Joy Extended

Sunday night, as I said prayers with my grandson, Austin, he said, “I’m going to pray that the snow storm continues, and I won’t have to go to school tomorrow, and you won’t be able to fly home so you can stay for my band concert on Tuesday.”

We had a little theological chat about God not being a magician or a fairy granting wishes. About being able to ask God for anything, but if Austin got the snowstorm he prayed for, it might be good for us, and it might be not so good for others.

This being my last year on the Mission Amplification team, I had a commitment to be in Houston on Wednesday for our annual planning meeting. Even though I really really really wanted to be at Austin’s concert, I’d made a commitment to my team.

Monday morning, flights were being delayed, but schools were open. I told Austin HOW MUCH I wanted to stay over for his concert but when I’d become a priest I’d made a first on the calendar rule. Unless there were an extraordinary conflict, when I made an appointment, it became my priority. I had to do that because once I’d made a commitment, more often or not another opportunity might come along that I’d really prefer to do. It was a form of the Benedictine vow of stability.

When Austin left for school, flying out was still dicey, so we said good bye with a bit of uncertainty. Flying in winter in Bend is often fraught with unexpected changes.

Then I started texting with my boss. She was really sick and the big meeting on Wednesday became uncertain. Twists and turns, and our big meeting was rescheduled for January. I was able to do the rest of my work via phone, zoom, and my son’s computer, and I rebooked my flight for Wednesday.

When Austin got home from school that afternoon, his first words coming in the door were, “Is Grandma Texas still here?” When he saw me, Austin wrapped me in a big hug.

I got two extra days with my Bend family and I was able to go to Austin’s band concert. Despite having played the saxophone for only a year, Austin is already in both the jazz band and the advanced band. The drive to the concert on Tuesday evening was enchanting —Christmas lights illuminating the snow covered streets and yards.

Austin surprised us with a solo during the first number. It was a priceless moment.

Afterwards we went out for Mexican food. Despite it being below freezing, we ate outside on a patio with heaters. Okay. I was still really cold.

Later we talked again about God and answered prayers. I’m not sure exactly how God’s hand was in the twists and turns of Monday so that I got to have one of most precious Tuesday nights with my family, but I celebrated the joy of family time with a grateful heart nonetheless.

On my way back to Houston. I watched snow on the ground from the window of my plane as the light faded.

I am full of thanks and joy for the gifts poured on me this third week of Advent.

Gaudete.

Advent. Again.

Every year, for so many years, celebrating Advent has included travel.

For many years, Advent meant a trip to New Mexico for farolitos, piñón fires, Advent music, and snow. Or at least very very cold.

When we received the Advent gift of Jonas, the Advent trip became a trip to Oregon for birthday cake, reading books with my grandsons, baking cookies, and snow. Or at least very very cold.

Today I’m on my way for my annual Advent trip to celebrate Jonas’s tenth birthday.

As I do, I’ll be looking for Advent blue. Mary’s color. Hope.

Third Sunday of Advent: Joy

The third Sunday in Advent is Gaudete Sunday. The liturgical color in some churches is rose. The theme of the day is joy.

How could this not be a day of joy snowed in with my family in Bend?

A winter storm is blowing through, which meant church from home today.

So worship included walks and play in the snow.

Prayers, knitting, and reading from a snuggly couch beside a fire with snow falling outside the window.

Does this look like a cross outside my window?

Baking cookies.

Zebra cookies
Snickerdoodles

Joy.

Wedding in the Catskills: Soon. So soon.

After a morning spent having more little family reunions, and the first half of the afternoon with yet more preparations, we are gathering for the blessing of the marriage of Hannah and Andrew.

On my drive through the twists and turns of the country roads, I stopped at a local Episcopal Church for some prayers and to center myself for the wedding.

An extra sweetness is that many of us were gathered almost eight years ago for the marriage of Dominique and Nathan (Andrew’s brother) who are here with their two sons.

I love being the CelebrAunt for my family occasions and the opportunities they are to share God’s love with all sorts of lovely people.

I’m remembering when we prayed at Dom and Nathan’s wedding,

Bestow on them, if it is your will, the gift and heritage of children, and the grace to bring them up to know you, to love you, and to serve you. Amen

And God said, Yes! to Rafael and Jack.

In a little over an hour we will begin. I wonder now God will answer the prayers we pray for Andrew and Hannah and those gathered to support them today?

May all who hear and pray these prayers find their own commitment to be instruments of peace and love strengthened and reinvigorated. In the name of the God who created love we all say amen.