February 17th, 2010


Lent begins

Lent (like Advent) always catches me unprepared. I come tumbling into Ash Wednesday, spiritually spent, physically tired, ragged from trying to make the turn at high speed. So tonight, as I was fiddling with this and that a few minutes before the service was to begin, I was searching for something my soul could grab hold of, waiting for God to show up.

In rushed Marshall, straight from 7th Grade Swim Team practice. "I told my mom I just had to come," he said. He was there because he wanted to take communion. But while we were at it, did I need an acolyte? Sure; I also asked him to help serve communion. So Marshall was my server tonight. Lord, make me worthy of this kid, I prayed.

Then my mind wandered over the other children and youth in the congregation, several of whom began to filter in with their families. Lord, make me worthy of these kids, I corrected myself.

As the service got ready to begin, I looked over the small crowd. There were all ages present. Everyone there just for their time with Christ and with each other. I thought of the joy I felt at Bible Study today -- the first we'd held in several weeks, first because of my aborted surgery, then the snow. So many people have said such encouraging, helpful things to me lately. I think now of the exercise program Jerry P. and I have been doing. We're trying to get in better shape and lose a few pounds. But as good as that is, it's nice to have 30-40 minutes several times a week to talk about stuff with a friend while we pound the pavement.

I am surrounded by good people of all ages. I am loved. I am being used by God in many lives. And as I began to say the good, old words of the magnificent prayer book liturgy that we only use about once a year, I felt the rightness of the words. The words are for me as much as for anybody. That's good to know.

The last hymn was one of my favorites. I don't pick it very often, so people don't know it very well. Maybe that's because I feel so possessive of it. You see, at a terrible time in my life, years ago, I remember sitting at a keyboard day after day and playing it, singing it over and over and over.
Thou hidden source of calm repose,
thou all-sufficient love divine,
my help and refuge from my foes,
secure I am if thou art mine;
and lo! from sin and grief and shame
I hide me, Jesus, in thy name.

And whaddya know? God showed up right on schedule. It is, as Dame Julian of Norwich pointed out long, long ago, that
All shall be well, and all shall be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well.

On the road again

My confirmation class is heading for Cincinnati tomorrow for a guided tour of the Skirball Museum at Hebrew Union Seminary. Archaeology and cultural stuff, seeing how the other half lives, and where our roots are. As I like to say, Christianity is basically a form of Jewish religion practiced mainly by Gentiles.

After that, it's grab some lunch and head for home. But first, we stop by Perfect North Slopes for a little tubing. Well? We were going by there, anyway.