Monday, July 20, 2009

50 Years!

My folks celebrated their 50th anniversary on Sunday, July 19. The actual date is this fall on October 31, but they wanted to do it in the summer so it could be outside in the nice weather, and at least five of their seven grandchildren could come.

My mom wanted "lichon," which is a whole pig roasted on a rotisserie. My brother Alan was put in charge of that, and he found a place that would rent a huge grill and sell them the pig. He and Kev had to "take care" of the pig, and you can see in the picture that this was the way they chose to roast it. Unfortunately, this is not the arrangement my mom was wanting, but to her credit, she handled the bad news amazingly well.

Kev and I will celebrate our 27th anniversary next month. I can't imagine what it must be like to be married for 50 years and say the same things that we're saying now: Where did it go? How did the kids grow up so fast? How did we get this old? How can it be that this much time has passed?

We all share the same yearning to experience with another person love, acceptance, bonding, intimacy, and the pith of life. We want that someone to be there for us when we're vulnerable, shaken, or ugly. We want to be able to count on and trust that someone and likewise to be counted on and trusted. My parents have been extremely blessed to have known the satisfaction of this experience. They expressed their gratitude as well as they could at the party, and bless my mom, she did it with elegance, perfect sentiment, and a wisdom that comes from a personal knowledge of pain, exquisitive joy, and the Love of the Ages.

Like my friend Mae says about our bodies aging but never feeling older in our hearts, "It's a testament to the eternalness of our spirits." At the same time, there comes a deepening of our knowledge of what it means to know love, to be loved, and to be in love. I am profoundly grateful for these gifts in my parents' life together--gifts to them and from them.♥♥

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some LightsHigh...

I cried when we landed; it was love at first sight. I'm going to walk where You walked, see things You saw, and breathe the air where You grew up. Thank You... Palm trees peppered the area around the airport like my own personal happy greeters. Just the sight of them made me glad. "Oasis," I thought. Little could I know how this place would come to water my soul.

Our first stop was in Caesarea, and the surreal turquoise of the Mediterranean Sea was the kind of eye shock I needed to let go of the side of the pool and sink completely under into this trip. GeroniMO!

On the Sea of Galilee, which is really just a big lake, we sailed on the “Faith,” the only boat on the lake run by a Christian. The captain's name is Daniel, a Messianic Jew with well-sunned skin, long wavy black hair, and a simple, light-hearted manner of communicating. We sat on long benches lining both sides of the boat, some of us singing along lazily with the worship music. Except for Cathy who stood on the raised deck and belted her heart out.

Sitting there, I took in the heat, the people around me, the water splashing against the sides, the gentle hills to the east, and the felt presence of His Spirit. You taught here. You ate here. You walked on this lake and calmed its waves. Your footprints are invisible, but they’re there. I know it--2,000 years, and Your fragrance still lingers. Tears came uninvited, and I let them just be. The experience of His nearness always does that to me.

To place my feet on the same stones where Jesus walked to the Temple was fun. It wasn’t moving to me in the same way; it was something joyful and fun. I silently thanked the excavators and all the people involved with clearing and cleaning the enormous area that allows us now to literally walk in His steps.

The Western Wall (no one here calls is the Wailing Wall) brought about something I was not prepared for—grief. To see women in tears, some plastering themselves as tightly to the wall as they could, some seated and reading from prayer books for hours, my heart was crushed by grief. They want You; You want them more. They wait for You, and You’ve already come. They long for deliverance, and Redeemer has paid and risen. Lord God, show them Your Son. Open their eyes and relieve their pain. Karen held me and let me cry. When it was my turn in line, I scrunched my written prayer into a crag in the wall only as a token of respect and tradition. You don’t need me to write this down—You know me better than I know myself. Then I backed away in the manner they practice as one backs away from the presence of a king. I attempted to wipe my eyes and will away the red and then rejoined our group only to find their eyes all wet and red as well…

There are two places proffered as the place of Jesus’ resurrection. The one in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a huge, awkward, complicatedly decorated, Russian Orthodox shrine constructed in an incongruous fashion with its surroundings. The priest lets in five at a time, and there are candles and incense burning in the outer chamber. Beyond that is a tiny room with the stone where it’s believed He was laid. There are candles and a painting in the Russian Orthodox order.

The Garden Tomb is the other place, and we ended our tour there. From the get go, we were greeted by a lively British man whose excitement was contagious as he told us about why he believes this place is the grounds of Golgotha and then not far from that, the tomb.

It’s all outdoors in a beautiful garden setting with places for meditation or just enjoyment carved out in the flora and fauna. The explanations he gave grew on me as the facts and Scriptures he laid out seemed to gel and jive. We took turns going into the tomb, and as Mr. Corker said, “It is completely unenshrined, Hallelujah!”

We had communion afterward on our own, and after that a time of sharing as anyone felt moved. I felt it was the fullest in spirit our little group had been the entire time, actually the only time Kevin and I felt our motley crew was united. It was a truly beautiful place, and the serenity, joy, and humble thankfulness we experienced there was an exquisite seal on the priceless gem that was this visit.

Interestingly enough, it was one of the few place where I didn’t cry. I think Joy, Peace, Victory, and Love were there in abundance and served to make me simply utterly content. For that reason, I hold it forever hugged and smiled on in the room of my heart set aside just for this Garden.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Re-entry is almost always a little tricky, and this is no exception. It's not like I didn't have enough time because I had plenty. It's not like I wanted to stay or even that I'd turn around and go right back if I could. The only thing that comes close to nailing it is how you seem to grow another heart the day you have a baby. It's like that heart belongs entirely to that child, and he can be anywhere in the world--Madrid, Texas, or downstairs in his room--but inside that heart that resides in your core, an essential part of you is somehow righthere with him. I had a connection intellectually with Israel before, but now it's grown arms and legs and skin and hair and blood. I've had a small taste of His longing over, protection of, and passionate history with the people of this place, and something inside me has changed.

I never wanted to be one of those people who constantly makes references to the exotic place she's just visited. That gets old f-a-s-t. Chances are however, that I'm probably more like the things I'd rather not be, so I hope you'll give me grace and maybe a gentle nudge if I lapse into that behavior. You'll know that even though I'm right there in your living room or commenting away online, there's a wadge of me away across the sea...

Deuteronomy 7:6-9