Sunday, November 22, 2009

November Changes

Two weeks ago today, I said good-bye to the congregation (CLC) I'd been serving as interim pastor for nearly two years. "Bittersweet" is the only word to describe the day; "bitter" because I knew I would no longer be kept in the loop about this parishioner's illness or that parishioner's family troubles; because I would not be there to watch and perhaps guide the growth of some exceptional young people I'd come to know and love. "Bitter" because it meant I would no longer have day to day contact with the dear friends who made my time there so much better than I'd expected it to be. The day was "sweet" because by the grace of God and with a lot of help from others, I was able to leave the congregation in better shape than when I'd arrived, "sweet" because of the love that was palpable as I said "farewell."

With little time to relax in between, we set out to visit my mother and my brother, and help close the sale of the house she'd lived in for nearly 20 years, the last seven without my Dad. I didn't go over to Meadowbrook Drive for "one last look," wanting to remember the good times we had there instead of the sad emptiness that was sure meet me if I ventured in. Now my mother lives in an independent living apartment building for seniors, which doesn't really feel like home for her, except for the familiar furniture and pictures on the walls. She participates in some of the planned group outings, but is more forgetful than the last time we saw her. Which is another change...

(We are somewhat humbled to realize that we - my husband and I - have reached the age when we are eligible to live in that same building!)

All this while, we knew that the return to our own home meant coming back to the same old worries about our own lives, not sure at all as to what the future holds for either of us. We need at least one, regular, good sized paycheck coming in if we are to continue to pay our bills and live in this wonderful home.

"Trust and be patient," "the Lord will provide..." "And be thankful, for that is the will of God for you..."

Through the window of our hotel lobby in Michigan, as we ate our free breakfast every morning, we could see one red rose blooming at the tip of a long stem in the neighbor's yard. Although the daytime temperatures were fairly warm for November, the nights had been very cold and frosty; even so, that rose still bloomed. Maybe it flourished because it had been planted so close to the house... so close to the house that I didn't dare go traipsing across the lawn to take a picture of it. With or without a photo to show you - that rose was a thing of beauty and a sign of hope for every day we saw it.

I remember the saying I used to see on posters: "Bloom where you are planted." This rosebush grew in sandy soil, surrounded by needles from the white pines in that yard. Now, I don't grow roses, but I think that's hardly an ideal place for such a tender plant. "Bloom where you are planted," indeed, but I think you do a whole lot better if you're nourished with just the right plant food and planted in a warm place, like the sheltered spot next to the house. If you were going to bloom where you are planted - and flourish - who or what would be your warm place, your sheltered spot? And what would nourish you?

Alas, (does anyone use that word anymore???) when we came to breakfast on our last day in Michigan, we saw that the rose had shed its petals. Another change. I could have grieved such a loss, but instead am very thankful for the promise and hope it represented at a time of upheaval and sadness.

The embroidered cross in the photo above is from the back of my new green stole, lovingly created by a friend on the occasion of my departure from CLC, and lovingly, thankfully, received by me. The stole is a patchwork of greens - my favorite color and the color of "ordinary time" in the Church. All of our joys and sorrows and changes and thanksgivings are woven and pieced together by the Master Weaver/ Seamstress to become the one piece of life we are given. Treasure yours... and give thanks for it. Peace be with you!

P.S. I tell you this so I'm accountable: this is the week Karl and Maggie and Jacob will all come together again in my writing. On to new adventures with these good friends.

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