A quiet and hot California Sunday. I have to force myself to get up this morning and make the long drive, but I’m glad I do. After all – man does not live by bread alone. Before I enter church, I stop in at the pre-school building, whose front door is open. The pastor’s wife and one of her daughters are pasting jellyfish made out of paper plates and tissue paper up on the ceiling. Lobsters and crabs made from kids handprints and footprints decorate the walls. A maritime theme! We briefly chat about the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the jellyfish providing the cue. It’s been so long since I have been there I think and sigh.
The doors of the church have been kept shut for the past few days, so the sanctuary is pleasantly cool inside. It is a sparsely attended service. No surprise, it’s vacation time. The sermon today is about the parable of the sower. I have always liked it, and it is always a good reminder for me.
Half a BBQ chicken, a loaf of bread, and some cheese acquired from the supermarket afterwards, I then drive home and walk up to the apartment, where a sharp rebuke is issued to me by a hummingbird hovering near the feeder, which hangs close to the door.
I believe the context of the distinctly one-sided conversation may be interpreted as follows: “So, Sunday is the day of rest, huh? What about my feeder? Ten percent full! See! I might add the nectar is a bit stale too, and I do notice all the goodies you bought for yourself. So, if you don’t mind, kindly clean, and then refill my feeder, thank you very much”.
Right away, Ms. or Mr. hummingbird, and please do accept my sincere apologies for the oversight!
Such a contrast: last Sunday, I was still driving on a freeway in California to attend Service, surrounded by speeders going who knows where in their silly hurry. A bit jet lagged, having arrived a few days ago in Germany, I am slowly acclimating. It’s great to see my brothers after two long years. This morning, as yellow smiling buttercups greeted me, I made my way to one of the small villages in Haunetal to my favorite little church. Just a few cars on the road, otherwise, wonderful peace everywhere. The ringing of the church bells could be heard in the distance, as I entered the small village with its half-timbered houses. An idyllic Sunday morning. Some large red unfolded poppies caught my eye — a sure sign of summer, and a few people from the village walking to church. I closed my eyes in the bright sun, soaking in the early morning and happy to go to Service. Thank you God for this beautiful day.
As you may remember, I had my share of dog stories from my old Oakland neighborhood, which I wrote about in my last book. To continue on the same theme, this morning on my way to the Post Office, a car with three teenagers passed me, windows open, and one of them called out to me: “Have you seen two small black dogs running around?” The subjects in question were a black Pomeranian, and another species that slips my mind. I had to say no to their inquiry, and wish them luck in their endeavor retrieving the runaways. A novel way to search for a missing dog, or dogs as the case may be.
Arriving at the Post Office, there was only one person in front of me, and three clerks at their respective windows — it took less than ten minutes to be invited to step up to the counter, where I was finally able to mail an envelope. This was my second trip here this week. A few days ago, I arrived at noon with the same envelope. There is a sign above the Post Office counters that unequivocally states: “It is our goal to serve you within 5 minutes.” Well, that may be the case, but the usual queue of customers was in front of me and all — yes ALL — counters were unoccupied, leading to speculations on my part with the customer waiting in front of me. Seriously doubting the promise of the sign above the counter now, my envelope and I sadly departed. Back at home, out of sheer curiosity, I looked at other customers thoughts and opinions on a popular online ratings system, as to this particular branch of the Post Office — I will leave the responses I read up to your imagination, but I must say — it was not on the favorable side. Having had success at finally sending off my little envelope today, I admired the large multitude of puffy white clouds above me, and the early white blooming fruit trees, as I stepped out the door.
Almost back at my apartment, I noticed a sign that read: “Keep gate closed – large dog” (Are they left open for small ones? — my prior encounter with the dog searchers may lend credence to this assumption). An ominous warning at the gate — but the supposed large canine must have been napping inside the house.
As the year winds down, I am grateful for a wonderful Christmas visit to Oregon. I reflect on the candlelight Service; I remember the woman in front of Patrick and me thanking us for singing the hymns with our deep voices behind her; I ponder Patrick doing all his culinary preparations — he has the motions of a chef now — and I can only marvel at the skills he has acquired; I delight in the unique home-made jelly Christian gave me; I muse about the sleepy hedgehog Hannah showed me that bit me (my fault for smelling like a chicken taco); I remember the great Christmas dinner Big Patrick and Sanae made, and chuckle about the cats hiding from me. Thank you for a peaceful Christmas God.
Today was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. In the Lutheran churches I have attended here in California, they often use real palm leaves to decorate the church, something reserved for warm climates, unlike my native country, where the crocus and snow drops are still struggling to welcome Easter this year I’m told. In some years, depending on which date Easter falls on, the daffodils shine brightly in the sun for Easter in all their yellow, orange, and white exuberance. The literal translation from German for daffodil means Easter bell (Osterglocke).
The photo above, is of some palm leaves I had the privilege to photograph in Venezuela some years back. I love the symmetry of the leaves, and the soft light falling through them.
Palm Sunday is almost over. Now comes the walk to the cross of my Lord on Good Friday, and then the joyous Easter celebration of his resurrection on Sunday.