Friday, March 23, 2012

Taking a Break

No, no--dear reader. Do not panic. I am not giving up blogging. I am literally taking a break.

After a couple of months of planning, and about a month of preparation, the move now accomplished, I feel the need for a break. 

So how does a river cruise sound? Excellent, I would say. Destination and timing not to be revealed at this moment. But the next several blogs will take you along...only with words and photos, of course. You will have to plan your own getaway if you are due one.

OK--carry on.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Big Move

This post is just a brief breaking into the Lenten interlude that I am observing.

I have been occupied for the last several weeks with getting things ready for my father and step-mother to move from their cottage in a retirement village to a two room apartment in a sheltered environment.  Any moving process requires much preparation, but some take more time than others. 

As it turns out, my father has lived in this location longer than he has lived ANYWHERE in his whole life.  He and my mother bought their cottage in 1987.  And he has lived there since their move there in the summer of 1987.  Twenty-five years.  Longer than any other place he has lived.

My dad grew up as a missionary child.  He was born in Pennsylvania, and then when he was a bit more than a year old went with his parents to southern Africa.  He lived there until he was ten.  He moved around with them, living first in Oklahoma for several years, then in southern California, where he lived his teen years.  Southern California reminded him very much of southern Africa--and he loved living there.

But when he graduated from high school, his parents moved back to Pennsylvania, and he along with them.  Only--he was not to live with them.   Hard times called for hard solutions.  His parents had three younger children, and they basically told my dad that he was on his own.  So he worked on farms as a hired hand for a while, until he saved enough to go to college.  When he was able to, he returned to southern California to enter college. After completing college, and getting married, he and my mother went to Africa as missionaries.  That was 1946.  They were to stay there, returning to the U.S. twice for vacations, until 1965.

Back to Pennsylvania once again--where he lived until 1972 when he and my mother moved to Indiana for a decade.  The last stop for a few years before my dad retired was some time in Ontario, Canada.

So, the long journey of moving around as a child, then as an adult, finally ended with retirement in Pennsylvania, and the retirement cottage in which my parents lived.  1987 until 2012.

Twenty-five years--of house furnishings, of personal possessions, of memories, of joys, of sorrows.

Tomorrow, my father and step-mother will move within the same complex from one living arrangement to another.  The big move. 

Monday, March 05, 2012

Giving Up for Lent...

I grew up in a church tradition that had its origins in the Anabaptist movement of the 16th century.  Among other aspects of Anabaptist belief was an avoidance of the high liturgical elements that has characterized both Catholicism and mainline Protestantism over the centuries.

One of the results of that upbringing was that I had little exposure to the concept of Lent.  My childhood experience of Easter was that we raced toward it, beginning with Good Friday, and then -- BAM -- there was Easter.

I have been a member of a Presbyterian church since 1970, and, with that change of denominational affiliation, I first began to learn about Lent.  When our church had its latest pastor come as our minister, now 15 years ago, he introduced an even more pronounced emphasis on Ash Wednesday.  This is the day that marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent.  Anyone who is Catholic has had long exposure to Ash Wednesday, and probably wonders why a Protestant would be such a late-comer to the holy day.  Other people probably ONLY know about Ash Wednesday because is preceded by  Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, or--if you are Pennsylvania Dutch--Fasnacht Day.

On that first Ash Wednesday that our "new" pastor was at our church, he asked us to fast on Ash Wednesday, all day, and then attend church in the evening.  At that service, he used imposition of ashes (for the first time at our church).  As he drew the sign of the cross on our foreheads, he pronounced our first names and said "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."  I find this service profoundly moving, as noted here.

But, the whole point of this blog is to write about GIVING UP.  Lent is seen as a time for serious deep contemplation on the nature of the events that lead to Easter.  And, in many traditions, it is also a time when we are urged to give up something--a kind of mini-sacrifice on our parts.  I have never been one to follow that practice.  Mostly people give up things like sweets, pastry, or other food items.  The point is, of course, to give up something you like.  However, this year--I might have to give up something...the time I spend blogging.

Oh, I am not giving up blogging.  And, truth be told, I will only be tapering off.  And, further truth be told, this is not so much about Lent as it is about a very busy life.  I will be working on several critical family projects over the next month.  So, maybe YOU will have to give up reading my blog ... for Lent, or for lack of anything new to read.