Monday, January 28, 2008

day by day

I was thinking about yesterday, just a day in the life of, well, me. I'm working on Step 11 of the 12, which is , "We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out". I'm working on the whole thing, but particularly the last half. What that looked like yesterday was going to a training seminar for a women's homeless shelter. I wasn't feeling well in the morning and needed to leave church to take a nap to have the strength to get through the afternoon. But still I knew I needed to go. The shelter is in an old Methodist church in a town about 15 miles from us. It is in the heart of the downtown. These beautiful churches circa the early 1900's are really dinosaurs when it comes to any sort of practical usefulness in the originally intended sense. The average church congregation is under 100 people. The pastor and his wife run the shelter out of the lower levels of the church, and even have their worship there, so the whole upper half full of pews, stained glass, the whole works, is not used. I wasn't sure I was in the right place-there were no signs clearly indicating the training location. My only clue was two rather unkempt women standing near a door at the side of the church, smoking in the freezing cold.

I found a seat-there were rows of hard, old fashioned oak chairs lined up too closely for large coats and elbow room. I felt uncertain, but filled out an index card with my pertinent information and took the photocopied hand-outs to my seat. The next three and a half hours consisted of healthcare workers explaining what we may run into as volunteers for the night shift with the women who use the shelter and a tour of the facility. Typically mental illness is involved, but the explanations and scenarios given of what we may encounter seemed rather daunting to a group of largely older women. Questions and answers broke the tension, a tv crew came in and I ran into a woman who I'd seen in our Saturday morning prison group. She's come full circle, from being an inmate, to homeless, to renewing dreams of school and family, to now wanting a volunteer position. I admit I was fearful, but running into this young woman reminded of where I've come from, a person who would never even dream of coming to a training like this, but here I am.

I pondered the past year, and years of my life. I think if my parents were alive, my mother in particular, and living in our town, she'd be sitting right next to me. I like the thought of that. I also thought, "But for the grace of God, I could be in one of the beds and not a volunteer chair". What will happen next, and why am I here? The one thing I can say is, it is never boring serving. I've come to see that real love needs a name and a face, and it's mine.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

parallel universe

I have to remember that as a Christian, I live in a different reality than the seen world-or more correctly, I have citizenship in two places. In my physical body I live on the earth. But I'm more than a body and reality is more than matter. There is a spiritual world, unseen, that affects the physical more than we might ever understand. I've heard it explained that what we see in the natural world is like the back of a tapestry. You might see your life, or a day, or the world, as a mishmash of strings and things that seem to have no purpose, or are very random. But flip the whole deal over, and there is a very logical order to it all. There is a design.

Times I don't understand what is going on in my life, or things seem so without any rhyme or reason, I have to stop and think. Usually something in my devotions catches my eye-a phrase, a truth, something...and causes me to see into the invisible. Or at least it makes the visible make more sense. Today I was reading the book of Job, and ran across this verse, "(Why is the light of day given) to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in?" This was spoken by Job right after he'd lost everything he had. The thing that struck me was, he acknowledged that God had hedged him in. There was purpose in the loss, in the suffering.

The scripture says that faith is necessary to please God, and faith is defined as well as the substance of things hoped for, the proof of the unseen. If I believed only in what I could see, I would be faithless. Faith calls into being that which is not. There is a whole chapter in the book of Hebrews devoted to saints of old who were mighty in faith and who lived and died not seeing what they hoped for with physical eyes. Didn't mean it didn't come about or wasn't real. But they remained faithful in spite of every trial and difficulty, when all they saw were threads.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

teaching an old dog

I was really pondering what turning 50 this year would mean to me, if anything. One thing I clearly see is that hitting the half-century mark today does not mean what it did years ago. For one thing, I look at actresses I grew up watching on the screen big and small who are near my age or older. They still look so young, plastic surgery notwithstanding! Some of these women are still having babies when they should be celebrating high school graduations. The very thought of an infant now makes me tired, I do admit. But good food, good healthcare overall, our gadget-driven society, so many factors have led to a slowing down of the aging process in some respects. I don't feel old. But lately I've questioned God about my life's path...I know I don't really need to pull out the rocking chair yet, but He seems to think I have more energy now than any other time in life. I keep getting put in new and different places, and does He care that my birthday is reaching the big Five-0?? Apparently not.

I woke up a few days ago certain it's time to start a Celebrate Recovery in our town. This is no small task. But it has been on my heart. I did ponder, though, for an instant-God, why didn't you pick someone younger? Then I just started working with acrylic paints. An artist, even a professional, does not learn a new medium in two days. This could take months of concentrated effort. I love it, but, does it matter that my shoulder joints ache and I can't stand at the easel like I used to to God? Nope. The burning inside is stronger than ever. The passion to work and serve only becomes greater. I had to learn Photoshop to send in my Colored Pencil Society of America entries this year. They no longer accept slides. So it was curse my way through it and learn how to the navigate software or else. The world doesn't stop.

In my reading the past few days some of the scriptures I've read are, "Be of good courage and do not fear", "Come, let us reason together, says the Lord", "By His kindness you are called to preach the Gospel", "The righteous person is like a tree planted by a stream...their leaves shall not wither and in old age they shall still be full of sap"...Ok, I admit my sappiness. Yuk, yuk! I don't think these scriptures leave me with much excuse. Up, up and away!