Better than New

ERH Sermon photo 04 21 2019

Easter Sermon; John 20:1-18

Charles, my two-year-old son, has just learned a new phrase: “Good as new!”

It comes from a cartoon he watches where the medic, a penguin, will declare the various sea creatures that he treats to be, “good as new!” as soon as the penguin affixes a bandage or ointment to the affected spot. Charles, in true toddler form, applies this maxim liberally: Goldfish crackers on the floor? Just sweep them up — good as new! (Then he’ll swipe one out of the dustpan and pop it in his mouth for good measure!) Crayon marks on the wall? Surely a wipe will make them: good as new! Tender herbs ripped out of pots, with dirt all around? Let’s just stuff them back in — good as new!

While my Midwestern heart deeply resonates with this sentiment, that just a bit of glue or elbow grease can erase any defect, a piece of me wonders how to teach my child — as I myself am still trying to learn and accept! — that the biggest, most important things in life aren’t ever “good as new” again in the same way, but that when something else rises in its place, it can be different and new in its own way, and deeper, though perhaps heavier, for it. Continue reading

to my loved ones

for all friends, acquaintances, and family (gathered from Minnesota and Ohio, Canada and the UK, New York to Texas to Georgia and Washington, and so many places in between):

I am feeling so very blessed to have been loved by so many beautiful, faithful, goofy people for all of my 30 years. I very much wish I could stick pericopes here, but I know I’d forget a dozen important ones and I wish least of all for any ill feelings; those who have fallen in love with me, who have been on sports teams and drama casts with me, who have sat on the couch and have traveled and have drunk and made dinner and walked and learned with me–I am so, so very grateful to have met you and shared life with you. Continue reading

what I learned from totaling my car

IMG_0572About a year ago, I had my first accident, and though everyone walked away from the crash, it was a pretty dramatic incident.  Both cars were totaled and we completely blocked the road in the aftermath.  In the more long-term aftermath of the event, though, I learned to really important things, which it does me good to remember Continue reading

Quotation of the day

 
 Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in a lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.
– Reinhold Niebuhr

Minnesota Nice: a snapshot of upper-Midwestern life 

  
Encountering this dog waiting very politely for her owner, patrons entering the establishment say (audibly!), “Excuse me,” as they gently open the door to access their morning joe. 

There are hipsters here (especially around the universities), but they don’t have the typical ‘tude that seems ubiquitous of handlebar mustaches and ironic flannel; they can’t help but smile and joke along with customers and fellow patrons. 

Babies abound at the corner coffeeshop, lashed to parents, dashing across floors, hanging on doorknobs. Tweens braid each other’s (naturally) platinum tresses. 

People live longer up here than other places and do I think it has something to do with the strong and unassuming sense of comunal life? You betcha. 

precious moments 

  view on my walk home in Asheville

 Though I have never been so lucky as to boast a collection of porcelain figurines with sad, tear-drop eyes, I do have a collection of precious moments, made all the preciouser when I take time to notice that I’m in the midst of one such moment. I thought this a lot when we were in France last summer, wanting to suck up every minute, not losing a beat, not shutting my eyes to any experience–even walking down the street. 

It’s funny, though, the other times that strike me as precious in retrospect usually aren’t exceptional in the moment. Taking an early morning run on Duke’s West campus, walking down Morningside Drive to the place I housesat in Edinburgh, or stopping in at my favorite frozen yogurt store in St. Louis–these mostly mundane experiences are so sweet when I reflect on them now. 

  

This evening I remembered that I’m in the middle of another such moment–this sacred time in the mountains, walking to yoga camp and back to the grocery store, hot, sticky days and cold showers to calm down for bed. Surely I’ll look back on these days with the same affection and warmth that other exceptional adventures have afforded me. 

What’s even more important to realize, though, is that every moment has the capacity to be a precious moment. It doesn’t have to be a far-flung locale, a grand adventure, or any thing out of the “ordinary.”  Every moment, if we approach each one with awe and expectation, can surprise, delight, challenge, and transform us–if we allow it and are open to the change we’ll undergo. 

I’m reminded of the bit of the book,  Screwtape Letters: the present moment is the point at which humans touch eternity. There is great possibility in meeting God, in experiencing growth, in celebrating something precious every single moment, if only we will hold and recognize each moment’s precious offering.