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Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

Fire dances, mesmerizes and consumes. It can quickly go from subtle, romantic and soothing, like my evening candle of ambience, to raging maniacal destruction, as I witnessed earlier this year in the aftermath of the horrors of the deathly California wild fires.

Somehow this fire display on my trip to Costa Rica last month, felt safe and calming, when surrounded by water.

Set fire to the sky, the sea and the spirit…

The Fire Dancer seduced the audience with her sultry moves, her body ever-changing with the beat of her soul

Thank You, God, for setting fires which refine and redefine, through death and rebirth. Thank You for new beginnings and for hope on the other side of destruction. Help us to always know that new growth only comes through the tests of fire.

Happy Easter, y’all!

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Who can resist a well-earned Special Olympics smile from a kid who wasn’t supposed to live past age 4?

David turns 18 in 22 days!

Thank You, God, for defying all odds, for playing the ultimate April Fool’s joke on death – showing the universe for once and for all that where death seems inevitable, life rocks on!

That there is no such thing as finality, that You are the only Omega…and Your gift is eternal life. May we always recognize that those things seeming to a close = opportunity for new beginnings in ways we haven’t yet fathomed.

And therein lies faith…and trust. Faith and trust that there is always more in store than we can possibly know or deserve in our finite wisdom. Thanks, God, for perpetual resurrection and preciousness in all things. SMILE!!

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May the Son shine upon Your face…both rising and setting…

Hey, God…Thank You for the setting that we may behold yet another Rising. Thanks for Your promise that those things that disappear and set in the sky, will again appear, rise and shine! That even if the worst case scenario comes true, that we can still count on You to rise again and make full and complete, that which once seemed empty and hopeless.

Thank You, God, for believing first in uS, that we might always believe in You.

Thank You for riches in simplicity.

Lord…Let us all be like this sunrise above, illuminating all that we see, shimmering light on darkness, and dancing reflections of Hope in You and Your eternal light.

Happy Easter, dear Readers!

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It’s been awhile, friends. I’ve missed y’all!
I did not abandon the blog, but have been pleasantly distracted by this, that and the other in life, like…
 

Monitoring my teenagers’ phones and finding stuff like this

 
 

Selling the farm

 
 

Easter Egging

  

Teaching young men to be gentlemen

  

Coming home to a fountaining water heater and getting a new one

  

Noticing odd photo ops

  

Finding out my kid discovered Photo Shop on my iPad

  

PMSing

 
 

Trying a lighter hair shade, going Garth-Blonde

 
 

Getting to see what my town looks like from the air

  

Getting one of two hip replacements

  

Doing a homemade color-by-numbers during recovery

 

Bloodletting

  

Barely getting out of the hospital alive (note listed allergies & plate)

  

Watching Mr. Lizard go a-courtin’

 
 

Mardi Gras parades & assorted residual loot

  

Being visited by a cardinal

  

Septic fun!

  

Coming home to find the silverware gnomes organized my silverware drawer

  

S’mores…

  

…over a warm winter fire dancing

  

Savoring thoughtful sentiments from little ones

  

Hot morning coffee in the cool spring sun

 

A winter walk on the beach

  

Turning 50

  

A little getaway to my favorite Suites

 
Thanks, God, for a long season of joy, renewal, hope and resurrection. Thank You for the dead of winter yielding to the lifeSpring of growth and eternal life. May my readers be thusly blessed in their seasons, as well. 

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Long after the thousands of ground-kissing passengers disembarked the ill-fated Carnival Triumph, the not-so-triumphant ship continues to occupy the skyline, in sick bay.

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“Somebody” has to fix her before too many more trips are cancelled.

Too bad the passengers didn’t stick around long enough to dig their toes in our sand, but I can understand wanting to go home after being adrift  – it’s all about longsuffering faith and the promise of redemption, of finally getting where we know we belong.

The Triumph has fooled me since she’s been in port. By day, the massive ship demands everyone’s attention simply by it’s important size and position. You can’t NOT look. It then seizes the imagination of what it must be like on the inside.

But passing by the ship at night, the first glance affords blazing windows, shimmering shadows within, as though there were parties in every room on every floor. Kind of like the “Home Alone” scene where the naughty burglars cruise by at night and imagine the house is fully occupied with the party of the year going on inside.

Inside, you imagine endless halls of excitement waiting to be discovered. Richly decorated rooms, elaborate design, posh furnishings and a collection of even more valuable but complicated lives of the party. Endless offerings of exquisite food. A sensory overload of visually tantalizing playthings like pools with waterfalls and tunnels, never-ending games, entertainment of your choice on demand. Golden trays of wealth, wisdom and wit delivered to you poolside (or even bedside), with fun little umbrellas topping every thirst-quenching drink of distraction.

Everything to indulge and satisfy the never-satisfied, always-hungry soul, the soul adrift at sea and far from home port.

But upon closer scrutiny, the heart sinks: it was merely a mirage, the strong shipyard floodlights beaming upon her from without, merely ghosts of shadows within of good times passed, hollow and devoid of life. Totally empty. Spirits of What Was, dancing amid the destruction of failure. Darkness swallows the Triumph as she impatiently awaits her new Engine, new plumbing, new interior – her new Life.

What appeared to be a fun ship on an exotic voyage, an attractive fruit in the garden of life, turned out to be a black, empty void, a hollow shell. Yet it was empty as any of the rest of us, vulnerable and of dust, ultimately reliant.  Nothing without new Life.

In the end (and always without warning and at the most inconvenient of times), the Triumph failed, and miserably. In the process, its failure siphoned off the joy of the thousands who trusted her to provide all that glitters. Like all of us, at some point she realized she was adrift in an expansive sea, carrying tremendous responsibility and no way to get Home.

There had to be that moment of helpless panic. The mighty ship had to rely on a tiny, barely visible tow line in order to reach her point of restoration.

This is no simple engine replacement job, not with several stories’ worth of backed up toilets for days on end to be reckoned with. God bless those good-sport passengers. Good thing the shipyard has plenty-o-cranes. And lots of fresh air. The amount of effort, expense and time it takes is directly proportional to the size of the failure, and then some.

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Get well soon, dear Triumph.

(And next time, please dock here not just in times of sickness, but also in health).

May your Easter be blessed with reflections on the hope that comes with vulnerability. May you cling with fervent faith to tiny tow lines taking you Home.  And may you bask in the love of His restoration that awaits us in Port. Thank God for His Shipyard and His promise of new, triumphant life in Jesus.

Happy Easter, y’all!

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We all watched with awkward attention and stifled amusement to see how the officiant was going to recover the somber tone of the Good Friday service after The Great Disruption. With an ear-shattering crash in the ancient, echoey cathedral, the Very Reverend Dude’s cell phone slipped out of his swishing, toe-length black robe and busted into three chunks in front of the altar, just prior to the Veneration of the Cross. The rest of us had put our meager petitions before the cross, which was shrouded in a black veil; our fearless leader had sacrificed and presented his iPhone – in trinity – to the good Lord.

It was almost as much fun to behold as it was to experience God sending the direct message that men are men, life is life and that what counts is our direct line to Him that we ourselves maintain, apart from man-made rituals. And that death signals life.

It was a message of freedom; an unyoking of worldly hangups.

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The call had come at the 11th hour earlier this week, after a frenzied voice mail was unable to be returned. The father of the children was discovered slumped over, dead. Too young. Too unexpected. And just when things were getting good. They knew he’d been stressed out about his children, and had been grieved at their ongoing waywardness. He had done everything he’d known to do, even promising to save them from every monster and evil that dared haunt and taunt, proving his power and love in so many ways, but still they strayed. It seemed the more opportunities he gave, the more sick they became, the more trapped in dysfunction.

How bittersweet it was for him – and them – and those who loved them – to see that the only way they seemed to get better, to thrive and grow upright, was for him to remove himself altogether.

He couldn’t do it himself, it took the one who held authority over their disposition, and over his desire for them to heal, to hold firm in drawing a line. The line was drawn very clearly – gradually over a few weeks, but very distinctly – and it became clear to all that in order for success in growth, the cord had to be cut. It was said figuratively – the last thing that was said to him, in fact…but had they known that was the last time he would be seen alive, would they have done or said anything differently? Would the hug have lasted a lot longer? What would the last chosen words have been, instead of the words used under the assumption that there would be a tomorrow?

When someone dies, the grief process seems universal…the shock, the sadness, the denial – is this for real? – the bargaining. Replaying our last words on the phone. And in person. The last voice mail, the last text. Hanging on for dear life…wait, was it something I said or did? why him? Why not me, Lord?

The authority had an inkling that the intermediary had a soft spot for these errant children who fed into the intermediary’s soft spot. Had he not been there for them, like them, he might not have felt for them as much, but it had to be. But the authority saw through the fleshly feelings and the perpetuating sickness, and commanded the cord be cut.

There had to be separation in order for there to be unity and harmony.

There had to be baptismal suffocation, drowning and death in order for there to be resurrection, growth and new life. The baptism as crucifixion, yielding to perfection, renewal and eternity.

The anguish of the one imposing the necessary separation was very great, but there was no choice. When one does their best job, when one assesses a situation and determines the best course of action and executes the plan, it is difficult, but the affirmation of righteousness counterbalances any sense of regret.

For when you know a painful ending represents and yields a fruitful beginning, you know right has been done.

Will you have the mettle to get through the pain, with the promise of a new beginning? What kind of faith does that take?

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Back at the cathedral, the stately priest had passionately inserted into the ritual an unholy “Oh, NO!” as he gathered his long robe in one hand and sheepishly collected his cell phone parts with his other hand. The elderly ladies stiffened with anxiety upon his departure from the words in the Book of Common Prayer;  the younger adults gently strained to see which version of the iPhone he had just demolished. And she, near the back, contemplated that had he not dropped his phone in the middle of this serious occasion, holy day preceding holier of days, could she have otherwise have been so aptly reminded that men are just men, and that He came to us to be one of us? That He died for us, so we could have eternal life?

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The one child threw her arms around and thanked, strangely relieved and released. A totally unexpected response. We had prepared for the worst, with extra support, emergency response ready and all manner of funereal protocol.

But the child sang. She sang of how had there been no death, she would not be able to move forth. This young child who was too young to be privy to such concepts, communicated her freedom and joy in knowing the death was real and true, and it moved her. It moved her forward. She had great plans to no longer be wayward, and looked ahead to a new beginning, a new chance.

How do we get caught up in the ways of the world, that we forget and neglect such basic truths, as how death yields to birth, how dormancy produces life, the dead of winter begets the birth of spring? And a shattered iPhone will necessitate the purchase of a newer model?

There must always be a Great Disruption in order for things to get better, lest we slumber and bumble along down the wrong path.

I have no doubt the Lord used the death that rocked my week to draw me closer and remind me of a few important things. That is so cool how He neatly ties everything together in the end, even if we can’t fathom how or why something happens.

Death becomes new life…what better reason to celebrate?

He is risen! Happy Easter, my friend.

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Mandatory Fun

“Sorry,” the ferry captain shook his head. “The two cars at the very front of the line will be lucky if they get on…capacity is 170 people. Everybody from the other side parked over there, bought round-trip tickets to come over here for the parade and will be getting back on for the 2:00 eastbound. We won’t be able to add any cars. You’ll either have to wait for the 3:30 (if there’s even room then) or join the bumper-to-bumper crowd over the bridge. Have fun, y’all,” he winked.

Stranded in Paradise.

Again.

My only option was to hang loose and have fun. Mandatory fun. No way out of it.

“I have to stay for the parade…I can’t get off the island. Sorry, sweetie…” (said with semi-sincere furrowed brow).

My shift ended at 12:30; here I thought I had concocted a brilliant escape off the island to get to watch the parade from the ferry line AND get off the island first, avoiding the traffic and crowds. But, oh well…I should have known there would be 170 others seeking a designated driver this time of year, here. So the auto-ferry was transformed into a party-boat.

Fact: Southerners know how to party. In fact, I think we invented the word, since I don’t recall hearing of any or many notorious celebrations north of the Mason-Dixon line which have endured for so many centuries in our nation.

Mardi Gras preceded them all, beginning in 1699. There exists a certain obligation to maintain traditions in the South which is always steeped in deep pride and unrivaled enthusiasm. Such  is the phenomenon of Mardi Gras, and one which must only be experienced firsthand, since many of the facets of Mardi Gras can seem to an outsider trivial, frivolous, wasteful, or any number of such judgments.

And what is so wrong with a tradition of relaxed fun? Or a month of it, for that matter? After all, life is hard and all too short. It really is a win-win, especially when old and young alike have a week off – no, 10 days – to look forward to (you know, Lundi (Monday) Gras, Fat Tuesday, a day thrown in to tip hats to President’s day and a couple of (*snort*) “teacher’s work days…”). Even local federal offices are ghost towns on Fat Tuesday; there is no business conducted to speak of on the biggest parade days, where all along the Gulf Coast, most cities have multiple parades throughout the day. This is about the only business being done:

Vendors are a pre-parade event in and of themselves.

So we backed out of the ferry line, made our way down the boulevard lined 10 people deep waiting for the parade, and managed to find a parking space next to a Sheriff’s car – no one dared park on the grass by him until Mrs. Brash here pulled up in front of him, but by then it was so crowded, he was happy for us just to get the heck off the street, and smiled/nodded his blessing upon us as we pulled the beach chairs out of the trunk (yes, they remain in the trunk at all times – you never know when you’ll need them around here).

Y'all come on down and find a spot...

Prime parking spot headed toward the bridge headed off the island, prime spot lining the parade route to sit/stand/enjoy, all we had to do was wait. And have fun. No choice in the matter. Sealed fate, more or less.

Southerners love their hats for every occasion...

Mardi Gras appeals to all 5 senses. Missing from this post would be the smells and the feel. Smells of multiple barbecues in progress up and down the roadside mixed with the sea air, with a wisp of a molecule or two every few breezes, of various beverages being consumed somewhere deep in the crowd. Fresh cotton candy and funnel cakes. Shrimp boils and gumbo. We saw them setting up shop at 8 am, already claiming their spot on the parade route, coolers unloaded, tailgates open.

Southerners love any excuse to have a tailgate party!

And the feel…of catching beads and moon pies, the warm sunshine beaming on your smiling face.

Throw me something, mister!

Oh, and the sounds…of the endlessly festive cacophony of music, some coming from truck stereos, some coming from the parade itself. The sound of children chanting for beads as the floats roll past – “Hey, mister, throw me something!” and when mounted police or other police-type parade participants roll by, children jokingly calling to them to throw them some handcuffs instead. Alas, no handcuffs, but always plenty of beads, moon pies, stuffed animals, trinkets and treasures.

Some parades are  better than others, but all parades have something to offer, something to send you away feeling glad that you came.

Mardi Gras parades are not spectator sports...they are interactive social events.

This wise guy drove a "Hardly-Dangerous."

This float-puller felt the need to have an open box of Cheez-Its on his dash for the drive. It ain't a party without food of some sort...

While everybody else was reaching for beads, I was analyzing the car and driver. Boar's head with borrowed horns, crap all over the dash (air horn, cd out of case, roll of electric tape, etc.). Come as you are!

Why do we celebrate? Because of Jesus, although He seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle, not unlike Christmas. Mardi Gras is the last hurrah before Lent, when we straighten up our spiritual posture and assume a more reverent regard for Him as we await the celebration of His resurrection.

Death gave way to life...okay, so it's a stretch to pair a skeleton dude and the Easter bunny together and make something meaningful about Jesus out of it, but...traditions water down into representations over time. At least we are reminded - our choices hence are up to us.

Hey, God – thank you for good times, for reminding us daily of You (in ways we choose or do not choose to notice), and, of course, for the fun You afford us along The Way.

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