Sunday, July 31, 2022

Of Squash and Farmers Markets

Yesterday, I went to a farmer's market, the kind that happens only on a Saturday, the Mills River Farmer's Market.  It was in the parking lot of an elementary school, and the vendors sat under the pop-up shelters they brought.  We used to have similar green markets in South Florida, but in South Florida, I didn't find many vegetables.  There was jewelry and essential oils and various craft projects and flowers, but not much that was edible.

When I first moved to Columbia, SC for grad school, I went over to the State Farmer's Market, the very same one where my grandfather used to bring the truckload of vegetables from the family farm in Lexington, SC.  It was an institution of permanent structures by the time I discovered it in the summer of 1987 with lots of 18 wheeler kind of trucks, not the kind my grandfather had driven.  I remember late on day, I got a great deal on a bushel of yellow squash ($3!), and only later did I wonder what I would do with that many squash.  After I gave away as much as I could, we ate squash for days and had frozen squash through the winter.

Yesterday, I drove through beautiful mountain vistas, more than I needed to, because of the way the roads were named.  Only on the return trip did I find the correct road--from the other side of the street, the road name changed.  In some ways, I didn't mind--the surroundings were so beautiful.  And finally, I found the farmer's market.

Baby butternut photographed on my back deck in Arden, NC

I was delighted to realize that the farmer's market offered a variety of vegetables, some organically grown, some not.  The farmers were there to answer questions.  I noticed a basket of winter squash like these with a large pumpkin that had a sign:  "These squash will be ready in 25 days."  When I expressed my delight over the baby butternut squashes and asked how much, the farmer said, "Well, they're really not for sale."  Then she gave me one with my corn on the cob purchase.

I bought a variety of tomatoes, 4 ears of corn, and a cucumber.  I also got baked goods and some smoked fish dip.  We ate well yesterday, and we will eat well again today.

My uncle stopped by on his way back from rafting with my cousin's family.  It was a joy to sit on our back deck, eat baked goods that I had just bought, and catch up.  It seems to be the kind of neighborhood that encourages this dropping by.  And unlike other neighborhoods I've lived in, I'm happy to see our neighbors.  One even brought us some tomatoes and cucumbers from her garden.

I wonder if there will be baskets of summer squash that will appear when the zucchini yield is bigger than expected?

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Camp Christmas in July

Today is the last day of the summer 2022 summer season at Lutheridge, the church camp and conference center. The last week has been Christmas in July.  What a strange treat!

At the beginning of the week, as I took my morning walk, I didn't notice much that was different.  But as the week went on, Christmas began to take hold:

I thought I saw lights through a distant window, and then, when I walked on the porch of the dining hall, sure enough, there were lights!

I don't have a picture to demonstrate my favorite morning memory from the week.  On the lawn of the Faith Center I saw a huge inflatable of a Disney snowman--Olaf from Frozen maybe?  As I walked down the hill, a group of elementary school girl campers hiked up.  They exclaimed in such wonder that I turned to see what they were seeing.  One of them had said, "Oh, it's so big."  And indeed, it did seem to loom up in the distance.

As I continued my walk down the hill to the lake, another set of campers hiked by.  Their counselor was trying to get them to sing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" to distract them from the steepness of the hill.  I sang along.

Last night, the Lutheridge Residential Community was invited to closing vespers.  Through the years as I've thought about what it would be like to live at Lutheridge, I had thought about going to vespers each night during the summer, which may no longer be an option.  So I wanted to make sure to go last night.  Plus, during my walk, I had seen several tables full of paper bags.  I had a vision of luminarias lighting the way to the chapel.

It was not that kind of service.  But after all, it was designed for a much younger crowd.  We had glow sticks instead of candles and song sheets that I didn't need because I had been singing these Christmas songs for 57 years.

It will be interesting to see how my experience of living on the edge of a church camp changes in the next few weeks when the campers have gone home.  I've enjoyed seeing them as I've been out and about this week.  I am sure the camp will offer other delights when campers have gone.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Wrist Update: Fifteen Weeks After Break

Fifteen weeks ago, I went out for a morning walk thinking I would return home to make hot cross buns, a traditional bread for Good Friday.  I set the dried fruit in a bowl to soak and went out for my walk.

It was not a vigorous walk.  It was not across broken surfaces.  Nonetheless, I tripped and fell.  I broke my wrist, although it would take me some time to realize that I had.  I heard no breaking, and my injury didn't hurt much, so I thought it was a bad sprain.  I've told this story several times, but this morning I want to take note of how my wrist has healed, even though I haven't yet regained full mobility.

I have done a lot of self-improvement work through the years, and progress has never--NEVER--felt as microscopic as my wrist healing has been.  But let me remind myself that 13 weeks ago, when I had to hold my arm at a certain angle away to have the splint put on, I thought I might throw up or pass out from the pain.  Now I can turn my arm that way with discomfort, not pain.  When I first had the cast off in late June, I couldn't hold a metal set of tongs in my hand and pick up objects.  When I tried, I felt a searing pain down my arm.  A month later, when I did an exit exam for my hand therapist, I could do the exercise with some minimal pain.

Last night, we played Yahtzee, and I was able to roll the dice with my right hand.  I can still roll the dice better with my left hand, but it's progress.  Likewise with using utensils:  I can get the food to my mouth, but it's still a bit easier with my left hand.

This morning, I wrote a poem the way I once wrote poems:  by hand, on a purple legal pad.  I had started composing it as I walked yesterday morning.  I was thinking of all the ways our fathers had taught us to leave:  how to pack a suitcase, how to pack a box, how to load the moving van.  I thought about the way that grandmothers teach us to stay:  which plants we can eat and how to transform scraps into the comfort of quilts.  Then I wondered if this gendering was fair.  I wrote the poem that begins "They taught us how to pack" and the second stanza "They taught us how to grow."  I like it better.

I have experimented with writing poems by using voice dictation into the computer, but I like writing on the legal pad better.  Still, it's good to remember that I have options.  I don't think that the content of my poems changed radically with the writing process.  For poems, I don't think I even wrote any faster, as I do when I'm writing prose.  When I'm using the computer, I still prefer to type.  I make fewer errors.

I still have work to do, especially in flexing my hand backward, the way you do when you press down o a table top.  I can hold my fingers straighter than I once could, but my hand still feels strange.  In terms of touch, however, my fingers are almost back to normal.  Once, every surface felt pebbled, like an orange peel.  Now the surface of my desk feels like wood, the way it should.

Like I said, I'm still not where I hope to be.  But each day brings a bit more progress--and with it, hope that the healing will continue.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The End Part of the Moving Process

This morning, I'm sitting in my office chair, with my laptop on the desk that had once been owned by my grandparents.  I haven't done this in a week--my possessions have been in a warehouse or a truck.  A week ago, I was fretful about the movers and all that can go wrong in the three hour narrow window of moving time that our condo gave us.

Happily, that experience went as well as I could have hoped.  The movers showed up on time, took good care of our stuff, and got it all out of the condo in the time frame we had to get it done.  We, too, headed out.  And then, we got to our new-to-us house in Arden, North Carolina, and we strategized, since by last Friday, it was clear that it could take some time for our possessions to catch up with us.

On Tuesday, we got the phone call that the moving van would be to us by Wednesday from noon to 3.  We needed to have cash to pay the balance.  Happily, we could make that happen.  Yesterday morning, we got up and moved stuff around so that the movers would have an easier time.  I went to the bank where extremely helpful tellers assisted me in getting money moved from savings to checking to cash--such a contrast with the South Florida branch that wasn't as helpful when we needed money to close on the house.

And then we waited.  And we waited and waited and waited.  Unlike the furniture delivery that happened at the earliest part of the delivery window on Tuesday, the movers didn't arrive until 3:30.  In some ways, they were efficient--the stuff was moved in by 5.  In other ways, they were not.  For example, one of them wore flip flops.  Another one of them grumbled the whole time--the whole time--about the work habits of his fellow workers and about the people who had packed the items, as he disapproved of the amount of packing tape used.

In another half hour, when it's a bit lighter, I'll be putting all that used tape into garbage bags; the team didn't take the trash with them, which I found odd.  But at that point, I was just ready to be done with this strangely non-communicative/sullen team of movers.

It could have been worse.  The only damage that I see right now is that we have a coffee table with a broken leg; happily it's not a piece of furniture with sentimental value or economic value.  Truthfully, most of our furniture has no economic value.  

Did all of our boxes arrive?  I think so.  A box that's not ours came into our house, and I caught it and sent it back, which made it hard for me to trust that all of our boxes came to us.  Our 6 foot ladder is not here--when I mentioned it, one moving guy brought another ladder off the truck.  It was 4 feet tall and had someone else's sticker on it.  Each of our possessions had a green sticker, which coordinated to a packing list--I was so impressed with that part of the packing process.  The box that came into our house that wasn't ours had a red sticker on it--when I pointed it out to the mover, he said, "They could have put a different sticker on it."  I could see some clothes peeking out of the handholds--those weren't our clothes.

I went off to a neighborhood meeting, which my spouse joined by way of Zoom.  He got possessions sorted while the meeting happened--which is why I'm at my desk.  Part of what we paid for with the movers was re-assembly of furniture, which didn't happen.  My spouse picked up that slack.

So, was paying for movers worth it?  If you asked my spouse and me, you'll get different answers.  He thinks we would take better care of our possessions, but I remember all the times we didn't, when we just shoved stuff in the U-Haul willy-nilly and hoped for the best.  There was no wrapping of furniture and taping the wrapping so that it stayed in place.

I think it was worth it.  We probably paid $1,000-$2,000 more than we would have had we done our own move.  For me it was worth it to have the extra muscle and to have someone else drive the truck across the mountains and navigate the driveway.  I felt stress about that, but I'd have felt more stress if my spouse drove the truck.  I am still working on getting full use of my right hand back, and picking up some items is tough.  I would not have been as functional a partner in a move-it-yourself experience as I would want to be.

Again and again, I've been struck by how expensive it is to move, and how lucky we are to have resources:  financial, emotional, and physical.  I am able to work from a distance--if we were trying to move and trying to be functional in new jobs, this experience would be SO different.  I always think of these factors when we hear people on a national/international stage wonder why people don't just move to where the jobs are better or the cost of living cheaper.  It takes a substantial amount of money, time, and energy to move.

Now let me go to put all the trash left behind out to the curb--our first garbage pick up should be today!  I am also aware of what it costs the planet when we move:  gas to power the truck, plastic to create the tape and the water bottles, on and on I could go.  I used to joke about all the trees I would need to plant in retirement to repay the planet for all the paper my job required, but at least that was a renewable resource.

I hope that we can put down roots here, roots for the long term.  I hope the trees on the property outlive our roots.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Moving Van Anticipation

If all goes well, tonight I will be sleeping in my own bed.  The moving van is supposed to come today between noon and 3:00.  Fingers crossed that all goes well.

Yesterday, the furniture that we bought on Friday was delivered.  We have been wanting a small sofa for many years, but a combination of forces kept us from buying:  not knowing what we wanted, not wanting to spend the money, knowing we would be moving.

That furniture was delivered effortlessly.  May today be the same.

You might ask why I am worried.  It's because this house presents some challenges:  a gravel driveway that has some slope, and a steep set of 6 stairs to get to the only doors to the house that are in the back.  I am sure they have dealt with worse.

Strange to think that it has been almost a week since our furniture got loaded on that van and driven away.  It's been a week of feeling effective:  getting trash service set up and choosing some furniture.  We've gotten 2 carloads of stuff moved into the house, but we couldn't put all of it away because some of what we need is on the van (like a dresser).

It's been a week of feeling ineffective.  We planned to buy a refrigerator.  Back in the olden times, the last time we needed to buy a refrigerator, we had lots of options:  Sears and other department stores, home builder supply big box stores, local mom and pop stores, and scratch and dent places--not to mention classified ads.  We went to a local appliance store here, one that a neighbor recommended, but it's more of a showroom, where you can order an appliance and have it delivered.

But it won't be delivered right away.  Supply chain issues are snarling up availability.  We went to the nearby Lowe's, which said we could have the same fridge that we saw at the local appliance store and that it could be delivered the next day.

But that sign in the store and on the website is wrong.  There are none in stock, 600 on order, and who knows when those refrigerators will arrive.

We ended up buying a very small dorm style fridge that was on sale.  In a few weeks, I won't be living here, and my spouse doesn't use the fridge for much more than keeping beer cold. We didn't spend the extra $150 to get one with a freezer.  

Similarly, yesterday we spent a lot of time looking for some sort of screened tent like thing to put at the end of our deck, something that could give shelter from the rain and also protection from bees and other flying creatures.  Our deck is only 8 feet in one direction, and many tents and gazebos are 10 feet or bigger.

By evening, I was feeling dispirited, and I don't know why.  In part, it was feeling like we weren't making progress.  In part, it was because my spouse talked about a variety of home improvements that seem like more trouble than they are worth to me.  In part, it's because that summer is almost over, and there's that feeling I always have of feeling like I haven't gotten quite enough done.  I feel that way regardless of the season.

I predict that today will offer a different feeling at the end of the day--fingers crossed that it's a good feeling!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Healthy Habits

Today I hope to get back to my healthiest habit of taking a daily walk--my other healthiest habit of eating plenty of fruits and veggies will have to wait until we have a fridge.  I should probably take a multivitamin to make sure I'm getting enough nourishment.

There are other habits I need to get back to--sketching will need to wait until our furniture catches up with us and perhaps until I get more mobility in my wrist.  I need to get back to poetry writing--that took a back seat as I packed up the house.

It is also strange to think about establishing habits, since in a month, I will be in a new place, needing to establish new habits there.  But in a way, these habits should transfer.  All of my classes will be afternoon and evening classes, so if I establish morning habits, those should be able to transfer to seminary housing with me.

It is interesting to feel this possibility of a much more leisurely pace to the morning.  In South Florida, I had to get my walk in before the sun came up.  

I am also realizing that I didn't bring much in the way of reading material with me.  How could I have forgotten to keep a few books out of the boxes for this transitional time?

Let me also record some delights of the past few days.  We went to the closest Lutheran church yesterday--they had an outdoor bluegrass/country service for their 8:45 service.  We brought our lawn chairs, as the website suggested.  Once I got settled, I realized that one of my Create in Me retreat friends was there.  After the service, my spouse greeted friends he had made during his time on the Novus Way board.  It's cool to realize that we already have some roots in this area, deeper roots than I may have realized.

Sunday afternoon, a Lutheran Student Movement friend from long ago college days stopped by.  She and her husband were on their way back from a family event nearby.  She offered to pick up lunch, which I thought was generous.  I thought she meant they'd grab some fast food, but instead, she brought a beautiful picnic with a cooler that we can keep until we see them again.  I'm glad, since we had leftovers.  

We had great conversation on our beautiful deck.  It was a warm day, but the deck was comfortable.  Our house doesn't have AC, so we could have stood it with the fans going, but it was better outside--and that's not something I said often during the summer months in South Florida.  How wonderful to get back to the healthy habit of resumed friendships.

It's light enough to walk now--let me get ready.  But let me also choose a line from my collection of abandoned lines that led me to some good poems in the late spring and early summer.  Let me set the stage to have a poem percolating.

Here's the line:

Make your new porridge in a dented pot

Sunday, July 24, 2022

A Look Back at Moving and First Mornings

Tomorrow, I will puzzle out the best approach to daily walking; today I will write a blog post about the last several days, and then I'll get ready to go to the 8:45 bluegrass service at the local Lutheran church.  Yesterday, before the internet installation happened, I sat on the back deck watching the light change as the sun rose, and the light made its way across the mountains.

Of course, I can't actually see the mountains from my deck, but I know that they are there.  I can't see them because of the trees, but I get a sense of the view we will have when the trees drop their leaves.  By then, my primary residence will be student housing at Wesley Theological Seminary.

Before we get too far away from moving day, let me write a blog post about that.  It went very smoothly, which was more of a relief than I have words to express.  The moving team showed up right at 9 and went right to work wrapping all of our furniture in blankets and packing tape.  They were done by 11:30, and then there was paperwork to sign.  We did a quick cleaning of all the places we couldn't clean when the moving team was there, and then we went to the car, which was already packed.

It was almost anticlimactic.  It felt like there should be some sort of closing ceremony.  Instead, we drove 10 hours north.  Back when we thought there was a chance that the moving van would be at our new house the next day, we wanted to be close.

I usually make a long drive by getting up very early in the morning to get ahead of traffic.  It was very strange to get on the road by 12:30 p.m.  We had a surprisingly easy trip to our grad school friend's house in Columbia.  I felt a subdued euphoria as I felt my worries about the logistics of moving out of a condo evaporate.

The next day, we had a leisurely breakfast after I called the moving company just to make sure there wasn't a chance that the moving van was already in Arden, North Carolina wondering where we were.  My spouse did the kind of toilet repair that's simple if you know how to do it, but mystifying/terrifying if you don't--much more useful to our grad school friend than taking her out for a meal to say thank you for her hospitality.  Since I didn't know for sure when we'd have internet connectivity in our new house, I got some grading done while they did the toilet repair.

We headed to Arden after an early lunch.  We got the car unloaded and did some organizing.  Our grad school friend loaned us an air mattress, but we needed a place to sit.  After an early dinner at a local brewery, 12 Bones, we got two durable lawn chairs and some groceries.  We sat out on the back deck watching the sun set.  

We continued to sit on the back deck, sipping wine and listening to all the insects sing in the dark.  We saw the occasional firefly.

Saturday morning, my spouse slept, and I returned to the deck to watch the light change as the sun rose.  I drank coffee, ate granola bars, and read Melissa Studdard's Dear Search Committee--what an engaging and delightful book of poems.  It was a great way to start the day.

The internet tech showed up right on schedule at 10 a.m., and the installation went smoothly.  I had worried about it a bit--this house was built in the mid 70's, and it hasn't been wired for anything, not even a landline phone.  But by noon, we had internet, and even better, both laptops can access it.  Yesterday we allowed ourselves a slower day, with grocery shopping and watching The Big Year, the birding movie with the great cast. We saw it when it first was available on Netflix, but that was several houses ago (meaning at least 2012 or earlier), so it felt new.

I am fascinated watching my brain work, going from anxiety to anxiety.  I don't think I need medication, although I have wondered.  I have a variety of self-soothing techniques that I've picked up from years of worry.  These past few days will be part of those techniques, as I remind myself how often I worry about things that end up going smoothly.

Friday, July 22, 2022

The Feast Day of Mary Magdalene

 On July 22, we celebrate the life of Mary Magdalene. Take a minute with the reading for her feast day: John 20:1-2, 11-18.

There are many approaches to Mary Magdalene. Some people focus on her notorious past, while a variety scholars remind us that she might have been painted with the brush of prostitution to discredit her. Even to this day, she is rarely mentioned outside of the fact of her demon possession. For some, these are the demons that bedevil many woman, both ancient and modern, the demons that come with a patriarchal culture. Others might think that demon possession was how ancient culture understood mental illness.

Why hasn't the Church focused on her healing and subsequent steadfastness, rather than what might disqualify her from worthiness? Whole books have been written on that.

As I've been spending time with female saints, both the kind recognized by popes and the ones far from canonization, I've been thinking about how these centuries of church history might be different if we had treated women differently. Let's begin with Mary Magdalene as an example.

The theologian Cynthia Bourgeault wrote a book about Mary Magdalene, and she notes that Mary's presence at the resurrection is mentioned in all four gospels, either alone or in a group, but always there, always named. Most scholars agree that when a detail is present in more than one Gospel, it demands our attention and deeper consideration.

Mary Magdalene's presence at the resurrection is so important that all four Gospel writers include it. Why do we so rarely consider this in our modern churches?

Bourgeault calls our attention to this passage from Matthew 27:61: “And Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained standing there in front of the tomb.”

She says, "How would our understanding of the Paschal Mystery change if even that one sentence [from Matthew 27: 61] was routinely included in the Good Friday and Palm Sunday Passion narratives? What if, instead of emphasizing that Jesus died alone and rejected, we reinforced that one stood by him and did not leave?—for surely this other story is as deeply and truly there in the scripture as is the first. How would this change the emotional timbre of the day? How would it affect our feelings about ourselves? About the place of women in the church? About the nature of redemptive love?" (found in this meditation)

As I have settled into midlife, I've had similar thoughts. What if we had celebrated Mary Magdalene as the first witness to the resurrection? What if we celebrated her as the one who was first to
tell of the resurrection?

For that matter, what if instead of celebrating the evangelizing apostles who went out with very little in their pockets, we celebrated the ones who stayed to build up the communities that the apostles created? We rarely celebrate settling deep roots into a community and staying put. We often see those churches as stagnant and out of touch, even if they're the ones supporting the local elementary school and teaching new immigrants and running the food pantry.

Most of us can't be the kind of disciple that leaves family and commitments behind to traipse the country. Many of us have been raised to believe that's what Christ wanted us to do--there's a Great Commission after all that tells us to go to all the lands and make disciples. We don't hear about the families that the apostles left behind. How are they supposed to cope?

The lives of Mary Magdalene and other saints show us that there's more than one way to make disciples. There's more than one way to be missional.

Throughout our lives, we will suffer all sorts of death and loss.  The world will give us many tombs.  Today, let us focus on the ways we can remain steadfast and true to our callings. Today let us remain at the tomb alert for resurrection.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

My Last Morning as a Florida Resident (She Says with Hope and Trembling)

If all goes well with our move today, this morning will be the last in this condo, the last morning I will wake up as a Florida resident.  I realize that I'm only 57 years old, and I might be a Florida resident again some day.

The movers are supposed to be here by 9 a.m.  Because of condo rules, we can only reserve the elevator for a 3 hour period, so we don't have much leeway in terms of time.  I hope that the process goes as smoothly as it did on Tuesday.  We had a few big pieces that aren't going to North Carolina with us, like the piano, that we couldn't get out of here ourselves and take away. We hired College Hunks Hauling Junk, and they came early.  We couldn't start until 9, but they were here and ready to go, and the whole process lasted about 5 minutes.

We are packed--just a few boxes left to seal up.  The car is packed--just a few items to add.  Once the movers leave, we will do a quick cleaning, and we'll leave too.  We plan to be in North Carolina by tomorrow, in case the movers can get there too.  We have what we hope will be an internet hook up on Saturday.

I have decided not to walk this morning.  It is so dadgum hot down here, and I'm not exactly burning up calories with the small amount I walk.  Plus, I want to make good use of this morning time when I can get some online work done, while I still have a working computer and an internet connection.  During our time at Lutheridge last week, my laptop hinge broke, and I haven't been able to get it fixed.  I was able to get it closed and reopened, but I realize it may be living on borrowed time.  I have uploaded all of my files to the cloud.

I have spent weeks tamping down my anxiety about all that could go wrong.  I have done all that I can do on my part.  I am continuing to remind myself of all that hasn't gone wrong.  We don't have a hurricane or a tropical storm this week.  The moving company has stayed in touch with me the way that they said they would.  We have gotten rid of an enormous amount of stuff.  We are packed.  We are not sick.  We aren't needed elsewhere, to help ailing family members or in the event of some other crisis.

So far, with almost every step of this process of leaving Florida, the process has been smooth, and doors have opened when they have needed to.  Even the selling of the house, with the bumps and glitches that came with working with investors (a last minute inspection--please reduce the selling price by $100,000!), we navigated that and managed it all well.

Let me also remember that I got good news from Wesley Theological Seminary--we will have a 2 BR furnished apartment in student housing.  I knew that we would have a 1 BR, so I wasn't worried about having no housing.  But a 2 BR will be so much more manageable.

I will likely spend some weeks processing this move, this long goodbye.  I have had good farewell meals with friends, and I am sad to be leaving them.  But I am not sad about leaving South Florida.  I am tired of the flooding; when I tell people outside of South Florida what we have lost to flooding (we lost a motorcycle, we fixed it, and we lost it again in the next flood), they look at me like I'm crazy or lying.  I am tired of the traffic and the honking.  I am tired of all the aspects that made this place so charming when we moved down here in 1998 being bulldozed to make way for developments that won't help most residents. 

I am most tired of the high prices.  We got homeowners' insurance for our house in North Carolina.  The insurance agent apologized for the high price he was about to quote us:  $100 a month.  We will be paying for a year what homeowner's insurance (with special policies for hurricanes and floods) cost for a month.

As I work to quell my anxiety today, let me keep in mind our little house which will be our home base going forward:

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Values Revealed in the Moving Process

Packing up one's possessions for a move across multiple states is somewhat similar to analyzing data for a budget. It's a process that, at its best, requires us to ask if we're living according to our values.

Once, I could have fit everything I owned into a car. Of course, I could do that because someone else was paying for the larger items, like furniture. Now, having done a hurricane evacuation or two, I know that most of what I still value most can still fit into a car. However, if I have to sleep in my car or on the floor for too many nights, I'll miss the bed I've left behind.

Once, I moved once a year, as a grad student, always on the hunt for more affordable housing. That process helped me with the winnowing of possessions. Back in those days, we actually did move ourselves. We knew the weight of our possessions.

This year, we are lucky that we can afford to pay for movers to do the heavy lifting. But we're still using this opportunity to evaluate: to think about how often we use an item and whether or not it's really worth the cost to move it. I'm also trying not to be too hard on myself for having an abundance of stuff.

If we are aware at all, we know that even the poorest person in the U.S. probably has more stuff than poor people in other countries. And as I have packed up to move, I have wondered if the fact that I have this stuff means that poor people elsewhere have even less. I am also aware of the sweatshop cycle of many of our consumer items: the item is made in a factory in a far away country, shipped to the U.S. and sold cheaply--then once the consumer gets tired of it and donates it to charity, it often makes its way back to the original country where poor people of that country access our castaways.. This process is most common with the clothes so many of us wear.

Over and over again, throughout the sacred scriptures, God calls us to envision a better world, one where there is enough, and people don't have to rejoice over the cast away items of the rich. Over and over again, we hear the poets of the Bible and the prophets calling us to live as if that world is already here--the inbreaking country of God, the one that is both here now, but not yet fully developed.

Moving time is a great time to analyze what we're doing to make this inbreaking country of God more apparent. But we don't have to wait until we move. We can do this any time--and the world would be a better place if we did this assessment on a regular basis.

Where are our lives in sync with God's values? How can we make changes to help the inbreaking country of God take root? 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

First Moving Day

I am taking a break from packing.  I keep thinking that there can't possibly be any more packing to do--and then I remember that I need to pack up the pots and pans once I'm sure we won't need them anymore (is that day today?).  There are boxes that are waiting for one last item to make them the perfect amount of full.  I need to take one last look in cabinets and closets, just to be sure we have everything.

Today is our first, smaller move.  The College Hunks Moving Junk guys will come to pick up the piano, the sideboard, and the monstrous floor lamp.  If we lived in a house, we'd just put those items out for a charitable pick up, but because we live in a condo, we'll pay them to take our stuff away.  It will be a good dry run for Thursday, when the moving van will come, hopefully on the dot at 9 a.m., to load our stuff up and move it to our little house in North Carolina.

Having 2 move dates has made me a bit nervous--what if the office thinks one of them was a mistake and cancels them?  In our condo, we have to reserve the elevator, which I've done.  I doublechecked yesterday, and we're still booked for both days.  I am resisting the urge to go check again.

I think what makes me most nervous is the condo aspect of it all.  We can't just park a moving van in a space for as long as the moving takes.  Happily, we don't have much stuff.  We have spent months getting rid of a lot of stuff.

More later--the moving team is here.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Fireflies and Choirs

I don't have as much time to write this morning--I have last visits to the physical therapist today and Wednesday.  But I did want to make sure that I collected one last memory from camp.

We had several evening worship services in the chapel on the top of the highest point at Lutheridge.  It's got a vaulted ceiling and windows that have no glass.

The closing worship on Friday night started a bit later than our other evening worship services, and it was longer, because the choral group was presenting their five pieces of music.  Their last song came back to this line:  "Oh Love, that will not let me go."  It's a powerful idea of God, set to powerful music.

As they sang the line, I noticed several fireflies blinking above the choir.  It felt so magical, like a sign of something positive.  I knew I could never capture it with my camera, so I'm capturing it with words.

It was the perfect way to end a wonderful week at Lutheridge.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Music Week Retrospective

A week ago, we'd be at the start of our Music Week adventure.  Let me write a recap.

We realized we could be in Columbia, SC at the church where my spouse's brother would be preaching.  And so, we made it happen.  We met my father-in-law and stepmom-in-law just before the service started (the GPS took us on a circuitous route), and we enjoyed an excellent worship at St. Andrews Lutheran Church.  Afterwards, we had lunch together and caught up.

Then we were off to Lutheridge.  We drove through rain that wasn't in the weather forecast, and we arrived safely.  We were expecting to have lodging at Thornberg, but we found out we were assigned to Bacot, which was being used for staff housing for the week.  Luckily, there was extra room, and the staff assigned to Bacot was generous in sharing their space.

Being in Bacot meant I had no internet access in the early morning.  In a way, that was good because I had time to read; Jennifer Egan's latest book is very good.  But in a way, it was bad.  I am home now, with work I need to do for my online classes.  And those of you who have been following along know that I have lots of other work to do to get ready for this week's move.

I took my laptop to the Faith Center, where I was able to access the internet, while the choir rehearsed.  Almost every Music Week participant sang in the choir, but I didn't feel like I was too odd for not singing.  I enjoyed working while the choir rehearsed, and I enjoyed the fellowship the rest of the week.  We had a great Bible study of Philippians, and every worship experience was wonderful.

My spouse had grumbled about not having time to participate, but he did end up singing with the choir and having a good experience.  We tried to get some moving related tasks done:  we brought up 2 cars' worth of belongings, which we unloaded.  We bought a mailbox and a post, and my spouse got that put up.  We started the process of bringing internet access to our house that has never had it.

I knew that the food would be different from camp food during the rest of the year.  Wow--it was different.  For example, one day at lunch we had corn dogs.  I haven't had a corn dog since childhood, and it's a food best left in childhood.  But we also had a picnic at the lake, which was picturesque.  Otherwise, meals were served family style, which meant lots of passing of platters and then the passing of dishes to the head of the table.  And the level of noise in the dining hall meant that we couldn't have meaningful conversations at meals.

We went to a hymn sing/festival at a church in downtown Asheville, which had much better music than I expected--and it was a beautiful setting.  I look forward to returning to Asheville to explore; it has changed a lot since I was last there.

In short, we had a great week, despite a few bumps along the way.  I'd do it again.  And now, back to the tasks of moving.

I am trying not to feel anxious about this week, but my brain is getting out ahead of me.  We have 2 moves scheduled with the condo building.  On Tuesday, College Hunks Moving Junk take the items we haven't been able to get to Good Will:  the piano, the monstrous floor lamp, and the sideboard.  On Thursday is the big move.  This morning I'm worried that the office thought I was canceling the Thursday elevator reservation for the Tuesday reservation, even though I did say at least once that I wanted both dates.  I'll doublecheck tomorrow.  

But let me focus on what's going well.  It's taken awhile to get information about seminary housing, but on Friday I got an e-mail that says I'll be in a 2 bedroom.  Hurrah!  I had begun to fret that maybe I'd get no housing, even though I've been told that I'd be in a 1 bedroom at the very least.  See how my brain works?  

I wish I could say that my brain will learn to be less fretful, and in some ways, I am a bit better at calming my anxieties.  So, let me focus on the tasks that must be done: getting stuff packed.  My brain will feel better with stuff packed.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Camp Dispatches

I am continuing to write while the choir practices.  I'm staying at camp lodging with no internet connectivity, so I sit here and type.  It's progress--2 weeks ago I wouldn't have been able to type at all.  Still, my internet time is limited.

Here are a few brief snapshots from Music Week:

--When the choir first started rehearsing the music, I thought, I bet I could do this.  As I've continued observing, I've been glad I decided to sit out this experience.  I have a serviceable voice sometimes.  This choir is for people who are much further along than I am.

--The time when choir rehearses is the best time to do my required internet activities:  checking in with my online classes primarily.  Today I did my applications for the 5 jobs that the unemployment benefit process in Florida requires.

--The drumming has been fun--much more my speed.      

--I've been able to be part of the team that decorates the chapel for worship.  Here's a picture of what we created for Tuesday night, with it's theme of Psalm 23 and the Jeremiah passage that talks about return from exile:

--I could be so happy having this kind of ministry--working on creative responses each week to the Gospel.  That could include a written meditation for the newsletter, a visual image for meditation, the altar space . . . I would like to be the specialist that does such things.  Could my ministry be just that and not visiting the sick, tending the building, etc?

--Today is my birthday.  Perhaps the whole camp will sing the song to me.  But if they don't, that's O.K.

--Was the dining hall always this noisy?  It's impossible to have any sort of conversation over a meal.  And I am missing hot chocolate on cool mornings served in battered aluminum pitchers.

--Music Week is much more scheduled than I remember as a kid.  But we are finding time to get some stuff done to get ready to move (a week from today the moving van will have come and the loading of possessions will be underway!).  We've unpacked 2 cars' worth of stuff, and we've bought a mailbox and a post.  This morning, we washed a load of clothes in the washer and dryer that came with the house.  Judging by its avocado color and smaller size, I'm fairly sure it's a circa 1975 washer/dryer all-in-one unit.  And it still works!  In fact, it looks like it hasn't been used much at all.     

--I am trying not to rhapsodic about the weather.  It's been gloriously cool in the morning.  In the afternoon, I can walk from a building to a car without sweating a drop.  Amazing!  We've slept with the windows open (we're in Bacot, not in our new house that has no furniture).

--And on a non-camp note:  this morning was the first time that I woke up without my wrist feeling like a wooden block.  It's not normal by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a sign of progress.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Choir as Metaphor

I am writing this meditation at Music Week at Lutheridge. I'm in the back, writing on my computer, surrounded by the beautiful music of a choir rehearsing, and I've been thinking about that phrase that tells us we all have a space in God's choir. But which choir? And what do these choir experiences at camp have to do with life in church community?

At Music Week, we learn that there are many choirs. Yesterday I listened to the flute choir rehearse, and I thought about how many people experience church as flute choir: you have to have the right instrument, and you need to be able to read music. Many people feel as out of place at church as I would if I joined the flute choir, since I don't play flute. I would not even try to join the flute choir because I would assume I would not be welcome.

Well, then, what about a choir like handbells? Anyone can chime a bell, right? But I still need to have a sense of the music--I still need to count beats. And if I'm playing handbells, not handchimes, I need white gloves. It can be intimidating enough that many people wouldn't attempt handbells either. I was enchanted by handchimes for small children; they were made of plastic and metal and lightweight enough that I could ring them with my wounded wrist. But not all of us will have the good fortune of experiencing these instruments as children. How do we claim our place in the choir?

I'm intrigued by the Orcha-Band Choir--just bring the instrument you want to play. This year it's heavily brass and woodwinds: 3 flutes, 2 saxaphones, a french horn, a trumpet, and a violin, with a piccolo coming later in the week. In the past, it's been more strings. What will it be in future years? How do we plan for such a choir? How will it all come together? I don't know--and God's community (communities?) often feel the same way. Some people thrive in such a choir, while the possibility of uncontained chaos can drive others crazy.

What about a voice choir? We can all sing, right? And even if we can't, if we sit with others who are singing, our voices will sound better. And when the harmony works, it shows the beautiful physics of harmony in the most potent way, like the promise of the beloved community made incarnate, right here, right now. But some of us are so convinced that we can't sing that we won't even try.

I am partial to the drum choir. The leader keeps a persistent rhythm, and the rest of us can go with the rhythms that work, even if we've had no practice and no sense of music theory. We can make a percussion instrument out of the lowliest materials or the most elevated. People of all ages can play. People who have one hand out of commission can play. I find the drumming group most welcoming and inclusive, but I realize that the very openness I love would make it untenable for some musicians.

And all of it gets a bit too loud at times, if I'm truthful. Some hours at camp, the choir I crave is the one that holds silence. I'm lucky here--I can go for a walk. And if I'm perceptive, I hear other choirs during my walk, the ones usually drowned out by human music, like the tree frog choirs that sing through the night. And there are firefly choirs that need no music at all.

Jesus came to give us the good news that we have all sorts of communities we can create. There are many choirs for us, many ways to know God. We have spent centuries thinking that Jesus came to give us just one way to get closer to God. We have wasted precious time fighting as we tried to figure out what choirs would gain God's approval.

Jesus tells us there are many ways to know and understand God's love. The trick, of course, is finding the way that works best for us. We don't have to journey alone. Music Week reminds us that it is good to make music under any circumstance, but making music together can bring us joys we might not achieve by ourselves. Jesus, too, reminds us again and again that a loving community is worth the effort.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Off to Music Week

Today I'm doing something I've wanted to do for a long time:  I'm returning to summer camp as an adult camper.  This week, I'm joining my parents at Lutheridge for Music Week!  I last went to music week in my early teenage years, back as the 70's were moving into the 80's.

I'm guessing much will have changed, and I hope to blog about it through the week.  

Friday, July 8, 2022

My Grandmother's Dining Room Set and Other Possessions

In 2 weeks, our move out of South Florida should be underway.  The moving van is scheduled for the morning of Thursday, July 21.  When we were moving ourselves in a U-Haul, we planned to drive part of the way after packing the van.  I assumed we would need to stop along the way because exhaustion would set in.  

Part of our packing process has been getting rid of stuff.  We've taken carloads of stuff to Goodwill and to our church, the 2 charity groups which are benefitting from this phase of our move.  I have a vision of Goodwill dumping our castaways directly into the garbage, but hopefully some of it will find a new home.

Now we are down to the bigger stuff, the furniture that we can take over in the car.  The biggest object, the piano, we've hired someone to take away on Tuesday, July 19.  We think we can get rid of the rest of it.

This morning I'm thinking of my grandmother's dining room set.  We began getting rid of it a few years ago when we got rid of the dining room table and chairs.  While I liked the way it expanded with a hidden leaf, it was never comfortable to sit at, and the chairs scratched the wood floors, no matter what we tried to do.  Plus it had lots of knobs on the legs, which made it hard to keep dust-free.

For this move, we're getting rid of the sideboard.  When we first got it, we used it to store extra tableware and linens in it.  In our last house, before the big kitchen remodel, we used it as extra counter space.  Lately, I had been using it as dresser to store clothes.

We are keeping the china cabinet.  We have a lot of china from my grandmother, and the cabinet holds it and displays it nicely.  Why are we keeping the china?  We will have 2 households for the next few years, so we may as well use the china.  My spouse has always wished we used the china more, and now we'll see if it's as usable as he thinks.  At this point, we don't have a dishwasher at either of the places we'll be living, so the fact that the china can't go in the dishwasher isn't the issue it has been in the past.

We are also getting rid of the radio cabinet that came from my grandmother.  It used to hold very old radio/record playing equipment.  A few years ago, we took that out and made it into a cabinet.  My grandmother used it primarily as a surface to hold her African violet plants.  I feel a bit sorry to see it go, but it doesn't work well as a cabinet--the doors don't like to stay closed.

We are keeping the roll top desk and the cedar chest, as well as a variety of smaller, more portable items.  In some ways, I wish I was the kind of person who held no sentimental attachment to things, but I do--that's how I came to have them.  In some ways, I know I'm fortunate in all sorts of ways, some of which are symbolized in these possessions handed down to me.


Thursday, July 7, 2022

Of Wounded Wrists and Poetic Possibilities

Yesterday I went to the dentist, an appointment I dread.  I usually leave a routine cleaning with a bloody mouth and sometimes worse.  I have very hard teeth, very prone to plaque, and also, very prone to pre-gum disease conditions.

Yesterday I left the office feeling no pain, and it's not because I was given a sedative.  I am saddened to announce that two weeks before we move, I've met the best dental hygienist I've ever had in over 50 years of going to dentists and orthodontists.

I came home, made and ate an early lunch because I hadn't eaten before my dentist appointment, and settled in to file my unemployment claim for the past 2 weeks.  In order to get the puny amount of unemployment money that is due me, the state of Florida requires me to log onto the clunky online system to apply.  I have to list the five jobs I've applied for each week and to let them know if I've earned any money from other sources.

Yesterday was the first time I had money to report, which led to an interesting experience with the clunky online system.  I couldn't make the pull down menu work, the spot where I was to choose from past employers.  I figured out a work around, but it took time.  And this was after the website crashed at an earlier point, and I had to log on again--happily, the information already entered wasn't erased, but the log on process takes time.

It seems a metaphor for modern life somehow.

I know that lawmakers have made this process harder than it needs to be.  I am trying to claim unemployment benefits, not charity.  I am entitled to these benefits because I was let go from my job.  This shouldn't be so hard.  Because I am entitled to this money, I keep trying however.  I will be interested to see if these weekly amounts of money will be reduced in light of what I earned.  At that point, I may change my mind about whether or not this is worth it.  

Then it was off to the physical therapist.  As we work on getting more mobility to my wrist, these visits are harder, both physically and emotionally.  We measure progress in very tiny increments, and I'm making progress, but there's still a very long way to go.

I had a lot of pain through the night.  I probably should have given in and taken some ibuprofen, but I don't always have that presence of mind in the middle of the night.

I am thinking of my trip to LTSS (Southern Seminary) and how strange it was to be surrounded by images of Christ with nail marks in his hands/wrists while I had my own hand and wrist in a cast.  And this morning, I'm thinking of all of those stories of Christ after resurrection, when showing the nail marks established his authenticity.

I'm thinking there should be a poem in all of this.    

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

A Week Ago Today, Two Weeks from Tomorrow

A week ago, we would be closing on our house in the mountains of North Carolina. Back in Florida, it seems a bit surreal, even as we are surrounded by an ever increasing number of boxes.

It was surreal being in Arden, NC, driving around the area where the church camp Lutheridge is located (our house is in the residential part of the camp), as we made our way back and forth to the lawyer's office in nearby Hendersonville for the closing.  I have been coming to these mountains at least once a year since childhood, and they have changed dramatically.  When I was a child coming to camp, if you left something at home, you did without.  Now you could go to Walmart or Target or any number of stores to get what you forgot.

Our house and tiny lot (0.29 of an acre) is not the vast homestead I envisioned as a college student when we made trips to the mountains.  But realistically, even if we could afford any sort of acreage, we are now getting old enough to have to wonder if we could care for that amount of land.  Our current plot is left in its natural state--no mowing!--and we're happy about that.  More important, the neighborhood is happy about that too--it's a mix of more manicured lawns and wild spaces.

The neighborhood is on the outer edge of the church camp Lutheridge.  The camp itself is on 600+ acres, some of the last undeveloped land in the Arden area.  When you look at satellite pictures of our house, you can't see the house because of the tree canopy.  That makes me happy.

Even as we get ready to move, it is surreal to think about actually leaving South Florida.  We moved here in 1998.  I remember being excited to explore new surroundings that were so different from any I had ever known before.  We ate all kinds of new foods from Latin America.  Now those foods are more widespread, but back then they weren't.  I checked the cookbook Miami Spice out of the library, in part because I could and in part so that I could get a sense of this new foodway.  I remember the first time having Tres Leches cake, which was both a delight and not at all what I expected, even with the cookbook to guide me.  The whole summer of 1998 was full of those kinds of moments.

Two weeks from tomorrow, the moving van will arrive, and soon after that, we will head north.  We will stay at the Arden house for a few weeks until we head to Washington DC to get me settled in Wesley Seminary housing.  For the few weeks in Arden, I hope we have a time of exploration and discovery the way we did in 1998. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Days of W(h)ine and Packing

Blogging has been a bit lighter lately.  Once I blogged daily, and before that, I wrote posts for 2 different blogs daily.  But since I broke my wrist, blogging comes with some challenges.  With voice recognition software, I could overcome most of those challenges most mornings.

This morning is the first time I am typing in a traditional way.  Wow.  And even then, I need to rest a bit.

Lately, blogging has been disrupted by travel and by the upcoming move.  I've been doing lots of packing.  And there is still more to be done.

I am hopeful that my brain is storing material for later, that I will have a late summer and autumn of more writing.  

And of course, I'll keep trying to write daily here.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Life in a Dystopia

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend, the kind of friend you can ask,  “Are we living in The Parable of the Sower or The Handmaid's Tale?”--which will result in a fascinating conversation for hours, which was what happened.

We have been meeting for many years, since our first meeting when she interviewed me for a creative nonfiction class that she was taking.  It was a cool assignment; we had to meet in a place that said something about me or the relationship so we met at a British tea room that was open at the time. She had met me as a student in my British literature classes that I taught, classes that I am fairly sure will be the best classes I have ever taught. And we have continued to meet for tea or a meal; across years and decades we have continued to meet.

We have often remarked that we wished we could capture our conversation, as it seems like the kind of sparkling dialogue one would find in, say, a Jane Austen novel or The West Wing. We have often thought about what we would be doing if we were characters in a TV show who met regularly.  Our conversations might be too strange for mainstream television--we're not talking about sex like those Sex in the city girls, and we're often making obscure references to say PBS shows like Frontier House.

Yesterday we talked about some of the resources we still had or once had resources that would be handy if we found ourselves living in an episode of Frontier House, needing to figure out how to survive without the comforts of modern life. That show was sobering because it showed us how few people made it as pioneers—2/3 would die or go home.

Yesterday we talked about how strange it was to be having one of our last lunch is during a time when the Supreme Court had just overturned Roe V wade with rumblings of more reversals to come, a time when I had just purchased a house that looked like it could be a station on the Underground Railroad. We talked about how if we were reading this material in a novel, it would stretch credulity.  After all in the decades that we've been meeting we've seen a lot of progress being made in the area of human rights, and now it looks like it could all be undone fairly quickly. I talked about my naivete in believing that somehow having a seat as a Supreme Court Justice granted a superpower of impartiality. That illusion has been stripped away.

My friend has just gotten a dream job, and after a few weeks, it continues to be a dream job. I am off to fulfill my dream of taking seminary classes in person on campus. It feels like the end of an era, in both good ways and sad ways.

It is strange to be leaving for North Carolina, which now seems like a more progressive state than Florida. When we moved to Florida in 1998, we knew parts of the state were not progressive, but it had republican governors in the old style of Republicans, fiscally conservative, with a faith in business and the family and programs to support each, as well as at the same time having a certain live and let live attitude towards those who wanted to move to Miami and try something different. It was a state that understood immigration in ways that perhaps it no longer does.

We are in a time of transition, both my friend and me and the whole nation. Some days I'm a little spooked by it all and worried about where we're headed. Other days I have a faith that we will figure out what needs to be done, just like our ancestors did. I'm trying not to think of my friends ancestors who died in pogroms in Russia or my ancestors who were cash poor but could grow the food they needed and so they survived.  I continue to hope we can survive some of the grimmer possibilities of life in a dystopia. 

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Saturday Snippets from a Week of Travel

Before too much time gets away from me let me record a few last snippets from this past week of travel and house buying:

--I am astonished at how hard it can be to wire money. We couldn't do it with our online banking because we couldn't get the right combination of ATM pin and numbers on the back of the card. So we went to the bank. We had multiple forms of ID, most of them with pictures. But the bank had to call the phone number connected to the account for security reasons. Unfortunately we opened that account so long ago that the phone number on file was our home phone so we couldn't pick up the phone and tell the bank worker in front of us what the security number was.

--Eventually we gave up, and we got an old-fashioned cashier's check. I have expected to get to the lawyer’s office and have him chide us for using such an old fashioned way of delivering money. Instead he says he prefers a cashier's check because there is so much wire fraud out in the world.

--He took our check, we signed a few documents, and 10 minutes later we owned a house free and clear. It was the easiest home closing we have ever been part of.

--As we were driving out and about, we saw a small bear across from the Asheville regional airport, which is actually in Arden NC—not a wilderness area. I suppose we should add getting a bear proof trash can to our list of things we need to purchase.

--One of the advantages of having a 6th floor condo is that we have had less trouble with pests of all sorts:  no roaches, no rats, very few bugs. I will miss that aspect of condo life.

--After the house closing, we went to our newly purchased house to unload a carload of fragile things, mostly lamps and framed pictures and four boxes of china from the china cabinet.  Then we needed food so we went to our favorite pizza place. Unfortunately because of staffing issues, dining in was not an option. So we drove in the other direction and ended up having a very good meal at the 12 Bones Brewery. I am not always impressed with brewery food, but this barbecue and the side dishes were delicious. We shared a flight of beers, along with a larger glass of a stout that we were fairly sure we would like; they were all tasty. The beer was the most reasonably priced beer I've had in a restaurant during non happy hour times. This brewery is just a few miles from our new house, so I imagine we will be going back--however next time we will probably share a main dish because the portions are huge.

--On our drive back south on Thursday, we stopped at the campus of LTSS, more commonly known as Southern Seminary. We walked around the campus, which was a nice break.

--Our drive back was grueling:  foggy mountains to begin, lots of rain to end. But we made it home safely. Not everyone was this lucky. We sat on I 95 at Melbourne, Florida for over an hour. When we finally got to the accident site, it seems an 18 wheeler had plowed into the guard rail--and there was a car in between them. I can't imagine that anyone in the car made it out with no injury, but perhaps. I said a wordless prayer--for them and for all of us, trapped between a speeding semi and a guard rail (interpret that symbolism how you like--it seems to apply to most of us, except those at the very top).

Friday, July 1, 2022

Planning, Coincidences, and God

 Yesterday I wrote about how we came to buy a house at Lutheridge from a non-spiritual point of view, a more rational point of view. Today I want to write about a different angle. Let me confess from the beginning that if you told me such a story, my rational brain might not accept what you were saying.

I fell on April 15th, and I knew that I had done something to my wrist.  I thought it was likely to be a sprain because I didn't hear any cracking sound and it didn't really hurt too much. But I didn't go to the emergency room or go to get x-rays. I was planning on leaving to go on a retreat in a few days, plus it was Easter weekend, and I had a lot to do. But really, some part of me really thought I had only sprained it.

In retrospect, if I had gone and got an x-rays before I left, I probably wouldn't have been able to go on the retreat because I would have needed surgery. As my sister said, if I hadn't gone on the retreat, I wouldn't have made the comment to my pastor friend about still wanting a Lutheridge house, and she might not have thought of me when she learned of the house coming on the market.

is this the way God works in the world? I don't believe that God made me trip and fall and break my wrist, so why would I believe that God might be involved in other ways? But the pieces have fallen into place almost effortlessly, and when that happens I do tend to believe, even as my rational brain scoffs, that God is at work on some level.  Even if I don't believe that God is at work in my life this way, I do tend to think that a decision is the right one if it's all coming together effortlessly--even as I admit that it may just be coincidence.  On the flip side, if things aren't working out, I don't necessarily say, “Well God must not want it to be this way.”

I do think that we came to have this house through a remarkable series of events:  call them coincidences, call them God sightings, call it luck. The people selling the house have a deep connection with my pastor friend, as do we. A certain level of trust was already there because of these deep connections. We had seen the house before, so we didn't feel like we needed to spend 24 hours in the car to see the property one more time. The people selling the house wanted to sell to someone with deep connections to the camp, which we have--my mother was a camp counselor there during one of its earliest summers being open. And the biggest piece of all:  we had recently sold our house in a flood zone in a hot market, so we had money to invest.

Luck, coincidence, God at work, friends looking out for us, planning both careful and haphazard—perhaps our latest housing adventure is a mix of them all.  I am so grateful.