Monday, January 17, 2011

Being Stretched to the Limit

It's interesting to me that no one commented on the last post.  Is it too, startling, I wonder, to see how much we have to accommodate all at once?   To know that the person leading your worship on Sunday is offering the Prayers of the People or preaching the sermon while she is thinking about her own terrible loss?

It's been something of a dramatic week-end.  On the outside: dog vanished in the night and rescued by a stranger subsequently discovered to be a church member, and the need to lead worship after having spent an hour tromping around in the snow late the previous night, temperature maybe 20, looking for said canine escapee.  On the inside: lengthy online discussion with other mothers about those last moments and subsequent days.  One of us lost her daughter to cancer; she died in her mother's arms, surrounded by those she loved.  Three of us lost our children suddenly and unexpectedly when they were far from home, and those first hours and days were filled will frantic efforts by parents overwhelmed by shock to get to them, or to get them to us.

"I need you to get my son home," I said to the funeral director at 7:00 in the morning.  "All I have is the phone number of a detective in Chicago.  I need you to find out where he is and bring. him. back."

Somehow, this post this morning seemed extremely relevant.  I think that the four of us mothers, all of us living out various forms of ministry, feel, yes ~ rather stretched.  I suppose we are not optimistic about having reached the limit.


Something to think about ~ The entire life of a good Christian is an exercise in holy desire. You do not see what you long for, but the very act of desiring prepares you, so that when God comes you may see and be utterly satisfied.

Suppose you are going to fill some holder or container, and you know you will be given a large amount. Then you set about stretching your sack or wineskin or whatever it is. Why? Because you know the quantity you will have to put in it, and your eyes tell you there is not enough room. By stretching it, therefore, you increase the capacity of the sack, and this is how God deals with us. Simply by making us wait God increases our desire, which in turn enlarges the capacity of our soul, making it able to receive what is to be given to us.

~ St. Augustine
Homily on the first letter of John


  1. I read and I find I have nothing to say that adds. I feel and yet cannot find the right words. I want to listen and yet I know that yours is a world I do not share. I am grateful that you are willing to open that world to me. I am grateful for the grace you have. I am sorry that Josh is gone.

  2. Waiting = stretching = enlarging. Yes, I think that's very true. I have watched you, too, somehow being "large" enough for all that you carry, which is a lot. Somehow it's happening and that's a grace and a mercy.

  3. Years and years ago I wrote a sermon from the point of view of the older brother in the "Prodigal Son" parable. Near the end, he says, "Oh my father… your heart is so deep, so wide! Is that because it has been broken? Can a broken heart love all the more? Then let my heart stop its straining and break so that I too might come into the fold of your love again. Can I come in? Can I let my heart break once and for all so that I too can yield to love?"

    I don't know whether it really connects with the image from Augustine, but I sense that it might-- the mighty strain and finally being cracked open.

    Like Joan, I know this is a world I don't share, but I'm grateful for your willingness to continue to write about it so that I/ we might understand a little. Love to you.

  4. Stretched - yes, very much so. Thankful for all that has been given, sad that so much is gone, still in love with Him, by His grace.