Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust

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“The ashes on my forehead do not represent my wrongness.  They represent His rightness.”-KR

In all my years wandering on this planet, I have never understood a person’s ability to say they are not spiritual.  The encounters with stubborn atheists and fanatical ‘bible thumpers’ all revolve around one central issue, our souls.  The mysterious part of us that makes us…us.  It drives who we are, who we choose to be, and who we will become.  Our soul is a very broad term, which truly encapsulates, how a person views themselves.  Yet, how can a living, breathing, person not be spiritual.  We all have a soul and that soul is what makes us a spiritual being.

On this reverent day in the church year, we remember we were dust and to dust we shall return.  I will attend church with my boys this evening to have those words spoken over each of us.  It helps me to remember we are a fleeting glimpse out the window of the universe’s travels.  My spiritual/soulful self will embrace that reminder, again.

May you find peace in your soul, love in your heart and a joyful spirit that embraces your own spirituality.

Travel well my friends.

ash-wednesday

Frivolous Friday

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I sat ensconced in warmth, munching salted chips, thinking the world looks cold.  People pass by, bundled, trying to keep the icy air at bay.  The police officer writing tickets for the parking meters looks like Ralphie’s brother from A Christmas Story.  Her arms are stiff from all the fluffy padding of her winter attire.  The homeless man with all his earthly possessions, wheeling behind him, is moving tirelessly.  He pauses for only a few moments to rest before moving off, around the corner out of my sight.  I hope he finds somewhere warm and safe to pass the rest of the day, out of the biting cold.  College kids hurry past, heads down racing to the next building on campus before they freeze.

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The music is too loud here, so my mind blocks out all the noise and I focus outside where the sound is released to collide with other sounds.  The conversations echo off one another.  I am trying to focus on the conversation with my friend but between bites of food and my brain shutting out all the noise, it is difficult.

The gentle sloping roof of the building next door makes me wonder why all buildings are not built with curves.  The roof line looks elegant.  Plus with the recent snowstorm the weight of the snow slid gracefully off the roof to pile on the grass below.  The huge art in the grassy area near the curved roof structure is still covered with snow.  The snow adds to the towering monolith, making it seem more robust.

“What do you want to do today?”

I think he asked it twice.  My mind slowly starts firing on ideas.  I smile at him, “Let’s get out of here.”  I say.  “Road trip?”  He smiles back.  One of our favorite pastimes.  He is always up for one of my ‘I-have-no-idea’ kind of ideas.  We bundle up to leave the noise and the picture window behind.

The muffled sounds of the city are a welcome relief for me.  Gone is the blaring music, the cacophony of voices and the racket of a kitchen.  We parked close, to avoid the prolonged cold.  He drives.  I drive like a bat out of hell, so his slower more relaxed style is better for us on these drives.  We head west out-of-town to no where in particular.  I snap pictures as we drive.  I have a general destination in mind but no exact direction is necessary.  I love to just be away, even if it is for just a few hours.  I work on a project, we talk, we absorb the world around us as it flies past us outside the windows.
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The rolling hills go on and on.  We pass a cemetery that has a historic marker posted by it’s entrance.  We pass through small towns that have fur trader businesses, where stacks of furs are covered in snow waiting to be cured and made into…something.  Every town we visit has at least one church and one bar.  What an interesting combination.

Returning home I feel refreshed and relaxed.  My boys are home from school.  It is rejuvenating to travel, even for just a few hours, but it is the coming home I love the most.
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Goodbye

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Saying goodbye is never easy.  I learned that lesson a few years ago when I had to say goodbye to my grandmother.  She was ready to die.  She had lived for almost 92 long, mostly hard years.  The joy she brought to my family was immense.  My selfish heart wanted her to stay by my side forever.  When she died I was devastated.  My head knew she was ready and at peace but every fiber of my being wanted her to live on with me here on this earth.  Last year, my Great Aunt passed away.  It was so sudden I was in shock through most of the process of her final wishes, funeral, and cleaning out her apartment.  Once again I learned how hard it is to say goodbye to those we love and care about.

Today I said goodbye to a man who influenced my life more than he probably knew.  He was the pastor at my church when I was a small child.  I remembered him as the first bald man I ever met, the quiet reserve of authority, and that he could never remember my name.  He always called me Cassandra, and I never corrected him.  I’m not sure why I didn’t correct him, maybe because he was so genuine and I was a little shy.  All I knew was I liked that I had a special name with him, even if it wasn’t my given name.  He was a very kind man.  He was a part of my congregations life well after he was no longer our pastor. 

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I attended the funeral at my home congregation to celebrate his life.  As I walked in the front doors I saw people I knew from years gone by and so many new familiar faces as well.  I sat behind my parents, welcomed into the reserved seating for the pastors.  I guess being a PK (Pastors Kid) allowed for my presence.  It was a beautiful service, full of love and remembrances.  The hymns were sung with pride.  All around me were smiling faces.  Tears were shed as well for the friend, father, husband, grandfather, leader and mentor while the smiles shone through.  He was a great man and saying goodbye is difficult yet I know the lives he touched will carry on his spirit.

Goodbye, I will miss you and thank you.

Small Church, Huge Community

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I come from a family steeped in tradition and faith.  We go to church together, when we gather for family events.  We pray the same table prayer at every meal.  We revel in all the history of our family and embrace our past.  It is not uncomfortable to me.  The traditions give me a solid foundation to live my life.  My faith guides my every decision that crosses my path.

This Christmas season my brother, father and I attended the small country church where my mother guides her congregants as their pastor.  I have attended a few times over the years.  Sometimes with my children and sometimes just with my parents.  I like this tiny little church.  It sits on the crest of a country, dirt road.  There is no parking lot, they simply widened the road to accommodate the parking vehicles.  My mother, being their pastor, has a little sign posted at her parking space that reads, “Reserved for Pastor”.  I have always found that to be a kind gesture for this congregation’s pastor, since this congregation shares their pastor with another small church in a town not far from this church.  There is, of course, a small fenced in cemetery next to the building and swing set on the opposite side of the church.  As you park and walk up to the front of the church it has always amazed me at the beauty of this church.  It is not a flashy, fancy church but I have always felt drawn to the building and the community of people who share their own personal faith with each other.

For in this small church is housed a community of people, that feels as welcoming and loving as coming home to family you have known forever.  The attendance is small in number, but the community is huge.  There are welcomes with genuine smiles.  Sharing of stories like you talk everyday.  Then the service of our faith starts.  The light streams in through the stained glass windows, casting colorful patches everywhere.  The organist plays with the precision of a professional.  The congregation joins in with joyful singing.  Prayers go up to the heavens with heartfelt praise.  The sermon touches your soul and gives your mind something to mull over in the coming week.  It is a very traditional hour of worship.  Recalling my childhood, singing songs I have not sung in a very long time and remembering each note like I sang it just yesterday.  The service concludes and everyone gathers in the tiny narthex on this Sunday after Christmas.  We lightly talk of our Christmases and what family we were able to celebrate with in our gatherings.  We talk of the weather, it is so cold today.  We laugh together.  We wish only wellness for each other.  It is community that is much too large for the tiny confines of this quaint building.

As we leave back down the dirt road, which has been freshly covered with white rock, I reminisce of the small country churches I have attended over my years.  I ponder locations, people, faith, and the building itself.  I think by far this small country church on the hill is my favorite.  Just as the children’s sunday school song says…I am the church, you are the church.  We are the church together.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday Inspirations

I love Sunday mornings!  It is a meditative time for me.  I feel the beginning of the week will start as soon as I finish my morning devotions.  Whether I am in a church, traveling, or in my church home, I feel once I have taken the time to spend some time “talking” to my Lord I am ready to start a new week.  The world will hurl numerous roadblocks at me in my life. It is my responsibility to be as ready as I can be to take on whatever is in my road of life.