Thursday, December 28, 2017


"A pilgrim is one who stays on the journey." 
John Main  
Good words to hold on to as we move into 2018.  The turning of the years actually matter little to me, but they are landmarks and guideposts that our society seems to need to function.  Yet, let us remember that God's love is timeless, and it is in and into that eternity we travel. 
Tyler and I spent the last few days with family and some friends we have not seen in many a year.  There was laughter, feasting, and heartfelt conversations. This morning, I woke this morning thinking of St. Paul's encouragement to clothe ourselves in Christ, and "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body. And be thankful."   
I am indeed. I do believe Jesus sat at our long table this week.   
*Colossians 3:15 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Sweet Darkness

In a recent Facebook post, Parker Palmer shared this poem by David Whyte.  I think it is one of his finest.  Sometimes it is not easy to trust the darkness, but we are reminded in Psalm 139:12 that in God even the darkness is not dark. Let us take courage and trust that whatever darkness we must journey through, enough light is there. 

Yesterday I sat with a retired medical doctor who is in deep mourning. He so misses his beloved who has recently passed.  He told me that the night before he had gone on an excursion with others to view Christmas lights.  No, he really did not enjoy them, but he felt he needed to go out and be with others. I said I was glad he did. It then came to me  that maybe mourning is like any physical illness.  We take a few steps to help get our strength back.  And then we must rest.  It is not enjoyable, and even hurts. But we try again. We do grow stronger, but not all at once. Eventually, noticeable healing happens and joy can surface once more. 
He thought for a moment, then nodded his head, and said, "Yes. That makes sense."  Faith arises.      

Solstice Blessings to all. Trust your light.  

When your eyes are tired
 the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone,
 no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
 where the night has eyes
 to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
 you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home

The night will give you a horizon
 further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
 The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
 except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
 confinement of your aloneness
 to learn

anything or anyone
 that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.​   
David Whyte
Photograph was taken in Sunol in December, 2017.  I love this tree. It lives by a small creek that runs behind Little Brown Church.  A light shines in both.​

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Psalm 76

"At last we saw God's glory;
how beautiful you are, 
Your majesty like mountains
rising to the sky."  
Psalm 76:4 
Ancient Songs Sung Anew, 
Lynn C. Baumann 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Psalm 75

If St. Benedict and his monks did indeed make their way through the entire Psalter every week, I think he might be rather unimpressed that I am just now reaching the half-way mark.  Nonetheless, here we are!   
I have learned that Psalm 75 is actually a song of justice to be read as call and response. Even with all my personal shortcomings, I do at times take refuge in the image of God as judge. I find it gives me patience.     
More singing and less boasting.  People raising their heads instead of hiding in the shadows.  Less boasting means less fear. Worth remembering as we try to discern the truth of our times. 
It is to you, O God, we give our thanks and offer up our praise. 
We speak of all you are and do, 
and call out in your name.
God answers back, and says, 'A time is coming to this world
when I shall be the judge, 
and I shall take what is and align it to the good. 
And though the leaders, and their lands be full of fear and dread, 
I will make its pillars sure and deep, and its foundations firm. 
To those who boast, I'll say, close up your mouths 
and boast no more, 
quit your staggering pride and bend your heads.' 
For justice comes and will be done on earth from East to West, 
and not a little here or something there, 
but everyone the same, in full. 
So I will sing this song in praise, 
to the judge high over all, 
For the necks of those that will not bend in pride will break, 
but those who walk the path of right-relatedness, 
will lift their joyous heads.      
Psalm 75, Psalms for Praying, abridged 
Lynn C. Bauman


Friday, December 15, 2017

Psalm 74

Come, O Beloved, counsel me with love; 
In your mercy, direct me once again 
before fear destroys me and 
leads me far astray. 
O Companioning Presence, 
make your home in my heart.      
Psalm 74, Psalms for Praying, Nan C. Merrill    


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Psalm 73

When I arrived on the Memory Care floor, the caring, but incessantly busy activity director introduced me to Elizabeth, a woman she described as "very spiritual."  Elizabeth smiled and asked, "What is your role here?" I responded that I simply came as a friend. She looked at me for a moment or two and then replied, "Yes, I believe that is the truth." We then talked for a few minutes about her childhood, her deep Catholic faith, and the Mercy Center's beautiful Taize services.    
However, our conversation was interrupted by an increasing bustle going on around us.  The bus driver was heroically trying to gather the residents into a cohesive group for an afternoon outing. Walter walked up to me and asked, "Are you going to represent these people?"  Again, I claimed my role simply as as friend. He thought for a moment and then agreed that friendship was the best course of action.  
Walter is highly intelligent and seems to care deeply about the people around him. I have not yet been able to glean what he did in his professional life. At one point he told me he worked for the government.  The bus driver, a very lively young man, called out to Walter saying, "We have been given the day off! Let's go for a drive!" Walter was not certain, but I encouraged him to go for it was a lovely day and not too hot. Fortunately for the now slightly harried driver and his continually shifting group, Walter came to the conclusion that the trip was the best course of action.
 Walter looks so much like a colleague of mine that I have a hard time concentrating on all the important topics he tries so hard to discuss.  When he speaks, his words and thoughts take off and quickly increase in momentum, enough to overwhelm him and whomever he is talking to. At that point I simply take his hand and we breathe together. For a moment, worry and concern dissolve, and there is peace. 
In my prayer I said, "God is good to all whose hearts are open and awake." 
But as I said these words I nearly fell; 
my own feet slipped and I was stumbling on the path of life.
So it is good for me to stay near you, my God, 
to make your sheltering presence my safe abode.
And as I walk forth from my place on earth, 
I'll declare your secret, hidden works and words, 
And at the gates of after-life, in Zion's realm, 
I'll carry them as talisman and far beyond. 
Psalm 73, abridged, Ancient Songs Sung Anew, 
Lynn C. Bauman 

Saturday, December 9, 2017


Generally once a year, sometime in January or February, I will get bronchitis and lose my voice. Since it is now only the beginning of December, I was  surprised that on Monday I had a cough and no voice. Bronchitis does not seem to take into account that the time for singing carols in long-term care communities is now. My voice is inching its way back, but while one can make do with a raspy voice for speaking, the singing voice is slow to regenerate. 
Fortunately, a beautiful book also arrived this week, and I have been able to take some time to savor it. The title is A Blessing of Bread, the many rich traditions of Jewish bread baking around the world by Maggie Gleezer.  Like all cookbooks I love, it weaves recipes, suggestions, and touching stories of families and communities. 
Here in the Bay Area, as long as one can afford it, there is access to a  wide variety of foods from many cultures.  If you are even more affluent, you can feast on delicacies prepared with an eye focused on uniqueness and perfection.  The quest to sample the newest culinary achievements interests me less and less. Yet, I very much appreciate food cooked and shared from a sense of tradition and love. Such heartfelt cooking can help us put down roots in a lifestyle that is constantly on the move. It also teaches us frugality which can foster a sense of the sacredness of life. To cook and eat is sacramental. This is true whether you come to a table centered with a beautifully woven challah, a stack of fresh tortillas, a pan of cornbread, or a bowl of noodles.  This is communion. At the Christian Communion table, we hear Jesus (revealing his Jewish roots), asking us to remember as bread is broken. To remember what was given up.  What was sacrificed. Who and what was, and is loved.    
One of the most poignant stories in this book is a reflection attributed to Helen Spiegel. She remembers visiting her grandparents who lived in Bamberg Germany.  It was a time when everyone would prepare the berches dough (challah made with potato and no eggs), and then would take the their dough to the local baker.  Women could have some time to walk together and talk, and the children would play.  The dough would be dropped off,  and in about three hours the cooks and the children would return and pick up the beautiful braided loaves.   
"It was a very, very nice custom. And it lasted till about 1934, and then the Jewish people couldn't come to the bakery anymore for the baking, because the baker was forbidden to do this."  Much worse was on the horizon. Wars, greed, adventures, and disasters can break up families and communities, dispersing the people across land and seas.  Yet, when we can hold on to a few food traditions, making adaptions as needed, we can remember who we are to whom we belong.    
As I write this, I am saddened and concerned that there are still voices in our nation and the world calling for separation, segregation, and destruction. Yet, a few days ago, I saw this handmade sign in a window, and I felt encouraged by a young artist wanting the voice of love to be heard.  I also was re-united with a beautiful Advent prayer and I include that as well. This morning I will bake bread to take to a memorial service. We will remember for we are human; we are community, and we love.    
Thou shalt know Him 
when He comes
not by any din of drums
nor his manners, nor his airs
nor by anything he wears...
For His presence known shall be 
by the holy harmony 
that His coming makes in thee.  
15th Century Advent Poem/Evensong 
Thin Places, Westminster Presbyterian Church
Minneapolis, MN  

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Feast of St. Nicholas

In silence 
learn to give of yourself 
forgive others 
live with gratitude.
Then, you need not seek peace 
peace will find you.
Lumen Christi
Nan C. Merrill    

Friday, December 1, 2017

Psalm 72

This morning I have apples stewing on the stove. Last night I cooked an old-fashioned stew of potatoes and green beans. I added some matzo balls just because I love them.  I do love cooking in the fall and winter, and lately, I have been able to return to a prayer that deeply feeds my life; the prayer of baking a little something on Sunday to take to church. When I can do that regularly, my rhythm in the kitchen changes. When my rhythm in the kitchen changes, so does my life.  
Psalm 72 is a psalm for a king. While I certainly do not see the one who was elected as a "Messiah-King", I can pray this psalm for him. 
Lord, give a deep-felt sense of justice to the Messiah-King, 
an awareness of the sustaining balances of the the world. 
And this I pray so the people will be ruled on earth with equity, 
and all the poor will no longer suffer pain. 
I pray that from the mountain tops to the foundations of the earth 
prosperity will come to peoples everywhere, 
and from the foothills there shall flow a source of peace.
And may his acts defend the desperate, needy ones, 
and crushing out oppression, rescue all the poor. 
May it never be the mighty ones whom he hears first, 
but the poor and needy of the earth. 
All helpless ones and those alone, 
and all who cry in desperation and are oppressed, 
May he truly care for lowly ones 
and hold the life of each one dear. 
May he take those broken 
by our violence and make them new again.
And may all the blood that's ever shed 
in waste become for him a hallowed thing, 
and every life deemed precious and a sacred good.    
Psalm 72, abridged 
Ancient Songs Sung Anew 
Lynn C. Bauman