Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Look around you, what do you like and don't like about the environment you are in?

I was reading an article the other day in the magazine Ode about typical hospital architecture, and how it actually is detrimental to health. People who are ill and scared need something soothing, uplifting, easy to navigate, easy to find rooms, etc. And what are most hospitals like? Dark mazes! Confusing mazes that make a difficult situation even harder. There's a movement abroad to design hospitals to be an asset to healing instead of a detriment. This thought intrigues me. Our environment does make a huge difference in our attitudes and feelings of well-being. It seems like a no-brainer, but apparently different designs for hospitals are a new thought in the medical community.

It's made me think about the environment of the church building. What makes it welcoming, warm, inviting, comfortable, yet set apart for a special holy purpose? Are we just as clueless about these things? You get used to your environment, and don't really think about it anymore. You don't SEE anymore. So what do we need to see? I think we need something that makes it easier to know where things are when you walk in the doors. I think we need to reemphasize smiling faces and welcoming words at the doors. We need information to be easily accessable. But what is it that I'm not seeing? Of course, Jesus can be present and proclaimed in the darkest, nastiest back alley. Things don't have to be lovely for God to be present (where two or three are gathered...). But I do think that space dedicated to the Lord's service can aid in spiritual growth, or be a hindrance. Hmmmmm...

I'm going to ponder these things this summer. I probably won't be at this congregation a year from now (but who really knows except God!), so I'm hoping I can see things through different eyes as I prepare to take my leave. I love this congregation, and I hope to give them my best until the end. I want to be an asset during this time of transition, and not just a lame duck. Quack, quack!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Family Time

I'm sitting at my parents' computer, getting ready to leave for home. I'm sad to leave, yet anxious to get home. Wishing I had more time here, yet ready to get back to "normal." Spending time with my husband's family and mine reminds me that there are so many ways to give and receive love. Bigger cousin helping the smaller kids down the slide. Grandma deftly keeping everyone fed and comfortable and treated and made to feel special. Grandpa beaming at all the kids and grandkids in the boat, and patiently teaching the little ones to fish...reading stories and rough housing. Sons helping Dad do projects, and fishing together. Siblings sharing a movie, talking into the night, sharing memories and current events. Aunt playing at the playgrounds with the kids, and then washing up them up and getting them snuggled into bed. Kids painting grandparents special pictures, playing together, fighting together, making up, and just being the miracles that they are.

It just feels good and right. Of course it isn't perfect. There is much left unsaid, undone. But I know it in my guts that it pleases God to see us together. To see families together, loving and talking, playing and working, with all our shortcomings and gifts. God saw what God had done, and said, it is good.

The road calls me. There are goodbyes to be said, kisses and hugs all around, and that catch in the throat as you pull away and see them in the rear view mirror. How many more times will we have together? How soon before pain or death is what calls us in one place? That will come, but for now we revel in these good moments.

The children are fighting. Better break it up, wipe the tears, and redirect. Ah, how good is life!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Wait and pray

The house is quiet except for the buzz of the computer. Dishes are still in the sink. Load of laundry waiting to be done in the hamper. The blessed gift of sleep awaits.
So much waiting to be done or said. Unfinished conversations hover in the air, waiting to be released and completed (for now anyway). Unfinished chores and duties shuffle and shift in the back of the mind, waiting to step to the forefront and be dismissed as done.
I'm waiting too. Waiting for enlightenment, patience, peace, certainty, gratitude, simplicity, empowerment, confidence...too much to list. The wish for what you unreasonably hope for and the cold reality of what is square off in the corner, and though pipe dreams put up a good fight, the cold shower of how things really are hits the knockout every time. But still crazy hope lingers.
The disciples waited after Jesus ascended into heaven, not knowing when the gift of the Holy Spirit would come. Or what would happen when it came. It ended up being ten days of waiting and praying. I wonder if it was excruciating, unnerving, exhilarating, uncertain, frustrating, empowering...? I know a little about waiting. It was all of the above. Waiting for my beloved to return from a long absense, waiting so many years to conceive, waiting for my child to be born, waiting for things to get better, waiting to get smarter or wiser. Or thinner.
Come Holy Spirit. Until then, I'll wait. And pray. With all the reserves of crazy hope within me.

Communion day and Lilacs

I thought I was going to be so much better about posting, but here it is, a month after my first post, and I'm finally back. Today is Private Communions day again. I really don't like that title. There's nothing truly private about communion, not even if it's just two people in the room. One of the awesome, inspiring aspects of Communion is that when you receive it, you are connected with all Christians both living and dead. You are connected to the whole body of Christ, the whole community. So even if you are home-bound or in the nursing home, you are still connected to the community. So what is a better title for the day when I visit 2 nursing homes, 1 assited living center, and 5 private homes to share Holy Communion? I'm going to have to think about it. Home Communions? Hmmmm. Not sure, I'll have to try it on for size for a while.

The lilacs are blooming like crazy this year. They are so full and vibrant compared to other years. One of the ladies in my congregation said that it was because they had been nipped by frost last year. Adversity made the plants work that much harder, so they are extra beautiful and fragrent now. I'm sure there is a great sermon illustration in that, and there's several scriptures lessons that immediately come to mind to pair with it, but I refuse to go there right now. Let lilacs be lilacs. Let them be appreciated for what they are, the pleasure they bring, and the Godly love that placed them here.

Speaking of lilacs reminds me of something that happened this week. My father-in-law and a good friend of ours has been with us for a week, helping shingle (that experience needs its own blog! Arrgh!) My husband and our friend Kurt were sitting side by side on the roof working away, but they had very different levels of pleasure at the moment I came out to talk to them one afternoon. My husband was sitting closest to the "stink hole," the pipe that channels fumes from the plumbing. Nasty smell! Kurt was sitting closer to the front end of the house, and could smell the lilacs from across the street since the wind was blowing just right. Amazing what difference a few feet can make, and what it did for attitudes! No huge moral to this story, it just really struck me at the time. It also opened up some great jokes and teasing for my husband.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Thoughts on the Lord's Supper:
I love Holy Communion, don't get me wrong. The awesome words, "the body of Christ for you, the blood of Christ for you"...and the meaning I see in the eyes of those who receive is humbling and beautiful. That all said, doing nine communion services in one day for shut-ins and nursing home residents gets a little...much. I hate it when it gets to be rote. By the end of the day, I realize I'm not thinking about what I'm saying. These words mean so much, what we share is so important, but I start feeling like a pizza delivery dude after the fifth time! I need to space these out over a couple of days. It'd be better for the people I'm visiting and me. Thank you God, that your grace is sufficient, and your blessing are given despite the brokenness of your messenger! Deep breath, three more to go, then I get to rest. Time to refill the wine bottle and wafer container!