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Thirsty in the tent of meeting

by davesandel on July 27th, 2021

Tuesday, July 27, 2021                                   (today’s lectionary)

Thirsty in the tent of meeting

The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another.

Enneagram wizard Jerry Wagner wrote of Thomas Merton:

Merton–as well as anyone deserving of the title mystic–believes that God is always recognizing God’s Self in you and cannot not love it. This is God’s “steadfast love” (hesed) with humanity. That part of you has always loved God and always will. You must learn how to consciously abide there.

I guess Moses’ experience with God convinced him of God’s love. Surely that conviction makes it easy (well, easier at least) to live in the “part of you that has always loved God and always will.”

Moses stood there with the Lord and proclaimed his name, “Yahweh!” And Moses stayed there with the Lord forty days and forty nights, eating no food and drinking no water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant: the ten commandments.

I have fasted without food for three days. That was very difficult, although easier toward the end. But always there has been water. Because of post-surgery swelling Margaret could only have 6 cups of any kind of liquid over 24 hours, including the water for her meds three times a day. She tried ice chips, so she could have twice as much, but the ice chips cut her gums and mouth. She tried giving up coffee, drinking less milk, and occasionally stole a Pepsi. Often she sounded desperately thirsty.

One nurse offered lemon swabs to moisten her mouth. Margaret learned to tough it out, to get quiet inside herself and ignore her thirst. Moses must have learned to do that in spades. And then imagine Jesus, in the same desert but without even the shade of a tent of meeting as Moses had, finding enough moisture in his mouth to speak clearly to Satan about not living by bread (or water) alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Jesus learned quickly the art of living in that “part of himself that had always loved God and always would.” I can’t help but think Margaret was learning that too. When you can’t drink, you listen to the words of God. When you think you can’t take it anymore, you listen to every word that comes from the mouth of God. You’d better. Margaret learned more of that every day she was in the hospital.

Now at home, in her own “tent of meeting” bedroom, shades drawn, always warm, with plenty of water at her bedside, she keeps on learning to “consciously abide” in God’s cannot-not-love and her own love back. Before, during and after her hospital her spirit never really flagged. Her body needed healing and recovery, but her spirit just kept going strong.

At the end of the age, the Son of Man will send his angels, and the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears to hear? Let them hear.

(Exodus 33, Psalm 103, Matthew 13)

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