Home! EASTER 2017

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Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”  Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.  The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there,  and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

And there she is — Mary Magdalene, witness to the RESURRECTION! A woman, of all people. An unreliable witness, according to the laws of the day, a person on the outside of every inner circle you can think of . . . except the only one that truly matters: the center of God’s love. It was love that opened her eyes and her heart, it was love that propelled her down the path to tell the others. It was love that spread the Great Good News that JESUS CHRIST LIVES!!

HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH! Thank you, thank you.

Something New, JUST FOR YOU!

 

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He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

This has been the greeting for this season of the Christian year for centuries. So I greet you, on this first Monday of the Easter season with the words of our fore-parents in the faith — He is risen!

This magnificent truth is something to celebrate. And more than that, it is something to live. ‘We are an Easter people’ — I’ve heard it, I’ve read it and I believe it to be true. This grand Easter event colors every other aspect of life when we lay claim to the word ‘disciple’ — Easter changes everything.

So it seems to me that this first week of the Easter season is a natural marker for new beginnings. And I am beginning something today, something which makes me more than a little bit nervous:

 

I have an eBook!

 

And I am giving it away to everyone who signs on the dotted line for yet another new thing in my life: a semi-monthly personal letter.

This small epistle will be from me to you, and will land in your in-box on the 1st and the 15th of each and every month for at least the next year. That means the first issue will show up in just nine days.

I’m calling this letter, “More Wondering. . . ,” and in it I will say things I won’t be saying anywhere else on the worldwide web. It will be an amalgam, I hope. A mash-up of personal note, updates on my book-publishing project (did you know I have one of those?), things that have caught my eye on the web, quotes I love, photos I’ve taken. A little of this and a little of that — all of it, I hope, adding up to something worth reading and enjoying.

My blog guru, LW Lindquist, has been hard at work putting the ebook together — and friends, it looks amazing! It’s an edited version of the blog series I did at the beginning of 2014 called, “Living the Questions: Reflections on the Mystery.” I’ve edited those essays for this new format, and added some questions for reflection at the end of each of the eight chapters.

An 8-chapter book — can you believe it?

I cannot tell you what a joy it was to see this thing jumping up at me from the screen of my Kindle Fire. 

It will be available as a free download whenever you subscribe to my new letter, “More Wondering . . . ” Because it’s in PDF format, the book is easily downloadable to any mobile device that connects to the internet. I just turned my Kindle sideways, and there it was, filling the entire screen! Amazing, right? 

I am delighted to be able to offer you this gift. And I want you to feel free to share this news with friends. In fact I hope you will — and please direct them back here, directly to this post so that they can get their own copy — after all, it’s FREE!

I think it looks pretty fabulous — don’t you?

Living the Questions 3D cover

You can sign up for the “More Wondering . . .” letter using the form below, or the signup form in the sidebar:

powered by TinyLetter

And yes, there will soon be one of those pesky pop-ups on this blog. That’s because I really would love for anyone who reads something I’ve written here to have the opportunity to join our newsletter circle.

Can you all help me spread the word? a Facebook share or a tweet or two would be just grand.

Thanks, friends! And I hope you enjoy the eBook and the newsletter when it comes into your inbox on the 15th of this month.

A Granddaughter Remembers — A Guest Post from My Daughter

Visiting the blog tonight is my middle child, Joy Trautwein Stenzel. Joy is exactly what her name says she is – a joy to us. She and her husband Marcus are raising three good young men in Monrovia CA and are both special education teachers, working with blind students across the age span from pre-school to 22. (Our eldest daughter also does this good work.) Our children grew up with their paternal grandparents less than five minutes away and were often in their home, as you will see. I love the way this piece celebrates what some might call the ‘old-fashioned’ virtues. To me, there is nothing old-fashioned about any of it — it’s a heritage we are humbled and pleased to call our own. Interspersed throughout her lovely words are photos scanned for us today by one of our grandsons, Joel Fischinger. Here’s Joy:

IMG_0022Joy, Mama, Lisa – on vacation at Mammoth Lakes, an annual excursion for many years.

Solid, dependable, disciplined, hospitable, thoughtful, committed, consistent. 

My grandmother embodied these qualities.  In an increasingly chaotic and unpredictable world, such characteristics are on the decline.   And for an overly anxious and easily overwhelmed child, the unwavering reliability of my grandmother was a source of familiarity and comfort on which I knew I could rely.

IMG_0104The first in her family to graduate from college, at UCLA in the mid-1930s.

Mama was very steady and measured emotionally—quite the contrast to me.  She rarely (if ever) raised her voice, and I only remember seeing her cry twice—when speaking of a beloved brother who had died too soon, and when her only daughter and her family were pulling out of the driveway to move across the country.   Her level mood created an atmosphere of comfortable predictability for an emotionally volatile child—I knew exactly what to expect when I walked through her door. 

So solid.

IMG_0703Enjoying Crater Lake with Jean and Richard, early 1950s

I knew when I went to Mama’s that there would be no surprises in either her temperament or the physical environment.  Almost all of the furniture, toys, games, dishes, and appliances (no new-fangled microwaves for Mama!) stayed the same in their Wagner Street house from the time I was born until they moved to Santa Barbara. I played with my dad’s old toys, as did my children after me.  I took great comfort in the familiarity of it all. 

So dependable.

IMG_0113One of the last pictures of both Mama and Papa with all of their grandchildren, late 1990s

If we ever spent the night at Mama and Papa’s, we knew what we would find when we walked into the kitchen in the morning:  the two of them seated at their little blue kitchen table, drinking coffee, reading the Bible and praying for family, friends, and missionaries.

So disciplined.

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Same grandkids, several years earlier! On Kauai for M & P’s 50th Anniversary.
We hope to continue that tradition in the summer of 2015 – can you believe it?

We also knew that we would be well-fed when we entered their home.  Mama was a wonderful cook, and hosted frequent meals for family and friends.  She had a small but delicious repertoire of family favorites:  BBQ short ribs, lemon meringue pie, tapioca, homemade applesauce—terrific food served on the same dining room table with the same china, flatware and crystal goblets year after year.  To ensure that everyone would fit around the table, the piano bench served as a seat for the two smallest family members at one of the short ends of the table—no kids’ table at Mama Trautwein’s!  Every leaf of that table would emerge from the closet so that we could all be together.  That dining room set now resides in my own home, where I can only hope to entertain perhaps a quarter of the number of people she hosted so warmly over the years. 

So hospitable.

IMG_0556Gathering around that dining room table, about 1979 or 1980.

When birthdays rolled around, we knew there would be a dinner in our honor at Mama and Papa’s house.   Mama would let the birthday girl or boy set the menu.  We always picked our favorite dishes (which probably weren’t her favorites!):  orange jello packed with pieces of fruit, butter brickle cake topped with toffee pieces and hot fudge.   When we became teenagers, Mama made each of her grandchildren a treasured cookbook filled with handwritten recipes for the family favorites we all loved, complete with personal notes and anecdotes related to certain dishes—a gift we all cherish and use regularly.  My own children have even been fortunate enough to experience the anticipation of an unfailing Mama Trautwein birthday tradition—every year on their birthdays, she has sent them two dollar bills, the same number of bills as their age.  Needless to say, they have amassed an astounding number of two dollar bills! 

So thoughtful.

IMG_0174Not only did she host birthday dinners at her house, she also came to birthday dinners at our house.
We did birthdays up right in this family.
This picture cracks me up because the Birthday Boy almost got cut out of it.
And we just noticed tonight, he’s wearing doctor gear, of all things! And now he wears the real stuff. Go figure.

Mama established countless family traditions which were joyfully anticipated throughout the year.  Every Easter, we knew we would receive a heaping plate of bunny and lamb cookies decorated with pink icing with chocolate chips for eyes.  We dyed eggs every year at that little blue kitchen table, and Mama took us on annual Easter egg hunts at Descanso Gardens.  Mama decorated a Manzanita tree every Christmas with tiny ornaments, and she gave my sister and me our own manzanita branches when we were in college, with new ornaments for them every year.  Each member of our extended family had a stocking that had been lovingly decorated by Mama, unique to our interests.  Mama found a lot of joy in holiday traditions. 

So consistent.

IMG_0515This woman LOVED Christmas! 

IMG_0060And the Easter egg hunts at Descanso continued with the great-grands, too. The four oldest, about 15 years ago.

Mama and Papa also loved to travel.   They arranged annual extended family trips to Mammoth Lakes.  These vacations gave the cousins a chance to bond, and allowed Mama and Papa to share their love of fishing, jigsaw puzzles, and board games with their offspring.  Mama and Papa took exciting vacations without us as well, and invited us over for slideshows when they returned to share their adventures.  They always brought back trinkets and souvenirs for us and sent us postcards from around the world.  And Mama sent our own family off on road trips with boxes of cookies and wads of dollar bills to purchase souvenirs of our own.  She did these things every summer, without fail. 

So committed. 

D-68cMama, Papa & Jean visiting us in Africa, summer 1967.
I was 4 months pregnant with their first grandchild on this trip.

We will miss Mama, but many of the traditions she established continue in our own families, keeping her memory alive.  We have been blessed indeed to have such an amazing woman so actively involved in our lives, setting an example we all aspire to follow. 

Solid, dependable, disciplined, hospitable, thoughtful, committed, consistent. 

Old-fashioned qualities?  Perhaps.  But never out of style. 

Thanks so much, Joy. Beautifully said and right on target.

IMG_0103Kathryn Trautwein, in the early years at the Samarkand, before dementia.
A truly lovely lady in every way I can think of, a good, good woman.

A Muscular Savior

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So. It’s been quite the weekend. Beautiful weather on Saturday, with a little fog wiggling its way along the shoreline, clearing to bright blue skies above city and mountains. A drive by the Old Mission reminded me that spring has indeed sprung, with the Mission rose garden sending glory sparks all round. Brilliant blooms, redolent and heavy with sun and scent.

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And Sunday morning began, as it usually does with pre-worship on the bluffs. This week, there were dolphins. Dolphins! Creatures who speak to me of God with their beauty, grace and sense of fun. I loved catching this glimpse of a shiny tail, splashing the surface.

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Turns out, there was an entire pod making its way south, rolling and skimming along. As I watched them frolic, I had quite a lengthy conversation with God (courtesy of my iPhone notes app) about my own struggles right now. And for the second time during this Lenten season, I was reminded that sometimes resurrection requires death, healing needs a kind of dying first. Not exactly the answer I wanted to hear, but I tried to take it in with a semblance of grace and acceptance.

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Just before I left to drive up the hill for worship, an acorn woodpecker dropped onto a low-hanging branch and tapped away. His cheerful topknot doesn’t show against the intense morning sun, but I caught glimpses of it a few times. Woodpeckers don’t usually come so low, so close to the ground and us human creatures. They’re notoriously shy, despite their noisy presentation, so I was glad to see this guy at eye level.

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The sanctuary had been transformed for our Palm Sunday celebration. The dry branches of Lent gave way to deep green palms, potted plants, lighted lanterns, setting the garden scene beautifully as we walked into the sanctuary. 

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We’ve been creating our own lectionary this year, moving through the gospel of John since last September. John doesn’t tell the story of the triumphal entry; he enjoys playing with the timeline, shifting the emphasis, creating a beautiful, literary, deeply theological gospel. He puts the table-turning — an event which follows right after the palm procession in the other gospels — way back in chapter two, establishing early the picture of a muscular savior, moving steadily towards his final glory, on that hill outside the city gate.

This week, this beginning of Holy Week, we were at chapter 18 and standing with Jesus in the garden. That garden of prayer and betrayal and arrest, a scene painted in strokes of agony and grief and failure by the other story-tellers in our New Testament. But John? He gives us such a different picture! Jesus has prayed for all of us in the preceding chapter, a prayer for his friends and for us. So there is no praying in this garden scene. Instead of sweating-drops-of-blood, we meet a take-charge Jesus, a man who knows his destiny and strides toward it with commitment and energy. 

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It’s a seminal moment, this meet-up between Jesus and the soldiers. The soldiers who were led there by one of Jesus’s own. And Jesus meets them head-on, asking a clear question: 

“Who are you looking for?”

Two times he asks. And two times, they answer, “Jesus, the Nazarene.” Each time, he says clearly, “I am he.” The second time, he even adds these words: “If it’s me you’re after, let these others go. . .” releasing his disciples. In John’s version, they do not flee, they are set free.

They are set free!

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Peter — of course,  it would be Peter! — whips out his trusty sword and cuts of the ear of the servant of the Chief Priest. And Jesus will have none of it. NONE. He turns and says ferociously, “Do you think I will not drink this cup? This cup given by my Father?”

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This is one strong dude here. A man who sees his future clearly and embraces it, suffering and all. Not because he is a glutton for punishment; not because the Father is a sadist of some sort; not because the forces of Rome and religion are victorious and he is a loser. NO. 

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Those who arrest him, even he who betrays him — these are not the enemies in John’s rendition. They are the necessary implements who put God’s redemptive work into action, the players who take Jesus down that road to the cross and eventually, to another garden. The EASTER garden. The one where we learn the powerful truth that we are indeed free. Free at last!

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In John’s telling, Jesus is Christus victor, the one who triumphs over sin, death, the grave. Over brokenness, betrayal, pain. Over anxiety, depression, illness of all kinds. Over it all. 

And he does it without flinching, without second-guessing, without question. 

For me, this year, this is the picture I need. It is yet another reason why I am so deeply grateful for all four of our gospel accounts, for their unique vision, purpose, structure, story-telling.

Some  years, I need to read about Gethsemane — to weep with Jesus, to pray fervently, to try to stay awake, to be faithful.

But this year?

This year, I need to hear Jesus say, “Who are you looking for?”  And I need Jesus to tell me I am released — I am set free, I am blameless. And I need Jesus to model for me courage and commitment and unflinching resignation — no, scratch that. Unflinching welcome of the pain that lies before him.

An embrace of the dying that is to come, looking ever forward to RESURRECTION.

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Headed into surgery on this foot in early June to repair (hopefully) a badly torn tendon
and to break and reset a congenitally off center heel bone.)

I need to hear the “I am,” the clear, calm cry of identity that John puts into the mouth of our savior at least eight times throughout his gospel. “I am” — he tells those who will listen — I am the living water, the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate for the sheep, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way the truth and the life, the vine.

And here, right here in that last garden?  “I am,” says Jesus. “I am the one you seek.” 

That old, strong, breath-filled name that the God of Israel gave to Moses. That name that could not be spoken, but only breathed. That name, that name. “I am.”

Oh, Jesus.

Be the “I am” in my life!

Stride right through the pain and confusion, the uncertainty and the fear, the injury and the hard work of breaking and mending. Help me to see you, strong and steady. Help me to hear you, clear and calm. Help me to know you, to know you.

To see and remember the beauty of the roses, the joyous abandon of the dolphins, the cheerful tapping of the woodpecker, the green beauty of the palm fronds, the flickering lamps of the soldiers, and your gift of freedom and release to those who are your friends.

Thank you that you call me exactly that, your friend. I’m counting on that.

 

My deep thanks to Don Johnson, Jon Lemmond, Bob Gross, Martha Johnson, Jeanne Heckman and every member of the worship team and the office/administrative staff who contributed to yesterday’s celebration. I look forward to the events of this whole week because of your dedication and creativity. 

Let the Alleluias Begin! A Photo Essay

It rained on Easter Sunday, gentle but insistent,
washing the air, watering the earth,
catching our attention.

The sun did not break through until late in the afternoon,
and somehow, it felt absolutely right for this particular Easter celebration day.

I have stepped back into leadership during this Lenten season,
enjoying the familiar rhythms of leading weekly communion services.
Services that are liturgical, yet at the same time, informal and friendly.

 Our congregation enjoys the aesthetic contributions of a small group
of thoughtful, talented women
who work with the preaching pastors to provide
a worship environment that encourages us to better
focus on the Word offered on a particular Sunday,
or throughout a season.
All during Lent this year,
we were reminded of the journey
by a simple purple drape on the cross
and a large urn,
filled with bare branches.

On Palm Sunday, those branches were visible above the array of color
provided by palm fronds and fabric.

On Maundy Thursday, they were visible on the back altar table,
behind the richly purple setting on the front table.

 On Good Friday, they disappeared,
along with every other usual object in the chancel —
the baptismal font and table removed,
the pulpit shrouded.
And on the side shelves, where greenery usually flourishes,
only these upended wooden boxes, draped
in dark fabric like the cross.

And then came Easter!

Those bare branches?
Now richly flowering.
The purple drape on the cross?
Replaced with shining white.
Those stark wooden boxes?
Filled to overflowing with
lilies, waving their brilliant faces across the front of the sanctuary.

 

 A glorious feast of white and gold,
the Christ candle tall and stately in the center of it all.

 Shaking rainwater off of coats and jackets, worshipers filled the sanctuary
earlier than usual.
Almost on cue, they began to settle into their seats,
quiet their conversations and ready themselves to worship.
We began where we left on Friday.
That night the plaintive sounds of  “Were You There?”
filled a dark room, and everyone left in silence.

On Sunday morning, the lights dimmed,
as the room filled once again with the sounds of that old song,
this time in the lilting soprano of a high school senior.

 As she sang, our pastor came slowly down the center aisle,
lit candle in hand,
arriving at the Christ candle as the song came to its end.

And as the Light is lit,
the alleluias begin — full lights,
drums, trumpets, oboe, voices and glorious, glorious music.
“Christ is Risen!”
“He is risen, indeed!”

I don’t know that I’ve ever been more grateful to say those words
than I was this year.
One of our founding members, now in her 90’s,
declared this the finest Easter celebration she has ever experienced.
And I’d have to agree with her.

One of the lovely events that added layers of meaning to the day
was the baptism of the infant daughter
of our former Director of Children’s Ministries.
Following the tradition of the early church
(and the contemporary Catholic church, as well),
we folded small Anastasia (whose name means ‘to live again’)
into the family of God on Easter Sunday, trusting that the work of the Holy Spirit
will be real in her life as she grows to claim
the name of Jesus for herself.

Jon and I read the words together,
asking the age-old questions of parents and people,

dripping the water on her small head,

offering words of blessing to this babe and her family.

And then,  Jon carried the church’s newest member
up and down the aisles, introducing her to her new family,
while we all sang, “Children of the Heavenly Father.”

Jon’s sermon was strong and true,
spoken from the heart with illustrations my visiting
grandsons could enjoy.

It was a magnificent way to begin the Easter Feast.

 And then our smaller-than-usual family group continued the feasting
gathered around our table, as the rain fell gently outside.

Our oldest daughter, her husband and three fine sons
joined my husband, my mother and me to break the fast of Lent
and celebrate the Risen Lord.

The salad course was first,
followed by barbecued salmon,
cheesy potatoes,
a divine quinoa side dish that Lisa has added to our repertoire,
and baked asparagus with a balsamic glaze.

Even our resident vegan ate enough to require a little resting between courses!

These three young men have had a more difficult life than most their age.
They lost their dad after a long, lingering and difficult illness.
It is good to see them happy as a family,
with Karl and Lisa giving good direction and
providing a living model of redemption in that home.
There can be resurrection in this life of ours —
we remember this truth every time we are with them.

 Fourteen-year-old Joel is our resident baker/chef and he created this
stunning coconut cake to cap off the day.
It tasted even better than it looks,
and it looks divine!

Poppy got a candle in his piece,
because he celebrated a birthday that was
pretty much lost in the shuffle of Holy Week activities.

The candle that was lit at the beginning of our worship,
was also lit in the center of our dining room table.
And as the afternoon clouds moved slowly away,
the blueness of sunshine-after-rain
seemed a fitting and celebratory way
to finish off the feast.

Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed! 

Joining this longer than usual picture-essay with Michelle, Jen, Laura and Jennifer

 


Midweek Meanderings: a Photo Essay

The 5-point (meaning I pivoted 5 times to get the whole thing), 240 degree view from our back terrace this week. Sigh.

The rain last night was lovely, clearing the air, greening the hillside,
encouraging a warming fire in the fireplace. 
This morning, all the clouds are piled up to the south,
slowly making their way to our real home,
and the homes of our children.
 These shots taken on my afternoon circular walks around the driveway. Once, this was a grand central CA home. Now it is an amazing view with a very run-down house. It makes me sad to see homes neglected, but we are grateful for what there is in this spectacular vacation space, hanging over the bluffs with the hills just behind. And there’s lots of room to spread out, which is a good thing with so.many.of.us.

We’ve been together since last Friday,
spread out in a large, hacienda-style rented home.
A place in need of some major TLC – 
but with a killer view of the Pacific coast.
Birds flourish here.
And so do children.
The 2-year-old runs headlong down the hill toward the bluff,  causing gasps on all sides.
But someone bigger is always nearby 
to step between her and the abyss.
May it always be so!
Eastertide is a season for celebration and for gratitude,
for remembering who we are as the people of God.
And here, on this rugged shore,
with a 17-year-old asking good, hard questions,
two 13-year-0lds sharing a kayak adventure,
a 10-year-old giggling his way through a great game of ping-pong and two 6-year-olds alternately 
adoring and infuriating one another,
we are celebrating.
And we are grateful.
Even the 21-year-old was here for the weekend,
before heading back to school and responsibilities,
four hours south of this gathering place.
Our adult children are good and interesting people.
Their spouses are kind and good-natured.
All of them are attentive parents and generous housemates.
We observed Easter at a church unknown to any of us and followed with a feast, just as the Christian church has done for centuries. We are also celebrating the 70th birthday of Poppy, 
our loved and lovable patriarch, the acceptance into his 1st choice college for the 17-year-old and a good private high school scholarship for one of the 13-year-olds.
After so many years of struggle and loss,
it is good to gather in gratitude.
We even took a family photo … the first ever … 
to round out the weekend just past.
The photographer is working on the touch-ups
and we will soon have a lasting memento of this time spent together, 
possibly by week’s end.

 The hunters and the hiders – not sure who enjoys the Easter Egg Hunt the most.
Though she loves the idea of hunting and hiding, Lilly does not quite fully grasp the concept. Generally, if she hides, she guides the hunter until she’s found. :>)
 
In the meantime,
we soak in the beauty around us,
explore the small towns that circle round the sea,
while some play tennis,
and others a little b-ball.
One daughter and her husband paid for two days of heating the pool on the property and about half the crowd
jumped in and enjoyed getting wet and tired.
We’ve had an egg hunt or two,
enjoyed delicious home-cooked meals,
even traveled to a local ice-cream maker’s
“All You Can Eat” Tuesday celebration.
In a beat-up side room, there is a pool table and ping-pong,
and someone contributed a 2000 piece puzzle to pour over.
Settlers of Catan has made an appearance and Bananagrams, too, 
so no one seems bored. 
Many naps are taken in this house, 
signaling the welcome arrival of true relaxation
and energizing Sabbath rest.
We all point and shout, 
thanking God for sightings of otters,
sea lions, an occasional dolphin – 
even a whale, far out in the bay.
Avila Beach, just north of where we are.
A creekside restaurant for lunch in San Luis Obispo
Through it all, we thank God for the richness of family life,
the push and pull of living in the same space,
sharing the work and the fun,
watching the children grow in wisdom and in stature.
Friday, we return to reality.
Or at least to our usual list of responsibilities and commitments. 
Sometimes, though, I do believe that experiences like this week are the true reality,
life as it was originally designed to be lived.
Maybe everything else is mere illusion,
the structure that has been overlaid on human life
in the wake of Eden.
So, we’ll take these windows of grace.
And we’ll savor them, thank God for them,
take lots of pictures 
and build reservoirs of stories to share 
as the years progress.
And once in a while,
I’ll write about it here.
Because I really do believe that
this is the truest part of me.
At least, until Friday.

I’ll sign this one on with Michelle at “Graceful,” Jen at “Finding Heaven,” Ann at “A Holy Experience,” Em at “Canvas Child,” Laura at “The Wellspring,” Laura at “Seedlings in Stone,” and Jennifer at “Getting Down with Jesus.” I encourage you all to check out these fine blogs – but I am having increasing difficulty getting buttons to show up in the new blogger format. If anyone has any shortcuts for this tedious job, I’d love to hear them.

 

EASTER! Day One

Christ is risen!
Christ is risen, indeed! 

A Prayer for Easter Sunday Morning

As we whoop and holler and celebrate the end of our journey together in Lent 2012, we will greet this magnificent morning with the beautiful words of a very special and ancient prayer called the Exsultet.  It was the prayer offered  by the lowest member of the clergy, in the early church, the deacon, and it was prayed when the Christ candle was re-lit following its extinguishing on Good Friday.  Its origins can be traced to the lamp lighting in the synagogue and you can hear the echoes of our Jewish heritage in its language.  That synagogue prayer was adapted by the early church for special times of celebration, most particularly for the annual celebration of the resurrection.  On Saturday night, Christians would gather outside their places of worship to observe the Easter Vigil – that time of waiting for the hour of Christ’s rising from the dead.  Then, in the very early morning, as they lit the Easter fire, the Christ candle was re-lit and the deacon would lead the congregation in this prayer as they re-entered their sanctuaries.  As the people followed the candle, they would chant: 

“Christ our light! Thanks be to God!” 

Let us pray:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! 
Exult, all creation around God’s throne! 
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! 
Sound the trumpet of salvation! 

“Christ our light! Thanks be to God!” 

Rejoice, 0 earth, in shining splendor, 
radiant in the brightness of our King! 
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! 
Darkness vanishes forever! 

“Christ our light! Thanks be to God!” 

Rejoice, 0 holy Church! Exult in glory! 
The risen Savior shines upon you! 
Let this place resound with joy, 
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people
  
“Christ our light! Thanks be to God!” 

It is truly right that we should praise you, 
invisible, almighty, and eternal God, and your Son, Jesus Christ. 
For Christ has ransomed us with his blood, 
and paid the debt of Adam’s sin to deliver your faithful people. 

“Christ our light! Thanks be to God!” 

This our Passover feast, when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain.  This the night when first you saved our forebears, 
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery 
and led them with dry feet through the sea. 
This the night when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin! 

“Christ our light! Thanks be to God!” 

This the night when Christians everywhere, 
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, 
are  restored to grace and grow together in holiness. 
This the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death

and rose triumphant from the grave. 
Truly blessed, when heaven is wedded to earth, we are reconciled to you! 

“Christ our light! Thanks be to God!” 

May this Easter candle mingle with the lights of heaven, 
and continue bravely burning to dispel the darkness of the night! 
May the Morning Star, which never sets, find this flame still burning. 
Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, 
and shed his peaceful light on all creation, Your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. 

“Christ our light! Thanks be to God!” 

Amen.

A blessed Easter Celebration to you all, 
dear friends. 
Thanks for taking this journey with me, 
for your words of encouragement 
all along the way. 
I pray that we have, by the grace of God, helped each other to ‘grow together in holiness,’ as this ancient prayer so beautifully puts it.
Now may we move through Eastertide 
to Pentecost,
and then out into Ordinary Time 
remembering that we are 
AN EASTER PEOPLE. 
Thanks be to God on high for our salvation, 
for our hope, 
for our life!