Wearing a legacy

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Lace created by my grandmother, Claudia Bishop Harsh.

This morning I put on my robe and reached for a purple stole. I have two… but I chose this one.

I pieced this stole last year from odds and ends and purchased purple swatches. Considering I had never created a stole before, it was a work of much guesswork and happy accidents.

As I wrote last year, I was a bit uncertain how to finish this stole. The embroidered findings of a cross or bread and cup would not show clearly on the piecework. And it needed something, oh… a little more personal! 

And then… as I rummaged and searched for the right finishing touches, I found the family heirloom lace and knew… a commercially created cross would not work. Carefully, I trimmed and sewed pieces of this lace on my stole. I would wear the handwork of my foremothers around my neck.

On Easter Sunday, I will wear more of my family’s heirloom lace on my white robe. As I pray and sing and offer Communion, I will again wear the legacy of my family’s faith. This lace trim, created by my great-aunt Maurine, was painstakingly sewn on late into the night on Holy Saturday last year.

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In the basting stages last year: hand-tatted lace created by my Great-aunt Maurine Bishop.

Not everyone gets to wear their family’s love on their sleeve. I know that as I celebrate on Easter Sunday, I bring my family with me. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins bring a sense of “grounding” to my faith. I wear a labor of love!

I serve from a place of privilege, for I know I am encouraged and prayed for, welcomed and loved. I worship in safety. I can express my beliefs without fear of persecution.

I wear a legacy… one that I hope to never forget.

Thanks be to God!

What shall I tell my daughters?

Oh Lord…

How did we arrive in this unholy mess? The latest kerfuffle with the presidential election makes me want to throw things. Or vomit. Or maybe throw vomit. How did things get so thoroughly mucked up? Is this really the result of an uninvested, uneducated electorate, who were distracted by the rhetoric of obstructionist Legislatures, both national and local? (…as some pundits would suggest)

img_2179What shall I tell my daughters? They are voting in their first presidential election. The big issues like our national debt and student loans matter to them. (Hello. To me, too!) So does affordable healthcare. Getting a job. A clean environment. Global warming. A safer world. Marrying the person they love.

How shall I explain what their parents’ generation has done…and not done? They know as well as I do that it is a complex world we live in, far more complex than when I snoozed my way through “Principles of Democracy” (aka “civics”) in high school. It’s more than sound bites. It’s more than tabloid-driven news (God, help us!) It’s more than he-said-she-said.

This much I do know… I believe these young women, these wonderful daughters of ours are, inherently and personally, people of value and promise. They and their friends have much to give to our nation and our world. They have drive and dreams. They are articulate and compassionate.

They are watching and waiting with me, Lord.

I know You guide the hearts and actions of the nations.
I know You are able to steer even the most stubborn autocrat.
I know that whoever is elected will be flawed human being… just like me.
May Your peace reign.
May we hear Your direction.
May we know Your heart.
May we have Your mind.
And may those of us who are tasked with spiritual leadership
guard our tongues and increase our prayers…

Amen.

The QUIET


Tuesday we took The Johnnie back to campus. It was a busy summer, full of travels and memories, family dinners and challenges. Now it’s time for studies to take over her calendar.  She’s ready. I’m delighted for her!!

But it’s the QUIET. So very quiet.

The last week or so there were errands and to-do lists. Evenings and the last few weekends flew by. Church events. Day trips. Driving lessons. Shopping. Gourmet meals in my kitchen (not by me!) All have vanished from my calendar. 


The silence is punctuated by two cats who are confused as to their best human sitter’s disappearance. We are attempting to be acceptable cat servants, but the bar is set pretty high. 


The seasons are on the razor’s edge between summer and fall. It’s a reminder of how short life is, and how precious life and loves really are. 

If you’ve got ’em, hug ’em! Hold them close! 
 

Back to my roots

 

Old Man’s Cave trail, Hocking Hills, Ohio

 

 A wise woman once said to me that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these, she said, is roots, the other, wings.

Quoted by Hodding Carter in “Where Main Street Meets the River”

We had our annual family reunion last week. It was full of pun-offs, adventures, and close living quarters. We feasted on fresh Carolina peaches, sweet corn and brick oven pizza.

A bodaciously awesome pizza, if I do say so myself!

I realized as I listened to the laughter and conversation swirling around the dinner table that our stories are entwined in so many ways. We share history as well as DNA. We share losses and joys. We fight to the death to keep the essential, clarifying, and off-debated Oxford comma. (See what I did there?)

We shared peaceful views at sunset. Hiking at childhood haunts. Competitive card games. And hugs. Lots of hugs.

The genealogists in the family (my mom being the most experienced) will share interesting bits of family trivia. Through years of research, Mom, (as well as my Dad and maternal grandmother) have uncovered when a specific ancestor emigrated to the US, what wars  they fought in, how they worshipped, and where they homesteaded. The ancestral “fan chart” is impressive with the names and dates going back to ten generations!

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Ancestral Fan-Chart created by my grandmother, Lura Morrow Hickox

For my daughters, I wish for them this same sense of rootedness and belonging. A place to be accepted and encircled with love. A reminder that they are loved and prayed for daily. A retreat from the world when its suckiness seems to out-weigh the promises of the future. A secure take-off. A safe landing zone. And enough love in their buckets to spill out into the world around them.

It’s something I wish for all…  Not a wall. Not belligerence and hate. Not ridicule and judgmental scorn.

It’s really quite simple:

Roots. Belonging. Acceptance. Love.

The true mark of someone who loves God is one that demonstrates their rootedness in the Divine. And the fruit that grows from it.

Jesus said:

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Matthew 7:16-20 (NLT)

Pizza box flambé

One time I put cat food in my daughter’s lunch. 

I left a child at school after a concert and had to go back and get her. 

I have left sugar out of apple pie and burned dinner on many occasions. 

And in the interests of full disclosure, tonight I forgot we had left pizza boxes in the oven… and set a pizza box on fire. As in, real flames and smoke. 

Holy cow, what a mess!

Then as I tried to hastily get the smoke out of the house, I stepped on a cat’s tail and overturned his water dish. 

And then — because apparently that wasn’t enough — I discovered as I started getting ready for bed that I had worn my sweater inside-out ALL DAY. All the freaking day. (I guess I should be grateful for unobservant friends…)

In all of this mess that is a pastor-chaplain-mom-wife-friend-relative… There is still love, joy and grace. There is a large serving of humble pie, and a genuine attempt to obey the 11th Commandment:

Thou shalt not take thyself so damn seriously.

I think I’ve fulfilled that one today. 

The love of thousands

Walking, I can almost hear the redwoods beating. And the oceans are above me here, rolling clouds, heavy and dark. It is winter and there is smoke from the fires… Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. “Be still,” they say. “Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”

Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World

L-R: crocheted lace by Claudia Bishop Harsh, tatted lace by Maurine Bishop, crocheted lace by Katherine Hengst Harsh

I came across the lace looking for something else. My grandmother, great-aunt and great-grandmother created them as trimmings for pillowcases and collars, tablecloths and handkerchiefs.

I have held these pieces of lace many times, turning over in my hands, running them between my fingers, looking at the fine crocheting and tatting. Usually I gently fold them back up and put them in a small box labeled “Logan.” (Logan, Ohio is where many of my relatives lived.) But then I realized… I could use this trim on the Lenten stole I was trying to finish!

I remembered going to church where my grandparents worshipped in Logan. If I close my eyes to remember, the sights and smells come flooding back…  The creaky sound of the carpeted floors in the sanctuary. The stained glass and dark, polished (very hard!) pews. The robes and the music… this would be a fitting use of their lovely handiwork!

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After worship at Twinbrook Baptist, Rockville, MD

When I wore my new stole at church on Sunday, I felt wrapped in the love of my family. It was a very simple stole, made of a patchwork of various purple prints, and trimmed with this crocheted lace. But I knew… my family was there in spirit, hugging my neck, represented as I prayed, and offered the Bread and Cup.

The stole was a reminder of the faith of my family through the generations to the present. They have encouraged and celebrated many milestones in my work and ministry. I am so very grateful.

Be still… watch and listen… You are the result of the love of thousands… 

I was, indeed, surrounded by their love.

Thanks be to God.

Oh where is my iPhone?

  It was a busy day. Errands for the back-to-college Reedy Girl (with driving lessons). Shopping for the impossible-to-find perfect purse. Pharmacy, Tarzhay, new eyeglass selections (you’ll have to wait!), and a quick grocery trip to get dinner ingredients. 

I helped with some sous chef tasks, cleaned a litter box, and then took out trash and recycling since tomorrow is collection day. And then… I couldn’t find my phone. 

Nope. Not. Anywhere. No flat surface in the kitchen. Not on the couch. Under the couch… Nada. We dialed it a gazillion times and listened… And heard nothing. 

Horrors. Is it in the trash? (You know where this is going, don’t you?) 

Yes. It was a trash-picking party at Chez Vaughns. Thank heavens for surgical gloves! Reedy Girl helped us look. Bag after bag of stinky, funky trash. Then we took apart the car and looked in every crevice and cranny. We even took the trashcans  for a walk down the street to see if “Find My iPhone” was helpful and showed the phone really WAS in a trash bag. (News flash: unlike what you see with McGee and Gibbs on NCIS, it’s NOT that accurate!)

Hot, sweaty, and tired, we regrouped back inside. One more search. 

And yes. I found it. In the pocket of the apron I was wearing during dinner prep. I had neatly hung up my apron in the pantry on a hook after dinner. 

Sigh…

Bless my family for their help. (It was an amusing trip down memory lane, when we trash picked a hotel garbage bin for a retainer… And found it.) 

Is there a moral to this story? Oh… Only this. Those who really love you will not judge but help you. And find ways to offer help and support (and laughs) as you go through the stinkiest things life can throw at you. 

And now… Goodnight.