Thursday, April 30, 2009

old friend

When I was a kid, it was that comfortable bed, where I could lay for hours reading, daydreaming, hiding from the world, thinking those thoughts that for some reason seem important only to kids but should be critical to adults.

It was the stage upon which I could act out my wildest fantasies. I could leap and twirl and bound, with a BAM & a POW & a SOCK! like the superheroes in the comic books collecting in my room. I could lie silent and still, like Davy Crockett, waiting patiently for the game to appear in the 'sights' of my imaginary rifle. I could score the winning touchdown (every time!) and hit the homerun the team needed in the bottom of the ninth inning.

It was my laboratory, where I could watch and chart the movements of the amazing ants, as they dug their tunnels under the ground, one group bringing grain after grain of dirt (did they seem like boulders to them?) stacking them on top of one another as industriously as the Egyptians building the pyramids, while another group wandered into the darkness, carrying food and other essential supplies.

But now?

Now, especially in the spring, it has become, not the field of dreams, but that field full of pesky weeds, crabgrass, bugs, moles, and other assorted denizens of the deep. It has become that infuriating piece of property that demands patience, a keen eye to make sure it doesn't get too high, the intuition to know the exact moment when it is dry enough to bring out the mower and whip it into line. It has become that embarassment, as Dusty and I walk by lawn after lawn of
well-manicured, deep (chemically induced, I am
convinced) green lush carpets, until we approach
ours with its brown spots, pushed down areas
from Dusty scratching his back, the withered
dandelion stalks stubbornly holding their puffy
heads up for all to see.

I miss my comfortable bed, my stage
my laboratory. So maybe, one night soon,
when it is dark, and none of the neighbors
can see and snicker, I will sneak out and
gently stretch out on my back, gazing up at
the stars twittering in the night sky, at peace
again with my childhood friend


(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, April 20, 2009

What will you see?

Easter is always a glorious day (even if the weather doesn't cooperate!) In my neck of the woods, we were blessed with sunshine and blue skies, marvelous gifts from our musicians, a river of children flowing through our joy, and the larger-than-normal crowd. It was a great day of celebration and wonder. Then, of course, came yesterday, when reality set back in and it was once again a 'normal' Sunday.

It is always tempting to think that every Sunday (if not every day) after Easter should be like that day - but it isn't. There are all sorts of reasons/excuses - we get too busy; folks always turn out for the "big" days; spring break week rolls around. But the real reason probably has to do with the simple fact that we are human. We live in those places where pain in a neighbor, loneliness a lifelong friend, the scars (physical and otherwise) stare back at us from the mirror each and every day. So, we fall into that trap of believing that all the Easter stuff - the celebration, the joy, the colorful eggs, the beautiful flowers, the soaring music - is fine for one day, but does it have anything really to do with daily life?

What scripture affirms for us in the readings during Eastertide is that resurrection is seen precisely in those places of pain, of damage, of grief. Resurrection is not a pastoral scene painted to cover over our shattered lives. It never denies the harsh realities of human existence. Jesus does not appear to the disciples whole, healthy, seamless. He is scarred; he is damaged goods; he has gone to hell and come back, with every painful step of the journey evident for everyone to see.

Yet we are told, it is precisely in the scars that we find evidence of the healing we long for in our lives. It is in the brokenness he endured that wholeness comes to us. It is out of the pain and violence of his suffering and death that peace is given, and the Spirit comes to live among us, the tifts of hope and reconciliation in our hands. All we have to do is to open our eyes to see resurrection.

I know that there are those damaged and pain-filled places in my life, which I try to keep hidden from others. I am sure there are in your life. Can we learn to see resurrection in the pain, the illness, the doubts, the relationships of our lives? Can we discover evidences of resurrection in Kabul, in Gaza, in the violent streets of our communities? Can we see that bouquet of resurrection that is blossoming in our churches, as we struggle to share the gospel in an ever increasing alien culture? Can we keep our eyes,our hearts, our spirits open, now that Easter has come and gone, so we can see resurrection all around us?

Can we be the resurrection that others are hoping to see?

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman