Sunday, May 12, 2019
From Revelation 7
A great multitude from every race stood before the throne, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. They will no longer hunger or thirst, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Sometimes the visions are wonderful. This one, for the apostle John, raised his eyes from the open pit mine where the prisoners worked. Instead of their misery and pain he watched the inhabitants of heaven bow down before the throne of God. And instead of his own dark cave dwelling, John reveled in the sun of God and wondered about his own white robe.
The work he did was inspired by the worship he led. I think that’s always intended to be the right path, from God to world, from motivation to accomplishment. It’s easy to mix that up, but so many of my moments in the world remind me again to start everything with, “Thank you, Jesus.”
Miles’ Saturday swimming lessons begin at 8:15. That’s no problem for him; he’s always up before 7. He will have some ‘nana, maybe a bit of ‘ocado, and perhaps a glass of orange juice. Then after the swimming there’s a stop at Central Donut for his sausage, cheese and egg biscuit or even a kolache or two.
The apostle was two once, as was Winston Churchill, as was I. We don’t know what Miles will be when he’s twelve, or twenty, or sixty-nine. As best we can, we give him space to grow, learn to follow God, learn to listen. Gibran’s brilliant light on the parents’ path: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you, for life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
At the end of his 30-minute lesson the four kids in Miles’ class climb the slide and pour themselves into the water. Their teacher will catch them, if they need catching. Of course there are good days and there are not-as-good days. But always, the towel is soft. Clean-up is quick, and his swimming energy rolls over into laughter. Joy abounds.
Outside we settle into the car. But today the parking lot is filling with fire engines. At the other end of the strip mall a Salvation Army store’s on fire. The employees are standing under a tree. We aren’t going anywhere. That kolache can wait. We drive as close as we can and sit down on a concrete parking block. Just the right height for Miles, a little low for me.
The fire trucks keep coming. There are six trucks, and two chiefs, who pull next to each other in their red station wagons. The ladder truck backs into place. The ladder extends. Four firemen climb the ladder to get on the roof. They carry their axes. Everyone wears the protective gear we saw downtown just two days before, boots and helmets and heavy coats and pants held up with wide black suspenders. The gear is heavy, but these are strong men and women, and they know how to do their work.
An hour passes. They begin to pack up the trucks. The ladder comes down. A firefighter comes over to Miles and a few other kids and makes sure they all have fire badges. Miles is very proud. He will wear his badge to church tomorrow. And he’ll be watching the videos we took for weeks to come.
Gibran writes, “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. And even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
I imagine the firefighters, wearing their white robes and bowing down before the throne. I imagine Miles joining them, at all the ages he will be. Can we claim this for ourselves, for God to come with his soft, sweet towel and dry us off, wipe away every tear from every eye?
Of course we can.
Lord, as I write tonight, I think I have the flu. Maybe it’s mostly over, but today I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. My body aches. I’ve been sleeping, sort of, far too long. I’m not sure I want to eat much, but I’m very glad for water. This is a good time for me to imagine your soft cloth, wiping away my tears. Thank you.