Saturday, April 5, 2014

Thawing Out

Sometime early in December - sometime after I knew I wouldn't be returning to New York after the New Year - my friend Alan pulled up a chair to our already crowded dinner table at a restaurant in Chelsea.  He didn't order anything to eat or drink, but rather he just dropped by to hang out for a bit.

And in his hanging, I informed Alan I'd be heading back to Michigan for Christmas, and depending on where my job search took me, I might not be returning.  "Sure, sure, I've heard that one before."  (I've been back to the city five times since I first told Alan post Hurricane Sandy clean up, that I was done with New York, and probably wouldn't return.)

"So we'll see you in January then?" He teased.  I hadn't been away from the New York for more than two months since I first claimed I was leaving for good.  "You'll be back."  He insisted, and then said it again, all of a sudden getting serious on me.  "You'll be back.  I just sense your time in New York isn't over."

He hesitated, and then went Charismatic on me (which isn't typical of him.)  But he told me he had this image of a glass of water half full, being dumped backed into a container, and then this same glass being filled back up until it was overflowing.

He explained, I think this is what it will be for you - a going back feeling somewhat half-empty (he knew about my health being poor), and then returning to the city overflowing.  He went on to say, he thought it would be a difficult winter for me, but he sensed I might be back as early as spring - after the ice thawed.

The ice on our lake started thawing out last week.  Two days ago, while I was out for a run, I noticed two swans in an open patch of water in the northeast cove of our lake.  Then, today, I saw two ducks in the open pocket of water in front of our lake home,  and a few open patches of water out in the middle of the lake.  The ice is starting to thaw, but I'm still frozen here in Michigan, as I continue to battle health issues - now knowing it's not just an iron deficiency issue (although I was severely anemic at one point), but still not knowing what's wrong with my body.

As far as Alan's words go, it is yet to be determined whether or not I'll return to the city.  But even if I never do, I still like the imagery of the glass of water overflowing.  Certainly it's a hopeful picture - and one that resonated with me.  I had volunteered with Charity:Water throughout the fall, and since last winter I've been dreaming of someday writing a book that correlates what Jesus did on the cross with what clean drinking water does for humanity.  And, I had been holding onto this picture, that one of the girls in my small group had sketched on our fall retreat in Jersey.

Saturday morning of our retreat, we spent sometime reflecting on the verse Psalm 46:10 - Be still, and know that I am God.  I gave everyone 3 pieces paper, and plenty of crayons, and asked them to write "Be still" on the first piece, "and know that" on the second, and "I am God" on the third.  I then asked them to ponder the words before them, and draw pictures or write associated words that came to them as they reflected on the verse.

After some time we shared our drawings with one another.  Monica explained for "I Am God" she drew glasses of water - some only partially full, while others overflowed.  She pointed out, there will be times in our lives when we're feeling emptied out and that we need to seek God to fill us up again, so we can overflow to the world around us.  She reminded us, God is the ultimate source of life, drawing a large pool of water around the words I AM GOD.

As we near Easter, and the celebration of what Jesus did on the cross for humanity, I reflect on John 19:34 and how both blood and water flowed from Jesus' side, as a soldier pierced him with a sword.  I once heard Erwin McManus explain that the water would have been from a ruptured heart.  He poetically pointed out, Jesus, literally, died of a broken heart.  Of course, in his death and resurrection, he conquered death on behalf of you and me.  Blood and water flowed from Jesus' body so that we might have life and hope.

* If you haven't had the chance to read the first chapter of my book, Chapter 1 of I Hate Books on Christian Dating, a memoir journey towards a mysterious God is currently posted on and yes, I would still love for you to join my 100 X 100 party if you haven't already.  :)

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