Summer 2021

Summer 2021

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

             Song of Solomon 2:10-13

I am overwhelmed this year with the bounty from my gardens. Since I was out of commission during planting season, a friend has been caring for my flowers and vegetables and both are more than I expected or need. The green and yellow beans, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard, kale, and peas are canned or frozen. The cucumbers won’t stop bearing; bread and butter and cucumber sandwich pickles are neatly lined up in pint jars on a shelf in the cellar. Several varieties of tomatoes are just beginning to ripen, and a second crop of beets is coming along. What bounty! What gifts from the earth! I marvel at the whole natural growth process of nature. There is mystery and great beauty in closely examining the symmetry and structure of a single blossom or fruit. Gardening invites one to slow down and become more aware of the Creator’s love for this earth and for us creatures who find ourselves caretakers and recipients of this love.

“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away,” we are invited by our Creator. I accepted the invitation a couple of weeks ago and was gazing down the bright orange blossom of one of those common day lilies growing all around my house. Tempted to get worried about my own illness and by all the negative omnipresent secular news, I was reminded of that scripture: “Consider the lilies of the fields; they neither toil nor [get stressed.] Yet Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as one of these. So, don’t worry! God who takes care of them will take care of you.”

During this amazingly green and prolific harvest season, I encourage you to stop, take a deep breath and “consider the vegetables and lilies of the field,” regaining a perspective of your Creator’s love and care for you. The turtle dove’s voice is God’s unconditional love for you.

As co-creators with God, we have been given the responsibility of caring for all of creation. First, that means taking good care of ourselves. As a result of my illness, I have a new focus on my body, my diet, rest, and exercise. I am trying to be more aware of the beauty all around in flowers, works of art, pottery, relationships, and my own need to create. Asking the question, “What gives me life?” is a helpful focus. This question is an important one for our congregation to ask as we conclude our Mutual Study of Ministry.

Secondly, we are responsible for caring for neighbors – inside and outside the walls of St. Patrick’s. This charge has local and global dimensions. Mutual care through notes, phone calls, visits, Home Communion, participation in ”A Seat at the Table” small groups, and the many behind the scenes acts of kindness are all important. Caring extends through Faith Linking in  Action, Colombia Street lunches, and the Neighborhood Garden. Opportunities to support Diocesan and National Church programs such as “Lebanon to Lincoln” extend our care.

Taking care of our buildings and grounds is a reflection of our respect and love relationship with the Creator who gave them, and in the end owns them. All of our resources are not our possessions,  but are in our care for a time. This is true for the environment which presents a direct and inviting opportunity for us to accept – caring for our “fragile island home.”

Greed is a major cause of social, economic, and spiritual problems on our planet. Use of our financial resources presents some direct and immediate counteraction to this secular condition. An “attitude of gratitude” is the beginning of a counteracting perspective. With my face focused into the rich orange petals of the lily, I can affirm in simple but real ways, the beauty and bounty of this world….and my life. Denial of our personal and corporate wealth is a lie. We are rich. And the whole Gospel teaching from Jesus is about learning the freedom to give our wealth away. That is the source of joy and the antidote to a culture of greed.

My Mom and Dad were farmers here in Freedom and members of the church across the street. They believed in calculating a 10% tithe from their income to support the church. Their lesson to me: each month, as a priority, write the first check to support God’s work through the church, and the rest of your bills will be in the right priority.

To “come away” with our Creator, can give one a new perspective of the marvelous creation in which we are gifted to live. From a lily to a cucumber to a bank account, we have the great opportunity of discovering our beloved-ness and the deep joy of sharing responsibility for cocreating with the One who makes all things new.

Shalom, Fr. Rick