As I was making coffee, I went into autopilot and when the kettle went off, I didn’t even look into the french press to warm it up. As I was pouring the hot water into my mug before adding it back to the french press, I noticed that yesterday’s grinds were still in the bottom of the french press pot. I was thankful that I realized this before adding new grinds to the coffeepot.
And then I wondered how would it impact my cup of coffee to have yesterday’s grinds mixed in? Would it make it more bitter? Would it make it less strong? I wasn’t sure about what impact it would have, but I was certain it would impact today’s cup of coffee to have yesterday’s grinds mixed in.
As I took my first sips, I thought this is kind of true about conversations and interactions and challenges in our lives. When we mix yesterday’s worries and concerns into today’s new day, then it is quite easy to forget the promise that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
This doesn’t mean that what happened yesterday doesn’t impact today. It does.
I think instead the inclination is that how we start our day and whether we immediately go to the work that didn’t get done yesterday, the disappointments we experienced or hurt and pain we felt, or whether we look for the morning light and a reminder that God is with us will indeed impact our heart and soul for the rest of the day.
It’s been years since I peeled a pomegranate. I usually take the easy way out and buy the seeds of pomegranates or even the juice, but yesterday I decided to buy a pomegranate to show our four and half-year-old and our twenty-month-old as we were talking about seeds and how things grow.
Something happened as I sunk my fingers into the stem and pulled the peel back to reveal the red, ripe fruit. I was transported in that minute to sharing a pomegranate with a friend in Germany eleven years ago. I was transported to the same place and same time where we were sharing stories of what it was like to be a foreigner in a foreign land.
I felt tears brimming in my eyes for the memory that connected me to who I was to who I am now for the briefest moment. I was overwhelmed with the reminder that our experiences are connected to the here and now in a way that maybe only the mysterious Spirit understand.
In a time and place where connection feels so different and absent, sometimes a simple fruit is the holiest communion.
Over six months ago, churches all across the United States scrambled to answer the question, “How do we worship online?” We have fought and struggled with technology and with the Divine wondering when we would have to stop answer this question and when we could safely come back together.
I can remember distinctly the first Sunday of worship and the way I purposefully and intentionally created an outdoor chapel on our porch knowing that the signs of Spring blooming as a backdrop would serve as the perfect picture of hope in the midst of uncertain times.
Just two short weeks later, I discovered that the Columbia heat isn’t great for devices and that when they overheat, they just turn off abruptly stopping and cutting the connection not caring whether you were in the middle of preaching or not. This interruption led to creating an indoor chapel with my grandmother’s quilt draped over boxes for a makeshift altar and a painting of a cottage in the woods surrounded by flowers.
Now that the seasons are changing and the breeze is whispering of cooler weather and beautiful changes, I am asking the Divine to help me create again. I am searching our home for inspiration asking myself not how to we worship online, but rather how do we create sanctuary?
One of the ways that we find reconnect our body and our souls and get them back in communion is to notice. It sounds like a simple thing and it is, but we are so busy moving from one thing to another that we often forget to notice.
When I woke up this morning, I noticed some pain and soreness. I noticed that my right hamstring, the one that has always given me trouble since that one time I overtrained after a half marathon, was sore. I noticed that I had some soreness in my core where I did some work to yesterday to strengthen my core after carrying and caring for babies. I noticed that I didn’t have the heaviness under my eyes that I have had so many mornings. I noticed that it was later and that the children had slept a little longer.
My noticing turned into gratitude for rest for the children and relief from the heaviness under my eyes. My noticing turned into plans to take my run a little slower today to not strain my hamstring anymore. My noticing turned into thankfulness for the time in the mornings to not rush to school, but to be present in the new day’s light.
Noticing reminds us that we are not just a mind. Noticing reminds us that we are not just a physical body. Noticing gives space for our souls to speak to us and to bring us into the new day with intention, reflection, and gratitude.
This morning as we started out for our walk, we came across this in the bed beside our house. I had seen the hopeful signs that we might get just one more bloom before the summer ended and overnight, out it bloomed!
By the time we returned from our walk, the bloom looked just a little bit different. Can you see it? The opening of the center?
Isn’t it interesting how a little morning light can open us to the new possibilities and to receiving warmth and energy for the day? Isn’t it interesting how stopping and looking and practicing that each morning can remind us that each day is a new day?
These are disciples and practices that center and ground us reminding us that we are not alone and that we are connected to the daylilies and to the world around us. Thanks be to God for little whispers of the Divine all around us.
Last week, I went to the church for my weekly check of the building. On my list was organizing the non-perishable food donations that were collected through porch drops in order to pack bags for our neighbors in need. Also on my list was checking messages, checking the mail, and something I had been avoiding for weeks, cleaning out the refrigerator.
Mainly I didn’t want to be reminded of that refrigerator filled with food for after worship, fifth Sunday fellowships I didn’t want to be reminded of the Sunday baked goods that would serve as our Wednesday Bible study snacks. I didn’t want to see that moldy communion bread I was sure was in there.
But it was time.
When I opened the refrigerator, I found what I expected: moldy communion bread, moldy potato salad from our last fellowship meal, and stale baked goods. I couldn’t hold back the tears that came. The way we get together, the way that we are church together, and the way that we help our neighbors in need has all changed so drastically in such a short period of time. While I was sad, I also was overwhelmed with gratitude for a congregation who is committed to keeping each other safe and committed to continue to worship virtually until it is safe for ALL of us to come together in person.
I tossed the communion bread in the trash. Sometimes communion bread is blueberry poptarts, sandwich bread, or whatever else we can find in our own homes. As I walked out, I saw the food items piled up ready to be distributed to those who are hungry and thought, “Oh wait…that’s our communion. We are offering food in the form of peanut butter, granola bars, and soup to those who are most in need right now. We are offering the miracle of Jesus’ body and blood by recognizing the great need that surrounds us in these uncertain times.”
This do in remembrance of me.
I am always struck that the women go to check the tomb and attend to the body of Jesus “at early dawn.” Just as the world is starting to wake up, they are starting to wake up to the miracle that Christ has risen.
I have to be honest with two young children who often wake up “at early dawn,” I often don’t have my heart and mind ready to receive miracles. Mostly, I am ready just to receive coffee and lots of it!
In the monastic tradition, morning prayers are often uttered before dawn breaks and before you break fast to consume food. The implication here is that the first thing we do when we rise is offer a prayer to realign our minds and hearts to the light of Christ.
O Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ, dispel the darkness in our hearts. Til our blessed light makes nightime flee and brings the joys of day to me.
Perhaps in the midst of these uncertain times, the darkness of the night has followed you into the day. Perhaps the weariness of not enough rest has lingered on your shoulder and in your back all day.
Let us remember to realign our hearts and minds to the light and hope of the Resurrected Christ.
Since we have more time in the mornings, I have switched my coffee from a Keurig to a French Press. It takes longer to fix a cup of coffee, but it’s so much better. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but there just wasn’t time in the rush of packing lunches, getting clothes on, and getting into the car.
This has been one of my favorite aspects of this new life. There isn’t a morning rush.
Yesterday I was talking to our four-year-old about what his teachers had sent for the day and he said, “It’s ok mom, there’s time.”
Sometimes it seems all there is, is time.
There’s time for a pouring out of freshly brewed french press coffee. There’s time to linger over the breakfast table and lunch table and dinner table. There’s time for one more chapter at night. There’s time for the extra loop on the walk.
For this Eastertide blessing of pouring out and time, thanks be to God.
I can remember when it was finally time to share that our Eastertide secret pregnancy wasn’t going to be one filled with hope and new life, but grief. I can remember the gasp of joy as I shared with my congregation that we were pregnant and the gasps of grief as I shared that we miscarried.
Since that season, Eastertide will always have a tinge of grief in it. It seems strange for this season (the one where we know that death has been overcome) should be clouded by grief. And yet, maybe this year we know this more truly and more deeply than we ever have before.
We hope and then we see the reminder of the number of people who have lost their lives and hear predictions that those numbers will be even higher.
We find courage and then we see the rate of employment reach records we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.
We find calling and then we see food banks with lines that are two to three hours long and people waiting only to find out that there is not enough food.
Maybe this Eastertide, we lament and grieve together. Maybe our voices can join in crying out “Why, God, why?”
Life and death side by side all through Eastertide.
Maybe life becomes clearer when death is close by.
Maybe life and death residing together draw us closer to the One who has experienced both.
I was recently asked by someone if I feel more tired or less tired than when things were opened and we were moving from one place to another. I had to take a minute to think about that. Am I more tired? Is it more difficult to wake up?
More and more we are hearing reports and suggestions that it is time to think about how we are going to continue in this new reality for the next twelve to eighteen months. We are being asked again and again to wake up to this new reality whether we are ready or not.
At our house, this happens pretty often still. With a four-year-old who dreams vividly and a fifteen-month who is teething like crazy, there are many nights and early mornings where my partner or I wake up when we aren’t quite ready to get up yet.
That’s what this feels like to me. It feels like we are waking up to the idea that our way of life has changed, our culture has changed, and the way we raise our children is different. We are waking up, again and again, remembering that nothing is as it was.
We are waking up to the truth that there are healthcare professionals and people who are willing to give their lives to save other people. We are waking up to the very best in humanity and sometimes the very worst.
And while we are waking up, we are discovering how strong and how resilient we are. May God grant us the rest we need when we need it and the peace we need as we wake up again and again.