March 25, 2019
On this foggy morning I am reminded that spring has come in all its variety, and I think that the same concept applies to this season before Easter. We as Christians are given this time to contemplate our relationship with our Savior, our need for forgiveness, and our journey during our time on earth.
The variety comes from the fact that this time mirrors Jesus’ time in the desert when He was preparing for His ministry. I want to share a poem I wrote during a time in the desert, in the hope that it will give you something to think about during this time.
Lenten Desert Reveries
One step after another, we travel this old river gulch where
the basket people dwelled and grew their corn,
stored it in ancient granaries in the sandstone cliffs,
and left their symbols carved and painted there, where
the ancient hunters forever track the bighorn sheep and
the spirit gods live on the walls and in the winds.
High above the golden and crimson sandstone edifices, a trio of birds
trills a lilting melody into the stillness,
while a golden marmot and long-tailed grey squirrels search
for crunchy seeds, berries, and pinyon nuts.
At the end of the canyon, cliffs reach toward the burning sun;
but from a tiny fissure, water falls into the parched air, then
meanders down, caressing moss and tiny plants, dripping softly
into pools reflecting stones and sky.
One step after another, Jesus wanders the desert paths where
ancient shepherds have guided their flocks,
searching for forage in a sun-radiating, barren land.
Among the multi-colored rocks and sifting sands, Satan
offers worldly power, stones into bread, and great renown –
rejected by just a retreating back and reverberating words.
High in the cliffs, a dove awaits John’s baptizing hands, when
Jesus’ feet will leave the desert paths, find the fishermen, and
walk another way that leads to Gethsemane and Golgotha.
A tiny break in the world’s hard-baked crust, in human hearts, and
the springs in the desert begin to nourish birth and life,
creating pools in our world reflecting the will of God until
a bloody cross lowers, a barrier stone is rolled away, and
a flowered world welcomes all.
March 18, 2019
St. Patrick’s Day has always been a favorite of mine, not because I have a drop of Irish blood, but because of a very special friend. Yesterday my husband and the Knights of Columbus served green pancakes and sausages at our church, and in the evening we had corned beef and cabbage with lots of other good veggies. So we celebrated well, but I want to continue the celebration with the story of my friend Roseanne.
Roseanne was Irish as “Paddy’s pig”, born and raised in Butte, Montana, with a large family of Irish miners. She loved all the songs and taught them to me, and she revered all things Irish, including taking her beloved grandfather to Ireland to see all of the relatives still there and to enjoy the “little people” and all the traditions and special places.
But most of all Roseanne treasured her faith with a strength that matched all of her amazing accomplishments. She loved Our Lady of the Rockies, a magnificent white statue which stands on the mountain overlooking Butte. She knew that the statue brought blessings to the city she loved so much, and to this day when I drive through Butte my eyes are drawn constantly to the statue.
Roseanne’s story is one of both joy and sorrow, and it fits very well with my consistent theme of following Jesus in both grief and joy. She was easily the best teacher I have ever been around. She loved junior high students, a group whom many teachers avoid, and she could reach all children and teach them to love English and reading and writing in many ways.
Her classroom was highly organized and disciplined, but it was also bustling and full of sounds of kids participating, laughing and exclaiming with amazement. Outside of school she had a Book Club, a Writing Club, a Photography Club, and a club which produced a yearbook for the school, and kids flocked to all of the clubs to the point that they often outnumbered the kids who were practicing sports.
Then came a vindictive administrator who cost her the job and cancer which took her life. The switch from joy to sorrow was horrible, but her faith carried her through all her trials. I loved her through all stages of her life, but I admired her the most for her resilience and her faith in the face of insurmountable odds.
May you be blessed with that kind of faith.
March 15, 2019
My apologies for missing my Monday blog update. To be honest the reason that I did not post on Monday was that my focus was on a new book – a sequel to Walking at the Speed of Light entitled Drinking Deeply: Reflections on the Living Water. To be fair to you regular readers, I shouldn’t miss a blog post anyway, so here goes.
On March 14 I turned 71 years old. I realized that day that I was the youngest I’ll ever be for the rest of my life – and that made me feel young. I’m with Toby Keith: “Don’t Let the Old Man In, a recipe for staying young which helps to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. We can stay young in a way if we just walk with the young Jesus (remember that He was in His 30’s when He did all His ministry).
Then we move to today, March 15, the birthday of my oldest son who catapulted me into motherhood and engaged my heart in children as a gift from God. As we gather for dinner tonight, celebrating the two birthdays, I will be so thankful to have him and his family at our table because we share faith and love of so many things.
This love brings me back to a theme that is vital to not only my book and my programs but my whole philosophy of life based on belief. We know that God is Love and that He sent His Son to express that Love in the very deepest way possible, Love dedicated to saving us even though that involved allowing His Son to die.
When we profess our belief in God, we accept our role in that kind of Love, which radiates far beyond the everyday expression of caring about the people in our lives. Real love involves realizing that we have signed on for all the joys connected with that person and all the sorrows connected with that person. If we lose a child or lose a relationship, however temporarily, or see a child suffer, then we know the suffering that God experienced.
Perhaps this seems complicated, but to me it is so simple – that suffering with or over a loved one is part of the Love given and inspired by God. May this Love that passes all understanding be a vital part of all your lives.
March 4, 2019
My husband and I are attending another funeral today – the fourth in two weeks – and as we offer sympathy to people dealing with grief, we can believe that this is the worst darkness. Family members, friends and neighbors adjusting to losing someone who belonged strongly in their lives is so hard.
However, if we look around at all the people in our communities, we realize that so many are dealing with different forms of darkness, some much more difficult than grief. I say more difficult, even though these things can hardly be measured, because there is no support or the darkness is self-inflicted and repetitive.
This week many churches observe Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent leading to Jesus’ death and resurrection. One reference is to Queen Esther, whose exhortation to the Jewish people to fast and put ashes on their foreheads becomes instrumental in saving their lives. This helps us realize that darkness can even be political – something which speaks to our current national problems.
At the risk of seeming simplistic, I believe that the answer to political and societal darkness is the same as the answer to individual darkness. We need light, and it needs to come through Jesus, the Light of the World. One thing Jesus constantly reminds us of is that all things in our lives and our society are in God’s hands and will work together for His purposes despite human interference.
One sad thing related to our current situation is the misconception that Christianity must be put aside in all political affairs because some American citizens are not Christian. Instead, while honoring religious freedom and avoidance of any kind of persecution, we should embrace the Christian beliefs and ideals which will benefit all citizens.
As the early Christian leaders discovered, the whole world can benefit because some people dedicate themselves to sharing Jesus’ Light. Just as Jesus knew that His ministry to a small remnant of people in one small corner of the world could lead to the salvation of so many “throughout the earth,” we need to realize that when we seek the Light and offer others support in seeking the Light, we make a difference which can be contagious.
During this time before Easter (Resurrection Sunday), surrender your darkness to His light and shine, shine, shine – and those touched by your life will also shine.
I just want to continue to share ideas about grief and life with people who long as I do for comfort and understanding.