Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Christmas Card. . . sort of?

I hope this finds you fully engaged in Christmas week. It seems like it will never come and then BOOM it's here and ZOOM it's gone. A delightful  number of cards have found their way to my mailbox over the last couple of weeks and I want to thank all of you who made the time to send cards. It is a joy to see your family pictures and read about your year just ending. Please know that I cherish each of you, even if you didn't receive a card this year. It is lack of time and organization that caused that - there is no lack of loveIt takes effort to keep relationships alive - I am so thankful for the many friends and lovely family with whom God has blessed me. 

It's been a big year for me - a full year 1100 Miles North after thirty years in the Heart of Texas. This is my second Christmas here and I am basking in the settled-ness of my life compared to last year. It's been a year of learning, making mistakes, special celebrations, trying new things, and intriguing brushes with the past.

This second Christmas season affirms some key things I have long believed:
  • He came down that we might have LOVE!
  • You will find people of good-will everywhere.
  • If it's going to be cold, there should be snow!
  • Minnesota Public Radio leaves all other radio in the dust.
  • The more children one has in her life, the better life is.
  • You won't die from homesickness. And you'll never become immune to it either.
  • I-35 runs north more than south (thanks Mom and everyone else who has traveled in this direction.)

Looking ahead to the new year, I am energized by many plans and possibilities. I am looking forward to deepening relationships here, having another year enjoying geographically closer family, and relishing time with old friends. I'll be traveling east to Rochester, Madison, South Bend, Detroit and Providence, west to South Dakota, and south to Arkansas and Texas to various events with friends and family. In between I hope to spend more time with a pen in my hand, riding my new bike, welcoming visitors, and stamping again. I've joined a new group forming in my synod and that should prove to be very rewarding!

I wish each of you a Blessed Christmas and Joy-filled 2015 and hope with all my heart that our paths will cross and there will be time for a cup of coffee and a long chat when they do!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Blessed are the uncomfortable. . .

It's been a bumpy kind of ride lately - lots of things bumping into each other - ideas and events bouncing off each other like logs traveling downstream to the mill,

Shortly after I wrote my last post, a member of one of my on-line professional groups posted a rant to our network Facebook page. I can't find the original post but what stuck out to me was along the lines of "I am so sick and tired of people referring to their STUFF as blessings; as if God gave us more STUFF because we are so special. Jesus said blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. . ."  It hit me right between the eyes, just as Thanksgiving approached and I was counting my blessings at the same time I bemoaned my inadequate holiday savings .

Then the Grand Jury delcined to indict the policeman in Ferguson and protests quickly escalated into riots. I didn't, and still don't know what to think or say or do about the huge and overwhelming issue of racism in my country, but I felt as if I should say SOMETHING. Dr. King's words haunt me: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." And equally disturbing are these words from Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." I am not in any way condemning the decision made; I am just deeply troubled that racial divides remain so deep 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

Then, fortuitously, I bumped into this blessing of unknown origin but attributed to St. Francis:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world. so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
And the blessing of God, who creates, Redeems, and Sanctifies, be upon you and all you love and pray for this day, and for evermore. Amen.
So, as Thanksgiving weekend ends, and I bid my happy and contented holiday feelings farewell and find myself tempted by the drama of self-pity as the family scatters again, I will instead give thanks for my discomfort, anger, sadness and foolish dreams. These are true blessings, and eventually I will know how to channel them. Onward through the fog - as they say 1100 Miles South!