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!