Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Barak, Hillary or John

My eldest child called me from her car and told me she was "so close to Barak Obama I could touch his face!" I asked what precipitated this close proximity and she explained that she was driving from Columbia, SC to Myrtle Beach to cover the South Carolina Democratic primary for her college newspaper---of which I proudly say SHE is the editor! (parental hubris is allowed on one's own blog I think!). She told me she was heading for Myrtle Beach to be in teh audience for the Democratic debate which I watched with great interest that night not only to hear the candidates, but also, perhaps, to catch a glimpse of my offspring by virtue of some stray camera shot. No offspring, but plenty to take in (I am told this debate had the highest audience in all of US Political history).

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Woods Are Lovely Dark and Deep

Yesterday on the way home from the “Just For Kids” after school program (which I try and direct) it was snowing. I came my usual “back road” which was backed up and I sat on Susquehanna Street looking up into the deep woods which line one side of that road. It was breath taking in the filigree of snow which clung to the tree branches as far as the eye could see. I rolled down the window, felt the snow flakes hit my face and melt, the cool wind putting my skin on edge.

Normally I am impatient in traffic back-ups, but I was struck by the gift that was being given to me at this dusk time to appreciate the woods—the trees, the silent snow drifting down.

In school in India we had to memorize poems and I recall having Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” as a memory poem I had to stand and recite. It comes back to me on occasion and it did this evening. The "darkest evening of the year" is the 21st of December (the Winter Solstice) and the next day is my birthday---which I have always relished as the day the sun starts to return! Here it is for your joy in the midst of snowy weather which at face value looks like an inconvenience, but in reality may be a gift if you are able to receive it…

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I thought about my life so far, and anticipated (with some joy, I might add) the miles ahead of me. May you be blessed with some snowy woods if you are so graced.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Strangers at the Gym

It never fails, every January I go to my gym (the YMCA in Bethlehem) and see “strangers” taking up all the machines and filling the locker rooms. Those of us who go year round on a regular basis do a “wink wink, nudge nudge” among ourselves as we witness the yearly influx of New Year’s resolution-makers and will suffer the crowded conditions until about the first of February when the population drops to normal. They will thin out, they will soon realize that a gym discipline is just that---a discipline, not fun always, the results will not be immediate and you have to be in it for the long haul. Like I resolved to write more on my blog and here it is mid January!
Church is much like that. Anyone that has done anything for the Church knows that it is a spiritual discipline to be part of a faith community and contribute to its life with one’s presence, time, substance and talents. For Church to mean anything it has to move from being a hobby to being a discipline, a way of life that will yield its rewards in time, not usually immediately. Just like you can’t lose that 20 pounds of ugly fat by going to the gym three times in one week and expecting your body to reward you with weight loss in just a week.
I write this as much to "seekers" as to myself. So often when talking to "unchurched" folks (Episcopalians call those who don't go to Church by a far more genteel name than our protestant siblings who would call them "unsaved") I hear about one or two bad experiences that made them give up the discipline some of us call Church. It is understandable, just as it is understandable that someone gives up the gym after working out for a week and losing one pound.

Peace and Joy in the New Year!