Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mary and Martha

In my first CPE unit I had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with an elderly woman who had been admitted to the inpatient psychiatric unit with severe depression. She was a vibrant and intelligent woman, and in her later years had found herself increasingly crippled by Parkinson’s disease.

A great deal of her depression stemmed from her sense that her “usefulness” was gone. In her state of physical dependence she was convinced that she was no longer a use to those around her and felt that she had become a burden. I found her to be an amazing woman, her experience and passion for life was one of her great strengths and I began to realize that much of her despair stemmed from her strong sense of duty.

Working with the story of Mary and Martha (the one where Martha is doing all the work while Mary is attentively listening to Jesus) we talked about how various points in our lives demand from us different ways of being. And, at this point in her life she was being called to be like Mary, allowing others to do for her so that she could attend to Christ.

Are you called to be Mary or Martha (or both)? Does your role/vocation/calling change from day to day, moment to moment or with each passing phase of life?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Marvelous Toy

We like to keep the toy selection in our home fairly minimalist. H has blocks and stacking cups. He has a few stuffed creatures and a wooden wagon. He has plenty and enough, but what he does not have are the wide array of things that, with the assistance of batteries, light up/sing/beep/toot/whir/fizz.

Folks have not bought us these things nor have we bought them for him. That is, until this week. We were at the toy store trying to find out how to best use the money we had after making a return for store credit. Thinking ahead to H’s birthday we bought him a simple shape sorter and a wooden xylophone. And, then, near the register as we stood with our fussy boy, L saw it. A garish piece of plastic, somewhat wand like, that whizzed and whirred...but most amazingly lit up and spun. Henry’s eyes crossed, his mouth gaped open and he was absolutely mesmerized. Needless to say, that piece of plastic (with the 3 triple A batteries required) came home with us.

And, every time we press the button that causes the spinning and the whirring and the flashing he is amazed. The joy upon his face is akin to someone in the midst of an ecstatic vision and there he is...having a quasi religious experience as he glories in the power of light. This piece of plastic has successfully calmed stormy tears. It has lit up a dark room and inspired laughter. It has caused us to embrace our little guy in wonderment at his wonder.

Light is something that most of us take for granted...we flip a switch and there it is. We light a match, we press a button--and it exists. However, for most of human history obtaining light was a much more complicated matter. Wax and wicks, oil drenched cloth, pitch and spark--and the sun’s rays. Light, particularly in the darker months was an elusive thing and I like to think that people greeted the light with the same kind of joy that H does as he is met with his spinning whirligig.

Thus, as I reflect on what it means to be the light in the world (Mt 5:13-20) I find myself thinking of the joy this particular light has brought to our child. I find myself wondering how we might illuminate the darkness, calm fears and dry tears. I find myself in awe at the glory that is creation. Because, the light has helped me to see--in more ways than one--what it might mean to be a light in the darkness.

I Want to Follow Jesus

Yes, the title of this post is the song currently stuck in my head. It's a rather saccharine tune meant for children...and is slowly making me batty.

That, and the sleep deprivation which has already made me batty, are not lending themselves terribly well to sermon writing this week.

But, thankfully, it is Epiphany. And Epiphany is a time of encountering Jesus, of divine revelation and human encounter.

A time to ask who Christ is...

But this week we have scripture that ask us who we are.

What if God (incarnate) were to sit down with you and ask "who are you". What would your answer be?

There, I think that's the start...