Sunday, November 30, 2014


Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I do not have special Advent candles, but as I put fresh tapers on the mantel, I think of the powerful,wonderful words: hope, peace, joy, and love.  
Tyler and I have just returned from spending some time in the home of long-time friends who live out of state.  Over the course of the past few days, we lingered at their table daily. Every morning I drank tea from this teapot, and every day my appreciation of friendship and beauty grew.  Today I think that unless we really make time for (in other words, befriend)  hope, peace, joy, and love, they will remain only words.  Like the people we meet, if we do not spend time with them, they will not become a part of who we are.  They will not become our friends.  We will not be able to rest in their presence.      
Throughout December, we of New Community of Faith will be reading and discussing Walter Brueggemann's  Sabbath As Resistance, Saying No to the Culture of Now.  All are welcome to join us. It is my hope that each of us can take to heart the idea that Advent is Sabbath, and that we can nurture the practice of pausing and giving our hearts and minds time to rest and reconnect, even in a society that continually stirs everyone with ongoing prompts of needing to be more and to own more.  This engine drives particularly hard in December.  However, an Advent Sabbath can surely help us remember that we are more than consumers, and that Christmas is something so vast that we can never simply achieve it.  We can't work for it; we can't buy it.  However, we can rest in it because it is already here, waiting for us.  
Thus the Sabbath command of Exodus 20:11 recalls that God rested on the seventh day of creation, an allusion to Genesis 2:1-4. That divine rest on the seventh day of creation has made clear (a) that YHWH is not a workaholic, (b) that YHWH is not anxious about the full functioning of creation, and (c) that the well-being of creation does not depend on endless work.  This performance and exhibit of divine rest thus characterize the God of creation, creation itself, and the creatures made in the image of the resting God...That divine rest on the seventh day, moreover, is recalled in the commandment of Exodus 31:12-17, wherein God is "refreshed" on the seventh day (Brueggemann, p. 6).  
My thanks to my friend who shared the gift of her beautiful teapot, and her time. Both refresh me still.    


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Almost Heaven

Those of you who are on Facebook may have seen the following post yesterday.  Ms. Cleo will pass this afternoon, attended by the veterinarian she has flirted with all her life.   Loss is seldom easy, but oh, the good times we had..  I am also grateful that I could sit with Carl yesterday, and thank him for his gentle presence in this world. May we always be willing to love one another. Yes, it is very much worth it.  


I've been thinking about heaven today. Not sure what exactly I have been thinking, but I today I think of heaven where the beloved elder Carl, and the beloved elder dog, Ms. Cleo, just might meet for a stroll. The color of this rose surprised me. I think that is what happens when you are thinking about heaven. You get surprised by the heaven right in front of you. Whether in a rose, an old dog, or an old friend.   

Monday, November 10, 2014

Page by Page

Once a month, I am blessed to lead a simple worship service with a small group of elders.  They have been worshiping together for many years. While they do have concerns about their community growing small, there is a comfort among these old friends that I very much appreciate. Even simply standing at the door as they come and go is a blessing.  My heart slows and my breathing deepens.   
One among them, I shall call her Mary, grows frail.  She always smiles and says hello,  but other than that, she speaks very little. After she is guided to her seat, she will take a hymnal, place it in her lap, and turn the pages, one by one.  She does not appear to read, but simply and quietly turns the pages.    
In the few minutes of silence before the pastoral prayer, I hear these pages turning.  The sound reminds me of gentle waves lapping the shore.  In this continuous movement, I hear eternity.     
I am grateful Mary has a congregation that has been with her a long time.  She has the habit of church in bones; they know which way to go.   We follow as best we can.   

The grass withers, the flowers fade, the word of our God stands forever.
Isaiah 40:8.  



Thursday, November 6, 2014


When I opened the curtains this morning, I was stunned by the beautiful light of dawn. Suddenly, my world was filled, not with emails, but with gentle pinks and golds. Tyler and Jack were just setting out on their morning jaunt. I, on the other hand, am home with a cold so I am not feeling particularly jaunty.  However, the light quickly took my mind off my sneezes and sniffles. 
When I was a child, the story story of finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow always stirred my imagination.  Not for the gold (never was particularly practical about such matters) or the leprechaun. What I dreamed of was standing at the foot of the rainbow, tilting my face upward, lifting my arms and having all those colors fall on me. I wanted to look at my skin and see, not my very ordinary pale pink skin, but every hue of the rainbow.  Such vision set me off on more than one journey to reach the foot of a distant arch of color.  Alas, it always was just a little further than I could reach.   
Perhaps I am still on that elusive quest.  Yesterday, standing in front of this tree, and witnessing the interplay of light and color was an experience I shall not quickly forget.  I was grateful to meet the owner of the property.  She has a couple of large bushes of Mexican sage (also known as velvet sage because the purple blossoms are incredibly soft) growing in her front yard.  You can see a bit of one in the foreground of this picture.  Because of these bushes, she also has many hummingbirds gracing her yard.  I am sure she thought I was a bit odd, but I was enthralled.  I thanked her for creating such a hospitable habitat.   May we all try to do the same.  
You are going to have to trust me when I tell you about the ruby-throated hummingbird dashing about.  Maybe once I get out of stunned mode, I can actually get a picture.  Maybe.  That shall be no easy task. My eye to hand reflex is fairly slow and surely there really is a limit to what we can expect an i phone camera to capture.  However, for now, I am content to simply stand at the foot of the tree and give thanks.  Such awe is enough.      
At once I was caught up in spirit. A throne was there in heaven, and on the throne sat one whose appearance sparkled like jasper and carnelian.    
Rev. 4:2-3   

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We Are Related

We are related.  To the so-called madman, to the hummingbird, to the dormant winter seed.  Only when we embrace this, will we know God's Shalom.  Only then will we really come alive.  

Earth Song

Listen to things more often than beings.
Hear the voice of the fire, hear the voice of the water,
Listen in the wind to the sighing of the bush:
This is the ancestors breathing. 
Those who are dead are never gone;
The dead are not down in the earth:
They are in the trembling of the trees,
In the groaning of the woods,
In the water that runs, in the water that sleeps,
They are in the hut, they are in the crowd.
Those who are dead are not ever gone;
They are in the woman's breast,  they are in the wailing of a child,
They are in the burning log and in the moaning rock.
They are in the weeping grasses, in the forest and the home.
Listen to things more often than beings.
Hear the voice of fire, hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind to the sighing of the bush. 
This is the ancestors breathing.
(Traditional from Senegal, translator unknown)    
My thanks to a colleague who sent this in a newsletter a year or so ago.