Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lenten Mercy~Meditation: Like the Rain and Snow



Not mine, the Lord says, to think as you think, deal as you deal; by the full height of heaven above earth, my dealings are higher than your dealings, my thoughts than your thoughts. Once fallen from the sky, does rain or snow return to it? Nay, it refreshes earth soaking into it and making it fruitful, to provide the sower with fresh seed, the hungry mouths with bread. So it is with the word by these lips of mine once uttered; it will not come back, an empty echo, the way it went; all my will it carries out, speeds on its errand. Doubt not, then yours shall be a happy departure, a peaceful return; doubt not mountain and hill shall escort you with their praises, and the woods echo their applause. Tall pine-trees shall grow where valerian grew, and myrtles spring from yonder nettle-beds; great glory the Lord shall win, such a blazon as eternity cannot efface.  Isaiah 55:11-13

What a splendid lesson Isaiah offers us. God is saying: "I'm not like you. I don't think the way you think. I don't relate the way you relate. My thoughts and dealings are beyond your imagining. My word is like the rain and snow which doesn't return to me until it has done its seed-making, fruit-making, bread-making work."

But what is that word? It's God's mercy-word: not condemnation, not another expulsion from the garden, but God's heart opened to us like a parent whose child is threatened or fearful; sick or weak. The mercy-word comes down like an enveloping cloud. 

How tenderly this is expressed in the ritual of Confession in the Eastern Church. During the words of absolution the priest puts his stole over the penitent's head - a gesture of God's compassionate forgiveness coming down on us. And the priest is instructed to simultaneously place an arm around the penitent, echoing the Father of the prodigal boy returning home, just a speck at the end of the road. And the father sees his child from a great distance and, making himself look foolish running in robes, he throws his arms around the wastrel, and covering him with kisses calls for a new robe, new ring, new shoes.


Then in the final Isaiah-verse all of creation joins in celebrating the mercy-word: the pine trees, the myrtle, the mountains and hills, even the forest seems to applaud! 








7 comments:

  1. I am not sure if I would like the priest to put his arm around me during confession. I understand the symbolism, but it seems like too much closeness. Maybe in the Eastern Church, they know their priest better, but I think I would find it uncomfortable to be embraced on such a personal level. As you said earlier in the post, we are not like God. We are human a flawed.

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    1. I understand. Perhaps this is a part of the world not rocked by the Church scandal we've witnessed and where people are not so distanced from each other. I've seen so many masses in big churches where everyone sits as far away from someone else so they don't have to shake hands at the Sign of Peace. It's quite obvious. But Jesus always touches. In St. Mark's gospel part of Christ's healing ritual is: "And Jesus took him/her by the hand..." Be that as it may - the profound gesture of the priest signals the profound depth of God's kindness.

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  2. We have to let God's word rain down on us and soak us to the bone. This is where I am most reminded to be aware that God is with us, and loves us. Next time I am out in the rain, I will think of this and try to feel God soaking me with his loving word so that in return I will send back thoughts with a true heart. I can feel my spirits rising already on this dreary day.

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  3. It is good to remind us that we have a loving God. All too often we think that bad things happen to us as punishment.

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  4. Oh goodness, no. I don't believe any of that for a second. Rather, God has come down, so to speak, to be WITH us in our human misery. That's really the test of a good friend, "I"m with you through it all."

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    1. "I'm with you through it all." really is the test of a good friend. We need more friends like that in our lives. The people who support us in our misery, who laugh with us in our happiness, and who will just be there for us always, modelling God's love here on earth.

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  5. You instruct, challenge, console and help diminish the distance between us and God with your writings here. Father, you keep my faith from becoming vague and rootless. Instead, I find it becoming more firmly planted and growing and able to withstand more difficult storms that life brings forth.

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