Christ Is Closer Than You Think


Yesterday I experienced something that I'm still thinking about deeply.

It was one of those moments when you find yourself so emotional that you wonder where the emotions are coming from, and you don't quite know what to say about why you felt them. 

I tried to chalk it up to the fact that I'm probably holding a lot of my emotions pretty close to the surface lately, and it doesn't take much to get to a place where they come rushing out, and sometimes all at once. 

It's not been uncommon during this whole quarantine season that I've found myself feeling like I'm experiencing sadness, joy and anger all at the same time. 

What caused this flood of emotions?  It was actually something I had written almost fifteen years ago, and then had reworked it into a longer piece about five years later for a blog post on a now defunct blog. 

My dad was cleaning out some things, and found print copies of it that my mom had printed it up, and stored in a box.

She always kept all the things I wrote from the time I was a small boy and wrote silly poems about flowers, bees and the meaning of love to my high school newspapers (I was the editor, by the way), to sermons and newsletter articles I wrote to the various congregations I've served.

I read one of the stories I'd written all those years ago about discovering Jesus presence in the hospital where I was serving as a chaplain, and I couldn't stop blubbering. 

It made me mad, actually.  I hate crying.  I prefer to think of it as just a little bit of my awesome leaking out.  Not crying. Absolutely not. 

Then I read this line that I wrote:
Sometimes heaven seems so close to me that I  almost see it in all its glory.  Sometimes there are moments when I  feel that the world has shifted just a little toward that heaven, the place where the reign of Jesus is already celebrated.  Sometimes the Spirit of Christ fills me so completely that I know nothing else.  Jesus everywhere---close, near, imminent, pushing, pulling, above, below, inside, all around.  
The first thing that went through my mind when I read that paragraph was, "Did I  really write that?"  And then I  started blubbering again. 

There's so much wrong with the world right now.  There's so much pain, so much grief, so much fear and worry, and existential dread.  I've been having far too many conversations with people who are really starting to feel isolated, alone, and even abandoned by God.

And yet, I also sense something else.  There is beauty all around us. 

I see it in my own corner of the world.  There is quiet on the streets that enables me to hear the song of birds, the laughter of children playing in their yard, and the sound of my neighbor who practices piano, playing beautifully for hours at a time.

And there are stories of light and life if I  look for them---and I do.  The Spirit of Christ is everywhere in the middle of all of this... dying, rising, moving us ever closer to a new understanding of what it means to bear the image of God.

It's almost too much to take in sometimes.  The poet Rumi once wrote:
Observe the wonders as they occur around you.Do not claim them.  Feel the artistrymoving through, and be silent.  
Maybe what we need today is to find some space to simply be quiet and still, and to listen intently.  Maybe what we need is to open our eyes a bit wider and lift up our hearts, ready to be transformed. 

Christ is all around us, in us and through us.  There is nothing more we need do than to feel Christ's presence, and to not be afraid of the emotions we feel when we do. 

May you discover the wonders of Christ as they occur around you, and may you feel the artistry of Christ's Spirit in ways that give you hope and joy. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 



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