Coming back from the South and our Easter/Spring Break, I had hoped to bring the warm weather with me. Instead, it is even cooler than when we left! But the goldfinches are enjoying the thistle seed and I saw my first local bumblebee while out walking on Saturday. Spring is coming, however slowly it comes to the Midwest.
My lilacs are now blooming and their fragrance surrounds my yard. I finally committed my purchased pansies to the planters and we also managed to get the older boy’s cabbage in to a large pot. I still have his cucumbers and marigolds to plant, but will first need to buy some more potting soil.
My poor little veggie patch is overrun. Being away for treatment last summer meant that I didn’t work on the patch at all. The strawberry plants from 2009 are still growing and trying to take over the patch, but they are in competition with the mint which runs hither and yon, spilling over the beams that delineate the patch. And that garlic is holding on; I wonder how much of it is just greens, how much cloves? My knees don’t seem ready and willing to dig out the overgrowth and make it a fresh little farm. I think I prefer gardening in containers where it’s easier to tend and weeds aren’t so great a challenger. Call me City Girl.
Yesterday morning, it was church-going for me alone. I woke up late and had time to get just myself ready; even though the boys were all up, none of them were dressed or fed. I didn’t even have time enough for a shower. I really wanted to go, and actually, it was good to go alone so that I could concentrate on worship and singing, giving, listening, hearing God’s word for me. My pastor had so much to say to me about faith, doubt, community and being intentional. God must have given him those words just for me.
And it was a communion Sunday, too. I was raised, and am accustomed, to sharing the Eucharist weekly. We have often joked that our denomination doesn’t know how to worship unless we have communion; we can’t call it or consider it worship without the feast. It is good to celebrate, yet I have found in these months of struggle that I have been at peace without the weekly bread and cup. It’s almost counter-intuitive to me. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to attend a church that didn’t share the sacrament each time of worship. Instead, I found that worshiping without the sacrament has lead me to focus more on the Word and the worship.
While I love communion and the intimacy of the act, I had gotten so close to it that it had become an act of remembrance of all that was missing and had been taken away from my life. “When you do this, remember me” had turned into “When you do this, remember what is now untouchable” in a most painful way. But as I write this, it occurs to me that Christ’s suffering and death was at the very center of the Eucharist, and there is in it the element of remembering the pain of separation by tragedy. The Disciples were given the gift as the last taste of life with Him; that is, until He was raised again and they celebrated the bread and wine once more with Him. And so communion is re-membering: rejoining the body parts to itself in each act of communion. (See Joey Jeter’s book.)
Perhaps my break from communion was a reflection of my break from thanks and joy? Perhaps my heart needed to focus more on His words and actions so that I might hear again his love song for me? Perhaps I needed to re-learn giving thanks in all circumstances? (Yes!)
These many months have not been completely void of thanksgiving and joy. There has indeed been cause for thanks, but the full embrace of the grace that comes has been short-sheeted. Instead of one great well of thanks and grace, there have been mere buckets full. Drops, splashes and showers of grace in the desert of my soul. Pain and blame burning it off, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. I have known that forgiveness is what I need to do, and that my life depends on giving this forgiveness.
I imagine that I stand at the top of the dam. On one side are the mighty waters of forgiveness and justice, a deep and vast ocean. On the other, a dry riverbed of pain, suffering, shame and brokenness. I stand with teacup in hand, scooping up water and tipping it over to the dry side. The water splats on the side of the dam, just below where I stand, yet in the sunshine, it evaporates almost as soon as it splashes out on the concrete and no thirst is quenched. At the same time, I stand at a panel of buttons and levers, each one a switch with my enemies’ names labeled on it. The flow is in my hands. Each floodgate waiting to be released signifies the process which I control.
Lewis Smedes says we forgive in spurts, for specific things, a little at a time. And I have found it to be true. Somedays I forgive with teacups, somedays it’s buckets, and I am working my way up to floods. And I am learning.
I am learning what it means to show others grace, to accept that circumstances are beyond my control. I am learning a new degree of gratitude. A new measure of faith. A new definition of who I am. What it is to live into my name-gracious/merciful [my other name means: song of joy/joy/strong/free (man)/beautiful woman/little womanly one]. A new understanding of what it means to be broken and healed. I am learning, again, what God can do with me, through me, for me. I am learning that though I have learned so much, I have so much yet to learn.
And so I set my mind to practice the Eucharist, the Great Thanksgiving, so that communion is restored to joy no matter which place I sit at the table.
49. Hard lessons learning me
50. Images of grace to illumine this experience
51. A sermon, preached just for me
52. A reminder of community and how we were made to live comm-union
53. Undisturbed focus on the Word’
54. Laughter and boys’ first sleepovers in a couple of years
55. Teaching young boys what a true friend really is and how he acts
56. Bumblebees on wildflowers
57. Purple blanketed fields
58. A cabbage plant
59. A whiff of a happy memory
60. Memorial of a dear one’s passing
61. My father’s & mother-in-law’s birthday on the same day
62. Unexpected baby goat at the farm
63. Neighbor cats waiting for me at the trail head and demanding strokes
64. Making plans for the summer
65. Goldfinches in my backyard, flocking on my feeder
66. Redbud trees and the memory of my wedding day
67. A Royal Wedding for a happy couple
68. Pretty clothes and a healthy body to wear them
69. Realization that I need to do a better job teaching my children about having enough
70. Helping college students birth a new chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, National Service Fraternity
71. A gift basket from a caring colleague
72. The ability to see straight, mostly
73. The promise of miracles
74. My husband’s admiration
75. Coupons! for things we need
76. gluten-free oatmeal pancakes (I’ve probably said this before and will likely say it again!)
77. Making others laugh
78. Laughing out loud by myself
79. Reading One Thousand Gifts, and seeing how much our lives and thoughts parallel
80. Hearing God speak to me through many channels
Do you have thanks to give? Of course! Share them with the community at