Enjoying Winter and Getting Ready for Spring – Jan/Feb 2014

Enjoying Winter and getting ready for Spring go together for me. I nearly always enjoy Winter –  it’s just that sometimes it seems to go on a bit long. (Not as long as I was once used to, living in Vermont – though there are days on which it can feel almost as long…) When I was younger and single and living in Vermont, my basic concept was to stay warm and keep winter moving along by staying busy. I’d stack firewood, exercise, read, go to work.. play pick-up basketball week nights, and be part of a weekly fly-tying session, spreading hooks, hackle-feathers and other tying materials across a table by a wood stove, talking and tying flies for the open-water season ahead, in anticipation of ice-out sometime after mid-to-late April… Now keeping busy enough is never a problem. Staying in the right frame of mind for the season can, however, still be a challenge… With colder weather everything seems to take a little longer. (I even procrastinate longer in winter.) But I’ve been noticing that it’s less difficult to do something I’ve been putting off (like writing a newsletter article) when I notice something beautiful happening. This morning I stood warming oatmeal on the stove, sipping coffee, looking out the kitchen window at snow falling and birds feeding… As usual on snowy days, there’s abundance of birds – chickadees, taking turns at the feeder, junkos, preferring to eat their seed off the floor and rail of the porch, a tufted titmouse (we had to look that one up), a brilliant cardinal…a robin farther off in a tree. Wind-blown swirls of snow rise and fall from fir trees. Oatmeal starts to bubble. I turn the stove down, stirring, saying psalms, singing Bless the Lord, my soul, and bless God’s holy name… Bless the Lord, my soul, who leads us into life…(#2013 in The Faith We Sing.) After breakfast we read from The Upper Room, Rohi singing an opening prayer, me doing the bible reading, Reah and Rohi together alternating lines reading the devotional, all joining in the closing prayer. Then it’s out to shovel the walk and car and church porch steps, snow still falling, so light it’s still fun to shovel. (How quickly snow can get heavy and no-fun-at-all-to-shovel if I leave it too long…) Back inside, reading psalms and the Sunday readings…Finally I’m ready to write…With less now to say, but more focused… After thinking of many other possibilities… I’ve come around to just one short book that I’m suggesting we read and discuss: Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schnase (Methodist Bishop of the Missouri Conference). When I think about what’s beautiful in our churches and how to bring the beauty into better focus, these five practices are all in view… And when I pray about how to get there from here, I think of John Wesley’s phrase, “holy conferencing” – meaning talking prayerfully together about God’s desire for us and our desire for God. So I am hoping and praying that we will commit to reading the book together and discussing it prayerfully. We can work out the details of when and where we meet; first we need to commit and start reading… Meanwhile, just a very short preview… The first of these five...

read more