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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Observing Lent in the Trump Era

I may have given up something for Lent many, many years ago.  I have a vague memory of doing so.  Our pastor at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, Dr. Ed Pickard, encouraged us, instead, to take on something for Lent.  I have thought about that and tried to do so in one small way or another.  I have joked that I take on Cadbury Creme Eggs for Lent, but this year I see that they cost 99 cents each at CVS so I will abstain until they go on sale!

However, this year, I am trying to give up something--or at least discipline myself in my far too easy checking of Facebook.  I have taken it off my iphone so at least I have to be home and on my laptop to check postings. The frequent political postings in this Trump era are so depressing that I despair.   However, there are other postings I don't want to miss like the updates on our friend Morgan Bolt and his cancer treatments--and  the wonderful article Rice Computer Science wrote about our dear Dan.  So my compromise is trying to look at Facebook just two or three times a day.  This does make me aware of my unthinking habit and my need for discipline in this regard.

On a more positive note, as I read the lectionary each morning, I look for one phrase to stand out as God's word for me.  In a way this is a form of lectio divina, although I don't meditate on the phrase for very long!  I write it down in my little pink notebook and the act of writing it reinforces it.   Today's phrase was from Psalm 103: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all my being, bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

Two weeks ago, when President Trump tweeted his accusation of President Obama's wiretappping of his phones, he called his predecessor "bad (or sick) guy."  The lectionary that morning was from Isaiah 58:

Thus says the LORD:
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday...

I have been thinking ever since what a difference it might make if President Trump  read the lectionary every morning.  Is Scripture really a two-edged sword?  Does it really go out and not return void?  How can I suggest this to him from my humble place in Granger, Indiana?  Would this be a more powerful idea than any of the many petitions I have signed?  I will ponder this and pray.

Monday, March 13, 2017

24 Hours with Maggie

I was sad when Maggie moved back "home" to Wheaton after living in South Bend for ten years.  Her husband Mark, a very well known and respected historian, retired from Notre Dame at the same time that Jim did. We became friends through our church and walking buddies the last few years.

Maggie said she would be in South Bend this past weekend and did I want to take the train back to Wheaton with her Sunday afternoon?  Of course I did!   We boarded the South Shore train at 1 pm.   It was a 2 1/2 hour ride to Millenium Station, a half hour walk to Ogilvie Transportation Center, a 1 1/2 hour wait, an hour ride on a crowded Metra train and a short walk to their renovated condo in Wheaton.  Driving would have been faster but would have had its own stresses.

The condo had a fresh paint smell and was very lovely.  It was fun to see familiar furniture in new settings.

We had plenty of time to chat all afternoon and then even more over sangria. parmesan chips with guacamole,  and fusion tacos at a very nice little place in Wheaton.  Plus we had a dessert taco to end the meal in the best possible way.

With the time change the night before and then another time change heading to Chicago, my clock was off.  I read my mystery far too late and had a hard time shutting it off when it was time to sleep.

With the table set as if we were at a very nice inn, Maggie treated me to a breakfast of oatmeal with toppings.  We drove through the country to Immanuel Church, the home church they returned to, and toured the building taking time to investigate the beautiful organ which her son plays on occasion and helped to build  We checked out the food pantry where she and Mark volunteer and even helped unload a "food recovery" van.

Our next stop was Trader Joe's--always a treat for me--and a chance to buy my supper and my favorite milk chocolate truffle candy bars.

  It was so good to be able to see Maggie in her new (old) surroundings.  Now, when others ask, "How's Maggie?"  I will be able to tell them to check out my blog!

Maggie brought me to the Wheaton Metra station at 12:30 and I headed to town.  It was a little over a mile walk to the Hilton Garden Inn.  After checking in, I walked to the Art Institute and had a wonderful time seeing familiar works and the "Whistler's Mother: An American Icon Returns to Chicago" exhibit..  I  walked past the Bean, took my obligatory photograph and helped out some tourists with theirs.   I enjoyed supper in my room--bread with brie, a salad, and some wine.

Tomorrow's plans are iffy--but I do hope to be on the 12:35 train heading for home.  And maybe even the 8:45 if I get myself psyched up that it is really 9:45 South Bend time.

I did take the 8:45 train after a very snowy, slushy but mercifully short walk to Millenium Station.

One week later, Maggie had a stroke in the middle of the night.  She has been hospitalized for the last week after a long surgery to relieve the bleeding.  She has not been responsive yet as far as I know.  I cannot blog about it.  Not yet.   It has been overwhelming and so sad. But I did want to add this note.