Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday In The Park With Bruce

This morning, Samantha and I crawled out of bed, ...early... about 5:45 a.m. We hardly spoke as we dressed in layers of hooded sweatshirt, turtlenecks, wool socks, glovies, scarves, and warm boots. It was dark, but the full moon lit the sky as we slid into our rather chilly Honda Civic, dragging our blankies and mugs of hot tea along with us. We weren't headed to the slopes, or to the wooded areas hunters frequent. We were headed to church.

A favorite ritual, for us, is Easter Sunrise Service at Hampton Park, which we've attended all but one Easter Sunday for the past 23 years. The kids were very small when we first went, but it was always such an adventure to wake up in what seemed to be like the middle of the night, and ...go to church, outside!!

The weather most of the time is not pleasant. We've sat through wind, rain, and snow over the years. This morning I think it was about 20 degrees. But we love to watch the sunrise over the hill, and imagine what it must have been like to greet the dawn and find Life where death should have been, but not longer ruled.

It's been extra special for the past three years as my husband, Bruce, has delivered a fine and insightful Easter message. This morning, he did it again. He spoke about Joanna, a woman mentioned in Luke's Gospel (24:1-9), who was one of the women who traveled to Jesus's tomb on that first Easter morning, to do her duty, to go through the motions, to work through her grief and disappointment. The women were met by angelic beings who reminded them that Jesus had told them what would happen to Him, and had made them promises He would keep.

So as the darkness gradually succumbed to the sun's light, Bruce encouraged us that even when it's dark, and cold, we need to remember His words, to remind ourselves over and over of His promises, until we experience the resurrection Power of the Risen Christ in all of our life's situations.

Luke 24:8 Then they remembered his words.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

No Guts, No Glory

I love news stories that feature unusual events, daring escapades, or people with guts. Ashley told me about a story on the front page of today's Washington Post that I want to share. It speaks of family loyalty, of upholding tradition, and of... muskrat love.

About 60 miles outside of Washington, D.C., a small Chesapeake marsh town, Golden Hill, MD recently celebrated their 63rd annual National Outdoor Show. Each year, the weekend celebration kicks off with the World Championship Muskrat Skinning Contest. The criteria for winning the contest is "Fastest time, clean 'rat'." The event also includes a beauty pageant for Miss Outdoors.

Participation in both contests has somewhat foundered over the years. Young people in the area are more into a pop culture mentality, which "places little value on small-town pageants, and zero on muskrat skinning."

Motivated by a "strong attachment to a fast-changing place, and the fear that someday people here might not care about beauty queens or know the smell of muskrat guts", one of the beauty pageant contestants decided to honor both traditions. After performing a flashy costumed 'dance-number', and completing the interview portion of the pageant in her smart beige suit, Samantha Phillips donned her jeans, plaid shirt and hip waders, and emerged on stage for the talent portion of the beauty pageant, and plopped a fluffy football-sized muskrat on a table.

Ms. Phillips then inserted her very sharp knife into the tail of the dead beast, and sweetly said... "You want to take your knuckles,... and separate the meat from the hide, just like this." The judges recoiled; a young boy in the audience screamed out in disbelief; and an older woman in the crowd loudly commented, "She's good!"

Phillips didn't win the pageant. She was first runner-up. But she did win the trophy for the talent event. She competed the next day, too, in the Muskrat Skinning Contest, taking the trophy for the beginner's division.

Incidentally, the winner of the beauty pageant, Dakota Abbott, competed in the Muskrat Skinning Contest, too. Miss Outdoors also won the women's junior world championship by skinning two muskrats in 1 minute, 42 seconds! (My world's too small!)

These girls raised the bar in beauty pageants!!

I would bet that both these accomplished young ladies can even locate the USA on a world map.