Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The battle rages on....

The 'semi-final' Harry Potter movie is out, and I plan to go see it this week. I have read all of the books, and still enjoy listening to Jim Dale read them as I weave. They join a number of good allegories about the battle that rages around us between good and evil. And I LOVE it when good wins!

Though I haven't yet seen the Harry Potter movie, I have had an interesting thing come to light in my own family history.

My husband and I recently took a trip to Kansas to visit his family. I also got to have a short visit with my sister while there. On our way to meet her part-way between where she lives in the Kansas City area and Topeka, where we were, we drove though the tiny town of Stull, Kansas. My father grew up in the little agricultural town, and I grew up sufficiently close to it that we often attended church there. On our visit there last week, we visited the old stone house that my grandfather's grandfather had built, which is now a historical site and owned by a state park.

We also visited the abandoned house where my father lived when he was young and the Stull cemetery. My great-grandparents are buried there, as are a number of other relatives and familiar Stull family names.

When I got home, I sent some of the photos to my Dad. My Dad is a great storyteller, mostly because his memory is amazing, and he has lived through some fantastic stories. He asked me if we saw any ghosts in the Stull cemetery. I thought he was joking, but he proceeded to tell me about some of the legends that have surrounded the site for over a hundred years. He told me to Google "Stull cemetery and Satan worship." I did. Unbelievable! (Literally.) Supposedly, we were at one of the 'Seven Portals to Hell,' and we didn't even know it! When I told my husband about it, he said he wished he'd have known, so we could look for the old church steps that supposedly go on and on down to who knows where. I am personally quite glad we didn't know the cemetery's reputation, and were just looking for our family history. Though I have had little experience with true evil and unholy spirits, I have had quite enough to not want to encourage or invite them in any way into my life, even out of curiosity or amusement.

When I asked my Dad if he had ever experienced anything weird there, he told of a time when the water people came and tested their water and told them to not drink it anymore, as the black specks that were in it proved to be human remains. They lived downhill from the cemetery. The little church we used to visit when he would preach there looks from the road as if it doesn't have an entrance; they chose to put the entrance on the back, so when people came out of worship they didn't have to look at the unholy ground of the cemetery.

So why have I decided to post this here, and what does it have to do with Harry Potter? I'm not sure, but it seems to me that the battle is the same. There is no Voldemort, but there is true evil in the world. I don't know if that true evil manifests itself in the tiny cemetery where my ancestors are buried, but I do wonder if the rumored evil that was so close by is why so many in my family have become true warriors against the forces of evil and for the One who protects us against such things. I do not doubt the power and the reality of either the unholy or the Holy spirit; theirs is an ongoing battle we are all in and have 'chosen sides' for, either by intent or default. Like Harry Potter, I want to be sure that I am on the winning side.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks...

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American family and friends!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My 'one wild and precious life...'

I have been playing the rebel lately; a role I come to naturally. At times I even want to stomp my foot like a child and shout, "But I don't WANNA DO THAT!!!" And 'that' could be anything from my daily keep-up chores and errands to, well just about anything. I just want to be left alone in my studio to weave - the one thing I have NOT had enough time to do lately.

What is eating up my time and making me so restless and rebellious feeling? Nothing big. Little things; laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, going here and going there. Putting in time with church friends, working in the gallery, hiking with my husband, flu shots, ear-aches. No Big Awfuls to rebel from... just the little things that can be joyous in and of themselves, if I approach the with the right attitude. But I have not been approaching them with a 'right attitude.' I have been rebelling in my heart against it all. I have been praying, "Lord, let this cup pass from me;" a prayer I would not ever really want answered.

I was in the doctors office (again) yesterday and I picked up a magazine as I waited my turn. In it I read a portion from one of Mary Oliver's poems, "The Summer Day." The author of the magazine article quoted the last lines:
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

I was brought up short. What am I going to do with it? Today? Am I going to whine about the little irritants that are truly blessings, as I go about my blessed and precious gift of a life? No. I am changing my prayer.

Lord, help me to see and enjoy each blessing You send my way. Help me to know the blessing of it all. Help me to be a blessing to those you put in my path. Help me to find joy in today's chores, each and every one of them. Help me to delight in the sunshine and in the rain and snow. Help me to sweep up dog and cat hair with joy as I delight in the animal friends we share our home with. Help me be thankful for each piece of laundry that I wash and fold, that will cover and keep us warm. Help me to be wise with my time, and not waste it, as each moment is a precious gift from You. Lord, guide me to use this one wild and precious life in the joyous, attentive way You want me to.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

From a Distance....

On his days off, my husband has been hiking the high desert trails with Booker. I occasionally go along. The other morning, he asked me to go with them. My first thought was of all I needed to do: the crab apple tree has dropped it's literal half-ton of apples to be picked up before snowfall; my house is a mess; I am behind on both laundry and studio work; and I am determined to finish my garden paths before snow falls. But I went along anyway.

When we got to the top of the plateau that overlooks our valley, I could see the Grand Mesa and the Bookcliffs, ending in Mt. Garfield to the east. If I looked to the west, I could see the backside of the Colorado National Monument. And, if I looked carefully, I could just see where our house is... there, just to the right of the top of my husband's head, I could see the construction crane up at the university campus, which is three blocks from our house, so I could figure out where it would be.

I could not see the fallen crab apples. I could not see my disarrayed house and studio. It made me think of the song, "From a Distance" that I first heard Nanci Griffith sing (though I think Bette Midler made it popular later on.) The point of the song is that God is watching us from a great distance, so what He sees is not necessarily what we think He sees. I've never been real sure about that concept. I think God can have some pretty powerful 'close-up' lens, to see into our very hearts should He choose. But the song, and viewpoint, is probably correct in that our viewpoint (fussing about undone chores) is not what God is concerned about in our lives. He sees a bigger picture. He sees the panorama of our lives; how they fit into the lives and events around us.

Things that tower over our lives, like the Grand Mesa and the Bookcliffs and the Monument tower around our valley, can seem small and insignificant, given enough perspective.

Sometimes it is good to get distance, in whatever way we can. It helps us to see that we are not as large, as important, or even as worrisome as we sometimes believe ourselves to be. We look at our own lives through 'macro lenses.' Get some distance. Look at your life with a 'long lens,' or get above and away from it for a bit. It will give you a new perspective!

From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They're the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

(by Julie Gold)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

As the deer thirsts....

When we go to our cabin on the mountain, we drive around the lake in the evenings to watch the deer migrate down to the lake for their evening drink. They know where to be filled; where to quench their thirst.

I have been listening to a beautiful song by Dennis Jernigan called "As the Deer Thirsts for the Water." It fits with how I have been feeling for such a long time. I long for a place to be filled up, to be filled to overflowing, to be thirsty no more. That is what a church should be; a filling station for the spirit.

Lord, there is an emptiness in us all that can only be filled by You. We need places; filling stations to refill our running-on-empty selves, lakes to quench the thirst that only You can fill. Help our churches to be that place for us. Help us to be that church for others. Help us to find the lake, Lord, where You are waiting to satisfy our thirst.