A Gentle Resting Place


This is the day that the Lord has made. But isn’t every day? Our lives are not our own. We claim all kinds of stuff as ours including the actual breath that we breathe. It is not ours. It does not belong to us. We rent it. We rent the space between our ears, the space we walk on, the attitudes we express, the thoughts we think. We can rant and rave and yell and fuss but at the end of our days, we have a certain number of those days, preordained by the living God and none of it, not one little iota of it, belongs to us. But we sure do think so, don’t we? Enter the parable where Jesus talks about the wealthy farmer who was so satisfied with the status of his life that he built bigger barns to store his stuff in, only to die in the middle of the night. We may believe that we know and have a lot, but in an instant it can all be taken away.

Yesterday, in my desire to do something less difficult than stomping around in a swamp, since it is the opening of duck hunting season, I decided to do something less strenuous like bow hunting for deer, which I have little confidence in and little previous success. Oh don’t fear, Bambi would be safe and besides, I needed something to protect me from marauding bands of squirrels that may try to chew my leg into a nub.

Unable to climb into a tree and looking for a place to sit, while walking through the woods in the predawn darkness, already in pain and hoping that this precious time would help to alleviate some of the stress of my journey with pain, I fell. Yep, landing gear up and in slow motion, I landed; touchdown! Only the landing strip was right on my crossbow! Not sure what all the cracking was upon my graceful landing, but as sore as I am today, I think it was at least some of me. I think my crossbow got it too though I won’t know until later today. Believe me, the killing of something was not at the forefront of my noggin to start with; it was the fact that I could go outside and meld into the life of the natural world. Oh, I melded alright, right into the freshly made mud from our latest storm. It has left me sore. It has left me realizing something else; our life just is not our own!

An owl let out a string of hoots that sounded more like a deep, hysterical belly laugh. I think I was the object of his sickly joke. The crows found him right after daylight and made a mockery of his attempts to hide, telling everyone within miles of earshot of his potential murderous desires. The wood ducks flew and squealed in their excitement for finding a few acorns in the swamp that I inhabited. The mallards quacked and chuckled, circling and looking for a place to land for their early morning breakfast. The robins awoke, chirping with the acknowledgement that an invader was present. And in the world I now occupied, I realized, no matter how much I have gone through and am going through, I was small. I was a simple little piece of a bigger puzzle that was around me.

I would never think that what I go through as a curse by God. It has been a journey of questions with no answers, of denial and acceptance, of frustration and disappointment. For each of us, in our attempt to control everything that skeers us to death, suffering comes to us. But do you know what else it is? This damnable pain is a gift! It is a gift where the model of my existence has been pulled apart like a box of Legos and is being reassembled into something different.

What that is, I haven’t a clue but one thing I do know; I realize that the footprints of my existence on this rotating rock is small and is only made relevant by acknowledging the presence of a God that walks with us in the midst of our suffering and pain. I may have cracked my bow. I probably cracked my spine. I definitely am reminded that in our imperfections and suffering, God is as close as the laughing owl and barking squirrel.

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