I read a lot.  Embedded in the wisdom of many books is this bit of advice:  don’t expect things.  Expectations lead to clutching wanting grasping disappointment.  So just quit it, the expecting and the wanting.

It’s the last day of 2009.  As I think about the year to come, I don’t know how to fashion an image sans expectancy.  I understand the bruises and soul-clunks of disappointment.  They dance in my being.  I could live their sour drag less, I suppose, if I trained myself to be fully present in the now and dispensed with all the vulnerability that is expectancy.

But how can I jettison expectancy?  It seems impossible that a follower of Jesus would disdain the yet-to-be-realized.  How can I not want peace on earth?  How can I still the stir of expectation that wakens me to each day of life?  If I expect less, have I cashed in some of the unique fizz that is Spirit gift?

I’m pondering this in my soul, as Mary pondered the angel song and its proclamation that she has a magnification-worthy being.  She said yes to living expectancy, did Mary, and the Christ was made flesh.

I want.  In the year to come I want my loves to grow and flourish, I want my community in Christ to know its beauty and power, I want some quiet time alone to unwrap what the Spirit would have me know about life, I want less finger-pointing and more cooperation in our civic life, I want creation to know the power of our connection, I want clean air and compassionate eyes and hearts.  I want a reverence for differences and a delight in the crazy and often clumsy thing that is living into truth.

Do I expect these things to be worthy of expectation?  As a follower of Jesus, I have to say “yes” because through partnership with the Holy all things are possible and we have not even begun to live the way of Jesus.  We never have. 

But I expect that we will try.

Happy New Year!

snow globe

My dog buries her face in it.

My car remembers her fierce way of plowing through.

My feet feel the crunch and my eyes squinch in the white.

My daughter from Denver wrote a text that told me that she woke up to white there on Sunday and some part of her expected the sound of my slippers on the landing and the proclamation that Santa had arrived during the night.

All is calm and all is bright.  Plans are thwarted, hustle cancelled and brought along with the snow is reminder of the great rhythm of the cosmos that rocks us yet and always.

I am the young snow-suited and snow-munching child in the midst of snow globe beauty. 

The world is mitten-licking good.


At twenty, my son has that sense of invulnerability that makes for good setting out and lumps in mother’s throats.  He is sure of himself and his ability to engage with life.  This is a good thing.

And yet, all of those who have borne babies know that confidence is not enough sometimes.  Saturday night, while biking home from work, Jamie was T-boned by a speeding car.  He and the good man who drove him home figure the car was going about 45 mph when it ran into him.

The car slowed, and then sped off, leaving my boy tangled in his mangled bike and thankfully thankfully thankfully alive.

A week ago, after badgering him every time I saw him about his helmet use (or blatant lack thereof) I bought him a face mask for winter biking.  BUT, the proviso was that if I bought the thing, he had to wear his helmet.

Finally, he complied.  That helmet saved his life.

After having the sorts of scans a person ought to post speeding car impact, it was determined that he had a slight concussion.  The relentless nausea of it all has subsided and he is now creaky, without his beloved bike, and certainly more aware that mortality is, even for twenty year olds.

Every day is a letting go.  We love our babies and launch them and then we pray that the precious wonder that walks in their being will be safe.  Sometimes the jarring truth of life’s fragile wonder is literally slammed into our awareness.  We turn and face the terror that is loving and the always real that is danger and we hit our knees and pray:  Oh God, not this son of mine, not this, not this.

Not this time.

foundation quake

Two weeks ago my phone rang at 10:40 on a Saturday night.

Dread was my first response as I reached for it, because kin of clergy know that calling late on a Saturday night is a possibly dangerous thing.

It was my sister, telling me that our mom had been rear-ended on the freeway and was in the emergency room in Cloquet.  She was on her way to the ER, was my sister, and she would let me know what was going on when she knew more.

The pacing and praying commenced.  An hour later, it was reported that mom was stable.  Assessments were being done, and later it became clear that her being alive was astounding.  Her car had rolled, the cocoon around her tiny body the only space not flattened, and her pelvis broken in three places.

By all accounts her recovery would mean weeks on her back and months learning to walk.

Well, the prognosticators didn’t know the grit of Barbara Fawcett Macaulay Forrest.  Four days after her accident she was using a walker and celebrating a shower.  Today, fourteen days after she found herself hanging upside down in the ditch, she is home.

What to say?  Prayer, Holy and human love, an athlete’s body and a strength of being conspired to knit my mother back together again.  The work is far from over, the pain very real, the necessity of support and holding constant.

And she is alive. 

Her brush with mortality was a foundation quake for me and for my kin.  My mother reigns rightly at the center of the heart that is our kinship being and for all the rolled eyeballs and teasing about her ways (she would be the first to point them out) she has loved us every day of our lives and taught us beauty, humility, generosity and dig-in-ability.

And all of those lessons hold us in our days.  I pray they hold her well with gentle grace as she re inhabits the life that is hers to unfold. 

 The foundation holds us yet. 

She is.

sweet gratitude

Sometimes I get so piled under the papers and tasks on my desk that the gift of being in quiet conversation with parishioners gets to feeling impossible.

Yesterday I shook off the administrative “shoulds” and spent time with beauty.

During the course of a few hours, I visited with two parishioners who have spent more than eight decades on this earth.  They were both engaging and engaged people who know how to speak gratitude and challenge and blessing.

I left so grateful for what they teach by their being.  In particular, I was moved by the love they each had for their respective partners.  One, for a wife who took up bike repair tools and powered a lawn mower even though she was a “little girl”.  The love she and her husband shared for over 50 years shines from him yet.  She is so very much alive in this world through the power of his heart.

The other had been blessed by the love of two good men:  one her high school sweetheart whom she married at eighteen and loved for over 40 years.  After his death she was surprised by a second love and married a man who was husband to her in ways powerful and good.  Her eyes sparkled with gratitude when she spoke of both of them.

And I celebrated and I mourned because I am one of those who has gone through the severing that is divorce and while I too can celebrate marriage relationship shared with two good men, the sharing is complicated and tinged always with grief.

I am moved by the courage and faith it takes to risk the thing that is love.  I am aware of wistful longing for a continuity and cohesion that is taken for granted by those who love long and I am aware too that while that is not my story, the one I live is gift and will shine from me when some fine pastor spends an hour with me three decades hence.

Love is a precious thing.  Companionship and constancy and a friend to grow old with are eye and heart shine. 

I was witness.  I am witness.