Reflecting on Burdens….

Bowed Over by Connie ChintallI awoke early this morning to a loud thud, fearing my daughter had fallen out of bed. The heavy spring snow was no match for the wind, so large chunks of snow were landing on our roof. I was wide awake while she was snug under the covers, so I ventured out with our dog and my camera to see the storm. I felt as if I had entered a huge snow globe. Large, lazy flakes were swirling to the ground. Then the wind would pick up, and more snow would drop from the branches. Our large oaks can manage the clinging, wet snow, but the dogwoods in the front yard were bent over by the weight. This photo captures what I saw the best, and the range of emotions the scene evoked. I love how the flash is reflected by the falling snowflakes, while the newly bare branches are quickly accumulating another layer. The dogwoods are there in the middle of the massive oaks. You can see my neighbor’s house in the background, with warm and inviting lights at the front door. What makes us cling to our burdens, when we are invited to leave them at the foot of the cross? Why do we take on a new burden so quickly, even after letting go of a burden that nearly folded us in two? How do we become sturdy like the oaks, instead of weak like the dogwoods? In the hush of a snow filled morning, it seems there are more questions than answers. Perhaps that thud is still with me, that motherly concern for a child that is no longer small, a child that turns eighteen tomorrow. My conscious mind sees the young woman, but my sleeping brain still hears a child who needs me. It’s a time of good and positive change, but change nonetheless. I must let go of what I have been, to learn who I need to become. Again, still, I must recall she is God’s child, given into our care as our daughter. We are stewards and guides to help her find the path God has prepared for her, rather than to complete our path, or fulfill our shattered dreams. It will soon be time for her to shake off her the last of her little girl ways and find her place in the world. And time for me to learn what it means to be the mother of an amazing young woman, standing ready, but not standing in the way. Make time today to let go of an outdated role, a part you’ve played long past its usefulness. Shed what was once a source of great happiness, but has now become a heavy burden. Trust God to guide you on the path ahead, to show you this change is simply the end of a chapter, not the end of the story. Allow the Holy Spirit to transform what seems like only loss into a glorious new beginning. And always remember, we cannot have Easter, we cannot experience the resurrection, without the pain and death of the cross. Text and photo by Connie Chintall ©2013


Reflecting on Resolution….

A wet, heavy snow fell most of the afternoon yesterday. Our yard looks like a fairy land, with snow coating the shrubs and trees. Temperatures are already climbing, so I doubt it will last long. I am always amazed at how much snow our shrubs can hold. I love how the branches form a gentle arch to carry the heavy load. The new year is a time when many make resolutions, vowing to improve themselves by exercising, or eating better, or improving their minds. Yoga must be one of the popular choices, as my regular Monday morning class was packed. Students arrived early to be sure to get a good spot. It seemed odd to find folks anxious about a yoga class. I don’t know about you, but right after Christmas is the worst time to make a change. When the holiday festivities are through, I tend to be a bit blue, remembering those who are no longer with us. The weather makes me wish I were a bear, and could spend the winter hibernating. It also seems like a year is more than I can manage all at once. So I wait until Lent to make a single change, committing to just 40 days. By then, the first of the bulbs are sprouting, and spring is on the way. Some years I barely make it through the first week. Other years, a change becomes part of my daily routine and may even take on a life of its own. Last year, I started writing these reflections. What started as something personal and private, to recharge my prayer time, has evolved into this blog. Take time today to consider the best way to make a lasting positive change. Ask yourself if now is the best time, or if Lent might be a better option. Start small and slowly find your way, accepting that there will be false starts and setbacks. Commit to a week or month at first, and see how it goes. And remember, even the tiniest branch can carry more than you could ever imagine, gracefully bending under the heavy load. Photo by Connie Chintall

Reflecting on Bread….

Yes, that’s snow in Old Town Warrenton. After such a mild Christmas week, cold, arctic air arrived with a vengeance last night. We awoke to find a very grey morning, followed by a dusting of snow. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Cecilia. I love how the streetlights seem to twinkle amidst the falling snow. Christmas lights adorn the street lamps and wrought iron fencing in the church yard. Then of course, there is the clapboard sign, in front of our newest bakery, the Great Harvest Bread Company. On a morning when most of us would rather sleep in, Pablo has already been baking for a number of hours. I can imagine myself sitting at one of the tables by the window, enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of warm bread, while looking out at the cold and snow. It’s hard to say what is more magical, the snow or the bread. For centuries, bread has been a symbol of the body in the Jewish and Christian traditions. The Jewish people made unleavened bread when fleeing captivity in Egypt, and during Passover each year to remember God’s faithfulness. Each Sunday during communion, Christians consider bread the body of Christ, recalling the Last Supper and celebrating the new life possible through salvation. In both traditions, the faithful remember into the now, embracing the mystery of God’s eternal love, a love without beginning or end. Take time today to consider God’s love in the simple, ordinary things of life. Pause to give thanks for your bread, simple yet complex, the fruit of the labor of many. Seek to see your current situation through God’s eyes, enfolded in God’s steadfast love. And remember, no matter what you face today, new life is always possible through the same God who conquered sin and death on the cross. Photo by Cecilia Carr

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