fire and ice

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Yesterday, we had another dusting of snow and so, as temperatures dropped and velvety darkness fell, I found myself contentedly cozy in my Carolina cabin of a house.  The fire was blazing, roasted red pepper enchiladas were bubbling away in the oven, and I was at peace.  As I walked through my back den, I noticed the play of the fire on the glass windows that looked outside onto the snow.  It suddenly, inexplicably, looked like there was a cozy campfire right there in the middle of the deep blue cold of a winter’s night.  The image was both comforting and haunting.  For some reason, this poem by Robert Frost sprang to mind.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

I’ve always found his words bit troubling, but a powerful descriptor of desire and hate.  I’m not sure how this world will end (though the impacts of human overconsumption and pollution on a finite planet might give us some idea).  Robert might be right.  But for me, I don’t muse on an ending.

I muse on a beginning; a new heaven and new earth where crying, pain, guilt, loneliness, racism, sexism, pollution, hatred, boredom and indifference are wiped away, not with fire, and not with ice.  With love.  Revelation 21, though too often simplistically applied as a formula for the end of this world, doesn’t create a new world out of fire or ice.  The poetic imagery used is of marriage, of God coming to dwell among us mortals, of covenant relationship founded upon love.  The text says that some things do burn when that sort of love happens.  The things that pollute, the things that lead to cowardice and murder and dishonesty.  Those burn away, as love reveals a more excellent way.  But what is left is meant to last: a tree with leaves that heal the nations and a river of the purest water.  What is left is God once again making a home on a renewed earth.

For me, Lent is a time of living in the uncomfortable, perplexing place of looking for a light of hope in a cold, dark night.  It is about facing the things of death, while looking for new life.  Lent is when I open my eyes to try to see how God is bringing light especially when things seem cold and dark, even when that light makes about as much sense as that picture I took.  And Lent is about having enough whimsical faith to dare believe that the new world might already be creeping into this one, in ways that are so small and ordinary we might otherwise miss them: in a niece who says “I love you, Weeza” without even thinking, in shared laughter and stories, in tasty food and strong coffee, in choosing kindness when the choice of indifference is always easier, in the everyday choice to cherish this planet because it is a gift from God.  Yes, the world may end in fire, and it may end in ice.  But a new world is already beginning.

And that world begins in love.

Delicious delights

IMG_8206.JPGIMG_8208.JPGIMG_8213.JPGThe simple joys of baking yummy cinnamon pecan bread and nibbling on it with a nice mug of tea.

Doing a committal service on a week full of icy, freezing temperatures, only to have the sun come out and weather warm just in time.

Being brought coffee while sermonating. Such thoughtfulness.

Blessing the Dust

I will be posting Lenten musings here throughout the season, and though icy weather has made our church need to postpone tonight’s Ash Wednesday service, I find myself thinking about the power in that little ashy cross on our foreheads.  I found Jan Richardson’s poem “Blessing the Dust” and her artwork particularly poignant.

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Blessing the Dust
A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

–Jan Richardson

carbonated holiness

Learning the laughter of folks in my church.  I feel like you really know someone when you can recognize their laugh across a room.  At our PW meeting yesterday, a funny comment was made, and the room erupted in laughter.  How delightful to hear such different varieties of mirth.  I’m reminded of Anne Lamott’s words: “Laughter is carbonated holiness.”

A wonderfully deep night’s sleep.

Coffee with vanilla bean Bluebell ice cream in it, just like my sista drinks hers.  Yum.

life’s a hoot

1458651_10106080253485154_1038659626910995996_nA cozy Sunday morning with a warm fire inside and a loquacious owl outside.

Feeling deeply connected to God in worship.  This isn’t a given — and yesterday, with the lovely music washing over me, I felt completely at peace. What a gift.

A relaxing evening watching the Superbowl with Jen and Carlos.  I’m really not that into the game itself, but I’ll admit it was pretty exciting.  Homemade chili with jalapeño cornbread, on the other hand, I was very into.