Today was Memorial Day here in the States. That means it was a big weekend. Pastor Amanda and I had a going away party for a service man being deployed and then a pastor/ staff/ board celebration dinner on Saturday. Sunday of course was Memorial Day and Pentecost Sunday and then the church celebration for Pastor Amanda’s ordination. We were EXHAUSTED by Sunday afternoon.
I find I need most of a day to recuperate from a busy weekend and most of a week to gear up for another one.
So today I spent resting in prayer and moving very slowly as Worked around the Vicarage property.
Today I was working on a stand of sumac that has gotten out of control and become infested with bittersweet vine. It went from this:
Those who have followed “Notes From The Vicarage” will remember that last year at this time our family was living away from the Vicarage as it got much needed surgery for survival into the future.
We had the pipes torn out and replaced; The shingles torn off, new insulation put up and siding put on; The bathrooms were gutted to the studs and remodeled; The floors downstairs were refinished; Eight windows were replaced; The sills were replaced and the trim painted; And the stone porch which was falling down was removed.
As an afterthought we ended up having to replace all the pipes from the house to the street, and then the town had to come in and replace the pipes from the edge of my property to the center of the street..
As it was all happening I kept reminding myself, it had to get worse before and got better. And it did get better. We love the Vicarage and the work that was done inside.
This year we will be working on the outside.
It turns out tearing down a three-quarter- of- a -century old stone porch and digging up your yard not once but twice is not good for the landscaping.
Parts of the Vicarage are barren moonscape and others are…. well….. Strangled.
So as we get ready for upcoming fencing and masonry work to get done. I am starting to destrangle the Vicarage.
This might not look like much yet, but at least now the mason will be able to get to the disintegrating pillar.
My life statement is , slow constant and intentional. I have trouble keeping my life between those goal posts. I have always thought that is mostly because I fill my life with too much. I have always thought that this fullness of schedule makes me end up going too fast. I often feel I have to rush because there is so much to do. This makes me lose the ability to be constant. Intentionality also suffers .
In prayer I was asking the Lord to teach me how to slow things down a bit. In answer I heard this line from Star Wars
It is Yoda rebuking Luke for letting his mind run too fast., Yoda says, “All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, hmm? What he was doing.”
Sooo…..Slowing down means taking in where I am and what I am doing? It involves learning to stop thinking ahead to the next thing and learning to be present in what I am doing?
Today was another trip up to Claremont, to see Grace. Usually I let myself feel rushed: Hurry Up, (pray along the way), visit, Hurry back (pray on the way back). I usually squish grocery shopping into the drive back and then when I get home I go quickly on to next thing.
I have wanted for several months to turn one of these trips into a photo trip, but I always feel too rushed to do it.
Today I decided to fight those feelings and to just stop for picture taking. In fact I INTENTIONALLY DECIDED to make several stops.
I learned something. Slowing down and stopping in a planned way did not really significantly change the time it took to accomplish my visit to Grace.
Slowing down did not really change my schedule. But it did challenge my attitude. I found the urge to rush was not actually time bound but emotion bound. My schedule was not rushing me my heart was. The problem was not an external scheduling issue to be solved. It was an internal mindset to be torn down.
All day long I kept finding myself trying to rush to the next thing and I had to fight to keep my mind and heart from looking to the horizon away from where I was and what I was doing.
I am wondering if slowing down is about retraining my brain instead of rethinking my schedule.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO SLOW DOWN YOUR MIND WHEN YOU CAN’T SLOW DOWN YOUR SCHEDULE?
About two months ago Amanda rescued an owl from an unkindness of ravens that was trying to kill it (an unkindness is a group of ravens that gather around here. They often group to attack birds of prey).
Animal control came and collected the poor creature which was in shock and had a broken wing.
Yesterday just before church Amanda got the call that the bird was healed and ready to be released back into the wild. We were asked if we wanted to observe the release so at 4:30 in the afternoon we were at the church to watch the event.
The little fellow looked a little nervous, but with a bit of encouragement he was able to leave the box and go back to his home.
I just finished reading through my comments from my most recent blogs (it is a habit I used to have that I am trying to reestablish). Sister Brenda commented, “if I don’t keep my sabbath holy who will?“
I will take it one step further, “If I don’t keep my daily rhythm holy, who will?”
Sabbath is a part of a holistic life rhythm that leads to a Spirit-led life.
Some time ago God told me that “I needed to start allowing life to flow out of the prayer place rather than letting prayer be informed out of the living place.”
A rhythm of prayer flowing into living and then living flowing back into prayer, prayer being the source of the living rather than allowing living to be the source of prayer is necessary.
I am…have been learning to make my life a response to prayer rather than allowing my prayers to become a reaction to living.
This lenten season I am intentionally calling myself to seven times of prayer a day.
My “midnight prayers” are times of dreams and visions that are beginning to carry more and more weight in my daily living.
My “prayer of arising” is a time of meditating on the life of Jesus among the people.
My “midmorning prayer” is a time of hearing the heart of the Psalmist.
My “noon time prayer” is a time of hearing the heart of the Psalmist.
My “late afternoon prayer” isa time of joining my voice to the voice of the Worship Room either in person or most often remotely.
My “vespers” is another time of joining my voice to the Worship Room or to the Cornerstone Church prayer room.
“Compline” is that time just before bed to meditate through the Psalms as I prepare for the dream space of the midnight once again.
My position allows me to extend prayer deeper than most people can, but I know that in the days ahead we will all be expanding the prayer space.
WHAT DO YOU THINK GOD WANTS YOUR PRAYER SPACE TO LOOK LIKE?
I got home from Winchendon’s Special Town Meeting just as the snow was beginning on Monday night. Amanda had already walked Mercedes and Snug so I settled in for a long winter’s nap.
Last weekend was the beginning of daylight savings time, so I overslept Tuesday Morning. I overslept by about six inches, which is what we had on the ground when I opened my eyes. It was six inches of cement, though, as the first bit of snow had been mixed with rain.
The branches started falling just before we had our Zoom staff meeting. No one was getting out of their house yesterday and everyone had trees or branches down in or around their houses.We had a shortened meeting as we were down by two staffers and another was already having connectivity issues from his house in Templeton. I should have known the trouble John was having connecting was a sign of bigger issues to come.
By eleven in the morning we had wrapped up our staff discussion on the upcoming church business meeting, so I went out for another pass at shoveling the snowment. By this point we had a solid foot in the front yard and drifts up to two feet on the left side of the house.
By the end of lunch we were at about 15 inches and the lights had flickered a few times.
The drifts outside had completely overwhelmed the bushes which normally stand taller than I do. The drifts on that side of the house were at least three feet deep. Branches started coming down as our trees began to lean precariously over the power lines.
By 2 P.M. the power had gone out in the entire town for what would be a thirteen hour stint. Mom was super nervous throughout the night. Her mind could not process the loss of power and she was really struggling with the candles, especially one she thought looked like “a dog scratching itself as it burned”. We actually had to move that one out of her line of sight. None of us got much sleep.
The power came back on about 3:30 A.M. It was still snowing. I think all totaled we have well over two feet of the sticky wet stuff.
DID THIS STORM AFFECT YOU? WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST STORM THIS SEASON?
It has been a pretty mild winter up until the last few weeks. Here in Winchendon MA, we have gotten the majority of our snow for the season in the last three weeks. At first it was just dribs and drabs, and then last week we got a foot in one night.
Today will be a day of preparation for the net snowfall which according to my phone is going to start around supper time and the time of our town’s special town meeting to vote on the community preservation act financing.
When all is said and done we will have somewhere between 16 and 20 inches of the white stuff and the promise of rain beforehand means we will be shoveling slush throughout the night and into tomorrow.
Of course that also means that it will be good snowman snow. I haven’t built a snowman in…. forever. Lately I have hand hankering for it. So maybe tomorrow will be the day.