The Face Recognition Game

Pretend for a moment that a woman who vaguely resembled Condoleezza Rice had once been in love with the spitting image of a youthful Bill Gates, what if they met years later, at a cafe, perhaps in a train station, people going from here to there in a hurry, what would they say to each other, would they recognize their former selves in the people they had become? Would she touch his face tenderly? Regret the years which came between them? Or would they just pass each other by, as though someone else’s face had been taped hastily across

All they had been together?

You are greatly loved

I have a dear friend who signs notes to me you are greatly loved. Which is cool, right?

On one of my phones I have played with the tag phrase at the end of emails. I am not sure anyone needs to know I have sent this from my iPhone, but perhaps they need a Bible verse, and exhortation of some sort, or to know they are greatly loved?

Sometimes I forget it is there. Sometimes I read it and think this snarky email I am about to send needs to be edited for snark if I truly believe the recipient is greatly loved. Sometimes I acknowledge it but then delete each letter because the mayor or the police chief or the college professor or college president already thinks I am crazy as a loon and annoying and foolish as well.

The phrase itself is not the strongest iteration of the idea. It is in passive voice. The active form is just I love you, which can be the most exposed and committed utterance when rendered true.

When we love someone enough to fight for them

When we intervene on their behalf.

When we are willing to be desperate or look foolish for them.

When we are willing to be misunderstood to keep them safe.

When we go hungry for them

Or give up jobs and honors for them.

Or when we call for help on their behalf.

When we give them our voice because their voice is young or small or taken from them.

They are greatly loved because love demands fierce and extraordinary things.

…..

A few days ago I was in deep mourning thinking about the sheer number of people who have decided that either I was not good enough for love, or worse, that God was not good enough for love.

I cried over this, and opened up YouTube to pray and sing through this grief. Matthew Mole’s You are loved appeared without a search or a place on my history.

God does that. He leaves signs all around us that we are greatly loved. He sends leaves falling over us, pennies shining on the pavement, songs which feel like lullabies, setting and rising suns–all love letters with the same matchless

guarantee–

You are greatly loved.

–John 3:16

Letters for Strangers

What if people (at least four dimensions, mandatorily eternal) could be reduced to letters? You might me a J or a d, I would be the more stolid E, B, or m. But there would be others, people we knew from yesterday or long ago. People like K or even another J or two.

We look for meaning in things like letters, and we are right to do so–meaning is everywhere, the meowing cat left behind to remind us of his master–Living God, whose own call is both fluid and foundational at the same time–living water and corner stones, foundations not washed away by floods.

M asked me how I knew J was gay. I told her an odd story about a single wistful look caught in a rearview mirror–oddest thing always knowing it was you, not me he would have loved.

It did not matter. He was both four dimensional and a parable of letters, sometimes numbers too as he sat in the sun by the pool trying to extract meaning from a single fortune cookie when the inimitable light of the sun through clouds was a painting lit for him by the frickin God of the Universe.

I grew exasperated–Why are you looking for direction from a fortune cookie when His love is right there for the asking? His attention so focused and ransoming?

See so many letters, when you know the real story is much more like a very good doctor doing whatever, whatever he can to save a dying kitten

For love.

Love Will Find You

Voice in your head

Kinda sounds like you but…

Kinder, wiser, more forgiving

Bright penny on the ground

In the most unlikely places

A posse of leaves long wrung from living limbs

Dance, alive in the winter wind

Sing your name

No matter 

A big impossible 

Promise unless it is Truth

Kind that sets a body free

Not unlike those ephemeral leaves

Dry bones

Bits of things found

In the unlikeliest places

Love will find you

No matter what.

“There’s no base!”

“there’s no base!” 

Exclaimed the girl–green shirt, tiny dog resembling a toy…

only real in the crook of her arm

And suddenly I get atheism–

Darwin shouts in the  schoolyard– 

no base!

And unhinging the game from…

well, base-

Another name for

The trunk of the branching oak

we rest beneath

breathing hard

before someone says

One, two, three, get off my father’s apple tree

Not to be confused with 

That one inimitable player who says

One, two, three, base all over me

And somehow, miraculously

Means it.

The Distance Between Us

Bet everybody loves a good

love story 

Boy meets girl or something…

Only that is not enough

You once asked me if there were monkey bars that went all around the world

Could you do it?

I could do the math

24,901 miles around

Oddly specific last mile the hardest

Arms tired by the miles of 

Arm-swing-leg-swing-hang repeat

131,477,280 bars

Feet

Hands and arms so tired

After an eternal day in the sun

The girl is such an ordinary thing

But the boy is one-of-a-kind

Worth looking for

The man who could, would, did and shall

Make this love story

Luminous.

The unconditional lullaby

i will stay with you forever

No matter what you

say or do

I will see you as a baby

Despite your sin and stink or view

I will never bring up “maybe”

When you ask me if I do

Love you here forever

When you have squandered like a fool

All the treasure I have never

Ceased to give to you

No act of yours can sever

The strength of love renewed

Dearest heart, eternal child

My one and always you.