My four-legged friend is staring as I write. He ate, drank, napped, went out, came back inside and snacked. And now he’s staring. I don’t know what he wants. Maybe he wants spring. And this I understand.
This blog hasn't changed since before Christmas. That doesn’t mean I've been quiet, but writing here is different. It comes from another zone. And writing from that place when experiences haven’t filtered completely is like heading onto an ice rink with your skates laced together. You may show up, but you’re not going anywhere... like the snow outside.
After Hurricane Sandy tore through the east coast, leaving destruction in its wake, it became the standard by which many in the northeast measure inclement weather. Now there’s gratitude for a storm that doesn’t require evacuations along the coast. Sunshine after a “historic" snowstorm warning scores big, even when the temperature feels frigid. Being able to drive, and utilize mass transportation without major delays, that’s all solid gold.
Sandy's devastation inspired gratitude about weather in general. But did it feel like a stretch, whispering thank you for the snow that created traction on the treacherous ice? A smidgeon. And today the snow fell again. And I think maybe that’s why my dog is staring.
Over the holidays, a friend spoke about divine retribution in the form of karma. You know, it’s that boomerang affect, when what you gave in life is what you get. It can be good, but most people bring it up in cases that smack of divine retribution or vengeance. And back when the topic came up, somebody talented that I knew, who was also known to misuse her power and authority, was unseated from the position from which she wielded it.
There were other “I’ve had it!” situations in which relationships that spanned a lifetime had ended. So much change. Had the world gone crazy? It reached a crescendo of strangeness even before the holidays. Then I opened an old spiral bound book that contained retreat notes I'd taken several years ago. While I wrote what the priest said, I also resisted it, because I was stuck in my own stubborn mode. I decided to read it in 2015, and this time with an open mind. I hope you’ll be blessed by my sharing it. It's as verbatim as could be for handwritten.
OUR PROBLEMS ARE NOT NEW
The bible’s first chapter, Genesis, is R Rated, but it’s a great story. It has a beginning, character development, a theme. It starts with a broken relationship with God, then conflict between people. Read it.
"Struggle" is the most often used word. There’s a winner, a loser. Conflict resolution.
Here’s the early method of conflict resolution: Thrown out of the Garden, Cain and Able fought. One was killed. They never fought again. People don’t get along, so the primitive solution is to kill a person or clan.
In the next generation, Abraham went to his cousin Lot and said, This isn’t working out. We can’t live together. If you go north, I’ll go south. Our flocks, our workers don’t get along. Let’s separate.
Lot chose the watered plains of Sodom, neighboring Gomorrah. When Abraham found out that God was going to destroy Sodom, he asked God to save Lot. They had their differences, but he asked God to save Lot.
Throughout the stories in Genesis, there was conflict, jealousy, tattle tailing, rejection, abandonment, undue favoritism, rebellion, hatred, sadness, despair. But in the stories of Genesis, regardless of the characters or their idiocy, God’s plan unfolds. He works through human weakness and through sin. He’s not disturbed.
a story of betrayal and separation
In one family, the brothers were jealous because of the favoritism shown to their brother, Joseph. Joseph was an arrogant son of a gun (priest's words). He was a tattle tale, but he won favor with his father, which incensed the brothers. To make a long story short, the brothers threw Joseph into a pit, where he begged, cried tears of desperation and pleaded. The brothers ignored him. They ate lunch and returned home with Joseph’s robe to which they applied some makeshift bloodstains and told their father that Joseph was dead. The brothers sold him into slavery for $20 (Jesus was sold for $30—inflation.)
Joseph was humbled by their betrayal. But he was later raised up and entrusted as the right-hand man to the King of Egypt.
When Joseph saw his brothers 17 year later, he first ordered their arrest and put them in jail. The brothers hadn't recognized him. Their first thought was that they were being punished (there's that negative karma) for what they'd done to their brother. Joseph heard them speak about him in Hebrew. They didn’t know he understood. He sobbed and ran out of the room. But then he came back and forgave his brothers.
Joseph broke the cycle of separation.
When their father died, the brothers feared once again that Joseph would have them killed. They believed the only reason he kept them alive in the first place was out of respect for their father. They thought that now he'd want to finally punish them. They became fearful. Joseph wept again once they said they were sorry. He said I forgive you.
Read Genesis. It’s about war, murder, deceit, adultery, incest, struggle, resolution.
Maybe you’re asking: How can this be the Word of God? The book of Genesis is life, real life, and it is the set up for the Word to become flesh. Jesus came into the human condition as one of us.
Most people have problems, relationship problems. Genesis is so human. Dinah was raped by her brother. When the father was told, he said, "Don’t talk about it."
Bring God into your real thoughts, your real heart, so you can have a real relationship. He’s not detached from our human experience. Jesus knew hunger, fatigue, and squabbles among the apostles: Who gets the front seat, the front row? Who’s more important?
You find God in your reality. The Light shines in the darkness. So where are you going to find God? In the darkness. Don’t run away. He is in the midst of our human struggle. If you fall, he will meet you at the fall. God’s not there in the quitting.
Don’t refuse to get up.