When working too hard gets in the way of what we value . . .
These days of my sabbatical have given me back the gift of time–unplanned, unstructured time. And with this time my mind has had the chance to let go of producing, accomplishing, and making things happen. I am driven to do good as if time is running out. And to be honest, more than I would like to admit, I do feel like time is running out on me. I am a child of three generations of Alzheimers patients–first my granddaddy, then my mom, and now my eldest sister all suffered, and like the rest my sister will ultimately die from complications from this disease. It is hereditary. My mind constantly asks, “will I be next?”
These days my garden is blooming with color-reds, pinks, yellows, and especially purples. These warm days of June bring such bountiful beauty I can sit in my rose garden for hours contemplating the mystery of God’s creation around me. The tomatoes have not yet formed. The eggplants and peppers are hopeful flowers blossoming on young plants in delightfully cool mornings awaiting the buzz of bees to bear their fruit in fall. The basil is reaching upwards toward the sun, not yet ready for my Friday pizzas. It is here with the sun on my face, sitting at my garden table, with the breeze dancing among leaves of the cottonwood trees that I feel at peace, a sense of ONENESS with God and the world. This is sacred Sabbath time.Continue reading “My Blooming Garden (Part 2): The Fragrance of God”→
The garden teaches us many things about life. It teaches us about patience. It takes time for a blackberry bush to grow, to flower and to produce fruit. My blackberry bush is three years old and I think this year I may harvest 20-30 blackberries. Last year we picked 4. Another lesson the garden teaches us is discernment. We must learn to distinguish between plants that will produce food, and plants that will not–of course I am referring to weeds! If we allow the weeds to grow, they will choke out the young tomato and pepper plants. These two lessons are fairly obvious. The third lesson the garden teaches us is a much harder lesson. Continue reading “My Blooming Garden (Part 1)–Thinning Seedlings & Making Space”→
How do you get in touch with God? When do you experience the feeling that you are dwelling within a sacred moment? There are many ways that we can access the Divine. Some people experience the sacred in cathedrals and churches; others experience the holy in the smile of a newborn baby; still others in the quiet time of prayer. For me, I experience God in the midst of ordinary every day experiences with my family at home, at the beach, and especially in my garden. My granddaddy—my mother’s father—was a Wesleyan Methodist Minister back in the day. As I am writing this post, in my mind I can hear his strong vibrato tenor singing the hymn, “Come to the garden alone.”
These past two weeks I have been battling bronchitis.
One morning when I was very sick I woke up with no voice. I had but a whisper to talk, and that too was strained. The morning routine with our 13 year old and 11 year old is an intense schedule. They each have to move through showers, breakfast, backpacks, packed lunches, and chores all in the space of 1 hour. The last 10 minutes are especially rushed with me yelling, “don’t forget your lunch!” and “hurry up you’ll miss the bus!” or “practice piano before breakfast.” Suddenly with no voice and no energy the “mom voice” did not exist and my children were on their own. Fortunately they made it to school on time with all their stuff in tow.
The urgency of needing my voice back was compounded by the fact I had to teach a class on the book of Nehemiah that evening. I was trying to imagine teaching the class without talking much. It wasn’t going to work.I realized that without my voice, I had no profession. No voice meant no ministry.
For a brief moment I realized how dependent I was on my voice. Without a voice pastors cannot provide counseling, we cannot teach, we certainly cannot preach. Our work is based on the art of communication and building relationships.
Fortunately, my friend Swati came by and took me to the clinic where they gave me a breathing treatment and diagnosed me with bronchitis. Within 5 minutes my voice returned. I had thought that my voice was gone, but what was actually gone was my breath.
In Hebrew the word for “breath” ruah is the same word for “Spirit” (to learn more click here). It is the Spirit of God who dwells within us that is found within our own breath. We breathe in the breath of life and the Spirit of our Creator with each breath. When our breath leaves us at the time of death, then we say that our Spirit is gone. While I still could breathe, I had not the strength to speak. My voice was weak because the breath flowing through me was not strong enough to speak. My air pathways were constricted—too tight for the ruah to flow. Thus, my spiritual power as I understood it was certainly weakened.
As we watch the Occupy movements around the US in Oakland, Chicago, NY and beyond take shape and morph into various complaints about the state of our economy, I cannot help but think about my own economics. The origins of the word, “economic” means to manage one’s household. The larger economy has affected my own household economics. Eight months ago my ministry position was eliminated due to a budget shortfall, thus I launched in a new “Search and Call process” to find my next congregation. Churches move very slowly. For example, I applied for a position as soon as it opened in May. I made it to the final round when they called another candidate in October–six months of waiting for me (and that was fast for a church!). After submitting my “resume” to many positions, receiving multiple phone interviews and coming very close to landing a new ministry position, I have learned the hard way how my situation is no different than many people who have been in search of work longer than I.