Prophet

This is a very stressful time of year for most of us. For a pastor, in addition to presents, wrapping, baking, holiday parties, family, etc. we also have bulletins, sermons, and pastoral crises. It’s okay, it’s part of our vocation. But it’s stressful.

I have been continuously sick for about two months now. Allergies, turned into sinus infection, then my daughter passed on her strep bacteria, and then a cold. I am not complaining, I annoyed. My family has been passing around germs and they have been passing them to me. At one of the busiest times of year, I have been running to schools to pick up kids, running to doctors, working from home. This week I was going to get everything done, I had just enough time… Except… My son got sick.

Double ear infections.

He’s 3. He’s struggling in life anyway (you know, cause he’s 3) he’s excited about Christmas, his routine has been changed because of everything going on the past two weeks, he’s pumped up on sugar… And this morning, he lost it.

For a half hour he cried, sobbed, at the moment of this picture he was crying because he didn’t want to put on the pants HE picked out. He also has wild hair because I will not fight him to cut it. So as I witnessed this breakdown, I heard the words of Isaiah and those quoted about John the Baptist.

A prophet cries in the wilderness, prepare the way of The Lord, the mountains will be made low and the low places a plain, the path will be made straight.

In other words, through God, things will be made easier, better. I don’t know what that means necessarily or what that looks like. But I know this- when things are hard, when fits are thrown, when it seems like it will never be okay- a voice cries in the wilderness, prepare the way. Prepare the way. God is soothing, loving, and cradling us, but we must prepare for the coming of Christ, and the voice that does that, even my screaming child, is a prophet.

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Rejoice

I’m a little behind on my blogging for Advent Photo of the Day, but Sunday’s word was “Rejoice” and it was also the day of our Cantata. Our organist, Yeri, is wonderful. We are truly blessed to have her. Not only is she a proficient organist (graduating in May with her Masters in Organ Performance from Peabody Conservatory) she is also full of life and the Spirit of God.  At this moment she is ending rehearsal and charging them before the service.  The choir is also giving her a gift of thanks. Rejoice, rejoice! This was a beautiful moment to could capture this word.

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Yeri is always smiling. She is always happy, even when she’s not.  She embodies the spirit that is the spirit of loving-kindness.  We do not need to go around and pretend we are happy when we are not, but I wonder, do we really rejoice when we feel that way? 

How are you today? Fine. 

That is the only acceptable answer.  Often people say to me, “nobody wants to know that I’m having a bad day”.  But in that process we don’t share our joys either. The goal I think would be both, to be real. Rejoice when we want to and share pain when we need to.  This makes us human. After all, isn’t that what we are preparing for? Preparing for God to become human? So rejoice! This is truly a gift to be human and experience the spectrum of feelings involved.

Awake

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I am exhausted. After the thanksgiving holiday, traveling for 10 days with 2 small children, Advent, and a sick kid at home today. My daughter has strep and after the doctor we both curled up in bed. I slept for 3 hours. Seriously, after 3 cups of coffee, I fell right to sleep and only woke up because lil pie woke me up.  

Awake is not just about not being asleep, but it is also about being aware. Today I let the exhaustion and stress sink, I allowed my body to feel exactly how tired I was, so maybe tomorrow or the next day I can start again and awaken myself to the realities of my world. 

I will remain today in a fog though and give myself space. Tomorrow, after all, is another day.

Time

Time. Time after time.

Today they are releasing the 911 tapes from the Newtown shooting last year. Just so you know, I will not be listening to them, I cannot. Just knowing they will be released makes me want to drive to my daughter’s elementary school and hold her tight. Also, I think it’s terrible timing, just days away from the year anniversary.

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But as the Advent Photo of the Day calendar told me today’s word was time, I went out to the graveyard at the church. A few weeks ago when my aunt was visiting we were looking at the gravestones, she notices these three graves, all children, all of the same family.

Meet the Parks children, or at least what we know of them from their gravestones (from left to right), sons and daughter of William & Charolilla Parks.

Clarence Everett- died August 18, 1866 1 year, 2 months

Maggie Owens- died July 16, 1875 4 years, 6 months, 13 days

Seymour Gowan- died July 5, 1875 2 years, 3 months, and 3 days

They lost 3 children, within 9 years, the last two 11 days apart. I do not know what tragedy took these babies away from their parents and loved ones, but their headstones begin our cemetery, there are many other children buried here, but not three from one family and so close together.

I know they are long gone from this world, but my heart breaks for their grief, my heart is in pain for their memory of what was and what was lost. They say time heals all wounds, I do not believe this to be true. However, the pain “lessens” because it gets integrated into a new way of being, one of the ways this happens is over time.

These marble stones will stand as long as possible in our cemetery, marking the lives that lived only a small time on earth. Time has worn these stones, but time has marked their journey also.

Peace

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Peace is today’s word for the Advent photo of the day.  I thought long and hard, as the obvious choice for me would be to sneak into get a picture of my children sleeping.  But instead I finished sorting through my email after 10 days away and poured myself a cup of tea.  No one is in the office Tuesday and it is quiet.  

I have a little Christmas music on and I exhaled.  I also put it in my favorite mug, it is my “tree of life” mug. Whenever I drink from it I am reminded that there is just as much beneath the surface of life as there is above. Peace comes from the roots.  A tree could be chaotic on the outside and yet remain rooted and firm on the inside.  A tree could also be blown over if the insides are not deeply rooted.

And so it goes with peace. Peace comes from within, it is not the absence of chaos, it is being firmly rooted in the midst of it.