Friday, January 30, 2015

In Search of Sunshine

It was 34 degrees and snowing when we got back on I81 in Winchester, VA. and we continued to experience snow flurries throughout the morning. Finally, as we connected with I77 towards Charlotte, the sun came out and the temperature reached 51 degrees.

Mary said she felt about 10% better today and I felt about 50% worse. Some Alka Seltzer Cold medicine and a good night's sleep should help us both feel better by morning. It is our hope and prayer that John doesn't get sick, too.We are staying tonight in Columbia, SC. We lived here for four years while I was going to seminary and have many fond memories of this area. Of course there have been a lot of changes in the past 33 years. This classroom building still looks the same.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Snow, ice, cold, and Southward Bound

We are finally on the road and driving south to Weeki Wachee, Florida for our annual Winter sabbatical. I can't believe that this is our eighth year spending part of the winter in Florida. The first three years we rented a home outside of Ocala, then one year we were in Old Town, and the last four  have been in Weeki Wachee. We love it here in a little house on a canal, just a mile from the Gulf with beaches and parks nearby. The bonus is that our wonderful friends, Dewey and Elizabeth, are only a half an hour north of us and we have the opportunity to share many adventures together. There are also other friends from the north country staying within an hour or so drive from us. We find that we socialize more in Florida then we do up home. I guess I can contribute that to a more relaxed schedule in the Sunshine State.

This morning we began our journey at 7am with snow covered ground and the temperature a frigid minus two degrees. We experienced some sunshine early in the day but it soon clouded over. The temperature slowly climbed into the double digits as we traveled south. Mid-morning found us at our favorite breakfast stop, Bingham's Restaurant, in Kingsley, PA.

Mary was quite ill throughout the drive with a cough, aching muscles, and a low grade fever. As a result she slept most of the day. Upon reaching Maryland we began to see signs of a Winter Weather Warning predicting sleet, snow, and freezing rain. We also still had snow on the ground into West Virginia. The sleet began to come down during the last hour of our drive. It was 33 degrees at our hotel in Winchester, VA. So, an improvement of 35 degrees for the day. I would certainly be happy to experience another 35 degree improvement tomorrow but that is unlikely as we drive to Columbia, SC.

After checking into our hotel, Mary immediately went to bed. John and I had supper at a Chick-Fil-A and brought back some chicken noodle soup for Mary. I certainly hope she will be feeling better tomorrow.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Snow, Ice, A Walk in the Park, and a Confession

For 40 years of my adult life there was one common denominator to Sunday mornings, Church and Worship. Most often as a worship leader, sometimes as a participant. The experience was regularly meaningful and challenging and sometimes; boring and frustrating.  Church was where my community was present and where I had a place, a position, a space. And when I wasn’t there, I was missed and I missed it. Sunday morning worship also created a rhythm for the week. It marked both the end of a week, especially when I had spent a good part of the week in preparation to lead worship, and the beginning of a new week. Attending worship became as natural and as important to me as breathing.

Now, in this “senior” season of life, Sundays are different. Yes, I still sometimes have leadership responsibilities on a Sunday morning but not every Sunday. And those responsibilities rarely take me to the same church two weeks in a row. I still have a need for community but my understanding of community has expanded to include wherever I might find myself on a Sunday morning.

The truth is that many Sunday mornings I now have a choice. That choice is about where to attend worship and whether to attend worship on that particular morning.  The confession is that sometimes I choose to participate in life in a different way on a Sunday morning.  This was difficult at first and in some ways hasn’t become any easier. It is not a freedom that I take lightly. The choice is deliberate and for me an experience of Grace because attending worship had become a “should”, a “must”, a “I’d better”.

This morning I awoke to discover the ground covered with an inch or two of snow with a coating of ice on top. Sleet and freezing rain was falling from the sky and everything sparkled. I got dressed and drove up to Saratoga State Park to go for a walk. It was awesome to be outside in the cool air, temp around 32 degrees, with the cold rain falling and everything covered with a glaze of ice. Each step was an adventure as I carefully placed my feet on the slippery surface. Each tree branch and bush was a piece of art as it glistened with its’ coat of ice. I prayed as I walked those two to three miles. I lifted my heart up in thanksgiving for the beauty that surrounded me and for the many blessings I have experienced in my life during this recent holiday season.

So, I confess, I didn’t attend worship today. Or did I?

Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year's Day

It has been almost a year since I have posted here. Even though no one really reads these words I am feeling the urge to write here once again. Not certain where this impetus is coming from. Maybe the fact that it is the beginning of a New year. A year in which I will turn 70 years of age. Seventy is an age at which one cannot deny the reality of their mortality or the fact that this life is not a dress rehearsal. It is all we get. It is all I got. At some point I hope that my children and grandchildren will wonder, "What was he thinking during those final decades of life? What was important to him?"

So, I'm writing again. For myself and for those I love and who love me who might have some interest in these thoughts.

Last night, as I awaited with John for the "ball to drop", I watched an interesting interview Charlie Rose did with the actor, Bill Murray.

. It was from February of 2014 and I found it fascinating. I've always enjoyed watching Murray in films and especially enjoyed his latest, "St. Vincent." In the interview Murray kept stressing that his focus in this season of his life is to "be available" to life. For Bill Murray, to "be available" is to pay attention to the here and now, to not be distracted. To be fully involved in life. Though he can be somewhat cryptic, that made some sense to me.  It is so tempting to be distracted especially in  this season of life. One can fill life up with anxiety about the future and about the present. The struggles, illnesses, and deaths of contemporaries is every day news. Every week it seems there is a doctors visit scheduled and a new ache or pain or physical limitation.

Yet, and it is a big and grace-filled yet, the days are also filled with opportunities and challenges and the possibility of adventure. One of the greatest opportunities, I think, is the opportunity to be grateful for what is. This past Saturday, all the children and grandchildren (twenty of us) gathered in our small living room to exchange Christmas gifts. As I looked around the room I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for the day, the opportunity, and most of all the people. Who am I to be so blessed.