Ashes, ashes… we all fall down

25 02 2009

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Some years I embrace Lent, because I’m feeling solemn enough and ready for the rest of the world to engage such solemness.. (not the purpose of Lent, I realize.) And I like ashes on my forehead. I like to reflect on how Christ is challenging me to change. To follow him. And some years I am so not ready for Lent, because I feel “Lented” out. Lent has not felt like a liturgical season in my life as much as a pattern for many years. Somber, sadness, darkness, dust to dust, ashes… enough. I’m ready for a year of Easters. Of rejoicing because of Good News.

This year it’s a bit of both. I’m embracing Lent, ready for its challenge. I want to realign my priorities, and Lent seems to be a natural place to make time for that process. I’m excited and feeling spiritually challenged by the Photo Group this Lent. We are reflecting–through photography–on the Gospel lessons from the lectionary each week. (So starting today through Saturday, my photos will be my photographic reflections of the Ash Wednesday text. Then starting Sunday, the text for the first week in Lent.) I like the Lent Prayer site I found a couple of years ago, and am eager to visit it everyday. There are many reasons I embrace this season this year.

But I’m also feeling a bit Lented out. I feel as though we have all fallen down so much lately, that we are merely ashes, and we are stuck on the ground. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down… that familiar phrase from “Ring around the rosy” runs through my head each Lent.  And this year, though I have much to celebrate (i.e. Kajsa!), I’m wrestling with  much as well: the friend/parishioner who is still in ICU after a skating accident; others who are sick; the loss of some dreams this year; God’s purposes/plan for my infertile/single/job-frustrated friends, and some broken relationships.

I’m Lented out. I’ve lived it enough. Or so I feel and think. My loved ones have lived it enough. Enough, God, enough! How long? And yet, I have to remind myself that Lent isn’t about me–at least not in that way. Lent is about traveling to the cross with Jesus… and Christ’s sacrifice for us.

I used the “Ring around the rosy” phrase several years ago in an Ash Wednesday sermon. One of the things that stuck with me (and my own sermons do not always stick with me!) was that we tend to get back up… Ashes, ashes, we all fall down! But then as children playing this game, we get back up and start again. That’s what I’m hoping to do this Lent. Get back up and start again. Start up my efforts at being more faithful to God. The God I don’t always understand. The God I cry out to in anger. The God I lean on when I need strength. Get back up when I feel down, like dust-with-no-theological purpose…. and work again at realigning my priorities. Get back up and try to be faithful to the God who does provide me with countless blessings, even in the most dark Lenten seasons.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s ashes. I need that reminder of who I am. And I love reflecting on that in the context of a worship service with beautiful music and visual elements. But tomorrow I need to get back up, as a reminder of who God has called me to be.

Blessed Ash Wednesday…. and all of Lent.

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We all missed Abby

9 02 2009

while at Midwinter. dsc_0298She was at Aunt Sue’s house, and I’m sure she had a blast. But we didn’t realize how much Kajsa missed Abby. When we got home Friday afternoon, she kept hugging Abby, kissing her, and even read books to her. Soooo adorable. Kajsa would sit in front of Abby, trying to fit in between her front paws, skootch (sp?) herself backwards to get as close to Abby as she could, then open the book and start “reading”… flipping pages, and making occasional noises. And, besides “Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”, one of Kajsa’s favorite books now is “If you Give a Pig a Pancake”…. so that’s what Abby got to read. Good thing Kajsa’s exposing her to this great literature, because we have neglected to do so. I think the last book I read parts of to Abby was “The Daring Book for Dogs”..





Midwinter, and answered prayers

9 02 2009

dsc_0055Last week we were at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago, for our annual “Midwinter Conference”. Those who are non-pastors think this conference sounds boring: 1000 (give or take) clergy, staff,e tc.. gathered in one hotel for several days of meetings, worship, workshops, and lots of hanging out with colleauges, new and old. Though I have become a bit more introverted in recent years, I still love this conference, and it is one of the highlights of my year. This year Kajsa was with us… dsc_0244Loads of fun. I’ll post more pix later, perhaps on flickr… It turns out Kajsa is probably more extroverted than even Jim and Cathy!In the first of these photos, Kajsa is helping Marge with registrations….  The second photo shows how Kajsa loves to get all her “gear” on when we’re heading out the door. And, by the way, to parents and other caregivers out there… hotels, especially this one, are a GREAT playground for toddlers to run and fall, on plush carpet, etc..

Besides Kajsa loving Midwinter, and her constant audiences to smile at her, take her pictures, play with her baseball cards (AND HOCKEY cards, Sue!!:) … it was an indescribable feeling for us, to be able to share this answer to prayer that is now part of our life: Kajsa. It’s been a long journey. The answer to prayer is wonderful. My heart still aches for those who are still waiting for answers to their prayers for children, spouses, etc. And certainly there are still some prayers in our lives that aren’t answered. But it had been so long since we had some good news to share with Midwinter colleagues in the Covenant.. Thank you, God. Thank you, all who prayed. Thank you, those of you who stuck with me in my constant angst and etc. Thank you to those who create the Midwinter Conference and participate in making it a place I look forward to each year.

I know each denomination has its challenges, and I am certainly not blindly looking past those for mine.. but I do love the Covenant.