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Living in the slow lane

by davesandel on January 7th, 2022

Friday, January 7, 2002                                              (today’s lectionary)

Living in the slow lane

Praise your God, for he has strengthened the bars of your gates; he has blessed your children within you. He has granted peace in your borders; with the best of wheat he fills you. He sends forth his command to the earth; swiftly runs his word!

I kept waking up. The covers had shifted, and I was shivering. Outside the wind had died, but the temperature was right at zero. Our house is old, and the insulation is old. We replaced our windows, but you can only do so much. I could feel very cold air around the window, right next to my bed.

I got up and on my way to the bathroom I saw our computer screens, decked out with people that we love. Miles and Jasper are entertaining themselves with an electric guitar and drumset. Marc is catching Aly as she jumps into her Aunt Heather’s swimming pool, celebrating on the fourth of July, a year or so before co-vid cramped all our swimming styles.

Coming back to bed I straighten the blankets and lie down again. As I usually do, I take stock of my body. Where am I stiff? What do I feel in my lungs and around my heart? Many people, especially Margaret tell me that my hands have “the healing touch,” so I touch my chest, I touch the stiff, crampy muscles around my ribs, and take a breath or two. My eyes close, a little watery, ready to sleep again. Just as soon as I cough a couple of times and blow my nose.

The reports about Jesus spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to hear him and be cured of their ailments.

I imagine you have heard more than enough. Not that you/me/we don’t all have something like this story of our own nights. Two friends got out of bed to go to the bathroom and fell. One of them broke her hip, the other broke her arm. Ron Rolheiser, who is willing to share his personal struggles, said that as he gets older (and he’s talking to lots of folks at King’s House in Belleville who are his age), he is much more able to pray the monk’s prayers of Matins, since he wakes up around 2 am needing to pee, anyway.

Our water heater was leaking when our friend cleaned the house the day before I got here. She sent us pictures, and I appreciate her heads-up so much. The water heater is still leaking today, but my plumber buddy Mark is replacing it this afternoon. He loves to help his friends. He could retire, but he hasn’t; instead he has found two guys much younger than he is, who are willing to work with him. His gruff, grizzled style barely covers his heart of gold.

How simple are the lives we live? There is glitz and gloom of course, and details that take time to iron out, and soon there will be tax forms to file. I look forward to trips and movies and plays and concerts, which are rare, and the usual raz-ma-tazz of my day by day life.

Jesus would withdraw to deserted places to pray.

Marc and I had dinner last night at The Ribeye in Champaign, which has a salad bar to die for, hot gridirons for the steaks and potatoes, and Buffalo Trace Old Fashioneds. We stayed three hours. It was quiet and friendly, and Marc knew all of the wait staff. They compared all kinds of notes.

Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth.

What I am realizing seventy years into my life is that I’ll never get my work done. I can make a short list and get that done, but there is always more. Isn’t that OK? Think about it; God made us in his image. That means at least two things: he made us to work (as he did, creating the world) and he made us to never get done (as he hasn’t … creating the world). So I ask it again, isn’t that OK?

I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

I’m pretty sure that it is. I can’t take those lists with me. I can’t take those piles of unfinished business with me. What I can do is build a relationship with Jesus, so I’ll recognize him sooner when I see him after I die. That sounds like a plan.

(1 John 5, Psalm 147, Matthew 4, Luke 5)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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