It was just supposed to be a quick grab and go. Fridays can be tricky at Trader Joe’s, so I was prepared for an aisle or two of three-lane traffic. What I was not prepared for was the gaggle of senior citizens mingling in every entry aisle and passageway as if they’d rented out the bread & muffin section for an octogenarian birthday party.
In the place where impatience usually rises up in me I found myself instead leaning in. Their wizened faces were alight with joy as they chatted in thick accents. “Russian Jews,” I thought to myself. Russian Jews at the end of life telling stories and smiling and entitled in the best possible way to be clogging the aisles of the neighborhood store.
What could they teach me about slowing down? About recognizing that, in the end, when all the suffering is behind you, that there is nothing else but this: to delight in the company of one another.
Just this morning I had read in the Benedictine devotional Always We Begin Again these words: “Every day carries the potential to bring the experience of heaven; have the courage to expect good from it.”
For a moment they were like icons to me: windows into the realm of the sacred, the holy. Although depression, anxiety, and isolation is epidemic in this country, there were no shadows on these faces. Some were in wheelchairs. Others had walkers. By virtue of their advanced ages, all would have known heartache and illness and loss. The fact that they were all together told me that they had arrived that way, likely a field trip from a local senior center. I reached for a loaf of Ezekiel bread.
“What is that?” one of the ladies asked. She was 5′ tops with a cropped shock of red hair. In a brief conversation, she had confirmed that they were, in fact, all Russian Jews from a local day care.
“Oh, it’s very healthy,” I told her. “No flour. See here. Ezekiel 4:9. It’s the same recipe one of your prophets gave us.”
“Ah,” she said, and smiled.
I continued on with my shopping, carrying inside me a new shade of meaning for “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4).
I was loading up my trunk when the seniors finally began heading out to a large van. Driving away, I looked in my rearview mirror. On the side of their shared vehicle I saw the words Nazareth House. And smiled.
One of my favorite promises from Jesus is this: “In my father’s house there are many rooms,” (John 14:2). Today I’m grateful to have had a glimpse of this one.
So many memories, so many tributes, but his life’s work says it all. Vin was born to do and be the voice of the Dodgers—a voice that at all times delighted in children and families, captured moments in time that were greater than our own first-hand witness, and always—always—spoke of players, teams, umps, leagues, and the world in a way that upheld the dignity of all.
Here, Kevin Costner recounts a life of vocation in words almost as eloquent as Vin’s.
A year ago today, I had the honor of giving a talk at the wedding of a couple who I’ve grown close to over the past few years. The bride, Tina, teaches core connection/pilates/cardio line dancing classes at the Culver-Palms YMCA. Joy and inclusion seem to spill out of her heart, creating ever widening circles of love in our weekly workout family, which now includes an annual potluck celebration of love at my house every January. This talk meant a great deal to me because it allowed me to speak to their courtship, struggles, and the beauty and truth of marriage. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing how God works in and through people that they may grow in the knowledge of him.
(click to watch)
There is a preconception in our culture that to be a person of faith means to live a small, tight, narrow life, but that has not been my experience. Far from it. In truth, the deeper I go, the freer I get, until all there is are the gifts God has given me and the desire at the core of my being to use them as He intended. This means some days I’m writing or creating liturgies or sitting on various Boards of Directors with big stickie pads and really smart, faithful people. Other days I’m coming alongside young people to inspire and empower them, or cleaning out old boxes and patterns to help a dying church come back to life, or consulting with seminary profs about what people need to know to mature in their faith. More and more lately, I’m standing in front of large groups speaking about how we’re crushing our young people by raising them to look good on paper, or about sin as “man turned in on himself” and connecting those dots to our 21st-century ills of anxiety, depression, disordered relation to technology, loss of purpose, and loss of identity. Usually as the Word moves through me I weep.
The gift of tears is not one I would have asked for but it seems to be one God likes to use. Maybe this is why I wanted to share this clip—so you could see the fruit of those tears and the great joy and creativity and power and purpose and, yes, playfulness there is in a life of following Jesus. Grateful to my husband for capturing this on his phone. As you watch me kick off this Labor of Love Concert, maybe allow a new thought to break through: what if allowing God into your life was actually the most liberating and empowering thing you could ever do?