I am sitting in my usual place at the dining room table next to our picture window. The sun is shining and there is a gentle breeze. The streets have returned to their charcoal grey after a brief morning shower. If it were not for the leaves of our maple tree glowing in shades of yellow, green, and emerging red, I might think I had transported back to the swirl of late spring with the early inklings of a virus grabbing a hold of our lives.
It’s been over seven months and still, we remain. Are the months passing quickly or slowly? This is the question ventured when idle chatter is offered as a distraction from the truer and deeper ones which loom close or lurk from a distance.
I scrolled through my phone’s camera roll for the month of October. I would invite you to do the same. It might illuminate the beauty and ordinary parts of the last 31 days.
Meet Ramona. She is not our family cat. However, she spends plenty of time hiding under our blueberry bushes and “bird watching”. I spied her recently on our porch. I am not sure there could be a more fitting image of what 2020 has felt like.
I live in a place where trees abound, the ocean or the mountains can be reached by a relatively short car ride. But it wasn’t until leaving my birthplace nestled in the rolling hills of the Palouse that I recognized the beauty of this terrain.
I spent a week with two huge sections of my heart. My heart still resides there even though I am back home. My mornings looked different waking up in the coziest bed but God always knows what we need, wherever we are geographically or emotionally. This devotion read one morning was the champion of my heart that week and still today. I started to write my last post called true while in Pullman. But I found using a phone was not the best writing device. I didn’t know when I first started writing this post that I would be returning to those hills a couple weeks earlier than planned. But God is not surprised or caught off guard. He loves to hear our prayers and I would welcome them as well for our family.
Due to Covid-19 precautions, I was unable to accompany one of my daughters beyond the curb to have a medical procedure. I was tired from traveling and was anxious to use the time to read, journal, or even recline my seat to slumber. One day I will write about my word for my birthday year. It is a play on the word interruption. I am calling this the year of interludes. Interlude sounds kinder than interruptions, don’t you agree?
It became crystal clear, way before the pandemic, how I react to interruptions. Exhibit A: my side mirror reveals a man who decided to pace back and forth next to my car and talk loudly on the phone. Did I let this display bother me? Did I feel my plan was interrupted? Why, yes I did and snapped a photo to have my other children share in my misery.
Most assuredly, I am a work in progress.
I voted. I took my ballot to the library, returned a few books as well as retrieved a couple more. I miss going to the library. It was such a vital part of my weekly routine. I would walk to the library and return home with the elevated hopes of finding my new favorite book. But on this day, I didn’t plan well, it was dark and so many people were capturing photos of themselves voting. So I opted for the good ol’ car passenger seat photo.
Speaking of books, this pillow is a nice reminder. During the last week of October, I participated in the Instagram challenge called #onedayhh. It is a way to document your ordinary day hour by hour. I have done this challenge several times and I am always surprised by the small spark of joy in opening up the window of my day to others. You can follow me on Instagram here.
I spent three mornings last week soaking in wisdom about prayer via Zoom.
Two favorite quotes from Brian Zahnd:
“The primary purpose of prayer is not to get what we want from God or ought to do but to be formed properly.”
“To be properly formed we must not only be praying our own words. This limits us to our present form, a fearful person prays fearful prayers, an anxious person prays out their anxiety, a prideful person in their pride. We must not pray out of spiritual pathology or malformation.”
I grew up with liturgy, rejected liturgy in my younger adulthood, but over the last 15 years, it has been a huge piece of the anchor helping hold onto God. When I utter prayers that have echoed across the centuries or are contained within the folds of a Bible, I feel completely at home.
The branches from our blueberry bush may obscure each important word on this sign. I hope you don’t miss my little finch friend who landed and remained throughout my trials of taking the perfect photo while balancing on my couch. I failed but my hope is we will not fail in making our world a better, safer, and more loving place for all.
Tomorrow is election day and I hope each one of us will be gentle with one another. The only absolute as I see Tuesday is many will rejoice and others will be downcast. What I do not know is who to assign to each emotion. May our country take steps towards unity and peace.
Here is a worthy liturgy and benediction to carry us through this week:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi