Friday, February 25, 2011

Rain in the forecast

It's supposed to rain tonight, and basically all weekend. 

I love rain.  I grew up in a place where rain was less common than snow, and when I lived in the Midwest and Texas I came to know torrential downpours for the first time.  I loved it, the power of it, especially when I could watch from behind a windowpane.  Now that I live in Southern California, basically in the desert, it's a special treat to me to have rain.

But there's a crimp in my pleasure now.  I spend Friday afternoons with homeless women, hearing their stories.  Rain is not something you love if you have nowhere to go.


I learn a lot from these women.  They are beautiful, and most of them don't know it.  Most of them have never been treated well, and some of them have been treated devastatingly poorly.  Often, I hear stories in which they are treated like objects; and sometimes I hear stories of the great kindness of strangers. 

Those who run the center tell me that they are glad I come because most of the women don't have anyone to talk to, and most of the volunteers and staff don't really have time.  Time is all that I have for them.  Time, and a smile or a hug, and some words of encouragement.  Sometimes they are sick or tired, or sad, and sometimes they are glowing with good news--an engagement, or a new place to stay, or a necklace given. I will never forget the incredible joy of one woman who was going to get new shoes on Christmas Eve.  Or the one who turned down the offer because she already had a pair.  (How many pairs of shoes do I have?)

And today, they were thinking about the coming rainstorm and whether they would have a dry place to lay their heads.  

I certainly think differently about the rain.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Adventures in prayer

I spent most of today at the botanical gardens, praying, wandering, watching, delighting. Life has been rather hectic lately, and I needed to root myself once again in prayer, in Jesus.  How lucky am I that I can spend a day with that as my primary task!  The life of a novice, I guess!  So, here I will share some pictures, and a few prayerful thoughts.

I was so taken by this tree.  It's called a Dragon Tree, because the sap is red, and they believed that it was dragon blood.  Weird.  The sign also said that the sap was used in the varnish for Stradivarius violins, giving them their characteristically reddish tint.


As I got closer, I saw how it was growing with those trees around it.  A tree in community!


Because we've been talking about community and studying how we as a congregation live in community, I found all sorts of meaning in these trees.  I sat under them for almost an hour, noticing how they rely on each other for support (notice how crooked they are), how their lives are intertwined, how they're damaged yet healthy.




Desert beauty!



 
I am always struck by the proximity of the ocean--and then I'm struck by its enormity.  I am so lucky, so blessed to be here.  This is the view from the top of the hill at the garden.


It no doubt inspired the sculture..


Unnoticed remains of a Valentine's Day party?



Cork! 


Now, who wouldn't find spiritual meaning in the next picture?  Life out of what seems to be lifeless... the circle of creation...beauty in the desert...I was amazed that the buds on the tree were barely visible, yet here was this beautiful bloom.  Even in southern California the trees know that this is winter turning to spring.


A last little friend.  I stopped because of the shape of the cactus (why are there those little balls and then that snake-like thing??) and then I noticed the lizard.  He (lizards are always "he" in my head) was about the size of a quarter. 



It was a good day.  I got some of my equilibrium back, some of my rootedness in God.  I left reminded that I am with the I AM, Yahweh, always, along with all of God's creation.







Sunday, February 6, 2011

Light of the World! Salt of the Earth!

Today's gospel always make me think of the Godspell song....


 


Let your light shine!

The last week has been so busy for me.  My birthday was Tuesday (I'm 32!!) and my dad is here to visit.  Unfortunately, my classes aren't just canceled because I have a guest, so I've had little down time.  We've been having a good time--at the beach, at some of the sights around town, and with my community.  Having family meet community for the first time always makes me a little nervous, but invariably it's a good experience for everyone.