Sunday, February 26, 2012

Life Happens...

The best-laid plans...why do they do often go astray? Perhaps to remind us that, in the long haul of things, life is not in our control... that things happen- like snowstorms and respiratory viruses...like the death of a beloved son and the birthday of another. In spite of my best intentions to do the daily yoga challenge during Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday, here I am on Sunday with nothing begun. Yet looking out the window yesterday, seeing the winds pulling the trees this way and that, I realized...I realize that this IS life...this buffeting, this being tossed, this having to respond to happenings rather than controlling them. And it is, after all, our response to what happens that determines who we are, who we will become.

Exactly nineteen years ago, my life was devastated by a single phone call telling me of the death of my oldest son...and for nearly two years I was "dead"...inside nothing lived- or so it seemed. Oh, I funtioned, went through the motions, kept putting one foot in front of the other, doing the day-to-day things which had to be done, but inside, I was dead, entombed- and there were days when all I wanted to do was lie down, close my eyes, and never get up again.

But resurrection happens...the seed buried in the dark ground slowly begins to grow until, one day, the green sprout emerges into the sunlight, nurtured into life by the warmth of love and need and purpose...a young son needing his mother; two grown children who had already lost a father, facing the fear of being orphaned; a small, struggling congregation needing a shepherd...and new, renewed life began to happen.

Each year, though the darkness returns at the end of February- if I am to be sick, this is when it happens (like this week's upper respiratory virus)- it is admittedly and blessedly shorter and with less emotional wrenching as time passes, but present nevertheless. And I have learned to dwell in it, to accept it without fear, certain that I am not in the darkness alone but am accompanied- by my loving, beloved children, by my caring and ever-present friends, by my extended family, and by a Compassionate God who knows the pain of losing a beloved child.

Life happens.
Death happens.
Resurrection happens.
             Thanks be to God!


CARL ALLEN SUTTON, JR.
Aug. 31, 1964- Feb. 26, 1993


Monday, February 20, 2012

Carolina Snowfall...

According to the Farmers' Almanac, North Carolina was supposed to get snow today- so it arrived one day early. Still, not bad for predicting a year in advance, especially with regards to the weather here in the Piedmont, which can change from hour-to-hour, let alone day-to-day. Looking out the windows of my study, I can see the pristine white of the yard, the white icing on the tree branches. But all too soon, as the temperatures rise today, the snow white beauty will disappear, and by mid-week the weather prognosticators are promising temperatures in the sixties. Reminders that this is one area of life (of course there are many, but we like to fool ourselves) which we cannot control...which operates on its own natural cycle. Oh, yes, as a species we can impact it on a grand, overall scale, and we should be ever mindful of that. But here in High Point, NC, sitting at my desk, gazing out the window, I can only marvel at the surprises and glories and wonders of the natural world- and give thanks for the reminder that everything is not in my hands...thanks be to God!




PSALM 8- revisioned...
Everywhere I look,
I see the evidene of
your creative energy O Source of Life.
The moon and stars shine
with your glory.
The flowers and trees radiate
your presence.
The creatures of the earth
and sky and sea show
the wonder of your imagination.
When I behold the amazing
beauty of the earth and skies,
I hold my breath in awe.
And, as I  regard the incredible
beauty and diversity of
humanity, I am struck by
our seeming insignificance
in the scheme of things.
Yet I think, I feel, I reason,
I exist...and so, I give praise!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day Breaking...

Ah! the sky lightens...
not quite seven and the day is dawning.
Day break- yet it does not break at all
but creeps in silently on tiptoe as
the barely perceptible changes
in the sky whisper of the sun's coming.
Night gives way gently to day...
the moon fadng slowly as
the sun's light overtakes hers
outshines her, sending her
into deep sleep until its setting
invites her back into the eastern sky,
while the dying light of the sun
paints the western horizon
with an indescribable palette
of color...and the gloaming
settles gently into the
velvet dark of night.
     Another day of living...
     another day.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Life Re-shaped...Re-doing Ministry

My life keeps re-shaping itself, as new opportunities present themselves, new doors open, new windows are flung open to let in unexpected light. My position as Chaplain at the Lutheran Home Winston-Salem is proving to be one of those. First steps were tentative at best, as I found myself asking myself over and over again what it meant to be ministering in such a place, where so many of the residents seem "out of reach" to the conventional, comfortable, safe ways of doing ministry. But slowly, gradually, Love has showed its beautiful face and I am learning to share that love with people who are becoming ever dearer to me as the days go by.

One challenge has been a woman who is profoundly deaf...and each time I stopped by to see her, the experience was frustrating for both of us, as communication seemed impossible. Physically unable to write, she seems trapped in a world of silence, broken only by the moving mouths of those caring for her. Frustrated by my seeming inability to be able to offer anything to her, I found myself avoiding her room...not very pastoral, I know, but there it is.

And then, this past Wednesday, the day of our usual bi-weekly mid-week worship with Communion, the activities aide gave me a list of those residents who could not come to worship but desired to receive Communion in their rooms and this woman was on the list. Wearing my alb and stole and carrying the elements of communion, I entered her room...and for the next few minutes, time stood still and the place I stood became holy ground.

Holy Communion...
The body and blood of Christ
given for you...
I can't hear.
I know...and I hold up
the wafer dipped in wine.
Her eyes widen, mouth opens,
and I repeat the words as
I feed her the bread of life.
Oh, my, she whispers, eyes filling
with tears, it has been so long.
My fingers touch her cheek,
enshroud her head as I
say the blessing.
I would like to come to worship
sometime, her quiet voice
continues, but I can't hear.
Then I'll come to you, I say
and gesture. Her hands clasp mine-
Thank you thank you, thank you,
and now the tears are mine.
     Wholly communion.

And so, I live and learn and feel the power of the Living God flow through even me...Keep me mindful, Ground of All Being, of my place in this great scheme of things called "Life", and open me to being a blessing even as I offer blessing.