Not the April I Expected

No, this is not the April I expected. And it’s likely not the April you expected either. 
 
We looked forward to March Madness, an indicator April and spring training are ahead. Golf fans looked forward to the Masters Tournament at Augusta and a chance to see Amen Corner. We wanted to go to church on Easter Sunday. People planned outings to Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm (see image above) for the 2020 Tulip Festival. Sorry, folks, not this year.
 
This is the first time I can remember Holy Week when we haven’t gathered at our church on Maundy Thursday. Nor gather on Good Friday to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary.
 
What happened on Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection? Ordinarily, music by brass instruments and the choir singing start the service. Often there is also a children’s choir somewhere in the service. The singing of beautiful hymns offering the message of Easter is a favorite part of the service for me. This Easter the sanctuary was quiet. 
 
We were told to stay home. After all, we are in an elite age group at high risk in this time of the pandemic. And if not at home, we were to stay at least six feet apart. How do you hold church services under these circumstances?
 
Enter Zoom and Facebook Live. We have been virtually worshipping together since March 15, 2020, a total of seven weeks. I miss gathering with the community of believers at our church, hearing the choirs and musicians, and coffee fellowship after the service.
 
Here we are in the last week of April. All around flowers are blooming. Trees budding, rain showers falling, hummingbirds humming, bees buzzing, and more. It still isn’t the April I expected. 
 
With May arriving on Friday, Oregon’s pandemic guidelines loosed two restrictions. The first is the performing of elective surgeries in hospitals and clinics.
 
Also, dental offices may reopen. Yet, dentists countered by noting the risk to staff and patient. Powerful dental equipment in the mouth forces saliva and moisture into the air. In turn, this increases the risk of spread of the coronavirus. We still have a curve to flatten here and this wouldn’t be helpful.
 
With the departure of April, May sits on the horizon expecting some planting to happen. But currently, with our age keeping us away from nurseries and garden shops, we have nothing to plant. Looks like it will be a late planting this year. It’s a wait-and-see proposition.
 
How about you? Was this the April you expected? And will May meet your expectations? Just something to ponder.

Ponder, Proverbs 4:26, path, beach

 

Featured image attribution: Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

 

known in Absence | 180-word poem by Brian Marsh

Today it is my privilege to host Brian Marsh, pastor of our home church, Moreland Presbyterian Church. In addition to serving the flock at Moreland, Brian is a loving husband and father, musician, poet, comforter, and, in his own words, an all-round troublemaker wherever he is. 

This past Sunday Brian spoke to us via Facebook Live Stream on the topic of Known in Absence. Below is Brian’s 180-word poetic version of his message. After reading these words, I was moved to share them here.


absence, three visitors, watchful,

known in Absence
by Brian Marsh

the Visions
whether from Spirit
or screens
are nice
but the Magic
of touch
is what my Spirit
and senses
truly need
something tangible
to fill the absence
and hold me
and tell me
that everything
is gonna be
alright

three were confronted
by the Absence
and the fear
two retreated
to familiar safety
in hiding
from reality
in fear
one remained
in unfamiliar space
in openness
to Reality
in faith
and encountered Presence
revealed in absence
a resurrected
Light

a new Way
of being
and living
where giving
and forgiving
flow from Strength
emerging
from the soil
of suffering
and weakness
Wisdom surging
out of supposedly
mindless madness
faithless foolishness
(fear catalyzing
but not driving
Change)
Courage arising
from embracing
grief and sadness
not impervious
to pain
but empowered
by the same Spirit
that enabled Resurrection
enlightened recollection
of our innately
Divine interconnection
as Beloved vessels
equally valued Voices
and transformed rejection
and disconnection
into existential
Incarnational
Delight.

Amen.


#180wordprayer #Easter2020 #ResurrectionAsAGradualSunrise

Artwork: ‘The Empty Tomb’ by He Qi

Brian writes 40-word poems on his blog. If you’d like to read more of Brian’s poetry, follow this link. You can also find out a little more about who Brian Marsh is.

Featured image attribution:  Bessi from Pixabay 

Day by Day

Day by day things are changing in miniscule and massive ways it seems. Especially in this pandemic state we find ourselves living in.  It is like spring changing in small ways day by day. And then one morning the tree outside your window is a burst of color.
 
Blossoms unfurl their petals. Trees turn blossoms into fruit. Grass pushes through the earth to create a bright green lawn. Buds are everywhere. Future blossoms on camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, peonies, tulips, daffodils, and more.
 
Some of the day by day changes aren’t so lovely as these. Let’s pull out a random change—I pick grocery shopping! Right about now I hate grocery shopping. Since Bob and I fall into an “at risk” category, our state guidelines suggest we stay home. This means ordering online to pickup what we need at Fred Meyer, the local Kroger-owned store. The store seems to have its system well organized and operating efficiently. For me, it is the ordering part that’s driving me a nuts.
 
About the time I have the order ready, something else pops up that we need. I rush to the computer to add it to our list. That happens again, again, and again. Then it’s the hassle of finding an open delivery date and time. Sometimes it can take several days to get locked in. Then the day scheduled for pick up arrives. You receive a text message letting you know what they’ve substituted or didn’t have at all! But the pickup itself is always a pleasant experience otherwise.
 
How much longer do I have to do this? Will I ever grow accustomed to it? It all rests on the restrictions set by our state government as COVID-19 peaks and flattens. We understand the opening of Oregon and its businesses will go slowly based on many matrices.
 
I’ve adopted a day by day process, doing what I can in the hours I’m awake and on my feet. That includes personal matters relating to taxes, estate planning, retirement funds, and more. The “more” includes household chores and cooking rather than writing and social media. AND continuing PT exercises at home.
 
I had wanted to restart my newsletter at the end of March, but didn’t quite focus on it enough to make it happen. For me, there’s a sense of being out of mind and body some days.
 
Coping with a change in the world around us is never easy. We are not always comfortable with change, especially sudden change. Even though life will return to the way it was, or almost, it is hard to accept the now as what some call the “new normal.” This isn’t the normal I want for my life. 
 
Yet penetrating through these days is a light. If we cling to that light, a special Light, we will find our way back to some semblance of what we used to call normal. Life may or may not go back to exactly what it was. My hope is that we’ll be something better than we were before. It’s possible. 
 
Spring flowers can be constant in coloring for two or three years. The next spring they may evolve into a different color. Isn’t it possible to hope we can change for the better?
 
Lam. 3:21-23, Scripture, hope
 
 
Featured image attribution: Phyllis Nagels on Unsplash

 

Easter | A Day in the Life (Episode #2 Revised)

I couldn’t come to grips with writing a new post this week. Something or Someone advised me to step back and take a self-care breather.

So, I’ve pulled this one from the 2015 archives, brushed it up a bit, and offer it to you on this Easter weekend in 2020. The memory is one of my childhood favorites. It always comes to mind during the week before Easter.


One Easter Sunday stands out in my mind above all others. The year 1950. I was around age four. Dressing up was a highlight to most little girls, especially around Easter.

Easter meant a visit from the Easter Bunny with baskets filled with eggs and jelly beans and always a chocolate bunny. And it almost always meant new clothes. This particular Easter meant a new pair of black patent leather Mary Janes. I was proud and excited to wear them. I thought Sunday would never come.

Finally, Sunday came. Up early to check out what was left by the Easter Bunny, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, and then dress for church.

That’s when it all fell apart. I heard Mama and Daddy talking. Well, maybe arguing.

Resurrection, Easter, Mary Janes, Spring

“She cannot wear those shoes. Can’t you see it snowed last night?”

Oh, no! Mama was telling Daddy I couldn’t wear my new shoes. If I hurried, I could get dressed and have my new shoes on before they finished.

“Honey, the snow isn’t that deep.” Hurray for Daddy! But Mama was having none of it.

Finally, Daddy saved the day. He told Mama if she felt it was too messy to wear the new shoes, he would carry me from the house to the car, from the car to the church, and reverse his plan when it was time to come home.

I’ll never forget wearing those shiny new shoes. But above all, I’ll never forget how loved I felt when Daddy reached down with his long arms, picked me up, and carried me to the car and into church that morning. I like to think it was Daddy’s way of showing me the unconditional love of God.

Easter, Resurrection, He is Risen
Via Ann Voskamp

Featured Image Attribution: Selling of my photos with StockAgencies is not permitted from Pixabay