Beginning of Lent
Golden heads nodding
They let us know in whispers
Beginning of Lent
Golden heads nodding
They let us know in whispers
……..the way is cleared, and we can go on……(a snatch from my journal)
And it’s February!!!! That means my daffodils will make an appearance soon. The ones I take a picture of every year are popping up and I can see little bits of yellow poking through the magnificent green. Also, a dear friend has passed, and I still can’t believe she is gone. None of us can. She was ninety-three and she was done with life, but we were not done with her. I know this life is just a vapor of time, a slice of eternity, but Annie, you were just so darn alive. Today would be the day you would have driven here in your Prius to visit my aunt. Your absence is felt keenly.
We miss you so……
Here is a picture of her (on the right) along with my aunt and another friend, all of them 90 or older.
I’ve been reading the book of Job in the Message version. I have always loved that particular book, but the Message expresses it in such a clear and simple way.
God answering Job:
“Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about? Pull yourself together Job! Up on your feet, stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided on its size? Certainly, you’ll know that. Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone, while the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise?
At first it seems like God is very hard on Job but in the end, God sides with Job and not his friends. So much so that God addresses Eliphaz (bad friend) in exasperation. He turns to him and says:
“I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me–not the way my friend Job has. So, here’s what you must do. Take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my friend Job. Sacrifice a burnt offering on your own behalf. My friend Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer.”
Thank you, Jesus, that we are done with THAT messy business.
Death swallowed up by triumphant Life! (Jesus) Who got the last word, oh Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? 1 Corinthians 15:55
That is if you let it. The world can swallow you whole. It gets to be too much sometimes. And at times there are just no words. They simply will not come. Dry as a desert inside, that’s what it feels like. The start of this year was one for the books. California made the news and not for the bizarre reasons it usually does. This state can be downright embarrassing sometimes for many political and other ridiculous reasons. Or maybe you love all those reasons.
This time it was a massive storm. Series of storms, rather. The rain just wouldn’t stop. Coming from the Pacific Ocean there were about 9 storms one right after the other, producing what is called a Bomb Cyclone. I had never heard of that term, but we are all too familiar with it now. Whole communities were flooded, and freeways were shut down. In this town alone, we had around 100 plus very large and very old trees fall causing massive damage and in some cases loss of homes and lives. When the sun finally came out it was like a miracle. We are safely on the other side now, but the fallout continues in the aftermath.
The neighbor lost a huge Cottonwood, and my aunt had a tree guy come and eliminate a possible catastrophe. This was a 50–60-year-old tree that we have watched bend and sway from our vantage point in the Motorhome with no small sense of dread and panic. Its two massive neighbors fell over the last historic storm in 2017. My brother’s house also flooded and so did a good friend of mine’s.
In other news, I got a call from the Dr. right before Christmas that the spot I had removed came back as Malignant Melanoma. I was in the aisle of Walmart when I got the call and my world just shifted like it does when you get unexpected news like that. I have since had the diseased part removed (I hope enough) I get stitches out Tuesday. We also got a call from Elaine’s brother that two of his friends had passed away. One of them in these recent storms. He wandered away from his cabin and they found his body the next day, frozen.
My Aunt also had a terrible fall on Christmas morning that she is still recovering from. Nothing broken, miraculously so, since she is 90 now. And my current student at school (I am subbing for another aid that is absent) has had two seizures since coming back from Christmas break. It’s very upsetting to watch but I am thankful for our school nurses who are wonderful and were there in minutes. She usually recovers pretty fast but it’s harrowing. I can’t imagine what her parents go through.
All this to say, that this world can be a very hard place sometimes. And it can swallow you whole if you don’t have something to anchor your soul. But this is the good part.
Everything can change in an instant and we can be surprised by joy and wonder even though our circumstances themselves haven’t changed much.
Take this morning, for instance. I had nothing, no words at all. But as I read my Scripture in the quiet of dawn, a candle lit in the middle of my heart. It felt like JOY. And also, we got a new laptop, and I can finally have the luxury of sitting at the table posting this blog instead of having to go out to the garage where the main computer is. Amazing what you can get used to if you have to. I almost can’t believe it’s the eighth year we’ve been living in this box. It’s been hard and we are ready to be done with it. Few people get how hard it is. They think we have been on some kind of vacation. Well, I would suggest that they try using the laundromat every week, along with dumping the “shitter” and worry about propane and a million other things.
But I digress……Back to JOY. It’s what I’m feeling right now, and I am so very thankful for the Lord and His words that are living and sharper than anything and able to beat back any darkness this world and Satan can throw at us. I wonder things. Being in a state of wonder is not a bad thing. It’s how we learn. Why do we capitalize Satan, anyway? I personally don’t think he should get that “billing.”
To change the subject, is anyone watching the Chosen? It seems to be a global phenomenon and I’m glad for it. It seems to be turning people’s hearts and thoughts to the REAL Jesus and that’s very good.
Finally, if you, dear reader, have stuck with me this far, I thank you! There is still so much beauty and goodness in the world, and I sincerely hope this day finds you seeking the miraculous in each moment.
The Lord bless you and keep you…….Lori
*****I call the bird in the picture “Chocolate.” He visits me on the fence.
“I just heard “She’s gone” in my sleep”
“Mom passed on October 2nd, 2021, at 3:40 AM”
As I opened my iPad to write this post, these were the two statements I had recorded here 365 days ago yesterday. A whole year and millions of breaths since her soul passed into Heaven, taking a part of mine with it. I hadn’t remembered the day, but my sister-in-law did. For some odd reason I thought it was the 6th.
Maybe somewhere inside I knew. I had chosen the morning to finally box up her photo albums and clothes she had saved of mine that I had in my car partly because I didn’t know where else to put them or maybe I just wasn’t quite ready to turn them loose.
I’m still making a weekly pilgrimage to the cemetery to do the flowers and it’s weird because I never wanted or felt a need to do this with either Grandparents or even my husband. Then again, there are no rules in grieving and that’s okay. Even as I thoughtfully arrange my Hobby Lobby bouquet, I have to smile, because I can almost hear both of them say, “Give it a rest already……”
Life stops for some and keeps going for others. Inexplicably. This morning I came across a blog post someone else wrote that I had to share in the aftermath of hurricane Ivan, you can read it here. As I very well know, there are no guarantees we will get another day. That makes today the most important day. Inhale deeply, everyone!
Don’t just walk, see things when you walk. If you are in good health, thank God. If you aren’t, thank Him even more that He is with you in it. He once walked this earth and felt all the things you are feeling right now. If you are feeling despised and rejected, remember He was too.
I’ve been reading Ezekiel, talk about a crappy job assignment. None of us has the right to complain! Year after year, they didn’t listen to any of his warnings. I venture to say that none of our employers has ever had to lay on our left side for 390 days, and an additional 40 on our right (for the sin of Judah). And even when they finally did concede that he had been right all along in his prophecy, they still didn’t act on it.
There is a message there for all of us. Basically, we Christians are all little Ezekiels. We know there is Something and Someone better after we leave this place we call home, but too often we remain silent and distracted by the world. Ezekiel warned and obeyed until it hurt.
Sometimes I don’t know why or how I can keep a lid on my wonder at God and how good He is. But if these words can be a little leaking of hope and joy out into the world then there is redemption in that.
I leave you with these words from Paul.
“Finally, brethren (sistren too), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
What words could I add?
In light of all the suffering going on in the world right now, what words could I possibly add that would make any difference at all? It’s a question that writers everywhere ask. The answer, thankfully, always comes back the same, and has throughout history. Words matter a great deal because the written (or spoken) word will always have tremendous power to change. Even if that change is a barely detectable shift in the heart or soul. And there will always be readers. In my formative years, there were no computers, no iPhones. We had each other. Real faces, real places. And the things we read in books. We had no choice but to use our imagination.
Flash forward to 1996. I started work at Intel, Corp. For 20 years I worked alongside many others deep within the heartbeat of the technological age. Together, we built the chips that made it all go. I remember back then people said we would be living in a “paperless” world. And now, in 2022 we are drowning in more paper than ever before. And thankfully, bookstores have not become obsolete. Libraries are still being funded. All is not lost.
When you look around at our current world situation, it would be easy to lose hope. Character seems scarce. Crime is off the charts. And yet, we honor a beloved Monarch who has passed into glory. We honor and pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth because she embodied great character and values not readily seen much anymore. She had the role thrust upon her in her youth, and instead of resenting it, she rose to the challenge and continued to do so for 70 years. Splendidly.
Also as Americans, after 21 years we must pause, at least at some point in our waking moments today and remember 9/11. We all remember where we were that day.
On a more personal note, we have just gone through a massive heat wave here in California and yesterday we were released at last and out from under the 100 plus temps for the first time in several days and weeks. For quite a few days we have been hotter than Arizona which is very rare.
Just being able to take a walk without sweltering was like a miracle. There is something so redeeming in it. Getting out, off the phone, away from the barrage of voices that can so often cause unease and weariness of soul. Come away with Jesus on the mountain and pray. Even He, being God knew how important that was.
And read. If you haven’t read Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” I wholeheartedly recommend it. It will restore you to all things good, worthwhile, precious and true. Most of all, read the Word that matters more than any others. His. Peace and Blessings, Lori
Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.Psalm 119:105
It’s the quiet of the morning and I think again of what Thomas Merton said about this time in the marvelous anthology “Book of Hours”
“The most wonderful moment of the day is that when Creation in all its innocence asks permission to “be” once again, as it did on the first morning that ever was.”
This little book was brilliantly edited by Kathleen Deignan. Somehow, she managed to reduce the mountainous volumes of his writing to this perfect little gem. I reach for this book again and again when I feel the turbulence in my soul that comes from a prolonged absence of my morning quiet time when I think I’m too busy.
My soul tends to wither and fall prey to all kinds of clamor that our world can so effortlessly concoct. This small island of sacred space helps to remind me that:
My soul is big enough to hold eternity.
Big enough to hold Him.
Or, rather, He makes Himself small enough to fit inside me.
A humbling thought, one I have to make myself be silent enough to understand. Sometimes Alexa plays David Nevue quietly. Soft piano hymns fall like gentle rain and the words come from a place I remember.
Miracles never stopped happening.
The possibility is there, we just have to accept the Invitation.
Each morning, my coffee, my time, these conversations, become a kind of Holy communion.
Even more important than a good night’s slumber is this rest for my soul.
Here is a great verse to ponder that I found today in the Good Book:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
It’s now the close of the day. First week back to work and it’s Friday tomorrow. I’m calling that a victory.
It’s July 9, 2022 and I still sometimes catch myself wanting to write the date starting with a 19, imagine that. Last night I had a dream that I was scheduling my tans like I used to do before an event where I knew I would be wearing a bathing suit in front of other people. Maybe that’s where the “19” came from on the date. The 1970’s were the decade that saw me purposefully baking in the sun to color my acne-ridden skin.
If I knew then what I know now I may still have done it. (I may have skipped the tanning bed in the 80s though.) It’s the second month of my summer break from school. I am blessed to be able to see children every day at my job and play at least a small part in their education in a supportive role. I’m in the 6th year of this “retirement” job and it will be my last. Yesterday I tore open the important looking envelope from the School District that held my next assignment. Praise God, it’s the same school and the same student as last year, little Edith. I am more than thrilled.
I am currently reading Ray Bradbury’s book entitled “Dandelion Wine” In it, one of the elderly characters is described by the town youth as a time machine. I am beginning to feel like one of those myself. It’s a wonderful book that was recommended by someone on one of the timelines of social media and I was glad to find it in the library. It will be one I may buy and keep on my hallowed shelves. That is, one day when I do get shelves again.
Speaking of the library, I was going through withdrawals since I hadn’t been there for a few days. When I got there it was 11:58 and they opened at noon. There were around 7 people waiting there and more walking up. I saw a lady around my age waiting too so I seized the opportunity to talk to her. “Encouraging, isn’t it, that people are waiting in line to read?” Her face brightened and she said, “Oh yes, I volunteer in the bookstore and sometimes I just buy kids books for them as a treat.” I said, “Yes, how often can you buy anything for a dollar or less anymore.”
She said her greatest reward was that one of the kids ran up to her and hugged her legs. I told her I was a Teacher’s Aide and I heartily agreed that was the absolute best reward you could get.
Later E and I had lunch with a longtime friend and I told her of my conversation. I described the lady and she said, “Oh yes, her name is Betty. They bought our house on Glenhurst.” Well, Glenhurst Street was my childhood home. The one we just sold this year after my folks passed.
Turns out it is a small, small world sometimes.
To those faithfuls who still may be reading, thank you for hearing me ramble. All is well in our little corner and I pray it is in yours!
It’s the day after we celebrated Independence Day as a nation. I took a walk, noticed things like you don’t notice in a car or even on a bike with the world flashing by. The reason I walk is not really for the exercise, but to be connected to our one humanity. To see people outside doing ordinary things. Puttering in their yards, digging up broken sprinklers, walking dogs. There is a wonder in that. E. followed me on the bike and due to tracker on these phones, caught up on California street where I paused.
I went by 615 West Locust where Grandma and Grandpa C lived. That’s how they always signed our Birthday and Christmas cards. I think about who lives there now. They don’t know or care what went on there before. They don’t care about the rock collection behind the garage that I liked to rummage through, or Mabel the solid gray cat of theirs, or the ancient stove in the kitchen. That’s as it should be, the way of life, I guess.
Walking along, I saw a kindred spirit taking photos of clouds, another cloud watcher, phone toward sky.
Last night the bombs were bursting everywhere. Neighbor cats were in one of their secret places tucked away. This morning they were both at the door ready for breakfast. It’s a blessedly cool and quiet morning. The last few years, I find myself almost enjoying the day after a holiday more than the holiday itself. The next day holds no obligation, just presents itself in all its glory, unmarred, unmoored.
I immediately walked down to the river because I had to capture this reflection in the water. On the path down, the wind held a whisper of fall. It happens sometimes in mid to late summer. I know there will be many days to swelter yet, but for now, I enjoyed the promise the universe had to offer. That another season will come.
Nature always helps me say, “Wake up!” Makes me think that maybe we can put away all the petty stuff and maybe find some common denominator. I think that’s why God gave us babies, and cute animals and sometimes a scene that is so majestic and magnificent that it takes your breath.
I pray today that maybe we all can find something to take our breath away. Just temporarily. Look to the left or right, maybe it’s the precious familiar person beside you. Maybe it’s just the sky. (And it’s never just sky.) Maybe it’s the promise that God said He will never leave us.
More than we need for our manna today.
It washes over me at unexpected times. That a chunk of my life is missing, E asks me if I want to go by my old home. (She knows I will say yes.) She goes by too after Walmart runs to see what’s what. What changes the new owners might be making. When I drive by it’s as if I’m gazing into the familiar face of a cherished old friend, not a place I once lived. No matter how it changes. I will remember…..
I remember little girl yellow and a record player on the floor. And ruffled chenille on the bed. My Mom so mad at the dog for lifting his leg right after she washed it. I remember backyard Birthdays, sheet thrown over the line and fishing for prizes which my brother and his friend fastened from the other side. Names of neighborhood crushes scrawled underneath the windowsills.
And sounds…..the funky doorbell I can hear so clearly. The particular slam of the screen door, the sound of my Mom singing and her voice telling me it was time to get up for school. My groan as I threw the covers over my head wishing for Saturday.
On the other side of town, I see a sad row of buildings on Main taken over by the homeless, now rampant with drugs and stolen piles of garbage. In my mind I remember the sound our shuffling feet climbing the stairs to the upper room of the Mandarin House Chinese restaurant. We thought we were in Chinatown. The gentle clink of teacups and saucers. Okazaki’s was somewhere downstairs, the Japanese shop where they made the best snow cones.
Memories can save us when everything around us is unfamiliar and changing. We walk about in a world we no longer recognize. We talk about it every day. Are we, (the sixty-somethings) the last to remember a world that was somewhat sane?
Of course human nature has always been the same but I truly believe we are just now beginning to see the harmful effects of endless social media. It can’t be healthy to have events plastered our faces at every turn. The mind reels from it. There is no time for the mind to recover from one tragedy when you’re presented with another.
But thankfully, some things will always remain the same. The important things. God knew there would come a day when we would need to derive comfort from looking up at the unchanging planets. He knew we would always need to gaze into the innocent eyes of a newborn to keep cynicism at bay. And to stand in wide-eyed wonder on the shore of an ocean which seems endless.
It is Sunday, June 5, 2022, the day of Pentecost. Fifty days after He rose. And God is still in control. And I remember one day long ago when the Holy Spirit touched down in my little world. On a cold, foggy, miraculous December day close to Christmas.
The Spirit will not always strive with men, but He was with me that day. And He’s with me still. I close my eyes and hear the peace murmured, the rustle of clothes and muffled kneelers leftover from Episcopalian days, and the Doxology from my Baptist days. And singing “Morning is Broken” on the dewy grass at a Methodist Sunrise Easter service.
Life is good. Because God is.
Lassoing thoughts, figuring out what to keep
What to release
The writing process, even the phrase
Taunts. “As if,” my own voice echoes
If no one is there to read, is it still a story?
Because some things are too beautiful
Not to share.
Summer will always be
The cool of the garden hose held over our heads
And “Let’s make skeletons!”
Plopping down to feel the warmth of the driveway
Getting up to compare imprints
Purple Koolaid when it was still innocent
Remnants of powder on the cold metal rim.
The hope of a warped chime from two blocks away
Rushing inside to get a thin dime
Missiles and Dreamsicles
Stubbed toes and hard-baked plastic flipflops
(Called thongs in those days)
All innocence must be kept like a treasure.
And not forgotten.
Writers are the guardians of recorded time.
It’s morning, and it’s God’s day.
I sip coffee and it tastes like gratitude.
I recognize for the umpteenth time
this is a sacred moment.
I stoop over the keyboard, the cat having stolen my chair.
I grant her a moment too.
Just like God has granted me so many over the years.
And this is present day and I summon the past in the form of a real
book. I know there are plenty of people like me,
who shun electronic readers.
Who know that reading is a feast for the senses.
The feel….smell….sound…..of a page.
The look of a particular font
even the thickness of the paper, all conjured up to make it
Even before the first word is read.