Lodge Marmot01.01.11

Today marks my third day this week sitting in a ski lodge. I call myself the lodge marmot, since more than a few years have passed since I qualified as a lodge bunny. My kids think I’m crazy to be willing to sit here by myself hour after hour with “nothing” to do. But my job, as I see it, is to be the anchor. Today we are only five, but on other days we have had various friends join us, and between falls and bruises, bathroom breaks, wet gloves, hunger, ill-fitting equipment and different levels of ability, this lodge marmot has been pretty busy. I’ve probably been by myself less than half the time, and even then, I’m not alone.

Today is New Year’s Day, perhaps the most special day of all in Japan. It’s a holiday for virtually everyone except those involved in certain indispensable public service jobs. Although most people spend the 31st and 1st at home with family, this is one of the few times when both schools and businesses are closed, so some do plan vacations. Mountains are a favorite destination, so the slopes are crowded today with families, even three-generation ones.  In the holiday spirit, I see many people enjoying ice cream and dessert crepes from morning in spite of the very real economic slump.

Even the few days before New Year I wasn’t alone here. Memories of people I’ve loved and shared this place with filled my thoughts. Years coalesced, like the images in my HDR photo application, and the past merged with the present into a brighter, clearer reality. In addition to our daughter Karisa who died six and a half years ago from a sudden viral infection of her heart, I see family members whose frugality towards themselves and generosity towards us made this vacation possible, and see how little by little their heritage of love and prayer continues to shape us.

I don’t set New Year resolutions any more, but something of the symbolic importance of the Japanese New Year has sunk in. On this first day of the pure unsullied year lying ahead, the way I relate to others, the thoughts I think, and the actions I choose seem to set the tone for the year to come. Therefore, as I sit here not alone, surrounded by crowds, I pray for those around me. Perhaps my biggest role in life is to be a prayer, a conduit of God’s love and mercy to those around. I used to think that what I said was the most important thing. Recently I’ve started to think that it isn’t what I say to others, and maybe isn’t even what I say to God, but it is how I listen to God and lift others into the divine presence with my heart that matters.

In my teens and twenties I was inspired by a salesman friend who described his vocation as being a “full-time paid evangelist to the Pepsi-Cola Corporation.” I decided in my heart that no matter what job I was doing- waitressing, washing dishes, tutoring, or teaching- that this was the way I would see my vocation too. This focus of purpose has allowed me to find meaning and endure many strange seasons of my life. Yet over the years I’ve come to see the limitations of my words when they are only my own.  And when I am not listening carefully to God, they tend to be merely my own even if my intentions are good. As I move into the next stage of life I want to rely less on my words and more on God, so that my vocation is that of a praying presence in my family, at the university, in my neighborhood, and in the world. Then perhaps when words are given me to say, they will have God’s desired effect.

This is not a new thought for most of you, but recently it has hit me with more force than before thanks to an easy-to-read book by Jan Johnson, Enjoying the Presence of God. I’ll let you know periodically how this adventure goes of enjoying listening to God and others in 2011. Perhaps you are already on this journey- if not, why don’t you join me?

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Posted by Andrea Johnson under culture.

6 Responses to “Lodge Marmot”

  1. I am very encouraged by this reminder today. Listening to God and letting his words flow through me is something I want to keep moving towards.

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    Posted by Kristine L on 12/13/09 January 12th, 2011 at 2:11 AMReply

  2. Hi Andrea! The part that jumped out to me was: “Perhaps my biggest role in life is to be a prayer, a conduit of God’s love and mercy to those around”… & “how I listen to God and lift others into the divine presence with my heart that matters.” I’ve felt lead to pray alot more for others lately, and sometimes felt guilty they were short, quick prayers, but then felt, hey, the Lord put them on my heart and knows sometimes the little time I have or my tiredness, or difficulty concentrating, so accepts and answers even these kinds of prayers-THANKS GOD!
    I want to also learn the art of listening more, and even praying while listening, so like you, God’s perfect words, when they come out AFTER listening, will touch someone else’s life in some way!
    What I don’t like is when someone comes and asks for a prayer saying something like: “you seem you are closer to God maybe you can pray for me, as he will answer you better”..well, it makes me feel like they are looking at ME, when it’s HIM and ANYONE can draw near to HIM who loves THEM! I try in my feeble way to express this to them, but feel like I fail, and say: “ok, I will pray, but you can do the same also,” to try to get the meaning across. Later I think, wow, THAT could have been an opportunity to drop in a REAL witness of who JESUS is(THE way to the Father,etc), and think: well, missed it again, ha. Sometimes I’m just a “chicken” and SEE opportunity and due to fear don’t speak up in that way! Oh well, my hope and promise is in our LORD of MERCY and GRACE and who PROMISED that the “work He began in me He will finish!” (Phil 1:6). Thanks for sharing all your do, as it encourages me to keep on keeping on! Blessings to you and your family thru Christ I pray!

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    Posted by Julie H(Seattle) on 12/13/09 January 15th, 2011 at 9:27 AMReply

  3. Hi, Andrea:

    I finally got around to looking at your LODGE MARMOT post. (Myrna sent me the link). I’ve had some computer problems – completely wiped out, rebuilt, and now working but slowly. So sometimes I come to the Panorama lab to work at much better efficiency.

    Your thoughts echo much of my thinking about prayer and listening to God. I have just read a book by Tirabassi that I think is entitled “Got Wants to Talk to You.” But I find that it is to hard to take all thoughts “captive” and keep the channel open for Him to speak. I need to learn that skill.

    It is such a great opportunity to be in touch on the internet — I have MANY other o’seas contacts: Africa, Ecuador, France, Mongolia, India. So amazing.
    When Gordy and Lu went to Japan we had only airmail!

    They’ll close this lab shortly so – more some other day.
    Love,
    Arleen

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    Posted by Arleen Johnaon on 12/13/09 January 25th, 2011 at 11:33 PMReply

    • Arleen, thanks for the tip on the book by Tirabassi. Internet connection is a good visual picture of our connection to God and others through prayer- yes, it really is possible to connect across time and space! Greetings to Howard too.

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      Posted by Andrea Johnson on 12/13/09 January 26th, 2011 at 5:13 AMReply

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