By Him and for Him

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By His grace, I am here again, in a garden outside the temple. I hear calming tones from within. The Master is here. I watch Him as he moves around the tall, circular lavender plant. The flowers brush his chest. He circles the plant with scissors, cutting long bunches. I ask if he needs help. He hands me a large bundle to hold, as he cuts more. I settle down on my knees to watch him. He seems intent, moving deliberately around the entire bush. He moves quickly, as if to spare the plant the agony of a long surgery. The entire plant is five or six feet across, in a perfect circle. He lays bundles of lavender on a large sheet he had spread in the grass. The plant is all trimmed now, its fruit harvested. He looks lovingly at what is left of the plant. I am surprised by the attention he gives it, as if he’s speaking to it, fertilizing it, pleased with it; his attention more on the plant than on the large pile of lavender it has produced. As he collects the corners of the bundle and lifts it to walk away, I follow silently behind. I look back at the neat trimmed circle that remains.

My mind is busy with questions, but I feel He expects me to be quiet. We make our way up a wide stone entry into the temple. He walks down a cobblestone corridor to the left. We stop and he sets the sheet at my feet. He disappears for a moment and returns with a donkey. It takes all my strength not to ask, What are we going to do with the fruit? This is the fruit right? Is it for the temple ceremonies? Are we going to leave it here?

He gathers up the bundle again. A few small pieces fall to the floor. He looks at me as if to say, leave it there. He helps me get on the donkey, and hands me the bundle to hold. He leads me out of the temple, through an opening at the end of the hall. Outside, there is much noise and activity. It’s a busy street, with poor and burdened people. I hear shouts and cries. There is little beauty. The road is dirt, and the scene is colorless and drab. It feels familiar: people in need, the lack of peace, the absence of joy, the poverty. I begin to wonder if we will give the fruit to people here on the streets.

The master walks along, leading the donkey I’m sitting on. I feel guilty. There is value in this pack, and we are walking past so much need. A few small pieces fall from the pack. I remain quiet.

We leave the town and continue on a path going up into the mountains. I feel relieved to be out of there. The scenery is gorgeous. There are no more sounds from the village, only nature. I begin to wonder if I should get off and lead for a while. I feel He may be tired. He turns to look at me, reading my thoughts. I look away.

“Look at me,” he says. I look into his eyes. He’s laughing inside. And with a broad smile he says slowly, for emphasis, “I don’t get tired.”

As we move on, I observe the landscape. The way is steep. Narrow cliffs appear. As we navigate them, the Master asks me if I’m scared. I don’t think so. Where else could I be safer than here with you?  I shake my head in silence. Tiger-Leaping-Gorge-7

I have an awareness that a woman lives up here, and that she is our destination. She is in a cottage on an open plain, amidst fields that could be in a brochure advertising breathtaking faraway lands. As we approach the little house, she rushes out to meet the master. She is expecting Him. I slip off the donkey as they greet one another warmly. She worships him. And as she does, I too kneel and worship Him as well. After a few moments, she welcomes me, and I feel as if I already know her. The three of us approach the cottage. The door is wooden, stained a deep purple that is faded and weathered. As we enter, we are greeted by a waft of lavender and frankincense. The rafters of the entire one-room cottage are covered with hanging lavender. I think to myself, To them that have, more shall be given. There is an old wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen with a steaming kettle on the burner. Jars of herbs fill a huge cupboard with glass doors. The room is cozy and I can tell this is a place where the Master feels at home. He makes his way to the prepared table and lies down atop the thick blankets. The two of us minister to him, with lavender oil, and worship. I know that this place is for him. He is at rest. There is a sweet song playing,

Heaven is my home, and earth is my footstool.

Where is the house you will build for me?

Who of you will hear, the cry of my heart?

Where will my resting place be?

Here O Lord, have I prepared for you a home. 

Long have I desired for you to dwell. 

Here O Lord, have I prepared a resting place. 

Here O Lord, I wait for you alone.

We have some tea and talk, we three. It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes.

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