This time of year always makes me nostalgic. Seventeen years ago, about this time of year, I was writing a speech for graduation. My senior classmates at Southeast High School, here in Macon, voted me “Senior Speaker” at graduation. I was slated to go last in the lineup, behind two dear friends who were valedictorian and salutatorian. I would offer the last meaningful word of our high school careers, other than your name being called by our Vice-Principal to collect our diplomas and being pronounced as a graduate. No pressure. I had no idea what to say.
On Sunday, we will celebrate Mother’s Day. Motherhood has been one of the greatest gifts and the most holy experiences of my life (and also the most trying, frustrating and exhausting!). While I am grateful that these experiences are remembered and blessed on this day, I always greet Mother’s Day with mixed emotions. While I thank God for good relationships with my mother and my daughter, I am aware on this day that others have experienced life differently.
On Facebook this week, I ran across a blog post that expressed my own misgivings and acknowledged what is, in the author’s words, the “wide continuum of mothering.”
On Sunday nights over the last three weeks we have been meeting in the Fellowship Hall for our annual Ethics Series. This series began some years ago as a forum for our church to engage topics of significance over a period of weeks, and we have not shied away from the difficult issues. Past series have focused on capital punishment, homosexuality and immigration, and this year we’ve turned our attention to poverty.
Now with an issue so unwieldy and all-encompassing as poverty, the challenge, as the planning committee saw it, was two-fold: 1) focus the conversation in a specific direction, and 2) attempt to move beyond a simple presentation of harsh realities, which can be debilitating, and somehow move to hope and action. Since action was the end goal, the committee chose to focus our conversation on local poverty here in Macon.
Over these past three weeks we’ve been blessed by the presentations of some incredible guest speakers who are involved with issues of local poverty. Last Sunday, Rev. William Rand, pastor of Southside Community Church here in Macon, and Rev. Stacey Harwell, associate minister at nearby Centenary United Methodist Church, spoke to us about their respective churches’ engagement with poverty in their neighborhoods.
By now the Easter eggs have surely all been found and the bunny cake eaten, but the church’s Easter celebration is just getting started.
The season of Lent, as you know, is a forty-day long fast that stretches over six Sundays: a time of penitence, confession and renewal. But it’s all in preparation for the season of Easter, which has traditionally been thought of as a fifty-day long “feast,” lasting until Pentecost Sunday. And this is an important theological statement: the “feast” of Easter is longer than the “fast” of Lent. Yes, Lenten discipline is long, but in our church year together, the celebration of God’s love is longer.
When we lived in Dallas, Audrey and I loved to start and end the day together by walking our dog around the neighborhood. We would take roughly the same route each day: a right at the church down on the corner, then down a ways past the house that sometimes had the sprinkler system going (which was usually too great a temptation for our dog), and then eventually winding around past the open field on either side of the street where large power lines cut through the neighborhood.
This is where we started seeing them about this time last year. On either side of the street, right by the road, were the most incredible wildflowers.
Now as far as flowers are concerned, their color, shape and size were not remarkable: a ring of pale yellow petals about the size of a Girl Scout cookie. But this was not what made these little wonders worth sharing. Audrey started noticing after a few days walking past them at dawn and dusk that they had peculiar habits. During the day you would not even know these flowers were there—they looked like wilted, dried up weeds.
But at night they came alive.