February 17, 2021

A year ago on Ash Wednesday I was in the Philippines as a leader and mentor for a group of women in ministry. We began the day with a trip to a neighbor island to enjoy a morning of relaxation and group bonding including options like snorkeling, hiking, swimming, and cliff jumping. My group chose to take that option, but when the time came, only two of us were willing to take the plunge. And what a plunge it was, a drop of about 30 feet into the bluest water I’ve ever seen.

It took me several attempts before I worked up the courage to take the leap, and finally, good mentor that I was trying to be, I simply ran off the end without looking down. It was terrifying and amazing. I was floating in the air, then I hit the water, bobbed to the surface, and for a few glorious moments was held and supported by the water, almost weightless with relief and joy and gratitude for being there, for being alive, for the grace and gift of it all.

Our worship that evening included anointing with oil rather than the imposition of ashes. We prayed for such things as gladness, forgiveness, peace, and healing. As leaders, we anointed people with oil and prayed for each person. At the end of the service, hugs were shared all around.

We were aware of the rapidly growing COVID-19 crisis. Those of us who would be traveling from the Philippines to New Zealand and the United States were concerned that flights might be cancelled. But notions such as social distancing, face masks, and no physical contact were not yet on the radar. What a difference a year has made!

Next Wednesday, I’ll be jumping off another cliff of sorts. I will be having hip revision surgery, what I think of as a retread, for parts that are 17-years old. Such an endeavor requires faith in the medical team who be God’s hands, hope that I will have less pain, improved mobility, and many more years of adventures, and the love of God expressed through family and friends that will hold me like that warm blue salt water at the end of the jump.

With the faith, hope, and love of God ~ Anne

These meditations are provided as a ministry in this time of pandemic as a ministry of St. Paul’s U. C. C.

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