Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Hi, Monkees. As a bit of intro, this post is heavy on the G-man references, without (I hope) being heavy-handed. Also, I want you to know that I completely understand two things: 1. That there are some Monkees who just don’t get amped about posts about God, and 2. that even for the Monkees who do get amped about such posts, I could never write them as well as G. That said, I love you all and hope you’ll stick with me. Onward we go …
We’ve been talking a lot about God lately at our house, because my 4-year-old son AJ is old enough now to kinda grasp what I kinda know about Him. To be honest, his blind childlike faith probably means AJ understands God a lot better than I do.
Anyway, part of our bedtime ritual each night is reading a book from the library and a story from the Bible. His favorites so far are about how Adam and Eve lived in the garden of Eden, because he likes the idea of living outside with animals and not wearing clothes, and when Jesus walks on water – because, really, who wouldn’t want to do that?!
As we read each night, AJ listens very intently, alternately looking awed, interested, excited, confused. I read away, praying that he’s getting it, that I’m not scarring him for life, that he won’t ask me any hard questions. Sometimes he does, but usually he just says, “I really like the Bible, Mom. What story can we read tomorrow?” And then I exhale with relief, kiss him goodnight and say, “I’m glad you like it sweetheart. We can read whatever story you want tomorrow.” And we do it all again the next day.
We also have been praying together. It’s incredibly sweet to listen to AJ’s tiny voice mix in prayers for Mommy, Daddy and Mia with “thank you God for juice, my racecars and books.” Usually, it’s my favorite moment of the day (apologies to my husband).
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been talking with AJ about trying to see God in everything – trees, animals, people … and juice and racecars, too, I guess – so we can keep Him in our hearts. “It’s called ‘seeking His face,’” I told him.
My sweet AJ considered this for a moment and then said, “That’s really hard, Mom. God lives all the way in the clouds. Maybe we could just see His shoes.”
I chuckled, but I keep thinking back to it. Maybe my little man is onto something. Lately, I’ve been feeling like the woman in the Bible who was sick and believed that if she could just touch Jesus’ clothes it would be enough to heal her.
I wish I could be the kind of Christian that could have my perspectacles “lasiked” on permanently, so I could see God’s good work in everyone and everything. But, more often, I’m the kind that just catches glimpses in between commuting, carpooling and cooking. In reality, I just grab Jesus’ shirt tail for a few moments each day, squeeze hard and hope it’s enough.
I don’t want to be a hypocrite ever, least of all in front of my kids. But one of my favorite things about Jesus is that he always just met people where they were – whether they were homeless, blind, prostitute, murderer – and worked with what He had. This is my public prayer that He’ll keep walking with me where I am, until I can truly
“Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.” –1 Chronicles 16:11
Meantime, the view of His shoes ain’t half bad.
With the obvious exceptions of everything that Chimmy and Diane write, this is my favorite poem.
Saint Francis and the Sow
By Galway Kinnell
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of the earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
Excerpts from Roger Housden’s review of Saint Francis and the Sow
“If you have the genuine feeling that everyone, yourself as well as your lover, your child, your parents, even your enemies-everyone in your life- is already flowering from within, then the person you are with may feel that too and begin to remember for themselves their own truth and beauty. You cannot “re-teach a thing its loveliness” if your motive is to change another person. This would suggest that how they are is not good enough, and you can do something about it. It is not in your power to enlighten another, make them better, or even bless them. All you can do is remind them, by your presence, of the flowering that they already are. Love is an environment more than a set of principles. An environment that, simply by existing, draws out another into his or her own fullness….However good your principles and intentions may be, they won’t reach far unless it is love that places your hand upon their brow.”
“Like many of us, she (the sow) has a great broken heart. Broken, perhaps, by the weight of the curses heaped upon her since time began, by the lowliness that others have foisted upon her, by the feelings of ugliness and self loathing that cling to her like second skin. Some of us know how the sow feels. She comes, despite all of this, and through the blessing of St. Francis and the earth to remember
The long, perfect loveliness of sow.
She remembers, not just in the sense of memory recall, but “all down her thick length” – in all the cells of her body- that she is perfect exactly as she is, slops and all. Not that she is better than anyone else, or that she measures up to some external measure of perfection, but that her very existence is enough in itself to validate fully her being here.
This poem itself is a hand on our brow.”