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Entering Eastertide: Waking Up

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.

Entering Eastertide: Pouring Out

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.”

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.

Eastertide Grief

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.

 

 

 

Entering Eastertide: Waking Up

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.

 

Entering Eastertide: Water to Drink

The Governor of South Carolina’s announcement that some non-essential businesses would be allowed to reopen as well as some beaches on Monday sits in juxtaposition to his announcement today that schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year. If you like it’s hard to tell which direction we are heading in and whether we are getting closer to a new normal or are really far from it, you are not alone.

I can remember running my first half marathon stateside. I was running with my sister-in-law and good friend. It was a half marathon and a full marathon and as we passed the turn for the marathoners to go one way and the half marathoners to go another way, I can remember that we looked at each other and said, “We should have definitely done the full. We’ll do that next time.” That was six miles in and by the time we all hit mile ten, we realized there was no way that we could have run the full marathon.

Is this where you are? Do you feel like you signed up for a 5K with two weeks of homeschooling and work from home and then realized that you were actually signed up for a marathon?

That’s how it feels to me and I have to admit that I am tired and thirsty from this journey so far and I have no idea how much longer we are going to have to keep going.

I can’t help but wonder if this is the very same feeling the people of God had in the middle of the wilderness journey. We hear their complaints to Moses and to the Divine even though the Divine was providing their daily bread and even though the Divine was walking with them every step of the way.

The people of God had the same complaint about thirst and fatigue in the midst of their journey. In chapter 17 in Exodus, the Lord tells Moses:

‘I’ll be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. You are to strike the rock and water will come out of it, so the people can drink.’

Take drink the word of the Lord that promises that the Divine is with you as you walk this journey.

Entering Eastertide: New Roads

On our daily walks, we have been entertained with the construction crew who has been repaving our road. First, they had to scrap down the road that had been previously laid down. A process called skimming, which we found out about because of a kind worker who was willing to explain this process to my four-year-old. For almost a week, the road sat skimmed and bumpy. We have two skinned knees to document that phase.

As we walked on that bumpy road I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Is this all they are going to do? Is this the final product because I think what we had before was better than this.”

It has taken two more weeks to put down the new road, but when we walked on it the difference was noticeable in the way the stroller’s wheels glided smoothly along the surface. It was a smoothness you can feel in your knees and joints.

I was thinking about how if we had been in “normal times” I would have been annoyed by how long it was taking for the road to be repaved because we would have been in our car running back and forth to here and there. We would have waited as they allowed one lane of traffic by. We would have been inconvenienced.

But these non-normal times have allowed us to look closely at the way new roads are made. First, what was there has to be scraped away leaving a rocky, bumpy surface. Isn’t this where we are now as we are sheltering in place trying to figure out how to be connected, how to learn, and how to work?

We are waiting for the new road. We are waiting for what will be created. We are waiting for the smooth surface.

This is not an easy process. We watched as the asphalt was poured into the paver and how that asphalt was heated to a temperature so hot that steam rose into the sky. Then the roller came pressuring the asphalt into place. And finally, the brusher truck came to brush away all of the tiny pieces of asphalt that didn’t make it into the new road.

Certainly, there is heat and pressure in our circumstances. This is not easy. Creating new life never is, but now that I have walked on the nice smooth road, I don’t want to go back to the makeshift road we had.

May God grant us patience to wait and strength to transform into something new in the midst of all the heat and pressure.

Saving Celebrations

As the morning dawned, the women who had prepared spices two days earlier, the day that Jesus died hurried to the tomb. They had saved this act of remembering the life of the one they loved to observe the sabbath. In my mind, they spent that day in exhausted rest. The kind that can only come when hope is dashed and miracles don’t prevent death from taking someone we love.

As they near the tomb, they find the stone rolled away, but they don’t understand what has happened until a Divine messenger asked them to remember the words Jesus uttered when he was with them. The words they didn’t understand at the time. The words they didn’t want to hear at the time. The words, “I will die and rise again.”

I keep mulling over this call to remember because it’s the remembering that causes the women to see that resurrection is possible. It’s the remembering that ignites their imaginations to dream of new life.

Last week, I celebrated a birthday. We sang, ate cookies, and enjoyed deliveries from family members while connecting via Facetime or Marco Polo. So many people responded saying, “When you get to really celebrate after this is all over…” or something along those lines.

I’m not saving celebrations for “when this is all over.” The death of our old life has been a tremendous loss and will continue to be. Grief never really leaves us, but without the death of the old life, we can’t remember the words of promise of new life.

I’m not saving celebrations for a different time and a different place because my birthday occurred here in the midst of the chaos. Our daughter took her first steps here in the midst of the turmoil. These are major events, markers in how this pandemic impacts everything.

I’m not saving celebrations because I need to celebrate in the here and now not with disappointment that I can’t celebrate a certain way or in a certain place but instead imagining how we can celebrate in this new life.

Leaning Into Lent: Watering Healing

This weekend, we planted aloe, a plant that I had in my home growing up. I can remember one summer in elementary school helping my mom grill a sandwich in the super snacker panini press. As I was watching for the light to come on indicating my sandwich was ready, my thumb touched the small black strip that was hot. I immediately cried out in pain. After putting cold water on it, my mom took a small piece of our aloe plant squeezing the aloe on the burn. The relief was immediate.

I’ve thought about that a lot over these past three weeks. There are many times in my ministry I have wished there was a plant or a solution I could administer to those who were hurting. One of the hardest aspects of ministry for me has always been not being able to alleviate people’s suffering. To be sure I am always in awe to share those precious seasons and thoughts with them and to sit with them in their suffering, but the question always surfaces: “Is that enough? Could I do more?”

And maybe you are there too as you read and hear the stories of those who are suffering the physical impacts of COVID-19. Maybe you are there too as you read the stories of the medical professionals pulling double and triple shifts without the PPE they need. Maybe you are where I have been so often saying isn’t there a balm or solution that could alleviate this collective suffering we are all experiencing? Can’t we make this go away? Can’t this be healed?

In the midst of the uncertainty of who long this suffering will last and how close this suffering will come to each of us, I am comforted with the revelation that we are not alone. Although it may seem like we can’t do that much, we can sit here together in our grief, in our suffering, in our uncertainty, and in our vulnerability. This is enough. This is healing because we know that while we may be socially distant or even isolated from each other, we are not walking this journey alone.

That revelation is water nurturing and growing healing. Healing that comes in the tiniest plant, in text messages, in Facetimes, in notes, and in stories of good. Thanks be to God for the light that shines in the darkness.

Leaning Into Lent: Fatigue

Whenever we began this Lenten journey, I joked that it would feel long, longer than forty days. When I said that I didn’t know what else we would be carrying this Lenten season. I didn’t know we would be carrying the collective grief of losing a way of life we had become so accustomed to. I didn’t know we would be carrying the collective trauma of a worldwide pandemic. I didn’t know we would all take on new roles.

All of this hit home for me yesterday afternoon. The sun had come out and we were outside playing. Our fourteen-month-old has started to toddle around and has a very strong opinion about doing things by herself. She learned to slide down the slide by herself. Our four-year-old is immersed in imaginative play become Batman and a pirate and taking his two stuffed dogs along on every adventure. I looked at them and realized their world will never be the same.

I spread my arms wide as I stepped out of the shade and into the sun and breathed as the Spring air moved across the yard. As I breathed deeply, I realized I was tired. My legs were tired from walking this unexpected Lenten journey. My back was sore from carrying the additional load of adapting so quickly to new routines and new normals.

It would be so easy to skip the rest of the Lenten journey, the suffering, the darkness and cling to the hope of resurrection and new life. I’ve seen memes going around about what a wonderful day it will be when we are all able to get back together. And it will be.

But it’s not time for that yet. Lent is not over. We are still being asked to sit in the darkness and in suffering. We are still be asked to be present for the way the world is changing around and the way so many people are suffering around us.

This is not easy work, but this is good and important work.

For when we sit in suffering, our hearts grow compassion. When we sit in suffering, we learn to be deeply, soulfully grateful. When we sit in suffering, we learn to be resilient, courageous, and strong because there just isn’t time to be anything else.

May God’s spirit sit with you in this suffering.

Leaning Into Lent: Washing Sippy Cups

Tonight I was washing the dishes. As I washed our fourteen month old’s sippy cup, I realized that her nametag was coming off. My mind immediately went to trying to remember where I had put the cute, pink masking tap and the brand new black sharpie so that I could replace the label so that it would be ready to take her to school…

And then my brain stopped. Wait. I don’t have to replace that label because on Monday she’s not going to school.

I don’t know if you have had these moments over the past week, but it has been the little things. The things that we won’t need because we aren’t headed to work and school that have stopped me in my tracks and reminded me of the severity of where we are and what is going on.

This is not the Lent I planned. This is not the Lent you planned, but this is Lent. Washing sippy cups and being thankful for teachers who have invested so much in our children’s lives and who we miss dearly.

Sometimes it takes an upending for gratitude to come to the surface in the form of a label coming off in the wash.