A Delight, Not a Duty

We flew the coop yesterday.
Took off for parts north, ready for a break in the usual,
needing some beauty to refresh, to encourage,
to ready us for what comes next.

Worship was exactly what we needed,
a good send-off for four days away.
We have clearly moved into summer mode
at Montecito Covenant Church, 

with a more relaxed feel, a slight decrease in 
the numbers as college students return home, 
and vacation season begins.

Pastor Jon talked about hospitality,
about creating welcome,
about being the gospel for one another.
And about how our Good Book
paints a long series of pictures
to try and help us understand what it means
to be one who welcomes.
And every one of those pictures
centers on a table,
on shared food and drink,

on feasting and partying and living life fully.

DSC02040The delightful altar piece brought back strong memories.
In the 1980’s, I served as the first chairperson of a newly created

Worship and Arts Committee at our home church in Pasadena CA.
And for a similar service about hospitality,
I had created a table scene for worship,

and that was almost 30 years ago now.

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I am so grateful for those years,
for learning and growing,

for the freedom to try new things,
sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing,
but always hearing words of gratitude and encouragement. 

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Those dear friends in that dear place welcomed me,
they lived out the truth that Jon spoke in and around and throughout

his excellent sermon yesterday morning.
The truth that,

“Salvation is not a task to be done,
but a meal to be shared and enjoyed,
a delight, not a duty.”

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It is so easy to forget this,
to fall into the sinkhole of works righteousness,
or to forget to be on the lookout
for ‘angels unaware,’
as our text for the morning reminded us.

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We lunched with “The Moms,”
our practice on Sundays,

smiling and soothing,
encouraging and entertaining.
These good women are among those
with whom we try to practice hospitality
these days. 

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And then we began the drive north,
enjoying what’s left of the green-up brought

by rains in April but fading fast in the
extraordinary heat of May. 

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There are almost as many vineyards as oak trees now,
covering the hills with their sinewy spring growth,
their geometric precision in such sharp juxtaposition
to the wildness of oaks and chaparral.

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This is a favorite drive, bringing to mind
our monthly treks north for me to meet with Abbot David,

and how much I miss that man. 

We both acknowledged that
this a trip we needed to take.
I can feel the tension flowing out my husband’s fingertips
as he steers the car on these familiar roads.

And as we lug our stuff into our home for the next few days,
we are reminded again of why we do these things,
why we love to travel together,
why getting-away-from-home,
even a home we dearly love,
is good medicine.

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We sink with gratitude into the deck chairs
on our small balcony,
breathing in the salt,
and the sea,
and the shoreline.

And we remember.
We remember that marriage is also
a delight, and not a duty.
That traveling through life,
with all its circuitry, its ups and downs,
is richer because we do it together.

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We watched the sun setting on the sand,
enjoying an order-in dinner,
settling into this space-away,
welcoming one another.

And it was delightful.

 Joining this one with Kelli Woodford, who has kindly taken over from Michelle DeRusha’s weekly check-in, with dear Laura Boggess, and with Jennifer Dukes Lee’s Tell His Story, and for the first time, with Holley Gerth’s link up, which I just discovered.

And one last time with the wonderful Jen Ferguson and the Soli Deo Sisterhood.

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Comments

  1. Diana, this is just soul food. These images are feeing my hungry eyes, my heart hungry for rest. We’re exploring Sabbath over at The High Calling this week and you just gave me some Sabbath moments here. Thanks for that.

  2. Now THAT’S what I call a Playdate. Those ‘getting out of Dodge’ moments are so crucial. Hope you are rejuvenated and ready for the next chapter of the summer. I believe it’s titled ‘Foot Surgery’, yes?

    • Thank you, Jody. Yes, foot surgery IS next – on June 12th. And a few new writing projects between now and then, too, so I’m hopping! (And soon, I will be literally hopping, as well. Sigh.)

  3. Delight and not duty. I need to live into that, to help my kids live into it. And, oh, we are so in need of a vacation. Praying that something comes together this year for us to make it happen. May your days be filled with rest and peace.

    • I am convinced that EVERYBODY NEEDS A VACATION – even if it is just one night somewhere different. It can change the world – or at least our view of it. Thanks for your kind words.

  4. Margaret says:

    What a delightful post!! We just (almost literally) walked in the house from our latest getaway…I’ve been working on a graduate exam for weeks and when I typed the last letter and emailed it off to my adviser on Sunday afternoon my husband said….let’s pack an overnight bag and head for the coast. Its a 2 hour (give or take) trip from the Central Valley of California and always always our favorite time away. It was amazingly beautiful and restful…this post made me breathe deep and so appreciate “delight and not duty” in so many things!! Blessings

  5. “being the gospel for one another”
    this took my breath
    speaks my heart
    and what you do for me, Diana

  6. Diana, wanted to let you know my Dad died this last Friday…During the night on Thursday some kind of medical event happened. He declined during the day and died by Friday evening. We had called hospice but they barely got him admitted. He was not in pain. woke up Friday morning, incoherent and mostly not present with us. I did have one moment of connection with him in the afternoon….i realized he had a moment of recognition – I leaned over and kissed him and he kissed me back. what a gift.

    this last year – such a mixture of duty, mixed with moments of delight. I did write a brief post yersterday on my blog – have you heard of Ted Loder? I love his writing and one of his poems captures how I feel….a curious blend of grief and gladness. it’s from a collection of his poetry/prayers – Guerilla’s of Grace and entitled “I teeter on the brink of endings.”

    wanted to let you know.

    • WOW. Carol!! I am stunned – standing with you in the grief and in the gladness. This is gift in many ways, I know that. But wow, that was fast. Lots of love to you – and thank you so much for telling me. So grateful for that moment of connection, my friend. So grateful. And no, I didn’t know Ted Loder – but I do now. Thanks for that. Many, many blessings to you.

  7. Donna C says:

    I have just come back from a half-day date with my husband. We drove to a little town 20mins away, wandered through a couple of second-hand shops, had lunch at a new cafe, then found another second-hand shop to look through, before picking up kids from kindy and school and all coming home again.
    It was lovely.
    Lovely because we were out of the house together, away from the busy and grumpy and tired, off somewhere different, together, doing things we love but very rarely have the time to do. Lovely to discover that the man I married is still there, although I mostly see him as co-ringmaster of the circus we run together these days!
    Time away together is being hospitable to ourselves and each other – or at least, that’s what we find! Sounds like you are the same. Glad you’ve managed to have this time together.

    • What a LOVELY day. And you’re so right – these are the things that keep us in touch, that remind us of who we, as a couple, are. So glad you had this.

  8. Wonderful, delightful…….a feast for the eyes and the soul as well!

  9. This was lovely. Simply lovely. I feel relaxed and soothed as if I had taken a mini vacation myself.

    Thank you. <3

    ~ Cassandra from Renaissance Women

  10. What a joy to get away. I hear you, friend. Something to break up the routine often gives my imagination and creativity fresh wind. I could sense that in your words above, Diana. Especially the bit about marriage.

    Love that you’ve linked with us this week at Unforced Rhythms. You are ALWAYS welcome there.

    • Thank you, Kelli. I’m grateful that YOU are the one carrying Michelle’s wonderful legacy forward. A gift from her to you and from you to the rest of us. Thanks for leaving such kind words.

  11. Diana,
    Delighted I linked up behind you at Holley’s place…what a wonderful image of delight and duty in marriage and in our relationship with God…as the church is His bride…Thank you 🙂

  12. Diana, it sounds like your every pore was yearning for that getaway! I hope the beauty around you and the companionship of your husband will refresh and restore you before your surgery. Your writing and your photographs refresh my soul and I feel a better person for connecting with you!

    • Exactly – every pore. It has been pure blessing, in every way. We took a delightful day trip yesterday, but Monday and today, we’re quite content to just hang out in this wonderful place. Off to a matinee this afternoon. And then back to reality tomorrow, with the first of many pre-surgery medical appointments. Thanks for reading and leaving lovely words, my friend.

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