I held out the tray of tiny plastic cups filled with juice, freshly poured, bubbles still floating on top. He delicately placed finger and thumb around his choice, and went to draw it out, but it was stuck and would not budge. He tightened his grip, pulled, and the thin plastic cup shattered in his fingers. Juice flew onto the suit jacket of the fellow next to him, the carpet before the altar, and my white robe and scapular with the appliquéd wheat and golden sun. How can such a tiny cup hold so much? we wondered.
Sprinkled liberally with the blood of the Lamb, I finished the service and told the mortified fellow all was well.
I like it that things like this happen when people pray.
I am at the hermitage (where I prayed for close to twenty years). The cabin is tucked in a hillside on a small lake. Out on the screened porch I am listening to someone in need of God. I am praying she discover the presence of God with her here, and, in her contact with God, find healing for her soul. Inside the hermitage my two daughters, ages four and six, are playing quietly. My guest and I sit still, leaning into the grace of the moment-listening to meadowlarks and watching willows bend in the breeze. After a while my children’s play grows noisier. Thumping, giggles, and something crashing to the floor intrude on the serenity. They are jumping on the bed. The more I try to focus on the silence and my guest, the louder the girls get. Finally I rise from my prayer stool and go inside. “Please be quiet,” I whisper. As I take Diana’s arm to lead her over to some books, she shouts in a screechy, ear-splitting whine, “Mom, stop! You are hurting my arm.”
Well so much for serenity, and all our holy poses and postures.
If nothing else, God is Real and is asking us to get real. For me the freedom to be real is the fruit of prayer and a central message of the Christian faith.
Why do we reduce the Feast of God to a thimbleful of juice in a flimsy plastic cup anyway? Why do we embarrass grown men by asking them to wedge their fingers, fumbling for cups fit for elves? We mortals do the strangest things in the name of worship.
I have few answers, but I love it that the Living God breaks out of our little cups and categories and paints my expensive liturgical vestments with purple speckles. It makes me want to go jump on the bed. Here is a God who keeps me on the edge of my seat, breathless and shouting.
Certainty is the mark of the common sense life – gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. O. Chambers
FYI, I got the stains out using a cleaning product called, Shout! It works great. Try it. And go jump on the bed.