For truly I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, . . . Matthew 17: 20
Most of the week, I gazed upon this:
Green, promise of spring kind of stuff.
About Thursday, I looked upon its puerile beauty and thought I haven’t seen any blooms yet. Nothing that even sniffs of a green shoot that could morph into a bud.
Suddenly I questioned everything I knew about the natural world. What if all chickens stopped laying eggs? What if the sun didn’t rise tomorrow? What if my skin started growing younger instead of insisting on well — aging? Which would totally be sooo very great.
Why on earth did I pick the one plant with nary a bloom so sure that bud will sprout and open into a hopefilled bouquet of tulips?
Why was I certain they were tulips? They could be daffodils just by looking at the leaves. Sure I selected this pot from a group of pots with blooming tulips but?
Why do I assume so much?
For instance, take this spot of dirt in my garden.
About a month ago on impulse, I purchased two inexpensive packets of seeds, Spinach and Mustard Green, while at the store.
Once out in my plot, the soil gave away easily as I created a deep row with nothing more than a few drags of a pick axe.
I dropped in the seeds, covered them up and thought with all this rain and a few warm days, who knows I might have spinach by March?
Well, we’ve had nothing but rain and cold so as that photo attests the dirt looks pretty much the same as it did a month ago.
Every day as I pass my little plot, my eyes search for the spot. Knowing one day I see clusters of teensy greens.
Why am I so sure that when the temperatures rise so will my seeds?
Maybe the question is why did I buy that pot of tulip shoots or take the trouble to scatter those bitty seeds in the first place?
That’s easy peasy. A longing for the beauty of spring. The promise of fresh spinach with my eggs in the morning. Knowing that though outside the window gray abounds, life is there.
The expectation of faith fullfilled is a huge part of who we are. Who I am, I guess.
Here’s to a week of tulips blooming, spinach sprouting and no shadows for groundhogs.
Editor’s note: Last week’s novel perservering resulted in an average of 785 words for six work days.
Yes. In the Christian calendar, today was Ash Wednesday.
Our church holds its service in the evening. Too bad because we can’t go around with our ashes on all day. I made it to the pool today and a woman I have gotten to know had her ashes on. Well, they were there before she started to swim. Don’t know about after.
As a child, I thought that so exotic. There were people (probably Catholic) who went to a early Mass and got to wear these mystical gray smudges on their forehead all day.
Ash Wednesday marks the start of —–>>>
Which lasts for —>>>>>
Every year I give up sweets. Ho Hum.
I have since high school. And that was a heck of a long time ago.
I have been pretty successful abstaining from desserts for 40 days except during law school. First year a fellow law student gave me a box of chocolates. I ate the entire box that day.
First year of law school was very stressful for me.
Tonight the usual suspects turned up.
And I really dressed up.
When the service started, I thought it not very reverent to be taking photos.
As a blogging professional I do set boundaries.
Then my husband photo bombed me during the hymn.
Yes, I took one last photo during the hymn than put my phone away and listened.
The use of ashes in the service reminds us of our mortality.
New International Version (NIV)
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
That hit me hard this year after seeing my dad. When you see a body after life has left — there’s no way that doesn’t impact you.
I like Lent. I love to think about these things.
Sacrifice. What does it mean in the 21st Century?
Why the heck do I fixate on such temporal matters?
In between laundry loads and Valentine parties.
My spirit awakes this time of year.
What about you? Do you recognize Lent?
Or fast from something?
The most decisive thing about me is I’m incredibly indecisive.
Always have been.
No. That’s not right.
I usually know what I want — then I start to wonder — what will other people think?
That’s where I get into trouble.
Today, one of my tasks was paying the license tag fee for the year.
And this year in the great state of Georgia, we have a choice between two new tags.
The tag office employee first asked which one my husband would like.
“Do I have time to call him?”
Then I realized, “Oh, I don’t have my phone.”
Tag office lady looked at me like are you kidding?
So she offered, “Men want the plain tag. There are not into the colors.”
Super. One decision made with help of nice tag lady with lots of experience with what men want in their tags.
For myself, I chose the colorful tag with the pretty harvest pumpkins.
Closer inspection revealed peaches not pumpkins.
Oh Georgia. I get it.
Then she said, “Morgan or In God We Trust?”
Of course I want the God one. Don’t I?
But what will people think?
That I’m making some political statement?
Or I’m trying to force my religious views on folks who think trusting in God is for the weak, feeble-minded and confused?
I guess I never tire of perpetuating some stereotypes.
What to do?
Tag lady stared.
I trust in God. Why on earth not put it on my plate?
People just seem so polarized of late.
I just wanted to get my new plate and now I felt I needed a therapist. Or a pacifier.
This was getting downright embarrassing. Make a decision Jamie.
Which I did.
But then I realized all this fretting was for naught.
I forgot about my plate cover.
Even in the Bible Belt, the God of the Sabbath sometimes gets overshadowed by the god of the SEC.
This is my favorite service of the year.
But to be somewhere to see the sunrise means you have to wake up before the sun.
My children were not very happy with me.
So they pouted for a little bit.
Today I noticed not only the beauty of the surroundings but in the silence I noticed the birds.
The outdoors were alive with their incredible sound.
As the service ended, a friend asked,”Is it over? It was so peaceful.”
Maybe it’s just an age thing.
I mentioned to my daughter that Easter starts to mean a whole lot more the more that you’ve lived.
When you are young, life seems like it will last forever.
Age brings more miles in the rear view mirror and an eye on the horizon.
She didn’t get it. How could she?
Only through traveling through peak and valleys — experiencing trials and triumphs — can we fully grasp the the depth and joy that comes from knowing
Those who don’t have a faith in Christ might not understand this post, that’s fine.
This isn’t coming from my family of origin, not from where I was raised. Though I was raised going to church.
It’s not meant to persuade or convert.
It’s just who I’ve become.
* * *
Way back when I was married living in Atlanta before children, we attended a very large, Methodist church. I loved our minister; I loved our friends.
One year on Good Friday, the church was hosting a community service. With the church less than a mile from the high-rise where I worked, I ran down there for the service.
I dashed quickly down a side aisle sneaking onto pew down front as the service began.
The packed church stood silently for the processional. So different than the familiar booming organs and large choir on Sundays.
Then I saw the cross held high like every Sunday, only on this day, the gold crucifix was draped with a black mesh cloth.
I don’t know why seeing that cross covered in black affected me so. Maybe it was the silence, I can’t say.
It was if there had been a death.
Then it hit me.
I didn’t like it. Not one bit. Where was my bright, loud, joyful church?
The light extinguished.
In The Hunger Games, President Snow summed it up with a question to Gamemaker Seneca Crane.
“Why do we have a winner?” Snow questioned.
What do you mean?” Seneca (with the funky beard) asked again not understanding his point.
“I mean, why do we have a winner?” Snow repeated.
He paused, then answered,
It is the only thing stronger than fear.”
* * *
I don’t like feeling dark, empty.
The thought of the sun going down tonight and never rising again.
I don’t do dark well.
Donkey Walk Sunday in Madison, G.A.
Throughout the centuries in Christendom, others have referred to this as Palm Sunday.
Here’s how it goes among the inhabitants of Madtown.
At 10 a.m. the downtown churches gather along Main Street.
I never noticed how unsightly and unrelenting the power and telephone wires were down Main Street till I tried to take a photograph without them.
But I digress.
Dressed in our Sunday finery and clutching palm fronds, all eyes look down the street toward the Presbyterians.
Before too long, the donkey approaches.
What starts at the Presbys, gains momentum at the Baptists — crosses Main Street and picks up a bunch of Methodists.
The — Presbys, Baptists, Methodist, Gathering-ites and anyone-who-happens-to-wonder-what-we-were-doing-ites — then stroll down Main, hang a left at The Citizen and continue on steaming and streaming adding congregants with each tenth of a mile.
With a final heave, the multitude turns up Academy…
all following the bitty donkey’s lead.
Gathered around the steps of the Episcopal church, we have our service.
It is a wonderful day and wonderful tradition.
A celebration of blue skies, green branches and young life.
A day reflecting none of the darkness that lies ahead later in the week.
Another Sunday Madison followed the Donkey.
How about you, what did you follow today?
While trying to hop on the sidewalk to get around someone, my foot didn’t quite clear the curb.
The next second I hit the pavement and heard the above shout.
Cr*p. He’s yelling about me.
Then I looked into the eyes of a very kind man asking if I was okay.
For pity’s sake, I’m alright. Could this get more embarrassing?
But I thanked him for taking the time to stop and ask. I felt incredibly nauseated and for a moment (a very split second) thought about heading toward MARTA and transportation to my car.
I shortly came to my senses, sore elbow and all, and finished the race.
* * *
The weather was perfect and driving home, I didn’t play any music.
Maybe it was my throbbing elbow; maybe I just wanted to think?
I get into trouble when I think.
Ten miles from home, I got off interstate and traveled the two-lane blacktop back to Madison. I never do that, but today I did.
I wanted open spaces.
My heart was so full; it needed fields and farms and manure.
Maybe it was my hard thump on the ground? Maybe it was having a senior in high school? Maybe it was thinking — how can it be Thanksgiving? Just last week, it was July and we were at the beach.
The fullness of life hit me. Along with its speed.
There is so much that’s wonderful.
We have our health.
Falling goon that I am — even at my advanced age can go out and have a great time running 13.1 miles.
I have children, young and older, who love me and care if I fall. (Though honestly, seemed like our Tebow was most concerned about me. Though it might be that I was a rather large salt-lick.)
We have heat and food and employment.
I have a working mind and emotions that still hold sway over my mind. (As evidenced by this post.)
Some people say God doesn’t exist.
If so, why do humans feel the emotion of gratitude? A turn from self to selfless when counting blessings.
Gratitude implies a giver.
Someone or thing responsible for bringing about what we hold dear.
Maybe not…but why would we feel more peace thinking about good health rather than a great deal on a television?
Probably just me. I did take a rather hard bump on the elbow today.
Yesterday, Sunday — the SABBATH — I had work to do.
Deepest conflicts of my soul Number 1,893:
I spend the majority of my Sunday afternoons in front of the computer.
Those of you who work from home can relate. It’s wonderful for many reasons, but you never rinse out your coffee cup, shut down the computer, and tuck your chair under your very tidy desk (because the desk in my fantasy office on the 79th floor of glass and steel is so neat it doubles on weekends as an out-patient surgery table).
You never leave.
For some odd reason, it’s been on my heart that I have been a blatant violator of the Fourth Commandment.
This seems rather odd. But really, what isn't these days? (And for once. I have nothing to do with this typo.)
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.”
Before no adultery and no murder. No work on Sunday.
Like most things in bible, it makes perfect sense.
All that work, rush, mothering, wifely-business 24/7 earns you is a spectacular view from a corner rubber-room at Bedlam.
* * *
Alas (though all psyched to honor the 4th Commandment), I worked yesterday…stepping over the contents from attic down the street that I still need to carry upstairs into our attic.
* * *
Deepest confession of my soul Number 592: Children are plants not moles.
They need to be out in the fresh air running free, getting sun-burnt and sweaty — not pale-faced and carpal-tunneled playing video games.
So Sunday, I slammed shut the television cabinet, opened the back door and said, “Be creative.”
* * *
They were quiet and I worked. And worked and worked and worked.
Then I began to worry because it was so quiet.
I went into my son’s room. Do you see the Christmas tree box pictured above? In his room, its contents were a blaze and the floor littered with bits of construction paper — castoffs from ornaments they were busily creating.
The only reason that tree won’t be up from now till December 25 is because they couldn’t find all the legs to make it stand.
* * *
See what happens when you break the Fourth Commandment?
* * *
What have your children done while you were so happy, working away because they were quiet? Too quiet.
Yesterday morning I went into my son’s bedroom.
Each morning Oscar greeteth me (Oscar, the white Oscar fish.)
He gets exciteth to see someone’s shadow falleth across the tank. For that meaneth food.
Yesterday there was no wiggle, no giggle, no white wriggling fish.
Immediately I deduced something had gone terribly awry.
My son turned over every shell in the tank. He lifted Squidward’s house.
No Oscar. I looked on the floor. I looked and looked.
Then I saw…eeww.
Child started crying….I ran to get a bag. Our Oscar had grown big.
Now he was big, lifeless and sticky.
* * *
I dropped the kids off and headed to Wal*Mart.
Oscar was gone and I wanted a replacement NOW.
First off, I bought an aquarium topper. (No need to witness that carnage again.)
There was one lone Oscar.
As white as our dear Oscar was — this guy was black.
I bought him.
I brought him home.
He almost died. If you count laying on his side at the bottom of the tank a bad sign.
Our pest control specialist, Steve, came by to rid the house of bugs.
“In heavens name, I’ve killed another fish,” I said…wringing my hands. “And this one’s been in my care about two hours.”
Steve suggested I bag him and carry him down to fish department for a refund.
He was the last one.
He had to live.
My son asked what his name should be.
I nameth him…
Have you ever prayed over a fish, frog…or any wee vertabrate?
(Don’t know if I would prayeth to heal a sick invertabrate. Only if it was really cute or had lots of personality.)
Today was one of those days I was here and there, everywhere in my car.
Lost in thought about what I had to do, I left my rather large (you can’t miss it purse)in the shopping cart at the carrel in the Walmart parking lot. Some nice man throwing away a bit a trash called to me about it — after I was already in my car about to sped off.
If the man didn’t walk to the trash can at the cart carrel at the time I was leaving — later on today I would have experienced that wonderful creeping panic that starts when you realize your purse is not within the four wall of your house or four doors of your car.
After retrieving my purse, I run downtown to deliver something to a friend.
Then I drive home, turn off the car, then spy a library book. (an overdue library book.)
I crank up the car to go to library and
Thank God I was in my driveway and not on the square downtown or in the Walmart parking lot.
I could have been without my purse, downtown with a dead battery trying not to have a large, raucous pity-party.
Sometime God is just so very good.