July 2021 From the Heart of the Regional Minister

May the Lord give us the peace we need and crave!  July 2021…..who could ever imagine the year and a half we have been through? We have all had tremendous losses.  Many of our loved ones have passed and we could not say goodbye in a way that is familiar to us.   There have been family weddings, graduations, First Communions, milestone birthdays, Baptisms, holidays….either cancelled, postponed or celebrated in a downsized way.  Not our choice, not what we wanted. Now here we are with all that resentment and all that sadness bottled up and repressed.    It has been one, very long night in the Garden of Gethsemane.

So, what now?  The world is taking baby steps to open up again. Life is starting to return to …… what?  Will things ever return to what we think of as normal?  Don’t think so!  So what do we do now?  What we have always done.  Follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  He spent a lousy night in the Garden and now it is time to move on.  Was He relieved to get the whole terrible end of His life in motion?  Was He thinking, “Let’s just get on with it.”?  Maybe.  We won’t know that until we can ask Him in person. But this we do know….. even under all this stress, He remained kind.  He healed the ear of the soldier while still in the Garden.  Even in His own agony, He was concerned for His mother’s welfare.  He stopped to console the women of Jerusalem.  All while carrying His cross.

It’s not easy to follow in His footsteps. But it is what we are called to do.  Everyone is carrying a cross.  These days, the crosses have gotten heavier and harder to carry. So try being kind.

Like everyone else, I’ve had my cross to carry lately.  After a particularly hard time, my friend/mentor/spiritual helper said “I want you to buy yourself some flowers.”  I said I would.  But the day got away from me and suddenly it was 8:30 and dark.  Did I really want to get in the car and go buy flowers?  I got in the car anyway!  I went to the local ShopRite and the flowers are right inside the door.  There was a bunch of beautiful apricot carnations that were calling my name for $4.49.  Next to them was a bin of baby’s breath.  Also $4.49.  I put the two bunches in the baby seat and went on to pick up a few things while I was there.

There was a very attractive young African American couple going up and down the aisles at the same pace that I was.  I imagined they were on a date because of the beautiful way they were looking at each other.  They were joyful just to be in each other’s company.  After we had traveled several aisles together, the young man remarked that my flowers were very pretty and asked who I bought them for.  I told him I had been through a rough couple days and that I bought them for myself.  He then asked how much they cost.  By now I was talking to his lovely date and when I didn’t answer him right away, he reached over and turned the bunches around so he could see the price.  He said, “I want to buy those flowers for you”.  I laughed and said “Oh, go on!” and he said again, only more seriously, “I want to buy those flowers for you”.  I didn’t know this guy from Adam.  I protested, but he took a ten dollar bill out of his pocket and put it in my hand.  He closed my hand around it and said “I really want to do this for you.”  The events of the last few days and the kindness of this young man brought me to tears.  He and his young lady headed down the aisle while I stood there shaking my head in wonder. When they got to the end of the aisle, they turned and both of them said, “Have a good night”. And they were gone.

I wanted to go get on the PA system and tell the whole store about what had just happened. (No, I didn’t!)  But I spent the rest of the night in awe of the hug I had received from God through this kind young couple.

I’m not suggesting that you go buy flowers for someone. But, holding the door, saying good morning, helping someone get their groceries into the car are all acts of kindness that are a soothing balm that each of us needs right now.  The world is weary and hurting.  It is our calling to be kindness itself.  If Jesus could be kind on His way to Calvary, we can certainly do no less in our every day dealings with each other.

May God bless you abundantly so that you may bless others,


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