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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Hem of God

  Chaim lay in a hovel of sticks by the wall near the square. It was just around the corner so that the children would not abuse him. He had once been a shepherd in the hills outside the city. One day while retrieving a stray he had slipped and fallen hard onto a rock. Lying there watching the scudding clouds on a blue canvas of sky he had been overwhelmed with anxiety.

  They had found him there and taken him to a physician who could not help him. Knowing nothing else to do they had taken him outside the city wall, given him some bread and a skin of water and left him there.

  Eventually he had pulled his useless legs along until arriving here at the busy square where he could beg. There was less wind and dust and he had found this hovel. They told him that another crippled beggar  had been found dead there. The body had been buried outside the city.

  Today there was a fever in the air. A rabbi was coming. He claimed to be the Son of God. It was told that he had performed miracles of healing throughout the land. Was this truly the Messiah? Chaim could only query, “What God would have brought  so low?” What could the son of such a God do for him?

 He lay there as the rain reached her cold fingers inside his rags. It ran down his sides until it reached the places where he could feel it no more. He wept into the rain for he was lost and could not find his way. Then in a flash of lightning, shadows exposed,  he knew what he must do.

  Since there had been reports of miracles, he would crawl to the rabbi and ask him to restore his legs so that he might walk again. Dawn broke and the crowds gathered murmuring among themselves. The rabbi came. Chaim pulled himself along through the mud and stone. His neck ached from looking up at the legs and robes, struggling to find his way to the center.

 Some moved to allow his tedious passage, others trod upon his fingers and kicked his ribs but he persevered until he saw Him. He gazed upon this man who claimed to be the Son of God and once again he began to weep. No longer did he weep in self-pity though. He wept for joy because he could see the face of truth.

  He had come to be given his legs. Instead he had found his soul in the eyes of the Savior and he did not need to walk anymore. As the Messiah passed Chaim reached out to touch him craning his neck, extending his body until he could feel the coarse cloth of the rabbi’s simple robe.

  As the crowd surged a sharp pain flashed from his ankle where someone trod. He jumped to his feet to avoid being trampled. That’s when he heard the gasps as others began to murmur, then shout …

 “The cripple walks. It is a miracle.”

  Then he knew. He had wanted to stand like the man he had once been yet at the sight of the Savior, he had surrendered to his plight. In that moment he had been lifted by faith to stand new before God. Hearing their shouts the rabbi glanced back. Chaim looked into His eyes and wept no more.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Father's Battle

   August 2011 my youngest son was diagnosed with bone cancer. So began a journey into another world.

  Upon arriving home from work, his mother and I stood in the large master bath of our home with the door closed trying to digest what was happening. I’ll always remember stepping to the mirror and looking into my reddened eyes. There stood a pitiable creature. There stood a man powerless to protect his family. There stood a man unable to be a man.  Then I told the tear-stained face, “The fight begins here.” We held each other for a few moments then parted. Each had to gird for battle in their own way.

  The next year was a blur of hospital rooms and “IV s”. Our son wasted away before our eyes as we ministered to him as best we could. We were at war with an enemy that would not come out and face us. It lived in him, a parasite on our lives destroying its “host of innocence.” The “pump of paradox” droned on endlessly delivering the poison that ate away his body in the hope of killing the cancer without killing him. I have since written often of this young warrior that is our son.
  Today though, I would like to speak of the fathers. I want you for just a moment to look into the mirror at the pitiable face that ultimately walks the halls of a world that has no place for him.

  When at the children’s hospital I would speak to my fellows. We were like ghosts haunting the fringes of reality. Each day we marched into the world of pain and grief with our bags of hope, days work behind us, to be with our children.

   We were men who could not fight, warriors whose swords slashed at air. Powerlessly weeping in closets of sadness we would rise and go to the foot of their beds to watch them fitfully sleep in a balled up stupor.

  Having gone to sea as a youth, I know the vast emptiness of an ocean. Yet that ocean breathed. This sea of doubt only suffocates courage until what remains is a robot of determined love.

  I tell you this only to shine a light on those invisible men lying there in the dark listening to the chemo pump.  I want to tell them that they are not alone. I need them to know that I see them there and I love them each and every one.

  Things may not be ok but no matter what happens, we will endure. We will be there like the fathers before us for time eternal because in the end it is simply where we belong.

  For now things are better. His hair has grown back and he goes to school. He attends parties, laughs and has rejoined his fellows. Often though,  in the photos his mother is always taking of the children and I see his fatigue.

  This is not a battle that ends. We march onward into time knowing that each moment is a gift. Each day the fathers gird for a battle that they cannot win. Each day they listen to the God they deem Holy and hope … hope for new beginnings. Hope … for all the children and all the days ahead.