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Archive for May, 2012

One day last week my lectio time was from the first few verses of Psalm 84:

How lovely are Your dwelling places,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
The bird also has found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
How blessed are those who dwell in Your house!
They are ever praising You.

What immediately caught my eye was how the first verse, at least in my version, had plural for “dwelling places”. I’m used to the version in the song:

How lovely is Your dwelling place, Oh Lord Almighty
My soul longs and even faints for You
For here my heart is satisfied, within Your presence
I sing beneath the shadow of Your wings

Is it really plural there? And, if so, what does that mean?

Well, I’ll tell you, I never got to take Hebrew class like I’d wanted and so while I can delve into words and meanings, I do not do too well with figuring out tenses or plurals or other grammatical issues. So I looked it up with the resources I had at hand at the time (app commentaries). They spoke of a plural. They said it refers to the different areas within the Temple – the Holy place, the Most Holy place, the other courts, etc. Plural. And this makes sense with the rest of the verse where it speaks of longing for the courts (plural again) of the Lord.

But then a new thought struck me. I’m on this side of the cross. Post-sacrifice. Post-temple. And the New Testament speaks of us (Christians) as the church… and it speaks of our bodies as temples, being indwelled by the Holy Spirit. God living in us.

How lovely are your dwelling places, O Lord!

Whether the tabernacle constructed in the wilderness, the temple that David designed and Solomon built, the beautiful paradise of Heaven or even other Christians… wherever God dwells, there is beauty.

Makes me want to take that into consideration as I deal with and interact with others. Not only did God fearfully and wonderfully create all people, but dwells in those who have responded to the call to follow. Dwelling places. Millions of them. Aren’t they lovely?

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It was Friday, July 11th. The year was 2003. I had returned to southern California for a mime workshop and doctor’s visit three months after putting my graduate studies at Fuller Seminary on hold while I headed home to Pennsylvania in order to heal. Healing was a new concept for me. I had always been told that fibromyalgia was degenerative, that it would always get worse. So when incredulous college friends asked me why I pushed through the struggles of undergraduate life in a sick body, I always responded that I wanted to do what I could while I could. But now there was a new doctor, a new protocol and hope for a full reversal of my fibromyalgia symptoms! So I took the time to heal. That and the beginning of the protocol was difficult. Difficult to keep up with work and classes both. So that warm summer day in LA found me returning for a third visit with my new doctor. It was a great visit and a great report. I was clearing well!

I was driving a rental car with the windows down and the radio up and had just gotten on the entrance ramp to the 90 East to head back to Pasadena when I heard it. Martina McBride began singing “I have been blessed.” It’s a song I love and I’m feeling great and so I crank up the volume and sing along. I have been blessed! I continue singing as the chorus repeats, “I have been blessed and I feel like I’ve found my way.”

Then it hits me. I do feel like I’ve found my way! The tears come even as I sing and I think on how I saw and fell in love with mime and found my first workshop four years earlier where I first heard of Fuller and going to study theology and arts there led me to this doctor. This treatment. This healing. This moment. I am in a place I love, finally getting better and out there visiting for the mime workshop doing what I love. Yes, I felt keenly that I was blessed and had found my way.

It was a marked moment. So clearly etched in my memory that when I began my collection of Ebenezer stones, “Blessed 2003” made the list.

It was Tuesday, May 1st. This year. I was in the middle of chaos. My health had been in a downward spiral since the new year began, prompting me to seek new doctors and a way out to see my specialist in Marina Del Rey that I hadn’t seen in 4 years. I wasn’t sure if the protocol was still working or not. The shower in my bathroom had not worked since late last November and the renovations finally started leaving the rest of the bathroom unusable. I found out that day that they found mold behind the tub they removed and had to take out the wall connecting my bedroom and the bathroom. So my room was also a wreck. Not that it hadn’t been in a state of flux anyhow, unfinished as it was awaiting my new chair and finishing the purge and reorganization I started in January just before I got sick. So in addition to feeling as though my health and my life were in these continual, unfinished states of flux, I was having a rough day at work and a nonstop day of tasks and errands and appointments. Plus my new tea dream and so much of my life had seemingly been put on hold. I felt lost. It was chaos.

I was in my car heading south on Rt.11, driving home from work with my windows rolled up. Feeling the strain of the day, I asked my iPhone to play songs from the playlist I designed to be cathartic at such times. Martina McBride begins singing “I have been blessed.” Out of habit, I sing along. We get to the second line of the chorus, “I thank God for all I’ve been given at the end of every day.”

Then it hits me. I have been thanking God at the end of every day. And at the beginning. And in-between. For ever since our ladies’ Bible study started Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts book I have been keeping my own list. Of gifts. Graces. Things for which I am thankful. And as part of this I have started to develop a habit of quite literally thanking God for what I’ve been given at the end of every day. A chord strikes deep within and once again the tears come. I have been blessed and I had more than 900 “gifts” on my list to show it. Even in the midst of pain, uncertainty, chaos.

It was a marked moment. It made #923 on my list.

And I knew immediately that I wanted to write about it. Write about these two occasions with this same song. The contrast. The growth. The truth found both at a moment of elation and at a moment of overwhelming chaos. But the chaos of that day prevented me from getting this written out.

And I’m glad it did.

Because there is more to this story.

There in the car last Tuesday, as I realized I could still sing – and mean – “I have been blessed” even in the chaos, I decided that no matter what happened at my doctor’s appointment on Friday I would sing that song. So when I arrived in Marina Del Rey for my first appointment with my specialist in four years, sitting there in his office as he mapped my fibromyalgia and then showed me the map which was worse than my very first one nine years earlier, telling me I had regressed and upset all the progress I made initially… And when I sat there crying after he basically informed me I would have to start the protocol all over again and, by the way, no more tea drinking… As I sat there with face buried in my hands and my mind swirling with overwhelming information and questions, I realized that in the back of my mind there was music. Someone was singing. It was Martina McBride. The chorus repeating over and over, “I have been blessed.”

And it was still true.

I have been blessed. And I have found my way. And I still thank God for all I’ve been given at the end of every day.

Because even now God’s hand is at work. Because from late 2004 or so until the last time I saw the doc in 2008, my maps showed me not getting better or worse. And the doctor and I kept trying to figure out why and adjust various things. So had I not gotten so much into tea that I was consuming way too much of it (and therefore blocking my medication on this protocol), I would not have noticed such a profound change in my health which prompted me to look for a way to get out to California to see my doctor which prompted a friend to help me out via air miles and allowed another friend to put me up for the weekend… And had I not regressed so severely this time my doctor  would not have noticed that I was having an issue with the form of the medication I’ve been on and offered a new form and reinstated the tea restriction so that I can restart this protocol and get back to healing.  And that is a quick and simplistic overview of how this connects. It is really so intricately woven and it is so beautiful.

I am so blessed! And I feel like I’ve found my way! I thank God for all I’ve been given at the end of every day!

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I always liked the song. There was always something which drew me to it. But today I realized its profound depths on another level. It’s not just a song. It’s a reality.

But perhaps I should start at the beginning.

My health is poor; pain and other symptoms are up. The bathroom renovation is not completed keeping both my room and the spare room (where I’m sleeping) in a state of perpetual flux – and chaos. I have deadlines looming for which I feel somewhat prepared and completely lost at the same time. And on top of all that there is all this “stuff” filling my head that needs processing. Which takes time. I feel constrained, anxious, tense…

And I know it.

And I know it’s not good.

So from the time I’ve gotten up this morning I’ve been praying. Asking God to quiet me with His love…

Then I read my lectio passage for the day. Isaiah 64:1-4.

So much of it seems familiar.

Including verse 4. For the New Testament quotes, “no eye has seen… no ear has heard…”

But I don’t recall ever taking notice of the second part of that verse before. It says that God acts on behalf of “the one who waits for him.”

Waits.

And it’s not qavah there. I fully expected it to be. After all, he’s been bring up qavah for months now.

But this time it’s chakah.

“to wait; tarry”

Tarry?

Tarry.

Where do I know tarry?

Oh yeah. In the song…

And so I pull up the song and listen to it. And I’m amazed to find how a song I’ve loved for years has in so many ways become a reality these past few months.

I come… (and usually first thing in the morning)

I do hear his voice… he does speak… he walks with me… he talks with me… he does tell me I am his own!

There is joy. And a joy I’ll know with no other.

And he has given me a melody. He has wired me and he speaks to me in a way I “get” because of my wiring and he calls me to do his will in the way I am wired. Or, as David Phelps sings, “You made the instrument and wrote the song.”

Ah, yes!

So though it is the antithesis of what my mind and body – my anxieties – want to do right now, I will tarry.

I must tarry.

Tarry with God.

It is the better path.

To wait for him.

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