Changing seasons

I woke to birdsong outside my bedroom window this morning. It is such a wonderful sound. I’m not sure exactly when the birds started to return, but they are definitely there this morning. Of course we live in a place where some of our songbirds head south for the winter, but it is a bit more complex than just that. The birds wait until the light begins to creep over the horizon from the east and so the lengthening of days also determines the amount of bird chatter that we will hear at a particular time in the morning. I tend to be an early riser, so I know that summer is coming when I hear the birds as I wake.

The changing of seasons is a reassuring sign that we belong to a flow of history that is bigger than the current moment. Here in the hills our seasons have a way of sliding in and out of one another. There have been years in our time in South Dakota when you could get away with planting your garden on the last day of April. There have also been years when we have had major spring blizzards well into May. We had such a string of spring blizzards earlier this year that made late March and early April seem like a yo yo of warm and cold and warm and cold.

Yesterday was truly delightful day, but the day before the wind was biting and just being outside was an effort. I had to be careful to hang onto my hat and I was wearing a cap with an adjustable headband. But yesterday was just delightful. We took a walk up in the hills near the church and the basque flowers were in profusion and the birds were chattering to one another.

I’ve heard some people report that living in isolation has shifted their sense of the passage of time. Each day seems a lot like the one before and they even get confused as to which day of the week the current day is. My life is quite different. With less staff at the church there are more tasks that fall to me and the tasks are varied. I answer the phone more than I used to. I sometimes sit at the receptionist’s desk to work on that computer, something that I did only rarely before. Yesterday we got out the electronic version of our newsletter, but we also were going through lists to make sure that we weren’t missing people for our regular mail version which goes out today. I was working on getting the printer to print mailing labels. When we were meeting face to face for worship there were many items that people would pick up at church. We had quite a few people who just picked up their newsletters. We didn’t keep track of those folks, so we had to go through a process to determine who wasn’t receiving them another way.

My days tend to run together in a different way than they do for those who are isolated in their homes. I have to keep track of which day it is because I am still managing a lot of meetings, even though most of them are done over the computer. I have become the lead scheduler of our church and I’ve gained a lot of appreciation for my administrative colleagues who used to manage the calendar.

The changing of the seasons helps to show that we are indeed going through something bigger than just living day by day. This weekend I’ll have to be out with my lawn mower trimming the grass, which has gotten ahead of me. I’ll have to move the snow blower to get at the lawn mower. It is time to clean out the shed and the garage for a new season. My deck needs stain. There is a long list of outdoor chores that need to be done. Life goes on.

There are a lot of different opinions as to how long we will need to maintain the physical isolation in the face of the pandemic. Some say we will be back to near normal in another month. Others say this could last a year or more. That makes planning certain events and activities a challenge. The schools, especially, are challenged with ways to finish this year of instruction and plan for next year. Despite the best efforts of dedicated teachers and creative minds who are constantly thinking of new ways to reach out to students, it is estimated that the Rapid City School District has lost contact with up to 25% of the students. That is a lot of children and youth whose educational careers are unknown. With the library closed to walk in patrons, it is easy to imagine that we are falling behind as a community with critical educational tasks. When students are able to return to the classroom there will be a lot of catching up to do.

The same will be true in the church. Rebuilding community and enabling people to return to schedules and disciplines after such a long break will take time. Although we are imagining a grand Sunday when everyone suddenly is back and our church is full the reality will likely be much different with a few coming one week, a few more the next week in a gradual build-up that requires a lot of work of inviting and encouraging people.

In the meantime, continuing to build up the community of the church requires a lot of creative work and new ideas. We are doing thing that we never imagined we would do. I resisted calling my journal a blog simply because I think my writing is different from a log. Now I guess I have become a video blogger because I’m posting a video each day. I’m no videographer and my video editing skills are very limited, but I put my face in front of the camera each day for daily prayers as a way of making connections with the congregation. We livestream worship. one of that camera work will continue after we are allowed to resume face to face worship.

In the meantime, the seasons are changing. The birds are singing. Spring is coming. Life goes on.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!