“Just then there was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’”
—the Gospel of Mark
Suddenly all of the dissonance is gone.
But I cannot hear a thing.
Nothing at all.
Without the dissonance there isn’t a single solitary sound.
Nothing … but … this … other … thing.
This other thing that is not dissonance.
How can that be?
The dissonance said that it was here forever and then, just like that, it was gone.
I stumbled and fell, unbalanced without the dissonance, deafened by this new sensation of a world no longer shouting at me.
No dissonance to guide me.
No hope of escape from this new …
This new what?!?!?
The sky seems to fall.
Seems to kneel and touch my face.
Reaching out as far as it can to caress my cheek.
As if heaven, itself, is brushing my face with its lips.
Redeeming me, healing me, with a kiss.
Why would heaven ever want to kiss me, of all people?
The dissonance said that heaven never would.
Why would heaven ever care?
The dissonance swore that heaven never would.
And what did heaven do with all of the dissonance that used to fill my ears with its chaos?
The dissonance swore that it was the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
So help me God.
So … help me what?
Why would God ever care?
The dissonance screamed that God never would.
Why would God ever want to brush my face with a kiss of even the smallest caring show of affection?
The dissonance promised that God never would.
But maybe—just perhaps—the dissonance wasn’t telling the truth. Not the whole truth. Nor any of the truth.
Because there it is.
Again and again and again.
A sudden harmony.
A harmony that wraps me up so entirely and so wonderfully that it makes me feel as if I were the only thing that it ever wanted for Christmas.
The only thing that it ever wanted for Easter.
The only thing that it ever wanted any day of every week in any month of every year.
A harmony that sings for me with such wondrous melodies that I am deafened.
So deafened that this time I hear everything that the dissonance was trying to cover up with its noise.
All of my senses listen.
I hear everything that I see within the light inside your eyes.
I hear everything that I feel in your healing touch upon my skin.
And all that is in the ember warmth of your voice speaking words that I never thought I’d hear.
“Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
—The Gospel of Mark
Four-fifths of our world is covered in water.
Eighty percent of the planet Earth.
The currents and tides touch every continent.
Water that washes over all soles.
If I were to touch the last gasp of even the smallest wave at Virginia Beach I would be sharing that vast expanse of water with someone doing the same thing on the shores of Nigeria.
The wave wouldn’t care about the color of our skin.
Or where the beach was.
Oh, if we could only become more like those waves.
Just reaching out toward ever soul.
When I look down into the smallest stream at my reflection, my face is mirrored by water that will one day join the great oceans and seas that cover the earth.
Water that will mirror the face of every man, woman or child who looks for their own reflection beneath a sky that knows nothing of race or ethnicity.
The Holy Spirit of God doesn’t fill our sails to narrow our journey.
The Holy Spirit fills our sails to broaden the reach of our heart.
The reach of the love for which Jesus gave his life; the truth that Jesus died for: God is love and God loves us all.
On every beach.
On any shore.
Every square inch of earth.
Be it desert or oasis.
There is something we’d be wise to understand:
If we are good enough for God—and God’s love declares that we are—then we are good enough.
For anyone and everyone.
Kings, queens or presidents cannot take that truth away.
Nor any act of Congress.
So, that has to mean that we are good enough—we must be good enough—for each other.
Or … that’s the way it should be.
Unfortunately, we are separated from each other on this planet by more than water.
We are separated from each other by ourselves.
Jesus knew what he was doing when he asked us to follow him and become fishers of people.
There are over 28,000 species of fish in the world.
We could never catch them all.
But there is only one human race.
Fishing for each other should not be—would not be—such a difficult thing.
If we’d only try.
“Nathaniel said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’”
—The Gospel of John
The young boy heard The Voice Of The World shouting, “Can anything good come out of this child?”
The Voice was talking about him and its tone seemed to answer the question.
No, The Voice Of The World quite clearly felt, nothing good could ever come out of that child. And The Voice Of The World made certain that the child heard the answer.
But the child wasn’t the only one listening.
Jesus heard, too.
And Jesus wept.
Tears flowed for this child and for all of the children of God—no matter how old they were—who’d heard The Voice Of The World so often question, challenge and demean their child of God selves.
Challenge them with war.
Demean them with abuse.
Question them with callous indifference.
Swallow them with disease.
And enslave them with poverty.
Before abolishing their very existence with death.
The Voice Of The World shouted so loud that even the waves in the sea seemed to retreat, leaving the beach where children once played behind, turning it into a desert.
But the tears of Jesus were like rain.
And Jesus lifted the child.
Jesus lifted the child and told him something else.
Raised the child up.
Jesus gave him another word that The Voice Of The World had tried so hard to erase.
Resurrected the child with four simple letters that Jesus carefully arranged:
Love? the child wondered.
Really?” the child asked.
Me?” the child pleaded.
“Come and see,” Jesus answered.
And so the child, carried in the loving heart of Christ, followed.
Followed despite all of the odds that the world said were stacked against every child of God.
Followed despite all of the statistics of probability the world declared would defeat all children of God.
Because Jesus carried him.
Because Jesus carries you.
Because Jesus carries all of the children of God to the truth of God’s love for them all.
And we are all children of God.
No matter what the World says with its hammers and nails.
No matter what the World tries so desperately to make the children of God believe.
A child risen.
The child in us all.
The child that God wants us all to be and believe to be our truest self.
Just who we are and just as we are.
And nothing but loved.
“Come and see,” Jesus told Nathaniel that day so long ago in Galilee.
“Just come,” Jesus tells us every day, “and see.”
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”
–The Gospel of Mark
The alarm sounds early.
Sunrise is nearly two hours away and it’s so cold outside in the darkness beyond this windowpane that even shivers are frozen solid.
The electric candle on the window sill shows how busy the cold had been while I slept. The storm window is filled with jagged, deliriously crooked strokes of ice that point in every direction.
Were the windowpane a compass, and were I to follow its directions, I’d be lost.
Hopelessly and forever lost.
Out beyond this pane, where I cannot see, I know that the maples and oaks are bare in the darkness, their limbs and branches holding tightly to the secret of spring as if their lives—as if the existence of everyone—depended on it.
I remember last night, standing out in the cold, filling my lungs with its freezing and the darkness with my breath.
I remember the night before and the night before that.
I remember all of the nights put together as if they were all one long, never-ending night.
I remember the stars making the night sky look like it was breaking out in a rash of ice.
And I wondered if one day I would fall through the ice into the sky.
Or somewhere else.
I sit here by the window now, looking at the stained glass cross that is hanging from the window latch; its green and orange, its yellow, blue and purple declare all that the darkness tries to hide in its cold silence.
And I know one thing for certain: when the sun rises, the light will shine toward me, into the frost and through the cross, in the straightest possible line.
With that truth deep in my heart, I suddenly see the miraculous beauty of the frost painted across my windowpane, lit up by the candlelight, the artist all around me, showing me the blooms of winter.