Peace begins with a smile

Chatting with a friend the other day about 2020, she said, “It was a complete waste for me. I accomplished nothing.”

I pressed her on this pessimism, and she managed to find a few flecks of gold in the mining pan, but for many of us, 2020 was an outlier, and we’re all glad it’s in the rearview mirror. As an introvert who already worked at home and didn’t get sick, I found the year of the corona virus to be simply weird, not terrible. But I personally know two people who died of COVID-19, and I’m just as tired as anyone of wearing a mask and socially distancing. Goodbye, 2020, you won’t be missed.

I updated my beautiful church sign when the ground was still green, not white, but who couldn’t use flowers in the wintertime, right? And the message applies to a new year. If we’re still lamenting the awfulness of 2020, maybe the arbitrary turn of the calendar page might help put it behind us. And if we’re worrying about what 2021 might bringpolitical chaos, vaccine delays, inconveniences, sickness, deathwell, that’s wasted time already.

Better to live each day as it comes. Did you enjoy sleeping in, tucked in warm pillows and blankets? Is the sun shining? Do you have the extra time to remove the seeds from a fresh and juicy pomegranate? Can you appreciate the function of your legs, however fat and hairy they may be? (“I cried because I had no shoes,” said Helen Keller, “until I met the man who had no feet.”) If all the restaurants are closed, make a pot of soup. If you can’t have a party, write a letter. If you can’t go on vacation, read a book. Fill your lungs with crisp fresh air. Home is a sanctuary; savor it.

Living mindfully in the present. These are the acts that give me peace. And that’s what I’m wishing for you, too, in the new year.

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The quote that forms today’s headline is attributed to Mother Teresa, a nun and missionary who devoted her life to caring for the sick and poor.

Don’t be a pansy

 

Memorial Day sign
Tyler planted some pansies beneath ye olde church sign earlier this week.

Teddy Roosevelt spoke these words in an address at the opening of his gubernatorial campaign for New York in 1898. He was a war hero, fresh from the Rough Riders’ Battle of San Juan Heights in Cuba during the war with Spain. Three years later, he would become president.

Our little church was just seven years old when Roosevelt was running for governor five states away.

I chose Roosevelt’s quote because it was appropriate for commemorating America’s fallen solders on Memorial Day but also because it reflects the greatness of our little renovation project, which demanded much effort, sacrifice and certainly courage.

Wishing you a blessed Memorial Day weekend that includes a moment to ponder the sacrifice of the soldiers who make it possible and the ways you can live up to such high ideals.

‘The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion’

Our story so far: From Sunday school room tables to manger scenes, we gathered, sorted and gave away many of the items cluttering the interior of the old Methodist church we were demoing in order to turn into our dream home.

[I cannot claim authorship of today’s headline. It is a quote from Thomas Paine, an English-born political philosopher and author of “Common Sense,” the first pamphlet to advocate American independence.]

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Some things were simply too sacred to throw away indiscriminately. But they weren’t worth keeping either.

Like the flags. The American flag hanging on the flagpole when we took ownership was decrepit beyond salvage. That one and another we found were donated to the local American Legion post for proper retirement (i.e., burning). I also found a half-dozen desk flags that I donated to Goodwill. The United Methodist Church flag, we returned to the nearby congregation with whom the former members of our church had merged.

Then there were the hymnals. We found boxes of them, probably a few issued by every Methodist hymnal committee in a century.

I kept four of them with the intention of making a unique light fixture for a reading nook somewhere. The rest, I gave to Goodwill in hopes someone would find a creative use for them.

Bibles
These Bibles are becoming useful again in the hands of prison inmates.

And the Bibles. We unearthed more than two dozen Bibles in various conditions from falling apart to pretty nice. I kept one in excellent condition, respectfully tossed two whose bindings were disintegrating and packed up twenty-six others. Those I shipped to Christian Library International. CLI’s mission is to advance Christ’s light in prisons by distributing Bibles and offering Bible study.

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You can help Christian Library International, too, by collecting Bibles at your church, contributing money for shipping and prayer.

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Tomorrow: Like good American capitalists, we make the big bucks by selling some of our construction waste. Read it here.