Sunday, April 29, 2007

Does anybody know . . .

. . . the name of this flower? It grows on a hedge sort of plant, it's in bloom right now, and it has an incredibly pungent scent.

I'm trying to find out what it is and see if I can get some to grow here at home.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but I'm still learning how to do close-ups with our new camera. (Which tells you I'm getting older, because we've had the camera for two or three years, and I think of it as new!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Grandmother's Freezer

Grandmother had a big “deep freeze” down in her basement. Actually, she had two, but this is the one I tend to remember, because it was there the longest.

I wish I had a picture of her basement pantry, too. She was always prepared to feed any number of people with her multiple freezers and many shelves full of food. I remember when some friends of ours decided to just stop by her house, unannounced, because they figured that way they would save her the trouble of fixing a meal, which she was sure to offer if they had called ahead and planned a visit.

So they just showed up to say hello. Of course she insisted they stay to lunch. I can’t remember what they told me they ate, but it was a full meal with several dishes, bread, etc.

She was just that way.

So, this freezer was at the bottom of the stairs. You can see the staircase on the left side, actually. She would send us down to bring up corn on the cob, or frozen fruit, or a pie shell, or some cut of meat. It was freezing in that freezer! I remember having to stop and warm my fingers up before I could resume looking for something.

Two things amaze me about the freezer. No, three.

First, I’m amazed at how much she cared about people, and how she showed that so concretely in her preparing of food. I don’t know many people who do that today. As much as I admire the trait and love it when I can manage a “real” meal for my husband or for company, I can only hope to someday do it the way she did.

Second, I’m amazed at how well she remembered what all she had in stock! She had these two deep freezes in the basement, as well as a freezer upstairs by the kitchen. And somehow she could tell us which freezer to search for which food, and often she knew which side of the freezer it would be on. Just amazing.

Third, I’m amazed at how well her freezers worked. Just tonight—April 25, 2007—I opened a jar of apple butter that my dad brought to me after Grandmother’s death. (That means it’s been in my freezer for at least three years, so I have to add that I’m amazed it survived so well in our somewhat puny freezer, too.)

But as you can see, this jar was put in her freezer in 1992! And that apple butter is still delicious! (It was unopened until tonight.)

I remember her talking once about wanting to make some apple butter, so I have reason to believe she made this herself, probably with some help.

So, we’re still feeling her love through her cooking. I think that’s pretty amazing.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Green

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Can you imagine, can any of us imagine what it must have been like to see Him risen from the dead? After that horror-filled experience of witnessing his brutal death?
And can you imagine what our lives would be like had his death been the end of the story. I don't even want to imagine. And we don't need to. He is risen indeed.

I would like to share a song that is new to me and really touched me this Easter. (It fits well with my earlier post on the green after the storm.) It's a lovely blending of the natural and the supernatural.

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, Love whom hate had slain,
thinking that never he would wake again;
laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
he that for three days in the grave had lain,
quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
thy touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.
Happy Easter!

(Words by John Macleod Campbell Crum [1872-1958.] I heard it sung to Noel nouvelet, a medieval French carol.)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

Earlier in my life, I used to look at calendars and see the words "Good Friday." I had no idea what it meant. My school never let out for this day. My church certainly knew nothing of this day. (Or if it knew, it did not pass this on! I'm sure someone knew, because one leader in our church had formerly belonged to the Roman Catholic Church.)

Now this day has become one of the most meaningful of the year.

I remember the first time I attended a Good Friday service. It was during the time of the Kosovo war. I was in the midst of remembering the war in Croatia, and beginning to remember and feel things I had not been able to remember and feel since we left Croatia. I was very aware of suffering, death, sin, injustice, and deep pain.

A friend invited to me to the Good Friday service. I went with no idea what to expect.

At that time, we attended a church that had "happy clappy" worship, as some call it. I found it increasingly difficulty to worship there. The emphasis on feeling good because of God's love seemed to have no place for what my heart was going through as I mourned, in my small way, the suffering of two nations. It seemed the only part of life acknowledged in that place was the triumph, the joy, the overcoming. The experiences of war and desolation and homelessness and hunger and inhumanity were never brought up.

So, I went to the Good Friday service with my friend. And for worship, we listened to, and sometimes read aloud together, the Word:

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 -- "Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows."
Psalm 22:1-11 -- "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Hebrews 10:1-25 -- emphasizing the necessity of Christ's sacrifice because sin is so real
John 18:1-19:37 -- the long and painful story of Christ's death

We didn't lift our hands or clap or sway. We knelt. We kept much silence.

We prayed (among other things):

Let us pray for all who suffer and are afflicted in body or in mind;
For the hungry and the homeless, the destitute and the oppressed
For the sick, the wounded, and the crippled
For those in loneliness, fear, and anguish
For those who face tempatation, doubt, and despair
For the sorrowful and bereaved
For prisoners and captives, and those in mortal danger....

Gracious God, the comfort of all who sorrow, the strength of all who suffer: Let the cry of those in misery and need come to you, that they may find your mercy present with them in all their afflictions; and give us, we pray, the strength to serve them for the sake of him who suffered for us, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here was a way of worship that, to me, was much more in touch with reality than the cotton candy of our Sunday mornings. In touch with the reality of what happened 2000 years ago, and in touch with the reality of the suffering of the world we live in today.

Living in America as I do, I worry that we are often so out of touch with the larger world, that God cannot possibly use us to make a difference. And because we are so disconnected from suffering, we cannot begin to understand the suffering that God and Christ went through in order to save us.

We live in a culture that wants to medicate or ignore pain and suffering. But medicating and ignoring do not bring healing. Real medicine can heal, but painkillers don't heal. Sometimes our very worship can be more of a painkiller, or a mood alterer, than real medicine.

But Good Friday is good medicine. It reminds us that we are sick and in need of healing. We are sinners in need of saving.

And He did come to heal and to save. And that is what makes the horrible, sickening events of that day 2000 year ago good. It is truly Good Friday.

And Easter is not far away.