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Sitting under the tree with Jonah, waiting for the sun

by davesandel on August 31st, 2021

Tuesday, August 31, 2021                              (today’s lectionary)

Sitting under the tree with Jonah, waiting for the sun

You yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, and they will not escape.

“You got it?” “Ya, I got it!”

“No! I don’t have it. You got it?” “Yes, I think I got it.”

“No! I don’t have it.” Well. This could go on and on. This DID go on and on.

But we were not moving a piano like Laurel and Hardy. We were just disengaging Jasper’s car seat from Pam’s back car seat, because she is returning to Cave in Rock tomorrow. “You got it?” “Yeah, I got it!”

For dinner we had Thai food marked by one or two little peppers beside the recipe title. Although we brought half of it home, we were already sweating when we started getting out that great Graco car seat. The first hook slipped loose after one of us got in the car and basically sat in the seat, putting some weight on it. But that second hook, the one that should have been easy, about finished us. We took turns. We pushed and pulled. The automobile’s back seat was heavy and stiff and strong (this car won’t crumble in a crash). Pam made some very strange noises, and then in a whiff of miracle, the seat was free. We were free. Pam was free to move about the country, and she can leave as early as she wants tomorrow.

All of you are children of the light and children of the day. Let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. For God did not destine us for wrath but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

And what if we couldn’t get it, what if we gave up at last and called Aki, Jasper’s dad and master of the car seat? Is he more stubborn than those buried, stiff hooks?

And what then? What if worse things happened? Job’s wife told her husband, “Curse God and die.” Could our sufferings (and now we are far beyond car seats) ever get to that?

Not if Jesus can help it. He will do his work, and we will be free.

Sometimes.

The demon cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” But Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” And the demon came out without doing the man any harm.

Still, not always. And what can we say then, besides cursing and complaining and gnashing our teeth? Clarence Heller wrote about the transformation my mind must make when my body, or my friend’s body or my wife’s, is left unhealed.

One day I cried because the God who loved me had gone.

I grieved the absence of comfort and consolation

and I moaned for the tears of joy that would well up in my eyes –

their meaning I could never fully articulate or capture –

like a long, sweet kiss.

Honestly, I’ll admit that it’s the experience of the God

who loved me that I miss, even more than the being of God.

Honestly, it only means I am being tempted to disengage

from the path and try to circle back,

and after that fails,

to sit in the shade with Jonah.

Honestly, I’m being invited to welcome God as God is

(rather than as God was)

with the same love that God loved upon me.

And honestly, I’m not so sure I am ready,

or grateful, or willing to say yes to that.

One day I cried because the God who loved me had gone.

 

This is not a happy day for Clarence. But it need not be a joyless day. I moaned for the tears of joy. And there is yet, as Prufrock says,

Time.

Time for the yellow smoke that slides along the street …

time to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet,

time for all the works and days of hands that lift and drop a question on your plate.

Time for you and time for me …

in a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”

Prufrock is uncertain about his role in this.

Do I dare disturb the universe?

That is not what I meant at all; that is not it, at all.

In his psalm, David is not just certain, but confident in the presence of God, nothwithstanding all his suffering.

In the day of trouble God will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.

J. Alfred Prufrock might do well to hang out with David for a week or so. See if he can catch some of the same rays.

(1 Thessalonians 5, Psalm 27, Luke 7, Luke 4)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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