Welcome back! I have been off of blogging since just before Christmas. As we would say in Newfoundland – “I was taking a spell.” I also took a two-week spell from my community as I visited my family in the holy land of Newfoundland. It was wonderful to spend time with my family, most especially to visit with my mother. It was good for her and it was good for me.
In many ways I did not want our time in NL to come to an end. Saying goodbye to family is never easy – and saying farewell to mom has becoming increasingly hard to do. But all good things must come to an end. My Nan Whyatt often said, “Meeting is pleasure and parting is pain!” Oddly enough, despite the fact that it is always good to go on a vacation, and even though it is hard to leave, it always seems sweet to come home when it is over. Sitting back in my own easy chair upon our return, I uttered the prayer – Thanks! Thanks for the time with people we love, thanks for safe travel, and thanks for the comfort I enjoy in my own home. Thanks!
A while back I read Anne Lamott’s book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. It is a quick read and really a good little book. It occurs to me that my trip allowed me to utter all three prayers. I prayed ‘Thanks’ – a lot! I have much to be grateful for. I also prayed ‘Wow’ – a lot! Newfoundland is beautiful and it is easy for those who have grown up in it to take it all for granted – I know I did. Having the opportunity to view the daily painting laid out by nature for the better part of two weeks was a great reminder to me of how powerful God’s creation is. WOW!
Not to mention the beauty of God’s creation as expressed in God’s children. Seeing how beautiful the children are and how much they have grown and how accomplished they all are – WOW! I also prayed ‘Help’ – a lot! Knowing that God will listen, I prayed help for all who needed help. Being in mom’s long-term care facility daily, gave me opportunity to pray ‘Help’ for many who needed help.
One of the joys of returning is coming back to my worship community. This too is a place where we can pray help, thanks, wow. We sometimes have problems with the prayer ‘help.’ I think we have no problem crying out in desperation when all seems lost, but on a deeper level I think we forget that we can speak with God and cry help when we need it. That is not to suggest that we put together a laundry list and see if God will fix them all. It is more to suggest that there is no concern on our heart that God does not want to hear. We can call to God for help.
The kids are our greatest teachers at St. Aidan’s. Today after church Kate (one of God’s works of art) came to show me her work of art!
In her work she depicts God with nice eyes and hands – (see the lower part of her work). Here prayer is “Help! There’s a monster in my bedroom.” She has also drawn very good renderings of the monster and of course herself. This is brilliant! Well done Kate! There is no problem too small or too big that we cannot call to God with sincerity for help. Kate does not like monster in her room — who would like that monster? There are times we cannot fix everything and at that time it is helpful to call speak with God and seek help! In the depths of Kate’s heart she knows that she can tell God that she is not happy about the monster in her bedroom! It is something that is probably not easy to fix either. Anne Lamott puts it this way:
But you know what? When…[we] have run out of good ideas on how to fix the unfixable, when we finally stop trying to heal our own sick, stressed minds with our sick stressed minds, when we are truly at the end of our rope and just done, we say the same prayer. We say “Help”
I am pleased to be back – and I am pleased to be reminded by one our youngest ministers that it is perfectly acceptable to ask God to help me when I feel that there is ‘a monster in my bedroom!’*
And so I ask…. for what do you need to say Help, Thanks, Wow?
*Speaking figuratively here – no jokes about my lovely wife please!
She on the other hand might have a legitimate beef about a monster in her bedroom : )
The Star-Telegram of Forth Worth Texas had a story yesterday celebrating the 110th Anniversary of Air Conditioning. Not Kidding! On the hottest day of the year here in Southwestern Ontario we were all giving thanks to God and to Willis Carrier for the gift of AC. These words from The Star-Telegram:
“On this day 110 years ago, Willis H. Carrier cranked up the first air conditioner at a printing plant to keep ink impressions on paper during a particularly hot, humid summer in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to the air-conditioning company that still bears his name. He went on to earn more than 80 patents on devices that controlled temperature, ventilation, indoor air and humidity, the company says.”
Now in those days the cooling was important for manufacturing purposes. It sounds as though the real driving force behind the invention was not to keep workers cool, but to keep the product cool. Thank the Lord someone noticed that it also brings down the body temperature considerably. I simply cannot understand what people did before homes and work places were cooled. This of course was not something that I was at all worried about growing up in Newfoundland where one could usually count on a nice ocean breeze to keep cool. These oppressive temperatures were never a concern for us as summer days were usually warm but not HOT and evenings always were cool enough to sleep well. When I first cane to SW Ontario, I must confess that the heat was the biggest environmental challenge for me and it remains so today.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the worship space at St. Aidan’s has AC. Preaching while sweating like a hen-hauling-wood is no fun, believe me. Although there is the added bonus of being able to use the line, “You think this is hot…. hell is hotter!” So on the hottest day of the year, I think I was glad to raise a cold glass to my friend Willis Carrier. What a fine man he is.
Today is about is not much better than yesterday as the heat goes. So, I am taking heart in Proverbs 11:25 – Generous persons will prosper: those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. So in the heat of today, if we see one another, let us offer one to another, an appropriate adult beverage. You go first if you like – I would not want to take away your opportunity to refresh others. Ah, … it’s ok…. I’ll go first even… Let’s just enjoy the beverage, the time together, the refreshment, and the fellowship! And of course, we shall toast Willis Carrier…. he has refreshed many people!