Bun On The Run

The Elf on the Shelf is so last Christmas.  In my household, we have moved on to a pre-Easter ritual I am calling the Bun on the Run. 

Never let it be said that I don’t know how to milk every ounce of absurdity out of a tradition.  Max and I had such a good time hunting for Kringle, my little elf on the shelf, in December, he suggested we adapt the game to search for a runaway bunny each morning during the Easter season.  I decided to leave no silliness unturned. We hopped off to Hobby Lobby to buy a small bunny Max could hide each morning.  Of course, one bunny was not enough.  After all, we are talking about rabbits here.  I now have a large herd (or whatever you call mass quantities of cohabitating bunnies) of rabbits grazing on my breakfast nook table.  These rabbits are various shapes and sizes, making them suitable for hiding in virtually any location Max finds each morning. We bought some of them at Hobby Lobby and some I painted back in the 1980s in a ceramics class.  Their names are Arabella, Archibald, Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo, Winken, Blinken, Nod, and Tumble.  I used to also have a Sage.  Sadly, she was killed in a tragic dusting accident. 

We started the bunny-running activity the day after Ash Wednesday.  Each morning, a bunny makes a break for freedom.  According to legend (which I have just made up), when the bunny hears me coming, he burrows down in a secret place to wait for me to get tired of searching.  That has not yet happened.  Although sometimes I do need a hint.

My bunnies are enjoying their morning exercise and have landed in some interesting places.  One morning, Miney landed between the reverently folded hands of Clare the Prayer Bear.  Eenie was partial to the telephone cradle. 

This Bun on the Run hunt sometimes takes an inordinate amount of time in the mornings.  Some mornings, I’ve asked for a hint long before I normally would have because there was someplace I needed to be and I could not imagine explaining my tardiness by blaming a wayward fake rabbit,  I have to admit that I’ve even asked Max not to let the bun run too far on a given morning because we had to get cracking on the day in a less leisurely manner than permitted by our normal bun hunt.  These tedious distractions from the hunt (i.e. “real life”) also happened at Christmas time, but it seems that they have been popping up much more this season. 

This makes me wonder if I am trying to crowd way too many things into my life.  For me, the goal of retirement was to slow down and not do things in the most efficient way humanly possible all the time.  I was tired of hopping and wanted to meander.  Now, I seem to be hopping faster than the bunnies.  It is a wakeup call.

Now, I will freely admit that hunting for runaway bunnies is not exactly a traditional Lenten observance.  For Lent this year, I am doing some things to nurture my spiritual development.  I would not include hunting for bunnies in that list.  However, I’m now thinking that the bunnies have taught me something that is critical to spiritual development.  It is easy to let life get overscheduled and out of control.  It is easy to let activities master me instead of me mastering the activities.  I am doing so many things- maintaining relationships, exercising, coordinating the hospitality for our church’s Alpha program, facilitating an Alpha small group, delivering meals to the homebound, leading an Episcopal Churchwomen’s chapter, preparing and delivering devotionals and programs for the Episcopal Churchwomen’s chapter and general meetings, participating in a fundraising activity for a local school, carving out time for fun, and, sometimes… maybe… sleep.

Any activity, no matter how much fun or how satisfying or how ministerial it may be can be a distraction to my relationship with God if I let it.  My time for Scripture study and prayer often comes at the end of the day, before I go to bed… after I have finished up whatever remaining walking I must do to hit my 6 miles a day. I’m not sure my prayer is ready for prime time.  I try to cleanse my mind and concentrate, but I know I could do better.  I know this because I’ve learned I have to do my Scripture reading and prayer standing up.  When I lay down, I fall asleep.  I’m sure the mental noise and busy-ness of the day interfere with my quality time with the Lord. 

If I feel like I’m too pressed for time to hunt for bunnies… or pray without passing out… maybe it’s time for me to take God’s hand and let Him slow me down to a little bit.  Who am I kidding?  It will probably take a training collar!

What techniques do you use to prioritize and balance your time, once you don’t have a job to force you into a routine? Now that you get to decide what and how much to do, what keeps you from getting overscheduled? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a hippity hoppity day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Arabella, Archibald, Eenie, , Meenie, Miney, Mo, Nod, Tumble, Winken, and BLinken
Look carefully at Claire the Prayer Bear’s reverent paws!
Everybody needs a landline!

The Path To Easter

Someone I know once said that people should be careful what they wish for when they pray for faith.  Sometimes, God just gives them faith.  Sometimes, He sends challenges to help them develop their faith muscles.  Sometimes, He puts them in situations to show them just how much faith they already have. In short, at least two out of three of those options tend to be uncomfortable.

Last Lent, I felt like I was on a pretty good path of spiritual development. I felt like I had been spending years lazily luxuriating in a big, soft Catholic feather bed.  I had been comfortable for a long time, but had not really done anything to grow or focus my faith.  When I retired, I began investing more time and energy into spiritual development.   I was participating in a program called “Best Lent Ever” and it kind of was. Every day, the administrators of the program sent me an email with a video message, Scripture readings, reflection questions, and suggested activities.  I opened my heart and my mind.  I felt like I was learning a lot. I journaled about the program’s reflections every day.  Sometimes, I even posted comments on the program’s discussion boards.  In short, I felt like I really took last Lent as an opportunity to deepen my commitment and understanding.

This Lent, not so much.  The church I have been attending has offered Lenten activities, but I haven’t been able to summon the energy to attend.  I started going to Sunday school a few months ago, but have missed several sessions lately.  I even missed the service a few weeks ago when I messed up on the whole “springing ahead” thing.  In general, I feel like I’ve just kept stumbling over my feet this Lent without making any spiritual progress.

Some of you might point out that my stumbling has not been confined to spiritual progress. You would be correct. Since my mother’s stroke and the ensuing chaos in my external and internal life, I’ve been fairly lacking in competency in any arena.  I sort of stumble through everything now.  And maybe that is really more in keeping with the spirit of Lent than my activities with the “Best Lent Ever” program.

I think maybe God puts us in whatever desert He thinks we need for Lent.  Last year, I was just starting to re-examine the depth and maturity of my faith.  Maybe God wanted to tempt me to continue by providing me exactly what makes me comfortable- orderly growth and tidy spiritual development.

But no one gets to Easter without going through Calvary. This Lent, I think perhaps God is using the sad path I am navigating to grow and develop my spirituality.  It isn’t orderly or tidy.  It is certainly not comfortable.  But it seems to be my Calvary. I try to accept His will and offer up my pain for love.

I’m not equating my struggles in any way with those of Jesus at the Crucifixion.  In fact, I am clear on the fact that no one will ever have to endure the complete pain and emptiness that Jesus experienced on His Calvary, simply because He did experience it.  He endured it exactly so we would never have to.  And, truly, the challenges I’m experiencing are nothing when compared to those that many other people battle.  Still, I don’t think God minds too much when I complain and cry over my difficulties…. Especially when it is to Him I cry.

This Easter, I will rise above my difficulties and celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection.  I will try to rejoice that, just as I share Calvary in my very small, weak way, I will one day also share in the Resurrection.

Have you done anything special to prepare for Easter this year?  How has it been working for you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a blessed Easter!

Terri 🙂

I’ve Got That Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart

Easter reminds me that my race is not yet run.

 When I started working, I did not select my career with my Christianity in mind. To be honest, I’m not sure I selected it at all. I had just finished college with a fresh out of the oven degree in English. I was working at my minimum wage college job. I had a brand new husband, who was a full time graduate student.  He needed brand new food every brand new day. When the chance for federal employment was offered, I took the job for purely temporal reasons.

That doesn’t mean that, for the 33 plus years I worked, I left my faith at the door. While my job description wasn’t particularly missionary, I believed that God expected me to live a mission. I spent my career purposely, consciously, and genuinely trying to make each decision from a place of goodness and to be a light in the world to the people I encountered. The fuel for that light was Jesus. I often fell short. I was not always a good example or a beacon of Christ’s light. I simply trusted that, when I did succeed in my mission through the wisdom and grace God granted me, the Lord would use that work to let others see Him and His love.

 When I retired, I was tired and worn down in my very soul. I looked forward to my retirement as a period of rest and relaxation, my years of work being done. I did rest and it has taken a very long time for my spirit to relax. Now, I realize my work is not done. My workplace is different and the conditions are unfamiliar, but I am sure God still has a mission for me.

 I believe I am called, like St. Therese of Lisieux, to live an ordinary life with extraordinary love. There is still some life left for me to fill, using God’s grace, with extraordinary love.

 I am writing about reinventing myself in retirement. This Easter season, I have been journeying towards a spiritual reinvention, or, at least, a spiritual reinvigoration. I’ve been participating in a Best Lent Ever program.  It is a series of daily email video reflections. It is offered through www.dynamiccatholic.com.  You might want to check it out. Even non Catholics might be interested.  Really, anyone with a spiritual orientation that includes Jesus, even tangentially, might find it useful.

 In working on my spiritual reinvention this Lent, www.dynamiccatholic has helped me remember some valuable lessons.

 When I give in to shyness and avoid people, I put my Jesus light under a bushel and miss potential opportunities to provide comfort and extraordinary love.

When I get impatient and rushed, I miss the opportunity to be absolutely present in the moment, to cherish the joy that God gives that moment.

When my heart flashes with irritation and anger, I miss the opportunity to gain understanding and closeness. 

 Moving forward, I know that I will forget these lessons and will fall short. I also know that God has more lessons for me.  I will try to keep an open heart and be available to His teaching, as I strive to be a carrier of extraordinary love.

The real lesson of Easter, though, is that, no matter how many times I fail, I am forgiven. Jesus saw to that.

Happy Resurrection!  I know that not everyone believes as I do, but Easter seems like a great time to remind ourselves that reinvention can be sacred as well as secular.

What do you think?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  Have a happy and blessed Easter!

Terri 🙂