Tuesday, June 2, 2020

"there was Jesus..."

"when the life I had,
came crashing to the ground;

when the friends I had,
were nowhere to be found;

there was Jesus..."

Dolly Parton and Zac Williams' song, "There Was Jesus," has meant so much to me.

In my faith tradition, we don't talk a lot about our relationship with Jesus. We talk more about the presence of the Christ.  We acknowledge the Christ in consciousness. But this post not about that deeply spiritual concept of Christ. It is about my relationship with Jesus.

"Why?" you may ask, would I write about this, -- especially when I was doing so well at not stirring things up. Because, it isn't honest for me to post month-after-month about the healing power of the Christ, and not acknowledge a relationship that is second only to my love for God.

You see, when everything is stripped from you, and you are left without human comfort, you find him. And once you have found him, you never let him go.

The details of my loneliness -- during a particularly challenging time -- are not important. Suffice it to say that Mary Baker Eddy perfectly described it when she wrote:

“Would existence without personal friends be to you a blank? Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy; but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love."
Been there. Felt that. And in that seeming vacuum, I found him. Not "him," as in a guy in a white robe, but him as a mentor, a shepherd, a friend -- the one who would lead me out of the emptiness of abstraction, and into the fullness of his living, breathing, palpating love.

In Scripture we are introduced to the man who would inspire gospel choirs to sing: "what a friend we have in Jesus."  To know his friendship is to never be alone again.

I remember well the nights that I sat alone in a near empty apartment and realized that I had no one to call. I had spent all day "taking calls," but felt undeserving of the same unconditional, spiritual acceptance that I try to bring to every call that comes into my office.

You see, I've made choices that did not always align with what others expected of me. My reservoir of trust - in my own ability to intuit divine guidance - sometimes runs low. There are times when I have taken all of my cues about myself, from the opinions of others. And those opinions have, at times, been full of derision.

Sitting in the dark, the light from streetlamps all that illumined the empty silence of an empty room, I begged God for something clear and unquestionable. If I was a bad person, tell me - so that I could repent and change. For all I really wanted was to love, trust, and honor Him - more each day.

What He sent me - however - was not a message. It was a man. It was His son. And in the dark, my heart is flooded with his story. I have felt held in the comfort of his example, his words, his self-sacrificing love.

In my sorrow -- he was there. In my self-doubt - he was there.  With the woman, taken "in the very act" -- he was there. With the mother begging for her daughter's life -- he was there. His words, his comforting touch, his trust in our Father's love -- it has been there to hold me close. It is there to whisper assurance. It was there to rebuke, to restore, to return me to our shared home in the Father's house - time and time again.

Sitting in the silence, I was sitting with him. Not with a specter. Not with a character from a story. Not with a superhero. I was sitting with Jesus. I was asking him about our Father.  Asking him to tell me about His love.  I was weeping in his arms. I was pouring out my heart's deepest questions, and he invariably turned me to his timeless message - "the kingdom of God is within you." Be still. Listen. I am here. I will not leave you comfortless. I have come to you."

Of the 809 times that Mary Baker Eddy refers to Jesus in her writings, 646 of them are without reference to him in connection with "Christ." And though she refers to Christ 868 times, only 494 of those instances are where it is not in connection with "Jesus" or "the Church of Christ, Scientist."

Her relationship to Jesus has humbled me. One night, when my family was living in the carriage house at Eddy's last former home on Beacon Street in Chestnut Hill, I offered to do the security check on "the big house," -- a condition of our residency. As I climbed the stairs - flashlight in hand - I came to her bedroom, and paused. I was curious about the "images" that she surrounded herself with during her darkest hours.

Eddy faced many dark nights in that last house. Her days were filled with writing, healing, founding the Christian Science Monitor, helping to guide church leadership, and facing a world that questioned her every move and decision. Her household would later recount how dark those nights actually were for her at times.

And that night, I noted that on the wall, directly opposite her bed - in that small modest room, were three images. A small painting of a pastoral scene, a familiar painting of Daniel in the Lion's Den, and a portrait of Jesus. One that you might see in many Christian homes of her day.

It took my breath away - to think that she would wake in the night to a painting of Daniel's unfailing trust, a scene reminiscent of her girlhood in Bow, and a portrait of Jesus. I will never forget the feeling of wanting to feel what she had felt when she looked at it. It left me with a longing for something more than just words about Jesus. I wanted to know why his portrait hung on her bedroom wall and what it meant to her.

One night sitting alone in a dark apartment, I understood.

offered with Love,


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