Wednesday, February 25, 2009


It's Ash Wednesday. We took the afternoon off for prayerand reflection. I was amused by a reading from Father Judge we use for Ash Wednesday in which he reminds us that God desires to purify and cleanse us.

On the outside I am dripping with an especially generous smear of ashes on my forehead. But on the inside, I am really pretty thoroughly purified and cleansed. I am getting a colonoscopy tomorrow and have fasted all day and I consumed the nasty stuff they make you drink to clean you all out.

The other day, while the snow was drifting down in huge wet flakes, I went for a walk. First I tried making a snowman. Just on general principles. I got the three basic parts but lost interest and wandered off into the woods. The woods were lovely, dark, and deep. During the summer, I would never go off the trail like that because of getting lost or worse, getting poison ivy. But I just slogged on down past the pool and found remnants of the barbwire fence that was needed when Lydia the Pony of unhappy memory dwelt here long ago.

I also found something else quite remarkable. I found a beach ball. I am not sure I can convey what an odd sight it was, a brightly colored, fully inflated beach ball, nestled against a tree trunk, draped in snow. I picked it up and it was tight and light in my hands. I could almost smell the chlorine. I could feel the heat of the sun on my bare arms. I could imagine the kids playing water volleyball, watching in dismay as the ball sailed over the fence into the woods. Where it reposed, forgotten until now.

But still bright. Still light. Still ready for action. I eventually made my way back up the hill and gave the ball to the snowman.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

In the movie, things were pretty grim for Jimmy Stewart. An economic crisis. In fact, all kinds of terrible and stupid and tragic things happen every day. I have a tendency to thank God when things are going well, and yell at God when they aren't.

I have had some hard things on my mind lately. My young cousin died a few weeks ago. Also, I am trying to wrap my mind around the fact of the terminal illness of someone I have loved and admired for many years. Somehow, these things seem completely unfair to me. I am on speaking terms with God, but I am less than civil, I have to admit.

I have watched commentary on the nightly n
ews about people's attitudes about mortgage help for those who do not deserve it. I am not sure if it's a cultural thing, or if humans are simply wired to think this way, but we seem convinced despite all evidence to the contrary, that life should be fair. Yes, inevitably, some folks who lived foolish and undeserving lives are going to get some bailout money. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.

But having reflected on this often over the years, I am sure that I do not want justice. For one thing, let's start with the fact that justice is impossible. There is no justice in executing a murderer. Justice would be for the murderer to bring his victim back to life. We can never, ever get back what we are owed when we are sinned against. We have to settle for less. So let's take what we reasonably can, and move on.

I don't want justice. I want mercy. I want the rain to fall on all of us, the gentle rain of new life, of resurrection, of spring, of Easter.

There is no justice in Lisa's death. There is no justice in Annie's cancer. I have to take what lies before me and move on. Today's forecast was for rain. Outside my window I am gazing at the trees of Trinita, covered already in the thick, soft whiteness of falling snow. It is God's answer to me, I know. No words, no ex
planations or theological arguments. Just the snow, the beauty, the peace, the abundance of God's love and mercy, blanketing each and every one of us. No matter what.