Wednesday, March 11, marks a month before the festival of Passover. The moon is at its fullest, and even though clouds cover it, I know it is there. It has significance for me, this full moon marking time, making its way through the cycle of large to small, then hiding itself, only to emerge little by little again.
There is scientific reason for it all. I simply want to experience the mystery.
I notice the moon this time of year as it announces Passover is coming. It prompts anticipation. I remember and relive the stories I first heard as a child, the Exodus account of God’s people leaving the slavery of Egypt.
The first day of Passover is always a full moon. My mind wanders back thousands of years to the first time the Israelites were told to prepare lambs for supper and brushed blood on their doorposts, following instructions they didn’t fully understand.
A scene from the classic movie, The Ten Commandments, staring Charlton Heston as Moses, comes to mind. It is the night of Passover and the moon glows full and bright. What appears to be the shadow of death begins to move slowly toward Egypt. In this particular scene, the shadow blocks the moon for a few seconds as it pushes toward its deadly task.
I wonder what it was like that fateful night, the people of God shut in their humble slave dwellings, marked by blood, eating lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread while they waited for something unknown. Did they know this was the night of their deliverance?
Passover was God’s object lesson of a coming redemption. It was the shadow of the real and tangible Savior of the world, Jesus. The people waited long for their promised Messiah. He arrived on the scene at the appointed time, but not as they expected. Did they know their Deliverer had come?
The anticipation of Passover carries me toward a season of remembrance. I remember the promise made to Abraham on Mt. Moriah of a Lamb that God alone would provide for the redemption of the world. I remember the upper room where Jesus met with his disciples for His last Passover celebration with them. I remember how He washed their dirty feet, them arguing who was greatest among the twelve.
I remember how He began a new tradition after the supper ended, giving them bread and wine, symbols of his flesh and blood, how He showed them His love to the very end.
Did they understand He was the Savior of the world?
This unblemished Passover Lamb bought our freedom.
Do you know this truth? Do you recognize Him? Do you remember all He did for you?
Have you accepted Him as your own Deliverer?
“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
March bursts with hope. Spring officially begins, signaling fresh life after winter’s cold, grey days when the only color is a darting red cardinal in the stark little woods. Birds sing in chorus early dawn. A myriad of sprouts push through hard soil. Even the dreaded daylight saving time that subtracts an hour from me and won’t be recovered until fall gives me more light in the evening hours. It is a month of hope and a time for singing.
As March began, I started an eight-week Bible study with an incredible group of women. Kelly Minter’s studies are some of my favorite. Working our way through No Other Gods, we discover the internal workings of our hearts, how even a blessing and gift from God can become an ultimate thing to us, and then false god.
Meeting weekly to discuss what we’re learning doubles the rewards. One week we answered the question, “What are you afraid of?” The women answered: “being left alone;” “who will take care of me?” “will the retirement account last?” “will my children keep the faith?”
Speaking aloud our fears was courageous and somehow took the sting away. As we face the unknowns, we recount the faithfulness of the God we serve, His everlasting love, His strong arm to keep us and those we love. We are assured, once again, that greater is He who is within us than he who is within the world.
I’ve been playing piano and keyboard with the worship band at my church. It’s nice that they let this silver-haired senior join a great group of musicians. I’m practicing a lot and enjoying the experience and camaraderie.
A neighbor’s little dog has taken to wandering to our house when he gets loose. When Maisie and I are out, she is delighted to see Boone and wants to play. Boone has the advantage of running free while Maisie is tethered to her leash. They enjoyed their little frolic, but I feel her sadness as he trots home.
I’ve notice people using the word organic a lot these days, and not necessarily when talking about vegetables. Apparently relationships develop organically and businesses grow organically. Words and their meanings evolve over time. It’s interesting how culture shapes definitions.
I’ve been reading poetry despite that I find it difficult to comprehend the poet’s intention sometimes. So I’m choosing a series of “Poetry for Young People” from my library. This month it was Emily Dickinson and Maya Angelou. It helps if I read the poems aloud. It helps that there are hints to understanding the poem on each page of the book. And it helps that I’m learning like a youth, which is fine with me.
While browsing my library, I happened upon a couple of books about downsizing, took them home and then I wonder what that is about. Is it our time? Many of our friends have dared to purge their belongings and move somewhere smaller and more manageable. They’ve let go of life-long collections and lightened the load of a former lifestyle. They talk like it is freeing. I’m not sure we are there yet, but apparently I’m thinking about it.
My granddaughter and I had a “chat” via text about gardening. She remembers the mint in my herb garden, spearmint, apple and chocolate. She bought some for herself and sent pictures after she planted them in clay pots. It’s endearing to know she has good memories of our time together when she was young.
I invited my four-year-old neighbor to help me prepare a pumpkin patch between our houses. He came with his boots and gloves. We laid cardboard on the ground to kill the grass and put wood chunks on top to keep it in place. He talked about all sorts of things as we explored the yard and lake, discovered bird’s nests and watched geese sitting on eggs. We picked daffodils and grape hyacinths for his mother, gathered sticks and collected rocks and pine cones.
I remembered when my grandchildren were small and living next door, how they loved to come and be in the yard with me. It didn’t matter what we were doing just as long as we were doing it together.
After the work and the walk, my little neighbor and I went into the house to fix coffee for his dad and Sweet William who were now visiting on the deck and hot cocoa for him. He said, “You make the best hot cocoa,” making me smile. When I added some cookies to the tray of coffee cups, he exclaimed, “It’s gonna be a party.”
Taxes are prepared, filed, and crossed off my March list, along with a number of other goals. April has its own agenda: cleaning out the garage and moving tender plants to the fresh air and sunshine; oiling and sharpening garden tools; cutting a tree that succumbed to the windy storms. The yard is calling to me. It’s time to get to work.
My body moves slowly and I know gardening is going to be a challenge. I notice my hands when I’m teaching piano, the raised veins and pronounced wrinkles of living a long time, and I wonder how I got this old. Sweet William said it happened one day at a time. Sometimes he is profound.
I would not go back to youth unless I could retain the wisdom I’ve gained, the one advantage of age. I’ve received several hard-fought degrees in the School of Hard Knocks. I’m working on my Ph.D now. My dissertation will be the end of my life and the legacy I leave behind. I hope it is a good one.
I’ve decided April is the new January. After essentially hibernated during the first months of 2019, it’s time for adventure, for anticipating spontaneity and serendipity.
The season of Lent will end and Palm Sunday, Easter and Passover are holidays to celebrate. It is a time of holy preparation, a time to remember and rejoice, to expect a miracle, to believe and see the glory of God.
Our ten-week Bible study is winding down. On Tuesday this week we will begin the final journey. The last seven days are always melancholy.
I review my index cards. Beth Moore encouraged us to write Scripture verses on simple 5 by 7 inch cards and keep them within arms length, helping us memorize, helping us remember.
The last couple of weeks I have considered my life, once again, remembering the work of God along our pilgrimage together. As I walk the lane that is so familiar, memories rush in from every house, yard, tree, and mailbox of my neighborhood. This place has been home to me for decades.
I witnessed the changes that brought both joy and heartache. I recall prayers prayed and prayers answered. Faces of my family emerge from the recesses of my mind, swallowing me up with the enormity of a God very present in a life like mine.
The years add up, and Sweet William and I sometimes grapple to recall a word or name that is familiar and on the tip of our tongues. I pray for my mind to stay strong, to be healthy, to be able to call to mind things that I learned, events from days past, what I know for sure.
I pray for the Lord to help me remember.
As we took part in the Lord’s Supper this morning, the simple act of taking bread and juice, eating and drinking, are for the purpose of remembering our Lord Jesus who gave Himself completely. Such a simple practice reminds me: Don’t forget.
“The Counselor, The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” — John 14:26
I’m believing those words, recorded in my Bible and written on one of my index cards. I’m keeping both of them close to my hands and my heart.