The chair I sit in this morning is facing the Pacific. It’s the same shape as the chairs on the deck at the cabin where I sat and watched the water. There’s a small table in front of me, as there had been there, a book of poetry and my feet are resting on top of it, a coffee cup is balanced on the arm post.
The waves are larger here than there, but it’s the same sky—liquid blue. The beach is ours alone except for a few fishermen with nets. ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ He called out to them. ‘No,’ they answered. ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ They were unable to haul the net in to shore because it was so full of fish.
I consider for the first time what it must have felt like for them to see the resurrected Christ, instead of thinking about the full net of fish. He already had a fire made to make them breakfast. Then they broke bread together—Eucharist. They didn’t recognize Him and none of them dared to ask, ‘Who are you?’ Did He look different or were they still just in a state of disbelief. If they didn’t dare to ask then, why would I now? I do not know where to cast my net, but He does. This, I think, might be the secret to loving Him. My part, my half plus His whole makes me wholer, makes us one.
I think about these things as I look out at the water and see fishermen.
We are on the ocean far off the beaten track. We had driven back and forth on the main road several times trying to find the turnoff that led to the long dirt road that would bring us here. The area is slowly being built up just as we are slowly being built up by Him for more use. We are alone except for the caretaker couple who keeps things tended to and well-watered as He is here with me, watering and tending to my soul needs, so I don’t relapse into self-indulgence, self-doubt and fear and, can instead be ready, fit and able to enter the precious space we share together in the world.
His Words hit deepest when they are the simplest as when He asks His disciple, ‘Do you love me?’ How often have I turned away rather than answered, ‘Yes, You know I do?’ and relapse? Is it possible to work for Him and not walk with Him? The one thing I want, before and during and after all things, is to be One with Him. Isn’t that what we are asking for when we ask for love? To be one with our beloved? Separate but one like He is three in One—Father, Son and Spirit. But love, like any good thing, any fruitful, useful thing, is a discipline. It doesn’t just happen. The spirit full life, the Spirit-led life—is a discipline I am constantly reflecting on, turning away from and turning back to. His love. I do not know where to cast my net, but He does. This, I think, is the secret to loving Him. My part, my half plus His whole makes me wholer, makes us one.
I pull out the handle of the syringe to the correct measure, drawing air into the exact mark on the tube then press it into the tiny bottle containing the clear golden liquid and pull the handle out again until the medicine is drawn into the syringe to reach the same exact mark. It has to be exact. Only once have I done this right on the first try. Pockets of air get caught or bubbles form. You can’t send bubbles into the veins, I’ve been told. If I can’t tap them out with my finger, I have to push the liquid back into the bottle and start over, sometimes six or seven times before perfection.
He draws life out of me—stale from sitting in one place for too long, and fills me with His Breath—the Spirit’s Renewed Life. Sometimes I am ready and willing. I am able to relinquish what’s no longer of no use, other times, like my syringe, it takes six or seven tries to make me fit for what He will require of me.
When the golden liquid was finally ready the first time I gave myself the shot, it took me two hours to finally inject the one-inch needle into my one right thigh. Old Dog Sam was still around then. He seemed to always sense what was up with me and he came alongside me to lay at the foot of the stool I had set next to the kitchen counter containing my paraphernalia.
I was in a process of acceptance that I had to do it at all. I was in process. I am still in process. All lives are in process. Life is a process. When you move through it at its worst and come out the other side, fears lessen, but I was still afraid that day. I held my skin taut and set the needle point beside it, tears of fear ready to fall, I pressed the handle hard and fast, injecting the golden liquid that would blast my cells into behaving. And guess what? I didn’t feel a thing. Nothing. Not even a prick. What I felt, was empowered.
It is a mystery. It is supernatural. It is a miracle for a soul to become one with Him. It is the one and only way I want to spend my golden years. With Him.
When the sound of the chainsaw first came from the property next door on the second day of our week in Mexico, I moved my little writing sanctuary to the second floor balcony of the house we were staying. The view was better, I should have moved sooner, and it had been time for me to get up and switch from coffee to water. I was secluded from even the occasional ‘Hola’ from the caretaker, or I felt like I was. The house was open concept. No walls on the exposure facing the water, as they often are there. Above the sounds of a nerve-grating electric power saw being used to build a palapa on the property next store, I recognized that my dwelling, my body, must be open concept, facing the Water. I, like the house, must also be open and exposed and ready for the Spirit’s filling.
I need to be an open concept to receive His Living Water.
Before long, the fumes of the gasoline from the chainsaws of the workers and frustration drove me to my knees. Not for confession. Desperation. I felt I deserved some rest and quiet and space but there, on my knees, I realized I deserved these things no more than I deserved His salvation.
Soon we are in the car. I find it slightly funny that our gas light is on empty as we drive back down the long dusty roads in search of clean air and quiet. We were both a little shaken up by the unexpected disturbance but we are comrades together as in life. I agree with Todd when he says it was an adventure and better than reading his book. When he pulls over thinking we missed a turn and a tourist bus lays on its horn behind us, we stop long enough for me to notice a sign that shows us we were heading in the right direction. Before long we are driving down a familiar winding road. “We have been here before,” I say.
Trees and lush greenery set the stage for the mountain ranges in the distance and seem out of place in this desert-like environment. “I feel like we’re in North Carolina,” I say. “I realize I like it here because it reminds me of the mountains of North Carolina.”
“It’s true,” Todd says. “We could be on the back roads of NC.”
“I like going places that remind me of home.”
“You should write that down.”
I am a homesick traveler. I was always homesick as a child and a part of me is always longing to return home. I suppose that’s odd for a woman who has moved 47 times throughout her life. The last of these moves was home to the house I grew up in because I married a friend from home and we bought the house from my parents when they downsized. I moved back home.
We have returned for the third time to this area in Mexico. A place I feel at home. I return to the places of rebellion, reflection, remorse. I think of Daniel’s prayer of confession I had read that morning. Everything I need to know about it is there. It comforts me like the little restaurant we pull up to called Present Moment, where the people are kind and the food is fresh and organic.
We are directed to a table overlooking the water with a large umbrella too near a table of people. I choose the one just beyond it, giving us more privacy. I am in need of privacy. There is nothing on the menu that I couldn’t have made with the groceries we have purchased for the week so I stumble over the selections. I ask if lunch is available and am told, ‘Not yet’. How often does He say, ‘Not yet,’ and I react and rebel.
I order the detox juice with beet, carrot, ginger, apple and parsley to counter the effects I’m still feeling from the gasoline fumes. How long does it take gasoline to be oxidized in a bloodstream? I think of His blood streaming for me. I don’t deserve His mercy. I have never deserved His mercy. I have never deserved the Salvation that led Him to the cross. I never will. And yet, I have received it.
I had parents praying for me before I learned to pray myself, before I learned to repent. Is repentance learned or is it received like His other gifts? Is it something our hearts can figure out on their own or do they need to be shown how? Remorse is a reaction. Sin is an action? Have I acted knowingly? I recall my rebellion. I have recollection filled with failures—a collection of hard-earned, well-watered moments of realization.
Recollecting my failures I recoil but He reuses everything, or I’d be useless. Only He is useful. Only He is useful in opening the door—opening the door leading Home. I think I have found it even though I can’t see it. I know the sounds of voices inside, yet I can’t hear them. My home is there as my comfort today is found here at this little place with good food and good service called Present Moment, where the salty sea air sweeps across my skin like silk.
The server returns with water and says that it will work for the kitchen to make me lunch after all.
“Is there fish?”
“Si. Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Salmon.”
I order the salmon sliders.
Within minutes my seat has moved out of the shade and I am inching my chair towards a right angle to Todd’s. I find shade but am smack in front of a thick log supporting the overhead frame that holds the track lights and blocks my view of the ocean. The table next to us that the waiter led us to in the first place is in the shade without log supports blocking anyone’s view. Why don’t I follow direction? Why this incessant need to do things my way? I think about this as I eat cucumber spirals that taste like summer even though it is only March. I think how I must fight the need to let space and time and quiet become more important than Him. Even chains and gasoline fumes will be used to fulfill His purpose.
The check comes and we wonder where to go and what to do next. “This wasn’t the way I imagined the day,” Todd says “I thought we’d just relax around the house.”
“You would have gotten bored and ansy,” I say, realizing I was not the only one upset by the noise and fumes. “I thought you were upset for me.”
“I am,” he says. But it’s so much more than that. What were the chances that in all the places in the world we could have gone for Todd’s Birthday that we’d end up beside chainsaws? Hydrocarbons and Methotrexate aren’t tolerated well separately in the bloodstream much less mixed together. There it is again, the image of His blood streaming from the cross, a river of salvation flowing to me. It has been one long confession of self-absorption this morning and I at last surrender into the Present Moment. With Him.
Scripture references: John 21, Daniel 9