Today is Palm Sunday. The day Jesus entered Jerusalem with the crowd shouting praises and waiving palm leaves. I was thinking about that this morning and imaging what it might have been like. I started to feel a little jealous of the people that saw Christ. I would have liked to have seen Him. As I was feeling jealous, I had a very sweet thought. I can see Jesus every day in my heart. I can see Him when I show love to others. I can see Him when I follow Him. It was a good reminder for this beautiful Holy Week.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
I was a very romantic 17-year-old and regularly indulged in British literature. I also watched romantic comedies which filled my imagination with all kinds of wild ideas. One day while pondering why I didn’t have a date every weekend, I came to a startling conclusion. I wasn’t walking enough. All of the heroines in the novels met interesting people on walks. The characters in the romantic comedies met their future loves while out on walks. I was thrilled with this realization.
I now had an action plan. If I wanted a date to the dance, I just had to go on a walk. I put on my best dress, smeared red lipstick all over my lips and headed out the door. Full confidence. It was going to be just like the movies. I would walk down the street and casually meet the most eligible bachelor in the entire high school. I’d say something witty and then he’d ask me to Prom. It was all perfect until I stepped outside.
Now, let me tell you something about my neighborhood. It was not a pristine countryside. My family lived in a struggling neighborhood. The police helicopter flew over our street every evening at 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. waking me up. It was probably foolish to go on such a walking venture alone, but I was a romantic with a heart full of hope. Walking worked in the movies so it would work for me. I walked past the drug dealer’s house, the homes where the owners mowed the lawns and the ones that didn’t. I walked fast by the couple yelling at each other and a little slower by the couple kissing. I walked past a few kids riding their bikes in a church parking lot. I walked past the elementary school and the grocery store. No one paid any attention to me. The cars swished by and I didn’t have a date. It was nothing like the movies. I kept walking hoping for my romantic encounter but then my feet started hurting from my heels. It was time to go home.
I still enjoy walking around my neighborhood although I’m wiser now. I wear flats and don’t expect to meet Mr. Darcy along the way. I do occasionally find other interesting things on my walk. Today I found a beautiful leaf. It looks like a heart so I took it home with me.
I went for a walk yesterday around the neighborhood. The flowers growing in the sidewalk cracks were so pretty that l took some pictures. Yes, l know Lanta growing in sidewalk cracks are technically weeds. I had two people stop and tell me that. Even weeds can be beautiful! It’s the power of a joyful moment.
It was Monday morning. I sat people watching waiting for the professor to start the class. I noticed a handsome young man reading a book by Maya Angelou. He was really cute so I knew what to do. I left class and went immediately to the library. Wednesday morning came. I sat there dressed in my favorite outfit, wearing red lipstick and passionately reading Angelou’s poems. The handsome man smiled and sat down next to me.
“Hey, I was just reading that book yesterday,” he said.
“What a coincidence! Maybe we have more things in common.”
“You’re right. We could. Let’s find out.”
Handsome classmate then invited me to read poetry with him underneath the tree in front of the library. It was enough to make this bookworm’s heart glow with love. The first poem we read was Caged Bird by Maya Angelou. The whole experience was cute, sweet and just like the movies. I wish I could tell you the story ended like the movies. Sorry, no wedding bells. We did become friends though. He introduced me to poets, authors and musicians that I still love today.
A few weeks ago, I hurt my left knee. It’s taking longer than I think it should take to get better. It’s been an uncomfortable time of bandages, physical therapy and ups and down as my knee progresses toward full healing. There is light at the end of the knee tunnel, and it hurt really bad yesterday. Work is good and it has also been very difficult this year. Last night, I felt sorry for myself. I have a tradition to pray before I sleep. I didn’t feel like praying though. My knee hurt. I was tired. I felt some anxiety about work. The students are starting their standardized tests this week. Testing always adds additional stress to a teacher’s life. I honestly couldn’t think of anything useful to say to God and I didn’t feel like praying. After a long time of debating the merits of prayer, I decided just to tell Father how I really felt. My short prayer basically consisted of telling the God of the universe that I didn’t want to pray to Him because of how miserable I felt. I wish I could tell you I had some powerful, spiritual experience the moment I said Amen on my little prayer. I wish I could tell you that I instantly fell into a peaceful sleep and jumped out of bed this morning with a completely healed knee. Nope. That didn’t happen. I still felt miserable after my prayer. It took another hour (and some ibuprofen) to finally get comfortable enough to fall asleep. My knee is still injured today. I have to do the patience thing while my body heals. This patience thing is hard.
Today is Easter. You might wonder what my prayer experience has to do with the Easter message of a risen Lord. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes your knee hurts. Sometimes the only prayer you can muster is the one telling God you don’t really feel like praying. And the message of Easter is that God understands. That’s why he sent his Son to Earth. And Glory be to God forever for that gift.
Happy Easter, Everyone.
“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations”(Deuteronomy 7: 9).
I write a Christmas poem every year. I’ve been trying for two weeks to write my annual poem. I’ve got pages and pages of really bad poetry. Nothing is coming. The monster called 2020 has eaten all good poetry and I’m left with stale gingerbread cookies. In the middle of being frustrated, I had an idea to make a profile for an online dating website. I may not have a nice Christmas poem, but hopefully at least one person can get a good laugh with my attempt at online dating.
Open the dating website. Get scared. Close the window.
Imagine getting a really good kiss. Open the dating website.
Wonder how many people get murdered every year from folks they met online.
Close the window. Call your friend. The one who met her husband online.
Be brave. Open the dating website. Again.
Read the terms and conditions.
What? There’s a cost.
Close the window. Call your friend. The one who met her husband at church.
Do you know any single men?
2021 will be better. It’s going to be the best year for me and the best year for you.
My annual gratitude challenge is over. I can now be selfish for the rest of the year. Just kidding. I won’t be writing thankful notes every day, but I will keep trying to be thankful in my heart.
Day 16: I’m thankful I can cry. Life would be harder if there wasn’t a way to release sadness.
Day 17: Second chances. I’m thankful for the second chances we get in life.
Day #18: My car is running. Huge blessing!
Day #19: Bowling. I love my bowling family.
Day #20: I’m thankful for my parents. They have taught me so much.
Day #21: I’m thankful you don’t always have to be thankful. I normally do a gratitude challenge every November so I’m 100% behind being thankful. And I’ve experienced the sorrowful wilderness of feeling alone. It’s okay to be where you are and to feel what you feel. I’m so grateful for that knowledge.
Day #22: I am thankful for the beautiful Earth. I feel refreshed when I spend time outside. I feel closer to the Creator.
Day #23: I’m thankful for my sister. I always wanted a sister. I was so happy when she showed up after my 3 awesome brothers. (This adventure was last year. We dressed up to see Downton Abbey. Movies are 100% better when you wear costumes.)
Day #24: I’m thankful for clean water. I take it for granted that I have access to water.
Day #25: I forgot to write down my gratitude note for the day. I was too busy eating. It’s a good thing I believe in second chances.
Day #26: I’m thankful for inventors. There are so many things I use every day that someone had to invent.
Day #27: I’m thankful for books. Books have been a great blessing in my life.
Days #28 I’m thankful for parks and the people who maintain them. It’s so nice to have a safe and beautiful place to walk.
Day #29: I forgot to be thankful again. I may have been thinking about all of the work that would be greeting me after the Thanksgiving break.
My Mom’s family has a traditional goodbye saying. Sure Love Ya. It means goodbye, see you soon and you might drive me crazy sometimes but we’re still family. I have no idea how many times I’ve said that expression in my life. It’s probably been at least a million times. There is another tradition. Before ending a family gathering, we all huddle in a circle like a sports team and shout the saying. “Sure love ya.” The circle keeps getting bigger as more and more people join the family.
It’s confession time. The teenage me thought it was an embarrassing tradition. I hated it! I only did it because my mother said I had to do it. I was confident that we were the only family in the entire universe that would do something like that.
My Grandma died this year. She was my last remaining grandparent Earth-side. We couldn’t meet with Grandma as a large family group to celebrate her birthday like we’ve done in the past. This year we meet on Zoom. It was fun to see various relatives as little Zoom boxes on the screen. We ended our short party with “Sure Love Ya”. It was both sad and beautiful at the same time.
I think I finally understand why Grandma liked us to huddle up and express love. I think she was trying to ensure that we still loved each other even after she left us.
That is what I will remember most about my grandmother Marjorie Hill Smith. She loved.
I loved my Grandma very much. I will miss her. I know I’m not the only person on Earth who has lost someone they loved this year. There are many souls who are grieving right now. 2020. It’s been a crazy year. I haven’t really liked this year. It’s been hard. REALLY HARD! I’m ready for 2020 to be over and just a chapter in a history textbook.
I have learned something this year though. I’ve learned that love is one of the few constants in our crazy, ever-changing world.