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Take nothing with you for the journey

by davesandel on July 11th, 2021

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 11, 2021              (today’s lectionary)

Take nothing with you for the journey

Off with you, visionary, flee!

Yesterday I began compiling my helter-skelter notes from Margaret’s illness and hospitalization. On June 4 I wrote: “Margaret ER admitted, fluid on lungs, scary diabetes, UTI, heart flutter, short of breath, pains in ovary.” In the ER, Dr. Martinez told her, “You’re a pretty sick girl. You can’t go home just yet.”

June 5: limiting water, darkened urine, swelling.

June 6: more bad news, she feels about as bad as ever, eating better, no bad breath from deep inside. A “little more serious.” Bacteria growing in all four vials of her blood test, streptococcus mitus, 6 weeks of antibiotics, endocarditis, the heart valve seemed to be growing bacterial vegetation, she needs a “sleeping echocardiogram.” At the end of my notes for that day … “not just a simple UTI.”

June 6 was our Bad Day at Black Rock. An ambulance took her to the headquarters hospital, and we settled in until her surgery on June 17. Now it’s impossible to see how different our lives would have been had we just ignored Andi and Aki’s request and just driven home on June 4, instead of turning in at the hospital’s red EMERGENCY sign. We got a flyer from a cremation specialist in Austin the other day. Margaret said, “We don’t need that yet,” and I threw it in the trash. Yea!

In accord with the riches of his grace, our Father has set forth a plan for his fullness of time, and that is to sum up all things in Christ, all things in heaven and on earth.

Margaret’s new nurse Kristen spent a couple of years in the Philippines, while her husband was teaching at a Bible college there. Like our friend Janice, Kristen also worked with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) teams. Now she has three kiddos (9, 6 and 7 months) – two boys and a baby girl. Margaret asked what she thought her superpower was. Kristen didn’t hesitate. “I’m a mom!”

She home schooled her boys during Covid, while she was carrying her baby girl. Not only did her boys watch life happen as they couldn’t have at school, they also spent priceless time with Abigail at the beginning of her life. Restricted to their home, the whole family bonded with their baby girl, and she with them, more deeply than anyone had a right to expect in the middle of a pandemic.

Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation. Then kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth.

Always God shapes our lives as he will, clay pots that we are. Sometimes we accept his shaping without complaint, occasionally we rejoice in it, or at least sing the old song again and again, “We will understand it better bye and bye.” After all there’s nothing we can do about it, and when we try, we can botch up the whole thing faster than a cat turns in circles when she tries to catch her tail.

We exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.

Jesus determined early on to teach his disciples how to live like soft clay pots in the hands of God. Like Margaret and I, like Kristen, like Ron and Z, the disciples were stubborn and set in their ways. Jesus didn’t care. He sent them out anyway, he “gave them authority over unclean spirits,” and instructed them on how to respond to hospitality or the lack thereof.

But most of all, he insisted they depend on God. No insurance, no American Express card. Don’t leave home without it? Yes, do!

Take nothing for the journey, no food, no sack, no money in your belt. Do not bring a second tunic, only wear sandals and carry a walking stick.

Kristen and her husband did not play their security card as they left for the Philippines, and that experience taught them to live the same way here at home. Ron and Z took dangerous trips into Mexico over and over to share Christmas with village children. Janice has left home for Prague, for Vienna, for a hamlet in central Florida, for the Palestinian district of Jerusalem … over and over she leaves home for situations she knows not yet.

Margaret rounds up what she has to depend on, and then as she is swept away all of a sudden in her June 2021 “reset,” none of that quite holds up. Like Kristen, like Ron and Z, like Janice and like the disciples, Margaret can only depend on Jesus.

(Amos 7, Psalm 85, Ephesians 1, Mark 6)


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