Saint Want



There was a time when a great Want filled my aching soul. There were bills to pay like demons threatening to take the breath from my lungs. I begged for rest and found none, only brief naps abruptly disturbed by a long hard stick pushing me to move on. When ten times a landlord banished us in winter I cried rather than in peace become like Jesus who said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.

Tears drenched my pillow, but Want took my hand and lead me to the Lord. We went through the Red Sea and across the wilderness. Want and I visited David when He was anointed by Samuel to be king many years before he was appointed by the people. David gave me hope and promise. As did the Shunemite woman to whom the Lord granted a son, who died, and whose life was restored even as Jesus restored the life of the widow’s only son.

Saint Want was a cruel soul mate who caused pain and suffering that could only be soothed by hope. Yet Saint Want showed me that God was alive and near. Chrysostom wrote that in the deepest darkness the light of God shines brightest. God always stood by me in times of disappointment and sorrow, not to relieve me, just to be with me so that in suffering I never despaired.

After a nine month battle with demons we landed on a place I named God’s Green Acre, a big place of rolling fields and streams. I rejoiced in the Lord’s ability to guide me through the valley of the shadow of death. I pitched an orange tent of prayer there in which I held long meetings with my Lord and King. There was much work to do to tend the garden of the Lord. Mowing and weeding, bushhogging too. The harder the work, the dirtier and sweatier I became, the happier I was to be creating a place where God’s children (and mine) could come to enter tent-like cells in which they could commune with the One who lead Israel through the wilderness.

In the summer my naked toddlers splashed in pools of clear water and we laughed and sang out loud. On a day that I crossed the larger stream to the wildest part of this property I looked up to see a tree filled with grapes. How could this be I thought; grapes don’t grow on trees! But they did on God’s Green Acre because an old thick grape vine had climbed a scruffy birch tree and produced a thousand grapes.  I was humbled to think how human beings resemble the grape with its myriad of destinies, that may become even as lofty as the Blood of Christ. I planned someday to build a Chapel of the Transfiguration beside the grape tree.

Soon after an officer of the law arrived with a long hard stick to force us off God’s Green Acre. Being early with child I was too ill to fight even though every ounce of my being screamed in anguish.

Oh King David how keenly I feel the pain of your exile in Ziglag! In the years that followed our departure  I returned to God’s Green Acre often to cry and pray and to remember the days of blissful toil.

Echoes of Hebrews ran through my mind, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” 

And …

 “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”  

For the first ten or so years I refused to believe that I would not return someday to fulfill the plan of creating a place of refuge and communion with God.

Now twenty-five years have passed since my exile from God’s Green Acre. Last week I found myself driving by, so I stopped. I couldn’t remember when I had last visited the place; maybe it has been six months or more.  I found there a most desolate place.  The rickety barn where I once stored toys and tools had finally collapsed and lay in a pile. The trees were wild and with fallen limbs strewn about. Even the old apple tree that fed my family so well with its abundance of fruit had disappeared.

Two ‘For Sale’ signs from two different companies were planted at the entrance. Even though, by God’s grace I may now have the means to purchase God's Green Acre there is no room in my full life to make real that old vision.

The sight of desolation causes me to stop to think of the many ways my faith has been rewarded, of how it shouldn’t matter how I serve God, but only that I do in any way I can. I am grateful to Saint Want for the journey and the lesson. I hope someone will buy that land and make it their home to love it again. I hope those people will worship Christ there. On the day that the land is sold and the home is built and filled with laughing singing children again, I think I shall pay one last visit, and bring that young family a basket of fruit and tell them that they purchased holy ground.


Did you notice that my quest to find the kingdom of God that is said to lie within began and ended with denying one’s self for love?


When God’s Son, Jesus, said NO to His own desire to keep walking around this old earth with His friends, healing people and amazing them and He sweated blood thinking about being hung, He denied Himself to do what His Father sent Him to do. That is to die for love of humankind, for our immortal life in the kingdom of God.


After wandering the face of the earth and my heart seeking God’s kingdom, I suddenly remembered that the only time I had ever glimpsed such an amazing place was when I decided to do what I knew would make me unhappy for the sake of love. It was an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny crucifixion but it opened the gates to a spectacular kingdom.


God loves circles.


Aspiring immortals who love God so much more than we love ourselves, our pride, even our opinions, are the ones who are invited to experience the kingdom of God within and the future one. My sad realization was that I can only possibly experience the inner kingdom if I end my search for it and instead spend more time yielding my will to God’s Will even if it kills me.


Even though the kingdom of God is surely within me, I am not allowed to go in and out of there whenever it pleases me. That sacred city, like a holy altar will open its gates to me when the Lord allows it to. Not a minute before.


Meanwhile, at the center of the inner kingdom of Evangeline also dwell other people and I am sure even a few fairies and angels. So, for now I can visit them whenever I want. Every night this week, when the sun has gone and darkness lets me rest, I have visited my father.


Jesus and I have this in common. We love our fathers.


My father led a life rich in love and suffering. His intimate relationship with suffering probably began on that cold February evening when he was a boy of ten who had just learned that his adoring mother, who went to buy them cupcakes, was killed by a car. I didn’t know that boy, but I know that his own strong and holy father taught him how to live when life was severe, and how to love the Lord. Day after sorrowful day young Charley listened to his father’s songs coming up from the basement kitchen, love songs to his departed wife, songs his dad composed as he cooked for his family of eight. My father told me that when he was a teenager he studied character, and how he measured up. No wonder Dad became such a strong and beloved man.


The Charley I knew was also a single father because of my mother’s psychological illness. How he suffered from her disease, bitter conflict and loneliness; so tormented was he that he even lost his business and his fortune. Rather than relieve himself of his obligations with bankruptcy, Charley shut down the business and worked for others to pay every last debt while his wife was in institutions and his teenage girls at home depended on him.


When cancer was his last torturer, dad wanted to keep on living, even if it meant to keep on suffering, for love of his girls. I’ll never forget the distressed look on his face when he realized that he would have to leave us and his fear that we would need him and he wouldn’t be here for us. He must have been remembering the bitter grief of his own mother-loss. The many times I did indeed need him and he wasn’t here, I had that look to remind me that his wish and will was not granted, so I went to Our Father who art in heaven for help.


It took me several years after he died to cry, so relieved was I that his suffering, not just the disease had finally ended. Dad tried to teach me how to deny myself on several occasions when I thought the fair thing to do was the thing I wanted most. He said the fair thing to do was what the other person wanted. And so on my first father’s day without him, my gift to my dad was to give away something that I wanted very much to keep.


My father didn’t just tell me that he loved me, he showed it. He showed me the value of suffering and the importance of reaching out to those you love. My dad is a worthy immortal who died to self over and over and over again. And so when seeking the inner kingdom of God, near the sacred and shut gates I spend time precious time with my father within. Thank you Dad.