I’ve got no idea who went ahead and pulled out a Sharpie marker and circled a bunch of dates on the calendar, but there it is, dates with Sharpie ink ringing around them like circling vultures.
Dates for doctor appointments and drop-dead deadlines and dream days that have sort of been lifelines.
My shoulder’s been dislocated like a bad set of scraping tectonic plates all week and I’ve been walking around with soggy ice packs that keep leaking down my back.
“I know why you’re shoulder’s out, Mama,” some clever, grinning kid pipes up at the dinner table as I keep shifting this dripping bag of snow. “It’s cause you keep going around shrugging your shoulders, saying: ‘Who knows?’”
Yeah, kid, let’s go with precisely that.
Who knows what’s coming out of those doctor appointments?
Who knows if things can come together for this dream or that plan or in time to make that date?
Who knows if signatures will happen in time, who knows if people on the other end of phone calls will say yes, who knows if things are just going to up and fall apart and who even knows if… what looks like it’s falling apart —
is actually falling together?
I crawl into bed with a snow bag under my shoulder pressed, this pack that keeps leaving spreading wet circles everywhere like it’s up and relieved itself.
“It’s kinda feels like — our whole life is up in the air.” I whisper it to the Farmer like I’m looking for relief of my own.
“Life’s kinda sorta supposed to be up in the air, isn’t it?” He murmurs it in the dark like he’s turned on a light.
“Yeah—maybe…” I’m chuckling in a melting puddle of icy-shoulder-numbness. “The abundantly good life is supposed to feel kind of up in the air.”
He finds my hand.
Life’s about pulling skin on Jesus on earth — and about pulling out all the stops against the powers of the air.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
The house is a stilled quiet. I can hear the dog breathing out on the mudroom mat.
The real good life is meant to be up in the air — because life’s real battles are being fought up in the air — up in the heavenlies.
There’s a message from our boy: “Can you pray for me? Please?”
There’s a child in a hospital bed who we love with all our heart turning blue because her heart can’t keep going on like this. There’s cancer gnawing away at a mama who bows her head beside us every Sunday morning.
There’s women who I’d bleed for, who look numb and empty and who are going through the brave motions because you’ve just got to do the next thing even when nothing feels like it’s changing anything.
There’s a beautiful world of hurting crazy out there and our brave kids are in the centre of it, and our people are the bloodied wounded because of it, and our dreams and our hopes and our futures and our communities and our countries are hanging in the balance through it, and there is a war in the heavenlies and the man laying beside me is believing that if our lives aren’t up in the air where the battle is, our lives on the ground fail.
The tap’s dripping in the kitchen and I’m listening to the thrum of things.The more indifferent we are to prayer, the less God’s power makes any difference in our lives.
The snow pack’s bleeding cold into the knots of my shoulder.
Prayers makes us slayers.
No weapon is more formidable to slay the dark and the demons, and prayer’s the weapon we wield to make everything else we do survive fire.
She who commits to pray, she goes the narrow way: her prayers circle demons and slay.
So go ahead, let our life be all up in the air. I can hear the wind out in the trees. The night sky’s stretching far above those spruce trees, like a shadowed battlefield.
Do not work so hard for Christ, that you make no time to pray to Christ. He is the lifeblood of all prayer, all work, all being, all communion. There’s moonlight catching the cross on the wall across from the window.
The calendar squares out there in the kitchen say we’re moving toward the third week of Lent.
What had Andrew Murray said? “Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal.
Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”
What of earth do I need to let go of, fast from, sacrifice completely, to reach for what is unseen, to reach for the One more life-giving than air?
I lay there in the night quiet for a long time… resolving, letting go.
Snow’s falling from above the spruce, the wind hissing through the orchard from the north.
I’d heard it once from an old farmer’s wife, how an eagle never takes a snake on the ground. An eagle always tears into the reptile with its talons and flies it into the sky. An eagle knows:
The way to win is to change the battlefield.
It’s from the heights, the eagle flings the snake into the air. A snake has no strength, no power, no way through air. Dashed upon rocks, the snake’s food for the victorious bird. When the battle’s taken to the air, there’s winning on earth.
I exhale in the darkness and I didn’t even know I was holding my breath.Take every battle to the air in prayer — and God will take over your battles on earth.
The Farmer’s already asleep but I almost shrug, say it anyways, say what the universe knows:
“A life up in the air — can be a life up to the best things.”
Out in the orchard, the wind shifts toward the east.
There is a changing of everything —
when breath becomes prayer.
For this year’s lent wreath