I seem to be awake in the middle of the night. For no reason that I can think of. I should be sleeping. The alarm isn’t set for getting me up to work in the morning but I guess there are other things stirring up my mind or something.
There is a committee I’m invited to help out with. My heart is there but I don’t know how I can do it justice. I don’t know that I want to simply be a warm body filling a spot. If I say yes, I would be committing myself to work. And I have no more time to work. As things stand now, I work more than 40 hours a week at my paying job, am taking a class or two at seminary,am involved in orchestra which demands some regular practice, lead a small group at church and play my recorder on Sundays. On top of these regular things, I need to be a mother, wife, grandmother and friend.
These things run around in my mind keeping me from sleep.
So, I sit here beside my open window on this warm summer? night; stars filling the sky. It is a beautiful night. But here in the city, I can’t sleep and judging by the noises of the night, others are awake and going about who knows what. It is not quiet.
Perhaps quiet is really what I need most.
This morning I read in Mark 14 the story of the woman who poured expensive perfume over the head of Jesus while he was a guest at Simon’s house for dinner. So often when I re-read a story like this one, I come away from it with a fresh perspective on it.
The woman who came to that dinner – uninvited and subsequently soundly criticized for her action – came to worship the one who had given her something of more value than all the money she spent on that perfume. The story and the criticism she received reminded me that we all need ways in which to express our deepest feelings in worship of Jesus. Jesus recognized her action as worship and told his frugal followers (concerned for the waste) that her act of anointing was in preparation for his death. Of course they didn’t understand that his death was close at hand. And of course they had never seen anyone worship God in this way, spontaneously with an action coming from her heart, perhaps from her recent experience of love being poured out onto her hurts and sorrows as only God can. It wasn’t that the disciples and other followers were unused to expressions of worship, but worship had its prescribed forms that were to be followed and this just wasn’t the norm. This was lavish and messy and maybe embarrassing sensual.
I have been suffering from the effects of change lately. I think. The effects of living in changing times are not always glaringly obvious but I think that is what I am experiencing as we settle into anew rhythm of church life that comes with new staff. Things we used to do have no great significance to the newcomers but suddenly the change takes on new significance for me. There are things I miss; their absence makes me suddenly homesick for the old ways. Old habits suddenly take on meaning way beyond what they are worth. New patterns of worship are waiting for me to explore if I can embrace them; if I’m not too afraid to recognize that they too are ways of worship.
New ways of worship. They are going to happen. They need to happen. A new generation needs to find its own expression of faith and worship. Maybe it will look more like expensive perfume being poured out extravagantly to bless God in ways I never would have dared.
And then again, it could be that I am a bit like that woman, and the stuff I am longing for is the experience, sensual as it is, of pouring out my love to God in ways that others don’t always understand.
A short paragraph in Mark; the story of a woman that will be remembered – as Jesus promised. The words are stirring some kind of soul work in me.
This book by NT Wright that is causing me to think is exciting. I suppose it is exciting to become aware of old ideas presented in new ways that in turn open up new horizons of thought. God is always so much greater than – well greater than I thought him to be just yesterday. And so each day of life brings new possibilities; new chances to think in new ways.
Surprised by Hope is about the resurrection. It’s about the promise of new life and new creation that we have in Christ. So here are a few quotes that seem significant to me so far:
The challenge is in fact the challenge of new creation. To put it at its most basic: the resurrection of Jesus offers itself, to the student of history or science no less than the Christian or the theologian, not as an odd event within the world as it is but as the utterly characteristic, prototypical, and foundational event within the world as it has begun to be. It is not an absurd event within the old world but the symbol and starting point of the new world. The claim advanced in Christianity is of that magnitude: Jesus of Nazareth ushers in not simply a new religious possibility, not simply a new ethic or a new way of salvation, but a new creation. p67
and then a page later:
…the question of Jesus’ resurrection, though it may in some senses burst the boundaries of history, also remains within them; that is precisely why it is so important, so disturbing, so life and death. We could cope – the world could cope – with a Jesus who ultimately remains a wonderful idea inside his disciples’ minds and hearts. The world cannot cope with a Jesus who comes out of the tomb, who inaugurates God’s new creation right in the middle of the old one. p68
Reminds me of that chorus – “I am a new creation… here by the grace of God I stand.”
I know I haven’t posted much here this week. I have been incredibly tired, and then in the middle of the night seem to wake and lie there sleepless even when I know that sleep is what I need most.
Last night I did a good workout on the exercise bike and slept like a baby. So, maybe more exercise is what I need most.
There are other things that occupy my mind too. Like retirement and when and how it will happen – soon I hope. This is the downside of owning part of a business I guess. It is not something I can just walk away from. I can’t just quit. Too many staff and patients need me to make a smooth and responsible transition.
So, life goes on. It is good and I still love what I do. But I know that I need to move on to a new phase and this transition is more complicated than just stuff related to the job. It also involves some shifts inside me, I am learning more about myself and who I am and want to become over the last couple of decades of life here on earth. Life never stops being challenging I guess. Actually I hope it will not stop challenging me to grow and change.
Today was like the birthday party hangover around. The kids showed up at church – for the most part. (Except for P and A. And there was much speculation as to what kept them in bed on a Sunday morning by their siblings.) So, everyone headed over to our house for spaghetti and fixings and left overs for lunch.
It is good to have the kids around, the grandkids crawling all over and wanting to play with each other and with me. I love it that the boys are old enough to just crawl up on my lap and ask if they can cuddle. I missed Ronin today because I expect he would have been right in there like the proverbial dirty shirt.
Last night, one of our invited guests gave me a huge compliment. He said that some houses he has gone into are cold and uninviting and others are warm. “You can tell there is a lot of love in this home,” he said.
That is the sort of remark that makes giving and giving and giving love again and again to a family worth all the work and self sacrifice that being a mother calls for.
I think love tends to expand and grow as it is practiced and given away. My children have given me lots of opportunities to practice. Those bumps and difficult times of family life are sometimes where love grows especially strong.
Interesting how God grows love in me at times – both towards himself as I’ve learned to see his goodness through the hard times life sent and towards my children who often took me to those hard places of life.
Protestants don’t really observe this day that marks the beginning of Lent in a very significant way. It comes and it goes largely unnoticed. It begins the season of Lent that we also let slip by mostly unnoticed due to those past efforts to distance ourselves from Catholicism. But times are changing and I think we are rethinking the reasons for that old distance and as we do so, it has narrowed from unbridgeable chasms to little cracks in the path of life that we can step over from time to time.
I am recognizing more and more my need for the celebration of seasons in my mostly unliturgical life. I am beginning to recognize that I need physical type reminders – signs of who I am and what my life needs to be about. So, in the last few years, and especially since Wednesday morning is a regular morning of prayer, I have been concious of the beginning of Lent, of Ash Wednesday. I haven’t gone so far as to dab my forehead with ashes although I think that it could have a powerful meaning for me, be a powerful reminder of my need for repentance, of my constant need for grace.
I have not ritually started “giving up” something for Lent. Last year instead, I decided to concentrate instead on some aspect of my life that needs taking up in new ways. I suppose that means giving up an old way in itself. I’m not sure just what that will be yet but I know that my life gets very busy and I tend to concentrate on my needs rather than those of anyone else around me. I need to conciously put others first and maybe that is exactly what I need to do for the next 40 days – and thereafter.