As I write this, we’re in the process of clearing snow dropped on our region by back-to-back storms. Of course, this is to be expected in early March.
But a week earlier I had allowed myself to be lulled into a false expectation that spring had all but arrived and settled in. There were days in February when temperatures were in the 40s, nipping at the heels of 50. Snow and ice were melting, and mud was emerging on gravel roads – a sure sign of spring.
To me, this is very much the season of “midwinter spring” that Eliot describes. It can seem as if we’re caught in an endless loop of winter one day, spring the next, then back to winter.Keep reading
One Good Thing
“You’ll never make everybody happy.”
“Don’t do other people’s jobs for them.”
“We’ve been doing it this way for years; we’re not going to change now.”
Like many newly minted ministers, the people in my first churches taught me far more than I could possibly have taught them. Their lessons have stuck with me over my decades of pastoral work. But one gem in particular stands out. I’ve shared with more people than I can count. “I look for a good thing – just one small, good thing – each day and hold on to it.
Angel at Our Door
It’s Christmas and our power is out.
Like so many others, our area was hit by a powerful storm that featured everything from unseasonably warm temperatures and rain to a rapid chill with fierce winds. That’s a recipe for a power outage.
But we’re among the lucky ones. We have a generator that supplies enough power to keep us warm and well-lit.
Until it didn’t. After running continuously for more than 24 hours, it quit.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly five years since a major renovation to our house was nearing completion. As I look back, I’m thinking about what that project taught me – lessons about far more than tearing down and rebuilding physical structures. That project taught me not to fear letting go of what no longer works in my life, whether it’s a job I’ve outgrown, a toxic relationship, or a living situation that no longer meets my needs.
Letting go means leaving behind what has become familiar and comfortable, even though it may have long since ceased being useful or lifegiving. It means stepping into the new and unknown. That can be overwhelming and frightening.
Have you ever noticed that anxiety seems to have a life of its own?
When I’m anxious I have a sense of a storm growing inside me. My thoughts run away from me, creating a doomsday scenario of ferocious winds whipping up dark clouds and heavy seas into a fearsome storm.
Over the years, what I’ve found most helpful is to develop self-awareness. In other words, to both pay attention and to, and detach from, what’s going inside my head.
A few days ago, as I was going through boxes that hadn’t been opened in years, I ran across this little sculpture that my daughter made in a high school pottery class. As I held this little figure in my hand I was transported back to that time in my life. I was a single parent with one child in high school and another in college. And I held a high-pressure job for which I wasn’t particularly well-suited, but which paid the bills. It always seemed that the days were a blur of scheduling activities, carpooling, and traveling around the country for work.
I’m tired. I hear this every day. I hear it from family caregivers who miss the opportunities for the much needed breaks they once had in the “Before Times” when people could come into their home to relieve them for a few hours. I hear it from the newly bereaved whose grief is complicated by pandemic-induced social distancing mandates that come at a time when they need to be physically close to those they love. I hear it from front line health care workers and teachers and therapists and pastors and activists. I hear it from parents who are desperately…
Our apple tree is losing its leaves. It’s far too early in the season for this to be happening. Now, it must be said that this thought comes to me every year. Some of the leaves on this particular tree often start to yellow at the very end of July or early August, their weariness increasing gradually through September until they can no longer hold on and finally, fall to the ground.
But this year seems different. I can’t explain why; perhaps it’s due to the unusually hot and dry conditions we’ve experienced this summer.
It’s June and the chervil is in full bloom. Oh, those delicate white flowers might look harmless enough. And a single flower may well be of no consequence. But this noxious weed multiplies quickly and can grow to a stunning six feet. It fills the field beside my yard. All I can see behind my falling-down wooden fence is the ragged phalanx of chervil threatening to choke out my beloved fledgling hedge of young lilac bushes. I do everything in my power to tame the floral invader and keep it at bay. Even so, chaos looms at the edge of…