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Coleuses, magic carpets, and my heart of darkness

I feel terrible. I often awaken with a dull headache and my body feeling like it is weighted down with bricks. Aside from the constant pain from my 2nd try at a hip replacement, i suffer from a crushing fatigue that has come and gone for years.  In an effort to shake this feeling, I watered my garden first thing in the morning. There is always some suprise. Like a light in a dark room, or a joke to break the tension, no matter how small it is, it lightens my spirit. This morning, I noticed  a tiny two-leafed coleus peeking out from under a pot. I didn't plant it there, it either grew from a stray seed or a dropped leaf.

Still feeling dull headed and flat hearted, I turned to a daily podcast meditation created by Jesuit monks called 'Pray as you go.'  This morning, the reading was from Matthew 9:1-8.  Jesus is moved by the faith of a group of friends carrying a parallized man toward him. He tells the man on his bed, "Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven."  The ultimate reality, is that the man is made well. I confess, I often think cynically that a reliance on 'ultimate reality' is the consolation prize of faith. I have also accused Jesus of being an imaginary friend.

Speaking of blasphemy, that is what the scribes mutter about Jesus' words of forgiveness, and Jesus sees right through it. "Why do you think evil in your hearts?" He asks, then challenges them, "What is greater, to forgive sins or make a sick man well?"  In their minds, they may have considered it the former, but in their hearts they needed Jesus to do the later, and He does. He tells the paralized man to roll up his bed and go home, and he does.  I envision his bed as Persian rug, outdoors on the ground and I want to paint it. 

The crowd was wowed, and so are we, much more impressed with physical healing than with spiritual healing, Which is greater, healing or forgiveness? Rising from the dead or promises? They seem to be connnected. Not that the man's sin caused his illness, but that a broken planet results in legs that don't work, eyes that don't see, and ears that can't or won't hear.  Jesus humbles himself to accomodate the doubts of his enemies ,and as a result, a man of faith walks home. Jesus fixes what sin broke.

Groups of faithful friends that have carried John and I in prayer to where Jesus is. Though I live convinced that God is mad at me and ready to torch me with His breath, it comforts me that Jesus is moved by faith, even if it's not my own. The podcast meditation called on the listener to imagine being in the presence of the love of Christ. Confess to Him or just rest in His love, it instructs.   I confessed my lack of faith, my anger, my quitting. I tried to imagine being on the side of a dusty path waiting for Jesus to heal me. I felt like I wasn't sick enough or good enough to warrant attention. I cried.

Recently, John had a bladder cancer scare. I had already thrown my hands up at God and asked "Are you really good or are you just waiting for me to let my defenses down so you can drop a bomb on me?"  Annie Dillard has an image of God as a beautiful cloud. A hand comes from inside the cloud and pulls it back like a curtain to reveal a monster. Is that who God is? I was mad. I had given God the credit for being on my side and maybe I was mistaken. 

Waiting for shoes to drop is a practice of bad dot connecting. I try to remember to connect the good dots instead. Like a two-year-old in a temper tantrum, I tested God with my 'are you really good' question. I know the answer, and like a toddler, fall asleep, sweaty brow on God's shoulder, body gone limp, resting in the One I know I can trust. The One who is beside me no matter what I face. The one who heals. The one who forgives sins.


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