Category Archives: Easter


We pick up the keys to the new house today. Saturday is the moving day for the big things – bed, dresser, and bookcase. We have people helping us with those things. But the moving began some days back; boxes are packed with linens, clothes, books, and other things easily packed into the car. Mops and cleaners will go first, getting floors and shelves ready for filling. Plants and pictures will arrive well before the big furniture, set aside until everything is in its place. It’s a lot of work to move the smaller things over, but easy enough to do with a few boxes, a car, and a free hour or two.

Moving in small doses, taking stock of what needs to go and what can be let go of, is how I’ve gone from one life stage to another just as surely as the way to go from one house to another. Small things shift, preparing the space for moving the bigger things. Activities are put in a new context, adapting to a new configuration that gives structure to my inner life’s new home. It’s a way to welcome in a new stage, and a reminder that it’s time to ask for help with the big things I can’t get from one stage to another on my own.


For twenty years, this tree has provided a shady place on hot summer days, a beautiful foliage display in Autumn, and a favorite vantage point for our cats to look for birds, mice, and moles. On the back side, it’s charred from just above the base to the first big split – a scar from a former neighbor’s thoughtless and reckless trash burning. Blizzards and Nor’easters have taken their toll, and weakened it to the point where it is a potential hazard to two houses, a garage, and the fence. An arborist is removing it today. I am sorry to lose this silent resident that has added so much to my life without much notice or appreciation on my part.

The beauty and impact of many living things are subtle, only coming to awareness when they are no longer present, or soon to be gone. Love and strength come in many forms, some bearing leaves if not audible voices. With gratitude for twenty years of hospitality, and regret for not offering them earlier and often, God be with you, kind neighbor.


While out on the beach there are two empty chairs that say more than the people who ever sit there.

Jimmy Buffett, Lone Palm, Fruitcakes; UMG recordings, 1994

They’re nothing special – you can pick them up in any hardware store. But without them, would I stay still long enough to notice the big, beautiful world just outside my door? Without a second chair, how would I catch a glimpse of the inner life of the friends, neighbors, and family members who grace my life with their presence?

In Jimmy Buffett’s song, I figured that the empty chairs represented missed opportunities – no one ever sat there. But it could just as easily mean that the chairs themselves speak to what time and vantage point offer us every day: a shared glimpse of the inner and outer worlds we inhabit.

A view, a loving other, and an awareness of their value. For these valuable things, I thank you, God.

Life on Schedule

This morning, I was pruning back the branches of a spindly shrub, then taking the dead branches back to the brush pile. Walking back to the house, I saw this bit of green poking through the dirt.

The chives I divided from my plant in Wareham had emerged, pushing back the crumbly dirt and last year’s leafy leftovers. I’d started looking for it well over a week ago. The irises, lilies, and daffodils were coming up, but no chives; because chives usually appear earlier than the flowers, I assumed that it hadn’t made it through the winter. Yet, here they were, several inches in length, healthy and happy in this new place. With barely any attention, they will be here for years to come, adding flavor to food and beauty to the yard.

Life has its own timing, and doesn’t limit itself to my schedule or expectations. I may plant, tend, and harvest, but the plants are following their own inner logic and timeline. There’s something wonderful about that – and it’s good to be reminded that life has its own terms.

If I could remember that truth when it comes to all life, including people, I’d be a whole lot closer to wisdom and graciousness.

Did I?

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. I Corinthians 13:11b – 12a

I heard the tantrum in the other room, quickly followed by the sight of a mother carrying her daughter out of story time. What started the whole thing remains a mystery, but the result was a little girl and her mother missing out on two more stories and a craft. If the little girl could have looked past whatever it was that upset her, if she could have held out an extra minute or so, she’d have gotten a musical instrument to play, a chance to point to her favorite kite on the page of the book, and had the chance to pick out a book to take home. Unable to take a longer view, she missed out on all of it.

My perspective isn’t as limited as a two year old’s. I don’t throw tantrums, and I can opt for longer lasting satisfaction over immediate gratification. I have patience, control over my emotional outbursts, and can forego something for the benefit of another. But I still grow impatient when I am needlessly (at least from my perspective) delayed; some people rub me the wrong way, and I am annoyed at their presence more than at anything they happened to be doing; I don’t like to admit my own short-sightedness. The mirror in which I view myself and everything else in creation is dark and distorted, and my partial love isn’t strong enough illuminate it sufficiently.

Paul writes that when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. Paul may have done so, but I’m not so sure I have.

When it comes…

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. ICor 13:8-10, NRSV

Once we know something (barring suppression, brain injury or damage), we can’t unknow it – the end of a book, the punchline to the joke, the last note of a song. Resolution cannot be undone; even if we repeat the experience, we can’t go back to our original starting point because we know how it all ends. Our partial experience ends when we reach completion.

But love is something different than these things that come to an end. We are deeply loved by God in our first breath and our last, and in every breath between. Our days will come to an end, and our lives will end in death, but the love we give and receive is something that abides beyond life and death. Instead of abiding in death, we return to the love that gave us life in the first place. Because love isn’t partial – at least not God’s love.

It gives me hope that God will make out of my own partial love something complete.

Other Things…

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31, NRSV

This is the end of today’s Gospel offering – the story of Jesus appearing to his disciples, of Thomas’ absence at that time, his doubt and his eventual acceptance of Jesus resurrected once he had seen Jesus for himself. The gospel reminds us that what we read in scripture is just a partial account: there was more to the story, things we will never read or have read to us. What was handed down wasn’t to relate everything that Jesus ever said or did; what was handed down was for us to make a doorway of words and images – a way for us to enter the truth, meet Jesus, and gain life. They are the words that end chapter 20.

But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25, NRSV

This is the end of John’s Gospel, similar to the ones above, but rarely ever read in church – the lectionary reading ends a couple of verses short of them. Maybe it’s because these words are so similar to the ones ending chapter 20? Did the similarities between the passages make them appear to be exactly the same, not worth a second reading? Perhaps, perhaps not. Either way, what sets them apart is remarkable.

The first words are about the disciples, and about Jesus appearing in resurrected form to them. They are written for all of us, so that we may encounter Jesus and be forever changed by him. They are our linguistic doorway into truth and life.

The second words go way beyond that. Two differences stand out to me, but there are sure to be more:

Jesus did other things beyond the presence of his disciples, his followers, and us – so many things that the world itself isn’t big enough to contain an account of them. Jesus isn’t limited to the Christian record, the church and its history, the fellowship through time and space. It’s a well phrased reminder that we cannot and should not try to set limits on how God manifests, even within the limits of our own space and time. 

Jesus manifests in ways that the world cannot contain because within each and every living thing is a world of mystery and untold depth. The cosmic scope of the universe finds its reflection in the cosmic scope of our own inner landscapes – the dwelling place of the Spirit within. It takes a lifetime to scratch the surface; perhaps part of the joy of eternity is a deep dive into these worlds, and a complete sharing of them with God and all God’s beloved children.

I think the differences make them both worth reading.

New Life

They’re everywhere, these signs of Spring and life renewed. Flowers adding yellows, purples, and whites to the brown leftovers of last year’s growing season; lengthening days and rising temperatures that encourage us to leave our jackets and mittens on their hooks; chives, oregano, and thyme cut in the yard rather than bought at Shaw’s. It’s time to rake the mulched leaves out of the garden beds, thankful for the protection last year’s growth offered.

I’d like to do the same in the spiritual sense. It’s time to clear my mind, heart, and soul of last year’s growth, not because it wasn’t fruitful but to make room for what’s emerging. It’ll take some work, some time, and trust in God – that’s true of almost everything.

I can’t wait to see what new life will grow this year.