I may be indulging in the pastime of comparing the way things used to be with the present, but I am feeling very grateful this month for growing up in the family of my birth. I wanted to share some of the strengths I feel I received as I grew in this family.
My family was all about feeding and sheltering whether one was young or old, whether you could contribute or not. We were grounded in love; encouraged in moral decision-making and communication and were able to celebrate rituals that held up the power of sacred time, the well-being of others and the gift of joy. If I were to make a list of my family blessings it might look like this:
- I felt sheltered by the boundaries of shared time I had – time to cook together with my mother and grandmother, time to share chores with my sister, grandfather and father, and time shared with all of them in nature – raking and hoeing, planting and picking, making ice cream, chasing runaway cows through the spring mud and storing the bales of hay in summer.
- I felt sheltered by living in one place that we each came to know intimately over the 26 years we lived together. We each had our “thinking spot”, under the apple tree, beside the stream, in the middle of the blueberry barren, or on the barn roof at sunset. As a child, my spot was under the ironing board as I learned my ABCs.
- We shared common interests as we worked together, did house repairs, went to the same camp, gathered under the same appletree for summer picnics, walked the same path from our house to the neighbors’ houses next door and prepared by podding, snapping, husking or peeling the same vegetables each summer.
- We celebrated birthdays and Christmas, the births of new calves, kittens, puppies, pigs, horses, chicks and rabbits and their deaths. We celebrated graduations and the first hard freeze of the cow pond for skating and bonfires. We celebrated confirmations and baptisms, vacations (no matter how short) and the moment when the entire peony bush was one huge cluster of pink and white blossoms bigger than our faces. We celebrated the moment our parents left to live and work in West African and the moment they returned, weary and full of gratitude.
- We felt strengthened as we invited traveling missionaries from South Korea and Thailand into our home. We were gifted with diaries of our ancestors and stories of their service in the Civil War. We feasted on the Italian pastries, the Greek rolls and the Swedish tea rings we received from friends and relatives alike. We layed on the summer grass on dark-sky nights and learned the names of the constellations, rode burros to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and traveled through fields of tea and forests of cacao together near Nigeria.
- We heard story after story that began, “I remember when….” and ended with a core value or belief that sustained generation after generation.
I grew with hardly any screen time, with no cell phones, with family members of one generation or another literally always within sight or within reach. I grew with the expectation that I would become a good neighbor and I had intelligent, civic-minded adults who modeled theway. I share all of this with you, not only to walk down memory lane but to say, that when the church is healthy it, too, honors sacred space and shared time. The healthy church celebrates with ritual and joy; and it fills us to the brim with stories of faith that begin, “Remember this as you move into the promised land or into the kingdom of God………” May we celebrate, this Lenten season, the strengthening of Christ’s church as we go about sheltering each other and exploring the breadth, length and depth of God’s love.
With blessings of joy, Rev. Deb
Lectionary Readings and Sermons for March
First Sunday in Lent – March 1/Sacrament of Communion
Psalm 32 and Genesis 2:15-17
Second Sunday in Lent March 8/ Women’s Worship week
Adam, Eve and the Snake
Third Sunday in Lent/March 15/ Heifer Variety Show
Exodus 17:1-7 and John 4:5-42
“Someone Wronged, Someone Thirsty”
Fourth Sunday in Lent – March 22
Guest Preacher – Rev. Diane Mix
Fifth Sunday in Lent – March 29/God’s Baby Shower
“Breath of Life and Hope”