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Feb 24 21

Picnics in the sun

by davesandel

Wednesday, February 24, 2021                      (today’s lectionary)

Picnics in the sun

Jesus said to the gathered crowd, “There is something greater than Solomon here. There is something greater than Jonah here. You seek a sign, but you will not get a sign.”

Just open your eyes! Jesus must have been so frustrated. At least I would have been. Maybe Jesus had a better way to think about people who couldn’t see past their own nose. Of course I often don’t see any farther myself.

Jasper is climbing walls now. On the Grace church campus where we often play and picnic, there is a five stone wall with slight indentations, and yesterday he was nearly up the wall before I even noticed him. “Look, Jasper is climbing the wall!” Miles shouted. And so we ran over to protect him when he fell. And he didn’t. That time.

Even now, even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, for I am gracious and merciful.

While Margaret and I are sitting under the biggest live oak tree I’ve ever seen, right there across the street from our apartment on the Grace church campus, Miles and Jasper run in the grass and on concrete paths and stairways that lead everywhere, and nowhere. Jasper hangs onto the bannisters, for now.

Yesterday Miles found acorns and broke them open with the end of a cane I lent him for the afternoon. Which acorn has a red fruit inside? Jasper climbed clear to the top of the stairs and beckoned me from door to door. Check them! Are they locked? Can we go in? What about the next one? He peers inside through the dark glass. I tried to stop him at first, but now I’ve given him his head. He leaves fingerprints everywhere. I hope they wait till Saturday to clean the windows.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.

Neither Jasper nor Miles needs a “second time.” Let’s go for a picnic at Grace! It’s all they need to hear. We brought four small bags of chips and broke them open onto a big blue platter Miles found abandoned outside our apartment complex fence, in the grass beside the church’s overflow parking lot. It was just waiting for us. We cleaned it up and now we take it on all our picnics. It doesn’t fit in Miles’ backpack with the water and the grapes and the chips, so I carry it in my black Swiss Army briefcase. It sticks out the top, but we can get it there.

Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep shall taste anything, they shall not eat nor shall they drink water. Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God. Every man shall turn from his wicked way and from his own violence. Who knows, God may relent and forgive and withhold his blazing wrath.

Later I talked to a sweet Filipino woman eating sushi, and her black friend eating sandwiches made from a rotisseried chicken, leaning against the HEB shopping carts. “I’m starved,” the black woman said. “So I used my last bit of money and got this food. That’s OK, isn’t it?” I said, “Of course!”

Right there together at the “moral center of Texas,” we celebrated the 75 degree sunshine a week after our ice storm of the century. All melted now. Who knows, God may relent and forgive us, and withhold his wrath.

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart humbled and contrite you will not spurn.

(Jonah 3, Psalm 51, Joel 2, Luke 11)


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Feb 23 21

Catfish Parlour

by davesandel

Tuesday, February 23, 2021               (today’s lectionary)

Catfish Parlour

Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name.

We don’t eat out much, especially these pandemic days. But things are loosening up, and there’s a three block stretch of our main road in Austin, Hwy 183 that can’t help but catch your eye. Dunkin’ Donuts, 38 Pecans, P. Terry’s Burger Stand, Catfish Parlour, Chuy’s, IHOP, Outback, Carrabba’s and finally Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ. Another couple blocks and you drive by Saltgrass Steak House, Estancia Brazilian Steakhouse, and The Cheesecake Factory. Just another block, and then we’re home.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Our first visit to this amazing strip, yesterday, was to the Catfish Parlour, there since 1973, when “Hwy 183 at 620 was just a four way stop sign.” No more. Such wonderful food. Hot dog sized hush puppies waiting at our table, a Caesar salad bar, catfish fried, catfish grilled, jumbo shrimp, cabbage and bacon, pinto beans, vinaigrette cole slaw, perfect French fries, Key Lime pie … and that was just my meal. No cooking tomorrow, we have plenty of leftovers in the fridge.

But that’s because we have a fridge. Electricity is much more a miracle this week, after last week without it. Only 75 hours all told, from Sunday night to Thursday morning, but in our ice cold weather, having no electricity changed everything. No heat, no stove, no fridge … and then soon on in, no water, no toilets, no showers, and no water to drink. No no no no no!

Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down, and do not return until they have watered the earth, until they have given seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth. It shall not return to me void but shall achieve the end for which I sent it.

Nicole served us. She lives 20 miles away on a farmstead, and last week the restaurant was closed. She kept warm beside a wood burning stove. She had cut up a neighbor’s fallen tree two weeks before our Century Storm, and now her neighbors came over and kept warm too, along with their dogs, beside the fire. Twenty years ago Nicole traded her home (with a little acreage) for five years of “indentured servitude” managing a fifty year old apartment complex. She managed through far more heat waves than ice storms. Last week was something new for everyone.

I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Look to him that you may be radiant with joy.

At our apartment we are still out of water. At the restaurant they have water but must boil it before it’s safe. They trucked in ice and water from somewhere for us to drink (Nicole said, “If you want water, and plan to drink it, great. Just don’t leave it as a table ornament. ”).

The sense I had, sitting at our fairly isolated table, wasn’t exactly of sitting beside a campfire, eating out of a chuckwagon  beside Roy Rogers, but I could at least imagine it. The walls of signs sent us back in time, although no one played the Wurlitzer in the corner. We prayed for the folks fixing our food. I remembered the Lord’s Prayer, part of today’s lectionary.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Full of great food, precariously carrying our leftovers in a dozen small containers, we walked into the now dark, nearly empty parking lot. Looking for a chance to slip slowly into speeding traffic, I thought about all the highway joints in the USA, the diners, drive-ins and dives with their food and beer, music and dancing.

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

I thought about Al Capone hanging out in a highway joint near my home town of Lincoln, Illinois. And Willie Nelson playing his music somewhere until 3 AM, and the screen protecting the Blue Brothers when they rollicked up that country bar. After my one beer-in-a-frozen-mug and that mess of catfish, the Parlour sent me out reeling, from gulf stream waters to the redwood forests, from Chuckwagon Charlie and Roy Rogers to Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash.

We could barely make it home.

(Isaiah 55, Psalm 34, Matthew 4, Matthew 6)


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Feb 22 21

Simon, do you love me?

by davesandel

Monday, February 22, 2021               (today’s lectionary)

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

Simon, do you love me?

I’m an old man lying on the prison floor, waiting to be crucified. My life might be ending ingloriously, but no matter. What a joy it was to follow Jesus, what a joy it was.

You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. The gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

He told me I would be the rock, then he even changed my name. When he talked about a man building his house on a rock, I thought maybe he was subtly inviting me to stand firm, stand solid, stand up and be counted and thus sustain my freedom. I read Psalm 23, I memorized Psalm 23, and then I lived Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Jesus walked with us beside still waters, and also the not-so-still. In my fishing boat, when we were turned over by the storm and all of us were sure we’d die, Jesus calmed the sea. Nothing was ever so strange as to see him walking on the water. His rod and his staff, they comforted me.

Of course we were afraid. And then he said as only he could say, “Don’t be afraid.” Won’t you just let me love you? God is in charge, you’re not. Don’t try to understand, just relax, surrender, and let’s play together in this time that we’ve been given. Life is good when you live it with me.

You anoint my head with oil, O my best friend Jesus. Walking with you, only goodness and mercy followed me.

When we had nothing to eat, still we were together. When we were hounded by your enemies, you showed us how to trust God, trust God, and then trust God some more. There were the times of feasting, celebrating, laughing around the table. And then the last time, the last supper, the last celebration of Passover, the last of the bitter herbs.

You spread a table before me in the presence of our enemies.

The stone floor is cold under my thin robe. There is no real bathroom. I listen to the sobs and the breathing of all these people around me. The night hours are passing slowly.

This afternoon we shared stories. I told them some of mine.

Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” And Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you. It has been given to you by my heavenly Father.

At last I also decided to tell them of my three betrayals in the courtyard in Jerusalem, and then Jesus’ three forgivenesses at dawn on the Sea of Galilee. “Simon, come and share this fish. Simon. Do you love me? Love me, love me, love me? Simon, do you really? Simon, do you love me?”

Oh yes, Lord Jesus, Ido love you, I will always love you. Since that wonderful day on the shore, I’ve told so many what now I can tell myself.

When the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

The morning birds begin to sing their songs. I really just can’t wait until tomorrow.

(1 Peter 5, Psalm 23, Matthew 16)


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Feb 21 21

Songs in the desert

by davesandel

Sunday, February 21, 2021                 (today’s lectionary)

First Sunday of Lent

Songs in the desert

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.

O my Father, this is not what I expected. John’s words, the dove, your touch in the water all felt right and good, and my skin got goosebumps, so ready am I for you to use me. But now there is no one, and I feel no permission to return to the world of men and women. There is nothing here for me, is there?

But still, when I do not eat, I feel full. When I do not speak, I feel heard. When I do NOT walk toward Jerusalem, I feel led.

Teach me your paths, O Lord. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.

The rocks become boulders. There is no water along the path. I look for shade but the sun beats down. Sweat pours off my face, and my clothes stick to my skin. But there’s no hurry. I have set my face like flint, and my body becomes a crucible for the molten word of my Father. Still I seek no food. I hear voices, and I know it’s the various sibilancies of Satan, whispering at me, calling me to turn and listen. Don’t you want something to eat?

How do I know it’s the devil? God surely must have told me. This power in me to turn away isn’t mine alone. God has made me a “we.” His words are becoming mine. My heart beats strong and fast.

One does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

My family has been celebrating Passover all its life. Every year of every generation before me, we have asked the Family Questions, we ate the bitter herbs, always we have known that our Redeemer lives. I believe the promises of my Father. My parents have held me in their calming, peaceful arms ever since my simple birth. Mom has told me about her angel, and Dad too had stories to share with me. I am so thirsty, but I think of their stories now.

There will never be another flood to devastate the earth, and this is the sign I am giving for every age to come: I set my bow in the clouds. When I see the rainbow I will recall the covenant I have made.

O Lord, please, don’t let the rain come down. My roof’s got a hole in it, and I might drown. Mama sang to me, all kinds of songs when I was growing up. She sang about the sun and the rain, and the apple seed. She sang about Anna and Simeon and their prophecies over me. She sang about Moses and his sister and the parting of the Red Sea. The Spirit danced when Mama sang.

I remember her songs, and I’m singing them now. Here is the Spirit, come to dance with me. The devil withdraws again, he won’t touch me when the Spirit is dancing. He won’t say a word. I think I’m on to something here. Come on Lord, let’s sing. Light the Christmas tree. Come right now, my Spirit. Dance with me.

Beloved, Christ suffered for sins once that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.

(Genesis 9, Psalm 25, 1 Peter 3, Matthew 4, Mark 1)


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Feb 20 21

I’m sorry … I love you

by davesandel

Saturday, February 20, 2021 (today’s lectionary)

I’m sorry … I love you 

Late at night, we slept soundly and warm for the fifth night running at Andi and Aki’s house. Our apartment is heated again now, but we have no water. We drove back and forth a couple of times, moved a few things around, filled a bucket or two with snow to melt and use in the toilet, and left again. At Whole Foods the line of customers was much shorter than at the bigger grocery stores, and we got two expensive half gallons of milk, some awesome fruit juice, a couple loaves of bread and a gluten free chocolate brownie mix.

One of the Texas senators spent part of his winter “vacation” in Cancun and got raked over the cold ice for it. Everyone from the governor down looks for someone else to blame. No one is fasting the way God wants us to. Isaiah is turning over in his grave.

If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech, and if you give bread to the hungry and comfort the afflicted, then light shall rise for you in the darkness. Then the Lord will guide you always and renew your strength. 

A different kind of Texas politician who lives with her mother lost a ceiling to broken water pipes and will have to relocate for months. “Let’s get to work,” she tweeted. And there are heroes. There are always heroes.

The ancient ruins will be rebuilt for your sake. “Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you. “Restorer of ruined households.” It is always possible to use my time helping someone instead of blaming someone.

The disaster stories flood us like apocalyptic rain, but Miles teaches me more than anyone. This morning he opened the door when I was in the bathroom, and his mom thought he should apologize. It was obvious he disagreed. James Joyce’s young man Stephen Dedalus, about Miles’ age, remembered a frightening nursery rhyme, “Apologize! Apologize! The eagles will come and pull out your eyes! Pull out his eyes! Apologize!” Miles might have been thinking about that too, if he could read.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for to you I lift up my soul. You are good and forgiving, and abounding in kindness when we call on you. Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer. Attend the sound of my pleading.

Anyway, Miles resisted, looking small and very vulnerable. Then he opened his mouth, “I love …” He looked up at his Mamo and giggled … “I started to tell grandpa I love you,” he said. Andi grabbed that of course. “Sure, Miles, you can say, ‘I’m sorry. I love you.’” And that’s just what he did. So now I too have a much nicer way to apologize in the future.

Jesus said to Levi the tax collector, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, Levi followed him. Later Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees. “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

And aren’t we all sinners? Pull out his eyes! Apologize. But Jesus is the Great Physician, not a screaming eagle howling from the sky, rushing with talons bared toward my face. No, he carries me tenderly on his special stretcher to his palace of nowhere, his hospital for sinners, and sits beside me till I fall asleep, holding my hand.

If you call the sabbath a delight, if you honor it by not following your own ways or seeking your own interests, then you shall delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth.

(Isaiah 58, Psalm 86, Ezekiel 33, Luke 5)


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Feb 19 21

Count to four

by davesandel

Friday, February 19, 2021                   (today’s lectionary)

Count to four

Pleased to gain access to God, they ask him to declare what is due them. They ask, why do we fast and you don’t see it? Why do we afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?

Sometimes our four year old grandson screams bloody murder for a little while, usually when he wants something to eat and doesn’t understand why he is told no. Sometimes his younger brother just watches him with wide brown eyes, and sometimes he decides to join the chorus.

But your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Is this the manner of fasting I wish, when you lie in sackcloth and ashes? No! Instead, untie the thongs of the yoke, set free the oppressed, share your bread with the hungry, shelter the homeless and clothe the naked. Do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your own wound shall quickly be healed. Then you shall cry for help, and the Lord will say, “Here I am!”

Our remarkably thick-skinned daughter and son-in-law give their older son time outs once in a while. But they have also given him a two-point strategy to avoid them. Take a deep breath, and then count to four. Soon perhaps they will increase that to ten. But first he has to remember to do the counting at all. At least he remembers it after his time out, when they ask him what he did wrong and how he can do it differently next time.

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit, a humbled heart. Have mercy on me. In the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Wash me from my guilt. Cleanse me from my sin.

One of the two or three most important questions I ask as a counselor about your childhood is, “Were you allowed to express ALL of your emotions when you were a kid? What happened when you got angry?” Angry kids (and don’t forget that fear is always just under the surface of anger) start by screaming and end in sobbing, and sometimes even in striking out. This is aggressive behavior, and parents (or grandparents like me) usually respond either aggressively themselves or passively.

Being assertive, always the best alternative of the three, means something like … a moment of patience, quick insistence on a short time out, then a listening time when the kiddo can say what he was thinking, what he wanted, what scared him, what made him mad. Asking him how he could have done this differently. Nothing about how anger or fear is in any way wrong or bad. None of us like being yelled at. I don’t. Kids don’t. God doesn’t. God’s people don’t.

Jesus asked, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? When he is taken away from them, then they will fast.”

Jesus cuts through rules and regulations when he invites his disciples and friends to celebrate. He reprimands those who choose to yell at him and his kids. He pushes back on their self-righteousness. “Is this how you fast, bowing your head like a reed in shame? I don’t believe it for a second. You’re just putting on an act.”

These “acts” begin in childhood, in self-defense. If I’m a kid, I learn how to act from my parents. And they learned how to act from theirs. Every generation has had parents, so we are all in trouble here, I guess. Jesus is the better teacher. As soon as we can, he’s the one we need to watch, learn our lessons from, and celebrate with. Because now you see him, and then you don’t. Stay awake! Watch. Keep the candles burning.

(Isaiah 58, Psalm 51, Amos 5, Matthew 9)


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Feb 18 21

West Texas blues

by davesandel

Thursday, February 18, 2021 (today’s lectionary)

West Texas blues

Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. 

Colorado City is a small town in West Texas. Yesterday Mayor Tim Boyd wrote on his Facebook page, “ The town doesn’t owe you a thing. If you don’t have electricity you step up and come up with a game plan to keep your family warm and safe. If you have no water you deal with it and think outside of the box to survive and supply water to your family.”

Not exactly politically correct. And of course he wrote more than that. Since then he’s resigned and removed his facebook page, but at least of the 4000 residents sympathize with him. “He’s a good guy, just frustrated with the situation,” another town administrator said. The mayor had several requests to open city buildings with power and heat to the public. “I think he took that the wrong way, that they wanted him to buy motel rooms for them, but they just wanted somewhere to warm up.”

Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land.

It must not be easy being a mayor. Whatever you do and whatever you say is criticized by someone. It wasn’t easy being Moses, it isn’t easy being a mom or dad … there’s not a single choice that couldn’t be made the other way, and there are usually at least a few people willing to quickly point that out. Having a moral bottom line matters more than most anything. “Choose life, then.”

Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

In hundreds of thousands of Austin homes today, patience is wearing thin after 48 or more hours without heat and electricity. The ice and snow are beginning to melt. The power plants will begin to catch up as they unfreeze, and the new water shortage will end. (Probably.) But it won’t be any easier next time. If I was in that mayor’s place, I like to think I’d be thick-skinned against complaints and sensitive to others’ needs at the same time. That I’d pray before I speak, that I’d “choose life, then.” But I know I would avoid being a mayor at most any cost. 

Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night.

Most of the ancient mystics who were chosen to be bishops in the early Christian church resisted strenuously. Just having a quiet, peaceful relationship with God sounded a lot better to them, and it does to me too.

But of course that’s just a fairy tale, because God is everyone’s Father, and he will ask any and all of us to care for our brothers and sisters, his kids, anytime and anywhere. We are all in this together.

He is like a tree planted near running water, that yields it fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever he does, prospers.

(Deuteronomy 30, Psalm 1, Matthew 4, Luke 9)


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Feb 17 21

Leave behind a blessing

by davesandel

Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021 (today’s lectionary)

Leave behind a blessing

Return to me with your whole heart, says the Lord. Rend your heart and not your garments and return. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind a blessing.

Driving home from PromiseKeepers with my dad, I reveled in that football feeling, a hundred thousand men praising God, singing, praying, believing they could be God’s kids and lead their families. Then we heard that my cousin Richard, much younger than me, had died. I felt a strange collapse inside. How do you keep family promises when the family buckles and needs you the most?

The next day I watched our black dog Bear wandering on the other side of busy Lincoln Avenue and shouted at him, “Bear, get over here!” I realized my mistake the second the words came out. An ambulance with lights but no siren flew past just as Bear came running to my call. The ambulance ran right over him.

Ambulances on the way to hospitals don’t stop for broken Bears. Our dog stood up somehow and dragged himself to the sunshine on the side of our house. There, he collapsed. And so did I.

I screamed, I wept and wailed, I cried and cried as loud as I could. For several minutes I had no desire to stop. Sometime along the way something fell together inside me. I noticed, as if I was watching myself from above, how hard I was crying. I wondered why. And I knew God wanted to show me.

When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

It didn’t happen that day, or overnight. Dad and I had another trip planned, this time to a Minnesota conference for charismatic Lutherans in a couple of weeks. The organizers offered appointments for personal intensive prayer with a trained helper. I scheduled one of those for myself. In Minneapolis my prayer partner got me started, and then I spent a couple of hours alone, crying, praying, listening, and discovering a simple hole in my soul.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, take not your Holy Spirit from me.

I was crying as hard as I could in my crib. No one came, and I was afraid. I cried harder, I became terrified. I was alone. Sometimes when you scream like that, your ears get plugged up, and then you can’t hear much. You’re more alone than ever. My ears plugged up.

Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and sustain me with your spirit. Let my mouth proclaim your praise.

My mother never abandoned me. Generally she followed Dr. Spock’s advice to pay close attention to how I showed her my needs. But on this day, all those good intentions mattered little, and in the afternoon sun, waking up from a nap, I screamed and screamed and no one came.

Bear recovered. Dr. King examined him and said, “Well, I don’t believe it but there are no bones broken.” We left him in the clinic while we made a memorable two week trip to North Carolina and the Outer Banks. When we got back, Bear wagged his tail harder than ever. He lived for several more years.

Richard’s family did not recover, of course, at least not in the same way. But they loved Richard into his grave, they loved Richard in his absence, they each knew how much they had been blessed by their sensitive sibling, sensitive son, year by year by year.

And I felt God’s filling of the hole in my soul. Offering my forehead for the ashes of this first day of Lent, I close my eyes and give thanks. I know no matter how I feel, I am not abandoned, I am not alone. When I watch an ambulance speeding down the street, I can pray for who is inside, and love them.

Return to me with your whole heart, says the Lord. Rend your heart and not your garments and return. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind a blessing.

(Joel, 2, Psalm 51, 2 Corinthians 5, Psalm 95, Matthew 6)


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Feb 16 21

Slip sliding away

by davesandel

Fat Tuesday, February 16, 2021 (today’s lectionary)

Mardi Gras

Slip sliding away

Yesterday. Quality Inn, Mt. Pleasant, Texas, covered by an all-night snow storm, then morning sunshine and 10 degrees. But I had eighteen hours of cozy nighttime sanctuary, while outside the snow blew the roads shut. Margaret in Austin has no power, which means no heat, no charging for her phone, no electric blanket!

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.

About 11 AM I started out, and made it home by 6. With virtually no traffic, I felt safe enough to listen to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which was riveting. Then when I turned off I35 into Austin, the roads weren’t plowed and it was hard to get through town. I am thanking God for the interstate lifelines through the country. We unloaded the car a little and reloaded it, then spent the night with Andi and Aki and our wonderful, crazy, wild grandkids, who are having a strong case of cabin fever. On Tinybeans Andi posted pictures of Miles’ first “snow angel,” made possible by this amazing southern storm. It’s not a southern storm, really; it’s snowing all the way up to Maine.

My favorite Monday blogger, Joe Zarantonello from Loose Leaf Hollow in Bardstown, Kentucky reminded me of blizzards in Nebraska: “When farmers in the Great Plains smelled a blizzard coming, they would run a stout rope from the farm house to the barn. They remembered how how easy it was to wander off in a white out and freeze to death.”

Jesus said to his disciples, “Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?”

Then Joe asked, “What is the rope strung between your kitchen door and the barn? Find out, before it’s too late.”

Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.

In December I got a speeding ticket in southern Illinois. So before writing this, I spent 90 minutes with a Defensive Driving Safety Test, which seems very apropos for today. Count three seconds between vehicles on the road, turn off my cell phone, don’t exceed the speed limit, delay acceleration at a stoplight turning green by two seconds … those are a few of the “details” of defensive driving that I have mostly ignored. Passing this 8 hour online course will keep my ticket out of the Secretary of State’s office, but it will also help me drive better. I am really appreciating the reminders. And there is plenty of new information for me too.

The Lord said, “I will wipe out from the earth the men whom I have created, and not only the men but the beasts and birds, for I am sorry that I made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord.

It’s helpful for me today to remember the position of most everyone as the 40 day rain began to fall, while Noah and his family in the Ark rose on the waters land spent their forty days waiting it out. I am in the ark, and there are so many folks watching the waters rise. And unlike Noah, I could find myself out of the ark at any given moment. The protections in my life are fragile at best. I think often of Rich Mullins and the song he sang before he died, “You are not as strong as you think you are.”

The voice of the Lord is over the waters, the Lord, over vast waters. The voice of the Lord is mighty, the voice of the Lord is majestic.

Like Rich, I can’t predict, can’t protect, can only pray. Breathe on me, breath of God. On Christ, the solid rock I stand. Slip sliding away, you know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away. We are frail, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and our hells and heavens are so few inches apart. We must be awfully small and not as strong as we think we are.

(Genesis 6, Psalm 29, John 14, Mark 8)



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Feb 15 21

Haiku for every day of January

by davesandel
Monday, February 15, 2021    (today’s lectionary)

Haikus for every day of January

Friday, January 1, 2021    

Austin sun shines again

Bright sky, bright mood, lifts us up

God’s Day rest and joy


January 2

Visit the Calverts

Campus house so long ago

Great to stay in touch


Sunday, January 3

Walk across the street

In our backyard, church we love

Grace at 9:15


January 4

Great day with grandkids

School, lunch, naps, walk, and then a

Pre-school bean bag chair! (from the local Buy Nothing group, picked it up just 5 minutes away)


January 5

Bought a rug last week

Turkish, red, 8 feet around

And we both love it!


January 6

First gingerbread house

Brown, red, white, green, jelly beans

Waits to be eaten!


January 7

Once again, the sun

These are days of quiet joy

Deep down, I relax


January 8

Met neighbor Rosa

Plants cover her patio

She will be our friend


January 9

Installed one bidet

But second – old plumbing broke.

Just one toilet now


Sunday, January 10

Snow storm, fine big flakes

Austin kids can’t believe it

Make back yard snowmen!


January 11

Charles fixed toilet

That I broke last week, then our

Freezer came – I left (for Urbana)


January 12

Furnace dead? Dim lights?

Not how I want to get home

Frank is my hero (and Ameren man)!


January 13

So much to take back

Fourth trip for filled-up Prius

And there will be more


January 14

Read, write, listen, pray

Simple life from dawn to dark

Then it’s time for sleep


January 15

Lansford birthday lunch

Smokers outside at Bunny’s

We kept our distance


January 16

Take your time, David

Eight hours to pack the car

Got to Mom’s at last


Sunday, January 17

Oklahoma roads

Churches full during co-vid

Choctaw casinos


January 18

Biscuits and gravy

Breakfast treat during my trip

Too much black coffee


January 19

Small problems turn big

I think we are both tired

Forgiveness rises


January 20

Bird feeders with Miles

Put them on the patio

Wait for birds to come


January 21

Growing up so fast

Miles almost hurt himself

But still, real tools call


January 22

Pizza outside with

Boys, Andi, cauliflower

Crust, pepperoni


January 23

Ideas float free

Catch on, let one carry me

Don’t keep us on earth


Sunday, January 24

Our kids joy, to teach

And share with other couples

While we watch their kids


January 25

Why not? We should go!

Picnic, Hundred Acre Wood!

Just across the street 


January 26

No, these are not just

Days of wine and roses

Wait for God to heal


January 27

Charles snakes dryer

Kids ride golf cart through puddles

He is leaving soon


January 28

Thomas Aquinas

Finds his way through the wheat field

Leaves behind the straw


January 29

Hold five syllables

In a warm room of my mind

Let them each be born


January 30

Big weekend – car seats!

Farmer’s market, Jimmy Joe

Played guitar – we talked


Sunday, January 31

Mincemeat is very hot

Old English as the sun sets

Dickens sing to me

(Genesis 4, Psalm 50, John 14, Mark 8)


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