Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Repentance: It Begins With an E

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. ~Isaiah 53:6

I gaze in surprise when she screeches to a stop at the dining room table. She is running to answer my call for a batter-stirrer, yet something distracts.

For she is reminded.

The rest of us, we come to the box when there is something to be written. A hurt just committed, a word, an action.

But she.

She is just reminded by the repentance box. To make right.

And she thinks for a moment, forehead wrinkled in concentration, her hand resting on the counter near the bowl of batter I've decided to begin stirring myself. Then she turns to find someone. Anyone. And she, humble, repentant, rubs brothers' arm as he sits drawing and whispers, I'm sorry for... when I... it was bad. His eyebrows quirk at her incomplete sentence, eyes turn to me, questioning. I shrug and nod encouragingly. Please forgive me? she finishes.

And he does. And she smiles. And then turns to the basket full of paper slips and the red pen. Choosing carefully, she pours all of her concentration into forming letters on paper, carefully shielding her work with hunched shoulders.

We've promised each other that the repentances are between individuals and their God. No one need ask, no one need look. The only requirement is that we make it right with the other person(s) first.

But I know what she writes, because I am her teacher.

And the only letters she can form are the ones in her name.


Her offering is herself. She signs that slip, full disclosure. Me, God. Just me.

And she is lightened and released and she skips away.

So, later. It is my turn. I stand at the box, already forgiven by a generous child and hugged to nearly bursting; I also need to write. Years of feeding, loving, leading are peppered by withholding, pulling away, and dragging, and I stand at this place so often.

I choose my word.


In blood letters, I repent of me. Me, God. Just me. I am my sin offering.

For, wasn't He? Only much, much more, because He carried my sin, too?
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. ~Isaiah 53:7
The box of repentances is a cereal box, cleverly disquised with red and cream checkered paper, a beautiful scripture in elegant font taped topside. This Lent it sits on the table, fuller every day; come Easter, the whole of it will be tossed into the firepit, burned up for all it holds.

And the woman? I am just a black, black heart. Not so cleverly disquised by scented, honey-colored hair, doing little to cover the stench of the often-too-quick-to-leave-my-mouth-words. Lotion adorning not-always-so-gentle-hands, fair skin merely a shell on a dark spirit.

Come Easter, I will not burn. Because He took the offering of me, transferred it to Him, and paid the debt in full.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed. ~Isaiah 53:5
I don't suppose it will hurt to tell you that all of my slips of repentances will now bear only one word.

And it begins with an "E".

holy experience

15 fellow travelers shared:

Hooper said...

All of the classes in systematic theology in the world will not teach us the beauty and simplicity with which our daughter teaches us about repentance and justification! What a blessing my two "E" girls are to me!

Wendy said...

Wow, that is profound. Thank you for sharing. I love your blog.

Stacy said...

I have wanted to do this, too- but wasn't sure how to go about it with so many little ones who can't write. I loved reading this~ that Eliana is so fully participating even without being able to write it down!

Beautifully written, Elise. As always.

Katie Eagy said...

Thank you for the inspiring idea. We may just do this soon!

Abby Goff said...

What a great idea Elise! We have had a hard time "teaching" our kids compassion and forgiveness and repentance. This would certainly help! Have a blessed day!

Rebecca said...

Wow! So beautiful. I love this post and it spoke to my soul. :)

Christine said...

I read this over at Ann's and loved it. I love reading your family's experience with it. Beautiful.

Linda said...

I keep thinking the words "and a little child shall lead them." Thank you, Eliana, for leading the way. Thank you, Elise, for being so humbly open and honest. I stand beside you and slip my name in too.

EEEEMommy said...


Pam... said...

This repentance box is so lovely. A great idea.

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

I am late...
and you are loved.

All of you. so.

This. Yes. Oh, yes, Elise.

(Today your wreath in the envelope and i caressed your name label and so smiled --- squeezed all my love into that package -- we all did!)


Becky@ Daily On My Way To Heaven said...

Oh, what a beautiful lesson. Thank you for sharing.

Becky@ Daily On My Way To Heaven said...

I just linked your post in my blog. thank you for sharing.


Dianna said...

I can't tell you the number of times that I have thought of what I read here today. Thank you SO much for sharing.

tonia said...

oh elise....your heart.

a river of joy here for me this morning. thank you for writing, for stringing together poetry for all of us to read.

you bless.

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