Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Green Pepper Heaven

I carried my morning cup of tea into the backyard early today to drink it in the quiet and relative cool of the day.  My dogs, at least for this morning staying nearby and not clamoring for one of their "let's run away" ventures, wandered around the backyard hoping for new smells.  I heard a slight cracking sound and looked around.  Jake, the very large yellow lab whom I've often described as being quite handsome but remarkably stupid, had broken off a branch of a green pepper plant.  While I watched, he carried the branch to the middle of the yard, a nice comfortable grassy spot with the morning sun dappling through the tree branches.  There, with amazing grace and obvious pleasure, he delicately picked a pepper off the branch and eagerly bit into it.  After finishing the first one, he found several other peppers on that heavily laden branch.  One by one, he consumed each of them. 

Being somewhat overrun with green peppers right now, I didn't mourn the loss at all.  However, I was intrigued by his enjoyment and extreme pleasure in the moment.  He simply received what was made available to him, receiving without guilt or concern about paying it back, or whether there were strings attached to the gift.  He just received it, savored it, and filled his tummy with it.

What I did experience was a moment of real jealousy.  Jealously over this animal's enjoyment of something that was also there for me to enjoy, but I had missed it.  I had come out this morning heavily laden in spirit and troubled in soul.  My time of prayer had not brought me relief.  Why?  Could it be because I didn't just receive it?  Could it have been there, ready for the picking, the savoring, the enjoying? 

Are my worries and burdens legitimate?  Don't I have both a right and responsibility to carry them?  Or, is it possible that I can cast all these cares upon God, and find peace that passes understanding, the peace that only God can give?  The peace that God gives reminds me that I am a part of something grand and glorious, the healing of the world, the cosmos, by the grace and love of God made manifest through Jesus Christ. The kind of peace the world around me tries to provide works from this very different message, "Get enough stuff, make enough money, put enough barriers around you and your own and maybe you can keep the troubles out." 

As I was watching Jake's deep enjoyment (and perhaps he's not quite as unintelligent as I thought!), I kept hearing the words of Jesus that we say today when observing the Lord's Supper:  "Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you."  Take, eat.  Receive.  Take, eat.  The gift has been given.  Take, eat.  Find God's peace in this moment.  Take . . . eat . . .

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