Monday, January 1, 2018

A Way in the Wilderness and Rivers in the Desert

Way and Rivers @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[I discovered and/or shared all of the following verses, quotes, and links on Facebook. FB can be a wildnerness itself, but curated rightly, it is full of manna and water.]

I’m following Rebecca Reynolds as she explores The Bible Project this year. She is one of my favorite writers, and I’ve already loved her early thoughts on Genesis (here—a must-read—and here).

But her post today (link below) was meant for me. My friend Tinsa had shared the above verse just yesterday, and both the verse and the post very clearly weave in and out of another quote by Marilynne Robinson (from Gilead) that has been on my mind and in my heart (and which I shared three days ago).

"That is how life goes—we send our children into the wilderness. Some of them on the day they are born, it seems, for all the help we can give them. Some of them seem to be a kind of wilderness unto themselves. But there must be angels there, too, and springs of water. Even that wilderness, the very habitation of jackals, is the Lord's. I need to bear this in mind."

Maybe there is one person reading this post who needs to read Rebecca’s words. Go.

When Your New Year Begins with Old Chaos by Rebecca Reynolds

The wilderness. The desert. Here is the backdrop of Genesis 1:2, the context upon which God is brooding, growing soft and relaxed as a competent artist who knows he has the ability to bring a heavy, aching chaos to order. He has a plan. He is not frantic like I am. He is not weary.

…Immanuel. God is with us. And this time, instead of hovering over the waters, he has walked inside of them, absorbing the crashing waves of confusion, misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, and my own wickedness even into his own flesh—and rising like emanating daylight.

Right after I read the above post, my friend Briana shared this (on FB—click the link to read the whole post):

For those whose 2017 had no clear stop and 2018, no clear beginning.

Instead, midnight came and went, and the sorrow of last year clung tightly, even sunk its grip in deeper.

May you have the manna of grace sufficient for each day, and may it be as good as a feast.

For those of you who have struggled through Christmas, may the following beautiful words and posts be manna in the desert, a feast for your soul.

A Source of Hope, Even for the Grieving @ The Washington Post

The British author J.R.R. Tolkien — something of an expert on such things — argued that every great fairy story has a “turn” in which despair is suddenly and miraculously reversed and the heart’s desire is fulfilled. “It denies (in the face of much evidence if you will) universal final defeat . . . giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.” For Tolkien, this moment “rends . . . the very web of story” and allows us to see something real about the universe itself.

The Awesome Power of the Christmas Story by Robert Barron @ Lost Angeles Times

“I believe that there is a logic that stands behind all things, and as a poet, I see the wonderful appropriateness that this awesome power would express itself as a baby born in straw poverty.” [Bono]

When Christmas Doesn’t Sparkle @ Oceans Never Fill

Christmas arrived in darkness and murder and failure and fear and sorrow, and that is precisely why it is filled with so much hope. Because Christmas arrived. Jesus came. In a town that was held in the grip of a tyrannical, cruel king, to a mother who was completely unknown and too young, announced to a group of outcast shepherds, in a world that was too dark in 400 years of God’s silence, he came.

The Wild Hope by Frederick Buechner

To look at the last great self-portraits of Rembrandt or to read Pascal or hear Bach's B-minor Mass is to know beyond the need for further evidence that if God is anywhere, he is with them, as he is also with the man behind the meat counter, the woman who scrubs floors at Roosevelt Memorial, the high-school math teacher who explains fractions to the bewildered child. And the step from "God with them" to Emmanuel, "God with us," may not be as great as it seems. What keeps the wild hope of Christmas alive year after year in a world notorious for dashing all hopes is the haunting dream that the child who was born that day may yet be born again even in us and our own snowbound, snowblind longing for him.

I pray that your new year is filled with rivers and manna—unspeakable, unfathomable, unmitigated hope and joy—even in the midst of any desert you may be walking through.

Emmanuel. God with us.

1 comment:

Briana Almengor said...

I love that quote from Buechner. Thanks for putting all this together. I'm going to take time to read more of Buechner later. ;)