Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What my Grandma taught me...

I was a lucky kid!  We lived in the city and I could walk one block to a bus stop, and a couple blocks in any direction to a park.  Our street was filled with lots of trees, maple and elm mostly (before Dutch Elm disease!).  In the fall, there were plenty of leaves to gather into piles and jump into, in the winter, plenty of snow to make snowmen, in the spring lots of flowers coming up and the summer was exciting with two lakes within walking distance.  But the best thing was that I lived next door to my grandparents.

My grandmother was amazing in my eyes.  She was the one who gave me a love for cooking and baking, knitting and sewing and simply gave me a lot of love!  It's only now I look back to appreciate some of the lessons she taught me...

     Hospitality:  Gram loved welcoming people; both those she knew and those she didn't.  I found a list of her "Birthday Club"-- 12 women who  each had a birthday in a different month.  They used it to get together on a regular basis and celebrate each other.  I also heard the stories of her welcoming strangers to the back stoop for a plate of food--they were hobos then, during the depression, now perhaps part of the homeless population.  They were never turned away.

     Giving:  There didn't need to to be a reason to give for her, only a reason to love.  The day after I complained loudly to my mom (and all who could hear) about having the leaves brushed out of my tangled hair (jumping in a big pile from the top of a ladder can do that to hair!).  There was a gift for me.  A white, hooded zippy sweatshirt - just like my friend Gail's!  No parent would have bought that, but my grandma did!

     Food:  Holiday meals were always cooked by my grandma, and they were delicious!  But, it was her bread and doughnuts I remember most.  The bread, basic and wonderful filled the air with its special perfume.  The cookie jar always held doughnuts, it was never empty.

Lent is a time for me to reflect on lessons of Jesus and lessons of life.  I learned a lot growing up, and I continue to learn each day.  Today, I hope that I use those lessons; welcoming all to this place, giving out of my heart and not for a specific reason, and having a table where the bread of life is served and is never empty.  I'm grateful for the lessons she taught me, I can only hope to pass some of them on to those who come after me.  What about you?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Life-Changing Lent?

I've been browsing the first chapters of a book that guarantees to change my life.  It's about cleaning up.  Yep, cleaning the house can change your life!  While I'm a bit skeptical, I'm not dismissing it.  Having read the first (free) chapter I get the point that the author makes...a little bit at a time doesn't do it.  You have to dump a bunch at first and only bring back into the house what you truly love, jumping in all at once, not discarding a bit at a time, or cleaning one room at a time.

I think Lent is a bit like that.  Testing out the waters, and only participating a bit at a time, is not a great life-change.  But, giving yourself over to the disciplines of Lent; worship, prayer, fasting, giving back--if you do it, all of it, all the days--can change your life.

I remember teaching young people about Holy Week especially, how all the worship services were really one service, connected. You had to experience all of them to get the whole picture; stay in the wilderness with him then, come with Jesus to the upper room; let him wash your feet, feed you.  Then go to the garden and fall asleep while trying to pray with him.  Follow him through the arrest, trial and climb the hill to Golgotha.  Listen to his last words and feel the sacrifice---all in order to experience the joy at the Resurrection on Easter morning.
What a joy it was to hear him with a friend, "No, you have to come to them all!  Otherwise you don't get it!"

We need to learn the lesson, to overcome our fears and trepidation.  To jump in to the wilderness and let it change us for these 40 days.  As much as we may want to just dip a toe in...we have to be all in, or nothing really changes.  Give up chocolate for 40 days and you go back to it after lent is over; give up resentment, bitterness or anger for 40 days and you may have changed a relationship.

Want a life-changing Lent?  Throw yourself into it and see.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lent and Spare Parts

Just this last week I replaced the top drawer of my dishwasher.  The original had rusted through at several key "tines" and glassware was tumbling about in a reckless way! Searching online, and plunking in the model number was easy and the replacement was on the way.  When the large box arrived at my door, I was ready to go!  Opening the box revealed only another large box.  Opening that, I found my new pristine rack waiting to be installed. I successfully transferred the sprayer arm and installed the rack--only to find myself with a few extra parts.  Extra wheels (which looked to be the kind on the lower rack) and several parts from the old rack which weren't on the replacement.  

I'm always hesitant to throw out perfectly good parts; perhaps it's growing up with parents and grandparents who had been through the depression.  So, I'm packing these in a plastic bag with the label, "Dishwasher rack parts I don't know if I'll need".  Most likely it will find it's way into the basement to be lost a midst other "parts I don't know if I'll need".

Perhaps Lent is like that for you.  You come across it once a year, not sure if you really need it, but unable to throw it away.  Maybe parts of Lent look old, others new and unused, but you're still not sure if you need them.  There's something though which stops you from throwing them away.  

While I can agree that Lent as a season is is far from rusty and useless and I can't think of it as a useless spare part.  I think it's one of the essentials.  

It is essential for me, at least once a year to set aside some time to examine my faith---get it up out of the basement, if that's where it's been hiding.  To be intentional about worship, and prayer and looking to those who have less than I do.  To fast from those things that make us less-than; like jealousy, pride, anger, resentment, complaining, judging....go ahead and make a whole list.  Pick your fast from some of these instead of just chocolate or fast food. It may be a lot rougher than giving up soda pop or beer!  

Give up to take on---fast from a meal to give the money to the food pantry; give up something in order to give to someone else.  Put away anger and resentment, to take on reconciliation and  cooperation.  You get the idea...

In the mystery box of spare parts, extra cords and miscellaneous Lego pieces, don't leave Lent in the basement this year.   You never know what may transpire---cleaner dishes???