Jesus and his disciples loved this garden. It was a safe comfortable place with deep grass and a light breeze. It was dark, and they settled into the quiet, some even falling asleep. Jesus tapped Peter, James and John, and asked them to come with him, and they went without question. He asked them to wait for him as he moved “a stone’s throw” away. He had felt agitated, and at first wanted company, then wanted to be by himself. As he stood alone in the dark a feeling of panic descended on him, a gripping fear that he had never experienced before. He fell to the ground, sweat dripping from his face. His body said walk away from this place, no, run. It is dark. They will never be able to find you, run. He stood up, turned and walked back to the three men he had brought with him. They were sleeping. He turned and walked away. He could slip away and they would not know that he had gone. He turned back to them. They were sleeping. They trusted him, and he had brought them to this place and this hour. They trusted him. How could he abandon them? Did he not trust his own mission? He had been so sure of what he was called to do. Did he not trust himself or the One who called him? He felt the coolness of a dawn breeze and could see a grayness in the eastern sky. He felt a calmness descend upon him. He would trust. He had to trust. He looked across the valley and he could see torches moving toward him. He woke up the three men and led them back to the others. When the men with the torches arrived, he held out his hands. They tied him and led him away.
reflection by John Houk
Music is the inspiration of the Spirit.
It allows us to celebrate with joy,
singing, dancing, like Miriam with her tambourine.
It groans forth from the depths of our being
when we grieve our losses.
It gets our bodies moving in exercise,
and marches with the those protesting against injustice.
Music eases our anxiety, soothes us, helps us to heal,
and sustains us when we need to persevere.
In this time of coronavirus,
music is being sung from balconies,
played on porches, lawns and sidewalks
during social distancing.
Music is found streaming from home studios,
featured on the evening news,
on links sent by friends through the internet.
While we are “sheltering in place”
music is speaking to us about who we are,
and that we are not alone.
Music is bringing us together.
March 25th, nine months before December 25th,
the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.
Yes, God is with us.
We see Jesus, working through others, is with us.
During this time of the coronavirus, we have gratitude and ask blessings upon:
the nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, clinic, hospital and nursing home staff, who are putting their lives on the line while meeting our medical needs;
those who are serving people who are confined to prisons and jails, people living in homeless shelters and senior living communities, where social distancing is almost impossible;
those who are working long hours to provide the needed medical and health supplies, and those who are volunteering to do what they can to help;
and to friends and neighbors, and people who do not even know us, who reach out to ask if we need anything.
Bless them and keep them safe, O God.
We had a pumpkin for Halloween, and when the season was over, we cooked, mashed and froze the pumpkin for future desserts. As I was cooking pumpkin custard this morning, I thought about our global community and how we support one another. I thought of the local farmers who raised the chickens and milked the cows so that I could have eggs and milk. I thought of the workers in a warmer southern country who harvested the cane for my sugar, and the people far off on an Eastern continent who provided the spices to make the custard smell and taste so good. My simple dessert depended upon all of these people, in all of these lands. I could not have had custard without them. As I enjoy my special treat today, I think of my global community where life has been turned upside down by a virus that is affecting each and every one of us. I am grateful for you, every one of you. May we all work together to defeat this deadly virus. May you be blessed with good health. And may we all remember our global community.
Yesterday as I sat at our dining room table gazing across the pond, I had an experience very similar to something our daughter wrote in her e-mail to us today:
This morning I had to get up early to go get a mammogram (just a routine screening), and as I was grumpily walking to the clinic, the birds were all singing away, and I was like “How can you be singing?! Don’t you know that we are dealing with the coronavirus?!” And then I realized what a nitwit I was. Nothing like birds singing to help you see the long view.
During Lent this year it is easy for us to get caught up in all of the late winter darkness, the seriousness of this pandemic, which has now reached South Bend, the divisiveness of political fighting, the daily news that beats us down. Yes, we need to pay attention and do what we are capable of doing to prevent illness, to heal the pain, to comfort and care for one another. However, in doing so we must not forget to experience God’s good creation, to see the beauty, to observe the little things, and to stand in awe of the mystery before us. The song of the bird is one of hope, of springtime arriving soon, of the light overcoming the darkness.
This Lent, O God,
enlighten my mind so as to know your Word,
let me see and appreciate beauty, mystery and diversity that is around me,
let me hear the voice of the poor,
fill my heart with compassion,
let me wrap my arms around others with love,
move my legs where you want me to go
as I journey with your people towards Easter sunrise.
The following poem touched me this season:
The gate is open
dare we enter
the snow looks heavy, deep,
the woods, dark, deeper still
the Star we’re told,
is somewhere beyond
on the other side of fear,
The gate is open
dare we enter
—-Sister Peronne Marie Thibert
Would not this world be a wonderful, awesome place,
if we made real the words of the Prophet Isaiah?
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more...
Come let us walk in the light of our God!
Christ is risen. Alleluia!
Christ is risen, indeed. Alleluia, Alleluia!
May we move out of darkness and chaos
into the light and new life.
In joy and hope,
A Blessed Easter to all.
Allen and Sue is a novel-length story written in collaboration with my husband, John, as an extension of our ministry. It is our hope that this story will be of interest to those who have experienced PTSD, suffered domestic violence, struggled to find help in community, mistakenly believed that sex and salvation are incompatible, searched for the right neighborhood in which to raise children, or wondered where the Church was when you needed it. The story is also for those who would provide pastoral ministry to the wounded. Genesis teaches us that it is not good to be alone and that two will become one flesh. We believe that the message of Genesis applies to all of us, all of us; no one is excluded.
There is no fee for downloading or even printing the story, if you choose. Jesus sent his disciples out two by two with no money in their purse, so we ask for no payment. If you like the story pass it on. That is all the payment we need.
Read Allen and Sue