Monday, March 29, 2010

I Swam Today Where Jesus Walked

Last week we spent eleven days living on a kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (so when I say "I swam today where Jesus walked" I use the word "today" very loosely), and it may have been my favorite thing we've done. So far.

Some days we'd go on day trips to places like Capernaum, Nazareth or the Mount of Transfiguration. Other days we'd have New Testament class on the beach; studying the words of our Savior while looking out over the land He loved. But on one of the days we had day trips, we went to the Mount of Beatitudes where the lovely Franciscans have, in typical Roman Catholic fashion, built a beautiful church, while maintaining the pastoral theme with breathtaking, tropical gardens.

After having a lesson about the sermon Jesus gave on this mountain, we were given about an hour for personal study within the garden that overlooks the brilliant blue of the Galilee. During this time I found a little stair that was billowed by some particularly ravishing hibiscuses, and instead of feasting on more of Christ's work that was written down, I just leaned back into the flowers and absorbed all of Christ's physical work in our beautiful world.

Whether I was looking at the bougainvilaeas moseying along the filigreed fence, or at the meticulously placed basalt stones that lined the the multitudes of pansies, whose bright faces translate cheerfulness wherever you are, you could tell that an incredible amount of work has gone into keeping this garden as beautiful as it is. These Franciscan friars have left behind secular lives, most of them very successful lives, and have now taken on humble vows of poverty to devote their services to God. One man in particular had been an international accountant, working mainly in Geneva, he was (and is) fluent in 8 different languages and had amassed millions of dollars in wealth, which he wholeheartedly gave away to do whatever menial task the Lord required of him.

As I was thinking about the selfless service these friars perform to maintain this beautiful garden, I realized how similar their sacrifice is to the role our Redeemer plays. Just like this beautiful garden was started from rocky soil covered in weeds, so are our souls less than desirable real estate. But Christ, as our loving older Brother, acts as a perfect gardener, willing to trim all our hedges, and tend to every dying flower, if we but open our gates to let Him in.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow, You're Watching Me

The last time I saw you was on a Wednesday night six years ago and we were just talking on your bed, about me of course, like we had done so many times before, and I couldn't imagine that we wouldn't do so many times again.

The last time I saw you I was a freshman in high school who only cared about which American Eagle shirt she was going to wear to the stake dance, and whether it would be more awesome to drive or to date when she turned sixteen.

The last time I saw you I wanted to be a veterinarian, with my instinctive and fierce love for all animals. You only fanned the flame by giving me all the James Herriot books, countless beanie babies (still have them) and even my own dog when I made my own collar and asked to eat my meals on the floor and on all fours.

But that was the last time I saw you.

The last time you saw me was at my high school graduation, and I'm sure you were rolling your eyes at all the speakers who were assuring the whole class of 07 that they were going to be world leaders--even the guy picking his nose and wiping it under the seat.

The last time you saw me I was unashamedly licking tzahi sauce from my kebab in Budapest, and walking barefoot on Viennese cobblestones. Even though I kind of hope you weren't, I'm sure you saw me at the discotheque in Prague, or bawling at the Holocaust museum in Berlin. But I know you saw me smelling the blossoms down the Champs Elysees, and gorging myself on baguettes and any fromage that came my way. I bet you smiled as I stopped dead in my tracks in front of la tour eiffel, because you know better than anyone the charm de paris.

The last time you saw me was as the sun was rising on Mount Sinai where you whispered in my ear where my life was supposed to go next. Giving me that extra little push I need so often so that I can fully dive into the Lord's plan for me.

People say that you've passed away, but that doesn't make any sense to me. You've gone away with me! You're there in all my most passionate moments, where I love everyone and everything in this beautiful world God created for us. You're there in all my quietest moments when I can't imagine being any less adequate for this hard world God makes us go through. But I know you're there, because even if I can't see you or feel you, I know you love me because you'd never want to miss a second of my life!

I love you mom, and I'll see you later!