Crazy (Maybe) Day

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Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

I spent most of the morning wandering around and easily distracted.  I decided to make a cup of tea to “center” my thoughts.

I went to fill the tea kettle and it had mineral build-up in it.

I went to the cleaning cabinet to get the vinegar and realized my feet were cold and I wanted to put on a pair of socks (I was in the laundry room so there was a reasonably logical train of thought going on).

There weren’t actually any warm socks in the laundry room so I went to the bedroom…and forgot the vinegar…

And so on and so on…I will spare you the entire journey that ends with me (just now) realizing (as I sip my ice water) that I never actually turned on the tea kettle (now cleaned) to make a cup of tea.

Anyway, back to what I started writing about…

I like “signs”.

Not the actual, physically present signs – like stop signs or street signs – although those are indeed important.

It’s not that I don’t like them.  I’m just not writing about them now.

Sigh.

Well, I am writing about them, but that’s not the point.

This is what I’m trying to talk about -signs, omens, coincidences, serendipity – things that are randomly happening and then “magically” come together in a way that makes it all seems planned and purposeful and meaningful.

Let me explain…or try to because it’s obviously going to continue to be one of those days.

 I wrote a blog about saying hello
And then I followed that blog with a post about serendipity.
And today, since nothing else was going the way it was supposed to, I decided to write a couple of letters and follow through with what I suggested.
I decided to say hello.
But I wasn’t sure who to say hello to.
I went and looked in my email files to see who I might have written to at one time that I hadn’t written to in a long time.
And I found an address for someone in Lithuania that I shared some snail mail with over two years ago.  Actual mail once.  Not a close friend.  Just an encounter.
But hey, I’ll write a quick hello.  She might think I’m a little crazy, but that’s okay.  Today, I feel a little crazy.
First, I decided to go check out her blog that I used to follow, but now realize doesn’t show up in my inbox anymore.
I’m reading her last post and about midway through I run across a word that I love, but don’t use very often.
Until a couple of days ago.
In a post about saying hello.
A post about writing a quick note to someone.
The word?
Serendipity.
You may say that it’s just a coincidence.
You may be right.
I’m going to choose to look at it another way.
I believe that God sends us direction and encouragement in signs that we often fail to see…mainly because we quit looking or are looking in the wrong direction.
You may not believe in signs or you may not believe in God.
Or perhaps you believe in signs but have a different belief system that helps you understand them.
This could turn into a theological discourse if I chose to get distracted, but not today.
(other than to say that quibbling over terminology and names and minutiae is unbelievably distracting  and pointless, so I don’t think we all need to agree about everything in order to meaningfully communicate)
Today, I am choosing to have joy in what has happened.
A sense that I am connected to and participating in something bigger than myself.
A hint that I am doing something I am supposed to do.
A purpose.
Something as simple as saying hello.
And building community and social contacts and friendships.
Because friends are important.
And the best way to not be alone.

Fragile Vessels

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Years ago I did a commissioned art series for a church pastored by someone that I hold in high esteem and care deeply for.  It was an advent series that we entitled “Fragile Vessels”. These vessels were made out of old papers, lace, and fabrics and were set on the stairs leading up to the altar and lit from within with candles.  The sermon series dealt with the fragility of human life, the appearance of the Christ as a small infant, the resiliency of the human spirit – the complexity that is the Christian faith.

I strongly believe that art should be experienced with more than the eyes and therefore these pieces were handled a great deal – especially by the children of the congregation.  There was damage as would be expected of fragile pieces.

At the end of the advent season, these pieces were returned to me and were carefully stored in a box.  They are among the objects that I have struggled with the disposition of in recent days.

At the time, I was seriously exploring a vocation as a minister.  Since then, my path has changed dramatically.  I don’t doubt that my journey today is the correct one, but would be lying to say that I don’t have some regrets about how things turned out.

I would say that I am still a believer in God, but my interest in “organized” religion has changed dramatically.  I question more and study further.  I am open to the beliefs of others.  I am not so sure of anything anymore.  My faith is not blind.  I am older and more mature.  The world is complicated.  The answers not so clear.

The pastor that these pieces were created with and for is no longer an active part of my life.  I’m not very good at staying in touch with people – even those I care about.  On some level though, I still feel a strong connection with her.  She is fighting a difficult health battle right now.

We are fragile vessels.

Words rarely fail me.  In this case they have.  Prayer just seems inadequate.  I couldn’t sleep tonight thinking about my inability to let go of these art pieces, her illness, our loss of connection, and my failure to find words to articulate my thoughts and feelings.

And then I thought about the fact that many cultures believe that prayer can be carried by smoke in the wind upwards towards heaven.

The fragile vessel made of old paper, lace and fabric wouldn’t stay lit.  The fire kept going out.  And then a light rain started to fall.

Maybe we are stronger than we think.  Maybe we don’t have all the answers.  Maybe we aren’t meant to understand it all or know what the outcome shall be.

Some things are just a mystery.

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What People Need

It’s Friday evening and another week is ending.  My husband and son are off to work.  Both are temporarily on the night shift prepping for inventory.  Oldest daughter is still at camp.

Second daughter who is home during summer break is not actually home but at a friend’s house.  Her summer session online class started already:  She is taking Introduction to Philosophy.  I watched part of her first online lecture with her last night.  I think I’ve lost a lot of brain cells since college.  I took  Philosophy a few or more years ago and made an “A”.  Last night  I felt like I was watching the professor’s lips move, but didn’t understand a single thing he said.  Either he is the worst lecturer ever or I need to start exercising my brain.  It’s probably me.  Those were some really big words he was using!

It’s just me and the youngest at home tonight.  She is tired from a week of getting up early (for us) to go to Vacation Bible School.  She was invited by a friend from the homeschool group.  She had a really good time and made me quite proud with some of the things she shared when she came home each day.

I guess I’ll share here that we aren’t active in a church congregation and haven’t been for many years now.  There was a time when I was the one running the show…Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, etc…  I’m still a believer in Jesus, but have lost interest in the organized church.  I don’t begrudge anyone who attends and do believe that there are some great churches doing great work out there in the world.  I’ve just moved on, in a sense, to a different place and it isn’t a good fit for me anymore.

I have a lot of friends who live in a lot of different belief systems – some are followers of Christ to varying degrees and quite a few who aren’t.  I’m good with that…more than good.  I love being surrounded by people who think differently than I do.  I love the discussion of and exposure to differing ideas and ideals.  I can’t imagine only hanging out with folks who believe or live just like me.

I personally choose to believe in a God because it gives me comfort knowing that life isn’t a series of random events happening for no particular reason in no particular order.  I need to believe in something.

Mostly, I just desire to be a good person.  A person who does good things and will leave the world in a slightly better condition when I move on.  The concept of Jesus works for me in that respect.  Kind of like a great role model.  The Bible is also a pretty fascinating piece of literature with some good stories and guidelines in it.  Do I believe it is meant to be taken literally in all aspects.  Ummmm, NO.  The world changes and the people in it change and we have a brain that we should be thinking with.

You won’t find me preaching here although I’m sure my beliefs will slip in every now and then.  This blog is about my life so it would be hard to leave out much.  What I’m trying to say is that’s just not what I’m here to write about.  It’s not so much that I don’t want to offend anyone or am trying to attract a certain type of reader.  My faith is just an intrinsic part of who I am and I don’t feel the need to share at every opportunity.  Once again, I’m not judging or rejecting different viewpoints…I personally follow blogs that are very “Christian” and some that aren’t at all.

As people we are all so different…we come from different backgrounds, experiences and cultures.   As a result, we have different needs.  We will just naturally believe in different things.  We are all seeking something – some truth.  Many times we are talking about the same thing, but using different words to describe or express it.

What a beautiful world we could live in if we were all more tolerant of our differences and embraced our similarities!

I’m aware that there are those that would classify me as a lousy sort of Christian and some who would believe I was way too Christian just for writing what I’ve written.  I’m a people pleaser so it saddens me to think that anyone wouldn’t like me for any reason, but since starting this blog, I’ve become braver.  I’m just doing the best I can in putting together a belief system that helps me to lead a  life that is good for me and beneficial for the world I live in.

Back to what led me onto this “rabbit trail” in the first place…my youngest came home from VBS the first day and told me that she needed to bring an offering the next day.  Ooops – been out of church for awhile and forgot about that.

She volunteered that they were collecting money to send talking Bibles to Africa. Okay, not really my thing, but okay.

The next day, she came home and told me that one of her teachers had a collection jar on her desk to provide meals for children in Africa.  She said,”I hope it’s okay that I put my money in there instead of the Bible collection.  If people are hungry, they need food. I think that it’s more important that we feed them first.”

I just smiled and told her that I thought that was a good idea.