Sometimes, I wonder…

Easter Sunday services today, filled with music and joy.

As part of the celebration, we were invited to participate in activities that gave us an opportunity to explore and express how we felt about Easter. I chose to write something (although I could have made a garden, created an origami butterfly, drawn a picture or reflected on the scripture). I wrote:

Sometimes, I wonder…

Did it start with a tingling at the tips of his fingers? A throbbing of blood through his veins? The first tentative heart-beat?  Was there a struggle to escape the grave cloths wound tightly around his body? A cry of relief as he tore the linen from his face?

Then, light, a faint glimmer – painful to his dark-accustomed eyes – beckoning him to the open doorway. The first stumbling steps out into the silent garden.

Suddenly, birdsong and the sun, the glorious sun, rising on a new day,  on a new world, on a new salvation.



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The Secret Is in the Tenses.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and I find myself thinking of how Easter has changed over the years. I remember when Easter meant a new outfit – new hat, matching gloves, new dress, new shoes. Growing up in Northern Ontario, I spent many Easters shivering in the cold wind and snow, not wanting to cover up my new finery with something as mundane as my winter parka.

Over the years, things changed, and somewhere along the line, hats went out of style, as did the matching gloves, and the new ensemble was no longer mandatory. For some, Easter was a time to dig out the spring outfits that had lingered in the back of the closet over the long winter, and, if it snowed, no one thought too much about wearing that winter coat well into April.

As I grew older, Easter meant getting up early on Sunday morning and attending the Sunrise Service – usually a damp, chilly affair down by the lake. And another service later in the day which was packed with a lot of folks I hadn’t seen in the pews before.

However, the music didn’t change over the years, and I love the hymns of joy and jubilation we always sing: “Christ the Lord is risen today!” and “Up from the Grave He Arose!” On a good Easter Sunday, the Hallelujah Chorus is thrown in, too.

Today? Well today Easter doesn’t seem to make much impact anymore. Good Friday is a shopping day like all others; so is Easter Monday. Yesterday, Good Friday, my neighbour complained that Rona was packed and he had to stand in line for ten minutes. Seems folks think Good Friday means a Good Day to get started on spring clean-up.

The churches are still fuller than a regular Sunday, but that’s not saying a lot these days.  I know that the majority of people are going about their usual Sunday business with little thought of what the day means. In most households with children, Easter is chocolate and candy and baskets filled to the brim. Nothing more.

We spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact that we’ve lost the “real meaning” of Christmas amid the commercial frenzy of the season, but I think it’s equally sad that we’ve lost the real meaning of Easter, too.

It can be summed up in six words. “Christ died. Christ arose. Christ lives.”

The secret is in the tenses.

Christ died. Past tense. Over, done with.

Christ arose. Also past tense. A one-time event over 2,000 years ago.

Christ lives. Present tense. Here. Now. With me. With you.



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Leaving the past behind…

For the last little while, Facebook has been showing flashbacks from the past. The member can choose to delete the flashback or put it up on the Facebook page. I think the Facebook people were convinced that people would love to see some of the things they posted in the past – one, two, or three years previously.

In theory, it was a great idea.

In practice, not so much so.

A few weeks ago, one of these flashbacks appeared on my page. It was a photo of a little kitten that I had rescued. I’d found him, starving and freezing on the sidewalk in front of the house, a tiny scrap of shivering fur. The vet told me he was probably only five weeks old, and didn’t think he would survive. However, she gave me some special food and instructions on how to care for him and I carried him home, determined to prove her wrong.

I took the picture three weeks later, and posted it on my page. Sitting in a patch of sunlight, he was looking directly at the camera as if to say, “Hello world. I’m here.”

He died that night.

All the pain I’d felt two years previously surfaced again as I looked at the Facebook flashback. How I missed the little fellow – his indomitable spirit, his adventurous soul, his great loving heart.

And it occurred to me that looking back was not always a good thing. We all have many things we’d like to leave in the past – old hurts, betrayals and painful baggage. Even old memories of those people and things we love, but no longer have with us.

Perhaps that’s why we are encouraged to walk with our face toward the future, to run the race set before us without looking back.

Living in past pain means that we never experience the joy of present love and the anticipation of future blessings.

So, I’ve turned off my Facebook flashbacks.

I’d rather choose when and how I remember things.


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“For now we see through a glass darkly…”

We’ve been working for the past couple of months on some renovations to the house. Today, the new windows went in.

The old windows were installed when the house was built – circa 1973 – but out here on the West Coast, things tend to last a lot longer. The old aluminum frames and single panes held up well – no problems with broken seals and fogged views to precipitate a re-fit.

These are big windows – three of them – eight feet across and three feet high. They fill the whole end and one wall of the kitchen/living room, and bring in massive amounts of light. They are one of the reasons we bought this house. We can look out and see the huge pine and cedar trees in the yard, the fabulous rocks covered with moss tumbling down the hill at the back of the house, the flowering bushes and lately, the new daffodils along the fence. In the distance is the glimmer and glitter of the lake, and the little inlet right in front of us sparkles in the morning sun.

Then the new windows went in. I stood there this morning, hardly able to believe my eyes. Everything was now in sharp focus, bright and clear, looking like a Disney 3-D movie. Details that I’d missed added new depth to the scene. How beautiful my views are now.

Today, the new windows made me realize that we often don’t know that we’re not seeing the whole picture, that what we take for granted as our lives, is only a shadow of what our world could be.We accept the fuzzy views and dulled colours – the griefs and sorrows, the burdens of serving others, the fears and doubts that come from the nightly news, the burgeoning racism that is beginning to re-appear around us, the hatred, the violence, the anguish of starving peoples and lost lives. We look out, thinking that this view will never change.”Well, what can do? we say to each other, shaking our heads.

I don’t think I’ll ever look out my new windows without thinking of how much of the beauty of our world remains hidden. I will remind myself that it’s up to me to make a difference where I am – to try to show the face of Jesus to those around me, to live my life as Jesus calls me to do, to clean the dusty film from my one small part of this world.

That’s really all any of us can do – but that’s all that we’re called to do.




There’s always life, even in the darkness…

Last fall, my neighbour decided to “prune” a tree in front of her house. It was tall and spreading, but when she was finished, it was small and stunted. I wanted to cry.

You see, I remembered the tree from the previous spring. In mid February it began to bloom. With a week or two, each branch was profusely covered with small deep pink blossoms, blooming so thickly that you couldn’t see any of the bark at all. It was such a beautiful sight, and my heart lifted each time I walked by.

Well, she hacked off about 2/3 of the tree, cut the branches up into short lengths, bundled them up and set them out for pick-up.

The tree bloomed again this year, but it was a pretty pitiful sight when compared to its former glory.

Walking by today, I saw a bit of pink amid the long grass in the open area across from the tree. It was a small bright pink blossom. I took a closer look and found that one branch had escaped the trash bin. Valiantly, it was trying to bloom. There were about a dozen blossoms in all, clustered towards the tips of the thin side branches.

I broke off each little branch that had a blossom or pink buds, and brought them home, put them in water and set them on the kitchen table.

Now, these should have been dead branches. They’d been lying in the grass for several months over the winter, without water or nourishment from the main tree. Yet, the blooms were still there.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Even when there is no hope for life, no possible reason to believe that something can be whole again, when all seems lost…life is still possible.

How much more so is that true for us. Regardless of how far we’ve moved away from God, how dark our life may be or how hopeless we may feel…God’s love is still there.003



“Seasons of Dormancy”

Do you ever read something and find that a phrase just jumps out at you and demands your attention? That happened to me yesterday. The phrase, “seasons of dormancy” resonated strongly with me. Here’s why.

Nearly two years ago, Gerald and I moved clear across the continent, literally from the Atlantic Ocean shores to the Pacific Ocean coast. It was a monumental move, made all the more interesting by our two cats and dog, but we did it!

I left behind a very busy life. I enjoyed lots of interesting commitments in my community, from playing my Native American flutes in the Palliative Care Unit to acting as a supply lay minister for the local churches to being part of several musical groups. My days were filled with things to do, places to go, people to see.

I guess I thought I’d duplicate that life here once we got settled in. But, that hasn’t been the case. Things are very different here. I’m not in a small pond anymore, but in a very big pond where I am a very small frog.

I feel like I haven’t “found myself”, and I keep asking the Lord to show me the Path that I’m meant to follow, but nothing has really opened up for me. I’ve felt frustrated, home-sick for my old life, impatient with God, worried that this is all that there will be.

And, then, yesterday – “seasons of dormancy”.

Of course! Just as all land must lay fallow part of the year in order to produce the next year’s crop, we, too, must have seasons of dormancy.

That’s where I am right now, and I’m happy to report that green shoots are beginning to appear – little hints of what the Lord has in store for me – like this blog.

Here’s something to ponder:could it be that a season of dormancy is just another kind of quiet space? Perhaps instead of fussing about not moving forward, we can allow ourselves to relax and simply “BE”. To rest. To dream. To allow God to work in us until we reach that place where we are ready for the next stage of our Journey.