Monday, January 2, 2012


Step into the Garden

I am like a wineskin in the smoke.

Have you ever wondered what happens to old wineskins when they are used up? When they finally rip open and have leaks? When they are no longer serviceable?

Ok, probably not.

So then, how was your 2011? On the national and international level, it was a pretty interesting year. Osama bought the farm. Iraq war ends, etc. A year that featured the smiling, blue-eyed face of an innocuous little boy, or the face of a blonde, female singer that makes us all want to Gag-Gag? What about your 2011? Good things happen? Did you get married or get a raise? Bad things? Lost your job? Visit the food-bank? Ho-hum things? Got an “ok, but needs improvement” on your evaluation? Oatmeal for breakfast?

Wineskins are no longer used to hold wine. Today we have rather fashionable bottles. But in more primitive times, animal skins (sheep skin primarily) were cleaned, tanned and crafted into containers for wine. In time, after being filled and refilled, they became tired, unserviceable and no longer useful to hold wine. When this happened, there was nothing left to do but let them dry out, and toss them in the fire.

Is this what you would like to do with 2011?

In the above scripture, I think this might be what the psalmist was trying to express. He was tired and used up; no longer of service to God or man. At least this is how he felt. He lay among the glowing cinders, smelling the smoke of his own denouement.

I have been there. I’ve done that. And so, I might surmise, have you. To feel exhausted, used up and no longer any good to anyone, or for any purpose. It is a neutering, hopeless, mind-numbing experience.

What then? What happens when we can no longer put one foot in front of another and attempt to fall on it? What happens when we become psycho-dynamically inert? What happens when our spiritual life is caked in mud, locked in place where no movement, no life seems to stir?

One of two, or perhaps three things happen. 1. We die. It is truly the end. Our heart stops and death ensues. 2. We take a nap. Until things change. We wait it out. We wait on things external to ourselves to come to our rescue. This actually happens sometimes, but not often. Or, 3. We reach out to God. When we do this, he always reaches back. It is in the raw nature of God to reach back when one reaches for him. And when we do, we discover that he had us firmly in his grip all the time. We become energized, revived, and enabled to continue. We get up. We get up out of the ashes and discover that there is still a gallon or two left in the old wineskin.

In John Madden’s voice, hear it loud and clear . . . BOOM! It’s 2012! Good, bad or ho-hum, what’s done is done. Now it’s time to move on. The pages of 2012 have yet to be written. Perhaps the first few lines might be . . .

Create in me
an irrepressible desire
to take up space
in your fullness.

To be in operative touch
with my purpose,
my destiny,
and the strategic timing
of my existence.

Totally absorbed,
In my commitment
To BE!

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