Voting down “real” Jesus

Voting down “real” Jesus


The Getty Center, taken 30 May 2012

Excerpted from, why yes, a letter to a friend, written 3 June 2013…

Thought of you a lot while waiting for the 761 to the Getty yesterday.  The question has been raised by various people at various times lately, and specifically in a small group study I attended last week: Which is preferable, “real” flesh & blood Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?

I always have the “wrong” answer.  I always vote down Jesus, well “real” Jesus.

People tend to think “real” Jesus would be better, because “real” Jesus would somehow automatically be spending all his time with just them.  That’s even worse, because if Jesus is with me, there are billions of people other than me in the world that he is NOT helping.

That’s no good — that’s terrible in-fact.

I can’t be “for” that.

Because one of the best things about God is that we do not merely have a Jesus who can help us as he has time to help (if something of our life or faith happens to catch his attention). We have the Holy Spirit — a helper just like Christ — to be with us (each and every one of us) always.

And what I am reminded of most Sundays is that — even though I love Jesus very, very, very much…I don’t want who I am in-Christ to be merely about what I receive from Jesus. What I was reminded of in my conversations with various saints throughout the weekend (especially the people who actually asked with love and attention how I was doing and were ready for more than a one or two word answer), is that life in Christ — which is life in the Spirit — is not just a life where we receive something from Christ,

it is a life where we receive from the Spirit in such a way that God is no longer an external God who has to reach out and touch, but an internal presence free to work from within: to love us, and to work through us to love others in a beautiful and powerful way. The Spirit also helps us to love each other.

That’s a beautiful thing.


And it’s in those quiet moments — when there are tears without words and hugs that don’t let go — that I am reminded of just how great and beautiful a grace it is to have Christ’s love, by the Spirit, to each other, through us.

Love to you my friend. I’ve lost count at this point the line-itemed list of things I should be praying about for you…but I’ve got the big things. I’m trusting the Spirit to chink the cracks on my prayers for you my friend. The point of intercessory prayer isn’t the list or the words, but the love behind the words.

We were talking about prayer in Sunday School class yesterday, and I commented that my own life is always full of situations that need a lot of prayer because God sends me places no one else is willing to go (because he knows I will go without asking a bunch of questions about what will happen or what’s in it for me). It’s about having the kind of faith to know to jump when you can’t see a pool or water in the pool because you know that with God there is a pool and there is water in the pool, even when you don’t know how far you’re going to fall before you find it.

I call it faith, but a lot of people call it stupid.

Love to you, and may God’s peace, love, hope, and comfort be with you strongly in all things this day. Blessings, love, and hugs to you my friend.

[The credit for the amazingly beautiful icon, “The Visitation” was too long to be a caption for that image, but it was so amazing and inspiring I need to put credit where credit is due:]

Mother’s Day Reflections

Mother’s Day Reflections


I sit WIDE AWAKE in a dried marinade of yesterday’s hot-and-sweaty, as it is now a tolerable 70°F…need to clean things now that it’s tolerably cool to do so.  A few words first.

Mother’s Day…what photo to use?

I scrolled through my photos…

I have so many dear women in my life who have so long spoken into my life and who have helped me become the woman I am (and some of my many quirks were yours first).

I also have so many dear children I love as my own.

Then there are twenty-three years of guinea pigs.

What to pick?


The Pieta. LACMA. 30 MAR 2013.

How about this one?

Because the ultimate reality for any mother is that — though your children hopefully remain a part of your life for the rest of your life — this “motherhood” thing is really just a stewardship assignment.  There are children you carry, there are children who pass into your life at various stages and places.  A friend of mine sent me a message last night thaning me for sending her a Mother’s Day card.  I sent her a thoughtful and personal reply (which has no place here), and my conclusion to her was:

“All I know is that — whatever your situation or station in this life — God sends you the people you need and the people who need you.  We’re probably a mix of that on both sides (as friendships so often are).  Blessed and thankful that you are my friend.  I love you.  Happy Mother’s Day.”

People in my situation understand “not yours” a bit better than many.  Children if my own issue are — for various reasons — a past-tense consideration at this point.  That door is now closed.  Yet I have spent a good portion of my life helping to raise other people’s children (maybe yours among them) — the ultimate in “not mine.”

(Please think about that the next time, instead of unintentionally marginalizing us into a weird limbo…we understand, we pretend not to notice, but we like birthday parties and baseball games and dance recitals too; there is a dark place called “you don’t have children, you don’t understand” that is a place people like me have never been but are informed it’s a place we belong…don’t go there either.)

I’m not really sure there is “nothing in the world like a mother’s love” — adoption proves this.  Love is love, and can exist very well and in great depth apart from a biological connection (and sometimes even on a greater level because one is more likely to recognize a God-giving blessing and less-likely to take such a blessing foor granted).

But what the Pieta speaks to me is the ultimate in “not yours.”  The question is whether or not each of us has what it takes to give up what we hold most dear and precious — our children — because it is what God requires of us? (and he doesn’t need to give a reason)  I’ve written on this variously, most notably here.

Don’t hold too tightly, share your children with those who love them and will enrich their lives, and love the people God sends you…however they come (be open to this).

Love to the mothers in my world, but very sad I won’t get to spend any time with this one today (couldn’t resist, she’ll get a proper post soon!).


Annie Wigglewhiskers and sleepy baby entourage (at six hours old), 8 MAY 2013

Sleeping babies, clockwise from upper left, are: Frederick, Harville, Sophie, and Benwick.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

My favorite historical administrative assistant

As far as my Ignatian writings and contemplations go, this week is on my heroes of the faith.  Now, I’ve been teaching Sunday School a long time.  I know my Bible, I know my “Bible Stories.”  All the same, I was struggling to come up with a great Old Testament example without a dark side.  Then this song came through my Pandora radio feed:

It’s a simple song — almost too simple, lacking much narrative, but inviting contemplation.  The story brought to mind was the story of the life of my favorite administrative assistant in all history: Joshua.  Please remember that Joshua was among TWO (AND ONLY
individuals (Caleb being the other) faithful to God’s faithfulness to believe the LORD could bring them into the Promised Land (even Moses faltered here!).  Two entire books of the Bible (Numbers and Deuteronomy) become necessary because of this faithlessness, but wouldn’t have existed if the LORD’s people had remembered him.

It’s a lot to think about, the life of a man who came quietly into the fore who was so great that the very Messiah bore his name.

Thinking and writing, but wanted to share this bit.

Blessings for your Tuesday. — VKS

(and how is it that last night was the first time I’d ever heard this song?????)