Easter

My Easter, as usual, was a carefully planned, hardworking, my-work-is-my-worship kind of celebration. For weeks I’d been planning the breakfast that was the pre-service gathering of our church, and planning for members of the local community who might, or might not accept our invitation to join us. Close to 500 new apartments have recently opened down the street from our building and we sent invitations to the whole complex. Breakfast first, candy hunt for children next, then worship and teaching time for kids and grown-ups.  Busy morning.  The menu needed to accommodate several kinds of dietary needs, it needed to be visually appealing, and it needed to be served and attended to with grace.  I have several deeply held thoughts about the beauty of people sharing food around a table, about the holiness of it.  And just as there is holiness at the table, it is also present in the preparation.  It’s a privilege to prepare the food that will bring health and strength, joy and delight to those who gather, either around my table at home or around many tables somewhere else.

The prep crew on Saturday and the cooking/serving crews on Sunday enjoyed working together and were happy to see not only the enjoyment of all the people but the true success of their work.  It was a good day for all of us celebrating the resurrection with joy.  One of my favorite things was watching young moms and grandmas coloring eggs together.  It was a very happy time and a beautiful picture to watch, and to listen to as the stories and laughter flowed.

I had my own special day of reflection on Monday when a friend and I went to the tulip fields for a quiet walk.  There weren’t many people there, the air was cool but dry, and the colors in the rows and rows of tulips were absolutely glorious.  It looked to us as if all creation was singing a song of joy. 

It was all good.

 

 

 

Another Week

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On my table this week

On my table: Composition book for daily pages and exercises from The Creative Call.  I’ve just finished Chapter 6, and although a good part of the discussion does not pertain to my situation I’m enjoying they journey, as they say.  I am still looking for that secret door that will open the creative, word-stream of my writing mind.  I may be getting closer.

The Message, a fresh and helpful look at scriptures that have been familiar all my life.

The Face of the Deep, a brand-new and totally unexpected surprise. It was nothing less than a thrill to meet and listen to the author at a writer’s meeting last week.  This man is my kind, in language, spirit, and faith. It was an altogether remarkable experience. After his talk and reading there was dead silence, then a collective sigh and we came back to life again. I will admit my disappointment when the questions started—people wanted answers about the technical and practical aspects of producing the book.  I wanted to stand up and say, No! Let’s talk about what he wrote and the language—let’s talk about the words!  But I didn’t. I have much to think about.

Poetry, March 2016. My one-year subscription, a generous gift of my daughter who also encourages me to find the secret door to my writing mind again.

Invitations: Over the last week, on separate occasions I invited three people into conversation with me in an effort to develop a deeper and clearer understanding of what we’re doing together, and what we could be doing better.  In each case I could have, and probably would have told them what I needed to say but I prayed, and worked to find a creative and authentic way to be in partnership with them. I am grateful for the outcome in each case.

Serving: This morning I said yes to the opportunity to walk into the suffering of another person. It was a nearly a fearsome thing to recognize the opportunity and know the call that came with that recognition.  And then to go. To bring practical help in a small envelope, to sit side by side with raw grief, to offer no answers, to listen, and to hold her tight.  For today it was what I was supposed to do.

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It was a beautiful mercy to come home to an empty house after work this afternoon. To pray again for the woman I was with this morning, to build a fire to chase the chill from a damp spring day, to watch the birds and the rain. To be still.

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The Best of the Week

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Camellias from a generous neighbor

 

Reading: Everlasting is the Past: A Memoir by Walter Wangerin, Jr.  I’m enjoying it very much. It was an interesting chain of events that resulted in a friend loaning the book to me, and made it seem truly providential.

Working onThe Creative Call: An Artist’s Response to the Way of the Spirit by Janice Elsheimer.  This book was recommended to me by a friend some years ago, but the right time did not arrive until last Saturday.

From the introduction titled, “Wondering”:

“Teachers and parents said I had a gift for writing and a talent for music, and even as a child I felt that these gifts were from God, that they were not just something he gave to me, but something that came through me.  When the music moved beyond me, or when my writing produced just the right effect, I felt uplifted, light, complete.”

The truth of it is that I have felt this way nearly all of my life whether it was writing, or caring for someone, or in preparing and serving beautiful food to various groups.  Sometimes it was when I stood in front of a full church presenting my writing about something that was meaningful to all who were there.  To feel that power come through my hands in the kitchen while preparing food that would be nourishment for others, to see and hear a church building full of people visibly moved with happiness, sadness, or with a murmur signifying some real kind of truth felt deep in their spirits is a profound, “This is what I was called to do” moment. These are gifts coming through me. And the difficulty of this is that I have only known one other person who had that same understanding. It was a joyful thing for me to read those words.

I’d already been giving serious thought to my life long process of developing and using my gifts, so I was ready to work through the exercises in the book and have found it more enjoyable than challenging.

Generosity:  The open invitation given by a generous neighbor to cut as many camellias as I like whenever I like. Glorious flowers filling vases in three rooms of my home.  Then the kind care of other friends after a painful, unresolved experience.  One brought a large bouquet of blooming bright yellow forsythia, left by my front door in spaghetti sauce jar with the label faded after a trip through the dishwasher.  Like sunshine on branches they made that jar look important.  As I drove up to my house after work I saForsythia editw that brilliant color I thought, “And it’s not even May Day!” I couldn’t help but smile. And the other friend who received my very short SOS text asking for just a breath of support in a situation she had also experienced several times immediately sent a beautifully written email completely validating my pain and in a later paragraph said, “Know that your skill and kindness do much good for many people, even if you never get any feedback.”  All of this is generous life support at its finest.

Celebrate:  The former co-worker in my last blog post got the job as camp nurse at a camp just a mile from her home in the woods.  Everyone will win on this deal, and I’m thrilled that I was able to help even in a small way.

Words That Help

Tulelake with Peter 030It always pleases me when I’m asked to write or give a reference to help someone land a new job, particularly if it’s someone I know well. I love being able to show people in their best light and to showcase their skills and traits to someone who has a need, or a pain point that my person could solve.

Having supervised many people, both in business and volunteer situations, I understand something about character traits that are valuable—not just necessary, but traits that will actually take the person and the job to a whole new level. I love to find a way to paint a word picture of my person using her skills enhanced by her personality and character.  It’s the kind of challenge that brings me great satisfaction—one of the best writing prompts ever.

Last week I received an email from a former co-worker, a nurse, asking for a reference for a temporary job as a kid’s camp nurse.  She’s had experience as a camp nurse but her developed specialty is with the elderly.  I’ve seen first-hand how much children and the elderly are alike in their care needs.  More than endless questioning and lengthy explanations of detailed information they need the gentle, confident touch of someone who cares, someone who can assess the situation quickly while chatting a bit, and smiling a lot.  Someone who can read with their hands—caressing a forehead or cheek to see if it’s hot, gently putting a hand on arm or wrist to get a pulse without announcing the intent.  It takes a certain kind of intuition to gather information while genuinely putting someone at ease with comfort and care.

I had to laugh a little when I read the job description, especially the line that said, “Must be able to climb ladders to reach a top bunk when necessary”—I’ll admit, ladder climbing had never come up during our years of working with the elderly.  I could only imagine some of the scenarios that would include calling the camp nurse to come out to a cabin in the dead of night, only to have to face the dreaded climb to the top bunk.  But if that ever happened I can guarantee that any young camper would be relieved to see the smiling face of a nurse who was ready and happy to help. 

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