Holy Ordinary

Just another Sunday morning church  service. I’m 55 and have attended church twice a Sunday for most of my life. A guess-timate would be some 5000 services in my day. You might think it just gets ordinary and repetitive after a time. Not so.

These are the things I saw at church yesterday.

I saw a doting dad smile in absolute adoration at his bald young son. I saw fresh purple coneflowers and white Shasta daisies grace the sanctuary in glass vases that caught the light. I saw a restless four year old rest his head trustingly on the shoulder of his fourteen year old babysitter. I saw an usher joke with an old friend as he headed into church. I saw a friendly adult ask a teen how things were going. I saw a middle-aged woman ask the same of an elderly man. I saw an organist and pianist play duets that offered up their best accompaniment to the congregation and the Lord.

I saw a house of God full to the brim with expectant faces, eager for the good news of God’s faithfulness to all generations. I saw a young pastor give his utmost to do justice to the Word of God and the sacrament of baptism to two new members. He preached with convicted preparedness, and spoke to the parents with warmth and hope. I saw a young wife and mother slip her hand into her husband’s as they stood together to speak their thankful vow. I saw the children of our church family skip to the front to witness the baptisms up close, the pastor handling the milling chaos with good humour and ease. I saw a senior citizen lean forward, smiling, totally engaged in the moment. 

I saw the faithful dig into their wallets and give to the work of the church. I saw a powerpoint slide show that highlighted the fun and energy of the VBS program held the week before. Dozens of teachers and helpers, grinning into the camera. A hundred children or more sporting colourful t-shirts, working on crafts, and singing songs.

 I saw a grandma lift her hands in quiet praise during the doxology.

 I saw God work. It’s fearsomely beautiful to behold.


The Garden Chronicles ~ July 13, 2010

Cheshire Cat Versus Scaredy-Cat

Today I weeded in the garden. The soil was moist from the lovely rain we had yesterday, and the weeds pulled out easily. I spent a lot of time just looking at the garden, too, drinking in the lush emerald and fresh chartreuse hues. All of my plants were perking up and blooming again, rejuvenated after a long hot dry spell.

One of my tasks was to cut back my Autumn Joy sedums. I read in Canadian Gardening that you should do this in July. Otherwise, the plants get so tall and gangly by winter that the snow’s weight topples them. That’s what happened last year. My husband, bless his heart, tried to help. He tied a scraggly strip of burlap around the stalks to help them stay upright. That didn’t quite match the picture-perfect House and Home garden scene I was carrying around in my head. So, today, I sliced the sedums in half. We’ll see how they do. I’ll report back later.

When I went to cut the three sedums in the corner of my yard … the bushy, dark corner protected by mature cedar limbs and a fence on two sides, I suddenly spotted him. An encounter of the feline kind. A large orange cat sat perfectly still, staring right at me. I took a startled step back, then channelled my inner Buffy the Vampire-Slayer and hissed, in a threatening tone,“You get out of there. Git. Git! Git out of there, you nasty varmint!” Astonishing, isn’t it, how the hillbilly Deliverance-type twang emerges out of nowhere when fury and fear collide? Alas, the cat did not twitch. I glared at him, squinting my eyes with malevolent intent. I remembered reading somewhere that cats abhor being stared down like that. Cheshire didn’t blink.

I turned away, frustrated. I despise cat feces in my garden. I seethed. Should I throw a stone at him? I was halfway across the lawn before reason kicked in. A bit extreme, perhaps. The Garden Defense Manual authorizes violence only in cases of explicit physical contact. I could read the headlines now: “Gardener goes postal on cat. Subdued by fast-acting neighbourly squirrels. See page 7 for photos.” Flip to page 7. A shot of the gardener being hauled off to the slammer in burlap handcuffs by Smokey the Bear. I turned back, musing that at least a cat wasn’t as bad as a rabbit. A cat wasn’t going to eat my plants. He might even deter any lost and wandering rodents from taking a “wilderness” trip in my yard.

I retraced my steps to tell him so. But he had vanished. Not even a set of grinning teeth left hanging in the air to mock me. Guess that means we’re calling it a draw, y’all. 🙂