Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Strife is over, the battle won...

Over the weekend our friend Kathleen died. She fought a magnificent battle and now she is at rest. It is always hard to loose someone but even harder when they are young. Kathy was 56 years old. She had done a lot in those 56 years. She had a wonderful singing voice and sang opera in a variety of venues. The "always theatrical" Kathleen was known for her interpretation of the roles she played. Over the past too many years her health had prevented her from singing but she played the piano and organ with a masterful hand. She was our organist here at St. Stephen's. While I was away on sabbatical and worshipping in other places I realized that Kathy routinely transposed all the hymns down to a singable level. She did this so our little congregation could sing, and sing they do! She will be missed by those of us whose voices have ceased the ability to reach some notes! But Kathy will be missed in so many other ways including her wry sense of humor. She finished the 4 year Education for Ministry program last year and her often humorous and ruthlessly honest perspective was important to the class. Rest in peace dear Kathy and go well into your new life of ministry with Jesus at your side.
Spring reminds us every year of the way God is continually renewing us and all creation. If there is any doubt about eternal life it should be silenced by spring. Every year we go from stark, crisply edged death to trees warmly fuzzy with budding new life. Stuff comes up green from cold earth and blooms in a riot of colors. It is an annual rebirth which reminds us that we too will be reborn after death. I am particularly thankful for this reminder this year. It has been a time of unrelenting distress for our parish family. Illnesses and death are too close and we are all struggling with our own vulnerable nature. I can't help but believe that as the sun draws near to us in our journey around it this year, we will be restored by its warmth. So, as Julian of Norwich would say, "All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hope and Spring

Spring in Southwestern Indiana
I took this picture yesterday (Friday) while on my way home from Evansville. I think the colors are scrumptious! This is a true sign that spring is on the way and while it is Lent and we cannot properly use the word "Alleluia," there is an "alleluia sort" of feeling in the air!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lent III

The last two weeks have left me with little energy for posting here. I have done the necessary things in my life. I have been feeding Katie and Pumpkin, taking Katie out in the backyard and watching spring creep into our lives, turning the heat up and down with the successive cold fronts that sweep through, buying groceries, cleaning house, and writing sermons. Most of my energy, however, has gone into watching and praying for the loved members of my parish who are ill. This has been a hard winter for the folks of St. Stephen's. One after another have been ill or had serious health issues. Right now we are keeping watch with a parishioner who is in ICU. Hope comes and hope disappears into the worsening lab reports, yet we wait with the One who heals us all.
On the trips back and forth to the hospital in Evansville, I have been watching the fields where the winter wheat is coming in. Those patches of emerald green almost hurt my eyes in the midst of the surrounding "brown world." I love the colors of the fields of southwestern Indiana. There is always a patchwork quilt of color in those fields. My favorite time is when the winter wheat turns to gold and the corn is about knee high. The blending of those two colors in the softly rolling hills is stunning. I always loved my trips through the fields of eastern North Carolina, watching the cotton, tobacco and soybean fields at their various moments of life. Nature has a way of steadying me. It provides a landscape of hope and home that reassures me. So, I continue now in the midst of the things I don't understand to hope and trust in God who ordered the heavens and the earth, the seasons and the times for our good and our pleasure.