Pressing in on Heaven (Dum vivimus, vivamus.)

It’s a glorious early July morning, unusually cool for the month. There’s a meadowlark sweetly singing a symphony overhead. I’m humming “All Creatures of our God and King” quietly under my breath. And I’m well and truly stuck deep in the embrace of a blackberry bramble, the result of reaching for the plumpest, blackest, (I’m sure) sweetest blackberry just beyond my grasp over the barbed wire fence. That’s what I get for being greedy for heaven.

I wish I could explain the longing in my heart for home. Do you feel it too? How I wish it was not always just out of reach. And right now, how I wish getting through to it were not quiet so thorny. This is our lot. Thorns. And a glimpse of heaven over the fence. Sigh.

I learned some things this morning in the briar patch. I learned that in order to get to the heart of the bush, where fruit is tucked up in the shady spots under the leaves, you can’t wriggle your way in. You can’t jerk and jab. There is nothing quick about attaining that prize. You have to p  r  e  s  s  in slowly, committing your whole self to the effort, keeping your eye on the twig clasping your reward, as you carefully, deliberately lean in and reach out to claim it. 

I learned that in the success there is pain. Even now I can glance down at the scars of this morning’s efforts on my knuckles: the purple juice staining my finger tips, the microscopic pricklers protruding from my skin, the deep red trenches cut through my flesh by a shrub determined to keep me out. OUT! But…there was…that…one…way up…there… and I wanted it.

So now here I am. Caught. Because I over reached. Heaven wasn’t mine to have today and when the pain came, I sought a hasty retreat. But there is no haste here. Not in coming. Not in going. And now I’m snared in each direction – thorns grabbing this way and thorns holding fast in the other. My feet are tangled in the low branches, my ankles exposed to the brutality. Even my hat is ensnared in the branches above…those holding my prize. I’m awaiting rescue. And while I wait, the meadowlark sings on, and the sun shines a dapple dance around me, and the breeze teases my face, and I’m holding in my hands a bowl of the most blessed fruit God ever grew. And for today, it is enough. It will be enough. I will be satisfied with all God offers in this one day. All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voice and with us sing, Oh, praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia. (Insert meadowlark harmony here.)

(Grieving with the friends of my youth the death of one of our own, Marc, who suddenly and without warning pressed on through the veil and left us behind in this thorny place. Dum vivimus, vivamus – While we live, let us live.)