A moment for the tangible

man touching book

Tangible:  Perceptible by touch.

I have to admit, though the thoughts in my head are plentiful, I have found putting them into words very difficult lately. Hoping for some kind of clarity or inspiration, I have spent a great deal of time in scripture and prayer and still, radio silence.

What am I longing to have? It hit me this morning. I am longing for something tangible, perhaps in the form of clear answers or a visible sign. Maybe that is what you are longing for too.

Toilet paper is tangible. Perhaps the borderline crazy paper product purchases are signs that others are also seeking something tangible.

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:24-29

I’ve heard and read this story so many times it has almost become cliche. And yet, it comes to mind again, as a powerful message of Christ’s compassion amid fear and doubt, and his desire to offer tangible evidence to a fearful group.

In the passage before Christ appears to Thomas, the disciples have hidden away, with the doors locked, for fear of the Jewish leaders. We, similarly, are hidden away confined to our homes, keeping the outside world out, keeping to ourselves, and perhaps somewhat fearfully.

Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.     John 20:19-21

Peace may not be, by definition, tangible, but I can certainly feel it as I read this scripture.  I can close my eyes and sense the change in the room where the disciples were.  I then can feel the essence of the place I am in altered.

If we again back up in the scriptures, we will be with Mary, who, upon seeing Christ did not recognize him until he called her name.  Then there was no holding her back.

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”  John 20:18

The visible Christ may not visit us as he did those whose stories are told in the scriptures, but we can be the tangible Christ to others.  In this time, when leaving our homes poses a threat to ourselves and others, we can still reach out in tangible and safe ways.

We can make the phone call to someone we haven’t talked with in a while.

We can dust off that stationary that has been sitting idle and send a tangible note of care and concern. 

 We can take a few groceries and drop them off on the doorstep of someone we know could use them.  

We may not be able to touch the hands of our neighbors, but we can still touch their hearts with compassion and peace.

A moment in your story

As the year 2019 comes to a close, a moment to remember all that has been could be beneficial. For many, it was a tough year with struggles and worries that threatened to be all consuming. Take a moment to look back. If you can see growth, understanding, a better sense of self, or a life changed or touched by your simple yet complex existence, hold fast to that vision. Imagine yourself as a character in a movie, allow those visions to flash through your mind until they become an invisible essence that, in the next brief moment, forms the expression on your face. What would that expression be? Would your face show contentment, anguish, frustration, or joy? For the character in the movie, that is never the ending. It is usually the beginning of something new, a new determination, a time of celebration, or a new understanding of what was, what is and what could be. And then the movie continues as the rest of the story unfolds.

 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

Isaiah 43:18-20

A moment of uncertainty

How can I share your love,

When I feel such loneliness?

How can I share your peace,

When I feel such unrest?

How can I say rest in you,

When I am full of worry?

How can I say trust in you,

When my heart is full of doubt?

How can I say have courage,

When all I want is to hide?

How can I say have patience,

When there is so much to be done?

How can I do anything,

Without certainty?

How can I wait?

How can I not?

I wait.

For in everything, O Lord, you have exalted and glorified your people, and you have not neglected to help them at all times and in all places.

Wisdom of Solomon 19:22 (NRSV)

A moment in winter

“As long as the earth endures,
    seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
shall not cease.”  Genesis 8:22

img_94be15ee8a70-1

The rays that persistently push,

in the early hours,

cannot make their way into my heart.

The clouds are heavy with sorrow.

The night has been too dark.

Trees are barren. 

Leaves crumbled and brown.

Is God not everywhere?

Is he not only in the heavens but in the earth?

I see only the gray hard ground.

No sign of spring.

No memory of the sun.

I have no strength to search.

I touch the ground.

It is not to the hand as it is to the eye.

Though it appears cold and hard,

It is soft and pliable.

Though cold, it moves at my touch.

I feel a warmth from within.

The Creator and I are united.

His vision is mine.

His hands are mine. 

A seed is planted.

And the grey darkness is once again a new life.