Tuesday, August 21, 2012

compassion: he remembers that we are dust.


It was one of those mornings with my children.  Chris was leading the music at church Sunday and I stayed home since Jubilee was miserable, with coughing and fever.  We didn't have the most enjoyable time - Safran didn't seem to understand that Jubilee needed me more than he did, that I could not give him everything that he desired of me right when he wanted it.  I did my best, I wore Jubee on my back as much as she would let me, I tried to help her sleep alone (didn't really happen) but my sometimes empathetic child seemed to throw off any hints of compassion for his sister - the louder she cried, the louder he demanded. 

He followed me around, asking for cups of water (without lids, with [broken] promises of 'no big mess'), pictures of robots drawn although he wanted every pen or crayon that I tried to use, different foods in bowls that were dumped in his lap or dropped on the floor.  It was that kind of morning.  He's 2.  But I was still frustrated with him.


At one point I said, very rhetorically and under my breath, "What else do you want from me??".  He didn't miss a beat:  "The ipad!"


I started giggling and he looked surprised (I don't think he was joking) and then joined.  The tension was broken, unexpected humour built a bridge we could both cross and be reconciled.


I'm pretty sure that most of the time from God's perspective of the whole world I am that demanding toddler when there are sick babies everywhere.   I grumble about things that would be luxuries to most of the world, I hold on to small offenses when I've been forgiven of much greater, I pity myself far too often.  And I'm not 2. 


But the compassion of God is so great, so capable of "suffering-with", so without judgement and ranking and comparing and criticizing.   There is always a call to maturity, to produce the fruit of God's essence in our lives, to seek God's kingdom re-ordering in the world, to do justice, love mercy and keep walking forward.  But, as it's written in Psalm 103:



He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.

Sometimes when I need more compassion for my son I remember his birth.  I imagine his little body all plugged in and on ice, how I wasn't even allowed to hold him in his first 30 hours outside of his safest place.  When I re-call my fragile baby back then, my heart and arms draw my (sometimes defiant) two year old closer.  

Maybe God does the same for us, thinks way, way back to our collective birth story, to how He knelt down, knees in the dust and scooped us up from the uncorrupted dirt, formed us in God's very image and breathed life into the first of us so powerful that it would continue to this very moment.  Even in our raging, our destruction of each other and beloved creation, even in our hatred and violence, our racism and greed, God looks on us, squints those fiery love-eyes and remembers how we began, remembers that we are made from dust.  And that other-wordly compassion is stirred again.  


He remembers that we are dust.


Bless the Lord oh my Soul.

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