Strike the Tent
I just love this recent picture of Bree in Malta within the canvas backdrop of a refugee camp. Her knowing adventurous little look takes some of the sting out of the phrase "refugee camp". This picture reminds me of the God of all refugees showing up to Samuel in a little tent at Shiloh. God tented all over the map with Moses and Joshua... and then of course David and Solomon had their plans for more than a tent... and then there was a modest rebuilding of a second structure and Herod's tinkering with that one (and now, for some reason the feverish pitch over a third)... and after a number of centuries of silence God came and tented among an occupied depression in the incarnational embodiment of Jesus Chirst... and then he was a baby refugee in Egypt... and for most of his ministry had no pillow to lay his head upon... camping out most nights I guess... the embodied word of heaven a meandering canvas of sorts... and sure, we can stretch that metaphor out a bit... pun intended.
You might stretch God out and nail him down for a moment, just long enough to paint something... he'll even provide the finger paint. But, poor Thomas, you'll barely get close to God's original intent with your finger in that paint... Then again, you may want to keep your fingers to yourself... He'll invite you to put those fingers into his side... but I'm not sure you'll get too far before falling on your face crying out, "My Lord and my God" which, coincidentally was a confession no other disciple was ever recorded as saying while Jesus was on earth.
Now that I think about it: if Thomas had put his fingers in Jesus' side I don't think he'd have come out with any red paint... all Jesus' blood was spilled down upon the ground at the foot of the cross. Besides, Jesus spoke about being touched and not touched after his resurrection... I don't know, I guess it's a touchy subject... a resurrected holy God in between two kingdoms :)
Certain renaissance painters, when they painted the crucifixion, painted a squatting crapping dog in the foreground of their paintings... It seems it was their way of putting themselves on the canvas... Amidst that kind of eternal moment before the cross, the artist was nothing more than a dog... an old school route to humility. That wouldn't work in today's psychology... naw, you're a god... dog is too derogatory, unless you're dyslexic.. then - well, choose your own adventure.
This god dog stuff reminds me of a story in Matthew 15:21-31,
From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, "Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit." Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, "Now she's bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She's driving us crazy." Jesus refused, telling them, "I've got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel."
Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. "Master, help me." He said, "It's not right to take bread out of children's mouths and throw it to dogs." She was quick: "You're right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master's table." Jesus gave in. "Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!" Right then her daughter became well.
After Jesus returned, he walked along Lake Galilee and then climbed a mountain and took his place, ready to receive visitors. They came, tons of them, bringing along the paraplegic, the blind, the maimed, the mute—all sorts of people in need—and more or less threw them down at Jesus' feet to see what he would do with them. He healed them. When the people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the paraplegics walking around, the blind looking around, they were astonished and let everyone know that God was blazingly alive among them.
Bread to dogs. Pearls to swine. I think it's interesting that at first Jesus ignored her, and that she drove his disciples nuts trying to get to him... and who was schooling who and surprising who with faith? He, the embodiment of God uses the word "dogs" and she doesn't even bat an eye... she responds humbly... And then to top the story off, Matthew records the immediate miraculous feeding of the 4000... I guess all those healed people had an appetite. Lots of puppy chow all around. And they'll always come back for more... though God may not feed them the same way twice. But with this woman... it's amazing how Jesus brings up bread and she'll settle for just a few crumbs... scraps!
I hope I never lose touch with the beggar puppy in me.... I'll take that crumb of manna. I'll feed off that living bread come down from heaven. I want that food that some know little or nothing about. Last thing I need to become is an existential gnostic phenomenon!
I'm sitting here in the office... We seem to have so much head spinning activity around here. Numbers and deals and pins all over maps and whiteboarding. Now, in between the office waves, I'm sitting amidst tons of books with another oddball book open in a window online; another online window open to Oprah and Eckhart Tolle; world bank publications here and a confidential executive summary of a friend there; and Time magazine open to an article entitled: "The Clean Energy Myth".
The books stacked around me today: Marsden's "Stupid to the last drop: how Alberta is bringing environmental armageddon to Canada (and doesn't seem to care)"; Stutchbury's "The silence of the songbirds": how we are losing the world's songbirds and what we can do to save them"; Houston's "Joyful exiles: life in Christ on the dangerous edge of things"; Gilmore and Pine's Harvard Press "Authenticity"; Taleb's "Black Swan"; Mason's "The pirate's dilemma: how youth culture is reinventing capitalism"; "The Cambridge companion to Kierkegaard"; Clairborne and Haw's "Jesus for president"; Barlow's "Blue covenant: the global water crisis and the coming battle for the right to water"; Fletcher's "Breaking news: NBC news bureau chief, Tel Aviv"; Diamond's "Collapse"; Krupp and Horn's "Earth: the sequal, the race to reinvent energy and stop global warming"; Khanna's "The second world: empires and influence in the new global order"; Bernstein's "A splendid exchange: how trade shaped the world"; Sachs' "Common wealth: economics for a crowded planet"; Palin's "Himalaya"; Tolle's "A new earth: awakening to your life's purpose"; Kenner's "The elsewhere community"; Broad's "The oracle: the lost secrets and hidden message of ancient delphi"; Baker's "The heart of the world: a journey to the last secret place"; McCullough's "John Adams"; Kinnaman's "unchristian"; Aikman's "Billy Graham: his life and influence"; Peterson's "A long obedience in the same direction"; Kolini & Holmes' "Christ walks where evil reigned: responding to the Rwandan genocide"; Rosenberg's "Dead Heat"; Jabbour's "The crescent through the eyes of the cross: insights from an arab christian"; and Brother Andrew & Janssen's "Secret believers: what happens when muslims believe in Christ"....
I'm on the hunt for the living Jesus Christ who is on the move in between all these lines, and some of these lines are just pure static, junky connections obtusely angled toward the transcendent, like gum that loses its taste too quickly ... But, I'm going after that golden crimson thread of heaven... and loving that still small voice weaving every step of this Way!
I think Jesus Christ has a few things to say for Himself... on His own behalf... and believe it or not, He has our best interests in mind. And oddly enough, if "The Secret" really works!!!! then Jesus must be really really real... cause so many people are going so hard after Him in every way, praying and singing and carrying on and on and on 24/7 365 - all going after Him, being found by Him ... I don't think there's another person getting so much focussed attention anywhere on the face of the earth... or above the earth, or under the earth... you just never know where Jesus Christ might allow himself to be found.
I'm listening to delirious? "Kingdom of Comfort" and I love Eagle Rider:
I feel the spirits breath moving down my neck
Closer than a summers day
You’re a lion on my back
I hear the spirit speak whispering my name
Gentle as a butterfly
In a violent hurricane
I feel the spirits breath free me from the net
Flying from captivity
And the life I called a wreck
I hear the spirit speak a voice behind my eyes
It’s time for a brand new song to sing
Now I’m saying my goodbyes
If you want to chat then come and find me. But, please don't patronize me and don't assume anything. Some days, the escapist in me feels a bit like Jason Bourne. Other days, the discoverer in me feels a bit like Horton hears a Who.
So much life blowing around every tent, word, seed, crumb... and speck!