Snow Poem.

We woke up this morning to over a foot of snow and not the half snow half rain business that has fallen over us this Autumn and early Winter on the Eastern Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, but true, can't call it wintry mix snow. This is the brand of snow that creates crunchy traction beneath your boots,  is pure white and creates a perfectly pervasive silent blanket over everything it touches, and is ideal for the making of snowballs. This is magic making snow. It's beautiful and strange and wonderful. 

Also, it's resulted in a work from home day, which is a minor glory  and means the following things:

Big boots, Big Socks, Big Lattes: coconut milk with caramel and pure dairy with more dairy as it seems I (R) must have descended directly from all the dairy farmers as my tolerance for dairy is absurd.

Whenever it's snowy it's also time for poetry. I guess the silence of the snow creates in me a wanting to be moved by words spaced and parsed out in emotional landscapes. Thus please join me in indulging myself with some midweek winter poetry from Pablo Neruda.

Poem by Pablo Neruda

Image created through A Beautiful Mess 

Troubled Water: A Strange Healing

"For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatesoever disease {s}he had."  King James Version John 5:4

Troubled waters are ominous. They are the children of storms and the action of the moon itself on tidal patterns. Water is unimaginably powerful with the capacity, when troubled, to sweep away whole villages, to consume great ships, and in this particular passage of the Bible: to heal. 

John 5:4 in the King James Version is an interesting passage in that it is not included in other iterations of the Bible (NIV/The Message). My understanding is because there is debate as to whether it was in the original manuscripts that make up the book of John. Fortunately I'm intrigued by Biblical redaction controversy and am not deterred by the questionable nature of this passage and so choose to still believe this to be an important and relevant part of Biblical narrative. 

This passage is embedded in a story about a man, in desperate need of healing, who sits by this pool of water. This man dwells directly by a source of healing for years and does not enter. The story continues and Jesus asks the man if he wishes to be whole and the man says that he has no one to help him get into the water when it is troubled. Jesus then commands that get get up with his mat and walk and the man does. All this is done on the Sabbath in a flagrant and liberating act of sacrilege. 

There is so much to gain from this story: the miracle of direct healing, the idea that when one is called into healing explicitly it can happen, the social question around why, in this society, no one would help this man and what implications it has for us as people now in relation to how we are available to help others or whether we turn a blind eye. However, today I want to talk about the water. 

What sort of changes happened to this divinely troubled pool? Is this a real thing  or just a lot of ancient woo woo? Was there anything real about the healing nature of this troubled water? I'd like to believe so. I'd like to believe that Spirit dwells in life sources like water and that when we walk into them with a desire to heal, we will on some level, receive that healing. Beyond though what physically happened in that water, in that time, for those people, there is a lesson to be learned in this about being troubled. 

In our American greater sub-culture I do not believe we are very comfortable with the state of being troubled. We live in a culture that sells us comfort. There is nothing inherently wrong with feeling comfort. I like to be comfortable as much as the next person. Comfort is, in fact, a great comfort  in this life. However, recently I've been very troubled and I do not think I'm alone in this experience. I've been troubled by the frequency of mass shootings and shootings and maltreatment of people of color. I've been troubled by the highly divisive and disturbing political dialogue around women's bodies, poverty, immigration, the Syrian refugee crisis, climate change/creation care, healthcare, gun control, etc... 

All those wrongs have been part of the world from time immemorial and perhaps it is social media that escalates the frequency with which we are being exposed to this troubling information. It is hard to know what to do or think. It is hard to know if there is a specific action to take, a status to like, a cause to fund, a post to write, a prayer to pray, a cry to let out, a vigil to make. It may sound a bit indulgent given that I have not lost anyone directly in any of the recent violence and my life, by most measures, is very comfortable, but the truest thing I can say is that I am heartbroken. I am troubled, deeply. 

It dawned on me today that the troubled waters in John 5:4 that had the capacity to make anyone who entered them whole has much relevance today. Perhaps we are troubled because we are being asked to become more whole and asked to do the confounding and sacred work of helping our communities and society at large become more whole.

Our individual and societal waters are troubled and we have an opportunity to allow the power of this troubling to move us to the healing that must happen in each of us and the healing that must happen in our communities. Perhaps this healing looks like becoming more kind, becoming reconciled to parts of ourselves that we demean or reconciled to people or people groups that we push away with judgment. Perhaps this healing looks like opening our minds to new ways of treating people across social/political spheres of health and legal access and financial wellness. Perhaps this healing looks like valuing human life more than corporate financial gain. Perhaps it means many other things too, things that are sacred and personal and cannot possibly be captured in a blog post. 

Perhaps we are troubled because we are being asked to heal. Perhaps we are troubled because we've sat by the pool of water for so long, either not allowing ourselves to be troubled or be impacted by troubling things, too afraid to allow this troubling to refine us, and now the magnitude of this troubled water is washing over us. Perhaps to a be a people who are whole, we must be a people who are troubled. Perhaps being troubled is good news.