Kari van Wakeren, Minister, First Lutheran Church
I love gardening. Each year, I look forward to putting my vegetable seeds in and watching my perennials push through the ground. I can often be found outside, crouching low and peering at the soil for signs of growth. I never tire of seeing the green shoots start popping up and find great joy in watching things blossom and grow.
Not long ago, I was getting into my car at the gas station when a toddler from the car next to me gave me an exuberant wave and a "Hi!" as his mom lifted him out of his car seat. His wave brought an instant smile to my face as I waved back. It was the type of greeting you might give to someone you know, but we had never met before.
I'm not a big shopper, but the other day, I had an errand at the mall, so while there, I browsed through some clearance racks to see what I could find. An item caught my eye, but when I saw it was labeled "one size fits all," I left it on the hanger. In my experience, this description is rarely true. I find the same is true for life. Often, when we find something that works for us, we tend to think everyone else should do it that way too, but all it really means is that we have found something that suits us.
Like many of you, I imagine, I have been delighting in the weather of recent days. The sunshine, the warmer temperatures — even hearing the birds sing again in the morning — give the sense that there is a little more life in everything, and as a result, there is room for us to be a little more alive too. I've been thinking about this in connection to a quote that was shared with me recently by someone taking a class on Desert Spirituality: "Allow the Spirit of God to dwell in you." It is such a simple phrase, and yet, at the same time, it is deeply profound.
I decorated for Christmas early this year. I wasn't really planning to, but then there was a snow day and an unusually quiet weekend before Thanksgiving, and I decided to use that time to decorate and even do a little baking. At first I felt a little apologetic, feeling like I should wait until after Thanksgiving to make sure the focus of that day wasn't lost. After all, we were hosting a small group of family on Thanksgiving day.
Recently, I preached at the funeral of a man killed in an officer-related shooting. This was a difficult situation from all sides. My heart broke for this young man’s father that day and still does. No loving parent wants to see their child struggle but also knows that they can’t control the choices their child makes. One can only imagine the depth of pain and grief this father bears.
A couple of months ago, I caught a few moments of an intriguing radio program. During the program, two men were describing mentoring programs they were a part of through which they worked with young men, many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds.
By Kari van Wakeren There are a lot of books from my childhood that I still go back to today, and one of them is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Day. There are many things about this book that I appreciate, including the author's sense of humor and the way she affirms that bad days are a regular part of life. There is one line in particular that sums this up, and lately I've been thinking about this line quite a bit. After a long day of nothing going the way Alexander wanted it to, his mom responds, "Some days are just like that." What a great line.
If you saw me at the Y exercising, you might think that hot pink is my favorite color. My earbuds are hot pink. I sometimes wear a hot pink shirt. And until recently, my tennis shoes had hot pink on them as well. Truthfully, though, hot pink isn’t my favorite color. Though it is cheery, it’s probably not even one of my top five.
By Kari van Wakeren One point. One game. One set. One match at a time. This was what my tennis coach often said before a match, especially an important one. It was her way of reminding us that we had to take things one small step at a time and shouldn't get ahead of ourselves. Especially in those games when there was a lot on the line and every single point mattered, these words became a sort of mantra. To this day, I can still hear the echo of Solie's advice in my ears.