Occasionally, I remind myself the purpose of this blog is to write about experiences that I have as a city pastor in a rural community. This is the perfect time of year to look at some of the changes the two years in Pennsylvania have wrought.
In Colorado, before my husband died, at Christmas I would be preparing for 20 or more people for Christmas dinner. I would actually have planned a menu and purchased food. Most likely turkey and though I am not fond of turkey it seems many feel that turkey is a Christmas feast. I prefer prime rib though as my lifestyle has changed, I rarely eat beef these days. Not much poultry for that matter. Since I no longer eat gluten, my “feast” would be limited - if one counts “feast” only in food terms. These years, I count feast as part of time spend with friends and those important in my life. I cry when I remember the feast of friends and family I miss who are still in Colorado.
This year, knowing how much I miss family and friends, I offered (and had it in the newspaper) a free Christmas dinner to the first thirty people who called just to say they want a place to eat. So far, three days before Christmas and one day (or two) before I have to shop, not one person has called. I have invited five - three will come. As I wondered why no one called, I thought how it would seem to call a stranger to say I had no place to go on this family holiday. Pretty daunting. It must be even worse when the open invitation is to a home (a pastor’s home at that). Homes are intimate, therefore perhaps intimidating. Homes are final in the sense that once you are in the door, leaving with grace could be difficult (how many times have I planned my escape even before arriving?). Homes imply love, which also implies loss; homes offer warmth, but what is wrong with me (or anyone) that we have to look outside ourselves to fill that cold spot? So, this week, I offer fellowship to three people who have accepted my invitation - I know each of them, so I don’t feel strange. In inviting each of them, I was inviting my friends to join me for dinner. Yea!
Finally, this season, I gathered with the Spirituality sisterhood for a solstice celebration. For some Christians, solstice is pagan and is far from their frame of reference. They, in my opinion, are those who forget that our faith co-opted nonbelievers by incorporating their pagan - meaning believer in earthly gods - beliefs into the new sect called Christianity about some 1900 years ago. At any rate, the solstice ceremony is a bonding of friends to caring and love of one another, it is a pledge to care for animals and the firmament as well as each person. Global concern! The solstice celebrates the world’s (universe’s?) interconnectedness and raises our awareness that when a butterfly flutters its wings in Peru, we notice it in Pennsylvania. Part of any good ceremony includes gift giving and even giving of the self as we shared our reasons for giving a specific gift and food. We had abundance of each. With this sisterhood, I know one thing for sure: wherever I go in this community, I have a connection to some women who recognize in me the friend, not the stranger.
How blessed I am. God has indeed smiled on me as this opportunity to live in a “foreign” land has unfolded.