Sunday, July 31, 2016

Day 9

Last night I dreamed that a small dark figure came to me and said, "Jesus called every disciple out of the boat." I think, "Where is that in the Bible?" In the dream I begin to look, but I quickly realize that I am missing the point. We are always being called out of the safety of our own little boats. I look at him and I realize he is very tired, so much so he cannot stand up straight. I then say, "Would you like something to eat?" He slowly nods his head yes.  I take his arm and we slowly begin to walk to kitchen. This  is the lesson that I takeaway from this novena: only when we see through the eyes of love can we love. Only then can we truly serve one another. 
On June 15, 2005, I wrote, "The Sacred needs our attention. Let us be generous. Let us love."  I think this will always be true. 

Blessings on your journeys.  Thank you for traveling with me, not only in these nine days, but always.  I will be helping with a healing service today (Sunday) at First Congregational Church in Alameda. If you would like a blessing of healing, come join us at 10:00 a.m. Beautiful church building and people. The gifted Rev. Jonathan Leavy will be leading worship. 
I greet this day with love in my heart. 
This the great secret of joy. 
Only the unseen power of love 
can open my heart to all others 
and their hearts to me. 
I will make love my most effective tool, 
bringing happiness to others and myself. 
I give and receive the abundance of love
that is needed in my life 
that I might bless and be blessed. 
I now know the great secret of joy, 
and life is transformed. 
I greet this day with love in my heart.  
Rev. Carol E. Parrish-Harra


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Day 8

This prayer mentions the word tenderness. On June 14, 2005 I wrote that tenderness is not a word we hear used anymore. I think the same is true today. Let us be easy with one another and ourselves.  This journey can sometimes have difficulties for us all.  Let us  tread lightly on one another's hearts - and our own.   
I greet this day with love in my heart. 
I address each one whom I confront 
with tenderness and strength, 
knowing love within my heart. 
Though shared from my heart, 
the offering shines in my eyes, 
unwrinkles my brow, 
brings a smile to my lips 
and a ring in my voice. 
For each pleasant and constructive experience, 
I am grateful. 
From each unpleasant experience, I learn. 
For the experienced of awakened life, 
I am uplifted. 
I greet this day with love in my heart.   
Rev. Carol E. Parrish-Harra  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Day 7

A couple of months ago, a young veteran who has been residing in a rehab hospital for quite awhile now, pointed to the bedside table that had been conscripted to host the communion elements, my Bible, and a few song sheets. "Those are the tools of your trade," he said. As I reflect on my recent day spent with mop and dishpan, I think of those who clean houses, schools, and hospitals every day, who make hotel beds, who cook food in all kinds of kitchens. I think of doctors and scientists serving in out of the way places, farmers toiling in the hot sun, and veterans who are trying to heal into their lives today.  I think of chaplains and pastors and nurses and cab drivers. I begin to see that a kingdom is where we tend to our tasks of work and family, those places sanctified by tears, laughter, anger, frustration, and acceptance. There, in the midst of all that seems so routine and maybe even pointless, we are drenched in holiness because we tend to God.  

I greet this day with love in my heart. 
Henceforth, I shall love all life 
and all kingdoms in every expression. 
At this moment I take steps towards 
a greater level of expression
for myself and all of humanity. 
I grow in my understanding of the power
of love and its holy purpose. 
I can succeed with love alone in my life,
as a great power that leads my experience.
Love alone is capable of uniting all life
in such a way as to complete and to fulfill. 
Love takes each one of us 
and joins us by the deepest in each. 
This appreciation hastens the day 
when all life is consciously linked together. 
I greet this day with love in my heart.  
Rev. Carol E. Parrish-Harra


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Washing and Remembering

Well, a part has to be ordered for our dishwasher, so I went down to the local hardware store and asked the young assistant if they had a plastic tub for the kitchen  sink.  He had no idea what I was talking about, but together we searched and found two. They were stacked one on top of another and were filled with various items.  This hardware store is always stuffed to the brim, so in the process of freeing the tubs several items were knocked over, much to the chagrin of the assistant. I think this must happen in that store a lot. I decided that while I was there, I would purchase a new mop.  I will tell you that I have used both items today with some success.   
The first dishwasher I ever saw was a portable one that resided in the first house my family lived in on the ranch. Mother did not use it much, but  I liked it.  It had to be hooked it up to the kitchen faucet. The kitchen was small so it took up a fair amount of room. It's top was translucent, so I could watch the fascinating process of the dishes being washed. I remember the machine was rather loud, but I liked that as well.  However, when a new house was built for us, that kitchen included a permanently installed dishwasher.  Suddenly Mother had the mindset that any kitchenware that was not dishwasher safe simply had no place in our world. If something came out of the dishwasher less than spotless, she would say, "Oh, well, it is clean dirt." About that time, she also decided that any article of clothing that could not go into the dryer and come out wrinkle free was destined for the rag bin.  The modern age was underway.    
So many of my memories stir when I am in the kitchen. I think about this as I ponder those whose minds are fading.  I believe that as we lose our engagement with our daily routines, a vital connection begins to unravel. Most people need to feel useful, and today I am thinking that the use of our hands may play a more important role than we realize.  Yesterday, one of our volunteer pianists and I were on a memory care floor. We had just finished our hymn sing, and she was softly playing as I was saying good-bye to each of those gathered with us when a new resident walked in and sat close to where I was standing. He said, "This beautiful music has awakened me. She plays with her heart." I agreed with him and asked him if he, too, played.  "Not any more, but I used to play piano and organ."  One of the assistants quietly said, "Yes, he does play beautifully."  We talked about his children and some of his friends, where he used to work and where he went to college. Hopefully, he will continue to play. We need one another's deep connections. These are the paths, yes to our minds, but also to our collective souls.  
My friend, you and I shall remain strangers unto life, 
And unto one another, and each unto himself, 
Until the day when you shall speak 
And I shall listen
Deeming your voice my own voice; 
And when I shall stand before you 
Thinking myself standing before a mirror.   

Kahlil  Gibran
​ ​

Day 6

Both our hot water heater and our dishwasher are reminding me that appliances and bank accounts have finite lives.  So do these bodies of ours.  Let us enjoy them while we can.  When I wash dishes by hand, I often think of Ometa.  Her humble kitchen was spotless.  After every meal she washed, dried, and put away the dishes, the plastic dish pan, and even the drying rack.  She made a wonderful cake called "Greek Spiced Cake." Not sure why it was called that, other than it included the heady combination of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.  To a child growing up in West Texas, it seemed quite exotic.  I still have the recipe written in her delicate hand. The paper has yellowed, and the writing slowly fades.  Yet, as I remember her gentle loving way of being in the world, I sense eternity.  
I greet this day with love in my heart. 
This day I will love myself. 
As a result, I inspect all that enters 
my body, my mind, my heart. 
I resist overindulgence and cherish my body
with cleanliness and moderation. 
I uplift my mind through knowledge 
and wisdom of the ages. 
I refuse to become complacent. 
I fill myself with gratitude 
for the opportunities that come. 
I feed my spirit through meditation 
and contemplate the great mystery of life. 
My heart unfolds and embraces all of life. 
My love blesses the Earth. 
I greet this day with love in my heart.   

Rev. Carol E. Parrish-Harra  


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Day 4

I greet this day with love in my heart. 
I embrace all of humanity,  
seeking qualities to admire. 
Though I often have not been able to see clearly,
with love I will tear down walls of separation
which have been built. 
In their place I will build bridges of connection. 
I love the ambitious,  
for they inspire me to greater action. 
I love those who fail, 
because they teach me endurance. 
I love the young, 
for the faith they hold, 
for the elders, for the wisdom they offer.
I embrace the ugly and the beautiful,
the rich and the poor, 
the meek and the bold. 
I acknowledge the spark of divinity 
that resides in each life I meet. 
I greet this day with love in my heart.
Rev. Carol E. Parrish-Harra


Monday, July 25, 2016

Day 3

I greet this day with love in my heart. 
I will love those I confuse as enemies 
and find ways to know them as friends.
I encourage my friends as they become 
my brothers and sisters. 
I will find ways to applaud.  
I release harmful words and thoughts 
when I am tempted to criticize. 
I will find compassion.
When I am moved to praise,
I will speak out clearly. 
I will join the birds, the wind and the sea
as nature speaks praise for the Creator.
I will become as music with the children of God. 
As I remember my resolve, I will uplift my life. 
I greet this day with love in my heart. 
Rev. Carol E. Parrish-Harra  
My wisdom comes and goes as the moon fades from view and appears again. 
You teach me the constancy of love is real even when it is hidden. 
Psalm 4:5
Rejoice, Beloved Woman! 
Barbara J. Monda 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Day 2

On June 8, 2005 I wrote that a light rain was falling. We do occasionally get a summer rain, but alas,  that is not the case today.  Last night as we drove home after having a beautiful dinner with friends, night began to fall. The earth grew dark as the sky turned  a pale grey. The greyness seemed to linger, giving me a sense of  traveling on a desert highway.  The world is full of contrasts, and we move between them like thread being woven into a garment we cannot yet see.  Whether you find yourself in the midst of turmoil, joy, or somewhere in between, I pray you can be a calm oasis of love in your world today.  If you cannot, know that others are holding that space for you.  You will be able to return.  

I greet this day with love in my heart. 
Henceforth, I look on all life with love. 
I realize the rebirth within myself. 
I love the sun, and it warms me. 
Yet, I love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. 
I love the light for it shows me the way. 
Yet, I love the darkness for it shows me the stars.
I welcome happiness for it expands my heart; 
I endure sadness for it teaches me compassion. 
I experience the challenges of my life 
as they aid in my growth. 
I greet this day with love in my heart.   
Rev. Carol E. Parrish-Harra


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Day 1

On  June 7, 2005, I began to share the first of nine prayers that I found in the The Book of Rituals by Rev. Carol E. Parrish-Harra.  I thought of these prayers early this morning as the words, "I greet this day with love in my heart" came to mind.  I believe it is time to return to these prayers.  Today, and for the next eight days (making these prayers a novena), I will be sending out one of Rev. Parrish-Harra's prayers.  In the midst of so much arrogant clamor, violence, fire, and other storms, let us help one another to love. The effort will not be futile. 

Let us pray.  
 I greet this day with love in my heart. 
This is the great secret to happiness. 
This unseen power of love can open the hearts
of humanity and bless all of life. 
I will make love my most effective tool, 
bringing the energy of life to myself and others.
Love will melt the blocks within and around me, 
opening me to the joy of life. 
I liken love to rays of the sun which can 
soften the cold of the harshest day. 
I greet this day with love in my heart.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Power Walk

Walking across the patio, 
I sat down for no reason at all. 
Nothing has been the same since.  
All the Days of My Life 
Marv and Nancy Hiles  
I had to laugh when I spotted this quote while looking for a quote for a Sunday bulletin.  Last Sunday, I went for an afternoon walk with a friend. It was not long before we simply sat on a bench and talked among the roses. She was the one who noticed we were also joined by a few bees earnestly going about their tasks. She is much better than I at these things. I am grateful.

Monday, July 18, 2016


This beautiful vine grows along a fence and a backyard gate.  However, it is impossible to linger and admire the flowers when the dogs are released into their backyard. They are extremely defensive, and I suspect a little bored. I apologized to the homeowner for setting off the dog alarm.  She was not pleased with any of us. An interesting threshold. The flowers? They simply continued to live their beauty, knowing a gate, not as a guarded, stopping point, but rather as a place to grow.  
Glory be to you, O God, 
for the rising of the sun, 
for color filling the skies 
and for the whiteness of daylight. 
Glory be to you 
for creatures stirring forth from the night, 
for plant forms stretching and unfolding, 
for the stable earth and its solid rocks. 
Glory be to you 
for the beauty of your image
waking in opening eyes, 
lighting the human countenance. 
Glory be to you. Glory be to you. 
But where the glistening is lost sight of, 
and where life's colors are dulled 
and the human soul grows hard, 
I pray for grace this day, 
I pray for your softening grace.     
Sounds of the Eternal, J. Philip Newell    


Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Blessing in the Sun

When I arrived yesterday, the staff members asked if it was alright if we had our service on the patio. It was certainly a beautiful morning. The pianist was playing just inside the door, and the arrangement worked surprisingly well. I delivered my homily under a tent.  It was quite enjoyable, and I think I will add tent revivalist to my short list of credentials. 

 I said good morning to Naomi and asked if she wanted a song sheet. She replied, "What will it cost me?" She does have dementia, but she also has a dry sense of humor.  The combination sometimes makes her a little difficult for me to read. Was the question serious? I had no idea.  I laughed said, "Just your love." I immediately worried that the response might have been confusing.  She paused, looked at me intently, and said, "You know you always have that, don't you? You are loved here."  She then stretched out one hand and asked, "Do you want one hand or two?" I responded that I definitely wanted two. We reached out to one another and hugged. In the years that we have known each other, we have greeted one another warmly, but I think that is the first time we have ever hugged.  
A few days ago, I came across a large bush of yellow four 'o clocks. Because the bush was in fairly deep shade, I did not try to take a photograph, but I did take a few moments to enjoy the beauty before walking on. For some reason, I turned for one more look. I then saw this one blossom shining in the sun.   


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Prayer Book

Last night as I prepared for sleep, I prayed about a personal issue that I am finding troubling. I posed the question, "How do I handle this?". Sometime in the night, I heard, "There is a book," and I saw a book. The cover was white and there was no writing upon it.  I also dreamed of a white heart. 
​ Truthfully, I woke muttering, "That was not very helpful." 

Holy One, please excuse my impatience. ​
For the past two weeks, I have been blessed to lead worship at Little Brown Church in Sunol.  I love that small community
, and I love 
​ ​
to it on Sunday mornings.  
​Even though Sunol is just off one of the busy traffic corridors that run from Contra Costa county to San Jose, there is still a sense of going to a church in the countryside. 
​I can raise my eyes and give thanks for hills, grass, oak trees, and hay fields. As ​
I have created 
​the ​
services, I have been perusing prayer books that I have accumulated over the years, including 
The Book of Common Prayer
​ 1994. It is a very formal, beautifully illustrated Anglican prayer book that I happened to find in a street corner trash bin (a couple of pages are marked and another torn, but otherwise it is in fine condition). The print is small, and the King James translation does not really speak to me, but I treasure the book's beauty.  Sometimes, there is comfort to be found in simply holding a prayer book.   
Many of you have inquired about my own writings. I have been content to leave them in email and blog form up until now, partly I am somewhat lazy and partly because I have never been interested in writing a book about spirituality.  There are many fine ones available written by people who can write in complete sentences. I am also not interested in writing about how to age gracefully because the only answer I have is that sometimes we do and sometimes we don't, but regardless of how we make our way, God is with us. The sooner we realize and accept this divine love and guidance, the better. Therefore, I think if I have been writing anything, I have been writing a devotional.  No, I have not a clue about how to go about condensing and transforming more than eight years worth of musings and prayers into a book of devotions, but I must assume the way will be made clear. I continue to rely upon your prayers and suggestions. Please know I am grateful for you.  Also, I humbly ask that you visit my blog periodically.  It could use the company, and I think publishers like to think someone is already reading your work.  

With my usual sense of trepidation, I close with a prayer from The New Women Included, a Book of Services and Prayers from the St. Hilda Community, and I give thanks.   
​God, Lover of us all, most holy one, 
help us to respond to you, 
to create what you want for us here on earth. 
Give us today enough for our needs; 
forgive our weak and deliberate offences, 
just as must forgive others when they hurt us. 
Help us to resist evil and to do what is good; 
for we are yours, 
endowed with your power to make us whole. 



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I Have Reached My Limit

And it has surprised me.  Two months ago I picked up a book by Dr. Oliver Sacks entitled The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Dr. Sacks was a gifted neurologist and a fine writer. Thinking that I might gain a deeper understanding of some of the conditions I see as I move through some long-term care communities, I decided to read the book.  
However, I can't read it. Not because his case studies are not beautifully written or that they reveal a lack of compassion. Quite the contrary. What has become clear for me is that I very much need God in the picture, and Dr. Sacks did not. Without some sense of Divine Presence or Accompaniment in these studies, I am adrift and miserable. This discovery has surprised me. I don't think I realized just how much I depend on the presence of God to carry me through my work.    
Dr. Sacks came from a Jewish background but did not seem to hold on to any faith. Nonetheless, he did write eloquently about witnessing one of his patients taking communion.  Dr. Sacks had asked some nuns in the hospital if they thought one particularly troubled patient just might not have a soul.  They invited Dr. Sacks  to chapel to witness what they saw there.  He did go, and wrote of his experience. 

"I was moved, profoundly moved and impressed, because  I saw here an intensity and steadiness of attention and concentration that I had never seen before in him or conceived him capable of. I watched him kneel and take the Sacrament on his tongue, and could not doubt the fullness and totality of Communion, the perfect alignment of his spirit with the spirit of the Mass. Fully, intensely, quietly, in the quietude of absolute concentration and attention, he entered and partook of the Holy Communion. He was wholly held, absorbed by a feeling. There was no forgetting, no Korsakov's  (Dr. Sack's spelling) then, nor did it seem possible or imaginable that there should be; for he was no longer at the mercy of a faulty and fallible mechanism...but was absorbed in an act, an act of his whole being  (37-38)".    
As I read these lines again, I think of Geraldine.  She surprised me last month by attending worship. She has attended worship in the past, but for the last few months she has preferred to stay seated by the door that opens out to the parking lot. As we enter, either I or the volunteer who serves with me invites her to join us, and she always declines, sometimes cordially, sometimes abruptly.  Her vision is significantly impaired. What she experiences at the glass door I do not know. Despite continual comings and goings of staff and visitors, I think it may be one of the quieter places in that busy rehab hospital. It could be she simply finds peace there.  
Yet, last month, she was already in the activity room when I arrived. As worship got underway, she looked so happy; so much so that the room appeared brighter. She did not take communion; she never has. Regardless, she was in communion. The elements were not needed.  It is moments like this, what Dr. Sacks called moments of "moral absorption," when concern about the frailty of our bodies and minds slips away.  In these moments, an unseen door opens, and our souls are free.  
Today, as I talked to Harriet about her fears of moving from her assisted living apartment into a skilled nursing community, I did not feel free.  I felt sorrow for this intelligent woman as she turns and faces a shaky future in a body being wrecked by Parkinson's. I felt sorrow for her friends and me. We want to hold on to her, even though we know she needs more care and she needs to be in closer proximity to her family. I do not think my knowing all about Parkinson's would have helped in that moment. What we all needed was to lift our sorrow to God. Harriet needed to be reminded that she is being held in love, even in the midst of her unsteadiness.  She needed to be reminded of the incredible beauty of her soul.   
Holy One, forgive me for forgetting that you are the more that I can bring with me. I thank you for the doctors, the researchers, the aides, the janitors, the delivery people, the volunteers and the rest who serve.  We are all called together to be more with you, even when we forget or simply cannot believe.  Thank you for continuing to knit us together, strengthening us with the gifts of one another. I am grateful that I do not go alone.  


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Learning to Wait

This morning I dreamed I was sitting at a table with two other people, one woman and one man. The woman is a clergy person I know in waking life; the man I do not, but for some reason this morning I am thinking he might be a priest. We seem to be playing some sort of game. Each of us has a piece of paper with "Come, Thou Almighty King," written on it. There are other words I cannot read (maybe the lyrics to this hymn?), and some drawings including one of a solitary king who is standing. We each place our paper on top of one another, as you would in a simple card game.  I am left with one piece of paper that has a drawing of a beautiful loaf of bread. I am wanting to "play" this card, but the man gets up and leaves before he takes his second turn. I believe I need to wait for him to return. I do not want to move out of turn. 

I woke thinking, "Christ comes not as a king, but as bread waiting to be broken."  
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.   
Luke 24:30-31 
How can you sing if your mouth be filled with food? 
How shall your hand be raised in blessing 
if it is filled with gold? 
Kahlil Gibran 


Monday, July 4, 2016

A Prayer

Where The Mind Is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.


Rabindranath Tagore ​ 


Sunday, July 3, 2016


With you is the source of life, O God. 
You are the beginning of all that is. 
From your life the fire of the rising 
sun streams forth. 
You are the life-flow of creation's rivers, 
the sap of blood in our veins.  
Sounds of the Eternal 
J. Philip Newell    
Blessings to you all this 4th of July.  I like these quiet bits of God's glory.  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Psalm 50

My used paperback edition of Rejoice, Beloved Woman!by Barbara J. Monda has arrived. I have not yet delved deeply into ​this rendition of the psalms, but in the book, I found a lime green index card between Psalm 50 and Psalm 51. On it is written, "She challenges us to keep our word to her."  This is the only sign that book had a previous owner.  It seems an excellent place to start.  
Psalm 50 is truly about keeping our promises. In Monda's rendition, the Psalm is addressed to Binah, Hebrew for Understanding.  In Proverbs 8 we hear the female voices of Wisdom and Understanding calling out to us. If we do not respond to and with Wisdom (Chokmah) and Understanding (Binah) humans cause much grief and destruction to God's good creation and to one another.  Unless we embrace them, we can never be good stewards.  While I have a sense of Binah in the night as well as the day, Monda is keeping close the more traditional translations of this psalm. 
I came across the photograph in a draft of an email never sent.  It reminds me of the beauty of prayer. Psalm 50 reminds me that my prayers need to be reflected in how I live my life.   
Binah, Mother of all Creation, works in the world from sunrise to sunset. 
She shines out of her holy places resplendent with incomparable beauty. 
She comes forth heralded by raging storms and lightning. 
She calls her people to her presence, 
gathering them close to her. 

She speaks to them: 
 I have no need of your sacrifices. All the world is mine, 
the forest creatures and those grazing in grasses. 
All birds are known by me as is every small creature of the field. 
They are all my children.
Hungry, I would not ask you for nourishment, for it is mine. 
Your sacrifices I do not need either. 
Rather, keep your word to me.   
Ask me for help, and when I give it you, then praise me. 
Do not quote the law and then turn your back to me 
when I speak to you. 
For what purpose is knowledge of the law if you make friends
with those who steal another's mates or possessions?
My silence does not mean I approve if you are always 
finding fault with your family or if your words 
hurt your neighbor. 
I will confront you so you know how your acts indict you,
lest in your self-satisfaction you withdraw  
even further from rightness. 
If I left you, what would you have? Thank me and honor my name.
The ones who keep my ways I will save.