Wednesday, 24 August 2011

keeps on slipping into the future

24 August Wednesday proper 16
God said "Ask what I should give you" and Solomon chose wisdom.

I always figured since Solomon knew to ask for wisdom he was in fact already wise, and didn't really need wisdom.
I wonder what I would want God to give me right now.
That is, when Solomon chooses wisdom, God is so pleased with the choice, that Solomon gets all sorts of other things too.

What of the "other things" would be especially good at this particular juncture in my life?

The fact is, God IS giving me a gift when the nest empties.
With no more "mom's taxi" assignments, I will receive the incredibly valuable gift of Time.
I need to be thoughtful and plan how to intentionally use that gift, and not just let it melt into more of doing the same-old same-old.

God you give me time, talent and treasure.
Give me a sense of purpose and a plan to use your gifts wisely, and not take them for granted.
In particular, keep me from squandering the gift of additional time I am soon to receive.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams, and plenty

23 August Tuesday proper 16 (again, due to technical difficulties these are not being posted in the correct sequence, sorry!)

1 Kings 1:38-2:4
There is great celebration as Solomon begins his reign as king.

Beginnings are often marked by great celebration.
Twenty-five years ago today I celebrated the beginning of my marriage. The marriage has been over for eight years now, and even when we were married, circumstances had a way of keeping us from celebrating together on the anniversary day.
But for some reason today all day I felt myself on the verge of tears. I had a very busy day, with lots to do. and I went out for a pleasant dinner with a friend who had no idea what day it was and gave me plenty of reason to be distracted. But still, as I write this, I have a strange sense of relief that the clock has just moved past midnight.
I think my emotion is not so much about the 25th itself as about the fact that I happen to be facing another transition.

Fears about past failures tend to loom larger in the presence of another significant change.
Plus, in the perfect world I envisioned for myself 25 years ago, my husband and I would have been taking our youngest off to college together and looking forward to a new chapter -- an empty nest we would be sharing.
Instead, two weeks from today I will return alone, to an empty house. Well - not empty - there will be the three cats.

I have tried to make this blog stick to general principles, reflecting on the experience many people have in emptying the nest. It may seem that I have failed at doing that in this entry, turning it into the classic self-indulgent pity party. But actually, I think it gets at a central issue facing all whose nests are emptying.
That is, this is a time of evaluating life. Certain dreams either came true or they did not -- and the time when the last child leaves home IS the end of one chapter. There were hopes and expectations for life at this marker time, and they either have or have not been met.
It is a time to reflect realistically. So much of our identity is tied up with who we spend our time with. Now it is an inescapable fact that most of my time will no longer be with my children; nor, for now, will it be with a committed partner, as I had once assumed it would be.

In a way, I am back to where I was when I finished college myself -- only with many more responsibilities and commitments.
Hmmm - it is another beginning. Only, unlike Solomon, I don't expect a parade.

Gracious God, thank you for those dreams which have already been fulfilled.
Give me new dreams and the way and will to accomplish them.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

How will I know what a muggle is?

6 August The Transfiguration
On the mountaintop, Jesus is transfigured, appearing in glory with Elijah and Moses before Peter, James and John.

I suspect that the vast majority of young people today do not picture this scene when they hear the word "transfiguration."
Rather, they think of transfiguration in terms of the class taught by Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter series. It is the art of changing the appearance of something -- which of course is what happened to Jesus. But because I know about the impact of Hogwarts on their generation, I know the term conjures up very different images from the historic Biblical reference.

I know this newer cultural reference because I read my children the books as they were growing up. When they go away, how will I keep up with the many cultural references that their presence in my life has introduced to me?
Keeping in touch with youth will have to involve more conscious research and attention now that I will no longer have them at home.

Thank you God, for the things I have seen and learned because of my children.
Lead me to continue to find ways to see your world through the eyes of others of different ages and interests. Amen.

Something parents know

5 August Friday proper 13 sorry I am posting all out of order of the readings!

As punishment for stealing Uriah's wife and having Uriah killed, David is told that the child he and Bathsheba are expecting will die. 2 Samuel 12:1-14

It seems this story comes up frequently, and the question is always raised "Why is God punishing the innocent child instead of guilty David?"

My child's recent hospitalization has reminded me. I wish that I could be the one who suffers instead of her. This has been the case since before my first child was born.

The worst punishment I could experience is not my own pain, but my inability to keep my children from suffering.

As one who believes in the resurrection, I am sure that death is not the worst thing that can happen. In having to watch his child suffer and die, yes, David was truly more punished!

God, protect my children, and keep them from harm!
Help me to entrust their care to you with faith and confidence. Amen.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Eye See

12 August Friday proper 14
Mark 10:46-52
Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus.

This story has come to have more meaning in my life recently. It was one month ago that my daughter lost her sight in one eye. Thankfully the friends around her were not like the disciples. They took her to the hospital quickly. They ran errands to get her the things she needed to be healed.

I am so grateful that these folks she has only known a short time were there for her.
And I am so thankful for the people who have done research on treatment, here and there, and the outpouring of concern and prayer has been wonderful.

So the opthomologists in occupied Palestine are not as gifted as Jesus! Her vision is partly back but not fully.*

But I rejoice, and know that God was in the healing, not just medically but also in the generous presence of Christ in each person who responded in her (and my) time of need.

And as I think back on the whole incident, it gives me confidence that all will be well as they go out into the world without me.

Creator God, how often we take for granted things that are readily a part of our lives, like the gift of sight. Thank you for eyes to see!
Open my eyes to see those in the world who do not have all the resources I have and guide me to do something about the disparity.

* Actually, I liken her story more to the one in Mark 8:24 where the blind person's sight was not fully restored at first, but eventually it was.
In the photo above, the white part on the bottom of the pupil that looks like a reflection is scarring thats still blurring her vision

You two actually think you can talk me into -- what!

11 August Thursday proper 14
Mark 10:32-45
James and John ask Jesus if they can sit at his sides in glory.

I like the way the Gospel of Mark has James and John ask for themselves, instead of the version where their mother asks for them!

The two of them asking together -- a team of siblings supporting each other and working toward something as supporters rather than rivals -- even if their request is not exactly admirable, I like the image of their unity.
I can remember over the years, secretly smiling when my children conspired together to con me into something. I felt it was good for them to learn about mutual respect and compromise through these practical exercises of trying to manipulate me, even when the end goal was not something I wanted to agree to.
I hope that those times of sibling team-building has translated into skill at other relationships and mutual support in the wider world.

Of course, part of the lesson from the Gospel is that the siblings needed to expand their circle of concern to strive for the best for not just themselves but also the wider community. I do hope that I have also helped my children learn that lesson over the years.

Pondering the empty nest is partly a process of reflection on the values that it is hoped the children have assimilated before they fly off.

Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when siblings live together in unity!
God, I pray that they will continue to share and be in unity even when we no longer live together. Amen.

Too Much Stuff

10 August Wednesday proper 14

Mark 10:17-31
Jesus tells the rich young man to sell what he owns. The young man is shocked and goes away grieving, for he has many possessions.

I own (ok, the bank owns and I pay the mortgage on) a four bedroom house full of stuff. Even for myself with two children at home and three cats that is far more than I need. And it is an outrageous amount compared to most people on earth.

And now the children will not live here most of the time.
I do not have to wonder 'what would Jesus do' about this.
He who was born in a stable and who put these words to the rich young man, likewise challenges me.

I think, come fall, after the nest empties, I need to pray and seriously re-evaluate this aspect of my lifestyle.

Lord, in my head and my heart I known that I have too many possessions. Inspire me to take action to live more as you would have me live. Amen.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

A most productive day: I successfully sowed the hole in my boxers... nevermind working on the two papers i have due next week *

18 July Monday proper 11

Mark 4:1-20
Jesus tells the parable of the sower, whose seed fell on various kinds of soil, some of which died and some of which produced miraculous growth.

Of course this parable is about the Word of God and the spread of the kingdom.
But looking at it as I reflect on the emptying nest, it is easy to reapply it to parenting. During the 'growing up' years we plant the seeds, by our words, actions and most of all examples.

Now we see what has truly taken root, as their growth is largely beyond our control. Already, of course, I see how my children appear to be flourishing. Just how great the yield will be, I now wait to see.

I suppose situations like my daughter's sickness far from home are like the farmer trying to tend to the plant when external factors beyond the farmer's control, like acid rain, are wreaking havoc with what should be healthy growth. There is only so much I can do, and then trust that she is strong and solidly planted, and remain confident that God is with her.

We plow the fields and scatter the good seed in the land
But it is fed and watered by God's almighty hand.
We thank you then, O Father for all things bright and good,
The seed-time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food. Amen.

*my daughter's last FB status before going in hospital - yes, she quickly realized it was sewed, but sowed works for this blog topic!

Are you worried? Yes but Not for the reasons people expect!

17 July Sunday proper 11

Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus tells the parable of the talents. The one who takes risks and fully uses the treasure pleases the master most and gains the most.

I am so proud that my daughter, who has left the nest, does indeed take risks and use her talents, and I try to encourage it. But right now I am quite fearful for her!

If I have the facts all right (and it is pretty sketchy over all these miles, even with the great communication technology we have) yesterday she was admitted to the only eye hospital in occupied Palestine. At this moment she is blind in one eye with a 'corneal ulcer.' Exact cause and cure are to be determined.

When people hear my 19 year old is in occupied Palestine they often ask if it worries me that she is taking such a risk. I doubt they are thinking in terms of This kind of risk!

The thing is, our children may leave the nest physically, but they are still so very near in heart. And they still need us. As we need them.

God, guide the doctors and others who are there with our loved ones when they are away from us.
And continue to encourage us to take risks and use our talents in your service, even when we encounter frightening things along the way.
And heal my child!

Some of the Perils of PKs

16 July Saturday proper 10

1 Samuel 22:1-23
Saul learns that certain priests helped David escape from him. He has the priests killed, and also their children...oxen...donkeys...sheep, he put to the sword.

The nest emptying means for my children that they will go somewhere that their identity is completely apart from mine.
I don't think being preacher's kids has been as hard on them as it is on some! Certainly, they did not suffer the fate of the priest’s children in today's reading.

But it is something to think about. Flip the traditional image of the empty nest around. Along with the excitement of going away to school comes establishing a new identity for themselves. They don't get the ready-made identity of the rector's children anymore. I think there are aspects of that they will actually miss.

Gracious God, it is easy to become preoccupied with how change affects our own lives, forgetting that when things change for us, they also change for others.
Give us your guidance as we grow in different directions in the days soon to come. Amen.

A rose would smell as sweet...

15 July Friday proper 10

Mark 3:7-19a
Jesus called and appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles.

Jesus gave Some of the apostles special new names. And all of them were thereafter named apostles.

In the sense that it is described here, we are each 'named' various different things through our lives. For the past 19 years in many circles, my name has been mom, or a hyphenated name 'this-child's-mom' or 'that-child's-mom'

Now, I suppose, my name could become 'empty-nester'
But no, I don't think that will be my primary identity.

I feel, at least this week, like emptying the nest is a transitional stage, but the state of not having children at home, while it will change how I spend much of my time, will not be who I am.
I mean, isn't the term really more about who a person is Not? (not the parent of a child at home any more)
I think I should Be who I be, not who I don't be, if that makes sense!

The question is, then what name shall occupy the large portion of day to day living that has been filled by the name mom?

God, who created me and calls me your child, help me know which of my names should increase, while others decrease. Amen.