Truth to Tell
Treasures of Darkness
I will give you the treasures of darkness…” (Isaiah 45:3)
When I was a child, I was afraid of the dark. I was certain that hideous creatures lurked in the shadows, ready to pounce the minute I let down my guard. At bedtime I insisted that the hall light outside my bedroom door remain lit until after I fell asleep, convinced that it would keep the other-worldly beings at bay.
Like most children, I eventually outgrew the need Keep reading
The T-intersection where our gravel road intersects with the main gravel road leading to the paved roads (three miles away in one direction, about a half mile the other) is as mucky and mired as I’ve ever seen it.
Even though it’s showing signs of beginning to ease, Mud Season in Central Vermont persists.
There are things I dread this time of year, starting with the rapid cycle of thawing-freezing-thawing that ensures you never know what you will encounter on any road, even if you had traveled it just hours earlier. On the way down the hill, you might be bumping along on what seem to be valleys and peaks deeply etched into the solidly frozen ground by the tires of vehicles great and small.
Then, just an hour or so later, as you travel back up the same road Keep reading
House of Grief
Earlier this year I visited the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. Built by Sarah Winchester (1839-1922), the widow of William Winchester, heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, it’s famous for its staircases that lead nowhere and windows that look out onto brick walls just inches away. This house is an unwieldy affair. Any attempt to navigate it without a guide and you’re sure to get lost in its endless tangle of rooms and hallways that don’t align in any logical way. They just go on, and on
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
The first time I saw people surfing off Maine’s frigid North Atlantic shore in the middle of February, I thought they were crazy. The water temperature was around 39° and the air temperature was in the teens. Yet, there they were, paddling out to where the waves were breaking, and then riding them back to shore. Again, and again, and again.
What are they thinking, I wondered? This is nuts!
I had formed an instant opinion of these surfers– and it wasn’t a positive one.
But I’ve since changed my mind.Keep reading
Turn of Winter
“Do you have half of your wood left?” our neighbor who lived down the road and up the adjacent hill asked as he pulled out of our snow-dusted driveway. “There’s still a way to go this winter.” He and his wife were among the first people we met when we bought our house. Being from suburban New Jersey, we had no real idea how to manage Vermont winters. But kind people like our neighbor were generous with advice, which generally came at unexpected times – like that night, when we were driving to a choral rehearsal.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.
I received the paperweight in this photo more than 40 years ago during what had just become the darkest Advent season of my life.
“This is a gift from Mrs. McCord and me,” the president of Princeton Seminary said to me as he pressed it in my hand.
A freak accident had injured my (at that time) husband, and radically altered the course of both of our lives. Sitting in the hospital chapel, having just received the news and allowing the gravity of the situation sink in, I was surprised to look up and see President McCord slide into the pew beside me. “I’m here to pray with you,” he said. Keep reading
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.