Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A little early holiday spirit

What Would Jesus Buy?

holy and steep ground

The past few weeks have held many, many things. But this morning I get to sit, looking out of our front window at the gently falling snow, and reconnect with my writing self, my quiet self, and my warm and furry dog (the last one, a bit strange, yes, but big, hairy dogs are quite wonderful this time of year.)

Today feels somewhat like standing at the top of a huge sledding hill, looking out at the well traveled path ahead, but still learning the turns and curves that are veiled with this year's new snow.

It's a huge and steep hill, for the next months will be a fast paced ride. And in sledding one really doesn't have time to plot the course, but rather we react to what comes, and rely on our vision that we had at the top.

So as I stand at the top, looking out toward the valleys which hold the Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter free falls of joy, the Advent and Lent tree-shaded difficult paths, and the Epiphany moments of bright light, I stand in wonder at this whirlwind ride that is about to begin.

It will pass in a flash of light, and when we reach the bottom, we gather up our sleds, our strewn out mittens and boots, pulling them together to begin climbing back to the top to begin our ride again next year.

So with a deep breath, a quick sign of the cross and a jump start... we're off!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I should have knocked on wood...

I should not have tempted fate with my last post.

The past week was powerful, beautiful chaos. But in the midst of it, I don't feel as if I am off-set from a place of peace. This is rather unusual. Perhaps it is that I now have a few years of full time ministry under my belt, and I'm no longer scrambling to keep up with congregational and worship life.

Or perhaps it is growth.

A colleague who is new to ministry had been commenting to another who had been in ministry for 30 years, about how she had lost sight of her own spiritual discipline. His reply: 'welcome to pastoral ministry.'

Now, this is not a new phrase or comment for most of us who work in parish life in some form. Which, in and of itself, is terribly sad. But for a veteran of this call to welcome a new pastor to a rather hope-less voyage of ordained ministry...

But it does not have to be this way. This is not the path of ordained ministry I signed up for, nor will I follow it. When we are called to offer a Gospel path to the folks who asked us to serve their congregation, we are called to take care of our own spiritual lives and invite them to care for theirs as well.

Peace in chaos
Creation in stillness
Prayer in demanding times
Hope in bare, unyielding landscapes.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Holy Grounds: November Days

I think November may be the quietest month of the church year.
There are no new programs beginning for the fall.
High school games are done with their regular seasons.
Most confirmation Sundays are in October or April.
The first three Sundays are pretty low in attendance due to deer hunting season.
Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter... all of them still a hopeful planning distance away.

In the north country, November doesn't bring an end to autumn, that has long since been over. There are no more colors on the trees, or in the distances. Harvest has long since been over as has all the canning activities that go with it.

So November is the stark month. There is no beautiful blanket of snow to cover the brown grass or muddy trails. There are few holiday lights decorating houses (thank God) for the first part of the month.

The landscape is bare, the air is cold, the wind carries woodsmoke, the land has gone into hibernation.

It is quiet, and it is absolutely beautiful.