The Glorious New Creation
Good Sabbath Eve,
I drove to St. Johnsbury Memorial Day morning for the memorial service for Edythe Newton, the mother of a lifelong friend and an adoptive aunt to my birth sister Cathy.
Edythe was 98 years of age when she passed. She was a talented artist who ran a home shop and studio and used a variety of techniques to produce wonderfully beautiful lamp shades and paintings, among other things. She lived in a house that her husband had built among the trees on a dirt road several miles out of town, and she was a lover of nature and people.
It was my privilege to say a few words at her service. I spoke of the fact that love manifests in various ways, often imperfectly and sometimes unrecognizably. I spoke of her love, modeled after God’s – a love that, while it hoped and worked for better for everyone, nevertheless accepted all, just as they were. And I encouraged all to honor her memory by loving – sometimes imperfectly; hopefully not unrecognizably. It was a blessing to spend a little time with people who have been a part of my life for many years, and it was my honor to be there in support of the family.
After the reception and on the way home, I slipped across the river into New Hampshire and enjoyed a brief dooryard visit with another childhood friend who had invited me to stop by and meet her husband, whom I had not met in all the years since. We had a pleasant visit as we cut rhubarb for me to take home (Barbara’s making a pie this weekend) and talked of perspectives that we held in common.
I arrived back home about 10:30pm, tired yet at peace in light of the experiences of the day. It’s always a good day for me when I get the opportunity to spend time with others, and it’s especially good if I get to speak of things that I believe are of eternal significance.
I juxtapose that against a few seconds of video from a Trump rally in California where a young woman wearing a Trump jersey, surrounded by a raucous, abusive crowd, was pelted in the head and face with a tomato and an egg before a man escorted her into the hotel whose door she was in front of.
I’m not sure what led up to the confrontation – some reports say that she had taunted the protestors; others say no – but I just know that the footage that I saw made me want to be there to protect her even as it gave me profound sadness to see the incivility and abuse. During the few seconds that I saw, despite looking a bit bewildered, she maintained an astonishing degree of dignity as she remained silent before her tormentors. I couldn’t help be reminded of a similar scene as described in Isaiah 53:7 – “He was treated badly, but he never protested. He said nothing, like a lamb being led away to be killed. He was like a sheep that makes no sound as its wool is being cut off. He never opened his mouth to defend himself.” This woman may or may not have been as innocent, but she exhibited an unusual grace under pressure, all the same.
Today I received the briefest of notice that the wife of a Vermont nephew died unexpectedly. I’m awaiting further information and contact with him or another family member to learn more of the facts, but I solicit your prayers on behalf of my nephew, Steve Frost, and the extended family as they process the shock of this loss. Steve, a son of my oldest brother Phil, is a giant of a man (half again my size, it seems) and a sweet, gracious, tenderhearted fellow who would do anything for anyone. I wish I could heal his hurt.
This afternoon, Barbara and I drove up Mt. Greylock to have a late lunch at Bascom Lodge as we marked our anniversary. It was the first time we had eaten there, and it was a very pleasant experience. The food was delicious and fair-priced, and the dessert was worthy of seconds. It was a brief, simple, restful outing and we both made mention of how fortunate we are to live in the Berkshires – a place of so much natural beauty and cultural distinction. Despite its challenges, this area is a haven in the midst of a time and place where insanity becomes more and more the norm, and we are thankful to be here.
I can’t close without adding to that brief reverie the mention of the bear cub that was discovered in a tree in a yard right next to the high school downtown yesterday. You can read about it here: http://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/ci_29970923/bear-falls-safety-from-tree-near-pittsfield-high?source=most_viewed. Somehow it seems as though life can’t be hopeless when a bear cub can find his way into downtown and be safely returned to the woods. For my part, I’m looking forward to the time when “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord (Isaiah 65:25.)
In the meantime, this Sabbath eve I encourage you to envision a time and place such as described in Isaiah 65:17-25. Read it in several versions to get the full richness of it. And no matter your circumstances, may you take heart from these peace-inspiring promises of God as you rest in his arms this Sabbath day.
Tomorrow I will be teaching and preaching at Berkshire Hills. In the late afternoon I will be at the College Church as we honor the life of Dr. Susan Willoughby. On Monday I will be working on the sound system at the pavilion in prep for campmeeting. That evening I will be at BH church board. On Wednesday I will be meeting with the Canaan group for prayer meeting. Thursday evening I will be speaking at 8th-grade graduation. Friday I will be with the students for their final day of school and school picnic. Next Sabbath I will be teaching and preaching at Canaan. Somewhere along the way there’s bound to be a funeral for Steve’s wife.
“I keep thinking that insanity is the state where a person can’t tell what’s real. Well, what’s real now is insane –
and if I accepted it as real, I’d have to lose my mind, wouldn’t I ?” Alisa Zinovievna Rosenbaum