Love that Wyoming winterAfter several days of cold and very wintry weather that closed the highways in all directions, today was much nicer. Close to zero degrees, but winds only 10-20 mph, rather that 65-70. As my loyal walking companions and I slid along on our usual route, I was thinking about this coming Sunday's readings which include the baptism of Jesus. Yes, we have yet another encounter with John the Baptizer. In a place like Wyoming with nine months of winter (and lots of road closures) and three months of road repair (with lots of detours), John the Baptist could be the patron saint of state troopers who put down the barriers and flag-persons who make you wait for a pilot car.
Here we are in the first fresh days of Lent, knowing that Spring may be only a few weeks off on the calendar, but it will be a long while yet before we see daffodils and tulips. We are eager to rush to Easter and the empty tomb, just as we were anxious to get to Bethlehem and see the Baby. But John the Baptizer stops that nonsense with a word and we detour for six weeks. I am approaching my own Lenten disciplines this year as an opportunity to grow in gratitude, learn new ways of dealing with stress and to discern some things about call and ministry. With our much loved and helpful deacon out of commission as he recovers from open heart surgery (scheduled for next week), it may well prove to be a time to see how others step up to the plate in various servant ministries.
This morning several friends met me at the Laramie Care Center to help pack and move Mother's belongings back to the home we share. Mother has been in the hospital and/or nursing home since November 8 when she fell, severely breaking her ankle. Most of the care she received was fine (with a few exceptions that took this aggravated daughter into the advocacy (okay, assertive to the point of aggression) role. But let's face it, institution food is institution food so....her top choice for her first meal home is beef stew.
Mother is a happy camper to be home again!
Right now the stew is simmering and its aroma is fighting with the right-out-of-the-oven-chocolate chip cookies to see which fragrance will win. Sipping a cup of hot, strong coffee--not like that watery stuff at the home which is reminiscent of herbal tea, I remembered a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: "If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." We enjoyed the last loaf of a Christmas cranberry bread which brought forth tales about fruitcakes that are passed around in a family for years and years and never eaten, who drinks the brandy, whisky and rum so that new must be purchased every fruitcake making season, why not just put it all together and make a fruitcake smoothie. In our family everyone loves fruitcake and we enjoyed for many winter deserts when we were growing up.
Making fruit cake a couple of years ago!Beef stew and fruitcake can serve in a sacramental way for me. Because the various ingredients retain their own particular shape, flavor and aroma they are an example of the church which values the gifts and talents of each individual. Together like this we are more the fragrance of Christ and the salt of the earth. When I hear that the church is a melting pot I think of a cheese fondue or a smoothie. These blends may be nice in their own way, but I like the grace of keeping differing gifts, theologies and understandings in a creative tension. There have been moments at Vestry meetings, Diocesan Councils, General Convention when the differences have led to "vigorous fellowship" but in those times when we celebrate the grace of diversity in unity, rather than seeking a common uniformity, I am most proud and glad to know this comfort of my church home.