Sunday, April 18, 2010

Darkness, dawn, and dustbunnies

Sunday morning. Dawn. The sun will rise in about twenty minutes. At the horizon stripes of night, light, and purple dawn rest over the water. I am away from home, about to spend a few days with strangers at a business meeting. I won’t be taking communion in person with an assembly of Christians, so I will celebrate in cyberspace.

We spend a little bit of every day in this mixture of darkness and light that comes before dawn. Nights may be restful, may be nightmarish. Daytime may surround us with comforts and blessings but night may let monsters lurk under beds, specters float overhead, intruders press at our doors. For those in war-torn, natural disaster stricken, crime ridden places—those threats are real. For some of us, those monsters, specters, and intruders are wrought by our real and perceived failures, by thoughtless and costly omissions, by the daunting nature of what’s before us.

For those of us living in peaceful, affluent North America, the rising of the sun, the coming of light, often reduces the monsters to dust bunnies, the ghosts to creaky ceiling fans, and the intruders to the ice makers dumping ice. In the light, the perceived and even most egregious real failures and omissions, the daunting nature of our tasks, don’t disappear, but they lack the superpowers they gain in the night.

For the believer, the light of Christ shines out of the darkness. He lets us see life and ourselves as we are—a mixture of success and failure, of purity and murk, of good and evil. He beacons us to follow the best of our nature and graciously forgives us for the failures. When in a community of believers, he surrounds with fellows who are willing to forgive, for they are acutely aware of the amount they have been forgiven. He listens to our anxieties and cares for us. He promises us wisdom, strength, and power for the tasks ahead of us. His provides a palpable presence in our hearts and bodies as we walk and work through our days.

In communion we remember the death of Christ, his resurrection, and we proclaim that we believe he will come again. This celebration brings together the darkest of nights, the most brilliant of mornings, and the most colorful vision of future life. Though it reminds us of the real scope and reach of our failures, the commemoration reminds us to repent, to make restoration, to move forward with courage and boldness, as a people filled with great hope.

The sun is up. The light calls.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The vicissitudes of pollen and Prague

The vicissitudes of pollen and Prague was written shortly after spring break, 2005.

My hairstylist's appointment book won't budge until after the big dinner. Twenty essays demand grading. Driving to school, my hair at the miserable can't do a thing-with-it-until-its-cut stage; I glance down noting the floor mats need vacuuming. The brake fluid light shines red and the low coolant light beams yellow. Yellow pollen covers the car. The windshield wipers, sans fluid, turn the dust into yellow granular slimes. As I pull out a quick glance at my mailbox garden reminds me that the mulching is undone and the snapdragons await planting.

Thoughts turn to home and five loads of laundry awaiting sorting, suds, drying, and worst yet--putting away. Thankfully the Christmas tree is down and put away, but weeks after Easter the fancy eggs from Prague still need nestling in their storage box. Problem is, getting that storage box out would mean opening the pantry which would remind me of the need for grocery shopping and restocking. Restocking the pantry will remind me again, that my husband and son are vegetarians and that I just don't have a good rhythm for meal planning yet. So, it's been three years. My pre-vegetarian meal planning rhythm wasn't all that great either.

Thinking of the stack of unread news, home decorating, and church leadership magazines irks me momentarily until I refocus on the irksomeness of the driver in front of me who seems to think blinkers are for ordinary people. I hope that a few minutes of NPR will help me focus on something more than the cruel vicissitudes of appointment books, pollen, and unread articles. Just my luck. It's pledge drive week.

How much more could go wrong?

Now it's nighttime. I stop working on my classes about 10:30 p.m. and contemplate a couple of pictures my husband Ken and I took on our recent trip to the Czech Republic.

First, Wenceslas Square. Home of the Prague Spring, 1968. Few folks can forget the thrill of seeing thousands of Czechs gathering there expressing their desire for freedom. Few can forget when Soviet tanks and troops crushed the nascent democratic movement.

I see the picture we took of a little wrought iron plant holder mounted on a tile on a building close to the square. I asked Ken to take the picture because I thought the plants were cheery and the wrought iron holder clever. Stepping closer, I saw some writing on the tile. Our friend, Eddie White, read the Czech inscription explaining that it is a memorial to a 50 year-old woman who was shot and killed at that spot in 1968.

Someone, perhaps her grandchildren, placed the color plants.

What luxury--no, what grace--to experience appointment books, pollen, unread magazines, and ungraded essays as the vicissitudes of life.

Posted by Beverly Choate Dowdy at Wednesday, April 20, 2005