Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Jesus of Nazareth

Christmas Eve 2020

Torn between competing worlds
I can’t remember when life felt
this precarious on the eve
of Your birthday celebration

Would You understand
if I told You I don’t feel like
celebrating this year?

Instead I want to be in that
stable with Mary and Joseph
Not just because it’s wonderful
But because it’s dangerous

No, I’m not looking for trouble. I’m wondering what it takes to put myself out there at this age. Can I hope for anything but being treated like a little old lady?

Not that I mind being a little old lady. In fact, WordPress makes it as easy as possible for me to speak my mind freely. So do my followers and visitors.

Nonetheless, I wonder what would happen if I said in my large family circle or in my church, straight-out, what I often say here when I’m blogging. I don’t know the answer, though I expect some might be distressed, or try to fix me. Others might pray for me, which is never a bad idea.

I’m no revolutionary. Still, sometimes the effort of putting out just one post lets me know I’ve had a relatively easy life. In addition, I wasn’t given the gift of confidence in my own voice when I was growing up.

Today the stakes are painfully high. We’re caught here together on this planet. It’s Christmas Eve, and too many of our political, social and religious leaders already know the script. The one called “How to Pretend I’m God and You’re Nobody.”

I don’t mean to sound cynical. Instead, it strikes me as miraculous that Jesus of Nazareth was born as a Nobody. The kind who kept getting in the way, until what amounted to a lynch mob tried to take him down. Yes, he died, and yes, the dance goes on.

Praying you have a thoughtful, encouraging Christmas Eve and Day.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 December 2020
Night sky image found at astronomytrek.com

What will become of us?

What will become of us?
Even the Supreme Court
Can’t fix this sickness unto death
Leaking through our doors
Streaming through our apps
Insinuating itself into every
Pore of our nation’s unchecked
Pandemic failure to thrive

Tomorrow the Electoral College
Does its business not once for all
But as an unintended trigger of
Anger, elation, false dreams and fake news
Now available 24/7 on demand
Minus warnings that lies and innuendo
Are more than dangerous to our
Collective health and welfare

This past year has been an exercise in bleakness. Which reminds me that Advent is about despair, fear, unjust rulers and religious leaders, sickness, and sorrow. In the bleak mid-winter.

When I hear people talk about “getting back to normal,” I cringe. Our track record when dealing with the aftermath of national crises, including unjust realities, isn’t great. Even the birth of Jesus of Nazareth didn’t solve everything.

We keep hearing that Covid-19 vaccines will make things better. Perhaps. Nonetheless, I’ll do what I can to support changes that matter for the good. I’ll also celebrate when we manage to get something right and just. It does happen every now and then, along with painful failures.

Between now and the end of this year, I’ll post as I’m able. Praying each of you is taking daily time to rest, meditate, and consider the impact of 2020 on your life and the lives of others.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 December 2020
Image found at christianity.com

Coded language

Coded language
Covers fear lurking
Within contours of life
Under scrutiny
And the ungodly weight
Of being right and
Righteously unrighteous

Does this not become us?
Or are we becoming
The deepest fears
Haunting our dreams

Look in the mirror
Listen to your precious life
It doesn’t last forever
Lay aside childhood fear
Of not fitting in

Sit down and then
Stand up and speak out
On behalf of strangers

Our lives are the test
Not our coded words
Or the colors on flags
We wear and hide behind
In a desperate bid
For approval from our
Latest false gods

I wrote this last week after a particularly unspectacular news cycle filled with rage and vendettas. It isn’t ‘their’ problem. It’s our problem, born of lack of faith and lack of courage.

I applaud public figures who stand up and speak out on behalf of all of us. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could change the atmosphere of our public discourse? However, even if we end up with leaders able to do this, I’m not counting on them.

I’m counting on the little people. People like you and like me. Everyday human beings who aren’t afraid to welcome strangers into their lives. Especially ‘political’ strangers who may include former friends, or family members.

When I look at the life of Jesus of Nazareth, I don’t see a human being who hid behind coded words or political and religious party lines. Nor do I see someone on a great campaign to win votes. After all, in the end all that didn’t matter.

What mattered was his life of truth-telling, compassion and fierce determination to be human, pointing beyond himself to the One who matters above all others. The only One to whom he owed supreme allegiance.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 July 2019

Born to Die


Teach us to number our days;
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12, New International Version

I can’t help thinking these days about a theme in the gospels. Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. Not for political fame or religious adulation, but to die. He seemed to know what it meant to number his days.

Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem
Stubborn and determined
Abrasive and unconventional
Observant and angry
Weary and compassionate
Single-minded and welcoming
With his face set toward Jerusalem
From the beginning
Born to die sooner not later

I’m used to celebrating Jesus’ life and all the good and challenging things he said. I’m not so accustomed to celebrating his dogged, stubborn, insistent daily orientation toward death.

Jesus of Nazareth didn’t just happen to fall into the hands of his political and religious enemies. He knew who would betray him, yet didn’t try to stop him. Instead, he sent his betrayer out to do the deed. He met death straight on. Just as he was. Without machines of warfare, without fame or fortune, and without an army of loyal supporters.

“Teach us to number our days.” It’s a tough standard. I’d rather add to my days. Pretend it won’t happen to me today. Or that I’ll die in the best of circumstances.

We live in a time of global and local upheaval. Everywhere. What does it mean to set our faces toward death? I think it would mean setting our faces differently toward each other and toward nature.

I could sit back and say what will be, will be. The future isn’t mine to see. Still, what does it mean to number my days? And how does this change the way I live in the present, no matter how long it is before I die?

Writing about death (instead of ignoring it) is comforting. It’s also challenging. My hope is that the challenging part will bring more joy, gratitude, empathy and compassion into my life. Not just for myself, but for family members, friends, neighbors and strangers. We’re all in this together, though strangely alone in our deaths.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 April 2019
Photo found at nateholdridge.com

adolescent limbs

adolescent limbs
victims of hit and run gusts
hang bent and broken

***

who picks up the pieces of
this my body broken for you
and you and you –
or drinks wine of bitterness
and death for our losses?

Written following this morning’s walk through my neighborhood park. A young tree once whole was damaged during a windstorm last night. Not just a limb or branch here and there, but at least 1/3 of the tree hung down to the ground, almost totally unhinged from its trunk.

Which led me to ponder victims of other windstorms past and present. And unsung heroes and heroines who, at the cost of their own safety and health, helped and still help others survive in a world gone upside-down.

Plus the once and only Whole Human Being, Jesus of Nazareth, who endured brokenness and death for each of us, and invites us to risk ourselves for the sake of others.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 July 2018

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