Category Archives: Sunday Musing

Transparent and Reflective

“If our consciences were clear, we would have no need to confess. But we stand transparent before God, who knows our thoughts, our hearts, our misdeeds. Let us speak to the One who has promised not to put us to shame, but to forgive us of our sins.”
~Thom M. Shuman

*Psalm 139

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On saying goodbye…

Grief is a difficult and unpredictable beast.

There is no “right way” to grieve, but there is much to learn from the traditions of  others. I think  Christians  have missed out on some wonderful and useful traditions when it comes to dealing with grief. We tend to quickly pull together a funeral or memorial service, but after that? Nothing. Grief is a longer process than just a memorial service or a funeral.

Carmi has written so poignantly about life and death and saying goodbye to his father. He has shared about the Jewish customs after death (e.g., Sitting Shivah, Unveiling).  The more I learn about the Jewish customs that relate to death and the grieving process, the more I wish they were universal, because they provide a form — a frame — a ritual — within which to understand and acknowledge the emotional journey we undergo when a loved one dies.

One of the most moving homilies I’ve ever heard was at my step-father’s memorial service when the minister spoke about how we need to say goodbye. With my step-father, there was no chance to say goodbye in person. He took a sudden turn for the worse and died within hours; I was living far away.  I had to find a different way to say goodbye after his death.

Now, my mother is undergoing a long process of saying goodbye.   She continues to weaken as she loses weight, and she has lost a lot of weight.  There is noticeable difference between her now-fragile frame and her distended abdomen;  there is a growing mass in her abdomen — growing despite chemotherapy — a mass that wasn’t there 2 months ago during surgery. Hospice can’t be that far off (although she does not acknowledge this, I know it to be true). She doesn’t want to talk about “the end” being in her immediate future; she is still trying to believe that this new chemo will stem the tide and hold off the inevitable. I, however, am facing reality. I’m sifting through the layers of my heart, mind, and soul, searching for the things that need to be said and discarding those things that don’t really matter anymore.  It’s a cleansing sort of internal decluttering.

I suppose the ultimate goal is one that Cricket writes about in his moving post The Long Goodbye.  (Thanks to Hilary  for bringing this beauty to my attention as a Post of the Week.) Go ahead and read it.  I’ll still be here when you are done.

A long, drawn-out ending is painful but it does give us multiple opportunities to say goodbye; a sudden and unexpectedly early death can leave us with words unsaid.

These are the things on my mind lately.  Your thoughts?

Today

SederAfter a week of ups and downs, where joyous shouts are followed by thoughtful ceremony, where meaning is found in simple, everyday items — parsley, salt water, wine, and egg…

A week that takes us through our own understanding of things like freedom and faith and sacrifice…

A week that culminates (for me) in a glorious morning that cannot be hidden by rain and clouds, as sadness and darkness turns to joy and light:

Sunrise

A morning like any other and yet like no other morning before or since…

New Life springs forth and glory is revealed!

HAPPY EASTER!

Giving up facebook

So. The short of the matter is, I’ve given up facebook for Lent.
The problem is, I announced that I was doing it on my facebook status.

I’m not claiming to be “religious” — I didn’t do it to get pats on the back from anyone (myself included) or for the attention (the wow-factor), and I can’t even claim that I’m “faithfully” using that time for introspection or prayer (although it wouldn’t hurt).

It’s actually simpler than that. I find myself turning to social media — e-mail, blogs, and facebook — when I feel the desire to interact with someone, to have a relationship, to communicate. And that’s all well and good.  But sometimes I think it might be my go-to reaction, the thing I do instead of calling a friend or meeting face-to-face… or stopping to pray. As a Christian, I believe that God calls us into relationship with Him. Now what kind of relationship is it if I don’t spend time and effort on nurturing that relationship? (Answer: not a very good one.)

But by announcing my departure from fb for the season of Lent, I stepped into a questionable zone and I need to stop and look at my motives.

The message (sermon, homily… whatever you want to call it) at the Ash Wednesday service was based on Jesus’ instructions about righteousness:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 6:1, New International Version]

The pastor talked about how many folks (and yes, on facebook!) were discussing what they were giving up for Lent, and how this *could* be seen as announcing ones righteousness aloud in the temple and on the street corner – a sort of look at me! Look what I am doing! I was horrified to think that my announced absence from fb might have a root in that. Whether or not it does (and I didn’t want it to be!), it can certainly read that way to people. Now, the pastor knows me pretty well and I think she knows that was not my intent when I posted my status.

I actually gave up facebook for Lent last year, too, but I did not announce my departure. I’m rather ashamed to admit that I was quiet about it because I didn’t think I could stay away for that long. I didn’t want to say I was doing it and then fail right in front of everyone. (Pride rears its ugly head.) But I felt badly about missing friends’ birthdays during those 7 weeks. I didn’t want them to feel ignored. (Honestly? For the most part, I doubt they noticed).

For me, fb is a huge time suck. On a regular visit, I might go on for “just 5 minutes” but that can turn into 90 minutes pretty easily.  There’s always plenty of things that need to get done in a day and whatever time I have gets filled SOMEHOW, with SOMETHING.  I am trying to reclaim my time as a gift from God and to use it more wisely. Now if only I had worded it that way on my facebook status!
Because it’s less of a “giving up for Lent” thing and more of an intentional focus on what God wants me to discover about my relationship with Him.

And that was the message at church on Wednesday night:  to examine your heart, your life, and ask if there is something in the way of having a relationship with God.

Elemental

My hope for you today:   that you know that you are loved.

1 John 4:7-8

Shed a Little Light

The group I sing with on Sundays has been practicing this song for a few months. We sang our version this morning, just one week and one day shy of the day we –as a nation– set aside time to remember and honor the contributions of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The song actually ends at the 4-minute mark; after that, JT takes time to introduce his band.  I wish I had a video of our group singing, but I don’t.
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What we didn’t know when we picked this song was what was going to happen in Arizona yesterday. We didn’t know that our pastor was going to preach about,  didn’t expect to hear a message specifically about a faith-based perspective on how to make sense of such a horrific tragedy. Being one week prior to Martin Luther King Day, I didn’t even expect to hear his name mentioned.  But much like Diana Butler Bass wrote in her blog post yesterday, these things were all addressed from the pulpit (in fact, the pastor quoted some of what DBB wrote). And then we sang this song that we had been practicing and planning on singing for the past several months:

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Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the Earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Shed a little light, oh Lord
So that we can see
Just a little light, oh Lord
Wanna stand it on up
Stand it on up, oh Lord
Wanna walk it on down
Shed a little light, oh Lord

Can’t get no light from the dollar bill
Don’t give me no light from a TV screen
When I open my eyes
I wanna drink my fill
From the well on the hill
(Do you know what I mean?)

Shed a little light, oh Lord
So that we can see
Just a little light, oh Lord
Wanna stand it on up
Stand it on up, oh Lord
Wanna walk it on down
Shed a little light, oh Lord
Shed a little light

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh, Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the Earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood

Change of Season

The Thanksgiving decorations are still in full view — the pumpkins, the Indian corn, the “Harvest” scented candle. I’m not ready to jump into December.

Yet today is the first Sunday of Advent, a day of expectation and longing for change.  So I will light the candle and read the scripture verses, and I will wrestle with the change and hope and expectation.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Sunday reflections

It may appear calm and serene, but there is movement under the surface. Clutter catches on the rocks. There is splashing and sometimes things get carried away.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.”  ~Psalm 42:1

Come walk with me

come walk with me

Come walk with me
on the narrow path
because  it matters
how you step, and where
And sometimes
we each find a need
for a helping hand
or a leg up
on life’s journey

End of a season

Summer is over
birds peck at my tomatoes
withering on vines