Monday Memo: Season of Bunches

Terry Walton


Season of Bunches

I was thinking...

I imagine you have heard the saying "things come in bunches" or "stuff happen in threes." Even in my favorite sport, baseball, it has been said by many a coach and player, "hits come in bunches." This leads me to conclude that life is a "bunch of bunches." (How is that for wisdom?)

Recently our family has been in a season of bunches. With a dear mother-in-law's death after struggling with Alzheimer's Disease for nearly four years; then a recurrence of cancer, this time to the brain for my bride of 44 years; then the microwave quit; then the dog's nose started bleeding; then water came in the basement… A season of bunches. But I must tell you that there is a bright side to 'bunches.' Our family has 'bunched' together unlike any other time in our history (and we are a close family all the time…even without bunches). There has been a newfound strength in us that we had not suspected was present. We have felt the wind of the Spirit being fueled by so many prayers. Even in a season of being unable to gather, there has been a cloud of witnesses invading our minds, hearts, and souls. It is hard to explain such sensations but that they are real is without denial.

Struggle, grief, and heartache…there is something about them that brings a gift to us. It is a gift that seems to be only found in the 'bunching' of life. It is not a gift that is on anyone’s wish list, but once it comes there is a profound sense of calm and ability to hear the whisper of God’s voice say, "You are not alone. I am with you." It is a whisper that brings with it a feeling that this voice knows of what it speaks. It is a gift that surprises and surpasses all understanding.

Then the excitement builds that this is more than just a gift for us in our season of bunches. If this gift can come to us, then it can come to a struggling, grieving, and heartbroken world. If this gift can surprise us, then it can surprise a denomination that seems to be in danger of splintering instead of uniting. If this gift can surpass our understanding, then it can surpass the understanding and the logic of those who think they have it (whatever 'it' is) all figured out. If this gift can calm our season of bunches, then it can also calm another's season of bunches.

Maybe this is exactly what Matthew's Gospel meant when he reported Joseph's dream, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit…the prophecy is fulfilled 'Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,' which means, 'God is with us.'"

That dream…that whisper… "Do not be afraid. God is with us"… It sure is helping us in this season of bunches. None of us are exempt from life’s heartaches. I do not fully understand all there is to know about prayer and healing and death and bunches. But I do understand, there is something very strange yet very real about the strength that comes from the gift of the Holy Spirit's whisper… "Do not be afraid. God is with us."

Always Thinking,

The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop

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