This is going to be one of those entries where I sit down with my computer, get keyboard happy, and draw tenuous connections between lots of largely unrelated things. But that’s not so bad. It means I’ve been thinking lately.
I turn twenty-four on Sunday, and I’ve been remembering that old nursery rhyme I learned growing up about the day you’re born on.
Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child must work for a living,
But the child is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, good and gay.
If we’re getting technical, I’m supposed to be Friday’s child, loving and giving, but I seem to find myself continually in Thursday. I am never enough. Never strong enough, tough enough, brave enough, far enough. Always coming in three steps (or three miles) behind where all my “shoulds” tell me I ought to be. Of course, this has been a hard week at school, not terrible, but full and heavy, so I know I am not alone in this. As Leslie said on Tuesday, “All the news seems to be bad news.”
And last weekend I read Matthew 8, and I wondered. It tells the story of Jesus casting out a legion of demons into a herd of pigs. “And He said to them, ‘Go.’ So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.” When the people in the town hear what has happened, what lengths Christ has gone to to heal two possessed men, they come out to meet him en masse and beg him to leave them alone and never come back.
And I wondered, because I could see the people’s point. They are deeply unsettled by this man who speaks only one syllable, yet who looms over the whole story. He destroys their whole livelihood, sends it racing over a cliff, just to make clean the minds and souls of two outsiders living literally on the edge of death. I sat reading, Thursday’s worn child, asking why he would send away the things which support us, the things which get us closer to far enough. The herd of swine was the daily provision these people had for simply getting to the next step, keeping themselves from falling too far behind. Why let evil destroy it? I was annoyed.
But then, this past Saturday, I went to the funeral of a friend’s uncle who had died suddenly. He was a few months younger than my mom and this was very sad and a little bit frightening, but more than that, throughout the whole service, I was struck by joy. Every person who spoke, though grieved, seemed full of the joy that comes with knowing Jesus, joy that the man they loved was now in his presence. I had met him only once or twice, but found myself so moved by the whole proceeding and it was not until a day or two ago that I realized why.
I look around at all of us and think how far we have to go. The light is a long way down the path we walk, and we know that we are lagging and weak, and our hard-bought income has gone crashing into the sea.
But perhaps we should open our eyes, because he is here before us. Alive even on a Thursday.
The demons are cast out but we, we are not. We are brought in. Love himself died so that you would not have to lose heart on those endless roads of self-sanctification. So turn home to the hands that made you and you will find a good, good Father running to meet you. In the light of his day, you will not care about the pigs.
Heavenly feet pound the earth,
Stones and soil shake,
The mud on my eyes cracks and crumbles,
The shape of you grows,
And fire wraps round your shoulders like love.