So I thought I would post earlier; I was sure I'd have something profound to say about Ash Wednesday and the onset of Lent, for instance. Well, maybe I did have something profound to say, but if I did, I preached it -- and now I've forgotten it!
The last week was a whirlwind of activity, with a vestry meeting on Monday (like a parish council in an Episcopal Church -- elected representatives that take care of much of the administrative and financial decision making for the parish), and the traditional Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner, hosted by the men's group (big YUM - I ate 6 with margarine and maple syrup, and wonder why I struggle with my weight!), as well as my book study group on Tuesday evening. Then there were two services on Ash Wednesday. Some services are more stressful than others, because they only occur once a year, and it's hard to remember from year to year exactly how it's all done. Ash Wednesday is one of those, and we do it twice, once in the morning and once in the evening. On Thursday I went to Knoxville for the annual renewal of ordination vows with the Bishop and my clergy colleagues here in East Tennessee. That is always a moving and very meaningful service for me, and it keeps me humble, because I know I don't keep those vows as well as I might. Every Thursday evening I have a yoga class and then dinner with a buddy. Friday morning I attended my third yoga class of the week, and then picked up recycled planks for my raised garden beds, generously contributed by my friends Louise and Dennis. That evening I attended a 2 1/2 hour yoga workshop with California instructor Mary Paffard at our local yoga studio, Laughing Bodies. Yesterday I was at the same weekend workshop for 5 hours. Whew! No wonder I didn't blog!
Today was something new at church: for Lent we're experimenting with offering two services, one at 8 and one at 10 am. Previously we've only had one at 9:30, but we're often crowded. Church lore says that if the nave (the main part of the church, where the congregation sits) is more than 2/3 full, it's not welcoming to visitors. At our parish, we're always more than 2/3 full on Sunday morning, so something really needed to be done. We did well for attendance at both services today (85 total, which is on the high end for us); we'll see how it goes for the rest of Lent. And of course, we've switched to the Rite I (traditional language) service for Lent, so I'm tripping my tongue on all the thees, thous, and haths. I feel as though I've got a lithp.
After my 2-hour nap this afternoon, I worked in the garden, preparing it and placing some of the planks for the raised beds. Here's a look at my handiwork, though you have to look carefully at the long rear edge of the garden, to see 34 feet of planks in place against the fence:
The biggest shame of it all is that now you see that last fall I didn't do any prep work for winter at all out there! Today, just moving soil to place those planks, I also removed three wheelbarrows full of weeds -- just from that one bed (and a few stragglers here and there)! Sigh. One of the grass clumps I pulled nearly filled the wheelbarrow, all on its own! Here it is:
The bad gardening news is that I think I may have, in my weeding zeal, uprooted the rhubarb that I so carefully planted and nurtured last year. Drat! Those of you who pray for gardens, might just say a prayer that some of the rhubarb survived my root-ripping mania. I wondered where those big roots came from!
I do some deep thinking when I'm weeding. I've often thought about how weeds are like sin -- how we win the occasional battle against weeds/sin, but we never seem to win the blasted war against them! Just when we think we've got it all licked, up they pop (weeds and sin both) all over again. Today I was thinking about Satan, since we heard (and I preached) about Jesus being tempted by Satan in the wilderness today. Now I don't really personalize Satan -- I certainly don't think he's that weird looking guy in the red pajamas with horns and a pitchfork. But oh, yes, I certainly do believe in evil. And I believe that people do bad things and make bad choices all the time, and that those bad choices range from slightly bad to downright evil -- and we can't always know at the time which ones are which. Today I was thinking about that key phrase in the reading from Luke, that Satan "departed from him until an opportune time." Of course, when we read about the betrayal, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, we know when "the opportune time" was in that story. But I wonder whether Satan is still out there, waiting around for "opportune times" in each of our lives? I wonder when we wrestle with more or less ethical choices, whether Satan is rubbing his (metaphorical) hands together in glee, just waiting for the opportunity to take center stage again?
Well, I don't know about Satan, but I know the weeds in my garden, those weeds left unpulled last fall, and also all the ones left unpulled today (oh, maybe another 15 wheelbarrows full) are waiting for the opportune time to sprout back up and make my life a living hell. It looks like there's going to be a bumper crop of ragweed in the garden this year, unless I get very, very busy. Ah, the sins of things done and left undone; they'll be the death of me yet!
Now I'll take my weary and stiff body up to bed; tomorrow's the start of another busy week in Lent for the parson!