His lips move. There are no [audible] words.images

This, is not normal.

Not for my very Italian (AKA: genetically loud) grandfather. The bruised,twig like-bruised arms, the stubbly chin or the hospital bed that I see him in are also not normal.  For my whole life  I have seen him looking almost the same each time- moving. Wearing either his old guy Russian type faux fur hat or a Boystown ball cap. And talking. Lots of talking. Loud talking with a strong opinion- about everything from olives to slot machine strategies. Always planning or talking about implementing a project.

Mine, is the McGyver of Grandpa’s. I won’t divulge all of his secret medical tips- but they involve epsom salts and Neosporin. With a side of: if the doctor won’t fix it- I’ll fix it myself.

Instead- my grandpa looks: Sick. Frail. Quiet.

Every once in a while there are glimpses of his “old” self. His hand reaches up to rub his perennially-bald head. Every once in a while they momentarily both rise up and give a lil’ jazz hand signal that was for him- more emphasis and frustration (usually over politics) than jazz. (True fact: if you restrain an Italian’s-hands- we cannot speak. Mouth- hands and minimal brain involvement- that’s how talking works for us. Go ahead  Ask a neurologist. An Italian one. Of course.) We talk.

We think he hears.

We desperately want him to hear.

He holds our hands. We hold his.

He fidgets. He’s uncomfortable. Instead of in punctation to speech—his hands flutter at the sheets- the catheter… the tubes. The wires. I wonder if he’s thinking of a better way to engineer all this stuff with more comfort. He’s probably wishing he had his electronics stuff…. wire harness’ would be handy. Or, maybe electrical tape. I’m sure he is. Somewhere- deep in his brain- he ‘s thinking he could do this better. And we know: he could.

Before our visit ends- my husband asks if it’s ok to pray with him.

Suddenly- His hands quiet. They clasp in prayer. He bows his head. We pray.

He heard.

We know.

Was it autonomic from years spent hearing the invitation to pray and then folding his hands almost automatically? Or was it a real engagement in prayer?

Does it matter? I doubt it.

When I am so sick that no one knows if I can hear- (we all get there- sometimes we come back- sometimes not)  understand- or respond- I want prayer to be so entrenched in my heart, spirit and person- that whether I am cognizant or not—  my spirit prays.

Like my Grandpa. A hero of heart and Spirit.

Roman’s 8:26-27  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

“Dear Lord- so many things to pray for- I can’t list them all— from health to finances, jobs, to babies and stress. God be present- be so entrenched in each of us- that we pray whenever the call to pray arises….. in hospital beds- in waiting rooms, in grief, in living rooms, in dark nights, in mental illness and in bathrooms. (Lord- I’m a mom- you know the shower is my prayer closet. and the Bathroom is as close to a quiet altar as it gets some days.) Whether we physically bow our heads and clasp our hands – or not—– let our Sprits be drawn to prayer. When we’re not? Let your Spirit pray over us. I love you lord- amen.”

“Mom, why is?……”

It happens soon after children start talking. It’s an important part of their development. I call it: “The Question Phase.” (I’m extremely creative like that.  And , I am currently too lazy to Google the appropriate term and too addle brained to remember it. I’m lucky to remember my cell # at this point. ) Anyway- During this phase a child’s only known method of punctuation is: the question mark.

“Why is?  Why does?  What if? When will? Who is? What is? How does? ” The questions pour out with every breath.

Some of the questions are cute… some are awkward. (Noticing the differences between boys and girls often coincides with this phase, thus exponentially increasing parental fun.) Some are downright embarrassing. (Epic embarrasing question upon walking accidentally walking into my backside: ” Mom? Why is your butt so boinky?” )

Fortunately- most are questions parents can easily answer. (Even if Google-fu is involved. Confession: I’m a Google Ninja. The answer to the boinky-butt question? Cupcakes. The end.) And- while the constant drip of questions can be as annoying as a leaky faucet- it can also make a parent feel absolutely brilliant. I admit it: knowing the answers to my kid’s questions makes me feel like a Mommy-Einstein.

At least, it used to.

Until, I stopped being able to answer them.

No- I didn’t suffer a massive brain injury (unless brain farts count as massive brain injury. But, I doubt they do.If so- there would be a lot of middle aged people on disability. Justsayin.) Nor, am I suffering from early onset- well…anything. The truth is-as my kids have matured-(My oldest two are 20 and almost 23)  so have their questions. What used to be simply answered with a quick and sure reply- are now often answered with “I don’t know.” And: “What do you think?”

We now often share the same questions. Questions that can’t be answered easily.  BIG questions.  Questions about: pain, suffering, morality, politics, Old earth, Young Earth, (Middle Earth?) God, Grace,  whether Twinkies will cease to exist and how long the current supply will last-and whether the Mayan’s should have been able to predict their own demise if they knew the world was going to end in 2012.

The truth is: I miss being the go-to for info. I miss having all the answers. Instead of feeling like Mommy-Einstein I feel stupid. and, as my kids ask the same questions I do- I worry about the answers they come up with and the discomfort they will feel when there isn’t a clear answer. But- I’m learning to enjoy the adult- child intimacy and wonder of shared questions.

That is- I enjoy it when I don’t feel afraid. When I was the go-to person- I knew what kind of answers they’d receive. (The right ones- duh.Like every other mom- I’m always right. Of course.) But, now? The truth is- I have less control. I used to be a fact-checker for their lives… and now they do their own fact checking. What if they are: WRONG? (We shall refrain from thinking about all the times I was wrong in answering their questions…. sorry about that- guys.)

This morning, as I prayed about questions and answers and kids…… I found myself feeling sorry. Sorry that I don’t have all the answers. Sorry that I am so inept and limited. Basically- sorry that I don’t know everything.

Which is about the time I remembered- I’m not supposed to.

Every phase of parenting has it’s own challenges of trust- in this phase it’s trusting that God becomes the Go-to for their questions- as He is mine.

And- that where there are no answers found- faith will bridge the gap.

As it should.

Isaiah 55

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Dear Lord- I don’t have all the answers to my [adult] childrens’ questions- the truth is- i don’t have all the answers to my own questions. Help us to always turn to you for answers and help us to turn over to you the unanswered.. in faith and trust. Your ways are not ours- your thoughts are above ours- as it should be. I love you lord- thank you for the incredible children you’ve blessed us with- and thank you for the work you are and will continue to do in each of them- amen

Are you in the “Question phase?” Tell me the questions your kids are currently asking…. I love the way kids think! If you’re in the- sharing questions phase of mothering- how does it make you feel? What are you doing about it? I find myself praying more- this is a good thing;)

The sound was deafening. The crunch, smash and explosions of the collision could be heard through out time and across space.

They still echo today. In our questions….

“If God is loving and full of grace- how can he allow anyone go to hell?”

“If God is just and we all sin…how can anyone o to heaven?”

Are these ideas incongruent?  Is one statement a lie and the other true?  It just doesn’t make sense.

In a world of mathematical “if, then” statements… can both statements be true? What would happen if they were?

I think they are- and I think that seeming conflict, that incongruency and nonsense…. caused a violent collision.

At the corner of justice and grace.

There was no squealing of tires.

There was no ambulance wail announcing his injuries or quietly driving away carrying his body to the morgue.

But there was a sound. One that had never been heard before or since. The sound of God taking on flesh- of justice colliding with grace and causing carnage to his body.

It was brutal. Bloody. Painful. Horrifying. Some wept. Some cheered. All were affected. Many still are. I am.

He was more than mangled. He was:

Alone.

Cast off.

Forgotten.

Abandoned.

Left in a tomb. To rot.

Except, he didn’t.

He could have escaped.

Except, he didn’t.

He could have called down angels to save him….

Except, he didn’t.

The story didn’t end with carnage. Instead- Somehow- the brokeness, the abandonment the pain… transformed. On a Sunday morning 3 days later.

He rose. I don’t know how.

But in that moment- carnage and death and sin and pain were overcome. They became: Freedom. Peace. Love. Joy. Salvation. Forgiveness. Life.

I don’t know how.

I believe that the only way for grace and justice to both exist and both be true- was for them to collide. And become one. Transformed. Then risen.In him.

It wasn’t a collision at a crossroad…it was on a cross. The transformation happened in a tomb…. and over 2000 years later-it happened again, in my heart.

Today- I celebrate the sacrifice that Jesus made, not in a joyful party or in some sick relishing of his pain… but in thanks, for what it accomplished.

I don’t have all the answers. (The truth is I probably have more questions than answers.)  But today- when reading the story of Good Friday and Easter Sunday….I heard the collision’s echoes. Did you?

Dear Lord- I have so many questions….the truth is it doesn’t make sense that you’d take on flesh live perfectly and then die innocently and that would be the final perfect sacrifice that would free us all from sin and pain and death…it doesn’t make sense that Christ would die and then rise again… it sounds like a fairytale. And yet- the sound of that collision still echoes. It echoes in the prophecies that were fulfilled. It echoes in the evidence and the stories…but most of all it echoes in my heart. Where once was just an empty tomb…. but now is life and joy. I love you Lord- and celebrate your sacrifice….thanks is not enough- but it is what I have to give. I love you Lord- amen

For my readers and friends-

Maybe you have questions. Maybe you don’t think this makes sense either. I get it. But today- and through this weekend- as so many celebrate not just the collision- but the fusion of grace and justice….I ask you to listen. Take a few minutes to read the prophecies about The Messiah, and see if and how they were fulfilled. Maybe read the whole story  in the Gospel of John….see if it echoes in your heart…

There is so much more to Easter… than eggs and chocolate….;)

Happy Easter-

And for those who believe differently?  Thank you for grace and patience as I express what I believe… ;)

Also- I have to thank Dan Pratt- one of pastors at our church– for speaking the simple words: Where grace and justice collide…. and inspiring this post…. some words just resonate when we take the risk to share them:)