Sunday, April 11, 2010 she comes...

Bath time is over, pajamas are on.  We've had our teeth brushing and Daddy hugging, it is time for bed.  He crawls under the covers, a big smile on his face, "Mama, it's time to talk to God!" and as I kneel down by his bed she comes.

Her eyes are old and wise, sometimes full of trouble but mostly love.  She comes on quiet feet when she hears those words.  She sits down beside me and rests her head on his bed and makes not one sound as he sings his prayers.

Now I lay me down to sleep...and we get to Amen.  She sits so still as he starts, "God bless Mama and Daddy...Thank you God for...I love you all the time."

Only then does she lay down to listen to the stories of the night - nature, fun, Biblical for little ones.  Matters not as long as she is there for the prayers, for that time with Him and him.  She and I touch, brushing against each other in our love for this little boy, growing into a big boy.  This child who sees God everywhere, and is joyful for each discovery and mystery.

Only she is not an attentive aunt, or sister, or even a Grandma.  She is an 11 year old Border Collie named Sparkie.  Her old eyes shine when she hears him say those special words.  I do not know much about where our dogs come from or their previous lives.  As rescue dogs we are thankful to have them here with us alive and safe.

We can learn from them though, they will tell us things about their lives.  I know one of her and her brother's owners passed away and the other left during a day, and never returned that night.  We learned this because they are calm when we return in daylight, and go from worried to excited when we return after dark.  They had love and prayers in their home.  They know the name of God and even as animals, His creatures, honour it.

There are over 100 animals named in the Bible, some more often than others. Some only a singular time.  Some had special interactions with God's people. From the animals in the Garden of Eden to the donkey who stopped Balaam in his tracks because only she saw the angel, to the whale who obligingly took Jonah on his journey.  The lions who calmly accepted the commands of the Holy Spirit to leave Daniel alone, to the animals who stood in awe and humble wonder at Christ's birth in their stable.  There are others, but these ones always told me one important lesson.  All of God's creatures matter to Him, each one knows Him and His spirit and touch.

So Sparkie comes to my son's room every night to hear him pray because she knows the special touch of her Creator's Hand.  And I am humbled, I am stunned, and I am calmed...if she a small old dog can sense the peace of God during a small boy's prayers, then I can rest in that place also.  I can trust the donkey stopping on the road, I can trust the calmly resting lions, I can lay down with the wolf amongst the lambs.  I can rest in Him who gives me the blessings of the day, and takes my worries and cares away.

Which of us is the least of us?  A wise old dog? A faithful child?  A prayerful but all too human Mama?

Photo note: One of our favorite things is to make hearts with our hands and then 'frame' a person, and tell them "I'm holding you in my heart."  I think of God holding all of us in His heart when we do this game, it reminds us of the all encompassing love that is His, that is Holy!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Birth of Hope

I had a much different post in mind for today, but this is what we have instead...

I never thought about what the symbol really meant.  Not what it meant before the empty tomb. Before the stone rolled away.  I never thought about what it meant to the people on the streets.  What it meant to the people watching it rise up in the sky, hanging with a living body.  What it meant to the followers.

Then we, my husband and I, were reading our devotional, and I turned to the reading for the day.  In his Live Bible there was a 'pop out' that spoke about the cross and crucifixions.  What it meant to Romans, to Hebrews, to conquered people.  It meant death, it meant oppression, it meant the heavy hand of the sword wielding Roman machine.  It reminded us that it took centuries for the horror of the cross to grow into a symbol of hope - the empty cross.  The empty tomb, the empty cross - our salvation paid, our redemption secured.

The cross, empty or filled, tells us many tells us about prices paid, it tells us about burdens born, it tells us about lives tied together in love, blood and tears.  The full cross is the weight He bore to redeem us, the full weight of the sins of humankind.    The empty cross, the redeemed and cleaned.  The empty cross pointing towards an empty tomb. The faith of the women on the road, the touching of fingers to cruel nail holes, the absolute grace of being saved for the sole reason of love.

In the centuries before the cross was a symbol to be worn, Christians would draw an arc on the ground, a fellow believer would then draw the opposite arc. This completed the simple fish that symbolized the followers of Christ, the 'Fishers of Men'.  This secret symbol became a tattoo, a small mark indicating sanctuary.  I love the symbol of the fish, those two lines, the Ichthys, meaning so much.

On this Easter Saturday, between the Crucifixion and the resurrection I'm not thinking just of crosses, I'm thinking of fish.  Jesus, in his last moments, was weaving nets of love to catch us all to Him.  The birth of hope, into love.  The birth of grace, into love.  The catching of us, in our fall, and raising us up to grace.

Jesus went fishing again, after the resurrection, in John 21:1-17 He reminds them of his first fishing trip with them in Mark 1:17.  He wants them to set their nets to love, cast far and wide in the world.

On this Easter Saturday I'm going to be studying and praying about crosses and fishes...