Monday, September 28, 2015
I experienced a healing service in church that was a blessing. It was a simple service for healing of all kinds—to bear the burden of a chronic illness, for strength to cope with an uncertain diagnosis or course of treatment. Though there was no guarantee God would answer with a cure, we felt God’s nearness in our uncertainty and suffering. Spiritual healing for wholeness of body, mind and spirit was gently sought. The hymn "Healer of Our Every Ill" was touching. I don’t recall all the details of the service but I recall we said the 23rd Psalm and we were invited to approach the altar individually to tell a pastor or lay minister our concerns or worries that separated us from God’s peace. The minister would then lay on hands and offer a blessing. I felt at peace and comforted that God was present in this intimate setting. This service was unfamiliar to me, but it helped to be surrounded by others in pain and feeling separation from God. Though there were no miracle cures, there was a sense of God’s presence lightening the burden and that all would be well somehow because God was suffering with you too. A feeling of peace and solidarity with others who were seeking God’s healing also alleviated self-pity.
Monday, September 21, 2015
No one in our family drank coffee, so when I smelled coffee, I knew it meant company. Early one morning, I not only smelled coffee, but the horrible odor of burned plastic. When I got up and went downstairs, I noticed that Mom’s coffee pot had turned into a lump of melted metal and plastic on the back burner of the stove. All Mom said was that her cousin had stopped by the night before, and she had put the coffee on for him and forgotten about it. I didn’t know this cousin because he had never come by to visit before, and I couldn’t figure out why he came in the middle of the night.
Later, I found out that her cousin had not just stopped by, but that he had run his car into a ditch nearby when he was driving drunk. He came knocking at the door, and Mom and Dad welcomed him in, in spite of his drunken state (or maybe because of it.) Mom had made coffee to try to sober him up, which he refused to drink, and they eventually got him home.
Not much was said about it. There was no judgment of this man. I never heard them speak ill of him. They just took care of him and looked after his safety. My parents weren’t the type to pass judgment. But they were the type who would open their door to help another. All were welcome. No matter what.
Merciful Lord, we are always trying to do what is right, but often find ourselves sitting in judgment of others. Open our hearts to welcome all your children, and to extend your grace and mercy to all. Amen
Monday, September 14, 2015
Dad owned the first combine (a harvesting machine) in Marathon County, which is one of the largest counties in Wisconsin. When he ordered it from the dealership, neither he nor the equipment dealer had ever seen one in person. It arrived in parts, brought in by train. When they got that huge thing assembled, Dad realized he was going to need a much bigger machine shed to store it. It was almost as tall as our 2 story house, and just about as wide.
That was well before I was born, but that combine was used for about 50 years. Dad traveled all over the county, combining oats for neighbors, friends, relatives, and people he had never met before. I don’t know if he ever got paid much more than with the dinner the farm wives would bring out to the field for him, but that wasn’t why he did it. He had something that no one else had, and it wasn’t much good sitting in that big ol’ machine shed.
I also remember a time that one of our neighbors fell from the top of his silo, and broke bones throughout both legs and his back. He would eventually heal, but until then, someone needed to get the field work done. His wife and kids were able to handle the livestock, but the hay had to be made, the corn had to be chopped, and the oats had to be harvested. Dad and many, many other farmers from the area came together to get all that work done for him until he healed up. The same thing was repeated when another neighbor broke his legs a few years later in another farm accident.
And then there was the time that a neighbor’s barn burned down. They had a good old fashioned barn raising, and that new barn went up in a day. Yes, Dad was there. There was never a question of “do I have time?” Our own farm work could wait.
Dad also spent 12 years on the school board in Edgar. Every month, whether the milking was done or not, Dad got to that board meeting to help make decisions for the school district, even though four of his six kids were already out of school. He served on the church council for more years than I can count, and he attended the district conventions multiple times (even though it meant leaving the milking to his kids.)
There was never a moment in Dad’s life that he wasn’t serving. It was never about what he would get out of it. It was just what you do.
Gracious God, bless our serving and our doing. Help us to see the needs of others around us before our own. Amen