In the olden days, back when I was a boy, most clothing came in a box: shirts, pants, dresses, shoes, socks, gloves, scarves, unmentionables, etc. Wrapping gifts was a breeze with these precise rectangles. But sometimes, to up the ante on surprise, it was fun to forego the usual form and disguise the present by putting it in a much larger box or rolling it as a tube, by itself. Or, as in the case of little things, they could be hidden in a series of containers of ever-increasing sizes. Adding something a bit heavy, or tossing in a little bell or something that rattles could throw off the sleuthiest of gift snoops. All kinds of odd shapes and configurations could be put to use. Today, gift bags and tissue paper are standard fare. But no matter! Giving a gift that can’t be easily discerned by weight or smell or by ear-to-the-paper shaking is still a goal I set for myself.
On this, the Eve of Lent, I’m thinking of the gift wrapped inside Jesus. We see the outside things, details of his birth, his parents, his 12-year-old teaching of the Jewish elders, all his given Names, his Titles, the fulfilled prophecies, how he interacted with his disciples and fellow Jews, how he reacted to the religious elite, the surprising warmth of his humanity toward his friends, his sorrows, the shocking acceptance of his end mission: betrayal, trial, crucifixion, resurrection. But, just hidden from view of the casual observer or even the scrupulous investigations of theologians, is something else, something more, something intricate and intimate yet greater than all of those, something motivating Jesus that defies logic, beggars imagining, thrills souls and weakens knees to worship. This something can only be revealed in resting against his chest, allowing his tenderness to overwhelm, like a child comforted on the lap of a love-smitten parent, embraced securely by loving arms, breathing deeply of sweet familiarity. Deep within, only in the quiet of those moments, is it heard: a melody soft and reassuring, yet strong and rhythmic, never-before heard, yet timeless and enduring. It’s the secret from all eternity past, this love song, this great, soul-stirring anthem of invitation to a banquet. That’s the goal of this 40 days: to ‘pluck the chords of his being and feel what motivated him, his melody within.’ What stories we’ll have to share! See you tonite at 6 – for pancakes! PD