Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
First off, the title is certainly an apt one for the wordage that follows. I could have entitled it – “Conflicted, Confounded and Confused” but Lorenz Hart (of Rodgers and Hart) did a much better job with his alliteration plus his title is much more sing-able.
Those of you who have been kind enough to read my semi-annual meanderings are well aware that I write an Easter “letter” every year and have done so for several years. And I had planned to do it again this year but I’ve been experiencing the very challenges indicated by the title. No focus, no ideas, no inspiration, no time – in other words I’ve really and truly been someone in the “no”, these recent days. This, of course, is not the best state of mind to create something positive and uplifting.
Then I started toying around with a notion. It was a notion that began to evolve piece by piece in my feeble, underused brain. And piece is the correct word. What I’ve come up with is very much like a patchwork quilt with oddly shaped, peculiar designed, multi-colored pieces that may or may not be that lovely to look at – so make of it what you will.(Pun very much intended.)
I have four distinct “patches” to offer and here they are – Bed bugs, Hosanna, Bad men and a Mother’s love.
Bed bugs – I’ve had them recently and they are a scourge, an abomination, a nuisance, a plague, an annoyance and that’s being kind. (Great Gagliardi, sorry to hear about your woes but let’s get back to Easter, shall we, hm?) Yes, oh voice that scolds, you’re right in bringing that up. So here’s my take on it.
My apartment is like a world, in a way, because it’s my world. It’s where I live a good deal of the time. And bed bugs were truly an invasion, a kind of evil that was not invited or welcomed or encouraged and yet there they were. (Happily it appears I can, for now, use the past tense.) So here we have a real, active curse of evil in my “world”. And suddenly I need some help, big help – the kind of assistance and rescue I cannot do for my self because I’m not equipped to handle it. (By the way, does this begin to sound familiar regarding God’s involvement in individual lives?) Is it that far a stretch to say that just maybe this was a kind of living parable in action? (Albeit an unpleasant one.) I don’t think I’m that far off the beam on this. You decide for yourself if it is. I will say this -- when I hear that old children’s couplet, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”, I now have a very different take on what that means.
Speaking of children, my heart was nicely warmed hearing our Wilshire children on Palm Sunday sing Hosanna at the beginning of the service. And what struck me was how simple it was, how basic, how cheerful. There’s something about a child singing “save us”(which is the definition of hosanna) that is moving. They don’t wonder, necessarily, if God will or can or might they just assume he will because He’s God. And maybe they don’t understand the full impact of those words but then again, do we?
Bad Men – Okay, does it bother anybody else out there or has it ever bothered anybody else that Jesus went through all he went through – suffering, agony, shame, abuse, death --- for the “bad guys” too? I mean the guys that you just wish would evaporate or get “taken out”, ala the Mob. I mean, there some horrible things being done to people by people I can see no good in whatsoever. (Can you say ISIS?) And I’m supposed to believe that Jesus died for them too – and rose again for them too, not just folks who are nice and good and kind?
Well, I have to say that really is not an easy pill to swallow. But much like medicine that tastes like a mixture of turpentine and liquid chalk, when we take it, it eventually helps us get better. Now I sure don’t like to take medicine even when I have to. If it was up to me, the “bad guys” would certainly not be eligible for God’s love. Does that sound harsh? It should because it is. Then again sometimes it’s very hard for some of us to say we’re sick and need to be healed. Thank God, He’s the Great Physician.
A Mother’s Love – I was in our local IHOP, eating a late breakfast, not thinking about much of anything when I glanced up and saw a mother and her little boy leaving the restaurant. The child was holding tightly to his Mom’s hand and I noticed, with some sadness, the child’s left hand was deformed, it hadn’t grown to the right size. Then I saw the young boy smiling as he and his Mom left. And I felt the Spirit speak to me.
The young boy was smiling because his mother was holding his hand -- he was safe, he was okay, he was loved. If that wasn’t a picture of our Father’s love to us then I don’t know what is. How many times have you and I felt ugly, ashamed, fearful, disheartened until we realized who was holding our hand. And in that moment we somehow knew we’d be okay. He wasn’t going to abandon us and maybe even when we thought we’d let go of His hand, it was only an illusion because He never had let go of ours.
What does the preceding have to do with Easter? Maybe nothing then again, maybe everything. For if Easter doesn’t belong in the seemingly ordinary stuff of every day life then maybe it doesn’t belong anywhere. Easter has got to be more than a one day purple and gold, happy hallelujah, wear my “Sunday best”, trumpet blaring, organ triumphant, chorale of joy and celebration that happens once a year. Yes, it needs to be all that and more but we need to work at allowing it to flavor our lives every day so that Jesus gets raised up all over again every day that we live.
I guess if any of this introspection has any value this Easter for me it’s this -- may be it’s this simple. Go on and let Jesus jump out of the grave, surprise me, fill me with wonder and get me all excited about it today, tomorrow, and the day after. Maybe every day is supposed to be Easter… You think?
George Gagliardi Happy Easter, Ever After