Saturday, September 19, 2015

Welcome lessons

My husband Ian wrote a lovely post on some happenings at church a few years ago. Here is a re post of his note here...
I was greatly encouraged by my son, Nigel, yesterday. We were selling snow-cones and cookies outside of our church, raising money for camp scholarships. A man who was obviously mentally ill approached our booth, asking if we were giving away food. I told him that we had enough to share and wrapped him up a plate of cookies. My son then invited him to the fellowship breakfast that our church holds every month between services. Now I don't know if the man will remember to come back in three weeks, but it was amazing to hear Nigel respond so readily to someone's need. I know that I never reacted with such confidence and grace around the mentally ill when I was his age (12).
A half-hour earlier, the worship team at our church led us in the song "All Are Welcome" during communion:

All are welcome, friend and stranger
at the banquet of the Savior
All are welcome, all are welcome here

From the woman who comes crying
leaving tears at Jesus feet
To the man who knows the right way
but cannot see (Chorus)

From the ones who feel forgotten
those who sense their place is gone
To the ones who live in hunger,
here you belong (Chorus)

Go into the streets and cities
to the farms and families
Tell about the splendid table
God's mercy (Chorus)

Nigel sang and played the song, but more importantly he believed and lived out the song a few minutes later. What a church it would be if we all connected our worship and actions so naturally!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Clumsy lessons

"I am not good at everything I attempt to do."
"I'm not an expert."
"This feels clumsy."

Statements like this, I think, that keep people - me specifically - from trying new things Better yet sticking with something that does not come naturally is actually harder. It may seem too extrovert for me to say this, but I actually love trying new things and going new places. But when it comes to working through things I'm not naturally good at - I struggle.

My internal voice may say things like, 
"Why aren't you getting this?" "Look over there - they are not having any problem with it."

Sometimes the internal voice slips through my lips and becomes audible sound. In fact, this nasty voice spoke from my own lips when trying to coordinate my breathing, kicking and arm position while swimming the breast stroke. Before I could stop it these words popped out:

"Why are you SO clumsy!!"  

I was so shocked I stopped swimming and bobbed in my lane for a full minute in shock. How is it possible, after all this time of intentionally working on silencing the negative gremlin voice, that it shows such determination to hang around?

I supposed those negative voices are best at speaking when we are feeling unsure or struggling to take on something new that takes practice. So my response was this...

I kept on - even in my clumsy way - and swam more laps.
They were not wonderful.
I choked on water and my arms splashed too much when cutting into the water.
But like the fish Dori from Finding Nemo says:


Today tell the negative voice to take a time out.
We have some swimming to do.

Found at Best Dori Quotes

Response: How do you overcome "negative gremlin" voice? What are your tips for working through learning something new? Please respond in the comments below.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Gardening lessons

Sometimes the earth is hard. The soil is dry and covered in clay. 
Water is in short supply and seeds fail to grow. But in the face of such harsh reality,
there remains something unspoken in the human heart. It's not as if we believe that things are perfect. We know by the ache in our back and the silver at our temples that life is imperfect.
Yes life is imperfect, unfinished and impossible.
But this is not the only thing life is.
Each day the sun rises, even if rain continues to fall.
Each day someone smiles and loud laughter bounces around the room.
Each day there are those that pass into eternity - and those that take their first breath.
Life and the earth are hard, but tender hands continue to till the hard ground...
in hope of the harvest yet to come.

T.L. Eastman Copyright 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Crying lessons

Have you ever started to sing a song, perhaps a hymn or another favorite, and find yourself caught up in such a wave of emotion that singing is impossible? The tune that you adore can't be sung as your breath is hijacked from the emotion that just so happens to be pouring from your eyes?

I met a fellow this week that came to me for an answer to that question. Why do these hymns I love and know by heart always cut to the chase and bring tears to my eyes?

All I could say is that I've experienced this song/tears response as well. In fact, I had an unexpected experience with this "Pavlov's response" this past Sunday.

Before worship, we were practicing a song for the prelude that is called, "Love can build a bridge" by the Judds. For those that know it, you probably understand why it pulls on the heartstrings. I invite you to take a moment to watch this video for the song here:

This song is new to me and I may have heard it year ago when it first came out but last Sunday it's theme of connection, hope and the struggle for unity really hit home to the emotional shortcut that so often through the medium of music brings tears to my eyes.

In chatting with this gentleman about music and tears I asked if I could sing the chorus of this song with him. He graciously agreed and by the end of the verse we both had tears in our eyes.

Music helps to build a bridge to the tender parts of us that we try to put away. We want to be strong and at times tears don't seem to communicate strength in the way we'd most desire. But the truth is, that it is when we are vulnerable that we grow as people and become stronger.

I may not have a scientific answer as to why music and emotion run so close in our human experience - but I know that this phenomenon is one that I'm thankful for; tears and all.

PS. What song is your emotions shortcut that bring your own strong response? Feel free to share it in the comment section. Thanks.

Lyrics to Love can build a bridge by the Judds

I'd gladly walk across the desert
With no shoes upon my feet
To share with you the last bite
Of bread I had to eat
I would swim out to save you
In your sea of broken dreams
When all your hopes are sinkin'
Let me show you what love means

Love can build a bridge
Between your heart and mine
Love can build a bridge
Don't you think it's time?
Don't you think it's time?

I would whisper love so loudly
Every heart could understand
That love and only love
Can join the tribes of man
I would give my heart's desire
So that you might see
The first step is to realize
That it all begins with you and me

[Repeat Chorus]

When we stand together
It's our finest hour
We can do anything, anything
Keep believin' in the power

[Repeat Chorus]

Love and only love
Love and only love

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lovely-Hip lessons

As you may have heard me mention before, my vocation as a vicar gives me wonderful opportunities to meet some amazing people, some of which have seen a bit more of life than I have. In meeting and getting to know some of these folks who are many years young, I learn a great deal about life and how to keep on keeping on with a smile on my face. Some times the words I hear, like in a visit today, make me smile for a good long time.

"You certainly are a hip one!"  - is still ringing in my ears after a visit with a lovely lady approaching 90 years of living life. Her smile ranged from ear to ear as she spoke these kind words to me. I smiled back at her noticing her quiet elegance and said, "Thanks, you are lovely too!" As you might imagine, the smiles kept getting wider as we shared some time together.

Hipness and loveliness, I'm learning, has not as much to do with how we look compared to the attitude that lives underneath what we wear. Lovely-hipness is something that runs deep. It resides in the quiet chambers of our hearts and comes out in our conversations and interactions with others as we stop and recognize one another as: someone worth knowing.

You are someone worth knowing, no matter what you wear or if you do or don't have silver in your hair. You are loved. You are unique. You are lovely-hip!

If you give someone a chance to see it, they too will see that... you certainly are a hip one too!

PS. Baddie Winkle is another example of a fine lady who is lovely-hip. Visit her at her Instagram here. Watch a video about her life at Refinery 29.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Living lessons

Last week I had the privilege and honor of meeting a 94 year old woman who captured my heart in the first moments we met. It was once again an honor and privilege to be asked by her daughter the morning of her passing to officiate for her funeral today.

In all of the stories her family shared about her, it was clear that she lived life to the full everyday.
She loved life, her family and was always willing to learn something new. After her kids were grown she re-entered the world of education in taking an art class. This art class led to her going on to earn two masters degrees and starting a second career in elementary education.

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Deb gave me a hand made mini book pendent and chain that on the inside says:
Image found at art quote of the day
Deb's handmade quote book and Miss Mildred's 94 years of life have given me a wonderful gift. Merton's quote is one I've held close as a reminder to stay active in creative endeavors. Mildred's life stories of always learning something new call me to also remember to live in such a space.

We all desire to be lost in what we love to do - so that we might be found as well.
For life - may we all find with Mildred and Merton did; the space to live life and live it to the full.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Love lessons

Today was full of familiar songs, joyful clowns (literally), parish fellowship and an afternoon of witnessing the hands-on caring of people at a funeral home visitation for a church family. It's hard on these kinds of days to be apart from loved ones. I see families assembled. I hear their stories and laughter. I feel the closeness of this space and long for my family, their stories and hearing their laughter.

But just yesterday I heard their laughter in my ears.
It was just a moment ago.
Time in its wonder has a way of tucking pockets of love in tesseract folds.

In a moment I'll unfold a moment and we'll all be together.
In that moment I'll tuck away tears
and hold fast to the music of the laughter that is
ringing - in real time- in my happy ears.