Friday, October 21, 2011


For months now, at some point in the service, Sarah will close her left eye and then gaze at me intensely with her right.  Then, in a slow cadence that I think must surely belong solely in the realm of oracles, she will pronounce, "God has blessed you."     
Today, the oracle spoke before the service began, just before May was brought to our circle.  May is very reserved and modest, so I am surprised to see her dressed in a bright pink hat and a deeper pink floral blouse and pants.  Her very spring outfit was particularly striking against the back drop of pumpkins, cardboard autumn leaves, and other Halloween decorations.  I found myself immediately  throwing out anything I ever thought I knew about the logical progression of the seasons.  Here, in the midst of autumn I found spring blooming.  I could not help but exclaim, "How beautiful you look!"  She smiled and whispered "thank you," the only word I think she ever speaks aloud.      
Later, just as I am about to give the benediction, Rita walks in from her time spent with the Catholic lay minister who comes every month to give her communion.  As I raise my arms, she comes immediately to my side, gives me a warm hug, and laughs her robust laugh.    I keep my left hand lifted, and place my right arm around her.  She puts her left arm around me and raises her right hand.  "Let us go forth knowing God gives us the gift of friendship." Rita echoes me.  "And let us go forth knowing that God gives us the gift of love." She echoes me once more.   It is one of the rare moments when I wished someone was there to take a picture.  It would surely be a fine portrait of the ministry - two of us arm in arm, laughing and claiming our blessings, blooming unexpectedly in this time of our lives. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Light, Reluctantly

I cannot remember where I bought this set of candles, but they inspire my curiosity because they are a little slow to light.  This is strange because for most candles, illumination is their sole role. However, as I wait the few moments for the flame to rise and stabilize,  I think of the human heart.  Often, it, too, is slow to be kindled.  Perhaps God finds it odd that we can be so reluctant to accept the one thing we are here to do - to be a small light in this very big world. 
May your gifts and your light shine brightly today.  
You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light. 
                                       - Psalm 18:28    

Sunday, October 16, 2011


As many of you know, Tyler and I adopted a rescue standard poodle in June.   That meant that we have spent quite a bit of time this summer in obedience classes.   When training our dogs, our goal is  never absolute perfection, but rather safety and good manners.  However, we have always asked our dogs to be good ambassadors.  Jack is making much headway, but he struggles with learning to trust, and that has been an interesting lesson for us all.  There is no command for trust.    
The following paragraph from the book The Big Book of Christian Mysticism by Carl McColman is really too long for Ponderings, but it is beautifully clear and succinct, and that is always one of my goals in my writing and sharing.  Every one of us is call to be an ambassador.  We are called to help the world to trust that love is real.  And, of course, we can only do that when we step over the threshold of our fears and journey there ourselves. 
God is love.  God loves all of us and wants us to experience abundant life. The means abiding in love - love of God, and love of neighbors and ourselves. Through prayer and worship, meditation and silence, we can commune with God, experience his presence, have our consciousness transformed by his Spirit, participate in his loving nature, and be healed and renewed in that love. This new life (what the New Testament calls "the mind of Christ") will not only bring us joy and happiness (even when we suffer), but will also empower us to be ambassadors for God, to bring God's love and joy and happiness to others.  There is much work to be done, and the task is overwhelming. Even our own need is very great, for we tend to resist God's love, even as we hunger for it. Yet, God continually calls us back to his love, and continually empowers us to face the challenge of bringing hope to our broken world.