Saturday, April 20, 2013

Thursday


“How about ‘Holy Ground?  Would you play that for us?’”

Larry Landusky was our church’s pianist for the entirety of my growing-up years.  I hadn’t heard his music in a few decades, but he just happened to be in town for business, and he just happened to be willing to meet at a friend’s home for an impromptu Thursday evening concert.

“Well, I usually have the hymnal when I do.  I’ll try, but I can’t promise it’ll be worth hearing.”

He turned to face the keys, his hands poised only briefly before they found the opening triad, note by note.  From there, the music poured from his body, and the sounds embodied the lyrics.

There are God-stories, and there are God-moments.

Being a minister’s child, I can’t even guess at how many services I attended.  But the music was always a delight. Sunday after Sunday, choir special after choir special, offertory after offertory, Larry’s hands were the instrument of what I now understand to be the Holy Spirit, and the music they created had been nothing short of a balm for my then-young soul.  

It was true then, and it was true that night, when he sat surrounded by a handful of us, our kitchen chairs circled around the piano:  My mom and dad, who later said that what they’ve missed most about their time at that church was Larry’s music; my husband, whose schedule surprised us all with an open evening; my children, who’ve heard about this music and now had the chance to listen for themselves; Sandy, who so graciously made her home available to us for this last-minute, late-evening concert; Rick, Sandy’s husband who was called from this life but still greets every guest with his warm smile captured in the picture by the back door; and JP, Rick and Sandy’s son who’s headed to Belmont to study music this fall.

My father’s face showed very same expression I used to see when I glanced at him from my seat in the congregation. Sitting on the platform near the pulpit in his designated spot, he’d seemed at times to literally soak in the beauty as it swirled and wrapped itself around us all.  His was a look of awe mixed with sheer delight and true peace.  It was an expression that mirrored what I felt in my own soul during those moments.  It was the very thing I felt on Thursday night.

A fleeting reprieve from life’s chaos.  A moment when all senses were submersed in His presence, protection, peace. “Sanctuary,” my husband said later as we tried to put words to the experience. 

Holy ground, indeed.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

God Stories


“Waiting, waiting for something to happen . . . .”

I wrote those words as a college student, now over a quarter century ago, but they articulate a longing I’ve felt for most of my life.  In fact, the reason my second-grade self chose to walk the aisle that Sunday night is because I wanted to experience what it seemed like so many of the people around me were talking and singing about.  Even as an 8-year-old, I sensed something wasn’t right.  I recognized I was flawed, sinful, not as happy as everyone else.  I wanted to taste joy.  I wanted to see myself changed for the better.  I wanted something to happen.

Fast forward to middle school, and I’m sitting in that same sanctuary, the weekday-morning sun casting its beams through the green and pinkish-purple windows lining the room.  My dad was on staff at that church, and, for a reason I can’t remember, I’d gone to work with him that summer day.  So, ever the dutiful youth group kid, I grabbed my journal and Bible and decided to sit alone in the space where I was usually surrounded by other believers.  I remember expecting—hoping, really—to feel something, learn something, have a supernaturally-inspired flash of insight.  I also remember being disappointed.  And a little worried. I was waiting for the something to happen, but the waiting just continued.

I’m forty-five this year, which means I’ve been to roughly 2000 church services in my lifetime.  That’s not counting Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, or youth group meetings.  Suffice it to say I’ve done a LOT of church.  And when you’ve spent thousands of Sundays with Christians, you end up hearing countless variations on what we currently refer to as “God stories.” Stories of how God spoke.  Stories of how God moved.  Stories of how God revealed sin, empowered change, healed illness, uncovered truth, restored relationships, delivered justice, granted grace.  Chill-bump-raising, tear-inspiring stories of how God brought his supernatural presence into someone’s skin-and-bones reality.

I may have heard as many of these stories as I’ve been to church services.   And, for whatever, reason, I usually end up comparing my own spiritual journey with that of the person sharing.  Most of the time, my own experiences seem to pale in comparison.  The revelation doesn't seem as clear. The transformation is disappointingly short-lived. The restoration is not quite as miraculous as I'd hoped.  Only a couple of chill-bumps, and not an abundance of tears.  All of this only serves to remind me that I’m still waiting.  Waiting for something to happen.  Something that seems to be happening all around me, but not to me. . . . .

More soon . . . . 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Roam


I am ready to arrive at After.
Where answers are,
and resolution resides.

Instead, I’m in the midst of During.
Crisis is here, with
complicated questions, and
conflicts that confuse,
even frighten.

I cannot return to Before,
where simplicity
and innocence
linger.

So, I wonder about Ahead.
I remind my heart to hope,
set my face like flint,
and walk the Now.