Vermont Odyssey

Sep 28, 2016

What’s going on here?

I slapped the new magnet to my fridge. It wasn’t easy finding a Vermont magnet with cows on it. My husband and I just returned from our anniversary trip up north, choosing Vermont this time. It’s well-known to C.B. but it’s been a good 40 years since I tripped and stumbled up and down the state. That was the era of candle making and earning degrees in macramé and Zen. Hippies have been replaced by capitalist boomers that love to throw around buzzwords like “sustainable” and “social justice” (just take a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream tour).

Part of the reason we go away together, just us, is because we need to sit across from each other and take a deep breath and say, “Hey there! What’s new?” It’s not like we can’t do that at home, but I find too often I am preoccupied with my world which bumps gently (usually) against C.B.’s world. We coexist graciously even setting aside time for date nights and walks on the beach, but we are distracted. Going away removes distractions.

I think this is why we find it easier to tell people about Jesus when we are away. We slow down, we notice a lone man sitting on a park bench in the dark. Or a gentleman crossing a parking lot. We take time to listen to two German tourists, both physicians.

Do you believe in God?

“I do,” said one, then she looked to the other.

“I don’t, “the young woman confessed — more with sorrow than defiance. She had been snared by  dead religion growing up; rules and regulations. “Jesus is different,” I said, then encouraged her to seek the Truth, which is another name for Jesus. “You will need him if you’re caring for sick people.”

Whenever I tell people about Jesus, I like to say His name within the first sentence. It’s like bungee jumping. I’ve tried the more palatable God or dipping my toes in the water by saying Faith but it does not accomplish what Jesus can in a Nano-second. Things change. A countenance will fall, or curl up in anger, or sorrow or sometimes just surprise. Jesus? The name of Jesus changes things.

Inside our wedding bands, Jesus is Lord is engraved next to C.B and Robin. It’s been the junction of our lives, where we always meet, no matter how wildly apart we are. I thought, as we walked across his old college campus, that I would never have been interested in this man back then – the ski bum, the blond frat boy. And he would’ve sneered at the barefoot poet of the Lower East Side. But as life led us to the cross and the new life beyond, we found each other side by side, in a field of harvest, our hearts wrapped up in the wonder and awe of Jesus.

Like I said, I love to say His name, but it’s hard when a person rejects Jesus, or worse, mocks Him. It hurts. I guess that’s what love is all about. But when someone wants to know Jesus, like the man on the park bench and in the parking lot and we have the privilege of introducing Him, it is the best feeling this side of heaven. C.B. and I were like two kids at a carnival, made for this as much as we were made to love. Our souls are purged from all the cares of the world and redirected back towards Jesus – and each other. Funny how the two always line up.

Vermont is still beautiful although C.B said it felt different and he also wondered out loud where all the cows went. It’s true; there’s a lot of vacant pastures. He even asked the tour guide at Ben and Jerry’s and she jerked a little, surprised by the question, but she looked about 20, too young to remember the cows featured on the ice cream container. Later, an older woman with a British accent snuck up to us and leaning in asked,

“Do you think the cows are industrialized?” I smelled a Conspiracy theorist. My husband and I smiled at each other as we walked away. “You’re inciting a revolution,” I said.

People are precious, everywhere. It’s the God-Eyes you get when you share Jesus. They are sheep, scattered, without a shepherd, Jesus lamented. The Bible says He looked on them with compassion. All of them. That’s why I like to say, “Has anyone ever told you about the love of Jesus?”

Mostly people say, No. I’ve noticed that a lot of young people don’t even know who He is, speechless like the Ben and Jerry’s tour guide.

Turns out the cows are industrialized, herded into huge milk factories in northern Vermont where they can produce lots of milk for far less cost. I pictured a grotesque bovine apparition with bloodshot eyes and ginormous udders. I watch too many documentaries.

We inhaled deeply the mountain air, cool and robust, laced with balsam. The tips of the maples were splashed in red and gold like torches waving in the breeze.

Twenty nine years since Frat-Boy and the Barefoot Poet gave it all to Jesus – nineteen since we gave each other those rings at an altar. Love still burns, and burns brighter even, with each season of life. Jesus does that. Something about the name of Jesus.

John Wesley said, “Though we cannot think alike may we not love alike?” We can, when the love of God, in it’s pure unfiltered power, is poured into our hearts, setting in motion the divine expression of His grace. When a young woman asks me, usually in a roundabout way, how she can love her husband “better”, I tell her she needs to love Jesus better first. That will answer her question and will also start a fire too. Then you will want to pass the torch on to others. Now there’s a real revolution.

In a land where many people sense the shift beneath our feet and the unraveling of security, there is something about the name of Jesus; eternal light, solid rock.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.   James 1:17 KJV

 This is one of my favorite oldies — enjoy!