invincible summer

Two women walking down a road, one with her head tossed back in laughter.

Noticing that pine trees in the farm I often pass have slowly but suddenly grown much taller. How did I not notice until now?

A friend’s Facebook status update: “In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer.” I’ve done some looking and found that it is a quote from Albert Camus, a French philosopher and writer. What a powerful statement.

Advertisements

we’re one but we’re not the same

Image

Having this adorable picture of Natalie and Gigi texted to me early on a Sunday morning.  Don’t they look like twins here?  Precious.  And they’re a lot like Ash and me…I love her to death, but she’ll never come between me and my chapstick.  

The moment when you can see that what you are teaching connects with someone.

Being told a wonderful little story just before worship.  There was a little girl, around 5 or so, who was asked by a teacher to draw God.  As she began drawing, the teacher said, “But no one knows what God looks like!”  The little girl quipped, “You will in a minute.”

Prayer for a Winter’s Morning

20130217-111214.jpg

Due to icy and snowy weather, our service this morning was canceled. It is an odd experience to have a Sunday off! I decided I’d write a prayer conveying some of those feelings.

Snow drifts, melting down from chilled trees, the only movement in a blinding white scene of Sunday morning shalom. How content those trees are with stillness, how content to let the snow come and go as it pleases, while their deep roots reach for deeper, unfrozen waters. You urge us, Patient God, to be still and know that you are you. The strong trees understand that; the frozen grass waiting its turn to spring up understands that; even the blanketing snow understands that.

Why is it so hard for us humans to grasp? We have an impulse to do, go, act, make, spend. And yet you call us to be. Being feels like something we just do not have time for: a selfish luxury or an abstract impossibility. How is it that the same God who created all that we see – the glittering snow, the deep-rooted trees, the patient grass – also created Sabbath rest? How is it that we have twisted that Sabbath rest to mean either automaton worship or pancakes and pajamas?

In this moment, when the impulse to go and do seeks to squeeze guilt out of just being, teach us again, O God, the art of being. That moments of unexpected stillness must not be immediately filled with obligations and productivity, but instead cherished as a calm respite in a world frenetically searching for meaning. Show us the way of the deep-rooted trees, that fearing neither cold nor drought, we may stand strong and complete exactly where you have planted us. Show us the way of the drifting snow, that welcomes the change sunlight brings and suddenly, beautifully, lets go and dances down to replenish the earth with your water. Show us the way of the patient grass, that knows that new life only comes after a time of stillness, but that always, always, it comes. Amen.

snow, strum & sun

20130216-112400.jpgA glorious vibrant sunset.

20130216-112416.jpg

An unexpected new guitar: I went to my Friday lesson that, instead of a 30 minute lesson, turned into a 2 hour jam session.  While there I picked up this lovely petite folk-sized Alvarez guitar and adored it.  The owner said he would sell it to me at a discounted rate, and I could just pay for it a bit at a time, but still take it home to practice on.  What a kindness.  It is such fun to play.

20130216-112443.jpgThe wonder of fluffy white snowflakes dancing down to blanket everything in white.  Can you spot my camouflaged furry snowflake?

pancake banter

ImageToasting a leftover pancake to have with my afternoon tea.  In Belfast, you could buy pancakes in the store and folks would toast them and eat with jam and butter for breakfast or a snack.

The man who works at the gas station in town inquiring after me, my congregation and my “little dog.”  You have to love small towns.

A stirring and enjoyable conversation about atonement, Bonhoeffer and Barth at my clergy breakfast group.  Hilarious banter was also shared, with a few of us keeping score each time Sandy made a great joke.

sometimes all it takes is a day away

20130210-164939.jpg

The relaxation of a couple of days away at our Presbytery Revitalization Retreat at Camp Monroe.  It was full of creative and inspired approaches to making congregations places of greater welcome and spiritual growth.  But, these sorts of gatherings are the most fun because of the people you connect with.  There were wonderful conversations by a roaring fire, moments of musical spontaneity as we played guitar and mandolin, and time to just sit, listen and learn.  I do feel I have officially embraced a very particular Presbyterian pastor stereotype: I brought my own pottery mug to drink coffee from while I was there.  This seems to be something of a calling card for us caffeine-loving revs.

20130210-164818.jpgSally and Bill enjoying the fire.  Bill is part of the weekly Cracker Barrel breakfast meeting of clergy I attend, and has perhaps one of the most genuine and carefree laughs ever.  His wife Sally was a delight to spend time with.

20130210-165045.jpg

Laura is on our Presbytery staff as the Mission Coordinator for my region of the large Presbytery, and her office is located in our church.  And that’s Pastor Joe looking at the camera.  We swapped cheesy jokes the whole time.

20130211-093057.jpgMy plaid shirt and hand are reflected in this picture, but I wanted a shot of the lovely view I looked at during the conference.  I joked (sort of) on facebook that all I required of the conference was trees and coffee.  I received a good deal more than that, but the trees and coffee were certainly a highlight.

lofty words & adorable wiggles

20130205-082556.jpgPreaching on love from 1 Corinthians 13 and having a sweet older gent in the congregation give me his copy of “The Progressive Farmer” that has a full Valentine’s-worthy page of quotes about love. I adore the one by William Carlos Williams.

The mention of “transubstantiation” in Downton Abbey. It’s the little {nerdy theological} things that bring laughter and make your day.

Watching my youngest niece Olivia “be cute” over and over again.

A little weighty box waiting for me in the mailbox that turned out to be “Papa’s syrup” from my parents. I believe my great-grandfather, Papa, started the tradition of eating the thick, pure cane syrup on pancakes. I was raised on the stuff and love it. No Log Cabin here.

preacher’s day off

ImageGoing to a low-key bluegrass gig (come to think of it, there’s no such thing as “high-key” bluegrass) at a local wine cellar and enjoying the storytelling and easy harmonies.  Two of the musicians are a husband and wife who own the delightful coffee shop that becomes my sermonating office on Thursday afternoons.  They’re such interesting people.  As my friend and I left the gig, they both waved and the woman shouted out, “See you next week!”

Seeing a movie that was so haunting that it left me contemplative and quiet the rest of the day (that’s saying something, y’all, ha!).  It was The Impossible.

Beginning guitar lessons and enjoying the easy charm and gregarious nature of my instructor who reminds me quite a bit of a musical friend in Belfast.

sip, stomp & savor

20130202-153705.jpg
A delightful afternoon at my favorite coffee haunt drinking a latte and reading. I brought my favorite mug this time – it’s amazing how much better it tastes.

Little girls in boots and glittery skirts stomping on the wooden floor like cloggers.

That first crunchy, creamy, decadent bite of homemade macaroni and cheese (okay, technically it was orecchiette and cheese).