by - March 17, 2011

The rubble fell around what used to be a federal building in Oklahoma City, and a firstborn exploded from my body. I heard the news:  it's a boy! It was a bomb! And I bled too long, my body depleted. Even two weeks later, I faint with low blood counts. A city tries to recover; the new mom, too. A nation grieves, but the mom is preoccupied with infancy and fatigue, until finally, when the six-month commemoration airs on TV, she rocks and sobs and is blown to pieces at the magnitude of tragedy that she didn't absorb at the onset. And she begins wondering why.

A storm rages. Katrina traps cities of people on second floors and roofs and in attics. When all manner of people are searching desperately for higher ground, one storm-raged woman is desperate to go lower, to bend the knee, finally driven to unabated search for the eye of the storm: El Roi, the one who sees. It took 30-foot storm surge to sweep her off her life-weary feet. She doesn't seek rescue or safety, but forgiveness and soul rest, because Katrina can be weathered but the hurricane of the heart cannot. And the woman -- Mom -- finds faith in the storm.

Uncle Mickey's home, gutted by Katrina, where Mom knelt to pray on the soggy second floor.

The earth quakes. A nation shakes, and is splashed fierce by the water that God, in his long ago wisdom, separated from the dry land. All the while, an American across the globe drives deep down the support beams of life to secure a foundation because she doesn't want to quake when life shakes. She's both reading and counting (her own) One Thousand Gifts. And when countless thousands of human life gift are swept away, faith shakes.  Questions gnaw at the innards like a hunger Red Cross tries to fill, and answers snap in a sudden, crumbled heap. Nothing looks the same, no landmark remains, and there is no point of reference to find true north. A tsunami leaves behind a deep sea of sad suffering and sorrow. Yet in the midst of another horrific disaster, she finds a cornerstone. It's a dare to live fully, right where she is: dumbfounded, yet again, before incomprehensible tragedy and destruction.

All that's left of my childhood home one month after Katrina
She reads it like a compass:
He gave us Jesus. Jesus! ... Need there be anything more? If God didn't withhold from us his very own Son, will God withhold anything we need?

If trust must be earned, hasn't God unequivocally earned our trust with the bark on the raw wounds, the thorns pressed into the brow, and your name on the cracked lips? ...

It is safe to trust. ...

There are moments that as sure as I bruise don't feel like good things have been given. ... And I've an inkling that there are times when we need to drive a long, long distance, before we can look back and see God's back in the rearview mirror.

Maybe sometimes about as far as heaven...that kind of distance. ...

Until Home and Promised Land and complete clarity, I'm a wanderer eating manna, eating mystery. For really, as long as I live, travel, is there really ever anything else to eat? I either take the "what is it?" manna with thanks, eat the mystery of the moment with trust, and am nourished another day--or refuse it...and die.  (excerpted from One Thousand Gifts Chapter 8)

Only manna satisfies the gnaw of the questions and pieces back together the mysterious answer. It's the mystery that rescues suffering souls. Christ in you, the manna, the trusting soul that aches in the face of foundation-shaking and a tearing all the way to the core to reveal the foundation firm: they are altogether mystery. His inviting, infinite love hides tightly packaged in his utter, awe-inspiring holiness.

Harbor House Seafood Restaurant's steel beams collapsed under Katrina's splash

And Mom got it right by following her instinctive infancy in Christ. She knew that while she needed rescue, what she needed most was faith.  All that's left to do is stand on the Rock, knees knocking in the after-shock, and pray down manna for Japan.

Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so.  God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.

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  1. In the back of my mind I remember a quick snippet of a conversation I had with Mike the day Adrian was born and the Oklahoma City Bombing occurred, about being forever tied to that day.

  2. Beautiful timely post for these shakey days we are living in. I sat a home with a baby in my lap the day of the Oklahoma City Bombing. The world changes and lurches but Jesus remains the same ...yesterday, today, forever!


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