Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tulips and Gladiolas

I just can't seem to get going. There's so much to do that I can't figure out which one to do. I've been fudging along with the basics: catching up on grocery shopping, mail, bread, kombucha, laundry, dinner. Mowing and schoolwork and housecleaning should be right up there too, as well as gobs of garden and yard projects, but I'm not moving too fast on those. Today, rather than vacuuming and dusting, I decided to go outside and mess with the tulip bed. It's one of those things on the garden list ... not too near the top. But nevertheless, it's good to be outside and have my hands in the dirt, doing something real, and away from my computer addiction.

I could SEE the tulip bulbs. This is not good. I'm not sure why they ended up so shallow this spring. It makes for very floppy tulips. I pulled 'em all out, re-dug the bed and chopped up & crumbled a bunch of those clay chunks. And then I replanted the tulip bulbs and also planted a bunch of gladiolas that I couldn't find space for in the garden. I really enjoyed the two gladiolas we grew last year. I bought these bulbs at Home Depot or Walmart, so they aren't exactly going to be the highest quality, but I expect to find some prettiness and smiles from them anyhow.

And I get to check one thing off the list (even if it's nowhere close to the priority items that should've been checked off today's list).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Missing Somebody

I usually think of "missing someone" as being an emotional thing. A loneliness. Pining away. Sorrow over a loss.

But sometimes missing someone is kind of like forgetting that they're not there, and then suddenly being reminded. Like the time we were on vacation without Rachel, and I went to the counter of the fast food restaurant and ordered eight sandwiches. As we divvied up supper, the boys are wondering who gets the extra sandwich. And the ditzy mom says, "WHAT extra sandwich?" Ah. I missed someone; I had failed to account for her absence.

Or before Karen's wedding, when Mom said there were so many things she wanted to call her sister about and just talk to her. Or when I want to phone up Pastor Wiest and ask a question -- but can't. Or when I kept setting a place for Paul at the dinner table after he'd left for college.

I think of Polly and Melody, with their military sons off protecting the rest of us. I think of Karin losing Anna's help and companionship next fall when her baby heads to college. I think of the dear widows at church who had to learn to make half a pot of coffee in the morning instead of a full pot, or learn to cook and shop for one instead of two, or re-arrange the dresser drawers. Sometimes it's those little, practical details where the loneliness becomes vivid.

Lifted Up

From Sunday's readings:

Isaiah 6: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple....

John 3: As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, ...

I suppose most of us think of the first "lifted up" as being very different from the second one. But I am wondering.

Monday, June 08, 2009


The Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel,
enlightened me with His gifts,
sanctified, and kept me in the true faith.

I spent all last week thinking on this (and didn't get around to posting). We usually think of enlightenment as something with our brains, where reason becomes the authority.

In John 8, Jesus says that He is the light of the world. In John 1, Jesus is described as the light shining in the darkness. The Second Person of the Trinity spoke to Moses from the burning bush. The Second Person of the Trinity was in the pillar of fire that led the Israelites through the wilderness when they left Egypt. He is the Sun of Righteousness that will arise with healing in His wings. As the Apostle John describes the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, he says that there is no need of sun or moon, for the Lamb is its light.

As Luther expounded on the Creed in the Small Catechism, I don't think he was talking about the Holy Spirit spiffing up my brain so that I catch onto the religious things God wants me to know. Luther wasn't talking about the gifts of the Spirit whopping some "pious reason" into me to trump my "logical reason."

He was talking about laying Jesus on the heart of sinners.

The Holy Spirit enlightened me with His gifts.
He "Jesus-ed" me.
He brought light into my life
by giving me the Light of the World
and uniting me to Him.


Vindicate me, O Lord,
for I have walked in my integrity.
I have also trusted in the Lord;
I shall not slip....
Do not gather my soul with sinners,
nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
in whose hands is a sinister scheme,
and whose right hand is full of bribes.
But as for me, I will walk in my integrity;
redeem me and be merciful to me. Psalm 26

Chaplain Shaw was talking to us once about integrity. To over-summarize, he said that it's about being true to your priniciples. So theoretically, it seems to me like a person who believes in selfishness and greed could be showing "integrity" when they expect other people to take advantage of them, y'know, like as if we all run by the same rules of self-centeredness.

Now, most of us don't have respect for that kind of integrity. We value the kind of integrity that causes people to stand up for what's right even when it's not popular.

So we get to these psalms that talk about my integrity. Granted, the psalms belong in the mouth of Jesus, and He certainly had integrity. But it's interesting to think about our integrity, especially with that verse where we're praying for redemption and mercy. After all, if we had integrity, we'd be so good in ourselves that maybe we wouldn't need redemption and mercy.

But what if our integrity is in "being true to our principles" insofar as we admit our unworthiness, and admit that we need a Savior, and "walk in integrity" by confessing our sins and hearing God's Word of absolution?