Spent the last couple of days with two pastors, one from Mobile, Alabama and the other from San Diego. They both told stories of doing massive Christmas outreach events in their communities, both of which featured as their centerpiece, man-made snow that children can play in.
Yeah, you heard me.... these churches are buying snow, and thousands of people line up to see it.
On another note, this is Shawnee UMC as of this afternoon:
Conclusion: This is why people live in places where churches buy snow for Christmas.
Ok, new topic.
My wife put up a blog today featuring a number of pictures of her mother and her mother's garden. She's been scanning these pictures for the purpose of sending them off to her family (on CD's) so they can all have digital copies. I know the last two days she's been working on this (there are over a hundred photos) have been tough, but I hope she knows that the result is really worth it. The pictures look great and she did a great job on her blog. Click on the picture below, Carol as a girl playing in the snow, to see and read Aimee's post:
I think the finality of Carol's death has just hit me over the course of the last few days. The reality that she is not coming back is one that is creating a lot of personal contemplation about what it means to die, and how that should affect the way we live.
You know, in many ways, the last ten years of her life were the best she had lived. All of her kids had grown up and had all succeeded in becoming responsible adults and good citizens. They all married well (although the character Aimee married is a little shady) and seemed to be building good lives for themselves... which was important to their mom. She found a job she loved for the first time in a long time, and she bought what was a dream house because it sat on a huge lot where she could plant her garden.
Carol had always loved flowers and plants. I remember even in the earliest days Aimee and I dated (over 20 years ago!) that their home was well-landscaped and filled with house plants. It really wasn't until she took the Master Gardner of Allen Country training that a new kind of creativity that had apparently been trapped inside, was released. When they moved out of the city to the house near Gomer (which isn't the end of the earth, but you can see it from there), she finally had the "canvas" she could "paint" her great masterpiece upon. Here's a shot of one small piece of the masterpiece: The Allen Butterfly Garden:
This new zest for life led Carol to want to try even more new things. She got a tattoo. She signed up to take the classes this spring out at Apollo to get her motorcycle license. She was making plans to do some traveling. She was in the running for a promotion to a regional manager position at work (which excited her to no end). She talked to me about going to Haiti and volunteering to work in a medical clinic or an agricultural project.
She was, much like her flowers, blossoming, as she grew older.
And it occurs to me... for lots of people, the "golden years", aren't. As the years go by, retirement nears, the body starts falling apart, family moves away, and the world changes, many people go into a funk. The culture has sold us the lie of fighting getting older to stay young for so long now, that we've bought it: hook, line, and sinker. It's a losing battle we choose to fight anyway, which is insane. I just think Carol woke up one day and said, "Heck (although she didn't say "heck"), I've got one life to live. Better make it as good as I can while I've got the chance". She did, and in return getting older didn't seem so bad. Not so bad, in fact, that she gave death a tremendous fight until the end of her life.
That's the way I want to live. I want to give death a heck of a fight. I want to fight it personally each and every day. I want to fight it in the suburbs and city streets of Lima. I want to give it a run for it's money in tiny Haitian hamlets. I want to chase it out of my house. I want to live giving death the cold shoulder, and laugh in its face even on the day it thinks it beat me. I want to live less in fear of what death can bring, and more in fear of what won't be manifest if I don't listen to a God who whispers in our ears that he wants us to live like we love the way he put together creation and all that's in it. A fear not of death, but a fear that in some quarters in the world death has people cowering in its presence and that I could have given them the news, the good news, that life is a never-ending gift. Filled with flowers, and gardens, and mother-in-laws who make you rib dinners on days you helped moved yards of dirt.
I want to live that kind of life.