Woke up feeling…not sure how to describe what it is that I am feeling. Tired? Sick? Depleted? Heartbroken? Anxious?
I look at the grass glistening with dew. The birds are singing. The humidity captures and accentuates the smell of lilacs. The scent is almost suffocating. I don’t recall the lilacs ever smelling that strongly.
How is it that I am surrounded by such peace and beauty and yet I still feel…Tired? Sick? Depleted? Heartbroken? Anxious? (Perhaps I am feeling all of these things?)
Two horrific shootings in our country over the weekend — yet again. Two acts of violence that capture how sick we as a people are. My prayers for those grocery shopping in Buffalo and those attending church in California feel hollow. I am numb. And yet, I need to focus. I have stories to write. I have stories to edit. There are magazine deadlines that cannot be missed.
But it is hard to get to work today. Hard because all that I do today seems trivial and silly compared to the great pain, the endless tears and the broken hearts of those grieving today.
I cannot believe we are living in a world where we risk our lives going to get groceries, going to school, going to church, going to…wherever.
I want to retreat further into the woods. Go off the grid. But that is not the solution to the world’s pain and suffering.
And so I find myself sipping my coffee with tears streaming down my face. I have deadlines to meet. I have stories to write. The world’s love of productivity prods me to get on with my day.
My reply to the world, “Really? Get on on with the day?” Is “getting on with our day” the way we heal a broken world?
When do our hearts ever have a chance to heal anymore?
There seems to be no reprieve from horrific news. And each headline, each senseless death, each act of hate, rips off the tender scab that began forming on our tender hearts.
All I have left inside of me is a tired, broken whisper: Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayers.
May God’s mercy wash over us this day and may our bitter tears flow into deep streams of grace.
It’s been a busy time for me and, as many know, I struggle with taking time off. But I have, and I didn’t realize how much I needed it.
What about you? When was the last time you tossed your “to-do” list aside and took time to marvel at God’s beauty all around? The sunning shining, the birds singing, the heavenly scent of lilacs blooming…take that time today. Make that time now.
Spend some time today with me as I share with you one of my favorite places from my childhood — the Wick Farm in Morristown, NJ. On a cold, rainy May day I get to explore, pray and ponder — and enjoy a few God moments, like meeting the friendly park ranger who welcomed me into the old 1750 house and shared a tale about a horse. As a Presbyterian pastor, I also learned the Wick family had Presbyterian roots! What God moments will you have today? They all begin by listening to our Good Shepherd and following where he leads.
Old Stone Well Farm is on location this weekend. Come and join me on May 8 as I take you to a place that shaped who I am today. You will also hear a legend about a horse and get to meet a local park ranger. A full and blessed day!
On this third Sunday in the Easter season, I’ve been thinking a lot about new life and the resurrection of dreams. If God makes all things news, then why do we hesitate to embrace that newness?
A question for today: Are we grabbing our nets and returning to waters we know or are we going to listen to Jesus calling out to us to cast those nets into new waters.
So come, join me here in Vermont for a time that I pray will inspire, comfort and fill your heart with Easter faith!
And if you would like to join me for some traditional in-person worship, I will be in the pulpit of First Presbyterian Church in Broadalbin, NY, this morning at 10 a.m. Live stream on the church’s FB page@Broadalbinfirstpresbyterian.
For those who want a taste of traditional in-person worship, I will be at First Presbyterian Church in Broadalbin, NY on May 1. Live stream of service begins 10 a.m. on Facebook@Broadalbinfirstpresbyterian.
There will also be a new episode of Old Stone Well Farm for those who enjoy coming to Vermont (even if it is virtually!).
It’s going to be a busy weekend (on top of filming, stories to write and more stories to edit for the magazine!)
Looking forward to Sunday afternoon when I can be like my neighbor’s calves — passed out in a field, napping. 🙂
It’s the second Sunday of Easter, a season I love because Resurrection hope is all around me here in Vermont. As I get ready to preach in person at a church in upstate New York, I wanted to spend time with you first at the farm before I leave with my clergy robe in tow. (It’s been a while since I put that robe on…wondering how it will look with my barn boots!) Enjoy this time of reflection, and let me know how was your first week in Eastertide? What were the God moments? Blessings!
I invite you to join me for live worship on April 24 at 10 a.m. ET as I lead worship in person at First Presbyterian Church in Broadalbin, New York. It’s a wonderful little church, great hearts and people eager to serve God in so many ways.
You can join the worship at First Presbyterian’s Facebook page (Facebook@broadalbinfirstpresbyterian)
We will still also have time together at Old Stone Well Farm. The video will be up and running Sunday morning. And so, click below for your invite.
Easter Sunday was quiet this year. Being a “free-range” pastor (I have been inspired by my chickens to dub myself that) I didn’t have the Holy Week and Easter Sunday responsibilities my friends had. There were no multiple services to plan, sanctuaries to decorate with flowers and plastic eggs to fill with candy for the children.
It was quiet, and that can be a good thing — especially when your soul is thirsting for peace in a world filled with noise, strife and sadly, violence and hate. It is in the quiet where you can do nothing but listen to your heart speak its deepest desires. It is in the quiet you can hear Spirit’s wisdom softly howling in the wind that blows through the gaping windowsills of my 18th century house. It is in the quiet I feel the presence of the Risen Lord speaking his beautiful post-resurrection words, “Peace be with you.”
Yes, peace be with you. With me. With the world. Yet there can be no peace if we do not put healthy boundaries around all the ceaseless activities and demands filling our lives. There has been much talk lately about work-life balance, but what about work-life AND faith balance? What are we doing to nurture our relationship with the Divine?
I think that is why I welcomed a quiet Easter Sunday — even when its celebratory dinner was a bag of stale chips and a wilted salad because I didn’t expect I would have a problem getting a last-minute restaurant reservation.
I didn’t mind, though, because Easter is not a day. It’s not even a season leading us to Pentecost’s mighty rush of Holy Spirit wind. Easter is an invitation to a new life and a new way of living that life. To live with hope — always, and in all things. Hope amid failed plans. Hope amid missed opportunities. Hope amid betrayals and heartache. Hope in the promise of seeing those we love again in the great by and by.
Easter Sunday gives way to Easter Monday and then Easter Tuesday and Easter Wednesday, etc. For those who are not of the Catholic faith, there is officially the eight days of Easter. This time is called the Octave of Easter, and each day a mass is held and the Glorias are sung and the Alleluias are shouted. Scripture readings focus on the various appearances of the Risen Lord, reminding us that he is alive and, as one of my friends likes to say, “Jesus is on the loose!”
The Octave of Easter is rooted in the great feasts found in Hebrew scripture, where many Jewish celebrations lasted for eight days. The Octave of Easter ends on the second Sunday of Easter which in the Catholic Church is known as the Sunday of Divine Mercy.
My Protestant Reformed upbringing has never included the Octave of Easter in any liturgy or even conversations. The closest I ever came to celebrating the Octave of Easter was honoring Easter Monday. My father is Swiss, and I remember growing up hearing how in Europe, Easter Monday was observed with a day off. That intrigued me, especially as I wondered why we here in the states returned to work the day after Easter Sunday. It seemed that we celebrated the Risen Lord and then the next day forgot all about the life-changing opportunity we have been given in his resurrection. It just seemed wrong. Even now, this focus on a one-day Easter Sunday celebration seems “off.”
In my own work circles, more emphasis is placed on extended time-off during Christmas, with Easter getting just a nod. This year, on Easter Monday, friends I knew arrived at airports as the crack of dawn so that they could gather for weeklong church meetings. Other meetings, like a weekly 8:30 a.m. Monday meeting, went on as usual. Easter seemed quickly forgotten. I, though, chose to embrace the profound holiness of Easter Monday that I have discovered exists when you choose to live — not just observe — Easter.
I lit a candle, poured a cup of coffee, spent time in prayer and then went for a walk in the woods. During my walk, story ideas to write came. Ideas for future Old Stone Well Farm videos filled my mind. I felt my steps quickening. I felt lighter. Joyful. Hopeful. I was excited about this day and the ones to come. I also pondered what a friend wrote on Facebook that I found so beautiful. She said that “Easter Monday was like breathing in a deep breath of Resurrection power.” I paused on the muddy trail and drank in a deep breath of that power. It felt good.
It was then I realized something: Could all this busyness after Easter be because we really are afraid — or hesitant — to accept Easter’s invitation to a new life because that would mean doing things differently, thinking differently, acting differently…and “differently” is not what many people want, is it?
As for the pushback I receive from valued friends when I bring up a more monastic way of doing business, with their insistence that there is so much work to be done, I ask gently, “Who then are you truly seeking to glorify with all the busyness and Zoom meetings? Self? Others? Or God?” (In the corporate world, I know my views will probably have me crucified.)
I’m sorry, we have no availability for Easter dinner for two. We are booked.
I thanked the hostess on the other end of the phone and turned to my husband and smiled, “Oh well. We will have our Easter dinner another time.”
He smiled back. He understood.
Easter is every day if we only dare to say “yes” to a new and risen life. Now take that deep breath of Resurrection power — and live.
Happy Easter to all from Old Stone Well Farm! It’s a special day, one where I find hope amid despair, life in the face of death, and remember that God is holding each one of us. I also invite you to join me on Sofie’s Hill on this Resurrection Day for a beautiful sendoff for Rev the cat. (More on the timing of his farewell in the video! Talk about a God moment!) It is a joy to have you with me on this day!!! I would love to hear about your Easter God moments. Email me at accidentalcountrypastor@gmail or watch the video on YouTube and leave a message.