Friday, January 11, 2013

Fires, Floods, Tornadoes, Ruins and Parades

Blogging lately has been like trying to write during a house fire.  Thanksgiving new-ness sparked a rush of flaming homework that made the Christmas road trip burn so bright that New Year's was nothing but coals, ash, and hot air.  I was shivering out in the cold watching the last timbers cave into a glowing husk before I even realized that I should have grabbed my laptop (and then realized upon my realization that I had).


Speaking of natural disasters: ideas, emotions, and un-uttered observations are whirling in my head like a funnel cloud just beginning to extend its insidious finger out of an ominous sky.  I don't know if I should linger and zoom in for that amazing, once-in-a-lifetime shot or turn and run as fast and as far as I can in the opposite direction.  Unfortunately (or fortunately as the case may be), I've always been a little fascinated by extreme weather, so here I've sat as debris and small animals go flying all around me.

Look. There's a pig - that looks like a turkey.

This is a very strange way to say that life very often does NOT look the way you expect it to.  House fires, whirlwinds, holidays and homework have a way of overrunning riverbanks and sweeping you away into strange new positions among strange new locations, all while leaving you feeling very cold and very wet and wondering if you are going to be able to breath from one moment to the next.  In fact, you imagine that once you get a chance to really think about it, you will probably be good and traumatized.  But trauma requires time for reflection, I think, and who has time for that?

Me.  Apparently.

And for good reason.  You see, in the parade of moments (because parades, in my opinion, are just another kind of disaster) there was one thought that kept occurring to me and that has begged me to come back and visit - you know, when I have time to share a cup of coffee and maybe even try a homemade scone.  The thought went something like this:


No. That's not quite it.  It was more like:

"No - ouch! Danget! What the ...?"

"No, I don't want to ... Ouch! That hurts! Danget, can this be fixed? What the ...!"

One of my favorite authors, Rowan Williams, puts it this way:
Restoration means going back to the ruins of the past, to the devastated and depopulated land and building there, with the help of God, a city which is new but which still stands on the same earth as the old. It is going back to the memories of the painful, humiliating past and bringing them to redemption in the present.
God builds redemption on disaster sites.  It's the only way to build redemption, as it turns out.  In fact, when I try to vacate the premises, He gently takes me back.  Rowan goes on to say:
My future will not be mine without the concrete memories of all my past.  Our hope, then, is like the prophetic hope, a hope for the past, a hope for our native soil.  God will take us back to the place where our cities and temples, our ideals and aspirations, faith and love, were destroyed and defeated.  Risen life in and with Christ is now, entirely fresh, full of what we could never have foreseen or planned, yet is built from the bricks and mortar, messy and unlovely, of our past.
Where are is the caution tape in your life?  Where are the disaster sites - the places you'd really rather not go, the things you'd really rather not feel again?  My God is Building up Ruins.  Anyone else want to sign up for that?

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