Under the Fig: Lenten Imagination #1
Under the Fig: On Awakening A response to Psalm 57:1-11 and John 1:43-51
It wasn’t just the fig tree that told me the meaning of shame. It wasn’t only when Adam and Eve ate the fruit and woke up to how great they could be and how wicked they could be at once, when, ashamed, they ran to cover themselves with the fig leaf.
The root word of shame means “to cover,” and the morning I spread myself in the warm, yellow patch on my dorm-room linoleum floor underneath the weight of an abortion, substance abuse, and self-hatred, it was like the roof had fallen down on me, and I was covered, crushed down, and awake in the rubble, begging to be rid of my body – because we weren’t meant to bear up under shame, to be covered with such weight. We were made for Eden, to walk wide-open and intimately revealed with our God.
That first moment I knew Jesus was with me, it was like I had fallen asleep to my shame, like it was old news, and he woke me up to a new thing. He said, “I see you there under the fig.” He said, “I will never love you more than I love you right now.”
And in my awakening, I was shocked that he would meet me down so low to lift the weight from me. But there is so much more.
He said, “If you follow me, you’ll see heaven and earth in an intimate opening to each other and live a life of revealing, unpeeling, wounds brought forth and then cycles of healing.
I don’t just meet you in your shame. I don’t only know what’s under your fig leaves, under all the things you use to cover your shame, your facade, your white washes, your sweater sets, and your bank accounts. I know you completely. I go grave-deep with you. I go spread out, like a claiming, like a name for you, like a mother’s love. I go like a trustworthy brother in secret hiding places. I am Secret Hiding Place. I am not only the one who uncovers your shame. I don’t merely give you a precious vision of heaven where your grandma lives now. I am your ride there, your very path, the light to your feet. I am Abednego’s angel to you, staff of your leading, the gate of your keeping, pruner of your fruit. We have places to go. So get up from the floor, and follow me.
We will find ourselves in the midst of storms. The fiery beasts you can conjure in your imagination are nothing compared to the beasts we’ll stand against together, the beasts within you, the desires to build your own babbling tower to the sky, but I will be with you, and my wings bridge every expanse. You are in my love now, and only my love reaches to the heavens. Follow me and together, we will tell all those under the fig that we see them there, yes, but there is so much more. You will see greater things than these.”
Through the season of Lent, I am practicing poetry and the re-imagination of scripture. I will post these reflections before Easter in the order that I get to perform them for an arts initiative hosted by local congregation here in Northwest Arkansas: First United Methodist Church of Springdale. I’m reading at all three morning services there through Lent, and I’m telling you, this discipline has already transformed me.