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Post Fifty-Six

Living Through Saturday

This was a first and last Easter for me.  It was my first Easter without Terry and my last Easter as pastor of Port Huron First United Methodist Church.  The metaphor of Lent and Easter has been much on my mind all this past week.  I began my Easter message to the congregation by admitting that if ever I personally needed an Easter experience it would be now.  I do not mean to trivialize the magnificence of Easter as a part of God's great work in the world, but if I cannot embrace Easter on a personal level, how will I ever appreciate it on a mysterious and divine level?

Thinking about these things it came to me that in the flow of the Easter story I remain stuck living in Holy Saturday.  Good Friday and its loss has not yet been replaced by the triumphal renew of the resurrection.  I am in the in between place waiting for the dawn of a new day.  Terry's loss remains a searing experience.  I trust that God will direct me toward the day of resurrection, but for now I wait between what was and what is yet to come.

In this in between place I am becoming slowly aware that when that renewal emerges it will not look anything like what went before.  Encountering the risen Christ the Disciples had to accept that the resurrected Jesus was different than the Jesus with whom they walked through Galilee.  Easter does not put things back they way they were.  Easter is the crossing of a threshold into a new experience.  This time in Saturday helps me get used to the fact that my life is now different.  The past goes with me, but the future will be a new creation.

If, as I firmly believe, faith is defined as living with a radical trust in God, then I am content with this Saturday experience.  I trust that given time God will direct me toward a renewal of purpose and love.  I trust that God will teach me how to honor the past and hang on to my love for Terry while making room for the rest of my life to proceed.  I know this.  I must trust in God to see me through this Saturday moment.  Left on my own I would waste the experience watching old movies and reruns of Myth Busters.

Dave Gladstone


Post Number Fifty-Five


Sometimes things jump up and grab my heart at unexpected times.  So it was yesterday as our bell choir began to play for worship.  They played a wonderful arrangement of Be Still, My Soul.  As they played, the words of the first stanza of that hymn took hold of me.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in every change God faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Suddenly I experienced the message of that song in a way that I had never experienced it before.  It seemed to speak directly to my troubled heart and I felt a great peace come upon me in the worship service.

Bearing patiently and leavinig it to God to order and provide is the most difficult part for me.  I want to take charge and put things right according to my expectations and desires.  I want to force my way ahead rather than let God take the lead.  The song spoke to me and I felt able to truly trust God as a friend leading me to a joyful end.

It is amazing how a familiar song can suddenly come alive in my heart.  It happened on Sunday and I am grateful.

Dave Gladstone


Post Number Fifty-Four

The World Moves On

I went to a Choir Camp planning and training meeting a week ago. Plans are taking shape for another wonderful Choir Camp at Lake Louise.  I was happy for that.  Even though Terry is no longer here and I am stepping down as the youth choir director after thirty-seven summers of involvement, it was wonderful to see new people stepping up to take responsibility.  Creativity was the order of the day.  The staff is excited.  I know that Choir Camp 2012 will be a great success and that another group of youth and children will experience God anew through the medium of singing.  I plan to stay connected by leading the evening vesper services at the fire bowl.

Still, I came away a little stunned by how easily the world accepts loss and moves on.  Here I am struggling to keep a grip on my emotions and make it through each day, but already the rest of the world is moving on.  I know this has to be.  I also know that my heart is broken in a way that others cannot understand.  I know that wishing that Choir Camp fail because Terry is gone is no way to honor her or the years we shared in that special ministry.  Never the less,  The ease and speed of the adjustment stuns me.  Could there not be at least a little hiccup to the order of the world to mark the loss?

Perhaps the lesson here is that I should spend more time appreciating the specialness and blessings of life while in the midst of it.  If it is true that the world, indeed the universe, will little note nor long remember the impact of my life after I am gone, it follows that the gift is in the moment.  I am resolved to complain less and appreciate more.  I am resolved to worry less and engage more deeply.  One final note;  the gift of a broken heart is found in realizing that brokenness of heart is the price we pay for deep and profound love.

Dave Gladstone


Post Number Fifty-Three: A LA ORILLA

La Orilla

There is a popular hymn in our hymnal.  Its title in English is Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore. It is number 344.  We sing it frequently when we meet at Lake Huron Retreat Center or for Sunday worship at Lake Louise.  We sing it in celebration of peace and meeting God in the beauty of nature.  We sing.  We sway. We hold hands.  Over the years I have been part of many such moments.  Often it perfectly represents my spirit.  But not now.

The title in Spanish is: Tu Has Venido a la Orilla.  I have learned that La Orilla is more properly translated as edge rather than lakeshore.  Orilla is the place of transition; the place where one reality gives way to another.  Orilla is the place of change.  It may be lovely to think that we meet God in the serenity of nature. It transforms everything when we remember that God meets us a la Orilla - at the place where one reality gives way to another. 

La Orilla is where I live these days.  La Orilla is where  most of us live at one time or another. This is not a beautiful serene place.  It is a place of uncertainty and anxiety.  It is a place not of my own chosing, but a real place none the less.  The hymn is a gift because it reminds me that at the edge place (a la Orilla) God waits with no thought as to my wealth or posessions.  At the edge place God asks only that I follow humbly. At the edge place God calls my name and with a smile directs me to a new reality - to seek other seas.


Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore


(verse 1)

Lord, you have come to the Lakeshore,

looking neither for wealthy nor wise ones.

You only asked me to follow humbly.


O Lord, with your eyes you have searched me,

and while smiling,have spoken my name.

Now my boats left on the shoreline behind me,

By your side, I will seek other seas.


(verse 2)

You know so well my possessions.

My boat carries no gold and no weapons.

You will find there, my nets and labor.


(back to chorus)


(verse 3)

You need my hands full of caring,

through my labors to give others rest,

and constant love that keeps on loving.




(verse 4)

You, who have fished other oceans,

ever longed for by souls who are waiting,

my loving friend, as thus you call me.







Post Number Fifty-Two: A Day to Remember


On Friday afternoon I submitted my resume for consideration in the search for the new Executive Director of the Lake Louise Christian Community. I did so only after telling my District Superintendent that I would continue with my plans to retire from active appointment as an ordained elder in the Detroit Conference of the United Methodist Church.  The previous Tuesday she told me that she needed to know my intentions because she was ready to appoint me to a new church if I wished to rescind my retirement and ask for an appointment.  

Under my present circumstances foregoing retirement and taking a new church for another three or four years represented the familiar and comfortable direction.  I know how to be a pastor.  I am comfortable in the role.  On Tuesday night I went for a walk down by the river under the Blue Water Bridge.  It has become my place for prayerful contemplation.  I thought about how a new appointment would be an easy way to fill up the time until I reach full retirement age. I thought about the hundreds of sermons already on file and how easy it would be to tweek them for a congregation that had never heard them.  I thought about how much more money I would have in retirement if I would just stay with the status quo for a few more years and delay retirement for a while. I also thought about how risky it would be to apply for the position with the Lake Louise Christian Community being vacated by Vaughn Maatman.  What if I retire as a pastor and apply for the position with Lake Louise and then someone else is selected?  What if I am selected for the Lake Louise position and then I discover that I lack the skill needed for the position?

I walked along the edge of the river offering up this "What if..." kind of prayer.  I stopped for a moment to watch as a late season freighter cruised under the bridge.  Then I heard a voice within me call my name.  I accept that it was the voice of God.  The answer to my prayer came as a gentle scolding.  "David.  Terry would expect more courage from you than this."  I returned home and called my District Superintendent and told her I would retire as planned and I would be applying for the position with Lake Louise.  I also told her that no matter what the result I would be OK.  On Friday I submitted my resume.  Now I wait.


Later on Friday I met for coffee with a friend who also lost her spouse.  Her story is different from mine.  Her husband died suddenly as a result of a fall accident while he was at work.  She started a normal day three years ago and half way through the day her world was turned upside down.  A few days later he was gone.  Different circumstances.  Same loss.

I told her the story of my struggle over staying in pastoral ministry or striking out in a new direction and of my coming to believe that courage and trust was the quality called for by my faith.  I asked what learning had come to her in the terrible experience of loss that she suffered.  She gave me a two word answer. "Be ready."

I think that the words that came to me,"courage and trust," and the learning she received, "Be ready." are two sides of the same coin of faith.  Is not courage and trust justified if we are those who live with confidence in the love of God?  Why is my spirit so timid if I truly expect that all things work for good for those who love the Lord? Likewise, why do I hesitate to answer God's call as though I have all the time in the world.  Why do I waste a single day nurturing hurt and resentment when today may be my last chance to work for peace, reconciliation and hope.

Friday was quite a day.  I let go of one direction and embraced another.  I met with a friend who helped me see things more clearly.  Its a beginning.

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