Puffs of Air and Spit in the Wind

May 20, 2014 § 2 Comments

IMG_0865Oh! We’re all puffs of air. Oh! we’re all shadows in a campfire. Oh! we’re just spit in the wind. We make our pile, and then we leave it. What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that’s what I’m doing–hoping …” (Psalm 39:5-7 The Message).

Today is our grandson’s 14th birthday and his eight grade graduation. Wasn’t it just the other day that his father carried him out of the birthing room for the inspection of two eager pairs of grandparents? He was a blond toddler when he came to live next to us so he grew up imperceptibly before our eyes in daily increments. And then one day almost two years ago he and his older sister and his mother and dad moved to the middle of the country to the extremes of temperature in Tornado Alley.  And now he’s a young man, taller than his mother and ready for high school.

And what happens to his grandparents in the intervening years since his birth? We grow older in daily increments, and not so imperceptibly. We see old friends and recognize the quick appraising glances we give each other:  how did we all get so old?

“Puffs of air. 

Does that mean we’re like ethereal gusts, short-lived, entertaining while they’re moving, but not destined to stay around? I think it does.

“Shadows in a campfire.”

I’ve seen a lot of campfires in my 18 years of sitting around nightly smoky campfires at a wilderness camp ministry. Everyone is drawn to fire, sees something different in it,  is fascinated by the glowing embers as they burn down. But they eventually  burn down and the fire goes out.

“Spit in the wind.”

Not an elegant word picture. Spit in the wind doesn’t go far and can’t decide where it goes. It just has its moment in time and then is gone.

 

“We make our pile and then we leave it.”

Or not. The accumulations that we leave behind better be more than dishes nobody wants and oddments that get relegated to an estate sale. (A little money would be nice, the kids say sotto voice.)

Do I sound depressed? I’m not, not at all. I’m just measuring my days, looking back and looking ahead. It’s the last line of this psalm of David that tells the real story.

Our lives are more than a puff of air, a campfire shadow, accumulating and leaving. There’s hope! Hope for the discoveries ahead, for the joys yet to come. Hope reassures me God has planned amazing things for our real lives to come in our true home. No more fleeting puffs of air, or campfire shadows but life, eternal life.

“My hope is in you,” the New King James Version of verse 7 says. And that grasp of a living hope in God is what I want to leave my children and grandchildren.

 

© Inger Logelin 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Underneath Thoughts and Groanings

April 22, 2014 § 2 Comments

IMG_2473It’s Earth Day. And I’m groaning.

And it seems as if the earth is groaning too.

Oh, not on the outside where my life goes on as it usually does, where tragedy has not come to my door. Here the apple trees are showing off pink and white blossoms, Easter has been celebrated with gusto, and the garden is pushing up the first green of onions, radishes, beets and potatoes .

But, underneath, underneath, the default position of my thoughts shifts to those 41 lost, the bodies in the mud of the Washington State Oso landslide, not far from my island home. Those bleak March days afterwards—a month ago today—when the rain was still pouring and I was warm and comfortable in my house, my mind would shift to the grandmother, the baby, the working man, the small children, lost in the cold mud and insurmountable piles of debris. Although I sat as close to the comforting steady heat of the woodstove, it was as if I couldn’t get warm enough when there were those who would never be warm again … on this earth.

The Bible says, “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time,” (Romans 8:22 NIV).

And it feels right now as if there is more reason to groan than ever.

The current triad of tragedies began on March 8th with the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with its 227 passengers and 12 Malaysian crew. The unbearable uncertainty, the drowned hopes, the grief with no resolution, the groaning.

When the South Korean ferry “Sewol” sank on April 19, 2014 near Jindo, south of Seoul, Korea it was as if the previous two disasters were combined into something unthinkable, unimaginable and utterly devastating. Some 476 passengers had boarded the ferry, most of them teenagers, 250 of them from one high school in Ansan, Korea. To date, there are 121 confirmed dead, with 181 missing. As rescue has turned to recovery, the numbers of dead will go up exponentially. It is a stunning loss; and I grieve.

It is Earth Day, and the earth is groaning. Darkness and death seem ever present.

The cover story of April 28th’s issue of  Time is “Finding God in the Dark” and features Barbara Brown Taylor.  Author of the article, Elizabeth Dias, writes that Taylor says, ” … contemporary spirituality is too feel-good that darkness holds more lessons than light and that contrary to what many of us have long believed, it is sometimes in the bleakest void that God is nearest.”

“In the bleakest void … God is nearest.” I remember the words of Psalms 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”

The earth is his. He knows. He understands our darkness. His heart is touched with our grief, our groaning. He is near.

The hope that seems so out of reach in times of great tragedy, but is nevertheless actual and real, is there will come a day, when this earth has worn out like a garment when there will be a new earth, a new heaven. When death that touches all of us here on earth, will be done away with. When there will be no more darkness or grief.

But, not yet; we wait. The rest of Romans 8:22 says, “ … [We] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons the redemption of our bodies.”

There will come a day.

copyright 2014  Inger Logelin

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Bye-Bye Books … Think I’m A-Gonna Cry

January 18, 2014 § 2 Comments

I said it. And now I have to do it. In my post “In Search of Simple Things” I said, “Ways to declutter, organize, sort and divest” were sounding attractive.  It’s the actual getting rid of stuff, the parting, the excising that isn’t all that attractive to me. And where the ink hits the paper is the indisputable fact that complicates my life. I am a bibliophile. Yes. A lover of books. I’m hoping it hasn’t reached the point of bibliolatry … a state of being overly devoted to books.

IMG_1601

Mostly I borrow books from the library, and

don’t mind bringing them back as I can find them again if I wish. Complicating matters is my work as an editor/writer that has at times necessitated reading a book and writing about it. And then there’s the relative who has access and first pick of used books to purchase as a Friend of the Library and who arrives for visits with bags or boxes for me to peruse and buy.

Why do I love books so? They are friends who supported me in various phases of my life, who entertained, who kept me awake, who spun new thoughts in my head, who made me cry, who taught me, inspired me and kept me company. How can I get rid of them? I keep my friends. I don’t necessarily want to read them twice; I just want them hanging around.

And so my garage is filled with books, the downstairs bookshelves are filled, the upstairs shelves have no more room. Some of these babies have to go. I’m approaching the “old woman in a shoe” syndrome.

How to cull? What to get rid of? Here’s the plan. I’m also motivated by value, so I have three boxes ready to go to a used bookstore that buys books for their consideration. I’ve listed many on Amazon, and sold some most weeks. It’s not as painful getting rid of books if I consider they are going to a new good home and if I make a few dollars on the exchange. Those that don’t sell I’ll  save for my spring garage sale.

“What are you going to do with the ones that don’t sell then?” my husband asked.

“Oh, I’ll donate them,” I said offhandedly. But, it’s not that simple. I may just pat their covers lovingly and package them up and slide them back in the garage. I don’t have a problem with hoarding … after all. Or do I?

(c) 2014 Inger Logelin

Of Glass Plates and Other Unused Gifts

January 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Rainbow soap bubbles sparkled on the clear glass plate as the winter  sun shone through the kitchen

Pass the Plate

Pass the Plate

window. I held the art deco handles, rinsed and wiped the flower-shaped plate and wondered. Wondered about the woman who had owned it before me.

I found it on a crisp November Saturday in Barron, Wisconsin when my sister-in-law and I stopped at an estate sale at a yellow one-story house on a quiet street. “Everything’s half off today,” said the antique store owner who was managing the sale. I walked through the house picking up clues. She must have been Scandinavian. Stainless and pewter serve ware, crisp linens, familiar patterns. A cheese serving set from the 50s in the original box with a Marshall Fields tag on it. Pink budded cups and saucers. Many items looked new or very lightly used. Some were obviously gifts she had never taken out of the box. A green and white chenille bedspread in perfect condition. A gilt mirror and brush and comb. Unused handkerchiefs and boxes of linen stationery tied with ribbon.

There’s something  sad about  strangers wander through a home, picking up and discarding, evaluating and critiquing  treasures the owner had kept and valued but perhaps never taken out of the box. Were there no children to value what their mother had or to want to keep some remembrances of her?

I walked out of there with a box and a bag. Some to keep, some to give to a daughter who particularly values the 50s. And I came home with something else. The resolve to keep on using what I have and what I have been given.  I want to take my gifts out of the box and give them a good go. Use them, pass them around, give them away. I want my gifts–what I am, what I possess–to wear the lovely patina that comes from loving interactions. Scratches and dents may result, but at the end my life won’t be one that was unused, unrealized and left in a box.

(c)  Inger Logelin 2014

In Search of Simple Things

December 29, 2013 § 4 Comments

It happens to me every year.  So much becomes too much.

Too many decorations … cookies … even carols and televised Christmas “specials.”Image

Too much rich food, too many gifts, too much pressure to buy.

I’m over it, I realize with a stretched out longing for the simple. A meal of homemade bread and cheese. A fragrant soup, not a rich sauce.  A clear sideboard, an uncluttered mind.

“‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free …” wrote Shaker elder Joseph Brackett in 1848. The song, known then as a “quick dance,” goes:

” ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.”

As 2014 approaches, there’s a longing for the “place just right.” And I have a strong suspicion that true simplicity is the way to get there. Already, ways to declutter, organize, sort and divest sound attractive, rather than my usual acquire, pile up and collect. The Shakers danced to this song. And “coming down where we ought to be” I find to be a dance with intricate steps. Step back. Let go. Push forward. End.

Could it be that the way to more is through less?

(c) 2013 Inger Logelin

My Life Flashing Before Me

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Colorful flashes of my life accost me at regular intervals throughout my day.

England, Sweden, Norway, HOP, home 013Well-loved faces. Places I have traveled. Scenic views. Bad hair. Gatherings of friends. Thanksgiving dinners. Spring tulips. A beloved yellow lab, now gone.

There’s the baby,  she must have been three months old.

Where were we when that picture was taken? I wonder.Camp 2004 161winter 06  07021

Who is that? My mind refusing to pull up a name.

Don’t ever wear that again, I warn myself.

Oh, remember that street in Nice … the dogteam ride in Greenland … Oh, there’s the wedding.

Does that top make me look fat? I muse, not looking for an answer.

Expressions of a fragmented mind? An end-of-life experience fast forwarding across my consciousness?Friends and Alaska trip Sept 2005 160

No, it’s iPhoto selecting bits and pieces of my life to rotate on my desktop computer. No rhyme, no reason, no pattern. Just a delight of discovery. A frisson of remembrance. A slight breath in.

I look at all the lives who have touched mine, places traveled I never thought I’d go, the rich and varied tapestry of my life and I’m thankful.

copyright 2013 Inger Logelin

What About the Children? The Slippery Slope of Juvenile Euthanasia

January 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

I’m not camping on this platform but I can’t leave it without talking about the children.

In my last blog I joined the others lifting up their voices about Marc and Eddy Verbessen, the 45-year-old deaf twins in Belgium, who chose euthanasia rather than await total blindness. Although they weren’t suffering froImagem a terminal illness, what they did has been legal in Belgium since 2002.

Shortly after Marc and Eddy were killed, Belgium’s ruling Socialist party went one step further and introduced a legal amendment to allow the euthanasia of children and Alzheimer’s sufferers. The legislation hasn’t come up for debate yet but is expected to pass. To qualify, minors are supposed to be “capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate.” By whose standards will discernment or suffering be measured? Will a three year-old with birth defects not be allowed to live, or a ten-year-old who is suffering pain be administered a lethal injection? Will an Alzheimer patient be able to demonstrate discernment? Will the government get to choose?

Under the 2002 euthanasia law in Belgium, doctors can terminate the lives of infants under the age of 12 months by deliberate medical intervention if the baby is disabled or deficient and likely to suffer as a result. In some 16 percent of cases studied, parental consent wasn’t considered.

The slippery slope of assisted suicide is frightening. The Center for Bioethics and Culture says, “The history of the last forty years shows unequivocally that a society which permits or legalizes euthanasia and assisted suicide for the few, embarks on a path leading inexorably to permissive mercy killing of the many.”

I live in Washington State where, along with Oregon and Montana, a physician-assisted suicide law is already on the books, albeit with stricter guidelines than in the Netherlands and Belgium. What’s next?

The extreme of this slippery slope is Nazi Germany’s elimination of “lives unworthy of life.” Before they began killing Jews, Gypsies and political opponents, they dispensed with the unwanted: the disabled, the old, the mentally ill.

In allowing legislation that leads ultimately to this slippery slope have we lost our way to the high road of valuing life? Is the love expressed by a Down Syndrome child of less value and not worthy of life? Is the selfless care shown to a severely disabled child by loving parents of no value? Is a child needing a kidney transplant not worthy of life? Are there no miracles, no answers to prayer?

Jesus Christ said when his disciples shooed off children that were brought to him, “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these” (Matthew 19:14, The Message).

copyright 2013 Inger Logelin

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