Saturday, May 23, 2009

The 'Anti' Role Model

A few years ago I was very active in a local Anglican church. Sadly the Diocese closed the church because of - what else - money problems. But during the years that I was there I learned a lot about people and about myself.

When they closed that church I started to attend another one but over time became less and less involved and now find myself sitting alone way in the back pew on Wednesday nights. I still love the essence and the artistry of this particular liturgy but, for me, something is missing and several things are just wrong.

Last week I found myself in danger of becoming like any number of the old dears I used to see at my earlier church. Many of them would find anything - everything - to complain about. Nothing seemed to make them happy and I used to wonder "do you only come to church so that you can complain?".

One of them, lets call her 'Barbara', was particularly difficult. No matter what happened, no matter what changes were made, she hated them. She seemed to hate everything. And yet I sensed that, deep inside of her, she wasn't as persnickety as she appeared on the surface. I thought she was probably very sad and quite lonely and that this curmugeondly facade was a mask of protection.

So when, last week, I found myself detailing & itemizing in my mind a large number of criticisms about what is now happening in my church, 'Barbara' came to mind. And I recalled how my then friend Liz & I had promised each other that should we EVER become like 'Barbara' we would give each other a shake. And since I no longer see Liz I had to give myself a shake and try to put things into perspective. OK, so there's things happening that annoy me. Things that distract me from my worship. So what? Get over it. Focus on what's important and ignore those minor irritations. Because that's all they are - minor - and if I let them fester and grow then I too will become a 'Barbara' .... sad and lonely and generally miserable. And I promised Liz I would never let that happen. But more than that even, I promised myself.

So thanks 'Barbara' for being a reminder for me as to what not to do. Thanks for being my 'anti' role model.

Monday, May 11, 2009

When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall
to see the farmer and his wife open a package.
"What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered.

He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard,
the mouse proclaimed this warning :
"There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched,
raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse,
I can tell this is a grave concern to you,
but it is of no consequence to me.
I cannot be bothered by it."
The mouse turned to the pig and told him,
"There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but said,
"I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse,
but there is nothing I can do about it
but pray.
Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said,
"There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you,
but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house,
head down and dejected,
to face the farmer's mousetrap
. . . Alone. . .

That very night
a sound was heard throughout the house
-- the sound Of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught.
In the darkness, she did no see it.
It was a venomous snake
whose tail was caught in the trap.

The snake bit the farmer's wife.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital.

When she returned home she still had a fever.
Everyone knows you treat a fever
with fresh chicken soup.
So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard
for the soup's main ingredient:

But his wife's sickness continued.
Friends and neighbors
came to sit with her
around the clock.
To feed them,
the farmer butchered the pig.

But, alas,
the farmer's wife did not get well...
She died.

So many people came for her funeral
that the farmer had the cow slaughtered
to provide enough meat for all of them
for the funeral luncheon.

And the mouse looked upon it all
from his crack in the wall
with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear
someone is facing a problem
and you think it doesn't concern you,
remember ---

When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.
We are all involved in this journey called life.
We must keep an eye out for one another
and make an extra effort
to encourage one another.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Weigela is - according to Wikipedia - a small genus of about 12 species of deciduous shrubs in the family Caprifoliaceae, growing to 1-5 m tall and named after a German scientist Christian Ehrenfried Weigel.

The reason I know this is (apart from looking up the specifics on Wikipedia) that I have a Weigela bush (also spelled Weiglia) in my backyard. I suppose I should say that my mother had it and I took it on when I bought the house. For years I would say to her, 'what's the name of that beautiful flowering shrub in the backyard' and year after year she would say 'Weigelia'. I would reply 'oh right, I can NEVER remember that'.

But I knew that I really didn't have to remember it because I could always ask her - and she would always tell me. And then she got sick. Welll, she got Parkinsons and as the disease began to ravage her already tiny frame I realized that I couldn't always ask her because she wouldn't always be around.

And so one final time I asked her what it was and I wrote it down and I stuck it on a bulletin board that I look at each and every day. Weigela. Just that one word written on a scrap of paper. Weigela.

The summer after she died my son was getting married and having the photo's taken in the back yard. We were all sad that Mom hadn't lived to see him get married - she loved him so. But standing in front of the shrub I realized that it had flowered more than it had done in many years and I knew that Mom was with us anyway ... maybe not in body but certainly in spirit.

Today I trimmed the Weigela. Cut away all the dead branches so that the new ones can grow and the flowers will bloom beautifully this summer as well and I thought of Mom. With me in spirit - now and always