Waiting

I stumbled across an Easter activity on Pinterest that I was sure would make the season more about Jesus and less about the bunny for Plum. You have probably seen it, the one where you dip a marshmallow in water, roll it in cinnamon sugar and then wrap it in a crescent roll and bake it for about 7-8 minutes. The concept is all about the disbelief the disciples had, the lack of trust that Jesus would really be who He said He was. They prepared His body for burial anyway, not understanding He would not stay in the grave. So the marshmallow (Jesus) disappears when we open the robes after some time in the tomb. (I got a bit twitchy about the oven being the tomb but that is my adult awareness, I didn’t share that with my Plum.) He was with me for the entire process of preparation and was all about exploring the rolls, looking for Jesus after they came out of the oven. The waiting, though, which I thought we would do, chairs pulled up to the oven window, watching the slow process of dough puffing and browning, nope. He was out. He couldn’t stay with it for that long. I will admit my timing was off, he was involved in other things, but still, I wanted to tell him if he didn’t sit with me and watch he didn’t get to eat any Jesus rolls after! That didn’t sound right to my own ears, felt just a bit creepy, so he was allowed to play Lego while I cleaned up our mess and kept watch. Next year we will try again and I will enforce the waiting part, that is what living in Saturday, after Good Friday and before the dawn of the Glory of Easter Sunday is, the waiting, slow agonizing empty waiting.

We have a Keurig, it sits in the closet. We decided the expense and the waste were not acceptable to us, we went back to a regular old pot and grinder to make our morning coffee. While I can sit in comfort knowing I am helping the environment with this little step, I must admit I hate the coffee maker every single morning and secretly dream of pulling the faster more efficient machine out, EVERY SINGLE MORNING. In fact Chef just admitted maybe we should use it just for my first cup, while I wait for the pot to brew. Because I don’t wait for the entire pot to fill, as soon as enough liquid has filled the bottom of the carafe, the pot is pulled, my cup is filled and the mess begins. Our machine still sends drips without the pot to catch it, I know the mess is coming, it is acceptable to me each morning as I struggle to wake. I just can’t wait. Or more accurately, I won’t. So towels are at the ready, the mess is wiped as I sip and I always get the strongest of the brew, when Chef reaches for the pot it is mostly black water. There, you are privy to my ugly coffee routine, an inability to wait and share and not be messy. And I am the one who wants to give Plum lessons in the importance of waiting? Do as I say, not as I do, right? IF only it were just a first thing in the morning issue for me, if I were a paragon of patience and trust the rest of the day, I might have more credibility. The truth is, I think I would have been right there with those disciples, lost angry seeking a new direction without my leader. I spend too much time there now and I already know what happens when the rock is rolled away from the tomb, when the crescent roll is broken open. I really should trust more, the waiting should come easier for those of us who know the truth. But Saturdays abound in my life, like early mornings without a Keurig.

Not to take anything away from Good Friday, but this is the harder day for me. I can mourn with the best of them, but waiting is just about the worst thing my Jesus can ask me to do. I don’t want to have down time to think, to feel, to acknowledge my pain and mortality and my sins. Instead I bustle around, wipe the countertops, make a casserole and scroll through Twitter to find others who agree with me about the sins of our leader. More comfortable looking outward while I clean up my coffee splatters, I scour Pinterest for ways to bring more Jesus into Plum’s life.  Move along, push through, avoid avoid avoid. Yet my Saturdays come in the evening, when Plum is in bed or at Mama’s and I am alone without any more energy to bustle and the house is wiped and maybe my wine glass is filled. I’ve been stuck in a very long Saturday of waiting for others to wake up from counting my sins and accepting the glory of a Jesus who has given us all more grace than we can put in our Easter baskets, too much grace like the plastic grass we buy to fill up baskets of candies and little trinkets for kids to find when they wake Easter morning. Grace that always hangs over and despite our best efforts is cleaned up for days afterward, found stuck to our shoes, peeking out of purses and clinging onto our best dresses, a strand between the couch cushions. That grace like the staticy plastic grass sticks to us and to everything it touches, transferred from my hands to the Beast’s fur as I reach down to pet their horrible selves, is transferred to my car on the way to church Sunday morning and left on one of the chairs, maybe the one where the lady who never smiles at me sits or the man who knows me from before will rest. Will they pull the strand away and know they are given the chance to forgive? It really only comes when we sit alone on this Saturday, our basket empty, wishing we had grass and grace and forgiveness and a second chance to say the right thing and not say all the wrong things and the opportunity to read a book to the most ill behaved child in Sunday school. Grace is really only ours when we give it away, like the disappearing marshmallow that still tastes so sweet in the rolls. Waiting for our grace and our baskets to be filled means we have to just be alone, empty, watching the rolls get brown while everyone else goes about their lives and we are aching. We are called to sit wondering how we could have missed the chance to say, “No no, I know how this ends, stick with me, He is who He says HE is, we can trust Him with our everything.” Because tomorrow we will sing glory glory but on Monday will we? On Monday will we worry and fret and stew over whether our children will ever speak to us again, if the job is going to end, if the president is going to lead us into another war, and we forget that we are called to trust in Him. We forget on Monday that we must forgive the car who parks ridiculously and the person who doesn’t take their cart back at the store and the person who always always replies to all instead of just the original sender on an email to 50 people. We forget because we rush through our Saturday and we throw away that grass that annoys us. We don’t notice our grace chances when the sugar high is over.

Tomorrow we will discover that the tomb is empty, that the promises are fulfilled. The crescent roll lesson is not lost on me, I am committing to waiting today. Waiting for this long Saturday of aching searching emptiness to show me the ways I can offer more grace not just tomorrow when everyone looks their best, but on Monday and Tuesday and the days that follow, when we all have a bit of sugar low and grass stuck to our shoes. Maybe, just maybe, my children will find their own awareness of all they ways they have been forgiven. That is between them and their own marshmallow experiment. Just as I couldn’t force my Plum to sit with me, I can’t make them wake up to grace. I can pray a stray bit of plastic grass finds them, all the way from me.

My friends, I pray you embrace this lonely day of waiting, that we might truly feel the glory of the empty tomb. I pray your day is not just filled with egg boiling and ham prepping, but real soul searching. It is a hard day, by design. Still, we know that tomorrow will bring song and fancy clothes. Sit with me in our Saturday, friends as we watch the dough rise.

Stretching

A puddle of black water on the counter, again, the damn coffee pot is leaking. Every day I find a stain, a mess, some amount of my morning zing waiting to be sopped up, waiting to be cleared away. Easier to buy a newer coffer maker but funds are tight, gone, thus we are blessed to even have grinds to put in the damn machine so I shouldn’t find offense at the mess. Still, I do. I hate that coffeemaker and the inability to just make a cup without knowing their will be literal fallout. Then I chide myself for the fact that this is my complaint, this?, when so much is wrong all around. So I wipe, scrub, move on. Until the next pot is brewing.

We use the invisible, underground fencing system for our beasts, a system that has worked beautifully for years until recently when our Golden chose to withstand the shock and break free. Sometimes he stands right on the line and gets a really good zap and then just goes. All of this resulted in a pretty yucky infection around his neck, an expensive trip to the vet (several new coffeemakers worth) and 10 days on antibiotics and a full shave around his neck. On the mend now, he is still breaking free. He is huge, he is fast, he is gone. He is making a mess of my free time, I can’t let him out to wander our yard without finding him in the neighbor’s now. Always on the lookout for Plum’s bus, yesterday he chose to go out into the street and try to board it. I considered asking the busdriver to trade me,  all those children for this damn dog. Apparently I need to put in a real fence with the millions of dollars I have hidden under my coffeemaker.

Several days ago Plum ran into the house and asked if it was appropriate for him to know how humans breed. Why did this question not come up when he was riding the bus to mama’s house? Some gentle probing on my part discovered this curiosity was sparked by a Pokemon discussion, I guess they are bred and they evolve and then they get really dumb names. So I somewhat dodged the question. Until he came back for another visit and asked how babies are made. Seriously, kid, you are only 6 and you have parents and I am too old to be trying to remember how much is too much to tell. Where is my coffee? Still, I broke out my best high school science and made his eyes glaze over. Whew, dodged again.  Until bedtime a couple of nights ago when he was preparing to fall asleep, we were snuggling, both in our “walls down, chatting” mode and he asked if boys could have babies. He had me captive, I couldn’t squirm away, I would be breaking our nighttime vulnerable talk rules. So we talked. I explained that it does take mommies and daddies together to make babies but mommies carry them in their bodies. (Please don’t yell at me about all the other possible combinations, I know, I do teach this child about the many ways families can look. I was tired and avoiding.)  Seeds, fertilizing,  growing, beauty, I thought we were going somewhere until he made clear his issue. “Nan, but can daddies ever have the babies?” “No, sweetie, but they get to love them always and care for them always.” “That’s crap! It isn’t fair!” he told me with gusto. I agreed. I told him it was God’s plan so maybe we should take our issue up with Him. “YES!”  So we prayed to God as we laid on the bed, him snuggled under the warm blankets and curled up with his specials.  We told God just what we thought of this situation.  I ended the lament with a request that God get back to us really soon with an answer. Plum and I looked each other, he cocked his eyebrow at me and asked what now? I told him I thought God would get back to us later, we should maybe just go to sleep. He rolled over, closed his eyes and softly said, “You are so silly, gran.”

So much seems to be leaking out right now, breaking through the barriers I have erected. Sneaking through my soul walls, spilling around the edges of my heart. I forget to cry out to God, mostly I just complain and wipe up the mess, stuff down my frustration or leak out my own anger. Remembering that God can take my questions and my wonderings is good. Knowing also that the way we grow is to by stretching, some leaking out of those walls just may be His plan. After all, coffee is still coffee if I use a straw to drink it off of the counter. About the wandering beast, I’ve got nothing.  Breaking free, willing to withstand the pain to get to the other side, all I can see is a neck full of oozing infection and some terrifed  kids on a bus. God surely will get back to me on that. Still I have coffee to drink, beasts to encourage exercise, and a Plum who challenges. Blessings that remind me I am alive, I am still growing. I don’t have answers for everything, I have to seek out the One who does. Then wait for Him to get back to us.

 

Coffee With Mercy

I spend a great deal of time thinking about grace. I never consider mercy. Chef has been bringing this word into our home more and more lately, I quickly shut the door on it, do not extend the welcome mat. Somehow this word, used so often in conjunction with grace, makes me uncomfortable. It seems to ask more of me, lets me know I am holding out. This little word seems to hang around, just outside, uninvited, carrying big connotations. Grace feels like a soft blanket on a cold day, mercy reminds me why I am cold in the first place. I’m not sure why these concepts are so divided for me, where in the storytelling and early learning about God I missed some important message. Maybe I really know and am choosing my guest list carefully. Today while no one is looking, I start the coffee and hesitantly crack open the door, I issue my own invitation to Mercy.

I get settled on the comfy couch under my softest blanket, a large cup of coffee for courage  and my faithful beast cuddled next to me,  I notice Mercy drift in. I ignore Her and do some research. Gotquestions.org explains the difference this way: mercy is God not punishing us as our sins deserve, and grace is God blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy.  No wonder I prefer the sweetness of grace, I like kindness, I like blessings. I have a sign by the front door that says, “Be Nice or Leave.” (I may have mentioned before this is how we keep the bears away, as I have explained to Plum, who is afraid of big hairy creatures with sharp claws, not including our beasts.) I get grace, literally, thank you God.  I understand and see grace in my everyday. I write almost daily about meeting up with grace, friends and creatures alike who show me the kindness of God, show me the love I yearn for. I count those blessings, having been on the short side too many times, I take nothing for granted. Grace has a standing invitation, the door is always open. Mercy has been knocking, I have pretended to be asleep.

Yes, I went back to Grace where the warm blanket is. I see that. Why would I want to venture into the cold, though?  “Mercy, sit down, stop hovering, you make me nervous. Please, sit over there, on the other couch. I let you in, let’s not rush this.” My beast takes no notice of this intruder, begins to snore. I feel betrayed, try to focus on his lack of protection but Mercy draws my attention back, a rather demanding guest. Where is Grace? I need more coffee, I don’t really want to visit with Mercy.

Judgement, sins, these are not feel-good words. I am honest enough to share my sins, to expose my brokenness. but am I working on the big one that God really wants me to attack? Avoiding Mercy is my way of not acknowledging what has been given to me so that I can stay under my blanket, do my counts and not be forced to let go of some judging. I have forgiving to do and I don’t want to. “There Mercy, I said it, are You content? ” Mercy smiles but not in the way I expected when I finally dared raise my eyes to Her. I didn’t see the condemnation I was expecting, the ‘Uh huh, I knew it! smirk”. Hmm, maybe this isn’t so bad.

I have hurts, scabs I keep picking at to ensure the wounds don’t heal. I secretly want gum to stick to the bottom of a couple folk’s shoes, I want their toilets to get stopped up, I want their favorite shirt to get stained. I’m afraid to look over at Mercy, expecting to see Her getting up from my couch right now, heading towards the door, disgusted with me. A weird thing has happened though, a bit of peace has descended, I feel less judged in holding in the secret of my judging. I think Mercy already knew. “Tell me more child,” whispers Mercy.

In the silence of my living room, I explain that these people really hurt me. I don’t wish big hurts on them, I just can’t find forgiveness. I talk about my pesky pastor who keeps preaching about forgiveness and how when I hear him I say ,”La la la la” in my head as I look attentively at him from the front row. Mercy keeps listening. I offer some of my blanket, we get closer. This is a mistake as I begin to think of all the people I have hurt. I deserve huge wads of gum on all of my favorite Tom’s, I really should carry a travel sized plunger with me at all times. I want Mercy to go sit on the other couch but it is too late. I want to hold on to my hurt but it rose like the steam from my coffee, cooled now. I can’t get back that “first cup in the morning” heat. Damn Mercy is good.

I can’t say I have fully forgiven, I think Mercy and I will need a full pot of coffee, a few more mornings together. I have more to share, Mercy said She will listen. She likes my blanket, prefers to sit with me, snuggled close. I’m not so twitchy now. After we get to know each other better, we can invite Grace in for some scones, for now I need to sit with Her and let the steam rise. It occurs to me that most of my favorite shirts are stained. I wonder if anyone else might want to invite Mercy in for a cup of coffee.  She is free after 6 most mornings.