If I close my eyes tight you can’t see me. I know that it is an infantile belief, but in moments of panic it is also an ancient magic that introverted wizards conjure in crowded church foyers, manic Starbucks queues and any official function where we would rather take a bullet than another sterile smile.
If I close my eyes tight you can’t see me. In times marked by weariness the world will continue to spin, but the hope is that it will speed up just enough to eject this deep sadness into a shallow orbit. Pat answers will be caught off balance and trip on the tongue, while I remain locked safely behind my eyelids.
If I close my eyes tight you can’t see me. Jesus meets me here, his presence manifest in times of faith. Like a cold tomb holding its breath the day before the resurrection, this is a quiet place full of promises. I am reminded here that when things are as still as death, God is calmly putting the universe in order and I’m simply too small to see the scope of it.
There are times when you can’t see the deepest part of me. Please forgive what you perceive as indifference. It is in these moments that I’m most invested in you. You can’t see me, because I’ve entered a place where angels cease their singing when a son of the King comes to petition his father. I’m closing my eyes because I love you. I’m asking Him to close your eyes for a moment too, because the inside of things is beautiful.
What we perceive each day is not always seen clearly, for our eyes are only open as wide as our hearts. What is it in your life that increases your spiritual vision?
“…I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…” Ephesians 1:16-19a ESV
There is a safe space provided by friends and family who understand the pain and heartache of life in general, and the Way of the Cross in particular. I wrote this poem in thanks to God, for the benevolence showered on me by their presence in my life.
If you have ever allowed me to share in your angst, this is for you. I love you. Thank you for your vulnerability. When you need it, may you find peace and rest under the Healing Trees.
For those of you on mobile devices who find the picture too small, here is the text:
by Bill Scarrott
Heaven has hills where trees do grow
When desperate prayers are sown below.
Alas we rarely tarry there
In forests angels long to know.
There the Gardener takes a knee,
And one by one tends each small plea
With hands that still bear sacred scars,
Bringing to life a Healing Tree.
Covered there from the storms you fear,
Sheltered ‘neath leaves of answered prayer,
A sapling from your own pain grows
Near streams that flow with grace to spare.
Someday others will rest and hide
Under great branches tall and wide
Where the Gard’ner watered a seed
Shaped like that lonely tear you cried.
Freedom, and communion. It’s important that we put each in its proper place. One describes how we live, but the other is true life’s source and sustenance.
My first taste of freedom in a religious context involved a cracker and some grape juice.
Once a month at church the ushers would pass around a mid morning snack, and my father would forbid me to partake. The injustice of it all was galling. I had heard that Jesus liked kids, but my elders possessed some secret knowledge that I apparently did not, and my ignorance sat like chains and shackles upon a young spirit that longed for freedom and something to eat.
Well, there came a day when I was prepared with all the right answers. I was barely able to see the preacher without standing on the pew, but I had been listening. When my dad asked me what I thought communion was all about, my answer was King-James perfect and I was allowed to grab a tiny helping as the crumbs and cups were passed.
“Mm mm,” I exclaimed! “That’s good!” And although I didn’t think such a small amount would satisfy me until lunch, I was quite pleased with myself. In hindsight, the subsequent cuff upside the head is something a more astute young lad may have seen coming.
Over time I came to understand a couple important things about the freedom that I so desperately hungered for. The first thing was that the liberty I sought had already been planned for, bought, and delivered long before I knew the difference between a Saltine and authentic Unleavened. The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians church is rich with passion as he expounds on the wonder of grace. He makes it quite clear that communion free from religious regulation is a God-breathed wonder; something to be celebrated and worth fighting to protect.
And nestled into Paul’s letter is a little statement that sets up the second important caveat: apparently it’s not all about me. The freedom and communion that I enjoy in and through a relationship with Jesus apparently doesn’t revolve around moi, or moi’s inability to get through a church service without a snack. He writes,“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians chapter 5, verse 13)
Let’s be frank, shall we? We all have appetites; some are satisfied with a little nibble here and there and others are voracious. The great truth about Christian Liberty is this: we are no longer slaves to those things, regardless of how our stomachs are grumbling at any given moment.
Regarding communion, we belong in a realm where intimacy with God is actually expected. I’ll go so far as to say that Jesus’ death was simply a means to this end, judging by the prayer that is recorded in John chapter 17. This communion is part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and His presence in our lives is like bread and wine to a weary traveller. Paul goes on in Galatians to explain that living by, and keeping in step with the Spirit is what sustains our freedom and guards us from become slaves again to our appetites. God has bound Himself to us with chains forged in the heat of sacrificial passion; this is what has secured our freedom.
The question I’m asking myself today is, what is it that I’m craving? Do I long to rest and play in a deep communion with God, or do I desire to rush around that, making the freedom to rest and play in and of itself the ultimate prize?