Sunday, November 25, 2012

Everything Changes

I've been thinking about how quickly things can change.
Sometimes in just a day,
our entire world moves
and nothing is ever the same.
 On Thanksgiving day, at about noon, we went for a walk in the woods.
The wind blew brisk and cold, getting colder as we walked.

 We walked about a mile, a wide loop through the 72 acres that my in-laws are buying.

The trees on this land are tall and most have lost their leaves.
It wasn't the prettiest day.  
But for late November, it was a rare day in the 50's.
We walked nine strong, all seven Murphys and my parents too.
It felt so good to get some exercise before the big meal.

So we went home after a lovely feast.
Giant snowflakes fell as we drove.
We woke up to a whole different world.

My garden flip-flops may be planted here all winter now.
That's okay. 
I enjoy the green promise of future spring.

I didn't finish the planters.
They look quite Charlie Brown.

Those first steps in freshly fallen snow 
make every step an exploration.
The path could lead anywhere.

Here I am with my baby boy.
On Wednesday (my birthday)
it will be exactly one year
since I told my husband I was pregnant.
I was a little nervous.
More than a little.
After six uncertain years, filled with illness and partial employment,
it seemed like our family needed many things.
But I would not have listed
a new baby among those things.
Well, I was wrong.
Malachi is exactly what we needed.
Every morning, I carry him into the kitchen,
kissing his fuzzy little head and saying,
"Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus."
Then I find my husband,
and I kiss the top of his unruly mop,
and I say,
"Thank you for this baby."
So if you are in despair,
or longing for something,
or sick, or tired, or lonely,
do not be afraid to ask God
to give you what you need.
Be prepared for a surprise,
but ask.
Simply ask.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I've been thinking about gratitude a lot lately.
When I culled some objects and priced them for the shop,
I realized that what I keep
is usually in the category of
The little bowl shown here is full of old slides from Peru.
Each one holds a story, an entire drama.
Example: a missionary doctor conducting tuberculosis testing.
One of the vivid memories from my jungle childhood is walking to church
at dusk with my mom and little sister.
As we approached the thatched-roof church,
we could see huddled figures just outside the doors,
coughing and coughing
dying from tuberculosis.
 So when I look at that slide, I see
the shift from death to life.

 I think life is much like that bowl of slides.
Some events are so beautiful.
And my pattern has been to be grateful
for the good, the lovely, the easy.
The pictures that are a pleasure to remember.

Here is my newest receptacle, a big metal tray.
I have no idea what it was made for.
It's on the coffee table (actually a piano bench),
and at present it's holding this stack of photos
and a book by Henri Nouwen.
I am a reluctant spender and finally,
after a year of wishing I owned it,
I bought this little book on Amazon.
Maybe the best $5 I ever spent.

These jars hold little stones from Lake Superior.
They are worn smooth by centuries of cold water.

Here is Nouwen on the topic of "lifting our cup to life."
"When we lift our cup to life, we must dare to say: "I am grateful for all that has happened to me and led me to this moment." This gratitude which embraces all of our past is what makes our life a true gift for others, because this gratitude erases bitterness, resentments, regret, and revenge as well as all jealousies and rivalries. It transforms our past into a fruitful gift for the future, and makes our life, all of it,
into a life that gives life."

I want to be grateful.
Truly grateful, for all of it.

In this season, I am holding onto this simple picture.
It's a reminder.
 The perfect receptacle
given by the One who calls me beloved.
It's all good.
"In the midst of the sorrows is consolation,
in the midst of the darkness is light,
in the midst of the despair is hope,
in the midst of Babylon is a glimpse of Jerusalem,
and in the midst of the army of demons is the consoling angel.
The cup of sorrow,
inconceivable as it seems,
is also the cup of joy.
Only when we discover this in our own life
can we consider drinking it."
(Henri Nouwen)

(The old black and white photo on the coffee table shows me and my little sisters in our house in Peru).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wondrous Love

A bluegrass hymn with images from Minnesota's North Shore.