Archive for January, 2012

Here In This Life With You

She is a sprite, a toddling breeze blowing through my life with clear and knowing blue eyes and busy baby hands. This grandchild is a gift offered with such generosity that it takes my breath away.  I, who often felt I was hurrying my own children through childhood, suddenly have this small girl at my feet, calling my name, stretching little arms out with cupped hands and a pleading face:  “Hold you.”

Ah, yes, I will hold you.  I will lift your sturdy little body, carefully, and you will settle in my arms, just so, and ask for a cracker or a banana.

“Starka.”  She says it as both a statement and a question, as if to make sure my attention has not wandered.  “Starka.”  Yes, darlin’. I am here.  So glad to be here with you.  So very glad to be here in this life with you.

Have you given thanks for your loved ones today?  There is no time like now.

Here We Worshipped

Here We Worshipped

Throughout Europe, east or west, in almost every town and village, there is a church.  When driving through Serbia, my husband’s homeland, steeples frequently pierce the horizon.  For a very long time, the church steeple was, by design, the tallest structure in any community.  Its height signified its place of honor.

Now, many of the churches are dingy and rather neglected.  Some have well-tended yards and, occasionally, fresh paint.  But whether Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, they all send steeples heavenward – sturdy, enduring.  For me they seem to speak of generations past:  “Here we worshipped.”  They mark a patch of ground where the Word was preached to a community of believers, the faithful whose children were married at its altars, and who now lie buried in its  graveyards.

But times are changing.  Recently, while driving through northern Serbia, we approached the small town of Vilovo.  There in the distance rose the ever-present steeple.  However, in the foreground, rising taller from the surrounding cornfields, was a familiar red and white metal structure:  a cell tower.  In the gray light of a lowering sky it appeared stark and brash.  The church sat rather muted in the background with its cross-topped steeple, seeming to emerge organically from among the village houses.

For me, I think it was the juxtaposition of steeple and cell tower that was so striking.  Technology is certainly, for the most part, the friend of man.  It is bold and ubiquitous and very, very user-friendly.  And certainly the religious world is using that vast frontier to great advantage for God’s kingdom.  Our challenge is not to sacrifice our individual devotion to God to the time-devouring products of technology.  The church should not languish in the shadow of the cell tower.

Hopefullly, it will be of the church that generations to come will say:  Here we worship.

How is technology altering your way of worship?

Jetlagski

jet lag, def: 1) the condition brought on by traveling too far on an airplane and screwing up your body clock 2) a thick, dark fog which settles over mind and body at 1 in the afternoon and lifts with startling swiftness at 2 in the morning.

So I ate breakfast yesterday morning after a decent night’s rest but felt like lying down soon after. So I slept off and on until mid-afternoon.

So now it’s 4:30 in the morning and there has been no sleep.  At all. Out here in the countryside all is quiet in these early hours after a sudden rain and the moon – but wait!  What’s that?  It’s a bird!  It’s a plane! No, it’s a bird.  This bird, the in-laws have informed us, has been heard in a tree on their property for years.  They never see it, but it’s presence is unmistakable.  It sounds like an owl on helium and it will not shut up!  It carries on and on in its weird birdy voice. Then, it suddenly stops. However, this is only because it’s time for the roosters to wake up.  In the distance wave after wave of cock-a-doodle doos, perfectly on pitch, roll across the countryside. The in-law’s rooster joins in.  This is a mistake. He has a faulty valve somewhere and is only capable of a low-pitched cock-a-doodle growl.

Then, of course, (you knew this was coming), dogs.  They not only start barking all over local creation, one is actually baying!  I don’t care if you’ve sat on a tractor for 16 hours, you must wake up and make it stop!  On and on and on, barking and baying.  And there is that moment when all three sections of this creaturely nightmare chime in together, full-throated, in the pre-dawn darkness.  It’s like Animal Kingdom on speed.

If I had a bullhorn, I could, well, you would understand, wouldn’t you?  As it is, the only recourse I may have is to leap out onto the small concrete balcony outside our room like some manic cuckoo clock and scream, “A pox on all of you!”

I could do that.  If it would actually help me. Sleep.

Thoughts on January

Vineyards of Sonoma Valley

Gone are the green leafy shades and sanctuaries of summer. Gone, too, are the leaves of brilliant fall vines flowing over the hills of our fair county.  Now, ghostly trees stand in blue dawn mists. In the gathering light of morning vineyards, pruned limbs are silhouetted against a pale sky.

This month strips and bares, revealing bones and sinew.  It is an honest month, without pretense, resting calm and confident between the pomp and celebration of Christmas and the bright sweetness of February’s love.

It is the month of my father’s birthday.  After Christmas when I was growing up, as January rolled around, he would at some point invariably exclaim, “Spring is on the way!” I believe he disliked what he considered the dreariness of winter months and there was something about the turn of the year that made spring seem within reach.

I wish I would have been there the morning of his death, his self-inflicted death, to put my arms around him and say those words he had uttered so often:  “Spring is on the way!”  The rain will cease, the darkness diminish, daylight will linger a bit longer with each passing day.  Don’t despair, don’t despair.  Spring is on the way.

Life is always at work, even in the dead of winter. Are you living in that awareness with hope and anticipation for the new year?

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