"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!" (Lk.13:34).
In thinking about my journey and where I have come from, the grief of having lost so many years began to feel more like a lament for all those like me who have lived apart from God, all the while believing they were as close as possible in this life. What follows is a Parable of Lament Over a Life of Scarcity.
I had no idea you were so rich and generous. I was so tired and broken when you found me — or should I say, when I finally saw you. I had no idea you were so close and so ready to be with me, when I had tried so hard to find a key to unlock the door to a new life. I had no idea that the door was keeping you out, when all the time I thought I was the one on the outside trying to get in. I had no idea there was such a feast ready, when all I had ever known was slim pickings on the back porch. I had no idea that what we were looking for was so simple a child could have shown us the way. I thought you were far away, having left us here to fend for ourselves the best we could.
When I first came to the Palace, I was met by a man who lived in the back yard. He showed me where the Palace leftovers where dumped, and how to rummage through the trash to find scraps of food. He said the Banquet Hall was for a party that would not be held for many years, and we had to wait. He said we should never even consider stepping inside the Palace, and that thinking about such things could get us in a lot of trouble.
So I believed him. And I spent my days searching through the refuse, looking for a morsel here and there, all the while wondering why I was so hungry. After all, I came here in the first place because I had heard that if you came to the Palace you could be filled.
I want to be mad at the one who lied to me about how to find food here. But I see him digging though the trash with all the fierceness and determination of a rescue worker trying to get to a buried victim. And I have to admire his dedication and fidelity to his task. I even want to join in and help him, despite the fact that his search is futile. And then I weep. So many like me are trying to emulate his endurance and commitment, and they are dying from the effort and lack of food.
I am almost ashamed to leave them and go sit at the table that is so over-burdened with good food, you might wonder how it stands up under the weight of so much goodness. As I eat until I can bear no more, my heart breaks for my brother who is languishing out in the back yard … who cursed and swore and threatened me many times when I tried to tell him about the banquet. He won't come; he cannot believe. He will not allow the possibility that all his work has been in vain, and he will not be given-to in any case, for he is determined to earn his morsels by the sweat of his brow.
I wish he would hear. But I know how deaf I was myself. I just don't know why.
O, my God — Open their eyes and ears and hearts, and reveal to them your wondrous love and grace and generous abundance. With the psalmist I declare, "Search me O God and know my heart, and see if there is any blindness in me where I still stumble and fall for lack of vision. May I never fight you or resist the work you want to do in me. That I may know you more and delight in your abundance with all my heart." This is my lament.