Sunday, February 23, 2014

Very funny, God.

Sometimes God is funny.

He's funny because He is acts in such unexpected ways which is, of course, the source of an awful lot of humour. Saying or doing something so unexpected that it will confound expectations can be risky, of course, but God does that all the time in ways that are funny, if only we were paying attention.

Okay, so God is funny. We really shouldn't be surprised at that. God is so much more than the limits that we humans can set that we can't help being surprised when he surpasses them. I mean, we work so hard to put Him into a box or keep Him safely in his sanitized compartment and, then, he pops through a wall, telling you to put your finger in his side or something. Now, that is kind of funny, if in a rather unexpected way.

Mind you, this is something I've known about God for quite some time. He does have a habit of throwing odd things in my way, especially when I least expect it. Sometimes these are happy surprises, like an unlooked-for gift. Sometimes they are 'are you kidding me?' surprises. Sometimes they don't look like a gift at all.  The happy surprises are easy enough to take. Who doesn't like a true gift? Who can't be grateful for that? The 'are you kidding me?' surprises are a bit harder to take, but these are usually things that I can appreciate, at least, the irony and settle into, eventually. The things that don't look like a gift are no fun at all, even if I value of the gift only in retrospect. Yet, what all these surprises have in common is that they are further proof that I don't have God all sussed out and that God does know the gifts I need so much better than we do. These kinds of gifts, especially the ones that don't look like it, remind me that I'm not God and that God isn't going to do whatever I expect in the way I expected it. Faith tells me that this God who defies expectations know what I need better than I do. and that He's playing a much longer game than I am.

So, when I found myself laughing out loud in the Bulb Room near the entrance to the Mediterranean Gardens at the Royal Botanical Gardens Centre on Saturday, I knew that God was being funny again. It was funny that I only then realized that the smell of hyacinth and narcissus which was wafting through the room forcibly reminded me of the gardens in the airport at Palm Springs, where, even as I was standing there, my wife and children were flying towards- smells which signal for me rest and recuperation after a long, busy winter. It was funny because I suddenly recalled that there were many of the plants that I knew and loved from those visits- cacti, bougainvillea, citrus trees, aloes- were waiting just beyond those doors. It was funny because I suddenly was reminded that much of California enjoyed a Mediterranean climate and that, this March Break, my trip to Greece with students was trading one Mediterranean climate for another. It was funny because the reason why I was even at the RBG was that I was taking a break to rest, reflect and work on some spiritual exercises from a church group I was involved in and I had kept feeling led to come to the RBG even though it was a forty-five minute drive away and I honestly didn't remember that this garden was even there. It was funny because God snuck up on me and gave me a blessing, completely unlooked for. That would make this one of those nice surprises, but I'm not complaining.

I spent four hours or so, wandering about in that garden. I did my exercises. I walked around it four, five, six times. I sat when I needed to. I prayed the first six verses of Psalm 19 several times. I was happy. I got tired. I sat down. I wandered about again. I realized I was walking the garden like a labyrinth (ha, ha. Very funny, God). I said goodbye on my last lap. I felt I was visiting an island of peace without any real worry about time or what I had to get accomplished in the next few weeks. Given the frantic pace of my life right now, that peace feels like something of a minor miracle, a true sabbatical.

I'm still processing that visit, so I'm not sure what that time I spent in the Mediterranean Garden meant. Perhaps the blessing is enough. Perhaps there is more to it. I really don't know.

But God is kind of funny.    

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