Category Archives: Exodus

on a good day be in the good

A recent contemplation on Exodus 15…

In the day of prosperity be joyful,
but in the day of adversity consider:
God also hath set the one over against the other,
to the end that man should find nothing after him. Ecclesiastes 7.14 | KJV

Life is a door with two distinct yet connected sides that swings on the hinge of God’s design – and we never know which side of the door we will be facing on a given day or in a given season. That’s the essential take away from this gem from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. Literally the Hebrew reads, “In the day of good be in [the] good; in the day of hardship, hearken (there’s a wonderful play on words here in the Hebrew – “on a day of ra`ah, re’eh” which is more literally “on a day of evil/trouble, look/see”; I use “hardship, hearken” to imitate the rhyme and rhythm of it); the one is firmly hinged to the other by God – so mere humans never know what they’re going to get.”

I suppose we could call it a classic Forrest Gump text – if only we could pick our days and seasons as easily as we can pick out the chocolate we want in a box with a labeled lid.

But the reality is, we can’t. “Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth,” counsels ancient muse. So all we can do is be prepared for one or the other (and sometimes both – at the same time) and then respond appropriately by knowing how to be in the good on a good day, or pausing and pondering on the not-so-good day. Or, as James puts it in his New Testament rendition: “Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone among you cheerful? Let him sing songs.”

Exodus 15 is a good day, and Moses and Miriam led the people in the art of being in the good as they broke into poetic verse and song – with tambourines, no less! We so need to learn how to really be in the good of good times. Our culture tends to respond to both celebration and heartache in the same way: we dull our senses and get plastered with alcohol – which means, if the occasion is celebration, we quickly find the other side of the door with the hangover hard on its heels the next day. And if we’re not getting plastered with alcohol we’re absorbed with anxiety over how long it will last – or even with critiquing greed that there’s no more. Healthy, creative, moment-maximizing ways of being in the good are what we seek. Song, poetry, dance, painting, or simply enjoying the breath of life outdoors – these are solid paths of being in the good. It’s significant that “tambourine” or “timbrel” in Hebrew is “toph” – essentially an instrument you beat with your hand. On a good day, we beat the timbrel; on a bad day, our chest. Both motions are intended to jar and engage our senses, to wake us up to the moment so we can fully be in it.

So here’s today’s challenge: if it’s a good day, be in the good of it.
Give yourself permission to celebrate.
Sing and dance your guts out as you thank the One who made the day and the good in it, and who made you.

And if it’s a day of hardship, hearken,
and then wait for the door of life to swing on that hinge.




Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Exodus, haverings, Old Testament, Uncategorized


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an immense pregnancy

Why not think of God as the one who is coming, who is moving toward us from all eternity, the Future One, culminating fruit of the tree whose leaves we are? What stops you from projecting his birth on times to come and living your life as a painful and beautiful day in the history of an immense pregnancy? Do you not see how all that is happening is ever again a new beginning? And could it not be His Beginning, for to commence is ever in itself a beautiful thing.

Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet, 1903

Rainer Maria Rilke is another of those voices I love to frequent. My friend Katie introduced me to him in the Book of Hours years ago, and he’s spoken to me, blessed me, ever since.

Love these images!

God not simply as one who came, but who is and always will be coming. The Future One.

Ehyeh asher ehyeh.  ehyeh asher ehyeh

I will be that which I will be.

The Divine Name we say little and know less.

Rilke dovetails beautifully with my current readings through Exodus and Galatians. Pulls them together, even as so much of life (and religion!) seems to pull us apart.

A tabernacle and priestly system that ultimately serves practically to enshrine, to codify a God who is Past, rather than making space and pointing to the One who Will Be.

Projecting his birth, and our own, on times to come, on days yet unfolding.

We are all, along with creation, pregnant with an immense pregnancy, aren’t we? True religion, like life, offers no final product with a stamp of authenticity from ages past. It only makes space for our own glimpse, our own grasping of our common, immense pregnancy, the unfolding of our common history, a common life of painful and beautiful days.

Creation groans in the pangs of childbirth and we also inwardly groan as we eagerly wait.

Immense pregnancy!


The redemption of our creaking, cranky, chemoed bodies.

The revealing of the sons and daughters of God.

And we know not yet what we will be.

But we will be.


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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Exodus, Galatians, Movies, Religion


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the long way home

winding road“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them the short way, through the country of the Philistines…he led them through the desert toward the Sea of Reeds.”

This text quite literally tumbled out at me during my reading this week.

I didn’t manage to get out of the way in time.

God did not lead them the short way.

We thrive on short ways, short cuts. Even if it only trims seconds off the journey, we’ll go for it. We detest shortcut_0detours and delays. Get us there quick and get it over with. What moron would choose the long way? Who wants to head out into the desert for a round about tour of nowhere? The Sea of Reeds doesn’t exactly sound like Kauai. We’ll deal with Philistines, bring on the battle, let’s get it over with. Hard and fast beats slow and agonizing any day of the week. And twice on Sunday.

God did not lead them the short way.

He led them into the desert toward the sea in a long and winding path that had Pharaoh and company convinced that they were wandering around confused and lost, “hemmed in by the desert.” I don’t think the people had to fake the confusion. If they could have left indelible marks in the sand along their long and winding road, I’m sure we would see some rather large letters roughly approximating WTH, G-D?

I want to be done with all the effects of chemo.

pathI’m ready to feel again. I’m ready to be done with shrouds and clouds and a foggy brain.

Enough already of port flushings, of scans, of labs, of procedures and billings and waiting rooms.

Enough of having to watch those I love suffering under their own unbearable burdens, their own loads. Enough of tears, of sighs, of pain that simply refuses to leave.

God does not lead us the short way.

They traveled “by stages” as YHWH directed them. So do we.road work

And most of those stages were short on water. And food. And comfort.
Sounds like our journey.

God does not lead us the short way.

It’s reality – unless you are obnoxiously blessed. Which means of course we all hate you. Just saying. We can and do respond with our own scribblings of WTH or even WTF G-D? At least when we are being honest with him and ourselves. But hopefully there is a deeper, more ultimate and intimate inscription left not only by us but within us: I will trust anyway. I will see rejuvenation in each spot of shade, in each trickle of water. And when the current stage lands me in Elim with twelve springs and seventy palm trees, I will breathe deeply, drink slowly, and be thankful for each moment. When the current stage takes me to a dead-end dry rock, I will learn to see Christ even in this hard unyielding surface and look for water to burst from its bowels. When I’m staring into the sterile, bitter pool of Marah (Hebrew “bitter”) I will remember that Jesus (Hebrew “salvation”) was conceived in Mary (like marah, Mary is bitter). Healing is borne in the womb of bitterness.

And it is not a short bearing. Or birth.

We take the long way home.



Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Exodus, musings, Old Testament, Suffering


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