Chasing Twilight

All of my life I’ve been chasing twilight.

Where all the hours in the day went, I don’t know. There was a time, I’m sure, when I worked and played in the warmth of the sun. Those days were spent on swing sets, chasing girls, playing cops and robbers, or in the summer building forts in the woods at the edge of my Grandpa’s farm. Immortality was so obvious that we didn’t think about time at all. We only knew that the world was spinning because our moms told us to come in for dinner. Oh ya, we’d think, food. We should eat.

That was long ago. What’s left of dinner is just dirty dishes piled in the sink. They’ve been there for years, while we chase twilight.

Yesterday, when we were kids, we didn’t enjoy bedtime. Life was fun, and dreaming about it was second rate. Night was an annoyance.

Now the end of the day scares me. When did that happen? The sunset has become a sign that tomorrow will come too fast.

Honestly, I’m chasing twilight because I don’t know if I have what it takes to spend another 24 hours clawing my broken fingernails into the clay while the world hurls itself through space, trying to spin me off. Maybe it would be better if I just let go…

I’m chasing twilight because if I can catch the sun, the day doesn’t end and I don’t have to face another one.

From where I am, the sun sets over the Rocky Mountains: imposing slabs of stone linked intimately together, silently brooding and communicating all too well that following is forbidden. Their shadows reach out toward me, engulfing everything. Because when you’re too slow to run after the sun, what you really need is a reminder that you’re also feeble and small.

If I had a little more time, I think to myself. A few more minutes in the day. Then they’d see:  I’m a good father. A loving husband. I’m worth my living wage. The company is better off because I work there. I’m not a disappointment to myself and others. I’m not broken. I’ll put myself back together. I’m definitely not insecure. I’m Blue Collar and fucking good at it.

Just give me a little more time.

So I chase twilight, but every day see the sun tuck those fantasies away just out of reach on the other side of monstrous granite teeth. I didn’t make it. Not even close, really. So tomorrow is on its way with another opportunity to not quite get there.

Being a Christian, this is simply unacceptable – not just the failure, or the profanity, although there’s that too – but being mentally and emotionally…finished…with a body that is well on its way. I know that I should be able to send a cutesy little scriptural meme down the black hole of social media, eat more fibre and eventually feel better. At this point, though, I may as well disappoint God too. There’s something to be said for consistency.

Thing is, I adhere to a strange brand of Christianity that is about more than me and how I feel. It is infused with ancient scriptures and prophets and such. One prophet named Malachi, who lived about 2500 years ago, wrote this:

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings…”

What does it means for the sun to rise with healing in its wings? It means that when all hope is gone, we’ll see the sun rising in the west, rays of light carving their way back through those mountain passes carrying everything we thought we’d lost, all the things that we assumed were forever out of reach.

There is one part of me left that believes it.

The shadows that almost swallowed me are in retreat. The atmosphere is infused with new colours as the sun slips over the Rockies to touch the foothills with light. Hope comes from the same direction that it disappeared so long ago. The scent of pine and cool water dance softly in the air.

All of a sudden I’m building forts at the edge of Grandpa’s farm. Looking between the trees I can see Grandma walking out to him in the field, because its teatime. My sister is in the playhouse. I still don’t know why she is old enough to light the wood stove and I’m not, but I don’t care any more. She’s cool. My brother is taking my toys apart. I think it’s cute, and I’m kinda amazed that he knows how to put them back together again. Mom and dad aren’t divorced, and all that bad stuff didn’t happen.

I glance down, a little curious about the ashes underfoot. A small part of me wonders if something bad was once here. Then the sun filters down to me and suddenly I can’t recall what “bad” is.

What “bad” was?

What “what” was?

I dunno.

I need a stick for my fort.

Someone says, “Hey Billy!”, so I turn around and there He is, with a smile on His face and just the branch I’ve been looking for.

Pilgrim’s Lullaby

IMG_0723

All Good Things – Easter 2017

Open Hands and Trigger Fingers

Holding hands is not a small thing. That one person would hold out a hand to another, and the other take it without a second thought: this seems to be a relational unicorn that disappears into the land of fairies as we grow up learning about fists and backhanded slaps. For the most part too lazy to become educated, we settle for being opinionated and use our hands to hold placards, shake fists, raise middle fingers and pull triggers.

I work with my hands, and they have scars. Bits of them are actually missing, and at the moment one fingernail is darker than the rest. In my profession we use our hands to measure the amount of respect due another man; the ritual of shaking hands is entered into with all of the force of the personalities hiding behind the callouses. To some degree I have little control over the appearance of my hands, but what I do possess is the ability to keep them open towards others.

IMG_1281An extended hand is a timely gift to a person who finds themselves on unsure footing. My daughters demonstrated this while crossing a river this afternoon. While both experienced a measure of pain as they waded through the waves with bare feet, the stronger helped the younger. They had no time to size each other up, enter into a dialogue about trust or even look into each other’s eyes. When things became cold and unstable, instinct reached for a steady hand.

My children, nurturing the world with reflexes of kindness. As a father I pray that their hearts won’t grow the callouses that so many of us carry. Oh, that a spirit of forgiveness would make them strong; gentle towards the weak and unafraid of their enemies.

For the rest of us, the temptation is to succumb to hopelessness and relational paralysis. The fear is that it is too late for us, especially in the valley of the shadow of death we found ourselves in this last week. We want the fist of justice, forgiveness be damned.

But listen to the words recorded in an ancient, holy book. The author prayed to God regarding seemingly insurmountable evil and then said,

“…Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.”
(Psalm 73, verses 23-26, NIV translation)

The power to maintain open hands rest in the Almighty, who first extends that same grace to us.

When I Close My Eyes

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

Healing Trees

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.

gardenerjpg.jpg

For those of you on mobile devices who find the picture too small, here is the text:

Healing Trees
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.

Easter 2016

That first Easter morning, the only person able to remain calm was the guy who had been crucified and buried.

How is your psyche today? Time spent meditating on this weekend’s story of the Christ would be time well spent, I think. The stone wasn’t rolled away so that Jesus could leave his grave; it was set aside so that we could explore and believe, finding life and power and peace.

Friday the cross, Saturday the remnants of our old cold ways of worship, and Sunday the Unexpected – where do you find yourself?