On the Fringe

I was reading this morning in my favorite gospel, Mark, and found an interesting contrast. 
At the beginning of chapter six, Jesus is in his hometown of Nazareth. The home folks were familiar with him and the business he kept before the start of his ministry years. They knew his parents and his brothers and sisters by name. Read the account here.

Chapter six tells us that he, Jesus, the Son of God, the Alpha and the Omega, the bright morning star, could not do miracles there. Could not! And check out verse six—He marveled at their unbelief. Other versions say "he was amazed" and "he wondered." Is this the saddest account of familiarity breeds contempt you've ever heard?
At the end of chapter six, Jesus comes ashore in Gennesaret. The people there recognized him also, but not in the same way. These people "ran about the whole region" to bring the sick to him. Laying them in the market, they hoped for healing as Jesus passed by. Indeed, the scriptures say that as many as touched the fringe of his garment were made well. 
I don't know if you love missionary stories like I do. The stories of what Christ is doing over the seas and in far-flung points on the globe fascinate me, and I know I'm not alone when I wonder—Why don't we see these miraculous events in America? I think the answer might be in Mark 6. Is it possible that the American church is so familiar with Lord of the Universe that we lean, in fact, toward contempt? Maybe ... maybe not. 

What I can say for sure is that in my personal spiritual life, I can identify. I've known Jesus as Savior since I was a child. Through every joy and pain of adolescence, education, marriage, childbearing, disease, transition—all of it. Does this familiarity rob me of the greater works he wants to do in my life ... but cannot? Does he marvel at my unbelief? 

Today I'm repenting of thinking like an overly-familiar and contemptuous Nazarene. I'm holding out my heart and asking for a Gennesaret kind of faith. I want to run to him in expectation, knowing that one finger on the fringe of his garment is powerful enough to change everything. And not just for myself, but for those I love, too.

* Don Juan climbing rose



Through pure neglect, we enjoyed a clematis tower this year. 
In the fall, especially after a scorching hot summer, I find garden chores to be especially 
loathsome. So instead of cutting the year's vines back, we just left them to flap in the winter storms. 
Yep—I busied myself with all things pumpkin and never gave it a second thought. 
Until April. 
And then ... it was too late. 
You see, jackmanii clematis grows from the ground and sprouts from leftover old vines.
So by the time I approached it with my shears this spring, it was already hard at work ...

... making itself GLORIOUS. 
What resulted was a huge tower of dark-purple blooms—probably ten feet of jaw-dropping, 
breathtaking, botanical wonder.
Sometimes neglect turns out to be the best gardening strategy after all.

Side Notes 
* Tips on how to grow a jackmanii clematis here.
* Yesterday we celebrated Father's Day around the table with my parents. They live nearby, so gathering with them is not such an unusual event. Yesterday though ... something was different. I sensed an air of mystery overhead as the old stories were shared "just one more time" and old jokes were told from yet another angle. Childhood memories of visits to our grandparents' farm were re-examined, as one tests the frail fabric of hand-me-down table linens. And for the thinnest moment, I caught a whiff of that old farmhouse kitchen. For one second, right at the edge of my sense of smell, it was there—then vanished. Has this ever happened to you? 
* A marauding horde of tiny chipmunks devours every single sunflower seed I plant.    Every. Single. One.
And so I will not have any sunflowers this year. I hope you're growing some in your garden for me to gawk at.


Purple Blue

Who doesn't need a big dose of blue
For me, it's the most startling color in the garden. 
The color of the heavens so close to the dust of the earth—pretty incredible.

Are you saying to yourself—"Wait. That's not blue; it's purple!"
Oh, friends! Toe-may-toe ... toe-mah-toe!
Haven't you ever seen a sky so lusciously deep blue that it leaned toward purple? 
Of course you have. I'll bet you've even seen what my father-in-law calls  
"sky-blue pink" on the horizon, but you probably didn't know to call it that.

We learn something new everyday. 
This is the delicious purple-blue of Georgia Blue Speedwell.
It's widely available, and if you live nearby, I'm happy to share mine.

It's been a while since I gave you a Story Snapshot. Here's a quick one: 

 Fall Into the Blue
     Her nerves still thrummed with the energy of the concert. Joyce hated to leave the arena and return to her everyday life, but return she must. Following close behind Evan, navigating the crowded aisles was easy and she let her eyes wander over the other departing audience members. But soon the press of the crowd lifted them along with more urgency toward the doors. Joyce clung to the bend in her husband's arm, then moved to hold hands, and when the inevitable separation came, she did not allow panic to take hold. "I'll meet you outside, at the clock on the corner!" she called over her shoulder. 
     "I'll be right behind you," he assured, his voice raised but calm.
     In the crisp air outside the arena, Joyce slowed her pace as people surged past. Where's Evan? At the clock on the corner. The illuminated clock face stood tall and peaceful over departing fans. Joyce lowered her head and began to make her way across. "Excuse me. Pardon me. Just coming through..." 
  He sat on the sidewalk, right in the middle of the swirling throng, holding a sign: "Navy Vet. Down and Out. Need Help." Determined to reach the clock, she didn't see him in time to swirl past like the rest of the human tide. In awkward wedge heels, she tilted toward him, away from him, to the side, then inevitably, back in his direction. Joyce landed on both knees directly in front of the man, her hand on the shoulder of his heavy coat the only thing that kept her from rolling into his lap. 
     Of course time slowed to lengthen the excruciating embarrassment. The man's can of collected change rattled and threatened to spill. He lunged for it as she got one knee under herself. Then Joyce felt one of Evan's hands at her elbow and the other around her waist, his familiar cologne identifying him as her rescuer. 
    "I'm so sorry!" Joyce brushed dust from the knees of her slacks, glanced into the sitting man's face ... and gasped. His eyes! Startled and large, they pierced her through. His gaze, a dreadfully familiar vivid blue, locked on hers. 
     His voice croaked, "Joycie ... ?"