Something that caught my eye (when GSHJ came on our dogwalk that day) was this tree and “stretch marks” of a different kind. A very slow but inevitable “bursting out”. A tree unable to hold life in. A tree with life pushing outwards. A pulsating power within – both in and of the tree – in and of its real world.
I have seen a tree sliced and diced.
It has rings. It has sap. It has roots. It has a pale inner skin. It has branches. It has a stump. What you see above ground is what you don’t see below ground. I am no tree expert but I have been around trees. I know trees. I used to climb trees. I fell out of a tree once. I found out what “winded” really feels like that day. I have walked the woods for years with dogs. In really windy weather we keep clear. I know trees. Not their names – not the Latin – not the techie stuff. And I know what it looks like when woods are “managed”. It looks unnatural.
Just like this image:
This image of fear.
Of what lies beyond. Or doesn’t. Of a world that is spiritual not physical. That is so intimate no one can you give you (or me) a map. It is a journey. It is a step of faith. It is scary.
At least it was.
Just like any new journey. That first step. The one Christians believe they have already made and don’t need to take again. The step of being saved. Except there is another doorway – and other step. There are many doors and many first steps. Not real doorways. But real “things that go bump in the night” doorways. The (not) “real” that paralyses in the dark and silence of night. When spirits walk. When monsters are below your bed. When putting your feet on the floor brings on the sweats …
That “not real”.
The (not) real that our dad used to “shoo” from our cupboards, our nooks and crannies, our dark shadows, from under our beds. Because they were real monsters. They were in our bedrooms – and only dad had the power to shoo them away so we could sleep safely each night. But if we woke up in the middle of the night – in the dark and silence – no dad to scare them away – when we were on our own – just me and the monsters under my bed ..
They were real.
I get asked if Jesus and God are real. Do I believe that Jesus was a real person as described in the bible, the gospels, the new testament. And was God the God described in the Old Testament, of the creation, the whole universe and time itself. That kind of real – a “tree” kind of real.
This kind of real:
Actual, literal, physical, exactly as described in the bible. That kind of “belief”. That kind of “real”.
That question used to scare me. I never had an answer.
Because if I said “yes” what followed was “belief” carnage and proof and evidence and science and physical and literal disbelief.
And if I said “no” then I was denying my God Soft Hands Jesus just like Peter three times over. And was subjected to scorn and disbelief – and guilt of being seen to be a fraud.
That kind of belief carnage.
No longer fear.
This is the “Soft Hands” of my God Soft Hands Jesus.
Hands imagery that were so soft as daggers of iron smashed through flesh.
This is the “God Jesus” of my God Soft Hands Jesus.
A pencil sketch. An image. One image. My image. My friend.
My constant companion. My life within that ever bursts outwards. We walk together “he” and I. We talk together. We laugh together. “He” is not scary. “He” is not the night terrors. “He” is not “things that go bump in the night”. And “he” is not physical either.
Not “literal” as written, as taught, as recorded “word for word” in the bible.
Nor is “God”. Or “creation”. Or “the universe”.
But I know monsters and I know love. I know terror and I know safety. I know kindness.
If you dissect me you will find “rings of learning”. You will find love seeping up. You will find more below the surface than I can ever type in words for you to read.
But most of all you will find no fear
Because I have chosen our unconditional love.