(It is the 11th day of Lent. I’ve written about what the season means to me and how I am observing it this year through purposeful attention to taking, breaking, blessing, and giving. My notebook is filling with reminders of the pervasiveness of Jesus, my word jar is now at about $10 – fueled by grumblings mostly heard only by me but still allowed to be thought and spoken, and I feel I’m already woefully behind on small kindnesses because blessings deserve to fall indiscriminately like the raindrops outside. Thank you for stopping by to read something that has overwhelmed me in this season. Please let me know what it means to you – I’d love to talk).
“The temple is the place where God and humanity intersected.”
We sat around the table at a local restaurant as the rain washed the night sky outside – our purpose was to consider the story of Jesus in Jerusalem in Matthew 21 – the season in His ministry on earth where He could no longer be ignored. Even His unassuming arrival into the city on a donkey was felt like an earthquake in the hearts of all who were there. He would empty out the temple and fill it again. He would take a bold stand for what matters and honor those considered to be the least. He would be unafraid to speak truth and He would be fearless in His love. He would extend invitation after invitation after invitation. He would gather friends at the table and pour out His life and remind them that love does the same.
He would begin at the Temple. And He would call it His own.
Another intersection was happening on the page of my journal. I wrote down the words found in another scripture – one that had always been used in conjunction with teachings on morality. But tonight, new life was breathed into it.
You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. (1 Corinthians 16:9)
The intersection of God and humanity. That is me, in this life, in flesh and bone that walks with an unsteady gait. That is me, with both capacity to embrace the blind and the lame and to bargain my soul away for comfort and ease.
A temple designed for a purpose – for rich conversation with divinity woven into it, for sanctuary and healing and hands holding out peace and hope and life, for prayers and for praise.
That thought has been lingering for days now.
We are temple. We are intersection. We are scripture carved on stone. We are bended knee on dirt. We are eternity wrapped in parchment.
This morning, the rain is falling again outside. The tender tapping on the window has been jotted down in my notebook as a thing to remember and give thanks for – the temporal things that focus my gaze rightly. It’s there next to “celebrating the passage of time with friends,” “the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and a warm donut,” and “how hope always seeps through brokenness.” It’s been a long week filled with heartbreaking news from Guatemala, a place that’s second home to me. I’ve joined in the grieving as orphans died and fractured stories of abuse and neglect have been brought into the open. I’ve joined in the chorus of friends and family who weep and ask what can be done, I ache knowing personally one of the girls who is fighting for her life, and I feel like every word I write for Orphan Outreach to encourage others to pray and to get involved is impotent to truly contribute. These are dirt and parchment and stone days of humanity.
But there’s a fortune tucked into the pages of my notebook, a souvenir of sorts that found a little home.
“Hope is the most precious treasure to a person.”
A bit ago, I spent a few weeks doing a workshop with Idelette McVicker about personal mission statements. She and I met at the end of the short season and talked about what statement had emerged for me – “I embrace, inspire and create vibrant, restorative hope.” She looked at me intently, smiled, and said, “What does that mean to you?” I stumbled for words, but none seemed to express both the resolve and the fear I felt. The statement seemed almost arrogant in its boldness. Yes, I do embrace hope. I cross fingers I inspire it. But create it? Who am I to believe I have the power to create hope? I felt the words rise inside me – not for me to speak, but for me to hear – “If God created you in His image and likeness, He placed within you the power to create more than a good meal or a compelling sentence.”
The fortune reminds me today of the intersection that lives within us. We hold priceless treasure in temples made of clay, ready to be lavished on a world in need. Jesus will not be ignored in us. He will make His presence known in and through us. He will be fearless as He empties out and fills and invites.
That is a most humbling and honoring thought, and it is helping this temple to stand today.
For me, the words on the invitation will read, “vibrant, restorative hope found here.” For you, the engraved words will say something else.
What does that mean to you? What will your words say?
May the Holy One
Who created you from words and dust
And called you good
Inhabit your every hunger,
Dwell in each desire,
And encompass you
In all the choosing that lies ahead.
(Blessing, The Sanctuary of Women)