It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts writing a sermon. I am preaching on Wednesday at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. My wonderful alma mater honored me with the invitation to preach and on the Wednesday after Easter, I will be there to share the words that God will give me. I can’t wait.
Today is not a normal Saturday though. It is the Saturday before Easter. It is that very specific day in-between Jesus’ crucifixion and the promise of His resurrection. I remember writing about that moment for my Old Testament class at BTSR. I had to prepare a sermon as if I were preaching to the very crowd that witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross and wondering if His promise will come true. I still have that sermon. Unfortunately it is packed away in the storage unit with all my other stuff. Most of my material possessions are packed away in that storage unit, waiting for the chance to be used again.
I am in that in-between time too. If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I finished my chaplain residency back in September and I’ve been on the search for my next call. My prayer is that the call will be in a hospital setting somewhere, where I can be with patients who need a non-anxious presence, one with the compassion and touch that God provided for me to give. When that day comes it will be a resurrection of it’s own. The Hallelujah chorus will burst from the depths of my soul and dancing will take place in the streets. It will be a glorious day and the world will know that the call has finally been provided.
But in the meantime, what do I do? I am in that in-between time and the anxiety set in a while back. This journey has been a challenging one, one that has loaded the path with bumps, curves, potholes, and drop down cliffs. You know those cliffs, the ones that when you look over the side of your car, you can’t see the ground? The trip has come with the motion sickness, blackened ice patches, and unannounced danger zones. Oh it has been a journey.
While on the journey, I’ve had to make trips to the storage unit in search of items that I needed. One day I remember standing in front of it and reflecting, “That’s my life, sitting in this 10×10 box waiting to come out.” It was a little overwhelming to know that I was staring at what I thought was my life in front of me, packed away in boxes that were giving into gravity and watched by cobwebs that had formed in the various corners. What am I doing? What do I do about it? There have been many trips to this unit, but it wasn’t until this particular one that I received a message sitting right in the center of the life standing before me. On one of the boxes that was perfectly centered in the room, was a bright red sign that read, “Fragile – Handle With Care.” Wow.
Yes, I am trying to do that. Some days are easier than others. You can imagine in the midst of this journey and in the search for what’s next, it can be a challenge to find peace and rest along the way. As long as this trip has been, it has been hard to find the strength and the hope. Thanks to a handful of people, I’ve been able to work on my soul and do what I can to handle myself with care. A couple of these folks, who know me better than I know myself, pushed me to be sure I was taking care of this very self. In fact, they called me on it. Gotta love those people, who pushes you to be truthful about yourself. This push has led me to be more intentional about what I do so I can make the self-care possible. Yesterday was one of those days.
Yesterday was a beautiful day and I was in search of a trail that could lead me to my most favorite place in Richmond, where I could walk, reflect, read and pray. My day of reflection actually started the night before, after the Maundy Thursday service when I began a 24-hour fast so I could remember the sacrifices that were made. Then yesterday I went on the trails to remember the journey, in search for that place I treasure so much. There may have been some trespassing involved (forgive us our trespasses) and my shoes went for a swim, but I found the way to get to her side.
The A-Line Train Bridge is an icon of the Richmond area. It is a bridge built with such simplistic detail, that is full of strength and beauty. There is so much about that bridge I just adore. When I worked at the hospital I passed by her daily. No matter the weather, that bridge is always beautiful and strong. She gives me hope, peace, and I have come to believe she is the symbol of this journey that I’ve been on. Being with this bridge yesterday was such a meditative and peaceful time for me that filled me in ways food wouldn’t. I walked along the railroad tracks and under the bridge, where I noticed every detail of her beauty and strength. I noticed the work of the engineers and builders who carefully placed every piece together to provide Richmond and those passing through, a sense of safety. During this time, I met a woman and her sweet dog. We had a pleasant conversation about our experience on the tracks and exchanged ideas on what to tell the CSX people if they found us along the way. 🙂 After my exploration with the bridge and my camera, I found a spot on the ground where I sat with my camera and bible. I read the scriptures found in John 15 and Ephesians 3. I meditated with the bridge and talked with river that danced before me. Notes were inscribed in my mind of words and whispers I heard during the conversations. The images of this day are still in my mind and heart, however I had my camera to capture what I may have missed.
When I got home, there was a handwritten letter from my dear friend April, who lives in Seattle. Yes, it was the gift of a mailed letter that didn’t use a computer or smart phone. We do that for one another, knowing how much we enjoy the gift of giving and receiving letters. After I read the letter, I told a story to my roommates about my doctor’s visit earlier in the day. I encountered an elderly man who came in already celebrating the gift of Easter with the receptionists and other patients. He came up to me and introduced himself, wanting to know if my husband escorted me to my appointment today. I said that I escorted myself. Shortly after, he introduced himself and sat beside me, “Forgive me for this, but you have such an attractive haircut.” He requested that when I got home, I needed to be sure to tell whoever loves me how lucky he is to have me and he better not do anything to screw that up. I graciously thanked the man for his kind words. He got up to return to his sit and if had of turned around, he would have seen the gentle smile on my face.
What a day.
I need to get back to my sermon writing, but I wanted to share the story of what happens when you handle yourself with care on those in-between holy days. The darkness may have passed and the hope is yet to come. There is reflection and there is remembrance. Yet there are signs, and much anticipation that the promise will be fulfilled.
May it be so.