Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter in the Wilderness: Come, rejoice!

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
love lives again, that with the dead has been:

Love is come again
like wheat that springeth green.


In the grave they laid him, Love whom hate had slain,
thinking that never he would wake again,
laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:

Love is come again
like wheat that springeth green.

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,

he that for three days in the grave had lain,
quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:

Love is come again
like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,

thy touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:

Love is come again
like wheat that springeth green.

John Macleod Campbell Crum (1872-1958)
The Hymnal 1982, 204

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Holy Saturday

April 7, 2012

Will your loving-kindness be declared in the grave?
   your faithfulness in the land of destruction?   
Psalm 88:3, 12

As the morning becomes full, my house is still sleeping. Yesterday we gave ourselves to the telling of the passion. My daughters gathered with other youth to offer the gift of solemn devotion to their congregation. Flute and oboe. Voices layered together in song and intercession and words of wisdom. Young feet walking the way of the cross creating space for all to follow.

We left in silence, we left Jesus in the tomb, we left spent.

God promises rest. But this is not yet it. This is the waiting, the vigil, the brink. Love is with the dead.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Good Friday

April 6, 2011

Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.  John 13:36-38

The morning has broken, the night is spent, the cock has crowed. Now I must live in the aftermath of my inadequacy.

Last night an older woman knelt before me and gently, reverently washed my feet. Then I, in turn, knelt before a young girl on the edge of womanhood and cradled each foot in my hands, washing off the dust of wherever her desert journey has taken her.

Last night the moon was full as we walked across the parking lot. The fullness of time.

Last night I slept soundly.

But today,
today even as the sun unwraps before me the gift of a dazzling spring morning,
today is only darkness.

How will I find my way?

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Maundy Thursday

April 5, 2012

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

I give you a new commandment. The phrase runs through my head as a kind of mantra as I contemplate the tasks of the day ahead. New commandment. Mandatum novum. Maundy Thursday.

I give you a new commandment. I have enough trouble with the old ones, I think. Especially that one about not wanting what others have. Although I am sure my day could be well spent wrestling with any of them.

In another part of the house, I hear my daughter practicing piano. Recently her proficiency has jumped to a whole new level. Now the strains wafting through our old house are Bach and Dussek and Haydn. She is more diligent than I ever was at her age—or any age.

She starts and stops, repeating phrases, working with just on hand, then the other. Bit by bit she connects notes and adds layers of tone, tempo, and expression. Phrases become movements, which in turn are miraculously transformed into sonatinas.

I give you a new commandment. Mandatum novum. Love one another as I have loved you. This will take some practice.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Wednesday in Holy Week

April 4, 2012
Listen to me and answer me;
   I have no peace, because of my cares.
I am shaken by the noise of the enemy
   and by the pressures of the wicked.
  Psalm 55:2-3

Is snacking on pretzels really breaking my Lenten fast, I wonder, as I carry a handful back to my desk with me. After all, pretzels are a traditional Lenten food.

I am hungry today. I ate a full breakfast, then two tangerines, and now these pretzels. I brought lunch from home, but I am already contemplating going out instead. Maybe even getting dessert.

I realize the pretzels themselves are not the problem. It is snacking that is off limits for me during Lent.  But that is not really the issue either. It is the hunger. What I hunger for, yearn for, is not something the pretzels can fill.

I am acquainted with this hunger. I recognize that the only way to assuage it is to abandon myself completely to the emptiness. I discern the temptation to stop short of the bareness that precedes new life.

I know all this. Nevertheless, I put one more salty bit into my mouth.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Tuesday in Holy Week

April 3, 2012

Help me, Lord, for there is no godly one left;
   the faithful have vanished from among us.
Psalm 12:1

The strands of palm leaves tucked behind the corner of my mirror are already dry and brittle.

We stood among the damp palm branches last Saturday preparing them for the ritual to come. Mothers and grandmothers, we pulled the fronds from the water, split them and folded hundreds into crosses, leaving others long and lean. All the while telling stories, and partaking in the giving and receiving of parenting advice.

And with us too the teenage girls who had cajoled one another into being there, texting their incentives. They told their stories as well, but in that space they also overheard the tales of older women.

Now the palms have been dispersed and along with them the stories. The joyous procession is two days past.

I sit alone and cannot seem to find my way into the narrative of life. Dry and brittle. Help me God.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Wilderness Yearning: Monday in Holy Week

April 2, 2012

Save me, O God,
   for the waters have risen up to my neck.
I am sinking in deep mire,
   and there is no firm ground for my feet.
I have come into deep waters,
   and the torrent washes over me.
I have grown weary with my crying; my throat is inflamed;
   my eyes have failed from looking for my God. 
Psalm 69:1-4

The gentle breeze is fiercely thrust aside by a howling beast that rips at my windows, raging. Clouds scuttle across the sky casting darkness upon part of the world while the gold brightness of the sun yet claims its hold on the morning, piercing through the storm to pour illuminating fire on a single maple shimmering its leaves with otherworldly candescence.

Rain splatters against the house and then is gone, leaving behind arbitrary puddles that I navigate around as I leave the safety of my home. The windshield of my car is covered with the bits of life that have been blown asunder.

And what will shield me from the storm of this week?

I do not enter it gracefully, but with trepidation. Can I keep some of myself back? Can I, untrusting, stay upon the shore, the outskirts, the edge?

Perhaps I have the strength for that, to keep myself apart.  But apart is the more fearful place, I know.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012