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Doing the work that we can do

by davesandel on October 1st, 2021

Friday, October 1, 2021                                  (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Doing the work that we can do

May your compassion quickly come to us, O Lord, for we are brought very low.

Tonight I’m eating fig bars in honor of those folks who sat under fig trees and heard God say hard things, or watched the leaves wither as they sat there. They thought they were relaxing, and then God just showed up and killed their tree. No more shade in the hot afternoon.

Help us, O God our savior, because of the glory of your name; deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

We had fine food at Margaret’s surprise birthday celebration tonight with Andi and Aki. Jasper jumped up and down and pointed to copper colored Happy Birthday balloons on one wall, and then to a wide birthday scroll on the other. Miles and Jasper spent their evening helping Aki and me fire up our charcoal and grill our meat, our “chicken sirloin steaks” or whatever they ended up calling them. Garlic laced mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli and brussel sprouts, green beans, a carrot cake with candle #7 and candle #2 on top, and Miles said it was just like Thanksgiving!

Andi gave Margaret a beautiful wall scroll of the Lord’s Prayer. We spent half an hour online with Chris and Melissa, Jack and Aly. (Marc was working.)  I didn’t give away the secret because I didn’t know the secret. Andi has learned her lesson of telling me too much.

On the way home we left the car windows open because the evening air was so sweet. We prayed together when we got back to our apartment, about the family God has given us. Margaret prayed to remind us that we have given ourselves back to God, who made us, and thanked him for doing such good family things with our lives.

Not every family can get together like we did tonight. Often we ourselves can’t, although it’s been easier since we moved to Austin, just hop-skip-jump from Andi’s house. Shannon and I worked up a genogram (a psychological family tree) of his family this afternoon, and Margaret is hopeful of putting one together for her family in Evansville when we visit next month. Genograms are often drawn up with jagged lines for difficult or broken relationships, and smooth double lines for healthy ones. A divorce is represented by two slashing parallel lines. The end of something.

Talking through the family ties is as valuable as the resulting document. Sometimes the detritus of long-ago denial gets swept away, at least for a moment, and grief can wash in and over the stories. This kind of sadness doesn’t change anything except my spirit, which feels more rested and ready for tomorrow.

I think of the family I grew up in and the stories we hold dear, but also broken times and shattered places in our history. I don’t need to fix all that, but I do appreciate being able to sometimes grieve, weep even, for what could have been but was not. In the weeping, and after it, it’s easier for me to give myself back to God, and pray with simple faith for all the people in my world.

One of my dad’s favorite verses was the last verse of Psalm 90. “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.” That right there. That’s what I’m talking about.

(Baruch 1, Psalm 79, Psalm 95, Luke 10)


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