Sharing, today, one of my very favorite poems. I still remember the exact moment in which I discovered it. Jim found me sitting Indian-style on the carpeted aisle of a Barnes & Noble, reading and crying. A place in my heart needed this poem and still does.
Making the House Ready for the Lord
Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice—it is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances—but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.
In this poem, Oliver writes about caring for the "least of these," but the caregiver in me is less affected by her words than the unprepared person in me. I never feel prepared for God. I have never once--in my whole entire life--felt prepared for Him. I walk more closely with Him, today, than I ever have, and I try...I really try to do the right things; still, I live with the consequences of my past. The sin in my life glares, and I feel so easily convicted and overwhelmed by anything and everything dark in my heart. I want so desperately to be better than I am. I doubt that my harshest critic would attack me with more vehemence than I attack myself. But despite my failures, despite my disappointment in myself...
God comes to me, anyway.
Unwashed hair, dried spit-up on the front of my shirt, fountain-pen marks on the back of my shirt, cereal smashed into the carpet, handprints on the windows, overflowing trashcan, rooms full of...who knows? And that's only what can be seen by the naked eye and nothing compared to the mess I am on the inside. God sees that, too. Still, He comes.
Jesus comes, willingly, into whatever vessel we offer, but we have to offer it. He must have something offered, to fill. It can be a broken or dirty something; He doesn't mind. That's where He works best.
We offered Jesus a barn on the day of his birth, and He took it. He filled a manger. Mary Oliver offers her animal-filled house; He is on His way. I offer Him a jumbled mess of pain and sin just before consuming His body and blood, and He takes it. He fills my heart. I offer him--through prayer--my sin on a platter. He takes it and fills with peace the closet space it occupied.
Such profound love.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.