Holy Sabbath

Today is Holy Saturday.  This, according to Church tradition, is the day after the crucifixion.

Not much happening today.  Or is there?

This must have seemed like the longest Sabbath ever to the disciples.  They watched their leader, their Messianic hope, die a cruel and painful death on a cross.  They saw the Roman guard pierce his side.  They saw the whole thing.

Today was their day of rest.  They could do nothing.  No work.  No cooking.  No cleaning.  They had no daily duties to distract them from their overwhelming grief.  The Jewish day was counted from sundown of one day to sundown of the next, so Friday night to Saturday night they prepared nothing.

Contrast that with Jonathon and I today.  He’s editing video for tomorrow’s program. He worked on the pergola he’s building outside.  I dyed Easter eggs whit Ruby this morning. We still need to hide those later today, and then find them.  I’ve got a cake in the oven (not a euphemism) and another pie to make still.  The list is long and seemingly endless in preparation for Easter.

I found a good online resource that outlines the origin and institution of the Sabbath:

The formal institution of the Sabbath did not occur, however, until many centuries after creation. It is first mentioned in Exodus 16:23, where Moses explains to the Israelites in the wilderness that on the sixth day of the week they are to gather and prepare enough manna for two days instead of the customary one.  On the seventh day they are not to gather manna, for none will be given them.  Rather, they are to remain where they are and rest (vs. 29-30), eating the manna they have stored up in advance.  Although the Sabbath is named and instituted in this passage, it did not immediately receive its full formal significance, for the violation of the Sabbath by some of the Israelites earned them no more than a verbal rebuke (vs. 28-29).

Later, however, the Sabbath was explicitly codified in the Mosaic Law, even receiving a central place in the Decalogue:  “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.”  (Ex. 20:9-10)  The keeping of the Sabbath was a sacred sign between God and Israel, a day “holy to the Lord” (Ex. 31:12-17) and violation became punishable by death (Ex. 35:2).  When a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath contrary to the Lord’s command, he was stoned to death by the community (Num. 15:32-36).  Thus it was clear from the very beginning that this day of rest was not to be taken lightly.

The rabbinical law had this outlined fully.  You could only walk up to a half mile on the Sabbath.  You could only do so much to care for your animals.  You could not carry burdens – hence the Pharisees scolding the lame man Jesus healed on the Sabbath.  The original idea, long lost through time it seems, was to let man rest.  God wanted man to take a break from all his labor, like He Himself did on the seventh day of Creation.  Make a man or woman sit and not be planning the next meal or project, and they will feel rejuvenated, right?

I can only imagine Mary, Martha, Mary Magdalene and the disciples just…waiting.  When will Saturday night be over?  What will we do now?  Our hands are tied.  Our Lord is dead.  They probably only felt the futility of their situation and a certain amount of despair.

That very first Easter, they visited the tomb to prepare His body for burial.  They got there at first light. They had no big plans other than that.  And then…Jesus wasn’t there!  Angels greeted them with the news that “He is risen!” Hallelujah!

So you see, the Lord was working even on the Sabbath.  He was overcoming sin and death.  Now, we can truly rest in His sacrifice.

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The Chocolate Cross

Jesus didn't die on this.

Jesus didn’t die on this.

Cotton candy trees
Cherry blossoms, pink and white
Lacy, pale and soft

Today is Good Friday.  And it’s *really* good here.  It’s sunny.  It’s pushing 60 degrees.  The cherry trees, all of a sudden, have fully bloomed.  They’re uptown and downtown and all around and yet they all open at the same time.  It’s sort of miraculous.  Are they all interlinked in a sort of flowering-tree underground network?  I want to know.

The kids got out 3 hours early again today, a decent headstart on spring break.  I picked Ruby up and we headed to the dollar store.  I was looking for something very specific, which they didn’t have.  Ruby, consummate saver, had money to burn.  She wanted to buy “toys”.  Generally, dollar store toys are crap.  Pardon my French.  Actually, that particular word sounds much better in French, but I digress.  I tried to steer her away from buying anything she might like to touch repeatedly, since these plastic items tend to break upon contact.  No dice.

She bought a bunch of stuff:  scotch tape 2-packs(one for her and one for us), two pudding packs, a butterfly pen, a wind-up yellow chick, a stick-bird-thing with bright blue feathers and a beak (quickly passed to her friend), a plastic bag full of multicolored plastic Easter eggs.  In all, she spent just over $9.  Not a princely sum, but  a lot for a 7-year-old.

We got home, after picking up Zac from school.  He stayed after to finish up an essay and the consequent bibliography.  He devoured his lunch in the car while we finished our errands.  Finally, we headed home.

I sat down here, intending to write about Good Friday and the great gift of Jesus’ suffering that set us free.  I intended to wax eloquent about His humanity and how he felt our pain and separation while He hung on the cross.

Ruby came up to me.  I stifled a sigh.  Foiled again.

“Mom, I want to give this to Zac,” she said.  She held up a yellow rectangular package.  In the package was a cross, embellished with lilies and flourishes, made out of milk chocolate.  I didn’t even remember her buying it.  And I’m not certain they’re sanctioned by the church.  So don’t tell anyone.

My heart melted, much like chocolate.

“I need a bag,” she finished.

I kissed her little head and we hunted up a gift bag.

Again, I am reminded of Jesus’ gift of salvation.  We didn’t even know we wanted it, needed it desperately – but He gave it anyway.

Zac doesn’t “need” the chocolate, but it’s a tangible reminder of a little sister’s love for her big brother.  Zac will remember Ruby’s gift  long after it’s gone.  Just like every Easter, we remember Christ’s love for us.

Zac Attack

Zac & Ruby at playground

I want to take today to celebrate my son, Zac.

He’s a good kid.  Sometimes, he and I butt heads.  It’s a first-born vs. first-born type of thing. Now that he’s growing up, not as much as we used to.  He’s learning to “do everything without complaining or arguing” (Phil 2:14-15).  I still need to learn that!

Zac is a bright kid.  He learned to read at 4 years old.  Even as a toddler, he was desperately hungry to know the names of things.  He would point things out and try to say what we called them.  I remember holding him in my arms, going from room to room at my mom’s old house on 25th St.  He jabbed a stubby index finger at the ceiling fans in each room.

“Fa!  Fa fa fa fa!” he would exult.  He knew he had the first letter right.  I drew pictures of clocks, fans and bicycles, over and over.  I got pretty good at it, too.  Clock was “ca”. The vacuum and broom were “ba di ba”.  Which makes me think of this song…

Guess you had to be there.  I have a latent Take 6 fetish.  Ask my old suitemates from Bethany.  And the one who kidnapped my teddy bear.

He enrolled in private school as a kindergartener when he was still 4.  No public school would take him without extensive testing and psychological evaluation.  Translation:  hundreds of dollars.  I thought, What?!  You’re gonna penalize a smart kid?  So we spent our money on Clark county Christian School, now defunct, in Vancouver, WA.  They did a couple of tests and found he was even smarter than we thought.  Take that, Portland Public Schools!

He did well.  He adored his teacher, who hated boys.  Whatever.   I disliked her tremendously but tried to keep it from Zac. The best thing that happened that year is that He gave his heart to Jesus.  His attitude about it?  “Well, of course Mom!  Why wouldn’t I?”  He had homework every day and a new fundraiser every week.  Jump-Rope-A-Thon!  Hotdog Eating Contest!  Auction!  Carnival!  It got so I simply recycled all those pieces of paper, grumbling about entire forests being decimated.

Over the years, we’ve home-schooled and public-schooled Zac.  He is now exclusively public schooled.  He is not challenged in his regular subjects except Algebra, and reminds us of this on a regular basis.  He asks to be home-schooled again at least once a month.  Mommy does not even want to attempt it.  She knows that Zac is learning study skills, taking notes and doing homework, that simply would not be learned as well at home. Especially with Mommy as judge, jury and executioner. He has access to PE and band, too.

Zac has a perfectionist streak.  As do I.  When we did homeschool for first, third and fourth grades, he would crumple up his paper in frustration if he didn’t’ do an exercise perfectly the first time.  Handwriting was a huge chore.  I tried to let him know this was learning, not hand grenades.  You get to do it again. He loved science – still does – and excelled at that.  Mommy?  Not so much.  She felt like she landed on another planet every time she opened the science textbook.

Zac has a great sense of humor.  For years, though, his intensity has been his dominating feature. He’s starting to laugh a little more, find the humor in life.  He and Ruby have some goofy times together.  He also has great empathy for littler kids.  It’s a beautiful thing.  He helps Ruby with her video game gaffes and sometimes even plays alongside her. Does he do art with her?  No.  Let’s be realistic.  He’s still a boy.

In addition, Zac really shines at debate.  From his earliest conversations, when he wasn’t asking why the sky was blue and who everyone’s name was everywhere we went (Zac:  Who is that?  Me:  I don’t know.  Zac:  Why don’t you know?  Don’t you know everybody? Me:  Uh…)  He has a curious mind.  But he also loves to argue.  Loves it!  I don’t.  It frustrates me.  I have learned to agree to disagree, but that’s not the same thing.

Yesterday, he didn’t feel well.  At least once a week I hear he’s got an upset stomach or a sore throat or possibly running a fever.  I take it in stride, humor him a little and we take his temperature.  He took it himself yesterday.  He was fine.

As we got into the car on the way to school, he sighed.

“Guess I have to give my presentation today, ” he said resignedly.

I asked him what it was about.  Turns out they were debating  a court case in his history class.  He said there is a man in Texas named Theodore (not the infamous northwest native Ted Bundy, but another, less heinous Theodore) who is appealing his life without parole sentence.  Ted is arguing that it’s unconstitutional.  Two of classmates think Teddy is right.  Zac was the lone opposition.

We talked about it.  The thing with Zac is that you forget you’re talking to a thirteen-year-old.  He has an extensive vocabulary and a sure grasp of the political system and some of how lawmaking works.  It interests him, the machinery.  He doesn’t think the Texas “three strikes” law is bad.  He doesn’t think it’s a states’ rights issue, either.  He cited other cases where the law was upheld.  Zac has a strong sense of justice and if you do the crime, you should do the time.

“Did Ted show any remorse?  Did he ever admit that he assaulted and killed that man?”  Ted, at the time, was only fourteen years old.  He was tried as an adult.  You can mature a lot during a life sentence, I would think.  I thought this might tip the jury in his favor.

“Not to my knowledge”, he said.

I figured Ted didn’t have a prayer.  And neither did Zac’s opponents, it turns out.  He won!

I am proud of him.  He has a great future, and I look forward to seeing it manifest.

Short Story

Today, I’m posting up my short story I wrote for Ruby.  Hope you like it!  I would love any constructive feedback.  Okay, and heartfelt praise. Thanks!  Spoiler alert:  it’s about unicorns.  Don’t freak.  No one dies.

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Ruby and the Unicorns

 

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Ruby.  She lived with her father, mother and big brother in a house smack dab in the middle of the woods.  Ruby was a lovely child, with large lustrous eyes and a bright smile.  She was well-loved by her family, even her blue-eyed big brother, who showed his great affection for her by picking her up and turning her upside down on a regular basis.  Ruby was not a fan of this particular move.

If Ruby had one wish, it would be to have her very own unicorn.  She checked out books from the library about unicorns.  She talked about unicorns.  She drew pictures of unicorns with limpid eyes.  She dreamt of them.  They were in Technicolor – purple, pink, blue and green.  They nuzzled her hands with their muzzles and let her lead them on silver leashes.

It all started with a bedtime story her mother told her.  For Ruby, her mother recalled stories of unicorn sightings around the world.  She herself had seen one once.  This was Ruby’s favorite tale.  Her mother had been a girl then, about Ruby’s age.  She was on a road trip with her family and glimpsed a unicorn galloping across a field, its horn proudly held high.  The ebony unicorn raced into the wind, mane rippling, a picture of strength and inscrutable mystery.  Her mom had never forgotten it.  Indeed, who would forget such a sight?

Ruby yearned to see a unicorn for herself.  She learned all about their habitats.  She discovered what they liked to eat and when.  She considered setting a trap for one but dismissed it as being too cruel.  She settled for unicorn posters and toy ones with big eyes and long, rainbow manes.

It should be stated here that her brother, Zac, thought the whole thing was ridiculous. He teased her about her obsession every chance he got.  Sometimes he called her Uni-girl.

“Unicorns aren’t real.  You should ask for a puppy or a kitten.  You’re more likely to get one of those,” he advised practically.  Really, little sisters were so gullible. Then he went back to his computer games, creating worlds out of thin air.

Ruby could not stomach such a thought.
Since it was summertime and no school days loomed, Ruby’s parents encouraged her to sleep when she felt sleepy and not to push too hard to get there.  She needed to play quietly in her room, however; that was their only stipulation.  Often she drew pictures to help her on her journey to slumber.  Sometimes she wrote songs or gazed out her window at the bright moon.  She named the moon Marguerite because she liked the name.  When the moon was full, the luminary received her whole name.  When in crescent or half moon form, she was Maggie.  Less moon, less name.

Tonight, Ruby was having a hard time getting to sleep.  She had a lot on her mind.

“Marguerite,” she sighed.  “Will I ever get to see a unicorn?” She gazed into the moon’s full bright face, searching for an answer.  Marguerite, true to form, held her peace.

Suddenly, Ruby saw a flash out of the corner of her eye.  What was that?  She turned her head to the left.  A shooting star?  Ruby often made wishes on them.  She didn’t see anything falling in the velvet-black sky.  There it was again, on the right side.  She peeked out her window.  Nothing.  The backyard merged directly into the woods, no border except the unseen property lined written on the deed.

All of a sudden, she saw it – a unicorn, panting, head down in a momentary posture of repose.  It shook its silvery mane.

A unicorn!

What?

Ruby squealed with delight.  She jumped up from her window seat, nose pressed against the glass.  Desperate to be closer to her dream, she eased the window open and peered down.

The unicorn was not alone.  Suddenly, a foal stepped into view, tossing its head.

Ruby held her breath.  Then she pinched herself.  Ouch!  She was awake.  For once, it wasn’t a dream.

She watched, hardly daring to move.  The full-size unicorn was the mom.  The foal was her baby.  The mother unicorn caught sight of the baby and dodged away.  The baby chased her.  Then the baby ran and the mother chased her.  On and on in the moonlight they raced, horns glistening, bright white coats gleaming like shooting stars in the inky night.

Suddenly, Ruby had an idea.  She crept out of her window, tucking up her nightgown, going down the side of the house via the trellis, and dropped onto the cool grass.  She wanted to be even closer.  She followed the bushes around to the edge of the woods and hid behind a large oak tree.  Now she was close enough to touch them.

All of a sudden, she realized something.  They were talking to each other.  The unicorns!

“Mama,” said the smaller unicorn.  “I’m getting tired.” The little one yawned.

“Alright, darling.  Let’s get going,” her mother said tenderly.

Then they both froze.  They sensed Ruby watching them.

They both looked at her in unison as if cued by some unseen conductor.

Time stood still.  Ruby didn’t know what to do.  She looked back at them, drinking in their luminous presence.

Finally, she broke the spell.

“Hi”, she said tentatively.  “I’m Ruby. I-I live up there.” She pointed to her bedroom window, still open, backlit by her bedside lamp.

Wonder filled their eyes.  A human was…talking to them?  What now?

Mother unicorn recovered first.

“Hello, Ruby,” she said in a gentle voice, a small smile creeping into her voice.  “My name is Anastasia and this is ́Etoile.  Nice to meet you,” she finished.

Ruby could only stare.  Unicorns.  In her backyard, practically.  And talking to her!

Etoile stared back.  She shyly hid her muzzle in her mother’s flank.  She knew nothing of humans, especially ones that talked!

Anastasia took control.

“Ruby”, she said kindly, “what are you doing outside this time of night?”  Apparently, mothers would be mothers, no matter the species.

Ruby considered.  Would this mother tell her mother?  No.  She didn’t suppose it worked that way.

“I couldn’t sleep.  I saw you chasing each other from the window. I’ve never seen unicorns before – ever! – and I had to get a closer look,” she gushed.  Great joy filled her heart.

Anastasia chuckled, the warm sound emanating from deep in her chest.

“We are rare.  You’re lucky you spotted us.  We don’t generally get so close to human habitation.  Purely an accident we ran so far tonight. It was so beautiful, the moon shining down like a twin sun.  Well, we got carried away.”

Etoile nodded her head excitedly.  “It was such fun!  Mama and I don’t usually stay up this late, either.  That is, I don’t.” She pouted a bit and stamped her little front foot to make her point about bedtimes not really being necessary for her.

“Where do you live?  Can I come see you?  Will you come again?” Ruby had so many questions.

“We live on the other side of the forest.  And…I don’t know.  We can come see you here.  I think that would be safer for us,” Anastasia suggested.

Ruby thrilled to her very soul.  More time with the unicorns.  And she didn’t have to sneak up on them this time, either.  They wanted to see her and get to know her, too. The talking part really helped; she didn’t have to guess things about them. Amazing!

They made plans to meet again tomorrow night, if the weather was good.  Ruby had so many questions, but she put them aside for now. There would be time enough for answers when they met again. By now, the Marguerite was starting to set over the trees, casting everything in deep shadows.  They said their goodbyes.  Anastasia and Etoile headed back into the dark woods and home, Etoile a little unsteady on her feet.  Ruby, tired now herself from all the excitement, climbed back up the trellis, through the window and into her welcoming bed.

She laid her head on the cool pillow and was out inside of two minutes.

In the morning, she wondered if she had dreamt it all.  She noticed that her feet were grimy.  She smiled to herself.  She met unicorns last night. It did happen!

The next night she could hardly wait for the day to end.  She wished the sun down, the moon raised.

“Come on, come on,” she whispered impatiently to no one in particular.

Her father remarked on her hurried departure to bed.

“Someone’s ready for bed early,” he noted.  She usually dawdled, getting extra drinks of water, requesting another song or story.

“Uh, I’m really tired tonight,” Ruby replied, and then forced a yawn.  She was worn out from trying to hasten the day.

“Okay, sweetie.” Her dad tucked her in, prayed for her and sang her a song.  He kissed her soft cheek and left the room.  She closed her eyes dutifully in case he was looking back at her…

Alone at last!

The moon, still Marguerite, was just starting to peek up over the tops of the trees.  Ruby bounced out of bed excitedly.  She gazed out her window, scanning the forest for any unicorn sightings.  She sat back, disappointed.  What if they didn’t come?  Did they forget about her?  Maybe her imagination had tricked her.

Then, there they were.  Anastasia picked her way out of the trees, Etoile right behind her.  They tentatively looked up at Ruby’s window.

Ruby lit up.  She waved at them excitedly.  She quietly opened the window and shimmied down to the ground.  This time, she wore her shorty pajamas.  No sense being tangled up in a nightgown.

The moon’s glow made it as bright as daylight outside.

“Hi!” she said excitedly.

“Hi, Ruby”, Etoile said shyly. She still didn’t quite know what to make of Ruby and her enthusiasm.

“Ruby, it’s good to see you,” Anastasia said, nodding her head.

Ruby had so many questions, she didn’t know where to start.  Anastasia – and sometimes Etoile – answered every one.  They lived in the woods.  Etoile  – French for “star” – got her name because of the black star-shaped mark on her forehead.  Etoile’s father, a French import, chose her name. Yes, there was a small colony of unicorns that lived together.  They moved from one area to another, seeking fresh grass and clean water.

“Ruby, would you like to ride on my back?” Anastasia asked.  “I can show you some places in the woods you’ve never seen and we can talk freely away from the house.  This way, you won’t get tired of walking.”

Would she!

“Oh, yes, please!” she replied.  She had hardly dared to hope she might get to do such a thing. She didn’t know if unicorns could be tamed like horses, despite all the resemblance.

Unicorns, she discovered, didn’t age like regular horses.  They lived for hundreds of years.  They saw several ages of man come and go.  They were hard to kill, having amazing recuperative powers.  They shed bullets like a snake sheds its skin. In the past, men hunted and captured them to be battlehorses for their numerous wars.  The unicorns didn’t want to participate in that anymore, so they went into hiding.  This was one of the reasons they needed to stay hidden.  Also, their horns held enormous power. Anastasia couldn’t – or wouldn’t? – tell Ruby exactly what her horn could do and Ruby didn’t press the issue.

All Anastasia would say was, “It’s better that you don’t know.” Ruby figured she could learn about it in time.

Etoile, Ruby ascertained, was about Ruby’s age – 9 years old.  Anastasia’s age she never figured out.

Ruby rode along on Anastasia’s back, up and down with the terrain.  Her legs hugged the unicorn’s flanks.  No saddle meant she had to hold on tightly.  She gripped the glowing mane as they walked deeper and deeper into the gloom.  But Anastasia was sure-footed.  She never stumbled once.

As with everything Ruby gleaned, she kept it to herself.  She knew her brother would say she was crazy.  Her parents, she thought, would believe her.  But she wanted to keep the unicorns safe.  And in this case, safety meant total secrecy.  It was so hard to keep it all in.  She wanted to tell someone, especially her best friend Rebekah.  Nobody would believe it!

“Wouldn’t Rebekah love this!” she cheered inwardly as they came upon some other unicorns, drinking from a brook.  Anastasia merely nodded at them politely and kept moving.  The small herd stared in disbelief at the human riding on her back.

Night after night they rambled through the deep woods, talking and sharing.  Etoile grew more and more friendly.  Sometimes, Ruby rode on her back instead of Anastasia’s.  The unicorns taught Ruby some of their songs like “Into the Twilight” and “Song of the Echoes”.  Ruby was enchanted by the rich harmonies the two female unicorn voices could produce.  It sounded like freedom.

She dreamt of unicorns after these rambles.  She wanted so to be one of them, to be part of their number.  The tether of family and school and friends seemed to choke her.

Then one day, later in the summer, her father took her aside.

“Ruby, I have some news!” he announced.

Ruby listened attentively.

“We’re moving!”

Ruby was stunned.  Moving?  Where?  But why?  Her heart dropped within her.

“I got a promotion.  We’re moving to Toledo in two weeks.  Aren’t you excited?  They have great schools there, arts magnet schools and everything.  You could focus on that if you want.  They even have science magnet schools that Zac might enjoy.  Ruby, did you hear me?”

Ruby stared off into space.  She had no good answers.  She could not swallow.  She could barely breathe.  Move away from her equine friends?  Her heart would break.

That night, the moon was merely Maggie.  She climbed slowly out of her window in the dim light.  Etoile and Anastasia were already waiting for her.

“What’s the matter, Ruby?” Anastasia asked, a slight frown just below her forelock.

Ruby tried to find the words.

Etoile looked puzzled.

“We’re…moving,” she exhaled at last.

The unicorns looked stunned. Anastasia recovered first.

“Oh, Ruby, we will miss you so!” She nuzzled Ruby’s cheek, where a tear already made a path.

“No!” yelled Etoile.  “I don’t want you to go!  I finally have a real friend, and now this.”  She sobbed openly, seeking comfort in her mother’s side.  Ruby reached out to stroke her.

“Ruby, what in the world are you doing? Step away from that animal!”

Ruby’s father stood silhouetted in the doorway.  He had heard voices and come down to investigate.

Ruby froze.

He directed his glare at the small grouping.

“I mean it, Ruby.”

She backed away from her friends, her face a picture of agony.

“Is this what you’ve been doing every night?  Talking to these – these – horses?  Go into the house.  Now. “

Ruby slunk into the house, head down, eyes averted.  She felt horrible about deceiving her parents and deserting her friends.  Tears poured down.

“Sir,” Anastasia said, hoping to head off any further hostility, “we meant no harm.  In fact, Ruby is a dear girl.”

The man considered a moment. He peered into the darkness.

“You’re…talking.  A talking unicorn.  Good grief.  I must be crazy.”

A long pause ensued.

“No,” Anastasia continued.  “We really are unicorns.”

The man, kind-hearted despite his fierce words, considered.

“May I come closer? I would really like to talk with you.”

Etoile looked up.  During the kerfuffle, she’d hidden behind her mother.  She peeked over her mother’s back.

“Yes,” Anastasia replied.

Ruby’s dad left his anger on the front step.  He stepped carefully on the soft green grass, eyes on the mythical creatures on the edge of his property.  Finally, he was right in front of them.

“Hi,” he said shyly.  “I am sorry I scared you.  I didn’t know what you were.  I wanted to keep my girl safe.  She’s the world to me, you know.”

Anastasia smiled.  Of course she knew.  She was a parent.

“Your family is moving?  When is that?”

Ruby’s dad told her the details, what it meant for him and the family.  Ruby’s mom would be able to go back to school and get her literature degree.  Big changes were in store for all of them.

“But if you want…” He hesitated.

“What?” Etoile asked quickly.

“Well, Ruby could come back and visit you.  It’s not that far away.”

Ruby’s dad called her mom out.  Her mom, hesitant at first, was overjoyed to finally realize her own childhood dream and meet a real unicorn. Zac, skeptical, kept rubbing his eyes in amazement.

The unicorns thought that sounded like a wonderful idea.  In fact, it seemed a good idea to Ruby’s parents to rent the house out instead of sell it, so they could come back in the summers and visit the unicorns whenever they liked, the whole family.

So that is what they did.  Ruby, her mom, dad and big blue-eyed brother relocated to Toledo for the school year and spent their summers in their old home.  They got to know the unicorns well, the entire flock.  Zac even found a chocolate brown unicorn named Marcus who became his good friend.  Ruby loved that she finally had someone to share her secret with.  And the unicorns loved knowing that people could be trusted.

For generations after Ruby, her family summered at that home.  Rooms were added on, renovations occurred.  The secret of the unicorns remained.

Loaves and Fishes

loaves and fishes

I am finally in the New Testament for the 90-day Bible reading plan.  Huzzah!  This is the second day.  I am plowing through Mark now.

Back in Matthew 15, Jesus fed the multitude with 7 loaves and a few small fish.  Miraculous!  The disciples brought him what they had, and He blessed it.  Earlier in Matthew, He did the same thing with five loves and two fishes.  In Mark 8, the scenario is recounted again.

The disciples and a little boy shared what they had, knowing it could not possibly be enough.  But they wanted to try to meet the need:  hunger.  In the natural, physical world, there was no way it would feed everyone – thousands of men, women and children. They surrendered it up anyway.  They trusted God to bless it, to make it stretch.  The odds looked impossible.  It could have been an opportunity for despair to take over.  God cared about meeting the most basic needs of people.

I’ve often heard these miracles used in the context of tithing and giving.  And they should be.  I don’t see a wrong application there.  The Lord is our provider. But what about our impossible circumstances? Our particular need may be as great to us as physical hunger. When we’ve done all we can to fix things, and they still aren’t right, what then?  I believe we must surrender up our tools and our ideas and say, “Here, God.  I can’t do any more.  It’s time for you to do what you do best.”  Our efforts and input do count.  I believe the bread and fish represent our contribution to make things better.  Jesus could have made loaves and fishes appear, but He asked, “What do you have?”  Our prayers, our time, our considered counsel matter. They show our willingness to put our best effort forward to help. They show our care and concern.  Yet, when they fail, it is then that the Lord must breathe on them to give them life.

The loaves and fishes miracles recount the disciples picking up basketfuls of leftover bread and fish.  Basketfuls!  Twelve basketfuls, in Mark 8, to be exact.  How did that happen?  Did the crowd eat sparingly?  Somehow, I suspect not.  There may have been 5,000 men, but I’m betting there were thousands of children present, too. Little kids don’t think that way.  They trust that there will be plenty and they eat until they are full.  They trust.  They’re not worrying about lack.

Do I trust my God to find a solution when things look bleak?  Am I willing to lay down my loaves and fishes and say, “It’s yours now, Abba”?  I have done all I can.  I need to be like a little child and let my Daddy take over. He will not fail me.

Maundy Monday

I am, yet again, a little sleep deprived.  Ruby has managed to find new reasons for nocturnal visits.  “I woke up and I was alone!” (save Chloe).  “My nose is sniffly.”  Sigh.  So I sip from the fount of caffeine and have unusual thoughts…

I’ve been thinking about Jesus today.   Probably not all that unusual, given the fact that we’re now in Easter week.  I don’t actually know if there’s a Maundy Monday, but it seemed to fit what I want to say today.  And…Wikipedia says no.  Maundy Thursday is a holy day starting the annual Easter Triduum, which commemorates Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. But there *is* a Spy Wednesday.  Judas Iscariot gets a day of notoriety, too. Personally, I don’t think he should get a whole day.  But that’s just me.

Did Jesus know on Palm Sunday that his last week on Earth was beginning?  Did he look up the priests he spoke with when He was twelve years old and got left behind in Jerusalem?  Did he take stock of his 33 years and wonder if he had done enough?  Enough healings, enough miracles, enough preaching?  I know.  He was fully God and fully human, but sometimes I wonder about the human part.  The Bible leaves some room for speculation, I think.

Did he walk through the groves of olives and think, I’ll never see these get harvested?  Did He stroll the Sea of Galilee and think, I’ll never see this beautiful sight again.  Did he watch little children at play and realize he would never have children of his own, never marry, or live to a ripe old age and see his physical descendants?  Did He ever feel like He should have stayed a carpenter, hiding  His holiness in His chosen identity as a carpenter’s son?  Did He feel like the price was worth it, to save ungrateful, ignorant humanity?

I suspect Jesus spent most of the week getting Himself as ready as He could for what the end of the week held for him:  public humiliation and crucifixion.  Perhaps he spent some of his last hours with his mother and maybe some time with his brothers, reminiscing.  I’m sure He prayed.  Did He walk through old neighborhoods, past places He used to live and remember good times from his childhood?  Did He visit old enemies and give them a chance to make things right?  I realize I sound sort of AA here, but Jesus, being fully human, knew something about what regret can do to a person.

I also suspect Jesus was able to lay these concerns to rest and embrace God’s plan for Him.  He loved those folks He knew.  He loved the ones He had yet to know – those who came after Him, even us.  Making the hard choices doesn’t mean you don’t feel the pain of loss.  It only means you’ve counted the cost and deemed it worthy.

Running Into Spring

cherry trees

This week, I’ve logged 9 miles. I am up to 3 mile runs.

Whoopee!  You might say.

But there is cause for great rejoicing.  This is the most I’ve run since January 4.  Seriously.  Oh, I’ve been able to run a couple of times a week for short periods over the last 2 weeks.  But always at least one of my legs would act up.  I would put it back down and walk instead.  I have learned the hard way not to push too hard to recover.

This is week 11 since my injury.  Yep.  And I still hurt a little, in my left hip.  But not too bad.

In the past, I would run 20ish miles per week.  And when following the peak marathon training schedule, 40ish miles.  This paltry amount of mileage feels like a drop in the bucket.  It’s nothing to brag about.  But it makes me happy.

What I’m finding is I don’t enjoy it as much anymore.  I like it.  Don’t get me wrong.  But I have found other interests that fill me more, other pastimes to edify me.  I don’t know if I need to race anymore.  Maybe these months of down time have served to get me to refocus on other goals, especially writing.  I’ve also relearned about myself as a human being instead of a human-doing.  I suppose if the desire to race comes reappears, like an exotic, mysterious  bird, then I’ll pursue it.

Spring is the season of hope and new life.  This morning, I saw cherry trees finally, finally starting to blossom.  The magnolia trees have buds on them.  Tiny, starry forget-me-nots dot the neighbor’s lawn.  Daffodils appear like miniature suns.  Is it too self-centered to feel like spring has held off so long in order for me to get strong enough to run outside regularly?  Probably.  For now, it’s enough to be able to run.  I am grateful.