Tag 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.

Personal Appearances

Personal items are boxed or tucked into drawers. The shades are pulled to the same length, toiletries and Kleenex boxes are next to the razors and toothbrushes in the bathroom closet. Cat bowls and scratching posts are in the basement next to the boot tray, and the cats are off site. Rooms are clean and tidy. Other than the books on the shelves and food in the cupboards, there are few traces of the people who live here. We have done our best to create a space where potential buyers can imagine themselves living because this house is for sale.

I am keenly aware of the particularity of the places I’ve called home, and how traces of my family are evident in almost every corner of every room – things we’ve chosen to put on the walls and tables because one or more of us find them beautiful or useful, things that say something about who we are and what we hold dear. Our personalities appear in them, making our home as unique to us as our neighbors’ homes are unique to them. And that is as it should be.

Clearing all the living spaces so that new people can imagine calling this house home is a lot of work, but I’m happy to do it. It’s time for other people to hang their own pictures on these walls and set their chairs on the back porch. Removing things that get in the way of their coming is, in its own way, is the best welcome I can offer.

[Photo by David Fredrickson]


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.

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.

What will I do with it?

Monday, April 13th, 2020

The wind howls outside, shaking the windows and snapping the flag just over my back fence. Power lines dance and branches clap their twiggy hands. The storm will continue for hours, then move on – not the same deadly force it had in the South, but enough to offer downed lines and flooded roads.

I don’t fear the storm – my house is well built and I’ve seen many a more severe one. In a few hours, the sun will return; in a few days, the seeds I planted yesterday will be green shoots. I can enjoy the wild weather because the mild days are on the way. Life renews itself, asking little of me but recognition and participation.

But weather isn’t the only storm. Everyone is hunkered down, waiting for the pandemic to pass. Many have perished, and many more are suffering. This will end, just as the storm out my window will, but the cost is far greater and the damage far worse.

When I can return to something like my normal life, will I do so with a greater appreciation for the blessings I have? Will I do my best to make sure that the part of this world I call my home is better prepared should it happen again? Will I take action to strengthen and serve the most vulnerable among my neighbors?

What will I do with the time I am given? Will I live a resurrected life, a grateful life, a holier life? I hope so. Will I return to old habits that waste time and effort, focus on myself to the exclusion of others, take my life for granted? I hope not, but I expect I will – at least in part.

God forgive me if I live the rest of this life as if Easter never happened.


With a pandemic redefining our daily reality, in light of the wisdom of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu found in The Book of Joy, at this time of remembering Christ’s crucifixion, maybe I can be brave enough, loving enough, and wise enough to…

[Window decal bought at Macro World, Portsmouth, NH]

What am I waiting for?