who were in deep mourning and despair that you had been killed
and therefore must have been telling me lies the whole time
To be honest, I sometimes even wonder that now.
Is it really true that you’re actually alive today?
On this day Lord, when there’s still so very much that is wrong with the world
When there’s still so very much that is wrong with me
Help me not to dwell on the evil all around me
Help me not to delight in it
Help me to know what it even means to rejoice with the truth
Help me to believe so strongly on this day that you have already risen and that you will indeed come again to make everything right once and for all,
That I will have no choice but to celebrate, delight, and yes even rejoice in your truth