Written on Saturday, February 29:
O, the bright sun of this last Saturday in February! And, how deep the blue of the skies. The warmer air brings even the sound of melting where snow lies in patches around us. The earth is turning. The sun is slanting its rays even into the early evening.
The soul stirs. Our human hearts long for spring. Our hope is for our own renewal. For our own bodies to be restored. For our eyes to look up, and our limbs to gather strength, for our lungs to breathe fresh air. We long for our very lives to be renewed.
This wonderful world God gave us does have intimate ties with our human bodies and spirits. We are all part of the one creation that made the miracle of our turning earth, and our growing, thinking, acting, working, beautiful bodies. Our souls are stirred by God, our Father. Our minds are touched by His dreams for us. We are wonderfully connected with God above, and the earth below.
But, we are also connected with other people. So much so that I have come to think that what makes a "good day" for me, is people: sometimes many, often, only one.
Lent began this week. We went to Ash Wednesday service - in fact two: morning chapel at Covenant Village, and the evening service at Colonial Church. I have long felt Ash Wednesday is a wonderful time for a commitment service.
A woman wrote me this week that the service at our church was the 46th anniversary of her hearing the call of Jesus and walking forward to kneel and commit her life to Jesus - a commitment that has never left her, but kept her true to Jesus her Lord.
The next morning began my own annual early morning Breakfast Bible Studies - six of them - at Edina's Hilltop Restaurant.
My friend Bruce had picked me up at 6:40 am in the pre-dawn light, to drive me from Golden Valley to Edina. Six or seven cars were already waiting for the 7:00 am opening of the doors for us. Suddenly, at three minutes of, all the car doors began opening and out poured my friends and into the Hilltop, to take seats at a horseshoe table set just for us, before the fireplace. Half a dozen were new. Among them Confirmation students from my early years, there, just to be together. One who has worked in politics, another a grade school teacher. Later, a smiling airline attendant, just in from far places. Along came Dan, world-traveler and publisher of Christian books.
Then a handful of folks all the way from the northwest suburbs: Forest, an early "confo kid," with his wife, and a doctor-friend, both having been mentored by a couple who claimed them as sons. The dad was with them, the mother now an angel to us all, in heaven.
A couple of hockey players came, too, and a young UCC minister, and a retired lawyer who's turned to preaching. Twenty-nine of us, gathered as the sun slowly rose, for prayer, and then introduction and personal stories round the room. A surprisingly diverse and lovely crowd - just to talk about what it is to be "believing people." They let me open the Bible and tell them what I thought it was saying to us about that kind of life in this kind of day.
Somehow, these motley gatherings, are a lot like the Pilgrim Center's healing retreats, here, and across Africa: JESUS ALWAYS COMES. He comes in these remarkable people, who speak of Him out of their own lives.
These ever-different groups are always a gift to me, lifting up my spirit, encouraging me as I sit among them.
The Africans have a saying: "WE ARE TOGETHER." So true for us - just loving Jesus, and each other, and going away lifted and loved, and energized for the day. And indeed, for all the days to come.
And, although this was our largest gathering of our years together, I should say "there is always room for one more." What a sweet, good way to start any one of these Pilgrim Days of Lent.
Arthur, with love.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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