Monday, March 18, 2013

When Your Brother Bleeds (twins and the cross and community)

Looking at Stars

The God of curved space, the dry
God, is not going to help us, but the son
whose blood splattered
the hem of his mother’s robe.
- Jane Kenyon
 
“You know you have blood on your shirt, right?” 

I was getting ready to meet a friend at a restaurant after a long, exhausting day and my husband was concerned with the bloody stain on my shoulder. 
“No,” I said, “I already changed my shirt once.  Did you see his clothes?”  I led him over to the laundry basket and showed him our eighteen-month-old son’s clothes, streaked and stained with splotches of red.  It had been a bloody day. 
That morning I stood at the bathroom sink holding Levi who cut his finger on a can he looted from the recycling bin.  I turned his body out away from me, hoping to avoid staining my new shirt, but as I stood there rooting through the medicine cabinet, blood poured out of the tiny cut. 

It ran in a bright red stream
     down the hand that held him,
          splashing onto my pants and shoes as he waved his little hand around.
It drop,
      drop,
          dropped
                    to the beat of his pulse, 
falling onto the white counter-top like so many crimson beads off of a broken necklace.  I felt it clinging to the hairs on the back of my hand and marveled at its rich scarlet hue. 
I called my four-year-old to fetch a washcloth while Levi's twin, Isaiah, wandered in anxious little circles by my feet. Finally, we all sat down at the dining room table and I doled out Band-Aids with great liberality.  I put two or three on the finger that still gushed and two or three on other fingers and on his other hand in hopes of distracting him from pulling them off.  Then, of course, Isaiah needed some too and my assistant, the four-year-old, as well as the little girl I was babysitting. 
It wasn’t until later that I noticed Isaiah had blood on him too, places where it had splashed and splattered as he stood nearby watching me tend his brother. 

Looking at Isaiah’s splotched clothes, I thought, “When your brother bleeds, it gets on you.  This is what it means to be a brother.  This is what community really is.” 

*   *   *   *   *

Blood is messy and vital, rich, and yet we talk of it so complacently.   Somehow, in our dainty sipping of communion cups, we manage to miss the mess and I wonder if, in missing it, we don't also miss the communion.

Christ came and died on the cross, where blood drop,
                                                                                  drop,
                                                                                       dropped out,
splattering onto those who gathered near.  This is the community that Jesus establishes, a blood-splattered, blood-drinking communion of sinners turned saints.   

 *   *   *   *   *
 
The stomach bug hit later in the week.  It started with Levi in the middle of the night standing, crying in his crib and we went through layer after layer of sheets and pajamas, as my husband and I tag-teamed the dual tasks of comfort and cleaning.  Isaiah stood in his own crib, just a few feet away, looking-on all bleary-eyed and curious and each time we laid Levi back down to sleep and crept our way back out of the room, Isaiah laid down too. 
By the next day they were both down with the bug and I sat holding them on the couch while John took the older two to the store to stock up on saltines and Pedialyte.  I sat in the corner of the couch with Levi in my left arm and he drifted into a deep sleep, exhausted and drained.  Isaiah fussed, tossing and turning in my right arm, slipping off, then turning and begging his way back up into my lap the second his feet hit the ground. 
Levi slept on through it all, so I didn’t dare move and just about the time I was getting frustrated with Isaiah he turned suddenly and threw-up all over me and his brother.  Levi woke, of course, as I grabbed a changing pad and laid it across my soaked chest.  But then, just like that, they both dropped off into a heavy sleep. 
When my husband came home some forty minutes later, we were sitting there still, the three of us covered in Isaiah’s vomit and I thought, again, “This is what community is.  When your brother, throws up, it gets on you.” 

*   *   *   *   *

I wonder sometimes about how we do community these days, all distance and convenience, all house-picked-up and table-manners-please.  Community, real community, is a cracking, bleeding thing.  It’s the voice that breaks into a sob on the phone without holding back and the “oh, thank God, you stopped by because I didn’t know how I was going to make it through this day.” 

Maybe we settle for something less because we’re afraid that, if anyone gets too close, we’ll vomit our messy lives all over them.  But isn't it possible, my friends, that this bloody, messy communion, this breaking open of our lives like so many loaves of of bread, is what it’s really all about?

Is there a time when you've found community in the midst of your brokenness?  I'd love to hear about it . . .

This post is linked with Playdates With God and Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday. 

19 comments:

  1. Kelly, This may be one of your best with a lot and I mean a lot of meat to chew on. Thanks. It will take me a while to digest.

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    1. Thanks Dad. It's something I believe, but continue to struggle to live. That's why, I guess, we must be so thankful for the needy times that force us to let others in. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

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    2. I am so jealous that your dad reads your blog!

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  2. Kelly, you have SO nailed what it means to be in community with others. We are there in Christ's body together because of His blood--that is the ticket, that alone. We worship at a Foursquare Church and in Bible Studies and Home Groups we're trying to stick to the center--it's Jesus.

    Great words and wisdom from your life.

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    1. Thanks Jodi, so glad you stopped over. We too have home groups at our church, but there are times still that nothing beats and impromptu gathering around someone's need. Blessings!

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  3. "Community, real community, is a cracking, bleeding thing." Isn't this the truest thing? I'm sorry for these hard days, Kelly, but you are right--these are the things that bind together. I love how your mind is always open to the holy, friend.

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    1. Thanks Laura, sometimes I think the hardest days are easier than the slogging, slow ones, I seem to do better with an occassion to rise to. Spring is coming, though and we'll be able to escape outside, phew!

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  4. I'm blessed to have a few people with my blood spatters on their shirts and my vomit on their shoes. The real friends are the ones whom you'll invite over the threshold even when you have what appears to be a heap of trash on your floor. Love this. Visiting via IP.

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    1. Yes, those people are gifts! I had two come to the rescue this morning, thank God. Glad you stopped by, Brandee.

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  5. Kelly, this. Shoots right through me: "Maybe we settle for something less because we’re afraid that, if anyone gets too close, we’ll vomit our messy lives all over them. But isn't it possible, my friends, that this bloody, messy communion, this breaking open of our lives like so many loaves of of bread, is what it’s really all about?" That is me, so afraid of vomiting or bleeding on someone, and yet that's what community is... Thank you, bless you, I needed to read this today.

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    1. I'm glad it spoke to you Amber, I had my own cracking, bleeding moments this morning and am grateful to have a few good friends to call. I hope the same is true for you. Glad you stopped over:)

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  6. “When your brother bleeds, it gets on you. This is what it means to be a brother. This is what community really is.”

    oh my, this
    while I have been long pondering real community

    thank you

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    1. Yes, pondering it, but it always seems to have to be something you fall-through to, something that cracks open in some humiliating way, exposing real need that becomes the ground of communion. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  7. You're right, it is was it's supposed to be about. It's messy and downright ugly at times, but it's also a beautiful thing if we embrace it. Great post, beautiful words.

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    1. You're right, Alecia, so often what feels "ugly" to us, can actually be so beautiful if we're open to it. And, I suspect, many of the things we believe to be initially beautiful turn out to be empty impostures of real communion. Thanks for stopping by, Alecia.

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  8. Real community costs -- energy and time, it's messy and inconvenient, and requires sacrifice -- sacrifice of self -- my own agenda and convenience, and requires that I crawl right down into the trenches standing with my sister, my brother where it hurts, where it costs, for however long I'm needed. Oh...it's true, in community when "your brother bleeds, it gets on you," soaks deep, and you are forever changed. Bless you, Kelly, and your young family.

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  9. Wow Kelly. I am just so humbled by the way you sat there, covered in your son's vomit, holding him so he could sleep... such an act of sacrifice. That really did me in.

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    1. Don't be too humbled, Emily! I was home alone and the only thing I could imagine worse than sitting in vomit would be two crying, sick kids who woke up because I moved them! Oh, the things a Mother will do for a little peace and quiet! Thanks for visiting:)

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