Friday, March 28, 2014

Love Song to the Gardener...

I'd rather be in the Garden of the Lord
Than in the palace of a king...
He carried me so tenderly and covered me over with rich dark soil,
When I was just a tiny seed.
He planted me deep in the garden surrounded by rocks and thistles
That mocked my every need
Or, at least, that’s what I believed…

I heard His footsteps in the garden growing fainter and fainter.
He was leaving me all alone –
He didn’t stop.
He didn’t care what happened to me.
Or, at least that’s what I believed…

The only life I saw were ugly, broken weeds
Sprouting all around me.
No beauty.
No joy.
No life was in the air around me.
Or, at least, that’s what I believed…

Endlessly, it rained and rained.
I never saw the sunshine.
I never saw a flower.
I called to Him to save me.
But, against this cruelty,
He had no power.
Or, at least, that’s what I believed.

I wept at least as many tears
As raindrops fell upon my fears.
All for what? I didn’t know.
I decided I should just let go.
What was the use in holding on?
He must not love me, or so it seemed.
Or, at least, that’s what I believed.

Strangers came and stomped on me.
They mocked and laughed and jeered at me.
Down in the heart of my tiny seed,
They broke me down and made me bleed.
Left alone to face this mess,
I hated Him, I must confess.
Or, at least, that’s what I believed.

But, He who loved me had buried me deep,

He had buried me,
In the rich dark soil of His love.

He had promised He would come for me.
When all seemed dark and dry and dead,
He was still strolling through the flower beds
Or, at least, that’s what I came to see…

I, no longer hoping, no longer strong,
I heard Him walking on the dawn.
He lifted my head to see His face,
He smiled His Glory all over the place.
I never ever doubted His love for me...
Or, at least, that’s what I came to see!

The storms brought the rain that I needed to grow.
The weeds made me fight for the chance to have life.
The stones and the rocks made me sink in the mud,
Where the rich, velvet soil caressed me with love.
He used it all to shape me and form me to be,
A tiny reflection of the One who made me.

I don’t know the answer to all of the whys.
I only know darkness is broken by Light.
I learned to be gentle toward those who are broken,
To reach out in tenderness for those who are lost.
To leave it to Him what I don’t understand.
To trust Him who holds me in the palm of His hand.

To hold on to the One who holds on to me.
Or, at least, that’s what I’ve come to believe…


“Then He who sat on the throne said,
Behold, I make all things new…”

   Revelation 21:5  NKJV

Sunday, March 9, 2014

History Happens to Real People...

"In the day of trouble
He will hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock."
Psalm 27: 5  NKJV
It was 1956.  I was a little girl attending a Catholic school in Chicago, where I wore poodle skirts and bobby socks with saddle shoes or penny loafers.  I was beginning to notice boys and listen to the rock and roll music blasting on my brother’s transistor radio.  I always left home with a dime in my pocket to call home in an emergency from the telephone booth on the street corner.  I watched the Mickey Mouse Club after school and occasionally was allowed to drink a six ounce bottle of Root Beer for a treat. 
On Saturdays, if I could find a quarter, I walked over to the Movie Theater up the street to watch Saturday cartoons on the big screen.  The world was celebrating Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show, “Ike” was in the White House, WW II was behind us, and, we imagined ourselves relatively safe in the world.  I was blissfully unaware of what was going on half way across the world as the Russian Bear roared and threatened and, finally, in 1956, invaded its neighbor, Hungary.  I seldom watched the news and never heard my parents talking about the horror of having one’s homeland invaded by a foreign tyrant that rolled over everything in its path.  This wasn’t supposed to be happening.  After all, Hitler had been defeated, the War was over and we were “at peace".
Into this little girl’s fantasy land, slipped a little boy who sat next to me in my fourth grade class.  He didn’t speak any English.  He didn’t have any friends.  He was alone all the time.  He looked frightened to me.  His name was Charles and I was fascinated by this stranger who showed up in the middle of the school year, as if dropped from the sky.  Why in the world would his parents move him in the middle of the school year?  What was that funny language he was speaking?  Didn’t everybody speak English?  Why was he so nervous?  Why was he so “different”?
In the most stunning geography/history lesson I had ever received, the answers were laid out before the class one day soon after Charles’ arrival.  The teacher explained that Charles was a “refugee.”  His family had fled with their children to the United States to escape the tyranny of Russia, who had boldly and viciously invaded Hungary with tanks that rolled right over citizens who resisted the invasion.  The brutality of their invasion was well documented.  All of the world knew.  And all of the world looked the other way.  Those who were able, fled their homeland and became refugees all over the world, especially in the United States, prized for her reputation of liberty and religious freedom.  Here, sitting right next to me, was the child of parents who had fled for their lives, and the lives of their children, to my homeland, America.
I was just a child of ten.  The only “hungry” I had ever heard of was when my tummy rumbled and demanded to be fed.  But, here was a child my own age, whose life had been lived in a country far, far away, called Hungary.  What had he seen on the streets of his homeland as Russian tanks rolled down the streets killing anyone who dared to oppose their invasion?  How did he feel when he had to say goodbye to all of his friends and relatives?  How did he now handle having no friends and no one at school who spoke his language?
I stared at this little boy the way children do, unabashedly.  To me, he was a hero.  He represented resistance to evil and courage to do whatever it takes to be free.  I think I may have had my first case of “puppy love” with a boy I couldn’t speak to in a language he understood.  But, he spoke to me a language that transcends nationalities, just by his presence. 
I don’t remember much about history, and geography was always my worst subject.  But, I have never forgotten the lessons I learned that year as a frightened little boy of ten brought history to my doorstep and made me an eyewitness to the reality of evil marching across the world, displacing and murdering everything that got in its way.
I hope and pray America hasn’t forgotten the lessons of fifty years ago as the Russian Bear exposes its ugly teeth and claws once again, across the sea in Ukraine.  My prayers are with the people of the Ukraine.  And the people of the United States…