30 April 2010

Wanted to trade

I am interested in obtaining a copy of Cheryl Naumann's book on deaconesses. I do not wish to pay for it. If anyone has a copy, I would be willing to trade one of the following items for it:

--small flat rate postage box full of clean wheat (not organic that I know of)

--several bars of homemade lye soap (plain old lard and lye, and no picture of a pretty goat)

--Motherhood nursing top someone picked up for me at a garage sale (good shape, cute, size M; I just don't like sleeveless)

--other new in package nursing accoutrement (email for details)

--bag of gummy bears (not organic even if the package said they were)

--some leggy tomato starts (local pickup only)

--one beginning euphonium lesson in my living room (may throw in more lessons free if you catch me especially lonely)

--box of 2008-2010 New Yorkers, Atlantics, and First Thingses

--Copy of Matt Harrison's joy book autographed by LCMS celebrity (celebrity TBD, but it won't be Matt Harrison. This trade will not be available until after Memorial Day)

--Bag of potholder loom loopies

You know you want it.

28 April 2010

Guest Post: NFP: Why we don't bother

CSPP recently received a request for a post on the topic of Natural Family Planning. We are pleased to offer a guest post from Pastor H.R. Curtis of Gottesdienst Online, Four and Twenty Blackbirds, and the International Defensive Pistol Association.

First, a little disclaimer. The world is a very sadly broken place.

Any discussion of God's gift of children and our receiving of it inevitably introduces several elephants into the room. What about the hard cases? What about when disease and hardship disrupt God's world?

As some famous writer once said: people who are happy are pretty much happy in the same way, but people who are unhappy each have a unique story. It is very difficult to speak about the hard cases in a general way. So I'm not going to try. If you are suffering under such a hard case - a life threatening disease (including diseases of the brain), crippling hardship, etc - and wonder how God's gift of children applies to you and your spouse, then stop reading this and find a faithful pastor to talk it over with. If you have a flippant pastor who likes to talk about his elective vasectomy after three kids at age 37, then send me an email and I'll try to point you to a faithful pastor in your area.

But for the rest of us who do not fall into the hard case category - if you are interested in hearing how and why somebody went from being a normal follower of American culture to a reactionary, traditional Lutheran who frowns on all forms of birth control, well, this is just what you've been waiting for.

I grew up in a normal blue & white collar family in middle America: birth control is good, you should wait to be ready to have kids, three or so is a good number. Never heard anything elsewise from my normal LCMS church. She grew up in a Boomer pastor's family: birth control is within your Christian freedom.

Got married with a standard American plan: finish grad school, then have threeish kids. Heard about how the pill could cause her body to expel a newly created baby from Mrs. Gibbs at CSL about a year and a half into marriage. Tossed the pills. Started reading. Ewy-ew: most birth control is, like, totally gross! And now the more we read and think, doesn't sound too godly either. But we still wanted to cling to that plan. Eventually got hold of an NFP book. Bingo: no cross, plan intact, and how can a billion Papists be wrong?

Notice at this point that the plan is still there. But let's be more honest about the "plan." It's not really a plan, it's a metaphysical judgment: a baby right now would not be a blessing. That's what all "family planning" comes down to: in my judgment, a baby right now would not be a blessing. Rather, a baby is to be avoided right now.

What you've got to decide is whether or not you think that is a godly judgment.

[And remember that disclaimer, I'm not talking about the hard cases. I'm talking about normal folks: a baby right now would be annoying, difficult, painful, expensive, etc. I'm not talking about: a baby right now would likely kill me, or be permanently crippled, or cause one or the other of us to starve. If that's the spot you are: stop
reading, don't bother typing anything below, and go talk to a godly pastor.]

Through reading the Bible, our Lutheran fathers, the history of the birth control movement and the church's reaction, etc., we came to think that that statement is just not a godly statement. Children are a blessing from the Lord. Married couples are called to be fruitful and multiply. Trust in the Lord and lean not on your understanding.

Further, note how all forms of birth control share that judgment: a baby right now would not be a blessing. As such, they share the same end - though the means are different.

That is significant and I don't want to downplay it. I'm glad NFP was there as a stepping stone for us when we were too fearful to cast our burdens on the Lord. In my pastoral counseling I've held out NFP as an option for others who are likewise fearful. And there are significant differences between all of the following: a baby is not a blessing now, so I'm going to kill it while it's in my womb; a baby is not a blessing now, so I'm going to ask a man to cut me open and take my baby parts out; a baby is not a blessing now, so I'm going to take a hormone pill that will make be infertile; a baby is not a blessing now, so I'm going to slap a water balloon on my wang (I mean, really?); a baby is not a blessing now, so I'm going to tell my wife that no, we will not be making love tonight - or any night until that temperature of hers comes down.

There is a difference between all those - and yet, there is a similarity, isn't there?

A few more NFP thoughts.

* Remember when you were dating? Remember how you wanted to have sex but couldn't? If you liked that, then NFP is for you.

* I was speaking with a fellow pastor about this just today. He and his wife were also on the NFP wagon for a while. He said, "We determined that you don't really need charts or thermometers. If you wife is really in the mood and wants to have sex: that's the day you can't." Another pastor at the table said, "Hmmm. Almost like God created it to work a certain way..."

* What do you call NFP practitioners? Mom and Dad.

* Why do the Papists allow NFP? It's the only birth control method that doesn't work.

OK, the last two are stale jokes. But there is a truth to them. NFP is frustrating and stupid and so many people give up and many others "fail" at it - that is, they have babies (what a failure!). It's frustrating because marriage and sex go together. It's stupid because because sex and babies go together too, and trying to have the one without the other is just silly.

When NFP was being debated in the early-mid 20th century the Lutherans laughed at it as pharisaical, Papist nonsense. That's kind of where I have come down as well. If you are saying "a baby would not be a blessing right now because _____ (I'm 40 or I'm tired or the youngest is only 9 months old or the car payment is due or....)" then I would encourage you to read the Bible again and lean not on your own understanding, to not be afraid for the Lord will provide. Really, He will. Honest. He keeps his promises. Children are a blessing, the fruit of the womb a reward. It really says that in the Bible. You can trust it.

And one more time: if you are saying "a baby would not be a blessing right now because the doctor says I'll probably die or the baby will have CF or I honestly think I might kill myself or the child will starve" - then please don't comment here. You need more than internet kibitzing, you need to go talk to a godly pastor face to face.


27 April 2010

Evangelicals get all the press

But we don’t begrudge those with a large pulpit the limelight, particularly when they employ it to address a topic that’s near and dear to the CSPP heart—a topic that’s most often ignored by those near the mike in more Concordian circles.

Albert Mohler has regrettably not followed completely through on marriage and procreation, as evinced by his quote in the TIME article his post references: he toes the annoying party line that so long as a couple is "not seeking to alienate their sexual relationship from the gift of children, they can seek to space or limit the total number of children they have." Perhaps he nuances that more helpfully elsewhere; I haven’t looked to see if that’s the case.

While CSPP cannot therefore offer a wholehearted endorsement, we may yet be grateful that there’s someone who’s willing to stand up and say:

“I do indeed believe that the development of the Pill ‘has done more to reorder human life than any event since Adam and Eve ate the apple.’ Why? Because sex, sexuality, and reproduction are so central to human life, to marriage, and to the future of humanity.

"The Pill turned pregnancy — and thus children — into elective choices, rather than natural gifts of the marital union. But then again, the marital union was itself weakened by the Pill, because the avoidance of pregnancy facilitated adultery and other forms of non-marital sex. In some hands, the Pill became a human pesticide.

"Christians must not join the contraceptive revolution as mere consumers of the Pill or other birth control methodologies…

"Even now, we are unable to take into account the full significance of the Pill and its use. But nothing of this significance should escape the thoughtful concern of faithful Christians. TIME magazine’s current cover story puts the issue of the Pill and birth control front and center in our cultural conversation. It should be an important part of our Christian conversation as well.”

Human pesticide. Not bad.

P.S. I’m particularly amused/consternated by the dude in the TIME piece who thought he’d found in the Pill “an exquisite chemical escape hatch” to the church’s objection to artificial birth control: “With the Pill, there was no barrier preventing the union of sperm and egg; all the Pill did, Rock argued, was mimic naturally occurring hormones to extend the safe period, so that sex was safe all month long. The church wouldn't need to change its historic teaching, he suggested; the Pill just fell outside its definition of contraception.”

Ah, how limitless is the human potential to justify our selfish indulgences! How gladly, how glibly, how gracefully, we dance semantically around our sins!

Bored blogging: Call service

--Aren't all these different routes starting to sound a little silly when you have to say them in one sentence?

--Would you want to go to a church that had a formal Assimilation process? Have I just watched too much Star Trek?

--Hey, we can have priests now?! I guess if they're Worker Priests.

--Here we are all the way into the Ps, and no dumb jokes or ski hats or sunglasses yet? What is going on?

--Seems like a lot of dudes are "unable to be present." Could it be that at last, the Call day service is no longer the highest holy day in the church year?

--I think I just missed a dumb joke about Idaho. That's more like it.

--Whoa, Fairbanks Alaska! So crazy!!! Santa's first stop!

--And now Juneau!!!!!!!!!!!

Dad's home. So long.


I am listening to the CSL Call Day service right now while I wait for Dad to get home because some people we like are going some place. And if I were those people, I would be so ticked right now. Oh my goodness. Could everyone please fall out of love with his own dumb jokes and not particularly sonorous tones and just tell us where these poor shmucks are going.


She does?

The following post references the CSPP hardline at length. Cheerio.

Hilarious message in the CSPP inbox this week: where do we stand on contraception? I told the emailer that maybe our subtext has gotten a little too subtle. The contraception thing is what landed the three of us where we are, so I'm sorry if that's been unclear to the curious. Wait, that's still pretty unclear, so let me try again: at CSPP, contraception is out, what a girl [thinks she] wants or is good at is irrelevant, and casuistry is for Winkels (which is to say, none of us have time for lengthy comment wars).

Back at the original conversion point, it was the pain in the pride and the pain in the neck that made me not like the looks of CSPP. Well, the pride is still there, but it has reshaped itself to destroy things other than my vocational impulse. The pain in the neck is also reshaped. Having older kids has cheered me up, and not just because I'm an aspiring slaver. They're fun. We like them. We'd rather hang out with them than most other people. Bring on the kids.

Alas--that's kids, not babies. Now it is just plain pain that makes me dig in my heels. Cultural inertia still gets most women to at least two babies. But that business about forgetting the pain that we all heard about this past Sunday? That handy little dominical illustration is harder for me to swallow than almost anything else in Scripture. Five kids in, the marks are becoming more noticeable. Fear does not diminish with additional pregnancies, because every single one of them can go bad. Advanced Maternal Age is not getting farther away, and yet there may still be many years before my retirement (and that's if everything goes RIGHT). God help me, I deplore pain. And the pregnancy/delivery/postpartum cycle is nothing if not very, very painful. (You know you're CSPP when months of breastfeeding feel like a tropical vacation.)

But but but but but. A child is born into the world. And since we're on the topic, I might as well mention that he's freakishly cute and baptized for all he's worth. So, self, forget. Forget the pain, because life is pain. Or if you can't forget the pain, forget thinking that deploring it or feeling terribly sorry for yourself or throwing a big fit will get you out of it. Forget that other people don't have to have to spend their whole dang lives getting pregnant and unpregnant. Try not to ruin your marriage and your children and your life by being fleshy and selfish and uselessly afraid. Sorry there's no pep talk for you here, but it turns out you're a big, disobedient, sin-loving crybaby so you don't get one. Buck up, you miserable wimp. Do your job. You're going to hurt more, a lot more. Deal with it. And come back and read this post often since you won't listen to anyone but you, you arrogant B.

22 April 2010

Be still, thou unregenerate part

I am often at my craziest when the baby is fixin' to wean. Why? I can't really say, because I'm Crazy.

Sister we are, yea twins we be,
Yet deadly feud 'twixt thee and me,
For from one father we are not.

21 April 2010

Girl, you're already a picture of my will

Do you ever find yourself suddenly awake and wondering how on earth this life happened to you? Good Old War knows your husband. He helped them write this song. And now you know.

20 April 2010

Record of my people

My five-year-old asks, "Are poodles even real?"

19 April 2010

(With apologies to Gauntlets)

The Unborn
by Sharon Olds

Sometimes I can almost see, around our heads,
Like gnats around a streetlight in summer,
The children we could have,
The glimmer of them.

Sometimes I feel them waiting, dozing
In some antechamber - servants, half-
Listening for the bell

Sometimes I see them lying like love letters
In the Dead Letter Office

And sometimes, like tonight, by some black
Second sight I can feel just one of them
Standing on the edge of a cliff by the sea
In the dark, stretching its arms out
Desperately to me.

15 April 2010

That awkward phase

Not adolescence. The-baby-is-three-months-and-nothing-fits. And-maybe-I-won't-lose-it-all-this-time-anyway. That phase.

I'm not the only one who's struggling. Recently my husband and I had to attend an event and I did that thing where I stood in the closet trying on everything and determining that it all looked awful, spiralling into ever-darkening panic and gloom as the time for our departure approached. Dad really hates it when I do this. In what he claims was an attempt to be encouraging, he sized up one ensemble and, clerically clad, asked, "Are we going as a pair of cat burglars?"

Fast forward a week. I come into a dress from a kind soul. I am afraid to try it on, not sure if this kind soul has accounted for the fact that it takes me longer than three months to return to my standard dimensions. But she has and it fits. I present myself to Dad. Quoth he, "You look like a vampire."

Friends, what am I to make of this? I try to look decent though the cards are stacked against me. My husband, the only person whose judgment of my appearance matters to me for reasons beyond vanity, the person whose words have the power either to pulverize or illuminate my heart, and I may also add a perceptive and gifted communicator with the ability to choose apt words, when in my hour of deepish need is looked to for aid, characterizes me twice as a criminal.

Distinctive and interesting criminals, yes.


NOW how do I look?

14 April 2010

Because we can't ever really be prepared for this sort of thing

I’ve been sorting through and tossing lots of stuff lately. Nesting, you ask? Well, I suppose I will start nesting in earnest over the next couple days, when we arrive at our new church and new home. At 35.5 weeks’ gestation (but who's counting). All part of the CSPP adventure, no? Hey, I’m looking forward to actually meeting the doctor who will deliver this baby next month. But more on that later. Probably much, much later.

In all this purging, in some long-forgotten archives, I came across the handbook from the “Prepared Childbirth” class we took some 6 years ago, whilst pregnant with our first. Of course, the irony of the class’s title is obvious to anyone who has actually given birth—but oh! We were all such earnest students! Carrying our pillows to each session, learning the proper massage and vocalization techniques, sticking our hands in icewater to simulate the pain of giving birth (?!?)…

Allowing my swollen self a break from the boxes, I thought it might be fun to at least flip through the thing before I pitched it, especially as another Blessed Event looms large on my personal horizon (ahem). So I kindly entertained my hardworking husband by reading him choice tidbits, such as “Forty-One Ways a Labor Partner Can Help,” from those terrifyingly giddy long-ago days.

I flipped to THE TAKE CHARGE ROUTINE (“Save this routine for any time during labor when the mother: hits an emotional low; is in despair, weeps, cries out; wants to give up or feels she can’t go on; is very tense and cannot relax”). This includes the admonishment: “DON’T GIVE UP ON HER – it is a difficult time for her, it won’t help if you decide she cannot handle it. Acknowledge that it is difficult but not impossible” At which point the ever-supportive father of my children oh-so-innocently inquired whether I was still talking about his role during labor or just during life in general.

Well, he has a point. In fact, for some time now I’ve had a half-baked post half-drafted on Hard vs. Hopeless (unrelated to L&D but with obvious parallels). And half-drafted it shall remain until later. Much, much later.

In the meantime, “ENCOURAGE HER WITH EVERY BREATH…YOU CAN TRULY EASE HER BURDEN BY HELPING HER WITH EVERY BREATH” isn’t such bad daily advice, after all—for CSPP husbands and Sisters alike, in the L&D room and out. Biblical, even.

13 April 2010

Quasimodo geniti

Here's something I wish someone had told me before my first baby was born: you can't nurse a newborn under a blanket. Depending on the skill level of the newborn, you may not be able to nurse a newborn wearing much at all. Even the ones who know what they're doing don't know that well. They have to be helped and watched. You'll have to add your neck and back and arms to your Sore list (even though I suppose you "shouldn't"). There's no holding a book in the other hand or carrying on a conversation for at least the first week or two, and not much for the first month. Those visions of picnics at the park or hanging out with everyone who comes to meet the new baby while Baby happily nurses away under the culturally mandatory blanket will happen, but not at first.

This is one way the postpartum experience is completely different for nursing moms than for formula moms, and probably a big reason many people give up. It is so lonely. And it's the hardest for first time moms, who are having to learn their end of it in addition to teaching the baby, and likely to be at home alone all day.

BUT--absolutely worth gutting it out.

12 April 2010

Spiritual mothers

All the seven of us were recently honored to be invited to dinner with the family of a couple from our church celebrating their SEVENTIETH [70th] wedding anniversary. And when I say "family," I mean this couple's nine children and the two additional generations they, um, generated.

The exalted mother of this family is always very kind to me, and has a worry I recognize behind her eyes when she asks me, "How are you doing?" She knows.

At this celebration, she sought me out (!) to thank us for coming and we stood there, two shy girls, not knowing what to say to each other despite our mutual affinity. But after we got through the requisite pleasantries of the day, she said to me, "I'm so happy now. But then, I just thought, 'Why, God?'"

"Why, God?" indeed. Why me when so many others are better suited, better hearted; and why can the weight of a blessing be so heavy in this broken world? Could it be that this gracious, humble, gentle, and longsuffering sister felt this way too? Strange words in which to find encouragement, but I did. No temptation has seized us except what is common to man, or even woman.

Shyness notwithstanding, the one thing this lady and say to each other whenever we cross paths is, "I think of you all the time." I know why I think of her: she is virtually the only real-life neighbor I have who can serve as a role model for my specific situation. I can watch her lean, pew by pew, up to our Lord's altar, and marvel at what this now bent and fragile person has borne. And although I do not think myself worthy of her thoughts, I think I know why she thinks of me anyway: the same reason I think of those at the very beginning of this road, of my own daughters, of all my younger sisters in this struggle. Their trials are precious to me.

At her party, she said another thing to me: "My cup runneth over." May the Lord deal with all of us so favorably.

08 April 2010

CSPP: What is it we think we’re doing?

If this shadow you offends, please forgive its rougher ends. I'm really just a stupid dame, and all this post is mostly lame. Gentles, do not reprehend. If you pardon, we will mend ...

When I first jumped the Mainstream Mule for the CSPP Nag, I did so with full awareness that I would end up with a larger-than-average family. Captain Obvious on patrol, here, folks. Just passing through.

What I didn’t realize is how easy it is to fall off the other side of the CSPP Nag: QUIVERFILLING. We’ve gone to some lengths on this blog to dissociate ourselves from our Baptist doppelgangers and their slightly alternate take of Genesis 1:28. However, on less than rare occasions, I find myself gasping for air under my very own self-made Quiverfilling assumptions. You know: I MUST HAVE HUNDREDS OF BABIES OR I CAN’T BE CALLED A CHRISTIAN!

I’m sorry, friends. I don’t mean to be this way.

My children are my darlings. They are beautiful, living proof that my husband loves me and that I’m not yet dead. They fill my life with star light and laughter. On my best days, I do not regret that my body has been ruined or that my mind is mostly empty space. On the contrary, I cannot begin to imagine myself doing anything else. I mean, I’m just really good at stretching snot encrusted sweatshirts over an implausibly swollen belly, so ...

But, I’m also really good at turning the good gift of marriage and children into something grotesque.

My inner serpent hisses, like this: Fill your quiver and you’ll fill the church; the church needs you. Fill your quiver and you’ll change the political spectrum; your country needs you. Fill your quiver, and you’ll fight back against the explosion of heretics, pagans, and infidels; your world needs you. Fill your quiver, and God might just love you, you unlovable slug; you might just prove useful for once in your miserable life.

Dear self, please stop ruining everything. Do you not know that God is able from these stones to raise up children for Himself? He does it all the time. He doesn’t need you or your womb to build His church or bring his Kingdom. Get thee behind me, crazed lunatic Dispensationalist self! How did you sneak in here, anyway?

I have a suspicion that when Christ returns we’re all going to be really, really surprised to find out we’ve been doing everything all wrong, in spite of our good intentions.* Good news, everyone: We don’t really have to have hundreds of babies. We don’t really HAVE to have any babies at all. Really. I’m serious. God doesn’t need us to fill up His church. America doesn’t need us to sway the vote. Iraq is Iraq's problem. Lord have mercy on us all.

However, when God famously said, “Fill the earth and subdue it,” He was endowing Man with an irrevocable authority and He was giving Man a gift. Fill the earth with more of yourself, Man, because the earth is good and I want you to have it. Enjoy your marriage, because marriage is good. Enjoy your children, because children are good. All of this good I give to you, Man, because I love you, and because you are good.

Then when all hell broke loose, God graciously corralled the procreative authority of Man rather than simply allowing Man to destroy himself and die out. Girls, given the depth and breadth of sin, it’s a miracle that any of us are able to bear children at all. Every baby conceived is a present, pure and simple. Furthermore, every moment our sin-strained, dying brains somehow manage to perceive our children as presents is yet another present.

Joy in its many manifestations is always, always a gift. Joy is God's will for His children, and it is always proof that God loves us and that we are not yet dead. Why do we have all these babies? Because we’re extraordinarily blessed. They really, truly are a heritage from the Lord. He loves you, He wants you to have them, and He works all things for the good of those who love Him. Be fruitful and multiply, not because you have to, but because, incredibly, you can—and because God’s rainbow still shows up after a storm, and because the Church still has Baptism, and because Christ is coming back to reveal His kingdom once and for all with all authority in heaven and earth in His hands.

You won’t always be made of mud and decay, precious daughter of God, and you won’t always resist the good God causes to flow in, with, and under you every second of every day. Eyes to the skies and hands to the nursery, for Christ is risen and Joy is already at the door.

*Doing everything wrong short of hearing the Word and receiving the Sacrament. But I assumed you would assume that. :)


The Easter hats of Trinity Lutheran, Worden IL:

Here are some more from Ewe. Any others?

UPDATE: some particularly lovely ladies, with thanks to Father Ben Ball.

07 April 2010

Two ways

There are two ways of doing it.

One is to think, upon considering a task pending or accomplished, "I wish someone did this for me."

The other is to think, "I'm glad I can do this for someone I love."

Most of us want to be nice people and do nice things and be thought well of. The easy route to this is by doing nice things for people we don't really know for the purpose of being kind, yes, but also to gain their esteem. Random acts of kindness directed toward strangers are personally superficial, because they cost us very little.

Our boring work offers us daily the opportunity to show kindness to others, and not just any others, but the people we love most. What a loss to reap from it a harvest of resentment rather than satisfaction.

The joy of the dative, people. Not "I'm doing this," but "I'm doing this for them."

05 April 2010


An article I wrote for the Jan/Feb issue of Touchstone has been reprinted at Generation Cedar.

In these rhetorically destitute latter days, it seems prudent to state upfront that the points presented are in no way a slam dunk regarding contraception. They are merely observations of how the Christian ethical milieu in relation to chastity and marriage has changed since procreatively inhibitive intimacy became the norm among practicing Christians.

I am indebted to my reverend father for much of my thought on this matter, whose emphasis in confirmation class on the necessarily public nature of marriage really stuck with at least one sixth grader.

A wordle for the short on time:

04 April 2010

Who will roll away the stone for us?

Our parish follows the custom of veiling images of our Lord on Judica. I hate it like I hate everything that's good for me. In years past we have done this at home too; covering the crucifixes in every room. This year I didn't do it, because I hate it. And even in years when we have done it, I have never veiled the icons and crucifix opposite my nursing chair in the baby's room. I can live, albeit gloomily, with the crucifixes veiled, but I cannot sit alone* in that chair in the dark night without my little group of icons above the changing table and the crucifix over the door.

On Judica, a huge black shade is drawn over the Christ Blessing image on our church's reredos. It's really not my favorite image. But that huge black shade at the front of church where Jesus should be hangs heavily on the soul.

At the Easter Vigil, during the Litany, the lights come up, the candles are lit, the vestments change from violet to white, and the awful shade is lowered by a server, a servant of the Most High. At the end of the Litany, the pastor turns around and declares, "Alleluia! Christ is risen!" It is the most preposterous moment of the Church's year. "He is risen indeed! Alleluia!" we answer, preposterously. And it is over. The Passion is past. It is the day of Resurrection. We keep the Vigil, we watch for our Lord to pass over from death to life, but in the end it is still a mystery.

To just come to church on Easter morning, Jesus is back as if by magic. The shade was there on Friday, and now it's gone, and there are flowers and white paraments and Alleluias. But there was a moment when the shade was rising, when its string slid through someone's careful fingers and allowed it to fall inch by inch, when Jesus' hair appeared and then his face and then his hands and then his feet. There was also a moment of something like fiat--"Alleluia! Christ is risen!"--because even as we watched, we missed it.

And there was a moment when a servant of the Most High rolled away that stone, for it was very large, so that people too weak to roll it away themselves could see where Jesus, who didn't need the stone rolled away to leave, was not. And there was a moment when Jesus began to be not just impossibly alive as at the unfathomable moment of his Incarnation, but impossibly alive again.

*not really alone, of course. If I were alone I wouldn't be sitting there. But although very sweet, an 80% asleep nursing baby is insufficient comfort for me.