Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sackcloth and Ashes

By the time I will have finished this, it will have become the most convoluted thing I've ever assembled.  Somewhere, I make a reference to "a month" but I've been coming back to this for monnnnttthhhs, not editing so much as inserting.  Or maybe I've been like some abstract artist, flinging my paint at the page.  I've decided not to erase or white out any of the seizure-like quality here.  By the end of it, I trust the thing will have been worked out between me and Him and I'm leaving anything past that entirely to His management.

I'll be amazed, quite frankly, if anybody even gets to here.
In fact, just the publication of this one might be worthy of a monument, some small altar.

Easily, this could have begun with

uuuuhhhhhhhh ummmmmmmmmm

and gone on that way for several more lines. 

For a month or more, it seems, I've been like this.  I keep returning here, only to sit and stare at just this many words.

There's something in my head, some emerging idea or barely grasped concept and it's just nearly a tangible thing like a splinter working its way out. 

There's an element of pain involved.

[Long, deep exhale.]  [Push forth.]

I facilitate a small group at my church on Wednesday nights, have done it for some time, six or seven years, maybe.  And yet, to this day, I've adamantly insisted that my group-mates not refer to me as their teacher.  (yep, I think this is it.)  I don't teach.  I don't lead.  I ask the questions.  I fa-cil-i-tate

And it's seemed reasonable to me, this model.  I've noticed that Jesus was frequently asking questions ~ ones to which His listeners already knew the answers.  If I am His disciple, then surely I'm "doing it right" if I'm interrogating people, right?!

And yet...

In my heart, I keep hearing "sackcloth and ashes."

I close my eyes, I see myself
kneeling in the dust,
rocking, wailing,
tossing the cinders.
Why am I so troubled?

I know why I am so troubled.

I take back what I said before about the white out.
I'm leaving the parts that show my attempt to dodge,
but deleting the attempts to close that loop.
This thing is really about just one thing.
One thing that plagues my mind.

Zion’s leaders are silent.
    They just sit on the ground,
tossing dirt on their heads
    and wearing sackcloth.
Her young women can do nothing
    but stare at the ground.
 My eyes are red from crying,

Jan Swart Van Groningen

my stomach is in knots,
    and I feel sick all over.
My people are being wiped out,
and children lie helpless
    in the streets of the city.
 A child begs its mother
    for food and drink,
then blacks out
like a wounded soldier
    lying in the street.
The child slowly dies
    in its mother’s arms.

Lamentations 2:10-12

I've made my excuses, have let fear, self-centeredness, laziness stop my tongue. I've been stone-cold when I should have been swift.  I've not taught the things I should have to whom I should.

I can't change my past.  I can only tell you about it.
And say,
See Here: 1, 2, 3...

Teach your children in the way they should go.
Teach them from their very first breaths, believing everything you've ever heard about the formative years and about their coming back to it after the rebellion.
Teach them, knowing that when Jesus said to "love your neighbor as yourselves," your children are among your very first neighbors.
Teach them as if their lives depend on it.

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