I wrote this on April 13, 2013 - the words still ring true.
I awoke this morning to find that Brennan Manning had died yesterday. It's hard to put into words the grief this pierces me with. I want to share his impact on me over the years, how his words about a loving Abba have shaped me. It's really wild how a man whom I've never met, whose voice I have barely heard, has been such a big brother to me, leading me along this ragamuffin road towards home.
Here are just a few ways he has led me, as well as a poem I began yesterday before I learned of his death, and which I finished upon hearing about his passing.
- As Brennan taught me of Abba he taught me how to love and be loved, how to father my children with a fierce longing for their hearts to be cherished.
- As he taught me of God as a foolish lover, he taught me how to pursue my wife through the thickest of storms, when it only makes sense to give up, but instead of doing what makes sense to throw caution to the wind and love with a furious kind of love.
- As he taught me of Jesus as my big brother, I learned how to trust through the darkest of fears, through depression, through an anxious heart and broken mind, because my big brother's got my back and will stick up for me regardless of what the enemy throws.
- As he taught me of myself as a Ragamuffin, he taught me of my need which is deeper than anything I can fill, which led to me learning how to receive.
- As he taught me of Jesus as healer, he showed me a way of life that loved the impoverished, whether they be the beggar without a dime, the alcoholic in denial, or the CEO who can't shake feeling inadequate.
- As he taught me that I'm loved as I am, not as I should be, my legalistic heart was set free and by living out of that I am able to know myself first and primarily as Abba's beloved son.
My life and heart were forever, eternally changed when I read 'The Ragamuffin Gospel' my sophomore year of college. I was ready to quit, tired of the façade of Christianity. Yet, as a spiritual father and guide does, he gently and firmly called out my bullshit, and enticed me onward towards being received by the Great Lover. At this point in my life I really cannot think of a single area which has not been touched by his voice. My heart is so grieved at the loss of my hero. After a decade of hearing Brennan's voice, I can gladly say with him 'I belong to Abba'.
Dark pink buds so softly forming,
catching light upon their brow.
Grouped together no longer lonely,
blanketed red appearing now.
Out from stems so thin and brittle,
life from leaves of vibrant green.
Blossoms come for time then whither,
a losing battle it would seem.
For a time they grace with beauty,
short lived life and purpose ends.
Strong with form and hues so softly,
til a wind strikes - they've no defence.
Petals fall as floating feathers,
forming beds so dark and lone.
All they leave are stems dark redder,
now to earth they find new home.
Why this life so short and final -
is just to spread pollen abroad?
But God the artist painting brightly,
enticing creatures to be awed.
Out of kindness does He grace us,
with such beauties small and bright.
That our eyes would in remembrance,
view lovers heart with this new sight.
Brennan, beauty, he softly beckoned,
'Arise my love, my beautiful one.
Come away from darkness, desperate
Come to me, sing beautiful song.'
Abba's child once and forever,
taught me of my Lovers aim.
He spoke so softly of my Abba,
turned my heart towards this rich gain.
My heart indebted, filled and grateful,
as my big brother He calls home.
For Brennan's beauty am I thankful,
To grieving heart I beg You come.