Sunday, March 28, 2010

Good News

Newlin and I are relieved - one of the neighborhood red tailed hawks made an extended appearance on the top of the steeple cross yesterday afternoon. It seems to be okay. The only thing better would have been to see both of them at the same time. For now, to know one is all right will do nicely.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Grace hawks

I worry about the hawks. I haven't seen them since them for almost two weeks, since the nor'easter that did so much damage. I have visions of a nest destroyed, of birds plucked from the sky and cast down. Foolish, I know. Nothing is permanent. But I miss them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Most Beautiful

The Most Beautiful is a Japanese movie from 1944. Girls have left their homes to live in an optics factory supporting the war effort. Each girl, having left the soil of her birth, has brought with her soil from her home. Each girl's soil is placed in the vegetable garden of the dormitory. When they long for home, they go out and stand on the soil of their home and their birth.

Newlin and I have moved so much. When we moved from the home we built in Southern Chester County Pennsylvania, we dug up an enormous sage plant, or at least as much of it as Newlin could fit in a planting tub we had, and transplanted it in the soil of Milford Delaware. When we moved to Ridgefield, we dug it up again and, leaving it in the tub this time, as its permanent home, it moved with us to Boothwyn Pennsylvania and again here, to Norwalk Connecticut, where we replanted it in the ground at 20 Hudson Street.

Every year I pruned out the dead branches. Every year, wherever we went, the sage bloomed, beautiful pale purple blooms. By this time the plant measured almost three feet high and at least three feet across in any direction - a truly heroic plant.

When we moved from Hudson Street to our current home in the rectory of Grace Church, we transplanted it into the soil under the kitchen window of the rectory. This time, the sage has not weathered the move. This year there will be no profusion of purple blooms.

I thought at first the entire plant had died, but I see there are about 15 leaves on three or four thin stems that are fighting to remain strong and alive. Not enough plant to support flowering, but still I will cut out the dead wood for the sake of the part of the plant that wishes to live, no matter the circumstances.

And when I grieve or rejoice, or just plain miss having a home of my own, I will remember The Most Beautiful - I will stand on or near whatever bits of the soil are left from our home in Southern Chester County, putting down what roots I can until I'm uprooted once again to live and even thrive in another place.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Prayer requests

This is new on this blog, to post prayer requests, and really, they are my requests for your prayers. But the persistence of there being no jobs for those out of work is hard to bear. I ask you, then, to pray for those who are unemployed or underemployed, especially, Jackie, Lewis, Kathy and those others who you are invited to name in the comments below.

"Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. We pray they all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, that they may receive just payment for their labor, and that their families may be sustained through this ordeal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (BCP pg 824)


A week or so ago I watched on television "The Nun's Story" with Audrey Hepburn. The heroine became a nun so she could be a nurse in the Congo. Again and again the lesson was taught her that in joining the convent her first purpose must be to become a good nun. Our heroine has trouble with this throughout the movie and in the end realizes she must leave the order.

My heart broke for her. All that she was told, about putting discipline and obedience to God above everything else spoke to a place deep within myself, at least a wish that living in the world could afford me a life of putting God first, putting obedience to a rule of life first, trusting God so much that it would be okay to leave a piece of work or even a person at a particular time to attend to prayer, trusting that God would take care of that which I had left for the moment.

I find it hard to write what I felt, to explain the longing that still remains with me over a week later, to articulate this in a way that does not sound like giving up, or running away; to articulate it in a way that is more like running toward.

This longing comes at the same time we heard in one of our Lenten classes, The Radical Jesus, our presenter's understanding of what Jesus meant when he said, "Your faith has made you well." She said Jesus was saying that, for instance the woman with the hemorrhage, always had it in her to be healed of her bleeding. She needed no intermediary.

Well, leaving aside all the years the woman spent seeking doctors who could cure her, to no avail and to her own impoverishment, essentially our presenter was saying that we don't need Jesus or God. God has placed within us all that we need, if we will have the faith to believe that. Our presenter did not say this in so many words, but the idea that I might not need God hit me like a ton of bricks. If not God, then I am left with only myself, and what is God for, then?

And I was struck with those same bricks again: God is for worshiping. Full stop. For adoring. For praising. For thanking.

Would that I could reach such a place in my search for the Face of God that worship of God alone would be sufficient. But where does that leave most of the world? And does Jesus not say "Come unto me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest."

Taking all this together, I believe this: that God in Christ Jesus through the workings of the Holy Spirit continually invites us into relationship with That One Which is Holy, and a relationship includes adoration, certainly, and also taking and receiving of burdens for sharing. We take on Haiti, Jesus takes on my fears. I also realize that if my relationship with God is solely about my dependency on God "fixing" things, it is very one dimensional, and not a true relationship at all. I want more than that.

And so I am back to that kind of surrender expected of the nun. I remember reading about this movie, which I had never seen even though it dates back to the 1950's, and hearing in what I read that the heroine was right to rebel and the convent was archaic and even cruel in expecting a nurse to leave a patient on the first stroke of the bell calling her to prayer. After seeing the movie, I became impatient with our heroine. The nuns set to teach her were not as uni-dimensional as I had thought they would be. If they had been, I would not have been drawn again to a longing that has arisen in me from time to time over the course of my almost 65 years in this life.

I remember telling my Baptist grandmother when I was six years old that I wanted to be a nun. I remember that the day before Newlin asked me out on our first date I had just made the decision to tell my priest that I was going to begin the journey to becoming a nun. I still have the dream that it might be God's desire for me that should Newlin pre-decease me I would spend the remainder of my years as a nun. Of course, I could just be given to romanticism, which of course I am.

And still, it could be deep calling to deep. "You say in my heart, 'Seek my face'. Your face, Lord, do I seek." (Psalm 27:8) This is true. This is still the core of the depth of my being, as poor as I am in realizing it in my daily life.

Lent is nearly half over. May the Holy Spirit bless you with the kind of troublesome thoughts that serve to draw you closer to God. I know She has so blessed me!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Meditation Wednesday after Lent 2

It was a long time ago when Newlin taught me to sight birds through binoculars and I discovered hawks. They became and still are for me reminders of God's presence.

At one time in my life - the years of magical thinking (as though those years were over!) - a hawk sighting encouraged me to think something good was going to happen. Then came the day I sighted fourteen hawks on my way to work. I thought, "What really wonderful thing is going to happen!" but I got to work only to find that the head trauma facility in which I worked was begin closed down by the parent company for not being profitable, all our clients were to be shipped out to other rehab facilities or nursing homes and we were all being canned.

From that day I got scared whenever I sighted more than three or four hawks in one trip.

Actually, I don't think the hawks have anything to do with telling the future. But I still get a twinge of fear now and then. We just went a whole week without a sighting of the Grace Church resident hawks. Then over the weekend we got this picture and since then I've seen both of them every day. Maybe they are a sign. Of what, I don't know.

Or maybe they're just hawks - and wonderful!