Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Memorial Garden with New Light

I headed up the hill behind the church again today, walking past the house of a former parishioner. He passed away this past year. His house has a For Sale sign on the front yard. His next door neighbor was watering her front flowers and I stopped to chat. This will be the first Easter without him in my experience at the church. Each year, when we remember the saints of the church past, we remember that now, things are different without them.
When I returned to the church yard, I noticed the the difference in the light in Memorial Garden. We have lost trees this year, too. Without those trees, the garden has lots more light, and will have a lot more heat, come the summer months. It makes a difference. Just how that difference plays out we've yet to experience. But even now, the Lent rose in the Memorial Garden is responding to the new light. The cross is well-lit this time of day. What new things will be noticed because of what was lost and what can now be seen in new light?

Blown Away--Monday April 15

I'm posting this a day late. Yesterday, April 15, the wind was against me. Gusts up to 30 mph was the prediction. It was happening. I could barely catch my breath, and I don't think it was only the steep hill I was climbing. Every few minutes the wind caught my mouth and nose so that I was unable to inhale and then exhale with only the muscle power of my diaphragm.
Breathing against the wind...but that's not all that blew me away. This week I continue to marvel at the blossoming trees--dogwood, lilacs and redbud.
I was blown away!
I'm contemplating how the women at the tomb on that first Easter morning might have been blown away with amazement and awe.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Walk and Talk

Can I walk and chew the fat at the same time? Today I had a lovely walking companion and we circled the parking lot while opining on the state of the world, the church and nature. The beauty around us was hard to ignore. The blooms are magnificent this year. Every tree and blooming shrub or bush is seeming to peak at the same time. So we are in full bloom allergy season, hoping that God knows what God's doing by mixing such beauty with such respiratory threat.
Somehow it's all working out. A delightful conversation partner helps to sharpen the mind and clear the lungs.
God is good!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


This speed sign on Military Road attempts to keep drivers accountable for their speed in relation to the speed limit. Almost every car going by is over the speed limit. I drive this route, too, just about ever day that I come to the church. This little sign is my accountability. I am almost never under the speed limit.
I haven't posted in this blog an entry since last Wednesday, April 3. Did I keep my commitment to walk everyday and who is holding me accountable? Well...the theory is that my public blog will keep me accountable for doing it, but it doesn't quite work out that way. On Thursday, April 4, I did walk, and I visited two other churches in the neighborhood--an Episcopalian, where I introduced myself to the new rector--and the Methodist church where the pastor wasn't in, but whose secretary gave me some good information. So theoretically, those two visits gave me some accountability. I thought of a new line to open a joke, but I don't have the punch line yet--"A Methodist, an Episcopalian, and a Presbyterian walk into a coffee shop..."
The next day, Friday, my day off, I "walked" around my yard for an hour and did raking and clean up. On the next day, Saturday I did my 'walking' with water aerobics in the pool, but not for an hour, only about 45 minutes. On Sunday, I didn't walk, and yesterday, Monday, I did my hour 'walking' around my yard again, as it seems pressing to have all the winter cleanup done before the mulchers come next Friday. So... am I living up to my own pledge?
It's hard. Accountability may be the one Christian discipline that is the most difficult. Anyone who has made a New Year's resolution knows this well.
Today, I am reminded of accountability, and I did walk for an hour. When no one holds us accountable for doing hard things, it's easy to let them slide. However, some day there will be a reckoning, because God is just.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019


Tuesday, April 2
Yesterday was supposed to be the peak cherry blossom day in our part of the country. In the DMV cherry tree season is just about as big as it in Japan. We have some long ago generous Japanese to thank for that. It seems that the trees can flourish here.
My walk around the neighborhood today caught a glimpse of dozens of trees that are in peak bloom today. Here are just some of those specimens. 
For all the bounty of blossoms in this neighborhood, there no people walking around to look at and admire them. Aside from a few trade people working on houses, I encountered no one on my walk today. When I took a trip to see the iconic settings of the tidal basin blossoms last year, there were so many people that the trees were almost obscured. 
I prayed today that the people who live in such a beautiful neighborhood will get a chance to admire the beauty that is all around them. No need to go very far.
I wondered about people who are trapped in these houses, perhaps unable to be out and about like me. I know some of them, and some who struggle with loneliness. Our single-family home living arrangements sometimes come with a cost to our social needs. Let us pray that our neighborhood living arrangements don't jeopardize the spiritual health of the neighborhood.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Walking the Way

Monday, April 1
Since last week, our "little church" has drawn a labyrinth on the front lawn, and installed a rustic cross at its center. The community is invited with signs and FB posts to "Follow the Way."
Some enterprising and creative parishioners used white chalk to mark out the pathway in the traditional labyrinth design. Today I decided to multi-task again. I walked the labyrinth and then walked the parking lot all while reading from a 4th century pilgrimage narrative by the woman Egeria, whom we have decided to bring along into our Holy Week worship design! (Shout out to the creative juices flowing at last Thursday's worship team meeting.) This pilgrimage thing has amazing resonances. In the 4th century, pilgrims were already well-practiced in making trips all over the Middle East to see the sites of stories they had read in scripture. Particularly in Jerusalem, pilgrims from all over the world were beginning to mark out holy spaces and events for the events of the last days of Jesus. These journeys deepened each person's faith and made the physical sites more and more holy as generations of Christians found there way into "The Way."
There is sacred space all around us.  Even in the small plot of land that this church occupies there are memories and stories that people tell. The first person whose ashes were interred on the property was the person most remember as being instrumental to guiding the construction of the building. That interment led to the creation of a memorial garden, where more ashes sanctify the spot next to the sanctuary. People still gather there on some Sundays to remember the saints.
We keep walking so that we keep remembering.

Just to get food

Thursday, March 28 was a scheduled meeting that I had volunteered to bring food for. There is a lovely nearby cafe that has a wide variety of eastern Mediterranean food, so I decided to multi-task by taking my walk there. I say "nearby" because when I'm driving it seems a lot closer. Walking is a different experience! I almost didn't make it.
The place is one of a chain owned by a local family that has a great following in the area.
They serve authentic recipes, most of which are available for take out.
On the way over, I noticed that I might not have enough time to make it back for the scheduled start time of noon, so I ran as much as possible. I placed the order quickly, decided against calling a cab, and skedattled back to the church, where I arrived just in time to deliver some good food for a creative meeting.
As I caught my breath, we prayed that the meeting would listen for the soft voice of the Holy Spirit to come with our stuffed grape leaves and tabouleh.  It did!