I enjoy reading. I don't always have time to do so. I know what you might be thinking. I can hear you firmly saying to me, "Randy, make time to read. It is good for your development across a multitude of disciplines." Yes, I know. Well, I have been trying to align the reading discipline into a more current stream of action lately.
The other day at a breakfast sponsored by our local bookstore, I was able to get a half dozen free books and I added to that about 4-5 books for purchase. One stood out above the rest. "Wounds Are Where Light Enters" by Walter Wangerin Jr.
(Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI: 2017) ISBN 978-0-310-24005-1 (hardcover)
I have read three short chapters and am already beginning to sense that this book may redirect my ideas about the holy presence of God. I am the big picture kind of person. Give me the bottom line. Show me the mountain top and or the challenge to get there. Let me see beauty and help me avoid the darkness of harsh experiences. i love beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I dislike gray cloudy days that seem to sap one's strength. Don't get me wrong. I am learning to accept and adjust to dark times in my life it's just that I don't readily embrace these.
Wangerin unfolded in the first three chapters the compelling notion that Jesus (God) is probably more welcoming and more visible in dark places than in sunshiney days of laughter and joy. While we adore all the glitz and glamour, God resides more powerfully in the non-descript and mundane. Often, we'll miss God's presence in lowly things all the while gazing at bright and beautiful things
The second story relived the account of Wangerin taking his youngest daughter to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York city. Little Mary no sooner stepped inside the cavernous sanctuary before asking, "Where is Jesus?" Wangerin (daddy) was more interested in the intellectual treasure trove of information he wanted little Mary to know and appreciate. He pointed out the tourists snapping photos and the nuns kneeling in prayer. He mentioned the priests conducting Mass off to the edges of the building and the ornate stained glass windows to which Mary responded, "Where is Jesus?"
Daddy continued to educate his daughter and explained the history of "stations of the cross' and a statue of martyrdom found within. He noted the significance of the poor box that would help feed and clothe homeless people. With some reservation, daddy also pointed out countless homeless people who found warmth and safety in the Cathedral. He continued the educational tour by taking Mary to the "high altar' where only priests would have been allowed to grace with their presence.
There on the steps sat an unkempt street woman. She was dirty, wore old boots and a man's tattered fedora. Her face was disfigured and she leaned to one side probably from some sort of chronic pain or injury. At this, Mary again asked, "Daddy, where is Jesus?" Daddy, ignoring her question, plowed forward in explaining the holy nature of this area and then proceeded to turn Mary toward the gate to exit the "high altar". As they moved forward, the haggard old woman stood in front of them and began to hobble toward the gate as she impeded their progress. Wangerin related how distressed he was having to wait for the woman.
As the feeble street woman approached the poor box, she hesitated and dug deeply into her sweater pocket and pulled out some coins. As she dropped them into the box, Wangerin (daddy) looked at Mary and said, There Mary, there is Jesus."
In my busy day to day living, I often can walk right by images of Jesus when I fail to notice the forlorn person limping across the street. I miss Jesus when my eyes are focused on the gleaming sun shining on a mountain side all the while missing Jesus in the child's dirty fearful face. How many times have I sought Jesus in every place that felt right, holy, and inviting. May I never miss Jesus in those dark places where Jesus is drawn to and ministers.
How about you, do you like to read? If so, I highly recommend this book, "Wounds Are Where Light Enters" by Walter Wangerin Jr. (Friendship Bookstore in the Burnham Commons is the place to get your copy.
"A Musing Pastor"