In Thy Packing and Thy Unpacking…

 

In thy packing, and thy unpacking,
God is there.

In thy sorting, and thy disposing,
God is there.

In the questioning and the waiting,
God is there.

Despite aching muscles, tender hearts, hurtful words, and self-doubts,
God is there.

Though I struggle, wonder, and rest in the uncertainty,
God is there.

When I am hurt, tired, frustrated, or just plain DONE…
God is there.

On the needles

Recently a family member had an outpatient procedure. We rushed to get out the door on time. Rushed to the office, only to be parked in the waiting area. After the prelims were done I had a lot of time just sitting alone. Waiting. Usually as I “hurry up and wait,” I’m knitting. And that was how I spent my time that day. (My other reflective crafting is coloring, but that’s a little unwieldy for your average waiting room chair. So I knit.)

I zoned out. I prayed. I tried not to worry. I counted the folks who got there ahead of us and hoped that I might hear some news soon. I wondered about the results. I thought about all the “what ifs” and “whens” and “what’s nexts”. And I knitted…

Now, if you’re a yarn snob, you’d recognize that the yarn on my needles is that commercially made “homespun” yarn. It’s acrylic. And I hear your eyes rolling. Can I be honest? It’s soft. It’s soothing. It feels sweet under the fingers. It washes and wears beautifully. And… it’s affordable. (This is especially true because I’m knitting from my stash this year.)

And as I sit and try not to stew, it comforts me, because its soft warmth covers my lap and my jittery nerves. Knitters and our crafty cousins, crocheters, keep our hands busy while the blur of the waiting room goes on around us. Usually, with knowing smiles, we check out each other’s yarn, needles and bags. On this particular day, a fellow knitter looked over and smiled, and moved into an empty space near me. We shared a chair between us for our  work bags.

Finally, she broke the silence. She said, “I knit to stay calm.”

I smiled. “Yes, me too!” I answered. “And I try to remember to breathe. And pray.”

She nodded sagely. We both return to our work… counting rows and stitches… praying… waiting… knowing God is there.

k3p3k3p3… k2tog… k 2 rows…

Time moves slowly. Three rows done. Twelve… I start a new ball, and am mid-row when I get the word… All is well. Procedure done. Recovery room soon.

As I let out the breath I had been holding unconsciously, my sister knitter smiled. “Good news?” she asked.

“Yes… good news…” After a pause, I said, “I’m glad you were here… It’s good to have company while you wait.”

“Yes, and someone praying beside you, too.”

Yes, indeed. Can’t ever have enough of that. The next time I’m in a waiting room with you, please know I’m praying for you, too.

The Movement of the Spirit

I was running to my car in the rain, doing my best to not get completely drenched. The promised wind and rain arrived and that meant traffic would be worse than usual.

Lovely. My shirt and hair were drenched, my glasses smudged, and my shoes squished. I hate seeing patients when I’m little more than a frumpy, wet noodle! Grumbling, I took a deep breath and tried to re-focus. The last visit was very taxing on me emotionally and spiritually. I leaned back against the headrest. And there it was…

One maple leaf, just turning golden, plastered on my windshield. The raindrops around it glistened, and the sun peeked through the clouds, illuminating from behind like a stained glass window.

My car became a cathedral, and my heart was encouraged. God’s Spirit blew in through that mystical moment and lifted me up. “I can do this work… God help me, I can do this!”

Words from Henri Nouwen’s book Life of the Beloved came to mind:

The movement of  God’s Spirit is very gentle, very soft… but that movement is also very persistent, strong, and deep. It changes hearts radically.

I had multiple reminders that day to stop, rest and see God’s Spirit at work. This was the first of many. There are times my work is exhausting spiritually and emotionally, but God’s Spirit is always there to guide, change, and move.

Blessed be…

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The work of the Spirit photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see — how good God is. Blessed are you who run to the Lord. Psalm 34:8 (The Message)

Autumn Alleluia

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Autumn Alleluia

This fleeting moment

when leaves turn, one by one,

from green to gold and orange,

I stop and take a breath.

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Life drifts by,

the moments blur

into days, into weeks, into years.

I stop and look up

and offer a silent Thanksgiving

for all of the good gifts

God brings.

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Even in death,

even in times of painful change,

even when there’s nothing I can do

to stop the blur of time,

I offer an Alleluia

a simple praise

such goodness

such beauty

such joy.

Amen.

You’re in good company…

I had a long, difficult conversation with someone recently about believing or disbelieving God, and about the role doubt plays in our faith journeys. The conversation was left unresolved, and I have been reflecting on where it could go in the person’s life, or in mine, for that matter.

Reading Mark 9 this morning, I had a kind of Eureka moment… for when I honestly admit my doubts and fears, the Holy Spirit brings me the understanding and space to trust, and for my faith to grow. It sparked this poem/photo reflection.

If you are in that place of doubt, anger, fear or anxiety, God will meet you there. And will be with you, even as you struggle with your unbelief.

May you be at peace…

~–ooOOoo–~

Jesus said unto him,
“If thou canst believe,
all things are possible to him that believeth.”
And straightway the father of the child cried out
and said with tears,
“Lord, I believe;
help Thou mine unbelief!”
Mark 9:23-24 NKJV

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As the last leaf falls

and the wind sweeps it away

do You count them like the fallen sparrow

or the hairs on my head?

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As the teardrops flow

and the sighs of pain and sorrow heave

do You catch them all and heal

their ancient pain from a broken world?

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As the days grow short

and the night tries conquers the light

will You walk beside me, listening, soothing

and building up my courage?

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When my doubts take root

and crowd the edges of my faith

can You once again renew my heart and strengthen my resolve

and show me the path back to Your grace?

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“Lord, I believe;
help Thou mine unbelief!”

Lent: Week Five

In November, we found a leak in our bathroom (one that started dripping water into the living room below). It was temporarily fixed so that we could get through the holidays. We knew that we would eventually have to do more than just duct tape and glue. And it took a couple of months, but in February, we started the process of remodeling our bathrooms.

It’s meant moving things out of the way, relocating everything from towels to shampoo. (It is actually kind of amazing, and a little bit embarrassing, to find out how much we can cram into a bathroom cabinet. But I digress…)

Major home remodeling means living with dust and noise. It means there’s plastic up to cut down on the dust, and protection on the floors and steps. It is part of the process. It won’t last forever. We’re living in the waiting, the wondering, the promise of it ending.

We are very happy with the process so far, but I will really enjoy having all of my house back in about a month. 🙂 I appreciate the care and skill that our design/build firm demonstrates, but I’ll appreciate it even more when it’s over!

Major remodeling jobs are very much like Lent, in that respect. Living through it is wearying, even though I know that the end is in sight. We’re a week away from Holy Week beginning, with the story of redemption and prophecy, forgiveness and renewal.

This afternoon, we did some additional prep and work in our bedroom, anticipating the contractors returning tomorrow. I glanced towards what will be our new closet and bathroom. The vague outlines of a closet door and hallway towards the bath were visible, but not clear. It is there. It is coming. Soon. But not quite.

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What do I see?
The edge, the promise of something new!
The hope, the sight of things not yet
Almost
So close
But still not quite.

I am impatient
with myself
with the wait
with the wondering
with the doing
with the listening and following
with the noise and mess of life.

You promise me,
“It will be worth the wait!”

I long for You
to show Your power and glory and strength,
invading our world
taking over our plans
and recreating us again
to be like You.

Alle— no, not yet!
I hold the word on my tongue
For Easter morning comes.
Surely, it does.

Lent: Week 2

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Lent continues.

We remember the stories of Christ
by the sea
on the hillside
with the people
with the disciples
preaching
teaching
healing
praying
embracing
encouraging
challenging
forgiving

The slow march
from the ordinary life
to the extraordinary sacrifice continues.

We watch
We pray
We ponder
We wait.
And wait some more.

There is much to be revealed
Much we do not understand
Our lives remains insulated
Off target
Uncertain
Frustrated
And yet, fulfilled
full of grace and truth.

We see the shrink-wrapped mulch
stacked on pallets
under the awning
with snow coming,
We buy shovels and salt
and long for warm days
and buds and flowers.

Like the mulch
We are waiting
for the right timing.
There will be a day
when all is in readiness
New growth
New warmth
New blooms in our flower beds.

Lent has many more days
many more weeks
We sigh as we wait
And yet
We know
The day will come
There will be that glorious morning

But until then
We wait
We try to watch and pray
We fail
We know more deeply the forgiving love
and saving grace
Of God

So may it be.
Amen.