In my previous posting Vignette- Paula in Minnesota, I mentioned the “travelling dinner”. I vaguely remember some years ago a friend talking about a “neighborhood dinner”, where everyone from the neighborhood (a fairly small one I believe) shared a meal. However, instead of all coming to one house to eat, the families went from house to house eating a course here and another there.
So on one of the evenings that we spent at Sherry and Greg’s place in Minnesota, we were invited to participate in a travelling dinner. Two of the couples did not live in the immediate vicinity of Sherry and Greg’s house, but were great friends of all the people who did. So they brought their contributions to the meal to Deb and Crystal’s home.
On the appointed evening at the appointed time Sherry, Greg, Rich and myself walked down the driveway. It was a very pleasant evening so the walk was very enjoyable. We made a right-hand turn onto the road at the bottom of the driveway, walked about fifty yards, passing the driveway that led to Connie and Joe’s house (Sherry and Greg’s immediate neighbors), before making another right-hand turn into Deb and Crystal’s driveway.
No house could be seen, so I wondered how long of a walk this was going to be. I needn’t have worried. The driveway sloped upward for about fifty yards and as we crested the top we saw that it then sloped downwards for about another fifty yards and there at the bottom, slightly to the right, stood the house. From this view point it appeared to be a one-story building with beautifully cultivated flower beds on the one side, and a wonderful large fire pit encircled by brightly colored Adirondack chairs which in turn were surrounded by more raised flower beds. All this was then surrounded by lush green grass and trees. Another piece of heaven!
But the view of the house was deceptive because it was built on a fairly steep slope. It wasn’t until another day that I saw the other side of the house and realized there was a lower level which contained a spacious apartment where Deb’s Mom, Mary, and Deb’s sister, Paula, lived. It took me a while to actually go into the house because, being the gardener that I am, I had to check out all the beautiful flowers in bloom and the various plants that I didn’t recognize, plus there were lots of interesting and whimsical garden decorations to look at.
Eventually I made it inside where there were some delightful appetizers laid out. Once we filled our plates, most of us migrated through the kitchen and dining area to a lovely screened-in room located at the back of the house. The view was as delicious as the food we ate. As I mentioned before, the house was built on a fairly steep slope, so this room was was quite elevated and gave the impression that we were seated among the tree tops. (For me it was a small God-moment.) It was here that we got to meet the non-neighbors, Char and Frank and Doug and Deb.
After about forty five minutes of eating and socializing, it was deemed time to move to the next course. This was to be eaten at Connie and Joe’s house and we were told that we were going via the “scenic route”. So we all trooped out in Indian file and followed a pathway that they had created through the woods connecting the two houses. It was rather magical and I half expected fairies and pixies to jump out from behind the trees. The crossing point between the two properties was marked by a lovely vine-covered trellis archway that stood over a couple of steps down. My heart actually started beating a little faster right here because in a “deja vue” moment it reminded me of my Dad’s garden. (See my posting Vignettes- My Kingdom.)
All of these neighbors are avid gardeners, so we found ourselves stepping into another beautifully appointed garden where flower beds were in full bloom with lots of lush greenery everywhere and more whimsical garden features. We spent quite a bit of time checking everything out. A special mention needs to be made here about Joe’s “work shed”. I’m talking about a GIGANTIC work shed the size of a small warehouse. There were big tools and small tools, and every kind of small (and some not so small) machinery all neatly laid out. As you can imagine, the men folks in our party were in hog heaven.
After admiring everything, flower beds and the work shed contents, we all drifted into Connie and Joe’s where a second round of appetizers was laid out. More eating and more socializing took place and by this time a few glasses of wine had been consumed so there was lots of merriment and laughter. In the meantime some rain clouds had gathered and so we got sprinkled on a little as we made our way over to Sherry and Greg’s. Earlier in the afternoon I had helped Sherry assemble a huge bowl of a very colorful mixed salad into which we had put everything bar the kitchen sink! As people came in, we tossed it in a home made dressing and in no time at all that huge bowl was empty.
We were all beginning to get full tummies but the walk back to Deb and Crystal’s house must have helped our digestive systems because we were ready for the main course by the time we got there. Actually some of us rode in the car because of the rain, but we were still ready. I think the laughter and the socializing shook the food down nicely because we even had room for dessert after eating yet another plateful of food. It was altogether a very fun experience and I’m already plotting and planning to see how I can replicate it, even though most of my friends live in rather spread out areas. But maybe that will make it even more interesting. I’ll let you know when and how I make it happen.
On June 18th 2011, I posted Spiritual Growth: The Lenten Mission. In that posting I explained that Fr. Jim reminded us that Jesus invited us to continue his work on earth (John 14:12-14). During the Mission I had a personal experience that strengthened this invitation.
On the third evening of the Mission we were encouraged to approach the Prayer Ministers with any requests for special intentions or issues that we might have. I felt strongly compelled to go to Kevin, one of the Prayer Ministers who had travelled down from Chicago with Fr. Jim. There were two reasons for my choice. Firstly, Kevin had played an important role in my husband’s personal experience the previous evening and I wanted to thank him for that, and secondly I was aware of an intense spiritual energy around Kevin and I wanted to experience that for myself.
As I began to express my gratitude to him and then started to speak my first special prayer request, Kevin held up his right hand and said, “Stop Margo. Do you realize how much the Spirit is working in you, already using you to do his work?” I was somewhat taken aback, and faltered in my reply as Kevin continued to say to me, “But why are you holding back Margo? What are you afraid of?” Again, I fumbled with my words even as a picture formed in my mind.
Seven years prior, shortly after arriving in Jacksonville, I had bought a bicycle with the intention of riding it in my wonderfully safe neighborhood. The bicycle has sat in my garage – unused. I have been scared to get on it because it’s been about 50 years since I’ve been on a bike. I have allowed my pride to get in the way thinking that I might fall off and people might laugh at me. By the same token there have been many times in the past when I have wanted to share something about my faith or do something to be an example of God working and I have held back, scared of what people might think.
I shared this with Kevin and he said, “No more Margo, Spirit is calling you to more. You cannot be afraid anymore. He needs you to do His work.” At that point I spoke my other prayer requests which were for my children, and then Kevin prayed earnestly over me. I became aware of intense heat surrounding me, I felt a quiver go through my body, and the next thing I remember I “woke up” lying on the floor in front of the altar of the church and I knew Spirit had been with me.
Little did I know at that time that this phrase, you are being called to more, was going to be repeated to me two more times in the next few weeks. And this by two widely disparate people in totally different locations and circumstances, who were not in the least bit connected to Kevin or any form of Healing Prayer Ministry. But that will be for two more separate postings.
Today, I share this posting from Brainerd, MN. We arrived here yesterday at about 4.30pm after another day of beautiful riding.
You all know that I love words. I am so grateful to the many people who have gone before me and shared their words of wisdom. I am so grateful that there continues to be a steady stream of wise and intelligent beings who share their thoughts on life and their personal life experiences. Here are a few that I choose to share with you today.
- “Feeling healthy and feeling good about yourself is not a luxury – it’s an absolute necessity.” (Anonymous)
- “I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains, but I pray earnestly to God that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as
pleases.” (from “Safely Through The Storm)
- “May your footsteps set you upon a lifetime journey of love. May you wake each day with His blessings and sleep each night in His keeping. And may you
always walk in His tender care.” (Anonymous)
- “In those times I cant seem to find God, I rest in the assurance He knows how to find me.” (Neva Coyle)
- “God walks with us …….. He scoops us up in His arms or simply sits with us in silent strength until we cannot avoid the awesome recognition that
yes, even now, He is there.” (Gloria Gaither)
- “To be simply surrounded by God’s love and presence is pure JOY!” (Chuck Colson)
- “Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.” (William Van Der Holden)
- “Fear of trials often depletes more energy than facing them.” (Beth Moore)
- “If God accepts me as I am, then I’d better do the same.” (Hugh Montefiore)
- “Resolve to keep happy and your joy, and you, shall form an invincible host against any difficulty.” (Helen Keller)
And as I was writing these quotations, I realized that many of them refer to “God” and to “joy”, and I found myself thinking that those two topics are intrinsically connected for me. Greetings from the road – New Lisbon,Wisconsin to be precise!