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Granger: A CROSS-EYED LOOK AT THE WHOLE EASTER THING – 3/31/18

Posted by on April 3, 2018

That early in the morning, I knew Jimmie’s Diner would be almost empty.  That worked for me.  I was in a mood.  And I was almost right.  Other than the cook in back, Peggy Sue was by herself.

See the source imageSolitude must be a comfortable friend if one intends to write.  I enjoyed the closeness of the friends with whom I surrounded myself, yet I was okay with spending large parts of my days alone.  It gave me time to observe.  It gave me time to think.  It gave me time to waffle.

There are pleasantly intrusive things in this life.  One of the most pleasant is the scent of a fresh Belgian waffle.  One can be seated in the middle of a busy breakfast crowd having ordered all the normal fragrant stuff any self-respecting breakfast menu offers.  Let one person order a Belgian waffle, and you can pick that aroma out of all the others – like suddenly being arrested in mid-task by a whiff of a lost lover’s favorite scent.

“I don’t mean to intrude.”  Peggy Sue stood there, coffee cup in one hand and a waffled plate in the other.  Yeah.  “Plated waffle” is normally correct, but you’d need to see a Jimmie’s Belgian to understand the juxtaposition.  “You looked kind of stumped instead of the way you usually are intent when you’re writing.  I usually can only eat half of one of these, anyway, and–well, I’ve seen you eat.”  She blushed slightly, but kept at it.

Points for audacity.

“How about sharing half of this with me?  I’m hungry, and need to eat before the breakfast crowd starts trampling in.”  At my single-raised-brow, she grinned.  “I loved Brother Bear.”  Glancing down, she smirked.  “And, yes, I’ll get some more butter.”

God does in fact move in mysterious ways.  What followed was one of my life’s little serendipities I won’t forget.  It had to be a God thing, for Peggy Sue’s a hard, dedicated worker who seldom has time to sit down, let alone tarry a bit and carry on a conversation beyond, “Hot sauce or ketchup with that?”

See the source imageButter.  Warm syrup.  Barely waiting to cut it up before popping that first big, soft hunk of waffle in the mouth.  Swallowing and taking a couple of unladylike gulps of water to wash it down, she looked pointedly at my pad.  Peggy Sue pointed with her chin as she nabbed another syrupy morsel.

“What’s running through your mind this morning?”  I hesitated.  Writers dislike questions about their unfinished work.  Dislike?  I meant despise.  Yet she’d always shown an appreciation for both my time and privacy whenever I chose Jimmie’s as a writing venue.  Besides, Peggy Sue was made in Rizzo’s and Trixie’s mold:  she kept my coffee cup full of fresh, hot joe.

She deserved more than a brush-off.  Besides, I’d been stuck at a mental intersection for awhile with these thoughts, each of them like a teen just learning to drive, and clueless about to whom to yield.  Taking a thoughtful breath, I sipped some coffee for fuel.

“People who stop communicating soon lose the wonderful closeness they had when they’d been staying in contact.  It’s just the way things are.  When you are close to someone, you talk and listen.  Converse.  Share things with one another no one else knows, or ever will know.  That’s the nature of a close, loving relationship.”

Coffee.

Munching the golden brown syrup-sappiness, Peggy Sue nodded, making momentary eye contact, moving her fork in a circular motion while she chewed and swallowed.

“Let something interrupt that smooth, continuous communication, and the distance between them begins to widen.  Neither may want it, may not even be aware its happening.  But it does.  That’s a fact of human interaction.  You want to remain close to someone, you stay in contact.”  I glanced up to see if she was tracking.  Looked like she was a couple steps ahead of me.

“For awhile, all those things you see – a memorable quotation from a book, or a funny Facebook meme, all those things you openly shared together – make you think, ‘Oh, I need to tell—-‘ But you can’t.  They’re not there, or at least they’re not receiving.”

This time she was ready, having swallowed some water and now sipping coffee.  That half-waffle was gone.  Look of a lady, appetite of a T-Rex.  My kind of friend.  “So what’s the answer?”

“Being perfect in every way, God doesn’t respond to us not talking to Him like we do when we stop talking to each other.  Were God human like some try to remake Him, He’d take a month or two of our refusing to spend quiet time with Him, and say, ” ‘Kay, then.  Cross that one out.  I guess when they decide they want to be in this thing with me, we’ll start again.  Who’s next on the list?”

“He’s not, though.  You could come back to Him months, even years later, and He’s just like He was when you wandered off.  “I was wondering where you’d gone.  I’ve been waiting for you.  Come sit down and catch me up.  I’ve got lots of stuff to share with you, too.”  That’s part of what the Cross and the Resurrection are all about.  It’s God, in perfect, permanent love and relationship, saying to you and I personally, “Welcome back.  I’ve missed you, I love you, and I want to share so much with you.”

Peggy Sue sat thinking.  “I never thought of it all that way before.”

“I hadn’t, either.”

“So, it doesn’t matter how long someone is, what, estranged or distant or–here her voice broke and tears glistened–separated from God, He never gets huffy and quits trying?”  I slowly shook my head.

“God’s not human, the Bible says.  It says nothing can ever separate you and I from His love toward us.  He doesn’t get tired of waiting, He doesn’t start doubting and feeling neglected and insecure when He doesn’t hear from us.”

Peggy Sue was up and gathering her dishes and flatware.  “You always brighten my day when you come in.  This time you gave me something to think about, too.  Thank you.”  She scurried off, seeing the first of the breakfast bunch coming in the door.

I’d given me something to think about, too.  While we were talking, part of my mind was remembering a decades-old lyric I hadn’t thought about in years.  The song was playing through my spirit as I sat with my empty coffee mug in my hand . . .

Time after time I was searching for peace in some void
I was trying to blame all my ills on this world I was in
Surface relationships used me till I was done in
But all the while someone was begging to free me from sin

 Never again will I search for a fake rainbows end
Now that I’ve found the answer my life is just starting to rhyme
Sharing each new day with Him is a breath of fresh life
Oh what I’ve missed He’s been waiting right here all the time

He was there all the time
He was there all the time
Waiting patiently in line
He was there all the time  

~Public Domain

I sat there, toying with my empty cup and feeling alone, while at the same time feeling remorse at projecting my feelings on God.  He never once said to me, “You’re not worth loving.”  He’d gone to the back of the line for me every time – way more than I’d ever have done.  Worse?  I never bothered explaining, automatically assuming God knows everything, so I don’t need to explain.  Part of my feelings?  People aren’t like that.  No matter how close they are, those relationships require some communication, if only to reassure the other they’re still thinking of you, still in your high-Earth orbit. 


  God never once said to me, “You’re not worth loving.” 


I knew my feelings were mine only.  I knew God’s as close as my next breath of welcome.  I knew my hand was about to be scalded.  I pulled it back so Peggy Sue could refill my mug.  In my defense, I did it with class and aplomb, making it look smooth and premeditated.

Her amused grin showed my effort was wasted.  I curtly nodded as if it hadn’t been.  Now we were both amused.

My grin swiftly faded as I thought of how many people struggling to be loveable and needing to be loved heard every put-off translated into those words that drove them deeper into emotional inertia.

You’re not worth loving.

People say that by their actions.  It may be polite, but a shut-out’s a shut-out.  “You’re not worth my time; I’d rather hang with–them, for instance.”  No “See ya.”  Just a disappearing act.  Of course they may not mean it that way.  Usually, it’s because that other person or group is better known to them than you.  Their relationship’s closer.  They’ve been knowing each other longer, etc.  No, they likely don’t mean to shut you out.  But that’s the way it comes across.

No matter what the actual reason, that’s what an injured heart with a tourniquet around it hears.  Eventually, the wounded heart convinces the mind and spirit it won’t work this time, either.  The terrorized, emotionally-exhausted soul gives up and reverts back to a safe, armored place deep within where no one else can reach to cause that kind of hurt again.

Easter, Resurrection Sunday, was God’s way of reaching down, pulling that guarded, tenuous heart gently to Himself and saying, “You wanna see just how much loving you is worth to ME?  Take a good look at that bloody post half-buried in the courtyard where they laid my Son’s back open for you.  Listen to the jeering, profane screams of defiance and hatred from the crowd and from Hell itself at Him trying to get back up just to carry that crossbeam to where they’d be executing Him. 

     “Take a good look into that centurion’s eyes as he stands there staring up at this Man they’d just killed.  Take a good, long look into Joseph’s borrowed crypt.  It’s the only time-share grave you’ll ever see, because IT’S EMPTY.  Take a good look at who’s right here beside me, standing, holding out scarred arms to you.  It’s the first thing Jesus did when He got back here!  He pointed to you and said, “What about him?  And her?  And that guy over there?  And them?”  THAT’s how much you’re worth to Me!”

I knew better than to begin writing just then.  My own heart was too vulnerable.  No worries; I’d not forget that lesson.  I pulled all my writing stuff together, jotting down what I could recall of those lyrics I hadn’t heard or thought of since a college kid.  Then, as Peggy Sue refilled my mug again, I sat back and read them once again, this time taking them as a private message from God to me.

He was there all the time
He was there all the time
Waiting patiently in line
He was there all the time  

When I grabbed my black bag full of writing stuff and the inevitable book, and walked out of Jimmie’s, I had a smile on my face.  And oddly enough, I was humming the tune as the little electronic dealie on the door went, “DEE-doo.”

© D. Dean Boone, April 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

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