Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sunday Mornings

Sunday mornings probably finds most pastors in their study or office.  They may be in prayer or meditation.  They may be reading scripture or a devotional and reviewing their sermons - beautiful and worthy practices. However, my Sunday morning prayer time is often started in the kitchen. Sometimes I bake biscuits or scones. Some mornings I put together a salad, slice some fruit, or make sandwiches.  I do this because at New Community of Faith (west San Jose) we gather at the the table for lunch after our service.  To say that our meals are eclectic is an understatement, and I cannot claim that they are always nutritionally balanced.  Yet, generally everyone brings something to share, and we often do have a fairly healthy lunch.  However, what really matters is that over this simple meal we talk of things, and the sojourner is always invited to the table.  I think my ministry literally comes to fruition when I say, "Please join us for lunch. There is plenty." 

Yet, please do not assume that my time in the kitchen is not prayerful.  I think I have always prayed in the kitchen.  I pray for those the food will feed, and for those who who have succumbed to believing that there is no table for them.  For those who search.  For a world at war.  For sustainable farming.   I give thanks for those who taught me to cook.   I give thanks for pots and pans.  For Moses and Martha.  For Christ.  For learning that cooking always leads to more cooking. That from one meal comes another, and there lies is a profound blessing.      
Blessings on your autumn harvest.  May you find great joy in the receiving and in the sharing.   Let us remember, Christ comes as host, and Christ comes as guest, and everyone, no matter how hungry or thirsty, are always welcome at this table.  
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.
Ezekiel 47:12

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014


How precious to me are your designs, O God; 
how vast the sum of them! 
Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands; 
to finish, I would need eternity.   

Psalm 139:17-19


If I fly with the wings of dawn 
and alight beyond the sea, 
Even there your hand will guide me, 
your right hand will hold me fast. 
Psalm 139:9-10

Sunday, September 14, 2014


A few weeks ago, I walked into an assisted living community and was greeted with a very pleasant show of some of the residents' artwork.  I commented to one resident who joins me regularly that I did not know she painted. She replied with some excitement that she has been taking a weekly class.  Then, for some reason, I mentioned that I had begun to photograph flowers with my i phone.  She asked to see them, and since I had my phone (also known as my camera and portfolio case) with me, I showed her a few of the recent ones.  She flatly replied, "Well, they are nice, but I have a friend who paints flowers.  She tells me that black and white is the purest medium." The comment left me wondering whether being a minister or being an artist requires the greatest sense of humor.  
However, I have for awhile been thinking about Imogen Cunningham and her black and white photography.  I remember reading that once she was asked why she was photographing so many flowers.  She replied it was because her children were young and she could not really go anywhere much beyond her own garden.  I don't have children, but our travel coffers are pretty bare.  Fortunately, walking the local neighborhoods the past few months has proven to be quite the adventure. 
This morning I walked past some boxes  marked, "free."   I rummaged a bit, and was delighted to spot Imogen Cunningham's name on a book.  The book is entitled, After Ninety.  Cunningham began this compilation of black and white photographs when she was 92.  They are beautiful photographs of elders: people who had lived their lives as teachers, nuns, artists, and more.  Each portrait has a simple inscription such as the one that accompanies an elder farmer standing nobly in a cornfield: "When I delivered his prints he gave me cress and some lettuce. Then I guess he decided that wasn't enough, and came out with a tray of raspberries." 
I have often thought that if I could get past HIPPA privacy regulations, I would love to photograph some of the elders I have come to know, and these photographs would probably be done in black and white.  I recognize some of the need for privacy, but truthfully, I think elders, like flowers and bees, and probably you and I are more in need of being known than not.   I am not sure how else we can find and celebrate our common ground.               
Today, I return to the gloriously showy flower.  I am grateful for this love.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We Will Not Let This Get in Our Way

Once a month, three to four residents and two of us from SpiritCare gather for conversation in a lovely assisted living home.  This coming together has been going on for a couple of years.  It is not Bible study, although I often pick a passage from the Bible, or some other source to read at the beginning of our time together.  I treasure this time.  The residents are quite outspoken, and it takes little encouragement to get them to talk about the challenges and the blessings of trying to faithfully grow older in body and mind.  I am often reminded that the journey is not easy, even in beautiful surroundings.   

One of the residents has been struggling with memory loss, and with that challenge comes other issues, including depression.  Her parents were evidently very affectionate, and she misses not only their warmth, but also the love of her husband who passed years ago.  She brings up this longing often.  We have indeed hugged many times, but the memory does not carry over from month to month.  We must renew those vows each time.   
Today after our closing prayers, we stood to hug once more.  Olga went to Pat to hug her, but had forgotten that she was walking with her ever present walker.  Olga set it aside saying, "We shall not let this get in our way."  She gave Pat a warm hug, then reached for her walker once more, and they walked out of the room together.   
That is the challenge, of course.  To not let the walkers, the wheelchairs, the illnesses, and the medication get in the way of reaching out to one another and finding the common ground.  As the volunteer and I skirted around a group gathering at the elevator to go downstairs for lunch, we heard a resident complain about how long it was taking.  Olga joined them, looked up to see us, smiled, and then replied, "Do you need a hug?"     
Blessed be. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

To Heaven and Back

I woke this morning with bits of this poem floating in my mind, but I could not remember the title or the author.  Eventually, both surfaced thanks to the plethora of information on the internet, and my remembering that a friend mentioned that the author of the poem also wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

 I thought I had sent this via Ponderings years ago, but it did not come up in my search.  Well, it is here now.  The poet does pose an interesting question.  I would probably take a picture, ponder some more, and then send you all a note.  
Just like I always do.     
What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
You dreamed
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in you hand
Ah, what then?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge