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Monthly Archives: January 2016

a violently gargled grace

chetThis letter encompassing struggle, this violent gargling and gurgling letter chet

…is the first letter of the key Hebrew word for grace.

Chesed.

It’s a word of zeal, passion, and ardor; a word filled with desire to embrace, to protect, not for a moment but for a lifetime. It’s frequently called “covenant love.”

Just don’t sterilize it into a legal transaction.hebrew-mercy-grace

Don’t forget to gargle violently when you say it.

For the first sound of grace is the sound of struggle – and the first sound is the one that’s stressed.
What’s the struggle?
I see mercy and justice squaring off, hands raised in a test of strength.
Which will prevail?
Which will win out?
James answers for us: “Justice will be without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy, but mercy triumphs over justice.”

Mercy wins.

Though I prefer to see this not as a smackdown with justice tapping out.
I hear the violent gargling, the clash of the bottom and top of the Divine throat in conflict, until the clash, making a thorny passage, leads to an open door where mercy and justice kiss, and thus begins the great Divine dance.

And all this, before we even realized it was happening.
Before we were even a breath or a sigh.

Chesed ultimately has everything to do with the triune essence embedded in all of reality, little to do with us, nothing to do with any sensed suitability within or without.

Yes, mercy wins.

Just don’t forget to gargle.

hesed

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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in haverings, Uncategorized

 

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chai there

Chai.

Say it like a guttural “hi.”
In fact, “guttural high” isn’t a bad definition for life.

The letter chet is the agony of a soul torn apart from itself pronounced by a violent gargling at the back of your throat. This is how life starts and how it rolls, this violent gargle of a word. We’d much prefer the smooth, flowing “L” at the beginning of our English equivalent. Our worship tends to be filled with liquid consonants that roll right off the tongue, which is understandable. The violent gargling sounds are barred from our language and our liturgy, typically. We save them for the misery of illness in private. Which leads to a truncated, edited, only partially shared life.

The fully shared life is always a chai life.

And if life in this world is a chai life, then what must eternal life be but an even more deep, more profound violent gargling?

Evangelical culture can be so coy with chai. Just a simple, easy-peasy decision made in a comfortable worshipping womb. Conception, maybe, but not chai.

There’s not nearly enough gargling and gurgling. Not nearly enough mess and blood and cords to be cut.

We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom, says the Apostle. Many pressings. Depressings. Compressings. This, in fact, was his fundamental message to newly conceived souls.

Ah, but that sells so poorly. That’s far too violently guttural for us.

Just give us the easy conception and that liquid “L” that flows ever so effortlessly…

chaimazing

“chaimazing.” found this at teamofmonkeys.com. hoping it’s okay to use, for in picture form it catches what I’m seeing in chai. 

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2016 in haverings, Uncategorized

 

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from wail to wall

I’ve fallen in love again.
With the Hebrew letter Chet (say “hate” with a guttural “ch”).

One of my favs, Lawrence Kushner, observes in his Book of Letters about the letter Chet:

In the Torah, the Chet is written with a sharp jagged notch on its chetforehead.

It is almost as if there were two separate letters barely joined together.
They need each other to stand.
But they wish they did not.
So they barely
touch.

Chet
is the agony of a soul torn apart from itself.

The top of your throat and the bottom of your throat fighting against one another (pronouncing Chet is like violently gargling at the back of your throat.)

Create the sound of the Chet. This is the reason why the Chet yields so many strange and conflicted word pairs.

___________

To this I would add that Chet was originally the picture of a wall. It pictures division, separation, someone on the outside and someone on the inside.

And so, this week some of those strange and conflicted words – the first being the most chaifoundational. Chai (not chai as in chai tea; gargle it. Get all you can out of that guttural Chet). Life.

Yes, life starts with a letter filled with violent gargling. Turbulent vocal chords clashing at the back of the throat, a sound struggling to get out. Life starts with a wail and leads to a wall. But on the other side of it is a hand reaching out. Yes. This is life. Something I can chet to say with guttural passion at times. But there is always a hand reaching out. Reaching forward.

From the wall.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2016 in haverings, Uncategorized

 

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