Saturday, July 11, 2015

Grumbling in My Tent

I really dislike Tuesdays. I'm not a huge fan of the rest of the work week, but I really dislike Tuesdays. Tuesday is my first day of the week. Tuesday is Monday, but Monday is Sunday; so Mondays are ok -- for me anyway -- but Tuesdays? Eyuck.  This past Tuesday I was in a particularly unpleasant mood: aside from the calendar, my daughter and her husband were in town, and I was unable to have the day off -- not that we would actually be doing much at that hour of the day, but sometimes I really hate going to bed earlier than most four year-olds. So, I had to work; I'd been to a funeral days before that set me to thinking about my mother's advanced age; my husband was in a funk over some things he was experiencing; I had dealt with some family drama that will result in some permanent changes, and I'd dealt with some family drama that will not change anything at all; and last but not least, I was sick. Rotten Tuesday across the board.

A couple of days later I was reading Psalm 106:24-25:

                         "The people refused to enter the pleasant land,
                           for they wouldn't believe His promise to care for them.
                           Instead they grumbled in their tents,
                           and refused to obey the Lord."

Now, the pleasant land was the land God had promised to His people long ago; a land "flowing with milk and honey." If you think about the production of milk, it can only be produced in abundance ("flowing") if the animals are healthy, well-fed and well cared for. According to Jewish Midrash, milk symbolizes superior quality, richness of taste, and nourishment. When we think of fruit nectar, as some suspect was meant by "honey," it can only flow in likewise fertile, well-maintained lands. Bees' honey is extremely sweet and versatile, and its cost is evidence of the scarcity and labor intensive production of quality honey. In short, why would anyone in their right mind refuse to go there?!

Briefly, sin puts us in a very wrong mind -- usually a self-indulgent mind, a mind that insists on doing things strictly in a way most comfortable or familiar to it. It's not easy to trust the unseen; many people would choose a familiar slavery over an unknown freedom. I might refuse dessert (a pleasant thing) because of the consequences (its unhealthy or fatty nature that contradicts its pleasantness). The pleasant things of God however, can have no downside because He Himself is only good. Refusing the goodness of God calls into question His very nature, as if there can be a hidden liability.

So what did the Israelites who called God's nature into question do? They dug in. Like petulant children who know little but self, impulse, ignorance and immaturity, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey God. I don't know if you're a camper, but I love camping -- it's staying in the tent I don't like so much. It's crowded, the ground is lumpy, and then there's that smell. And that's twenty-first century camping! Let's face it, it was a desert, these people were accompanied by many animals, and they didn't use deodorant -- the animals or the people! So because God wanted things done His way, because they were in the wrong mind, they refused a land flowing with milk and honey, and chose to grumble in their hot, smelly, crowded tents instead.

Immediately my mind went back to Tuesday. What did I do with all those hurt, annoyed, uncomfortable, ugly feelings? I did, I laid them at the feet of the only One who can do anything good with them. I learned (the hard way, of course) a long time ago, grumbling in my tent gets me nothing but sweaty, smelly, and possibly eaten by a bear.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

For My Husband and Best Friend

Have you ever had a dream? Not the kind you have when you're sleeping, but a big dream; the kind that is so heavy on your soul you can't seem to shake it, you always keep coming back to it; like a fly buzzing at the window pane, it looks like where you want to go, there must be a way toward it. One day, you stop and really look at your life, and there's not a remnant of that dream left anywhere; nothing you have, nothing you are, nothing you see even remotely looks like your dream. It's then you realize just how much it truly meant to you.

I had such a dream. It was big. I'm not a dreamer by nature, or at least I didn't think I was. But looking back, I realize just how big, how much of a long shot this really was. I met someone who was wonderful, who swept me off my feet, I guess you could say. I trusted this person enough to dream with them, about them; to even dream their dream. But this person was only made of flesh and bone; this person was limited by the same things that limit the rest of us: time, health, strength, knowledge, resources, humanity. And each one of those things crept in one by one and stole our dream from us.

Today I looked at what we have, at what we have become. We are so far from the dream we had. But little by little our dream slipped away. No one was at fault; no one was slacking off, or got off track. No one forgot the dream or tried to dream another dream. "Life happened." Isn't that what they say? "Life happened." Not everyone in our dream shared our dream. Not everyone outside of our dream wanted to stay there. Not everyone in our dream stayed healthy or fit for the task. Not everyone inside our dream played by the rules.

When we dreamed our dream, I distinctly recall laughter, but the days I recall now bring me to tears. When we closed our eyes, we saw youth and dancing, but when I open them now I see pages falling from the calendar and adults who were once children. When we looked up at the stars and spoke into our future, there were fun-filled days and sweet, cozy nights; but my days can be lonely, and so can his nights. Our dream was healthy and strong and comfortable; but reality has dealt its share of damaging blows and what I see bears their mark.

But we are together, and we are as one. And if we never dream another dream, you are my dream come true.