Our Bending-Low Jesus

“Our Bending-Low Jesus”
I used this phrase at a friend’s blog today
and somehow it bloomed up in my mind
and came out my mouth 
during my evening walk tonight.
I so easily forget how powerful our story is,
how remarkable.
Maybe it’s the reflection I’ve been doing 
on the Cosmic Christ
the past few months,
 courtesy of my Catholic brothers and sisters.
Maybe it’s the contrast of that image – 
the one I can hardly grasp,
the one that speaks of grandeur,
and Beyond-my-ken,
and Ground-of-Being hugeness –
the contrast of all that
with the picture we have of Jesus
in the pages of the gospel.

Jesus, who bows down in the dirt
and writes grace with his fingertips.
Jesus, who spits on that dirt
and packs it into blind eyes.
Jesus, who gets hungry,
and impatient with the ravages of sin,
and wonders if his friends will ever get it.
Who bends low for us.

My mother is with us for a few days.
And as I walk in the evenings,
I beg forgiveness for the many ways
I miss the mark when I am with her.
Impatience simmers,
sharpness surfaces,
tension rises until the air is heavy with it,
stagnant and fetid.
I am exhausted in ways I can’t even describe – 
weary with worry, I suppose. 
I give her the thrice-a-day medicines,
I make sure she eats and drinks,
I do her small amount of laundry.
Yet so often,
my spirit is twisted,
almost angry about what’s happening to her.
And I do not want to be angry.
She likes to walk out to our side yard,
to the spot where 
I watch from a polite distance,
as the grass is bumpy and she is unsteady.
She bends low, holding her knees,
speaking with words I cannot hear,
touching the metal angel I have placed there,
to mark the spot.
That simple movement is one of the
most achingly sad things I have ever watched.
Mothers should not have to bury their children.
Yet so many do.
So many do.

Mine did. 

Really, Lord?
So much loss!
Her husband, 
her grandson-in-law,
her vision,
her son,
and now . . . 
her mind, too?
How long, O Lord?
How long?
How much, O Lord?
How much? 

There are no answers to these cries,
none that suffice.

Except for this one:

Our bending-low Jesus.
And so I spread all the ugliness out there on the driveway
as I walk in circles in the deepening dusk.
I rue the words just behind my teeth,
the ones that don’t come out,
but want to.
I offer them up, 
I beg for grace and then,
I see him.
Bending down in the dirt, 
he writes my name,
with the words 
And I am bent low.
1. The Risen Christ, on the wall of the chapel 
at the Monastery of the Risen Christ,
San Luis Obispo, CA
2. The angel which marks my brother’s burial site.
3. A station of the cross in the chapel at the Mission Renewal Center,
Santa Barbara CA

Offering this at Michelle’s place, Jen’s Sisterhood and Ann’s gratitude link-up. 
I may not count like she does, but I am deeply grateful nonetheless.

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  1. Praying for you in your tired, my friend. I know this time is doing the work it is meant to do. I hear it in your voice–see it in the bending low. Much love.

  2. Thank you for that encouragement, Laura. It’s hard and sad and painful and exhausting and worrisome. But I am not alone, even though it sometimes feels like it. There are these flashes of… shall I call it ‘visitation?’ And for these I thank God, for they are a lifeline through this present darkness. Love back to you.

  3. This “bending-low Jesus,” also risen. It’s a mystery.

  4. Amen. I’m still trying to internalize a lecture on this from a few weeks ago – a reflection on each of these names/title: Jesus/Christ/Lord. Maybe later this week or next week, it will have gelled enough to write about.

  5. Oh, Diana– this is bittersweet and the truth of it just swells through me as I read.

    Thank you, dear sister in the walk, for this. I don’t think it was easy.

  6. None of it is easy, Sheila. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, actually. I’ve got an essay about the pain of it sitting in a pile here, just sent it to my brother to vet, actually. It may never see the cyberwaves, but it had to be written today – so much difficult, convoluted conversation where memories and dreams and reality get all tangled and confused. Big ouch. Big sigh. Thanks for your words, friend.

  7. Big ouch, indeed, all that tangled confusion. Hardest thing ever–yes, it must be.

    Praying, and sending you a hug from over here.

  8. Thanks, Sheila. I feel it. Truly, I do.

  9. You’re welcome.

    Yesterday would have been my mom’s 76th birthday . . . I did a lot of hugging yesterday.

  10. Sylvia R @ sylvrpen.com says

    Such a poignant post, I relate in so many ways. How sad that our hurting at the afflictions of our loved ones is apt to emerge as impatience and shortness toward *them*! That’s the grievous nature of our fallen flesh, but then there’s Jesus.

    This is the thing about Him that stuns me most with amazement: the incredible extent of His low-bending, to mingle gracious with the dirty, and mess in the dirt to heal us who are so miniscule in His creation. Such depths of love, such far-reaching efforts of grace are beyond my mental grasping — but there for my soul to take hold of, in the faith He also gives.

    Looks like you’re bending low with Him, that it was good for you to walk in circles in a driveway. God bless you. Prayer for you in this difficult time.

  11. Hugs right back at you. Birthdays are tough.

  12. Thank you, Sylvia, for these lovely words and for stopping by to leave them for me.

  13. Hi Diana, such a beautiful post. I’m dealing with a few of those issues with my aging parents and inlaws, and I want to be a picture of love and service, not irritability and frustration. Thank you for the reminder to bend low. What a gracious Savior we serve!

    Linking up from SDG,

  14. Thank you, Susan, for your kind words. This is tough stuff and sometimes the frustration bleeds through. But in reality, I don’t think we’re truly angry/frustrated with our dear elderly – I think we are both angry and frightened by what is happening to them. And terrified that it will happen to us. So that takes trust, prayer, confidence that our Savior, who bends low to heal us, will hold us tll the end – even when we have no mind left. Even then.

  15. This bending Jesus who came low to earth, who bent to wash dirty feet, who bent to love a child, who bent under a cross, still bends to us today. I love your bending heart. And this anger–part of the grieving process in the long losing and the fear of it all–for her, for you. And that picture of her bending over your brother’s spot just makes my heart ache. Loving you, my friend.

  16. Thank you, Sandy. Makes my heart ache, too. And I do recognize that anger as fear-based – for her and for me, too. Hate to think of my kids dealing with me in this shape.

  17. I love the image of our savior bending low. I so long to reflect that image in my own relationships and know how frequently, and completely, I fail to do so. And yet, the word is given….we are forgiven, and strengthened to try again. Thank you for sharing so transparently and allowing your experience to encourage the rest of us. Praying for you. Grace and peace to you.

  18. Thank you so much for coming by, Chrystal – and for leaving such kind words.

  19. Ann Kroeker says

    So much loss! And then, her bending, His bending…He is one with us down low, and one day we will be one with Him on high.

    Thank you for all of this. You have slipped so much into this post.

  20. Thank you, Ann. I loved your apples today!! We have an apple tree – Granny Smith – and it is a wondrous thing. How I would love to have a Honeycrisp. Maybe someday…

  21. diana trautwein says

    Thank you for coming by, Chrystal. And thank you for those prayers, too.

  22. Glorious. True. And all too close to home. Thank you, dear friend, for sending me here. So much love to you and your mom. So much love and grace, grace, grace.


    • Thanks, Jeanne, for coming and reading and leaving such good, kind words. And please double back the blessings to you and your mom. This is just plain hard – and another avenue for grace to work its amazingness. I wait with you for what shall be revealed and for these dear ones’ eventual release to the Glorious Ascended Jesus, who still bends so low for us.