Archives for March 2013

A Trip to the Dentist — A Deeper Family

This is the day of the month that I am privileged to write over at A Deeper Family. Telling a few unpalatable truths about myself this time around, grateful that God continues to work for redemption in even the not-so-nice parts of me. You can find the rest of this essay by clicking here:

Sometimes, I can be a jerk. I can get smug, believe myself to be superior, judge others as not quite up to snuff, below the level of ‘spiritual maturity’ I’ve discovered over the course of my L-O-N-G life. It’s more than a little bit humiliating to admit this, but there it is.

Also true is this: I am far harder on myself than anyone else in my life has ever been or ever will be. I call myself names I wouldn’t let past my lips in regard to another living person, ever.

This ability of the human psyche to rapidly traverse the territory between self-flagellation and grandiosity is simply astounding. Within a heartbeat, I can find myself skyrocketing from the voice of that harsh internal critic to one that reflects a pretty twisted praise-me-first-last-and-always egocentricity.

The truth is this: neither voice speaks it. At my very best, by the grace of God, I land somewhere in the middle — not nearly as terrible as that accusatory voice wants me to believe, but nowhere near as high-and-mighty as my more grandiose self might lead me to think. And a lot of life is spent trying to find and maintain that centered space, the one where I allow myself to be a human person, with strengths and flaws — not perfect, but not lower than a gnat’s knees, either.

I’ve gotten better at it over time, but there is always more to be learned in this life.

For example, this small vignette: last week, my husband and I went to the dentist, one appointment after the other, for the first time ever in our married life. Our dentist’s office is across the street from one of the most beautiful churches in our town, a big, old, sandstone building located on the corner of our busiest street. . .

Come on over, add a comment and reassure me I’m not the ONLY person in the world who battles monkey mind and self-centeredness!!

Signs of Spring — A Photo Essay

A winter heat wave gave way this weekend to the beginnings of a spring storm.
Somehow, this change in the sky, in the texture of the air around me,
matched a move in  my spirit.
We are midway through Lent, winding our way through the wilderness,
heading now for the Promised Land.
And the edge of it is in sight.
Can you see it, just there?
There is an undercurrent of hope amidst the sober reflectiveness of this season,
there is a sense of movement, forward movement, Spirit movement.

Ten minutes at my beachside office before church on Sunday,
about 50 deep breaths of tangy sea air.
Then onto worship, first-Sunday-of-the-month worship,
which means communion with the community.
The table was inviting, with four stations for intinction,
with its tearing of the bread, its dipping in the cup.
Myriad candles were lit, the worship team took their place,
two high school students adding keyboard and violin skills to this Sunday’s mix.
A strong, good sermon on a tough passage,
a passage that ended with the parable of the fig tree.
I like that fig tree, because I so often feel unfruitful.
I find it heartening to think that God is the gracious and patient gardener,
willing to cultivate and fertilize the reluctant tree,
hoping for fruit in the year ahead.

I wonder what that cultivation and fertilization looks like in  my life just now. . .

 Communion was  a bit chaotic, and I liked it that way.
It reminded me of meals shared in our home when our kids were growing up:
everybody wants to join in,
but no one is exactly certain where to go or what to do.
The spirit is lively, open, a little uncertain,
and that seems a good thing to me.
Eventually, a rhythm is found, everyone relaxes into this different way
of sharing the bread and cup.
Personal words are offered to those who partake,
the elements are both taken and received,
and sometimes that needs to happen –
we need to tear off a chunk AND we need to have someone else hold it for us.

 An afternoon walk around our yard served to underscore this new reality,
the truth that the season is shifting.

Later on, we enjoyed our monthly Taizé service in the early evening,
a quiet, candlelit time with lovely prayer songs, softly sung.

Somehow, these Sunday things – morning communion, afternoon walk,
evening music by candlelight —
they all felt like harbingers of hope,
reminders that fallow times yield rich harvests,
that Lent takes us to Easter Sunday.

We’re not there yet – there is walking still to do,
there is more sober reflection to come.
There is Holy Week before there is Resurrection Day.

But the blossoms are out! The light is cracking through, the colors begin to unfurl.

Summer plums, rich and dripping with deep,
dark goodness are now bright white flowers,
spreading their way along old limbs, reaching toward the sun.
The remnants of last fall’s apples make rich fertilizer for next summer’s crop.

And shrubs of unknown name, planted by a long ago landscape architect,
are flush with brilliance this year.
Deep magenta spikes, covering different areas of the yard.

The late afternoon sun catches just a glimpse of their glory, bouncing here, there, everywhere.

This has been a hard winter in some ways.
My mom’s move, illness and surgery for other close relatives,
more writing deadlines than I’m used to,
a return to work for a few months.
For all these reasons and more,
I’m glad to see signs of change,
to observe promises of the future.
In the middle of Lent, I appreciate reminders that this journey
has a magnificent end point,
and it is  coming soon!

I’ll have my monthly post at A Deeper Family this week and I’m trying to write three other deadline essays (welcomed by friends at other sites – my thanks to each and all!) in order to dig into my first sermon in over two years, to be preached on the 17th of this month. So I will not be writing much in this space for a while. I’ll put a link up on Thursday to ADF and I’ll join this one with some of my friends around the blogosphere tonight.
I am hoping that more frequent posting will come again soon!

A Word Candy Weekend

So much of life is about seeing, isn’t it?

About seeing the real,
paying attention to the true,
acknowledging both the beauty and the banality
of everyday life,
and finding there the essence of reality.

May each of you truly SEE this weekend, dear friends.
Steadied by the Spirit,
encouraged by the Son,
drawn by the Creator,
may you find eyes that see,
ears that hear,
and a heart that understands
that Love is the reason we’re here.