There is no better word to describe life but a Holy Wild (a name of the book written by Mark Buchanan which I am currently reading). In his words, “Life in a holy wild is a life, drunk to the lees, lived to the hilt, is like – life where we walk with the God who is surprising, dangerous, mysterious, alongside us though we fail to recognize Him, then disappearing the minute we do. It is the terrain where God doesn’t always make sense of our sad or bland lives, our calamities and banalities, but who keeps meeting us in the thick and think of those lives.” I am well aware He is constantly moving in those moments, showing up in His grandeur manner, addressing me authoriatively and also lovingly, exiting in a blink of an eye. This is Aslan Mr. C.S. Lewis was referring to.
Mr. Beaver, in response to Lucy’s question of whether the great lion Aslan is “quite safe”, explodes, “Safe? Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But He Is Good.”
Yesterday I was out of myself for a good few hours. Emotional and disturbed on the outside, yet joyous and riotous inside. I walked out of my intensive 45 minutes of kickboxing class, heart was pumping oxygen in a rhythm that I felt so alive and SAFE!! I bought myself a bagel with swiss cheese and tomato and walked back to the office. Right at the entrance of my office building, a woman extended her hand to me,
“Excuse me, do you have any spare change?”
I had a split second to choose whether I should walk away or stop. My feet didn’t move, so I guess before my head agreed, my heart already stopped my feet. “Sure,” I said, “Hang on a second!” I was trying to fishrod my wallet hidden underneath my piles of dirty gym clothes.
“I am sorry to bother you,” she said.
“No, no sorry, don’t say sorry.”
Looking at her fingernails, looking at her eyes, looking at her face, looking at her shoes, I asked,
“Are you okay?”
“Are you hungry?”
“Uh .. yeah!” with her eyes looking down to the pavement.
“Would you like a bagel? Do you like bagel with swiss cheese and tomato? It’s still warm!”
Hesitated looking at me, “…. but don’t you want it yourself, too?”
“It’s okay, I can buy another one.” (I regret of saying this almost instantly)
“I am sorry, so sorry,” she said.
“No, no, no, don’t say sorry, are you okay?”
I handed her 8 quarters (that’s all I have), placed them carefully on her dusty left hand.
“Thank you very much,” she said.
I saw her walking away slowly … and she was walking slowly away.
I find myself tearing up sitting in my office. Nerve-struck. Frozen. A well of emotion gushing out … I find myself praying for her, I find myself registering her face in my memory, I find myself not wanting to let go of her face with regret saying “I can buy another one again.” I find myself waiting for Paul to come out from his meeting so he could chat with me, to steady my shakiness.
Yes, I can buy another bagel, which I did, but she probably cannot. I pray that this is not just the end of an encounter, but just the beginning. As I went to another Tim Horton and bought myself another bagel with tomato and swiss cheese (again!), as I enjoyed every biteful of the bread, my stomach tightened to a knot. I realized somewhere down on the street, this young woman was also sharing this very same meal with me, the same combination of sesame seed bagel, toasted with butter, with tomato and swiss cheese. I thought out loud to myself and also typed this out to Paul and asked,”Does it mean that we are breaking bread together? Are we in communion bonded by the love that is from the Lord? Does it mean “koinonia with one another?” When one asked, “Who is my neighbour?”. This is the answer. She is my neighbour.
My Lord Jesus saw her and plugged me out of nowhere and placed me in front of her. The entire Bay Street was fading away, motionless. The Spirit was rioting in me and I heard, “Jessika, what are you going to do about it? You can choose to walk away, but you can never say you did not know. You can choose to walk away, but you can never say you did not see her.” Will you come join me to bind up the broken wound and broken hearted?
My Lord Jesus said, “You do it in remembrance of me!”
This young woman was receiving, without knowing, an invitation from Him to come to His banquet table. This thought stuttered me like an earthquake, how could my God would welcome me into this great mystery? Without me knowing it, He is also using this simple bagel to invite her saying “eat this bread, take this wine”. Now the simple be made divine for any to receive. Indeed by His mercy, every trial we face, none too lost to be saved. None too broken or ashamed. All are welcome in this place. He died to destroy our death. He arise to restore our lives. This is a simple yet divine invitation that I find myself re-receiving again by sharing that bagel with her. Through such a simple yet divine moment, I pray that she will feel this is more than a bagel in starch and glucose, but an invitation from the King of all kings to those who are thirsty and who are weak to come to the fountain, dip her heart in the streams of life. Let her pain and sorrow be washed away in the waves of His mercy. Let the deep cries out to deep. That indeed my deep is crying out to hers as I remember this simple yet divine invitation. There are people walking on the street, extending their hands asking for spare change, there are people also extending their hearts handing out not only spare change and bagel but the love of Jesus’ ragingly and wildly seeking out the lost and the hungry and the naked!!!
My Lord Jesus was calling out to me yesterday. The Great Lion Aslan stood right there, watching me, waiting for my response.
In the Narnia adventure The Silver Chair, a haughty girl named Jill Pole lands in Narnia with Eustace Scrubb – once a spoiled and whiny child who, in an earlier visit to Narnia, experienced an agonizing but transforming encounter with Aslan. Jill gets into a tussle with Eustace at a cliff’s edge, and she ends up pushing him off. As Eustace falls, Aslan rushes up and blows a huge stream of breath to catch Eustace and , magic-carpet like, carry him far, far away, to safety – and to danger.
Jill grows thirsty. She can hear from within the forest the sound of a stream. Her thirst finally drives her to seek the source of this sound. She proceeds cautiously, afraid. She soon discovers the stream but is paralyzed by what she sees there: Aslan, huge and golden, still as a statue but terribly alive, sitting beside the water. She waits for a long time, wrestling with her thoughts, hoping he will go away. Aslan finally speaks: “If you are thirsty, you may drink.” Jill is startled by this and holds back.
“Are you thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I am dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I – could I – would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And just as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her near frantic.
“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I come?”
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings, and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion.
It didnt’ say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, p.26-7
See his body, his blood
Know that he has overcome
Every trial we will face
None too lost to be saved
None too broken or ashamed
All are welcome in this place.
Lord, we remember You,
And remembrance leads us to worship
And as we worship You,
Our worship leads to communion
We respond to your invitation;
We remember you!
Dying, you destroyed our death.
Rising, you restore our lives.
Lord Jesus, come in glory.