Busyness as Usual

The biggest disease in North America is busyness
(Thomas Merton)

Twice in a few minutes and from two different people on the platform last Sunday
came the exhortation or prayer that we leave "the busyness of our lives aside
as we come to worship the Lord today". These words were delivered with a heavy sigh.
Apparently the deliverer himself or herself was weighed down under the burden of busyness
and assumed that it was so with all the other weary worshipers. 
I made note of it, I did!
My intention was to reflect upon the oddity of it--that it should be twice mentioned
and that it should so capture my attention (which I did).
Then this morning, our pastor referred to it again.
This time in regards to how it interferes with the progress in one's spiritual life. 
In between these two Sundays, 
titling his post with words from C.S. Lewis:
Only lazy people are busy.
I read that and a few other things.
So..............
Here's what I'm thinking...
If busyness is a disease as Merton says, an hour in the pew is probably not the cure.
If only lazy people are busy as Lewis stated, then it's time for many of us to 
take a long and hard look at ourselves and the choices we're making --
particularly those of us who profess belief and relationship with the Lord Jesus. 
 "Occupy till I come," the King James rendering
 of the master's instructions to his servants (Luke 19:13),
was NOT a directive to "Busyness as Usual".
Rather, I believe Jesus delivered the parable to elicit
action directed toward eternal goals,
focused attention and happy obedience to the Master's purposes and plans,
and an altogether other-worldly engagement of our time, energies and resources.
Anything BUT "Busyness as Usual"!

Trail Walking


 "I wish I knew where we are in relationship to where we started! 
 I guess I'll just have to trust..."
I said this out loud while walking a complicated network of trails earlier this week,
surrounded by beauty but feeling quite "lost" in the maze and perplexity of unidentified paths. 
Very occasionally, a trail marker appeared telling us we were on a trail.
Just not WHERE!
I would have much rather have known where our current position lay
in relationship to the start and finish!
As soon as I'd said it, I realized how much my trail experience was like LIFE!
How I'd love to know the beginning from the end--
and where I am in relationship to them both!
Most of the time, (as on the trail) all I can DO is trust.

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Scarred but Still Standing

"It's been struck by lightening," my husband pointed out to me.
The tree was one of only a few mature trees still standing in the nature preserve
where we walked trails yesterday.
 Scarred but still standing.
And silent.
It was one of several lessons I carried home with me
from the nonverbal instruction of creation. 
"I am not unlike that tree," I muse.  "Scarred but still standing."
........
Now, to be silent...
...as silent as was this wetland
whose stillness penetrated deep into my soul.

Poetry

I watched her from the recliner that sits a few feet from her hospital bed.  Her eyes were closed.  Her breathing even and peaceful.  Earlier, her eyes had been open, but her position dictated that she looked straight up at the ceiling rather than in the direction of our voices as we played a card game so near but so far from her.

Then the others left.  We were alone, she and I.  She no longer looked at the ceiling.  Her eyelids covered her stare.  Gentle harp music played from my computer, and I begin to type.....

Sleep on, Dear One,
In whose womb my heart once beat,
Whose eyes open only occasionally now
And warily. Seemingly unfocused,
Yet searching for the recognizable
In a world blurred
By senses dulled in ways unknown
Except to your Heavenly Father.
Once again, my heart beats close to yours,
And my eyes strain to see what yours see.
Sleep on, Dear One.

 

I'm thankful for the release of an unspeakable joy and a glorious pain that poetry enabled once again. That, to me, is the beauty of words--imperfect and incomplete as they are.  I look at them and own them.  I savor the holiness of the moments.  I embrace the mystery and my heart is healed, held and re-formed by the Heavenly Father, hers and mine.

Heavy Loads

It's been two years since I'd been to my family doctor.
One of my prescriptions needed updated.  The office nurse called and told me that
(naturally) before he'd refill it, I needed to see him.
Fortunately, there was an early morning appointment available.
I took it.
I'd been putting off the inevitable knowing that when I stepped on the scale,
I'd be met by hard, cruel facts.
I was.
Our doctor is a good one.  He listened.  He didn't lecture.
He didn't HAVE to.
I left with a new prescription and fresh determination.
Then I was on my way to feed Mother her noon meal at the nursing home in Ohio.
I was stopped at one point by this train hauling tank cars--
a line that stretched beyond my view and just kept coming!
As I waited and watched, I smiled to myself
at the reminder of a few heavy loads I am currently bearing--
not the least of which is LITERAL and PHYSICAL extra weight
(which doesn't make the OTHER loads easier to bear)!
THIS challenge is not impossible.
My determination is fresh.  I have a plan.
And I started.  Yesterday.
The "train" is in motion - which is sometimes the most difficult part of the "haul"!



Lesson Learned


"Sign on the line with the red X on it, " our financial advisor instructed me, sliding the paper in my direction.
I picked up the pen I'd grabbed from a large mug on our kitchen counter minutes before he arrived.
It moved haltingly across the paper as I signed the first of several papers I would be handed in succession.
"I write like an old woman," I moaned  aloud as I surveyed my shaky and spotty handwriting.
For the second signature, my husband handed me the pen HE was using.
It moved smoothly - confidently - across the line.
I sat back satisfied.  Relieved to recognize my own writing...
What a difference a good writing tool makes!
And why hang on to an inferior one when so many other perfectly fine ones sit waiting to be used?

Lesson learned.  Several, actually.

I've Come Late

Aware, I have been...
but I guess I've come late to the Susan Branch party...
 There it was last week on the library shelf containing new (?) books.
I grabbed it and was immediately surprised by its weight!  Literal weight!
 I'm reading it in minutes between other things
and occasional carved-out-and-deliberately-extended times.
...didn't know that about Laura Ingalls Wilder...
 My own journal is filling up with quotes I can't resist transcribing...
I'm reluctant to finish it but assured that - since it is one of a trilogy -
there are at least two others to pick up when I do...
Yes, I've come late.
But not TOO late.

...for that we have Jesus



...drinking from the rich offering...
One day we will have lived long enough 
that the cream of someone’s existence 
will rise to the surface 
and we will be able to drink 
from the rich offering. 
No one is perfect and there is nothing that makes us more tender than becoming a mom ourselves. And where once we may have been critical 
of our mom’s mothering, 
later we cry mercy for our own. 
Especially when our children get old enough to tell us what we did that offended their hearts. 
We are all sooner or later going to disappoint those we love…
and for that we have Jesus.  
 (Patsy Clairmont)


When Will I Ever Learn

I seriously did this!  
Tape over the mouth MIGHT have been a better choice.
It was when I temporarily removed the pen that I got into trouble.

I said, "I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue.  
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle so long as the wicked are in my presence." 
I was mute and silent.  I held my peace to no avail and my distress grew worse.
My heart became hot within me.  
As I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my mouth.
...
"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in you.
Deliver me from all my transgressions.
Do not make me the scorn of the fool!  
I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it."
(Psalm 39, selected verses)

Know this, my beloved brothers:  let every person be quick to hear,
slow to speak, slow to anger;
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires. 
(James 1:19-20)

When will I ever learn?

Beauty

 Maybe it was the bad-timing of an earlier frost that thinned out
the lilac clusters this year.....
 No matter.
I'm surrounded by beauty on all four sides of our house!
This morning, I'm praying that the Heavenly Father will make ME
as beautiful inside as the exterior beauty of our trees and plants this spring...

 ♪ Beautiful, beautiful
Jesus is beautiful
And Jesus makes beautiful
Things of my life.
Carefully touching me
Causing my eyes to see
And Jesus makes beautiful
Things of my life. ♪

Living, Singing, Seeing, Loving

We four siblings gathered from the four winds on Sunday.
Our father made sure we were all on the same page as we readied ourselves
to participate in the chapel service at the nursing home where our mother resides.
We ladies sang two songs;  Beyond Today and There's Something About that Name (Jesus) 
 Our father (retired pastor) delivered the sermon.
Brother Dave led some group songs.
After dinner, we gathered around Mother's bed for a sweet, sweet time of singing...
and then the long-distance siblings began their journeys home.
Later, my husband and I returned to OUR home,
under the canopy of a beautiful sunset.
I am so blessed to be living this life,
singing these songs,
seeing these sights,
loving these people...

If We Could See Beyond Today

After a run to the grocery store this morning for salad fixings,
I returned home to alter some nightgowns for Mother.
 This involves sewing up the fronts of some and splitting the backs of all.
I rarely get my trusty little sewing machine out these days...
As I scheme and sew, I find myself wishing Mother was here with me
(and that I'd paid more attention when I was younger).
She would know just how to do this, 
and it would be finished so much nicer than I can do with my humble attempt
to make these gowns serviceable and appropriate to her condition.
 I'm also working to write in the third part in one of the songs I may be singing
with my two sisters this Sunday.
Its words have taken on a whole new layer of meaning for me
in the past two years.
 If we could see, if we could know,
We often say.
But God in love a veil doth throw
Across our way.
We cannot see what lies before,
And so we cling to Him the more

He leads us till this life is o'er,
Trust and obey.
(3rd verse)

Truth Walking

A very brief and cherished visit with our son brought a verse to my mind - 3 John 4 .  
So this morning, it was THIS verse I compiled from several versions
as #16 of 30 for my personal monthly challenge.  Here's how it turned out:
 “I (could) have no greater joy (grace) (greater joy have I none, nothing makes me happier) than (these things) to hear that (that I should hear of) my children (sons) 
are walking in (following, walk, living according to, living in obedience to) the truth 
 (that I may hear of my children in truth walking).”
 We crammed a lot of conversations into the less-than-24-hours
we had together and included a visit to my parents in Ohio.
There, our son, himself a very active pastor, 
spent time with his grandfather, a retired pastor.
The photo, taken by my husband (also a retired pastor),
shows our son poring over the typed sermon notes of his grandfather
gathered in a loose-leaf notebook.
It's true.
I HAVE no greater joy
than hearing of our children "truth walking"
  
It is the pastor's supreme concern to help his flock
know the truth and then live in the truth
(Alistair Begg)

Communicating "I Care"

Time was at a premium as I began the day.
It would include a noon meal with a few elderly 
(well, older than me) friends.
One had gone to great lengths to arrange the details, make the calls,
and communicate the time and place.
Outings were rare for these precious ones.
I wanted to bless them with something in addition to my presence and listening ear.
I copied A Morning Prayer from Patsy Clairmont's facebook page
that had blessed me as I started the day.
I cut them out, glued them on top of a few floral cutouts,
and attached them to a thicker paper.
I used the hot glue gun to glue a few sweet-shaped buttons to the cards,
and WALLA!
I don't consider myself to be creative or very artistic,
but this was a simple way to pass on a bit of encouragement to these special friends.
 ****
What other simple, inexpensive and uncomplicated ideas 
do YOU have for a tangible way to say, "I care"?

The Agony and Ecstasy


The ecstasy of Spring comes in the form of
forsythia's colors and birds' songs before dawn.
The agony of Spring is more personal, 
coming in the form of vigil at the bedside of our mother.


We accept both its agony and ecstasy.
We claim the promise of Psalm 32:8:
 
Psalm 32:8 - my personal compilation of several translations:  I will instruct you (I will give thee understanding, I cause thee to act wisely), and teach you (I shall make known to you) in the way you should go (about how you should live, concerning the path you should walk, and show you the way to go, and direct thee in the way that thou goest), will guide you along the best pathway for your life); I will (give) counsel (advise, direct) you with my loving eye on you (as I look you in the eye,  I will fix mine eyes upon thee, Mine eye being upon thee, as my eyes watch over you, and watch over you, I cause mine eye to take counsel concerning thee).”

Writing a Song a Week #3

Writing a Song a Week #3
♪ I wait for the Lord; my soul waits and in his word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning ♪ (Psalm 130:5-6)