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These are just a few of my musings about faith, formation, culture, and life.

 

Filtering by Category: Faith and Doubt

Lent - and the daily-ness of life with God

Jen Michel

It was a good Easter yesterday. Our table was full following our morning church service, and after our guests left, Audrey and I bundled up for a walk in the ravine. As we walked, we talked about the Enneagram, and I tried convincing her that the one, not the four, is the most tortured type. At first, she wanted to disagree, but then she admitted, “I guess that makes sense—because fours enjoy the torment of their melancholy.” We came back to a quiet house, the boys having left with Ryan to play basketball at our local gym, so I picked up the novel I’ve borrowed from the library and stretched out on the couch to read. An hour later, they came home hungry, and I emptied leftovers from the refrigerator for a piecemeal dinner. We played a round of Clue before the twins’ bedtime, and when the day finally drew to a close, I opened my laptop to face the tower of emails I’d let grow over the weekend. I also entertained—briefly—the thought of checking social media.

Since the beginning of Lent, I haven’t visited Facebook or Twitter. This abandonment of social media was, admittedly, an abrupt decision made on the morning of Ash Wednesday after I re-read a small portion of Michelle Van Loon’s book, Moments and DaysShe suggested choosing a fast for Lent with a spiritual goal in mind. “Rather than simply giving up, say chocolate, because you feel you should fast from something at Lent, it might be more helpful to think in terms of an area in your spiritual life that is not flourishing, and focus your Lenten discipline in that area.” Because I’d given up sugar in the New Year for a month, I decided that my Lenten fast wouldn’t be food-related. And even though I didn’t think I had pathological addiction to social media, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it up.

In truth, there was nothing magical about withdrawing from social media for the last six weeks. And maybe that’s one of the lessons I might have gained. The spiritual life is less like wiggling your nose and blinking your eyes into sainthood, even if you do it for forty days straight. Because on the forty-first day, the same choices will lie in front of you. Who are you becoming?

I confess to wanting a once-and-done kind of spiritual life. During Lent, I wanted to fast from social media and be cured of distractibility. In the New Year, I wanted to fast from sugar and be cured of gluttony. But once-and-done doesn’t seem to fit the nature of the project. There’s a lot of plodding with God, a kind of daily-ness that won’t be cheated. The spiritual life is more incremental that we want it to be. God’s grace comes to us like manna. You and I will eat today, but we will wake up hungry tomorrow. We will never be rid of our dependence.

My fast from social media has worked like a cleanse—but now I see that there is yet work on the other side of the deprivation. How might I best engage social media now? What new habits can I form? That question reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Shannan Martin’s Falling Free:“I have so much more for you than your tired, stubborn ways, Shannan.” I think that’s a beautiful way of characterizing the gift of repentance. Repentance is a turning from and a turning toward. We turn from our tired, stubborn ways which are familiar to us and yet decidedly broken in order to then turn toward God. We put off in order to put on. We lay down in order to take up. And while I think Lent has helped me turn from—from the reflex of boredom, from the habits of distraction, from the need for other people’s approval—honestly, I’m not sure what I’m turning toward yet. What does it look like to have a healthier relationship with social media? That’s probably a question I still need to turn over this week, a question I need to have answered, at least partially, before returning to social media.

Because maybe the real reward is in the forty-first day.

Who is welcome here?

Jen Michel

I’ve written in Keeping Place about the part of our church’s liturgy that I appreciate most; it’s when someone stands to pray for the church and for the city. This part of the service is where we talk to God about the grit-and-grind realities of everyday life—in our own congregation but also in Toronto. We pray as part of the work of imagining what it could be like for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Yesterday, my husband, Ryan, was scheduled to pray for the church in the city. In his prayer, he mentioned the recent decision by an Ontario court to force physicians in the province, opposed to physician-assisted death, to provide a referral to their patients despite their conscientious objections. It was a blow to the 4,700 Christian doctors in the province, and as I’ve spoken with some of these doctors in the past, some wonder whether they will continue to be able to practice certain kinds of medicine in Canada in the future. Ryan prayed that these doctors (many in our own congregation) would be given wisdom and courage.

It might not have seemed a very controversial prayer until after the sermon, during the few minutes that are routinely devoted to Q&A. A man from the balcony waved his hand to catch Pastor Dan’s attention. He stood to mention the “young man’s prayer” earlier in the service.

“I personally am very much in favor of physician-assisted death. I think this is a welcome turn in the modern world, and I’m just wondering: What roles do personal politics have to play in the prayers we pray here? And how am I to pray along if I can’t agree?”

When I had met this man, several weeks ago, he was quick to nervously tell me that “I haven’t been to church in more than fifty years.”

It was a moment tense with a great deal of uncertainty—both for him, I’m sure, as well as for us. We waited breathlessly to say what Dan would say.

For those of us who grew up in a pew, we can hardly appreciate the difficulty of walking into a church either for the first time or for the first time in fifty years. Church is a place of so much shared—and implicit—consensus. We share a common vocabulary. We share a familiar understanding of what’s happening during the service. We move in time as if to the beat of some invisible drum. No wonder it’s daunting for people to join us: they feel clumsily out of step.

I think the question remains for those of us who would call ourselves "believers": what does it look like to welcome a “stranger” among us? How do we make our churches places to safely explore the Christian faith?

We have the seeker-model of the 1990’s, of course. That was about neutralizing the physical environment of the church: taking down the cross, for example. Replacing the pews with theater seats, preferably with cup holders. I think we’ve seen the limited effect those changes have had, and I’ve read in recent years that people today (especially younger people) are longing for a more sacred kind of church architecture. As it turns out, we don’t actually want our sanctuaries to look like movie theatres.

What does welcome look like then? I have a feeling it looks more like the moment from our church service yesterday, when a gentleman who hasn’t been to church in fifty years got up the nerve to raise his hand, and with it, an objection. I have the feeling it looks like a pastor answering that question with a great deal of courtesy and theological seriousness. “A wonderful question,” Dan began, “and I’m so glad you’ve asked it.”

“Maybe we could begin by considering the Christians in Nazi Germany who failed to defend the Jews at the time. In hindsight, we can see that their moral ambivalence proved to be the exactly wrong thing needed at the time. They needed the moral courage to land squarely on the side of the Jews. It’s only later, of course, that we can see this.”

“There’s no doubt that following Jesus will often put us on the ‘wrong’ side of our current cultural moment. People in the general culture will draw what they feel to be obvious conclusions, as in the case of PAD, but Christians, because of their theological commitments, won’t draw those same conclusions.”

“We don’t bring personal politics into our prayers so much as our theological commitments. I think it’s appropriate that we can pray as Ryan prayed today, acknowledging, of course, that there will be disagreement among us. Thank you again for what was a very perceptive question.”

There were other brilliant things that Dan said, and by the time he’d finished the answer, the congregation burst into spontaneous applause. “Why are you clapping?” Dan asked sheepishly, turning his attention to communion.

I wasn’t clapping so much because Dan had brilliantly answered that particular man’s question. I was clapping because he’s answered a much more important one:

Who is welcome here?

You, sir.

You, who haven’t been to church in 50 years.

You, who disagree with our theological commitments.

We invite you among us: to raise your objections, to puzzle over faith, and to come—however fitfully— to Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

2017: A Year in Review

Jen Michel

The end of the year is careening to a halt. It’s easy to forego reflection, especially when there is so much cooking and travel and gifts to buy. But because this year’s theme seems to have been the call to plant deeply rather than scattering broadly, I haven’t let myself off the hook entirely from looking back and considering how this last year was spent. I think that’s part of the deeper life I want to be living: not just letting the days drag me along but exerting some resistance to the rush of life. I know the ultimate question in thinking back on the year isn’t, “What have I achieved?” so much as “Who am I becoming?” Importantly, there’s the weighty sense that the only person to whom I ultimately give account is God. Am I, like Jesus, seeking to please him alone?

On the home front, I want to say that marriage is as solid as it has ever been. This is in large part because I’ve married an incredibly solid and stable man. He is so incredibly faithful, so trustworthy, so good. I sometimes wonder: how was it that I had the sense—at 22—to marry him? It’s probably also true that we’ve fought more this year than previous years. But I consider to be, not a worrisome, but healthy sign that some of the tectonic plates are shifting in this marriage of more than twenty years. I think we’re both rejecting unhealthy patterns that we’ve relied on in the past, and I also think we’re getting bolder about articulating what we need and want from each other. We’re growing into a clearer sense of what God is calling each of us to do and how our marriage can be a vital support in these individual callings. Ryan’s life is meetings and people and crisis and travel. My work depends on long, lonely stretches of writing and immersive reading and study. These differences are significant, making it work for both of us to figure out how best to support one another. And yet it’s incredibly gratifying to know that we are both so immensely proud of each other. At Ryan’s work holiday party this year, one of his colleagues drew me aside to specifically mention how Ryan has helped him. “I’m learning so much from him,” he said, detailing some of those lessons. “He’s an incredible leader.” I couldn’t agree more.

In terms of parenting, the kids continue to thrive, even if I have all the normal fears that most of moms share: am I doing enough for them? giving enough of myself? Will they walk with Jesus into their adulthood? I know that Ryan and I don’t ultimately have control over that last piece, but I also know that we want to be as intentional as we can be to love and to teach them well. I remember, years ago, reading a book by Anne Ortlund on parenting, and she said that all good parenting is really about this: becoming who you should be and staying close enough to your children so that they catch it. That resonated with me when the children were little, and it resonates even more now that they’re older. I’m trying to stay close to my children, even though, quite honestly, I don’t always know how to do that well. Sometimes it’s hard to know if I’m being unnecessarily intrusive or appropriately curious. My friend, Wendy, whose children are just a bit older than mine has reassured me that all the “wrong” questions I might be asking now will turn out to be all the “right” questions in just five more years. Oh, I hope that’s true!

In terms of professional work*, in May of this year, I released my second book, Keeping Place. (I can happily report that at one point, it topped the charts of Christian self-help books.) The process of writing this book, if I can be honest, was troubled with lots of self-doubt. I had the wonderful fortune of receiving some notice with my first book, Teach Us to Want. But instead of having that notice reassure me of my ability to do the work, it just left me feeling like the most obvious of impostors. I continually worried, as I wrote the second book, that I would never be able to meet the new expectations that others seemed to have of me. Keeping Place was finally birthed into the world, and while the writing had been so fraught with apprehension, the release—gratefully—wasn’t. InterVarsity Press has been such a wonderful partner in the process of writing these two books (and now the process of writing my third). I’m grateful to be doing this work, which gives me the flexibility I need to be present with my family. I’m grateful that as I write, I learn and grow. As I’ve always said, I write primarily to teach myself. It has also been an unexpected gift that the writing has led to speaking opportunities. I’m grateful for this invigorating part of my otherwise solitary work. This year, I traveled to Dallas, Chicago, Orlando, Edmonton, Princeton, Winnipeg, as well as spoke at local events in Toronto. It’s not easy to leave home, but I do love the chance to meet people, to hear their questions and struggles, and to witness the faithfulness of local church leaders.

This was a year of investing deeply in my own church, which I’ve always said has been important to me. I was part of the team that launched our first women’s Bible study (on the Psalms) and taught on the occasional psalms as well as the psalms of lament. I also helped coordinate a team to publish a special commemorative edition of our arts’ magazine, Imprint. And finally, in November, I helped to plan a large open-house event, which more than 400 people attended, including many who don’t attend our church. Every other week, I debate whether I should be calling up our pastor and asking for a job. But then I remember that I have a job already and that it probably makes the most sense to continue my involvement on a volunteer basis until the Lord leads otherwise. Our family continues to be deeply grateful for this local body of believers, and it was an extra special year in our family/church life because along with several other wonderful men, Ryan was installed as an elder!

Disappointingly, I read less this year than past years. I suppose that having a book chapter to write on an 800+ page book might have had something to do with that, at least in the early part of the year. It might also mean that I have daughters who insist I watch the Great British Baking Show with them. But the truth is that I crowd my life with too many things, let myself say yes too easily, fear disappointing others by saying no. I’m headed into 2018 with the intention of reading more, which isn’t just a vital part of my life as a writer. It’s nourishing to me as a human being.

In terms of the biggest developments of the year, it’s probably most significant that we become permanent Canadian residents this past July, which prompted us to buy a home in Toronto! We moved in November into our new house and are settled for the near-term as we’re hoping to do a renovation/addition before too, too long. All that angst of Keeping Place, finally resolved! Not. This world can’t satisfy our deepest longings for home. Nothing’s as permanent as we want, nothing’s as perfect. And yet, there is still so much housekeeping to be done in everyday life: the embodied, emplaced work of love and witness. Toronto is home, and I am so grateful for the many, many people who enrich our lives here by their friendship. When you wonder at my absence on social media, it’s probably best to remember that I’m trying to be a good neighbor in my family, on my street, in my school community, in my church, in my city.

In reflecting on the year, I opened my journal and turned to the beginning of 2017 (or really, the end of 2016). On December 30th of last year, I was writing some reflections on Psalm 146:

“When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”

“This reminder of mortality,” I wrote, “Mortality—the great obstruction to human plans, ambitions, achievements. The yawning grave, willing to swallow every human life, big, small, rich, poor. Plans perish: only praise persists:”

“I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”

As you celebrate Christmas and enter a new year, may you remember the vapor that life is and choose to spend it well.

*If you’re interested in other work that I did this year, here are some links to articles, interviews, podcasts, etc:

A Story Called Rest, Comment Magazine

3 Ways to Make Your Resolution Stick, The Gospel Coalition

Teach Us to Want: A Conversation (Podcast), The Zeppelin Lounge

One Church’s Story of Resettling a Syrian Refugee Family,The Gospel Coalition

Keeping Place, DVD series

Keeping Place,Audiobook

Keeping Place

Keeping Place (Unpublished Bonus Track), Fathom Mag

The Tamarisk (Everbloom),Paraclete Press

Muddy River, Good Letters Blog

Making Christianity Respectable Again (Book Review): The Gospel Coalition

For the Love of S-Town, Christ and Pop Culture

For the Love of S-Town (Podcast), Christ and Pop Culture

How to Binge Watch Like a Believer (Interview with Andy Crouch), Christianity Today

The Too-Small Story of Home, The Gospel Coalition

The Silence of Suicide, Redbud Writers Guild

Our Homemaker, Who Art in Heaven (Excerpt, Keeping Place): Christianity Today

How Poetry Enhanced My Bible Reading, American Bible Society

No Apology For Nostalgia, First Things

There’s No Place Like Home, The Well

Interview with Ashley Hales, aahales.com

The Longings and Losses of Home (Interview), Fathom Mag

God is a Homemaker Who Does ‘Women’s Work’ (Interview), Christianity Today

Finding a Home That Lasts, elisamorgan.com

Why Homesickeness is Health, The Gospel Coalition

Helping People Become Aware of Their Desires, careleader.org

Thou Shalt Not Bail,Christianity Today

Weinstein, Trump, #metoo,jenpollockmichel.com

Better Than Your Best Life Now (Podcast), The Gospel Coalition

Whose Will Be Done? (Our Secular Age),The Gospel Coalition

Persuasion: Keeping Place (Podcast), Christ and Pop Culture

Minimalism Isn't the Key to ChristmasChristianity Today

Book Endorsements

Making Marriage Beautiful, Dorothy Greco

The Year of Small Things, Sarah Arthur and Erin Wasinger

Long Days of Small Things, Catherine McNiel

Comfort Detox, Erin Straza

The Sound of a Million Dreams, Suanne Camfield

Grieving a Suicide, Al Hsu

Almost There, Bekah DeFelice

Grit and Grace, Caryn Rivadeneira

The Magnificent Story, James Bryan Smith

This Is Our Time, Trevin Wax

The Neighbors Project - and an invitation

jenmichel@me.com

Allen called me back yesterday afternoon, and we spoke for fifteen minutes. “You’re easy to talk to,” he tells me. “And you’re easy to talk to,” I tell him. We agree to meet at the open-house event that our church is hosting this coming Thursday evening, November 16. He promises to bring me samples of his work, and I promise to make time to look at them. In this phone conversation in which I try getting a quote from Allen to hang alongside his portrait for Thursday’s gallery event, Allen describes himself as the “disability photographer” of the neighborhood. He means, of course, the neighborhood into which our church has just moved. This is why I phoned Allen, why we've taken his picture: we’re neighbors of sorts. For the photography exhibit on Thursday, a team of photographers has scattered on local streets throughout the course of many months to meet people just like Allen — to hear their stories, to capture their faces, and to begin practicing the neighbourliness to which Jesus calls his people.

“I am the photographer of the forgotten,” Allen tells me over the phone. “Because I am one of the forgotten.” He describes being hearing impaired, indicates that he has suffered a traumatic brain injury, admits that he is poor. His art, he says, isn’t a passion but “a way of surviving.” I think of the photograph of Allen that will hang in Thursday’s gallery, how it captures Allen the artist: the camera slung around his neck, the keen eyes. (And if bushy eyebrows make for an artist, those, too.) I think, with great gratitude, how good and right it is to hang a portrait of one of the forgotten in the middle of Christ's church.

On Thursday, Grace Toronto Church throws open its doors for a housewarming party of sorts. We’ve come home, as we like to say — found a more permanent place in the city now that we’ve bought and renovated and moved into the 1878 Old St. Andrew’s Church, which stands at the corner of Jarvis and Carlton streets. There would be all kinds of ways to celebrate this memorable occasion, but we’ve chosen to mark it in the way that we think most honors Jesus. We’ve made the event less about ourselves and more about our neighbors. “Neighbor” is, in fact, the word that will hang over the doors to the photo gallery, hopefully calling to mind the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In that famous story Jesus told, the Lord reminds a young man, so eager to get things right, that the Law and the Prophets is summed up into two commands: love God and love your neighbor.

Or maybe I could even put it this way: love God by loving your neighbor.

Just this morning, I found notes from one of our team meeting's back in the spring. Together we had read and reflected on the parable to orient ourselves toward a vision for this event. “What is neighborliness?” we had asked ourselves. We came to words like compassion, care, notice, initiative, costly, attitude and action, thoughtfulness, long-term investment, relational. “What are obstacles to neighborliness?” Desiring to justify ourselves, capacity, time, fear, the unpredictability of the situation.

“He cared close,” we observed of the Samaritan, noticing our own fears for safety and the complicated nature of human pain. We made some attempts at conclusion.

Neighborliness is central to the gospel. We embody how God in Christ acts toward us. We image him in the world. To understand someone else’s brokenness, we have to own our own. We must build common ground, which makes for long-term, sustainable action.

On Thursday, all the prayer and planning, reading and reflection will be realized in a free event, open to church and community friends. We will have a large photo exhibit, which is a response to the question, “Who is my neighbour?” As our Director of Worship and Arts describes in the artistic statement, “Displayed throughout the gallery are images of people from the communities surrounding Old St Andrew’s. In our hyper, quick-paced city, we rarely take the time to see the people around us. The use of larger-than-life format in this display challenges us to stop and look, even to confront our unwillingness to find the beauty and diversity in the people we meet every day.”

In addition to the photo gallery, we will offer guided architectural tours of the historic church building, designed by the famous Toronto architects Langley, Langley and Burke. And finally, there will be a performance of an original adaptation (by Ian Cusson) of Bach Cantata 164, whose text is taken from the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

My Savior, through the radiance of your love, now melt my heart of steel that I, with Christ-like love, may daily strive  to comfort my neighbor in their anguish, whoever they may be, friend or foe, Christian or not, and that I treat his anguish as if it were my own. May my heart be loving, pure and soft, so that in me your likeness might be shown.

As people enter our building, we pray they encounter Christ in the faces of their neighbors. If you’re local, you’re certainly welcome!

Grace Toronto Church 383 Jarvis St. Toronto 7-10pm Concert performances at 7:45pm and 8:45 pm

** As the coordinator of this event, I'd like to credit the book, Slow Church (by John Pattison and Chris Smith), with the inspiration for the Neighbours' project. In their book, Pattison and Smith argue that “we need practices that will reorient our desires to our places.” We should leave off “broad generalities about changing the world” and instead reimagine “in more specific ways the transformation of our own particular places,” (74). This event does this kind of imagining, and I'm grateful for Pattison and Smith's emphasis on rooting ourselves, as churches, deeply in our places.

Housekeeping: And the first sight of miracle

jenmichel@me.com

“Yup . . . yup . . . yup. Now release the wheel. Good. A little bit of gas. Yup.”

This is a transcription of Audrey’s first driving lesson with me. Camille recorded it from the backseat, and I am happy to say that I was uncharacteristically calm and encouraging as Audrey jerked to stops and starts in a nearby neighborhood, which I had specifically chosen for its wider, quieter streets at a remove from Toronto's bustling downtown. Although I had tried insisting it was Ryan’s responsibility to teach our oldest to drive, the reality is also that I am home in the daytime this summer with flexibility in my schedule, and he is not. And as friends reminded me recently, I can’t really send Audrey to driving school next week with absolutely no road experience. So, I am doing my due diligence this week and risking my life (and the lives of our other children, whose smothered giggles from the backseat of the van can also be heard on the video) to teach Audrey how to drive. (If I’m granted permission from said daughter, I’ll see if I can post the video later today on social media.)

Teaching Audrey to drive is just one way I’m keeping place this summer. As many parents know, summer is the season for turning life upside down and shaking out its contents. Without the regular routines of school and with the irregular routines of camp and travel, it becomes difficult to maintain a semblance of order, of predictability, of quiet. Instead, life, in the day-to-day, often feels like a messy pile of gum wrappers, receipts, and pens missing their caps. And admittedly, the quotidian chaos can be frustrating, especially when work and household responsibilities don’t simply disappear because the final bell has rung for the school year and pealed summer. I still have to answer email, still have to keep to some kind of writing schedule for the next book, still have to the big project that I’m leading at church.

It was this ongoing-ness of work, this gum-wrapper, receipt, and cap-less pen life that woke me up yesterday with leaden dread sitting heavily on my chest, mocking my intention to set one word down on paper. And quite honestly, yesterday, dread had it right. Because after more than two hours of waiting in the lobby of Service Canada in the morning (all six of us had to get our SIN numbers, which is the Canadian equivalent to a social security number), the day already felt swallowed up by the housekeeping. And it wasn’t even lunchtime.

I write about the housekeeping in chapter 6 of Keeping Place, and it’s in this chapter where the whole book turns—from considering home in the abstract sense of longing toward home in the more concrete sense of labor. If there was a reason that I needed to write this book, it might be for this chapter and the ones to follow it. Because like you, I can get grumpy about the housekeeping. I feel entitled to life being easier, more convenient, less built on the principles of hassle. But what I’ve come to realize is this: there is no home without the housekeeping. We don’t get any of the comfort and safety, rest and refuge or home without the regular hassles of the work, which is to say: the investment we make in our people and places. (And if you have read Keeping Place, you know I’m not just talking about the nuclear family and our house.) Housekeeping is a way of describing our call to embodied and emplaced service in the world.

Because it’s summer, because life has this gum-wrapper quality to it, because I’ve been immersed in the day-to-day responsibilities of the housekeeping, you might imagine what I noticed as I recently was reading the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in the book of Luke. As Luke 23 concludes, we see Joseph of Arimathea claiming Jesus’ bloody and battered body from Pilate. This is his act of the housekeeping. He takes Jesus’ body down from the cross and wraps it in a shroud before placing it in his family’s tomb (v. 53). And who is there watching this tender act of love? The women, of course. And when they return from this private burial scene, what is the work they take up? The housekeeping, of course. “They returned and prepared spices and ointments,” (v. 56). I imagine this small group, shedding tears into their mortars, letting grief keep rhythm with their pestles. I imagine the motion of their hands as one small source of consolation, one solid promise that the world wasn’t only gum-wrappers and pen-less caps. I imagine their kitchen work, taken up in community, in the dread of the darkest day, and I think of the small comfort it must have been to end up here together, puzzling out what it had all meant that Jesus had breathed his last breath, that the sky had gone dark, that the temple curtain had been torn.

And then Luke 24 opens. The quiet desolation of a Sabbath with a buried Savior has ended, and the women hurry to the tomb with their spices. Did you catch that? It’s the housekeeping that brings them to the sight of miracle. They are the first to the tomb because they are the ones intent on properly embalming Jesus’ body. In other words, the housekeeping isn’t the menial work to get done before the real business of life begins. The housekeeping is the means for seeing Jesus.

And that encourages me. Summer is full of housekeeping, which means I’m not always getting done what feels most important to get done. But isn’t that just my foolish, naive way of seeing the world? Because when life turns upside down and shakes out like crumbs from the bottom of my purse, can’t I choose to believe that Jesus is there, too?

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” the angel asked the women at the tomb. As was true in their case, it’s the housekeeping that can bring me to the sight of miracle.

The housekeeping of camp laundry. The housekeeping of afternoon driving lessons. The housekeeping of lobby waiting. The housekeeping of babysitting a friend’s son and hosting overnight guests.

Summer’s housekeeping, like ground spices, bring me to an empty tomb.