Serving, Rejoicing, Moving Boxes!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter - happy Easter and eggs

Serving, Rejoicing, Moving Boxes!

He is risen! He is risen, indeed! That is the traditional call and response for this Easter morning. At church today, we lifted voices in praise to God. We sang hymns, prayed prayers, and listened to my co-pastor deliver a fine Easter message. Of course, we rejoiced in the victory of Easter. We praised God for the conquering of sin and death, and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. I played the piano as well as leading worship. I played some wonderful hymns and songs for this very special time of the year.

After the morning worship service, many people met in the fellowship hall, and I visited various relatives and visitors to the church this Easter morning. And we did, indeed, have some visitors. Praise God!

Such a beautiful day, too. After such a long, drawn-out winter, I sincerely thanked God for the wonderful weather and the warm temperatures (at last!).

And then—and then, I went home. I came home to an apartment still topsy-turvy from the moving of things for the carpet guys. Don’t get me wrong—I never, ever would say that I regret it! No, certainly not. However, putting back everything that was packed away is a daunting task. And, a task that I am taking some pains to accomplish with a great amount of care. After all, we are going to have to live with (most of) the choices and the places where I put things.

I moved two larger boxes last night, and three more today, this afternoon. The stacks of boxes in the basement are becoming smaller, indeed. Not quite to the halfway point yet, but almost there.

God, I get it. I may be slow on the uptake sometimes, but I get it—finally. This whole process of moving boxes, repacking books on shelves, deciding (once again!) which books to keep, which ones to cull, and which books go where—this process is an object lesson from You. Lord Jesus, You want me to learn something from this whole thing. Yeah, I recognize the grin on Your face by now.

I will enumerate the lessons I am learning. First, anything worth doing is worth doing well. And thoroughly. Second, anything I do is not to be done in a slap-dash manner. In other words, I need to pay attention to arranging this apartment and these books, and to do it in a methodical manner. (Which is similar to the first point, but has enough differences that I gave it a separate heading.) And third, deciding which books to get rid of? Ooo, this is a huge learning point for me. I need to be careful to willingly give up books we’ve outgrown or have no more use for. But at the same time, I am urged not to get rid of things willy-nilly. And, I suspect God wants me to look at other things/attitudes/habits in my life, too. I feel the urge to cull here, too!

Now, if I can just get my brain to process and come to terms with these facts . . . and these books. <grin> Seriously, happy Easter to one and all!

@chaplaineliza

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Holy Saturday, Batman!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, April 19, 2014

Daffodils - photo by Kevin Jones, 4/18/14 Chicago Botanic Gardens

Daffodils – photo by Kevin Jones, 4/18/14
Chicago Botanic Gardens

Holy Saturday, Batman!

Today is Holy Saturday. Or the Great Sabbath. Or the Saturday of Holy Week. Whatever we call it, today is the day after the commemoration of the death of Jesus on the cross. Traditionally, this is a day when Christians wait outside our Lord’s tomb, in quietness, prayer and fasting. The Church is to meditate on Jesus, His Passion and death, and His descent into Hell. (As is spoken of in the Apostle’s Creed, just to serve as a reminder for those of us with non-liturgical backgrounds.)

Yes, I grew up with a liturgical tradition, but I have never observed a Holy Saturday service, with the altar stripped bare. Or, an Easter Vigil on Saturday night. So, these practices are very interesting to me—and somewhat odd. Different.

How do I see Holy Saturday? I look on today as a waiting-time. Waiting for the celebration of Easter, waiting in the quiet of that garden long ago, waiting beside the tomb—with the stone still standing in place. I do not necessarily think of going into a church for a service on Saturday; but that does not mean I am not thinking of Jesus, His Passion and death, and His presence in that tomb.

My husband, daughter and I took today to go to the Chicago Botanic Garden, to see the lovely growing things. As I reflect on this now, after the fact, going to the Botanic Garden reminds me of the coming of Easter, for the most part. Sure, there are a few blooming spring flowers (You should see the daffodils and crocuses!). For the great part, the garden itself is waiting. The buds and leaves of spring are almost ready to unfurl and push their way out into the sunlight. For example, the vivid, bright green of the weeping willows—about to pop open! But, not yet.

Sure. The Botanic Garden on Holy Saturday is not the first thing that jumped to my mind this morning. However, this choice of ours (in response to my husband) to go up to the Garden and to enjoy the relative warmth of the day? Certainly a welcome opportunity after the long, harsh, cold winter.

My intentional act of service today came later in the afternoon, when I brought over some things to my sister’s house. And I did enjoy myself as I spent some time with my sister, family and friends (Yes, the food was definitely a high point!).

I hope the time of quiet I had this morning helped me to concentrate on the death of Christ. I know this afternoon in the gentle beauty at the Garden caused me to think of the beauty and infinite creativity of God, even while waiting for the resurrection on Easter morning. Lord Jesus, I’m waiting! Waiting for You, the Light and Life of the world.

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Am a Pianist and a Chaplain

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, April 17, 2014

LOVE let all you do 1 Cor 16

In Which I Am a Pianist and a Chaplain

Today was a busy day! Since it was Maundy Thursday, I had a good deal to take care of today. And tonight. After dashing to church to make certain the bulletin and order of worship for Good Friday’s worship service was all set, I dashed—again—over to the senior residence to play for the health care Maundy Thursday services. I do love being of service to the dear elderly people. Whether infirm, or cognitively impaired, or both, I consider this an important part of my ministry.

The dramatic reading in the brief services today took the place of a sermon. Given the material covered from the book of Luke, the reading certainly provided a great deal of interest. And raw emotion. Spiritual impact, too. I heard the reading given three separate times, and each time different things stood out for me.

Yes, I was of service. And yes, I did play a number of pieces and arrangements of hymns and gospel songs. I felt useful and needed. I guess being of service regularly would help that. The useful and needed parts, I mean. Then, lunch with several chaplains. That’s always a pleasant opportunity that I have: having a meal at the retirement center where I sometimes play the piano. Such a great place to continue relationships, too.

But, wait! That’s not all! I continued to be of service with a good friend this afternoon. I listened, and served as an (unofficial) chaplain. Really, my active listening skills came to the forefront. I didn’t even have to “turn them on,” because the skills just sort of turned on, by themselves. I heard about the continuing challenges and difficulties in my good friend’s life. I think I made a difference, just being there. Just listening and trying to understand.

I guess both situations are places where I tried to journey a little way with others. In the first case, I played the piano and journeyed with these dear seniors as they experienced an important worship service today—Maundy Thursday communion service. And then, my friend this afternoon. I really tried to understand a little more and provide what encouragement I could. In other words, I tried to journey with my friend for a little while. As my mentor Claude-Marie Barbour has said many, many times, journeying with someone is the most important part of being with them in a pastoral or spiritual way.

Just thinking of her is a reminder for me to pray for my mentor and friend Claude-Marie. I do wish her well! And I will call her after Easter to give her my best Easter greetings, too! Except—we need to get through Good Friday, first. Going through the valley of the shadow, journeying with Jesus as He walked that lonesome road through Gethsemane and beyond.

@chaplaineliza

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