Sunday, June 19, 2016

Embracing the Grief of Others

Recently our church in White Swan was home to a funeral. A community already overrun with loss,  exploited by injustice, a youth's life cut short by tragic accident; we gathered at our "home".

Those clinging to Jesus through this trial bonded through the evidence of faith and certainty of eternal life.  My husband shared of this hope in Christ.  Others shared common stories and memories.  Still others came to sing the old songs lovingly over one so young. The songs are the work of mourning intended to send the loved one along on their journey from this earth.

My work was in the kitchen. Those who come to mourn are fed for the days of preparation and services. Some food is requested and some is donated. The cook is the one to create a meal with the ingredients given.  All sit down together to eat and an opportunity is always given for an elder to speak; addressing the group with an inspired word, encouragement, or admonishment.

The meal after the burial filled three tables with pounds of salmon, elk meat, roots, berries, along with pintos, potato salad, rice, gravy, fruit salad,fry bread and jam. Spirits were lifted, which is important when hopelessness is rampant. Grief and pain are no strangers to these families.  I too was given some comfort through the process.  My brother in law and nephew are suffering in their battles against cancer. They are miles and miles away, so as I serve those near me now, I move in faith, believing that my Heavenly Father will provide comfort in their needs as well.

Gloria Furman wrote, "It is his strength that gives us what we need in order to nurture life in the face of death and through a million deaths-to-self each day." The Pastor's Wife, 13.

I want to nuture life all around me, to pray for life both near and far away.
May I grow in grace and continue to be able to embrace the suffering of others both here and miles away.

Monday, April 11, 2016


The tires roll over long rez roads on Thursdays.  The girls pile in after school, practice, or taking care of siblings at home.  They adjust, quietly chatter, and look forward to the evening plans.  My 3rd born began this young group, now off to school herself, I keep it going with a motherly touch.  They gratefully accept my efforts and pass the time together, seven of them tonight. Seven young women wondering what lies ahead for them.  Do they remember I am praying for them? Will that comfort them when they fight to survive next?

We drive on...past fields just greening, patches of dust, sagebrush blooming, shacks leaning, and the constancy of Pahto looming, the snow covered mountain steadfast to us all.  Tires roll over long rez roads, but it is time well liked. Energy climbing like tires on the ridge, the giggling is contagious, ascending in mass. The hour of driving electric with laughs and games. Acreage hazy in dusk is oblivious to such joyous change - the breaking of the norm. Joy with momentum surrounded by brokenness.

A week flies by and the same ones pile in for the evening together again. At this days end we start out on those long rez roads; this ride defined by a silence of peaceful rest.  Peace settles on young souls soothed by tires humming on gravel and melody floating out on the air.  A cool breeze brushing faces from the window reminds me of the Holy Spirit softening hearts.  Another breaking of the norm, hearts relaxing together to the point of dozing off on the long roads in sunset. A moment to forget trauma, chaos, or fear while surrounded by love. A love which points to that perfect love which casts out all fear. We end the day driving long rez roads together in peace.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Seeing Resurrection

Moments of seeing Jesus
(instead of myself)
are moments of seeing resurrection-
in myself,
in others,
in the broken fallen world around me,
in the building of the Kingdom.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Advent yearning

My advent season is one of yearning.  Each year I get busier, even as I attempt to take time to contemplate the promises fulfilled by Christmas.

This morning I drove Connie to school, with little one in the back seat.  Ann Marie let us know she was leading worship in chapel.  The live stream began just as I turned to drive home.  I was listening to connect with my daughter more than to the Lord.  The last couple weeks have left my soul parched, my body tired, and my heart aching.  A chinook wind blew all night with beating rain.  The snow from last week now vanished - and I don't feel too steadfast myself.  I listened to the worship and suddenly Re began to sing "Holy, Holy, Holy" acapella, as a Christmas song.  As she sang the first stanza, I was driving a long grey rez road. In beautiful coordination, an orchestra of sound and sight, the sun rose above dark clouds like a delayed sunrise with brilliant yellows and oranges.

For the first time in a while I felt my soul worship in God's majesty and beauty. Exaltation for Him welled up within me, causing my soul to finally catch up with my heart and mind. I couldn't stop the tears as I drove, so I just gave them to the Lord.  In a few moments I heard sniffles from behind me.  Maybe little one, feeling lost and fearful in this world, released tears to the Lord as well. We are both moving into the Christmas season with an up close view of problems, hurt, and suffering.

As I assess needs within me, needs behind me, needs all around me in the community; may I remember the lines from "St Patricks' Breastplate".

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,                                                                   
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
The promises of a Savior are true and ready for me to grasp every day. May I remember this especially during these days of advent.
"Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!  Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee."          written by Reginald Heber, 1826, from Revelation 4:8

Monday, October 26, 2015

Weary one (July '15)

Her face may bear a scar.  This little one has known us for all of her four short years. Today, even when the crafts, games, and bubbles arrived, her eyes reflected only hurt and pain.

I took her into my lap, cocooning her in her silence.
"A fan blade hit her cheek," the story being told.
The wound went deeper than surface and tender skin.
The routine of crafts less soothing on this day,
story time brought her,
finding her way back to my lap.
Holding snack and drink,
head rested,
eyes closed
to the comfortable sound of Good News.

"Hope" is the thing with feathers

October 26, 2015  
 It's been a while since I've written, even my journaling has slacked off in recent months.  I went back to my journal and realized I am kinda stuck on the word "hope".  Do I keep hoping by looking
up - or forward?
     If "hope" is the thing with feathers, then could I be in a season of molting? Is that even possible?  Woman in her 40's to lose the feathers made shiny by her children's daydreams, ruffled proud by her children's make believe play and future promise. Can she drop feathers puffed and guarding the bittys under wing? After all, those bittys have put out feathers of their own for flying.
     What kind of feathers are needed now? Can I too return to a place of childlike faith and put on new feathers?  Feathers to fly with renewed hope and purpose?  My old feathers don't just represent my motherhood, but my attempts at full time ministry as a ministers wife, my feathers often puffed out in desire to love and protect my community. I have spread my wings out for those glowing with hope, whose suffering or pain, like a growing storm cloud, suffocated the spark kindled - and any hope felt.  My hope for my spiritual children seems weakened, it is the losses that are hard to shake.

Is my loss Christ's gain?

It is time for a season marked by emotional losses to be transformed into hopes.  Renewed hope carried with new feathers.

"Hope" is the thing with feathers-
That perches in the soul-
And sings the tune without the words-
and never stops - at all-

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
     Emily Dickinson

"Now hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24-25

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What makes you sing?

"Words make you think, music makes you feel, a song makes you feel a thought."             E.Y. Harburg

      Do you ever recognize a song in your voice, but you're not singing your favorite song? Has that sound ever caught you off guard? One of my good friends on the Yakama reservation made me think of singing. She is not a singer, and doesn't normally go around humming; but one day this past winter her voice was different. She was speaking words but the cadence was lighter, the tone was sweeter. I was reminded of a voice in song. For her, a visit from relatives far away brought about the change. Not only did they remind her of her childhod, they brought her heart language, Navajo. As a single mom raising 5 children up north, she has only spoken Navajo on the phone. The relatives brought her language back to her and into her own home. Within 24 hours, her voice was singing, even in English, which she speaks to me every day.
     Not everyone would have noticed the slight hesitation before choosing her English words or the new tone in her voice, but she is my friend and I heard a song in the words which wasn't there before. I found myself wishing I could tap into that deep place which she connects with. How can I be a friend who can mirror true identity and help another's voice sing? Oh, that I would be a good enough friend to listen to anothers' heart song, and to share the ultimate reason for my own heart song. We each have a background story we connect deeply to, like background music it set a tempo for our lives early on. Through the Gospel this music can be altered, and even unified.  I believe that there is a universal heart language that can bring forth a song in each of us through Christ. We can listen to each others' song and together become a choir.

Ps 89:1"I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord forever"
Is 12:3-5"I will trust and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song...sing praises to the Lord for he has done gloriously"