Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sunshine Makes Me Happy

A Tribute and a Gift - enjoy this song and enjoy the sunshine today. It's a sunny day in Philly as we head out to the funeral and burial. Have a day full of blessing and sun.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a day that I could give you
I'd give to you a day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I'd sing a song to make you feel this way

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a tale that I could tell you
I'd tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
I'd make a wish for sunshine all the while

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high
Sunshine almost all the time makes me high
Sunshine almost always


My view as I write this is stunning. Downtown Philadelphia lays out my window. There's not a cloud in the sky. We're on the north end of town, where Mike grew up and so there are lots of trees and azaleas around the parks and museums. The Rodin museum is right across the road and in front of it is "The Thinker", yep that one. Just a little up the road from it is the Art Museum and at the base of the famous stairs is the Rocky statue. Yep, Rodin and Rocky within a block of each other.
It was this time of year, 27 years ago, when I first saw Mike's hometown. We'd been dating a few months and we came here for Spring Break during my senior year of college. We rode buses and trains and saw every part of the city the few days we were here. It was an incredibly new experience for a girl from East Tennessee. The boulevard leading to the Art Museum is wide and tree and sky-scraper lined. Every light post has a flag representing a different country on it. I still remember my first view of this and how awe-inspiring it was.
We're here for my father-in-law's funeral. Needless to say, I've been in memory over-load. Especially as I am delivering the eulogy, which had to be written and sent to the priest before we left Georgia.
Twenty-seven years since I first saw Philadelphia, met Mike's parents, became familiar with his childhood home. Twenty-seven years.
Life truly does fly by - so glad this town has been part of my life.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Problems are Sneaky

Opportunities abound. The only thing is, they're usually disguised as problems. And once we identify it as a problem, getting it switched around in our mind is almost impossible.
Have you ever identified a person as a problem and failed to see their potential? I have.
Ever been certain someone is trying to take advantage of you and lost out on a true reward? I have.
Have you watched someone walk the path you thankfully, and shrewdly, got out of only to see that path turn wonderful? I have.
Many times we pass up these types of opportunities and never think of them again. But, like I said in a blog earlier this month, I'm nosy. So I usually hang around and watch - and get to see what I missed out on. And due to the hanging around and seeing how things tend to turn out, I've become more wary of "Problems." Well, really, more wary of my early identification of situations as "Problems."
So what's going on in your life right now? Any problems? Any chance they could be opportunities? Any chance they could be blessings? Any chance at all?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Peter Shostak, my Father-in-law

Thinking about my father-in-law this morning I remembered how funny he could be. Problem is, it usually wasn't intentional.
There was the time we were at a Chinese restaurant in China town with all the kids. That was one place we always went when we were in Philadelphia. Anyway, someone asked for an egg roll and Grandad threw it across the table! And it wasn't like he was joking or messing around, he didn't do that. He just tossed an egg roll.
Or the time we were having breakfast here and he looked at Ryan and asked if he was still playing the trumpet in the band. Ryan played the cello in the orchestra.
But what stands out most in my memory is how hard he laughed -- at himself.
He would laugh so hard that he would have tears in his eyes and so we laughed harder and longer.
He was a marine in WWII, a hard worker and good provider. He was the son of immigrants and believed in this country's opportunities passionately. Education was key and he made sure his children got the best. He never let them think they couldn't succeed. He never had a day of college, yet he retired with the title "Engineer". He was so proud of his family and gave them everything he had.
But what I'm remembering this morning is how he hard he laughed at himself.
Not a bad thing to be remembered for, not a bad thing at all.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spinning on a Dime

Ever seen "The Truman Show", the movie with Jim Carrey? Jim Carrey as Truman, plays an orphan adopted by a director who then sets the baby in the middle of a movie set (town) with parents, school mates, friends and eventually a wife. They are all actors and the show is seen 24 hours, 7 days a week. Truman is the only person, in the whole world, who doesn't know it's all fake. Our Youth Pastor (Hi Rob) did a retreat centered on the movie a few years back, so I've watched it closely.
"The Truman Show" was on last night and I saw a bit of it. This morning life feels a bit like that show.
Mike's dad passed away last night. The day had been full already, Mike and Ryan had spent the day at their first NASCAR event and were still at Talladega when Mike got the call his father had had a heart attack. We'd had a wedding shower for Ryan's fiance, Casey, here in the afternoon. So friends, new and old, ate cake, talked and showered Casey with love, welcome and gifts. It was a beautiful day, with my new daughter-in-law, Carrie helping host.
With the azalea's blooming and blue skies accented with fluffy white clouds, it was a day made for a Hollywood movie set. And then at the end of the day everything spun on a dime - like they say it does. Now, the week is a totally unknown entity.
On The Truman Show, the few minutes I saw last night was when everyone is shocked to discover Truman knows something's not right. His perfect world isn't perfect after all. Life is mixture of good and bad and that mixture is the key. That mixture is truth, and what Truman was missing.
Mike's Dad was blessed with good health for 85 years and I know without a doubt if he could've chosen a day to be his last it would have been on a day when those he loved were busy living life surrounded by new family, lots of laughter, blue skies and a race car or two.
We'll miss you, Dad.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Okay, I'm Nosy

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." --Albert Einstein
Saw this on a friends facebook status this morning and it sounded familiar. Although curious sounds better than what I usually call myself - Nosy. And I am. I'm nosy about what people are doing, why they are doing it and what they think about it. And not just when they are doing wrong things, although that would explain my fascination with all things titled "Real Housewives of wherever" - and also my time working with youth.
But why does my neighbor have a trailer attached to his truck this morning? What does the cashier think about working at Wal-mart when she's sixty years old? What would it be like to have always been skinny? Why would someone want a tatoo? How can all those people afford all those huge houses? Who lives in that little yellow house that was obviously there before all the subdivisions? Who built that house? What does it look like inside? Why are these people at the library? (oh and that can take half my time there as I try to figure each person out) Does that kid at the bus stop like school? Wonder if they're a bully? Or do they get bullied?
And what freedom to just admit to people you're nosy. They then know they don't have to answer my questions, cause I usually start with, "You know, I'm nosy and I was wondering . . ."
That was a favorite bit about working for the newspaper - I was paid to ask questions. And most folks love to be asked questions, especially if they've got something newsworthy like a new business, a bright idea, or a winning team.
Best part about being nosy, or curious, is it's really hard to be bored. Passionately Curious. I like that. It definitely sounds better than Nosy!
Think fast - look around you and come up with six questions you'd honestly like to know the answer to (just by looking around you, not delving into your life).
See, wasn't that fun?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Growing Up

Remember when you discovered you weren't going to get all the answers? When college, or being on your own, or a first job, or a lifetime love would put the world in your hand and then, then you'd be ready. Ready to be a grown up. And then someone turned things around and you felt less certain than ever before. A job loss, a love lost, boring days, sleepless nights, illness, or doubt crept in and you felt more like that little kid scared of the dark than ever before. What happened to finally being the adult? The one with the power to make things better?
A friend on the verge of graduating from college boiled it down to one statement on his facebook status this morning, "What if everything I think I know is wrong???"
Here was my comment to him:

"What I've learned is that growing older and wiser means having less answers and being less certain. You depend more and more on today, this moment, what I know right now and realize the future has less answers than you always imagined. Gratitude becomes the solid place to stand and the confidence you imagined came with age, is more elusive than ever. Wisdom is the constant realization you just might be wrong about everything, but what if you're not? And then you get it - "And the greatest of these is Love." So you love, laugh, forgive, and trust and the more childlike you become the better, and wiser, you grow."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The White Queen's Advice

"There is no use trying, said Alice; one can't believe impossible things. I dare say you haven't had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Lewis Carroll

When's the last time you sat and imagined impossible things? (without the aid of pharmaceuticals). Have you watched a child as they followed the floating path of a dandelion fluff and in their eyes you could see a world floating by? Or thought of riding on a bird's wings and seeing what it sees? Or looked at your backyard for where the fairies had their midnight tea last night?
This morning I was reading a book by Madeline L'Engle, one of my favorite authors, not so much for her fiction, but her non-fiction. She writes so humbly and so soaringly about being an artist, being a Christian, being a woman, being a mother and questioning all of it on a regular basis. Not sure why she appeals to me so much. Right.
But she talks about how we loose that ability to live in the possibility of impossibility as we grow older. That to believe the impossible requires a lot of trust and going against what the world says is right. Then she quoted the White Queen from Alice in Wonderland, like I did above.
Practice believing impossible things. Hmmm, well if nothing else it would make for more smiles.
Let's give it a try. What impossible things might you believe in today?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Permission to Offend Denied.

"You can't offend me." When a friend said that to me a few years back (Hi Connie), it became my favorite trait in a friendship. Another friend I was talking to yesterday says it this way, "If you want to offend me, you're going to have to really want to do it."
That attribute has become my favorite part of true friendship. The knowing of each others hearts. And the knowing that the person may have a bad day, or talk out of turn, or speak without thinking but because I know that person's heart - it's no problem. We just move on.
There are people out there who look to be offended - I don't spend much time around those people anymore. I use to, but there's just not that much breathing time on this planet. Of course, we all have to be in those folks sphere's, but I've also discovered this little trick, developing a mantra of "you can't offend me." But it's in a totally different way - as in - What offends me is my choice. What upsets me is my choice and having identified someone as a person who offends on a minute by minute basis - I'm just not giving that person the power to offend me.
There is SO much freedom in this way of thinking. True friendships become deeper and those folks looking to offend, no longer being a source of continual pain, can actually become enjoyable on some level.
And real freedom in my relationship with God comes when I say the same words to him. "God, you can not offend me." Why? Not because I've risen above him and don't care, no. It's because I'm saying to him, "I know you know my heart and want me to be all you envisioned before I was born. So, have at it God - I'm all yours and I promise, I won't be offended."
Take a check right now - Are you offended at someone or something?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Legend of the Dogwood Tree

Saturday we were in the Georgia mountains for lunch with our son and his fiance at the rehearsal dinner location. Afterward, Mike and I drove up to Amicalola Falls State Park to sit by the creek and read. Traveling in the South this time of year the woods are laced with blooming dogwoods. The hardwood forests only wear small, light green leaves and so the spread petals of the dogwoods show through the woods.
Our neighbor has a beautiful dogwood which is right near the fence line between our houses and it spreads out to both our back decks. We so enjoy this tree, in blossom and not.
Do you know the Legend of the Dogwood? It's said that back in Jesus' time the dogwood was a tall, straight tree with such strong wood that the Romans used it for making crosses. However, the tree felt such shame at being Jesus' cross that it asked to not be suitable for that use ever again. So from that point on the tree has been gnarled with hardly any straight piece of wood to be found on it. The blooms - four petals, two longer and two shorter, form a cross. In the center is a crown to represent the crown of thorns and the end of each petal bears the mark of a nail hole and crimson staining around the hole.
So, take a moment to look closely at a dogwood tree today and appreciate the beauty of the tree and what it can remind us of. After all, a legend doesn't have to be true to speak truth and beauty to us.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Have You Seen My Bus Stop?

At a writer's workshop last weekend with Jeffrey Stepakoff, author of "Fireworks over Toccoa" he told us something his father always said. It was, "You gotta be there when the bus comes by."
Jeff told us about his study of the markets, of agents, the work he did to catalog ideas - all BEFORE he was contracted to write a book.
Sometimes that kind of thing sounds too planned, too staged. Folks then wonder if you aren't just trying to give people what they want, instead of what you want to create. But thinking about the bus saying - if I want to ride a certain bus, don't I need to figure out where the bus is going to be stopping? And not just in writing.
I was talking to a friend last night about a young couple close to her who've started attending a little country church. They've chosen a bus they want to ride - a close community who will be there as soon as needed. Now they're scouting on the bus stops, so as to ride that bus.
A young friend of ours has a bright baseball future ahead of him, but he hurt his arm and needed to rest it. However, he tried to play through the pain. Until one day this week he decided he'd take the doctor's advice and rest. He took a step back, realized the bus he wanted to get on was not just one for this season, but for a career. He's doing what he needs to do to be there when that bus comes by.
What do you want? What do I want? Deep friendships? There's bus for that. Good marriage? Green lawn? Healthier diet? There are buses for all those things. But we have to be there when that bus stops. We have to be ready.
So what am I going to do today to make my way to the bus stop of my choice? What are you going to do?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Lonely Writer?

Emailing with my agent yesterday I came upon a thought. She asked for a synopsis of the current book I'm working on, which is beginning to wind down. I replied, "That would be good to get this down on a couple pages because things in Chancey (my fictional town) are crazy right now."
And the thought this led to was that maybe that's why my life right now is very placid and contained because I need all my energy and craziness for those people living in Chancey.
Then this morning I picked up a book of poems from one of my favorites - Emily Dickinson.
Her descriptions of nature, her insight into God, her never bashful gaze at death all stir me every time I read her poetry. She wrote over 1,700 poems but they were only found after her death at age 56 in 1886. She was a recluse in Amherst, Mass. going sometimes for years without leaving her father's house. And when she did venture over the threshold, she confined herself to their yard. And yet, a feeling of being trapped or missing out on life never enters her writing. Never.
She wrote a poem which I think explains her feelings.


No rack can torture me,
My soul's at liberty
Behind this mortal bone
There knits a bolder one

You cannot prick with saw,
Nor rend with scymitar.
Two bodies therefore be;
Bind one, and one will flee.

The eagle of his nest
No easier divest
And gain the sky,
Than mayest thou,

Except thyself may be
Thine enemy;
Captivity is consciousness,
So's liberty.

So our physical and our spiritual bodies push against each other, and we choose where to abide - if we are conscious to the pull. And that choice makes all the difference. My isolation here in the house with just me and my computer feeds what happens in Chancey. Yes, I could probably write in the midst of chaos, but -maybe not. All I know is this balance works for me. Or like in the opening lines of a more famous poem by Ms. Dickinson:

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

So, how are YOU at selecting your own society?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Love Books - always have

Walking into a bookstore or library must make my blood pressure drop. Smelling all those books relaxes me like nothing else - and always has. The first library I remember in my hometown was a little, old, red-brick house near the high school. It had all the original rooms, but every wall was lined with shelves full of books. It was tiny and a tight fit, but I still remember the half wall of kid books where I'd park.
Then there was the bookmobile that came every other Tuesday into my neighborhood and the lady in our neighborhood who kept up a little "public" library on the street behind mine. It was just three shelves in a nook behind her front door but she restocked it from the bookmobile and it was there "just in case".
Then the Civic Center was built in downtown Kingston and we got a brightly lit, wide open library. I missed the quaintness of the library in the house, but - oh my - so many more books to choose from.
There's a verse in Psalm 37 which says: Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
I used to think everyone felt about books the way I do, now I know it's truly something within me. A desire of my heart to be around books, to study them, and write them.
And you know what?
I believe when I walk into a bookstore or library and fill with joy - God does too. You see, he made me and he made my heart, then placed his desires in it.
What did he put in yours?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beginning of The End

It's the beginning. The beginning of The End.
Like magic, status updates on facebook are counting days until the end of school. Whether it's teachers and school staff, or the college student who's ready for the first summer back home from a far off school, or the ones counting out papers and projects left for graduation, or the mom that's ready for late nights at the ball field without homework waiting back home on the dining room table, or the high school student who is so far behind on sleep they'll be sleeping until July 4th.
It's the beginning of The End.
In the elementary schools the buzz is beginning to build, things become more manic, more crazy until the explosion of field days and end of school parties. In the high schools things seem to go into suspended animation - time crrraaawwwlllsss. College slows down and then ends, bang! in a flurry of tests and moving and goodbyes.
However things go from here, what has happened this week - as spring break fades into history - is the end came into view.
So, let the end begin. But to let the anticipation of the end fuel only desire and impatience is to waste a perfectly good end. So take time (even if you have no affiliation to the school year at this time in your life) to savor the days and the sense of something accomplished. To mark this time when endings and beginning are all jumbled up.
Or as Robert Frost said:
"You're searching, Joe, for things that don't exist; I mean beginnings. Ends and beginnings -- there are no such things. There are only middles."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Got Doubt?

Got Doubt? Got Doubt about God? Got Doubt about your kids? Got Doubt about your marriage? Got Doubt about your career? Got Doubt about your dreams?
For those of you who went to church yesterday, you might've heard a sermon on Doubting Thomas - the disciple who missed Jesus' first visit after the resurrection and said he wouldn't believe Jesus had risen from the dead until he could put his finger in the nail holes. What a pithy comeback!
And then Jesus appeared to the disciples again and held his hand out for Thomas to follow through on that pithiness.
The sermon I heard yesterday (Good Job, Julie) talked about Doubt being something that leads us to dig deeper, learn more, examine the evidence OR Doubt can become stubbornness which doesn't allow any growth.
Doubt your sixteen year old is ready to drive on their own? Do you just take his past performances and say, "No Way"? Or do you get in the passenger seat and go for a spin?
Julie had a great picture to bring this home. She said Doubt is standing still with one foot up in the air in the middle of a step. Now, either you're going to bring that foot down in front of you and go forward with your doubt, or you're going to bring it down behind you and allow Doubt to take you backwards.
I know a lot of writers and they are the most move forward in Doubt people you'd ever want to meet. Wonder if we do that in other areas of our life? I love that picture of my foot in the air, preparing to step - somewhere.
So how about you, this morning - Got Doubt? Which way are you moving?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Originals are Over-rated

A writer friend, Jodie, also blogs and this morning her blog for today got me to thinking. BTW here's the link to her blog.
Today she laments re-makes of songs.
Well, I disagree, which is kind of funny because we see eye to eye on so much. I love re-makes of songs and movies and even books. I discovered this a long time ago, but I've never talked about it, because it really seems to irk people who love the classic, the original. When I realized I didn't have that irk response to a pop version of a Beatles song or a country re-make of a 60's rock song which caused other people to nearly drive off the road, wrenching the radio knob, I started wondering why.
Well, nothing profound, I just think it's neat to see what folks come up with. It's not like the original ceases to exist because it's been remade. If that were the case and we only got ONE of everything, then I might have to put moratoriums on certain songs or movies. But hey, you know me, the more the merrier.
And there can be some upsides - Doesn't a bad copy make the classic shine even brighter? And has a new rendition never pointed a person to the original?
Many times I've wished for the discernment and knowledge which brings such depth of conviction to folks about music and films and all the arts. But I finally gave it up.
I'm just a big 'ol hillbilly.
Now I'm going to go listen to my Partridge Family songs I downloaded on my ipod. And, no, the screen didn't melt or anything.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Places, New Faces

Sitting in a McDonald's in La Grange, Georgia this rainy morning. Mike and I drove down early this morning for a work meeting he has here. I came along because in a couple months this will be our son's new home. He'll finish college, start his new job, and get married all in a couple weeks time.
Later he's meeting us to show us the house they are going to rent, then we get to see his office at La Grange First United Methodist Church where he'll be the new Sr. High Youth Minister.
After I dropped Mike at his meeting, I drove around town. Very pretty, very Southern are some of my main thoughts. Purple wisteria drapes everywhere, the sweet smell combining in a dreamy way with the fresh rain. Azalea's are beginning to open and create whole hedges of pink and purple. Dogwoods gracefully hover above newly greened lawns surrounding old brick houses and deep porches with white columns. Town square has a wide, spraying fountain circled with brick sidewalks, benches and wrought iron fencing.
How exciting to be starting out in a new place, meeting new people, trying new restaurants and stores. There is something to be said for staying where you are known and where you have a history. But this morning I'm remembering the excitement of moving into a new place and discovering it. --And feeling that excitement grow for Ryan and Casey.
They are going to have such fun here!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Want to go on a Walk?

Spring woods are alive with budding trees, twitterpated animals, and awakening flowers. Paths through the woods call.
Once you find a path, walking it requires some things of the walker. One, to choose a direction to go on the path.
Two, to actually walk on the path, forward motion
But to require nothing more of your path walking than those two tenets is really just the beginning. So here's a couple more.
Three, to understand that walking on this path WILL lead somewhere. Maybe good, Maybe bad - but it will go somewhere.
Four, to realize time will pass while you walk this path, and consequently that time cannot be spent walking another path.
I know right now you're saying, "For crying out loud, I thought we were just walking in the Spring woods."
But aren't these things we consider when we set out on a walk through the woods? The direction, the speed which we can go, where the path leads, and the time required? And yet I'm not sure that some folks around me pay nearly this much attention to the path their life is on. Blindly rushing down a path isn't progress if every sign along the way says "Dead End Ahead".
So maybe a walk is in order today. A walk on a path or a city street or in my sub-division. And some thinking about where the paths I'm walking in my life are leading might be a good thing. No, it WILL be a good thing.
Won't you join me?

The Daffodils by William Wordsworth

One of my favorite poems is about my favorite flower, the daffodil. And all that kept coming to me as I thought of blogging this morning is this poem about what joy nature's beauty can continue to give - if we take it to heart.
Enjoy the poem, and enjoy this beautiful day.

"The Daffodils" (1804)By William Wordsworth

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wave Forecast

So Easter is over. There's that whole 40 day Lent period which some years just flies by for me, but not this year. This year the cold, gray weather seemed to stretch and flat-line somewhere around the end of February. Reminded me of the pictures of a tsunami where the water just keeps pulling back and pulling back and all the time you know it has to come roaring back sometime.
Well, sometime finally came and the wave of all that is Easter weekend arrived.
Facebook tickles me with how so many folks I know are doing the same thing. (Making potato salad seemed to be a popular activity Saturday.) There were lots of family gatherings, cute little girls in bright colored dresses, flowers and ham. Desserts got special mention, from Sour Cream Poundcake to Lemon Meringue pies they all sounded wonderful.
So this morning, I took a look out across the horizon for the next tidal wave and while the water level will remain high until Ryan and Casey's wedding in June - it's a pretty steady and spaced out wave forecast.
Wedding showers, graduations, conferences, short trips form a steady, wave-upon-wave pattern.
Does anyone else map out their calendar like this? Look for patterns and anticipate lulls or high action times? It really affects my mind set and well-being. Something about scaning the horizon like a lighthouse keeper with binoculars, helps me enjoy what's right at my feet.
However, I'm a little surprised at how intentional I seem to be about this. What about you?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Walking a Broken Road

Found myself thinking over the past year this morning and how we got to where we are right now. How easy to just enjoy today and not think about the way it all came to be, or to glaze over the problems and romanticize the journey, but that just not the way it happened.
This time last year we were making the decision to leave the church we'd attended for ten years, reminders keep coming back from that difficult time of decision and then the painful time of separation.
When the boys both bought engagement rings this fall, I couldn't help but think of how they got to this lifetime love. The frustrations, doubts and broken hearts along the way.
Lizzy's rough time at West Georgia her first semester, meant our littlest one's first steps without us were pain-filled and lonely.
A quick read of this blog from back in November lays out my anguish and confusion with my writing. A dark time which I'm glad I put down in words so I can remember and honor it.
Tears of heart crushing gratitude can't be held back this morning when I examine where we are now. It's not a road I want to travel again, but where this road has led us all, can't be denied or uncelebrated.
And when the sky went dark and God was silent, I can't help but think Jesus looked back down the road that brought him to the cross in thankfulness. Thankfulness for the road, thankfulness it was behind him.
And he said, "It is finished."
Where has your road taken you this year? Take some time today, on this Good Friday, and think about where you've traveled and how you're different because of it. In this world we don't know where the road will take us or how things will turn out, but we do know this - Easter comes on Sunday - and Everything is new!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Watching the Eyes

I've watched The Passion (Mel Gibson's movie) so many times now, that I can concentrate on smaller details. Mike and I watched it last night and what I was drawn to were the eyes. There was some really good acting in that movie.
Mary's eyes changing from despair to recognition when she runs to a battered Jesus on his way to crucifixion. She goes to help him, but when he looks at her a light of triumph shines from his bruising and he says, "I'm making all things new." You can feel her remembering her willingness to do hard things out of love for God.
John's eyes as he watches the blood drip from the cross and he remembers only a few hours earlier Jesus saying, "This is my blood, poured out for you." Understanding begins to push away his doubt and fear.
The elders eyes when they watch Pilate and the crowd. How thinking, how one step ahead they are.
But the eyes that I watch the most are those of the Roman soldiers. Thinking about them this morning I think what draws me to them is that they don't come to this day with any established opinion about this man. He's just part of the job.
Some seem from the beginning to be watching things closely and sensing something more, others are efficient and in charge, others are cruel and dismissive. What understanding they gain does not come from a history with Jesus or their heritage or their already made up minds.
And thinking back to youth group, those were the kids I loved to minister to most. Those who are looking for a way to make things make sense - whether they know it or not.
Isn't that interesting, that I would become more aware of who I am by who I watch in a movie? So, whose eyes have struck you, called to you, reminded you? And what does that tell you about yourself?