Pastor Audrey Ward
If asked to quickly recount the three sharpest memories of the recent year, 2013, what would you choose? Perhaps it depends on the day the question comes up.
“I’m glad it’s finished,” overheard at Trader Joe’s checkout.
“Yeah…maybe this year…,” the response.
So I’ve been thinking about what matters most when given a clean slate, say, 360 days that have no smudges, no erasures. To make our marks on that shiny surface, let’s use values--writing sticks such as kindness, courage, loyalty, generosity. Add in some unplugged quiet hours to keep creativity activated, and we have a fair chance at a fruitful beginning.
Did I mention faithfulness in both family and community? Whether at school, at church, at home or with friends, being present wherever you are. Physical faithfulness. We discount ourselves too often, as if who you are, who I am, doesn’t make that much difference. But showing up and being there without distractions have become increasingly valuable with regard to developing one’s own character. We don’t have to be brilliant or witty or wise. When the roll is called, answering “present!” is all that’s necessary.
One way to learn more about our world entails listening; caring about the people in our lives. How will they know if we’re how will you or I know how much we matter without being greeted by eyes that light up? Test it out. Pay attention. Investigate a value recently noted and see if it’s exactly what you imagined it would be. Discover how to most effectively use it. Keep track.
We’ll be glad we made these efforts—however the year goes—on December 31st as we peer into 2015. This has to do with a solid foundation for building something beautiful for life.
Mary Oliver again speaks volumes about being faithful
in a few words:
And the man who merely
washed Michelangelo’s brushes, kneeling
on the damp bricks, staring
every day at the colors pouring out of them,
lived to be a hundred years old.
March 27, 2013
Only that day dawns to which we are awake.
Henry David Thoreau
Living now, matters. Every day when we are fortunate enough to rise, we can be a pleasure in our own life as well as in the life of another by a word of kindness, a shared memory, a smile. That’s what I mean by living, now.
Sometimes, traumatic pain interrupts this present moment, but we needn’t allow it to derail us entirely. To find a few seconds for music or beauty; a blossom, or noticing a child at play, can even alleviate the suffering.
Allow pleasure to return as soon as possible. Welcome resurrection and perhaps in the welcoming, itself, we will awaken to possibility. We’ll be able to recognize the last darkness before the dawn....
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you note on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
See you in church
Pastor Audrey Ward
Don't you just love it when the truth pops out of your own surprised mouth? I wonder if that's like the blues singer - Keb Mo - promises, that it's "jus God tryin ta git your attention."
Anna Quindlan writes a moment like this into her latest memoir, "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake." After her country house was barely missed by a tornado, her college-aged daughter called to say she had been frantic regarding her mother's safety, worried her mother would die young. And Anna quickly responded, "Oh honey, I'm too old to die young, now!"
Aha. There it is. And what an interesting marker for our years: too old to die young. Which means, of course, still here, alive in the world for whatever will come.
May Sarton, the poet, speaks of "the inexhaustible flame" that kept her mother alive until she died. Going on, in the poem "August Third" (Printed in full below) to say, "if you taught me one thing, it was never to fail life." And I pass this on to all of us as our calling, every day.
See you in church,
Lifting myself up
Like a heavy weight,
Old camel getting to her knees,
I think of my mother
And the inexhaustible flame
That kept her alive
Until she died.
She knew all about fatigue
And how one pushes it aside
For staking up the lilies
Early in the morning,
The way one pushes it aside
For a friend in need,
For a hungry cat.
Mother, be with me.
Today on your birthday
I am older than you were
When you died
Thirty-five years ago.
Thinking of you
The old camel gets to her knees,
Moves forward slowly
Into the new day.
If you taught me one thing
It was never to fail life.
Here is prose poem about joy and plenty from Mary Oliver in her most recent book “Swan,” seems like one Virginia might write. It’s the one she expresses through her 90 + years of life all the time.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.