Monday, February 28, 2011


Last night Charles preached a sermon on forgiveness.
How many times are we to forgive each other? 7 times, - no seventy times seven!
We are called to forgive. And as with everything that Jesus says - it is easier said than done.

Sunday morning when I got up I found myself thinking about someone in my life who I find to be "difficult." And my grievances are long and I am pretty good about bringing them up in my mind during those times I am feeling out of sorts. Now, in person, i tend to treat people with kindness - but in my mind, I can be keeping track and keeping score.

And then I have to preach or listen to sermons about forgiveness. There is a disconnect there somewhere. Charles had a slip of paper in the bulletin and at the end of the sermon he had us write about the incident (s). And then - if we were ready - tear it up and put it in the trash basket. He talked about facing the need for forgiveness and pulling it up from the root.

And I felt like I did that. I wrote my story - which even writing it - made me realize how tender I can be about my own feeling (??) and then I did forcefully tear it up and put it away. And I felt and feel lighter.

I think am done with this load of resentment and have erased my past grievances. Because the truth is - I really don't like myself when I am caught up in self righteousness.

Now, as always, I know that this is a process for me and I was ready for it.

As I left one of the women who has been physically abused by her ex husband told me how hard this is for her - because she is "full of hate."

How hard it is for all of us to present an ideal - which is valid and true - but we know that different people are in different experiences of life and it can take a LONG time for forgiveness to ever come.

I believe in the power of God to guide us in all of this. But I also know that none of it is easy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Old Age

Ruminating on Old Age

Because I visited 2 nursing homes this afternoon. And it makes me think about it all.
Being old, getting old - it isn't always pretty.

My parents died at 71 and 78 years of age respectively. And while my mother was in a retiredment community at the end of her life and living with cancer, she still was not old to me. She played bridge, followed current events avidly and continueed (for better or worse!) to drive her friends to church. And as much as I miss my parents, I have been grateful that we did not have to go through what I have watched friends and parishioners have to face.

I visited someone today whose mental capacities are diminished with age. There was confusion and paranoia and fear. At one point as I sat with her she suddenly said, "I'm afraid I'm going to die today." And I am sitting there wondering what is all of this like? And how do we love each other during these times.

And now that I am 61 and Chuck is 75 (!) I wonder how we can make it easier for our children if this happens to us? And again, there are no answers, but lots of questions. As usual I would like to control it - the terms of my aging and even my death and I don't get to. Nobody does unless you commit suicide.

My ruminations end with the truth of our lives - that we have to live this day and trust that God will guide us, protect us and love us through all the tomorrows. Interestingly, I am preaching this Sunday on Matthew 6: 24-34 which is about trusting God in what you eat and wear and all things.

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


Saturday, February 19, 2011


I am sitting in the family room with Lisa. She is Chuck's daughter who lives in Toledo. We are always happy when she comes to visit.

Right now she is reading the book about Chuck that Marnie put together for his birthday. It is dedicated to her because she was lucky enough to have him as her Dad her whole life.

He is lucky enough to have her as his daughter and I am lucky enough to have her for my "step" daughter.

Lisa is a teacher and a mother and one of the best story tellers I know. One of the reasons I look forward to seeing her is to hear her stories about her life - especially as a teacher. Listening to her I know that teaching is as much of a "calling" as what I do. She cares so much about her kids and she has so clearly made a difference in their lives.

The other reason I love to be with her is that we share a love of Chuck. As she reads through the book we comment on events we have shared and funny things that he has done and said and we know that both of us worry about him and in our own way. - as wife and daughter - cherish him.

I have spent some time this week thinking about divorce as I am watching some couples struggle.
As marriages break up, there is so much pain, anger and bitterness. I have been through that and so has Chuck (and so has Lisa). I don't recommend it, but sometimes divorce is almost inevitable.
We are in the aftermath of divorces and remarriages that happened 20 plus years ago.

Chuck and I are a testimony to love that is so sweet later in life. Lisa and I share the joy of a family that comes out of brokenness and is good and life giving.

I am - as always - grateful for the grace of God.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Home from the cruise

It is, of course, always a bit of a let down.

However, Saturday was a sunny day which made it a little bit easier to get home to the cold and the grey snow that is left her in Columbus.

This was a great cruise for so many reasons -

1. It was Chuck's 75th birthday celebration and that is tremendous to even consider. he is 75! A young 75 everyone says - including us - but 75 nonetheless and it is good to celebrate. At the same time when you are the birthday boy - it is a milestone. For sure! So he got surprised at the airport by our friends Bob and Sharon who came on the cruise, he got surprised on Tuesday with a beautiful party hosted by Dawn for Chuck and her sister who were celebrating the oldest and the youngest b days of our group - 30 and 75! He got surprised by Marnie's tremendous gift of a book written about HIM. A wonderful book of pictures and memories. He has read it over and over again since he received it and shown it to many people. What a gift.

2. It was great because we had 20 people traveling together in a sort of grouping. We saw each other at dinner most nights and often played games together (winning 6 ships on a stick for trivia and Audrey's moonwalk!) and danced together and even sang karaoke together. We got to know Erik's sister Jen and his uncle Dave and Aunt Sis who were so great. Sis told jokes very well and Dave was a ringer for George W Bush and just easy to be with. It was nice to run into friends and family throughout the day.

3. It is always great if I get to be with Geoff and he brought Vicki who was FUN - a singer, dancer, and great companion. And who can forget singing "These boots are made for walking" and "Help Me Rhonda!"

4. I am blessed by having friends from church who don't talk about church on a trip
like this. Instead they are just friends to eat, drink, and play with.

5. I love traveling with young adults - although they are not so young - in their 30's and 40's(!) but they keep me younger on a cruise. Without their encouragement (insistence) I never would have been dancing as much!

6. We had some wonderful stops along the way - at Coco Cay, St. John, Peurto Rico and Grand Turk. I got beach time and shopping and just exploring a little bit. Wonderful.

7. I love having time to do nothing - and to read. I read "The Corrections" by Jonathon Franzon which was really good, really dense and I needed the entire week to finish it. I will always think of that book when I think of this trip.

That's a few highlights. Since I have been home, I don't like to talk too much about the trip because I think everyone would love to be able to do this every year and we try to. It really is a week away from the cold and the ice and the responsibilities and the grind of my daily life.

As I sat in church yesterday and prepared to receive communion I was struck by the "realness" of my "real" life. I live in the midst of the struggles and the joys of life and I love it. And I feel blessed to be a spiritual presence often in the darkest times.
However, it is very good to get away from it all once a year.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ice Day

Not a snow day, but an ice day.

We have a coat of ice on the roads and cars and all the schools are closed and so are all of the meetings for church today. And I am home, having an "Ice Day."

We leave for vacation on Friday and I want to work so I am. Except that I am not preaching Sunday, so I don't have a sermon to work on and I am home and so I don't have access to much of my planning information on my church computer.

I am working ahead and planning meditations for weeks to come. This is part of what we offer every Sunday morning - a writing for people to meditate on during the service and possibly take home. It tends to relate to the theme of the service.

This year our theme is "Wonderful Words of Life" and every week I emphasize ONE word from the text. We are 5 weeks in and so far so good. I like the discipline of pondering a word and I wonder if it may stick with folks more than a verse, a story, an image.
The words so far have been: star, beloved, lamb, follow, and blessed. And I remembered them just sitting here. That is a good sign.

I want to share a reading from Anthony De Mello that I really like but it won't work for a sermon meditation. Better for a blog. This is from "Taking Flight" by Anthony De Mello

When the Master invited the Governor to practice meditation and the Governor said he was too busy, this is the reply he got:

"You put me in mind of a man walking blindfolded into the jungle - and being too busy to take the blindfold off."

When the Governor pleaded lack of time, the Master said, "It is a mistake to think that meditation cannot be practiced for lack of time.
The real reason is agitation of the mind."

It has been hard today to still my mind and to accept a day of less "work" than I think I should be doing. especially when I know I am going away soon. But I think that God wants me (us?) to live in the day that God gives us.

Whether it is a work day, a vacation day, or an ice day.