Today was the first of the three holy days preceding Easter. To celebrate each one is to walk with Jesus through his last hours with his friends, through his betrayal and arrest in Gethsemane, the midnight trial, torture and death. Then comes the Easter Vigil -- the waiting for the joy of Easter morning. All three are part of a piece.
This Easter week-end parts of the prairies around us are bracing for another snowstorm. The weather report says heavy snow tomorrow, blizzard conditions and just plain ugly. It is not supposed to be this far south, but we will see. Today what moisture we had turned to snow.
Last year Maundy Thursday 2017, a friend traveled with me and we went north of Beach, North Dakota, to Skaar Lutheran Church service held at Squaw Gap Community Center. It was an evening service followed by a pot luck for the faith community that gathers there. As we drove back to Beach and then Glendive I remember the stars filled the night sky as the lights of the little building faded behind us.
It was a time of community, of sharing food together, and mostly joining in worship as we remembered our Lord and Savior on this holiest of week-ends.
Tonight I sat in the sanctuary with others as we heard scripture and shared holy communion. I thought of Christians around the globe gathering in far away places and worshiping in different languages. Can you imagine life without the love of God present and active everywhere? Life is hard, but God is always with us and Easter is a reminder of the sacrifice and the love God interjected into the world in the person of Jesus.
I have to apologize. It has been nearly two weeks since I last wrote a note. The picture on the left is outdated. The water is high, but the ice is gone in our area. Someone said there was a jam further down the river closer to Savage and Sidney, but anyway, we are clear.
It is amazing to me how quickly the snow went when it decided to go. My yard is clear of snow so now I can see the leaves left from last fall and the accumulation of winter. I had wondered about a large piece of suet I had hanging for the birds. It disappeared in January, I think. I found it today in the middle of a snowball bush. It evidently blew off in the wind. Apologies to the squirrel for my accusations of stealing the suet from the birds. I found myself reaching for the rake to start to clean up the yard, but held off and told myself to just enjoy. I actually wore opened toed shoes to church on this Palm Sunday, 2018.
The big news is that I am putting my house up for sale. I have purchased a small lot with a beautiful, easterly view of the Badlands just around the corner from where I have lived since 1997. Mother used to say, "A move is as good as a fire" when she and Dad moved several times when he had different teaching positions, and then when we had three different houses in Glendive. When we were moving a distance my Uncle Les, Mom's brother, would come from the ranch with his truck and a spare nephew, load us up and off we would go. I remember when we moved into Glendive in 1954. We arrived late at night, but the men got the beds out of the truck so my brother and I could be put down for the night. We had come from Rawlins, Wyoming, and that was 'a fur' piece'.
I lived in a couple different apartments settling at last at the Manor for eighteen years and then buying my home on Snyder. The folks moved in about 2001 to live with me. It was welcoming, loving, a good location and we had good, sometimes difficult years.
So going through, sorting and throwing memories is never easy. I cleaned out my parents' home when they sold and have spent the last years again sorting things and trying to decide what to throw and what to save.
My new home will be about 600 square feet, maybe a little bigger, so I have to be very firm with myself. It is not a "tiny" house, but it is a small house and I am looking forward to this next step. In twenty years I will be ninety years old so I am hoping, God willing, this will be my home until they carry me out feet first -- who knows. The contractor and I will sit down on Tuesday and do some additional planning now that I have the lot.
You think you should be through learning new things when you turn 70, but life always has some surprises.
Typical March day -- damp, misty -- on the edge between snow and rain. Checked out the river today and Makoshika -- lots of fog.
Someone once said to me that it was sad I never had children, being single all my life. I remember saying that I had and that for 20 years I worked with some 500 teenagers every day at the high school where I was a teacher. I encouraged them, laughed with them, disciplined them, and tried to teach them some things about loving books and reading and an understanding of the importance of history. Sometimes I still miss not being a part of their accomplishments and those moments when just being a teen-ager meant silliness in the middle of frustrations. That was over 20 years ago and as I look at the world of teenagers today I think it is much more difficult and troubling for them.
That is why I have been so proud of the young people marching throughout the country in these days, speaking out against violence in our schools. How frightening it must be to go to school and deal with bullying, drugs, gangs, and now the worst of all — gun violence. The voices I have heard, young men and women, are impressive through their thoughtful words and determination that this has to stop and if no one else will, they are the ones who will change the conversation and push law-making bodies to do something positive about this national tragedy. I truly would march with them if I could.
It is important we give young people a safe place and encouragement to speak their minds. That should be the market place of ideas in a free and open American society. In order to ensure solid citizens for the future of this country we need to teach young people how to use freedom of speech, and how to express their ideas in a strong and powerful manner. Some of the speeches I have heard from these kids are stunning — they know how to get their message across and they do not stutter and stammer around like some politicians I hear. They know the righteousness of their cause while the politicians are afraid of losing NRA monies and support by those who cannot see that this is a time for change.
I am a child of the 60s and I remember marches against the Vietnam War and the Freedom Marches for Civil Rights. I grew up in an age when there were many issues which had to be faced and sometimes the only way to get people to listen was marching in the streets. These marchers then and now are not alone. Throughout our history marches have been used to change peoples’ minds.
The Boston Massacre was a small gathering of protesters which grew into a violent confrontation; women have marched in the streets in the U.S. and Great Britain calling out for the right to vote and later for women’s rights in the face of great inequality. Many were arrested, imprisoned and beaten before the great day when the 20th amendment was finally passed in 1920. The Bonus Marches prior to World War II were attempts by veterans’ of the first war to call attention to the benefits that were due them which they had not received. People continue to use marches to draw attention to issues that require the nation to wake up, that there is work to be done to right some wrongs.
St. Francis of Assisi wrote a prayer that speaks to all people and every cause — Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Poverty, inequality and fear are all forms of violence. The prayer goes on to say, “Let me not seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.” These words are life changing because in all situations of violence the conversation has to be changed. It is not about me. To do anything good or decent in this world I have to do it for you, not me. This world will not be a better place for me and those I love to live, if I do not consider the need for love and for a safe place for those next door, down the street, or around the world.
Right now the words and actions of many people are trying to make a better life . The students are demanding the right to feel safe. The immigration/DACA issue is in stalemate; people with disabilities are being denied medicaid; the folks on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation at Lame Deer are still in desperate need of help after the heavy snows of winter. Without basic food and other necessities they will not be prepared for the floods which we know will come with melting snow. The Rohingya fleeing Myanmar are living in horrible refugee camps in Bangladesh. Driven out of their homes, they are facing the monsoon rains, massive flooding, famine, illness and death.
This life is not about me getting what I want or what I believe I am due. Life is not about me. Life is about those who need me.
I was visiting with a woman today who had just lost a good friend. Through her choked voice she said, "We had been praying for her to go home." But it is still so very hard. I have always liked the line, "Friends are the family we choose." There are so many instances when friends, whether it is men or women, become closer than brothers and sisters. We love family, but we would all admit sometimes we love through gritted teeth. With a friend the love is more apt to be genuine because we choose considering commonalities.
As I have lived in Glendive for almost 65 years, I have watched women whose children grew up together, who worked in the same office, church or volunteer organizations or who were drawn together because of a love of flowers or books. Those shared passions are what make the difference. Men hunt or fish together or have coffee groups some of which have met for many years.
From those interests, we often move into conversations and soon we are sharing each other's sorrows and sharing the joys as well. Our earliest beginnings are shaped by friendships. Friends come and go as life changes, but there are always those few who remain. When you see them there is a love that just reaches out and bypasses all our human failings.
To lose a friend is to lose shared memory and the voice on the phone that is always ready to hear what you have to say no matter how trivial. When death comes, family members are devastated, but there are also friends left behind who share the ache of the empty chair.
I remember one lady I really cared for who lived to be almost 100. She once told me with some disgust, "All my friends have left me." And my aunt who lived to be 100 said , "No one remembers what I remember." She was referring to those who were 80 and 90 years old.
One by one family and friends slip away from us until it is our turn. It is one of the most difficult parts of life, but knowing death is the end result perhaps makes us love all the more.
We all need a real push to remember the subject of justice. Sang this in church today and I want to share the message -- Evangelical Lutheran Worship #723: Canticle of the Turning, text Rory Cooney, based on the Magnificat
My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn.
My soul cries out with a joyful shout that the God of my heart is great, and my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant's plight, and my weakness you did not spurn, so from east to west shall your name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?
Though I am small, my God, my all, you work great things in me, and your mercy will last from the depths of the past to the end of the age to be. Your very name puts the proud to shame, and to those who would for you yearn, you will show your might, put the strong to flight, for the world is about to turn.
From the halls of power to the fortress tower, not a stone will be left on stone. Let the king beware for your justice tears every tyrant from his throne. The hungry poor shall weep no more, for the food they can never earn; there are tables spread eery mouth be fed, for the world is about to turn.
Though the nations rage from age to age, we remember who holds us fast: God's mercy must deliver us from the conqueror's crushing grasp. This saving word that our forebears heard is the promise which holds us bound, till the spear and road can be crushed by God, who is turning the world around.
Amen, amen and amen.
Today is not a good day. I am looking out the window and it is raining! Rain is not bad, but on top of snow and with more snow coming it will be like a skating rink! Going to church this morning was a real test of righteous folk, or foolish folk, I don't know which. The bare sidewalk was icy so everyone was walking as though we were walking on a basket of eggs!
Ranchers will tell you this usually happens around calving season and we are there. Tomorrow they are predicting a blizzard -- high winds and snow. I don't envy anyone who has to be out in it. This rain will take some of the snow today. In fact I can hear the melting snow run through the down spout outside -- that spot where the melting water pools and makes an ice skating rink for the birds!
Well, every season has its wonders. I went out to visit some friends in the country this week. I thought I better go before this storm comes along. The drive out there is so pretty and their place is tucked into the trees with a backdrop of rugged buttes. These two bade me "farewell" as I headed down the lane.