Monday, April 30, 2018

Psalm 92

Though chaos rules on the surface, 
in the depths all becomes law. 
from Psalm 92, A Book of Psalms
Stephen Mitchell 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Upon Awaking

I wake from a dream I do not remember,
But I know I heard these words:
"And God turned them into love."
I am happy.

"I put my hope in your words."
Psalm 119:147


Tuesday, April 24, 2018


A faith community recently asked me to talk about what it means for a church to be part of the United Church of Christ. That request sent me to some of my history and polity textbooks, and I enjoyed the excursion. In one text I found a folded up email dated October 4, 2007.  The email included a Mary Oliver poem, "When I Am Among the Trees."  The reminder to bow often is always timely. In my journey with the old old ones, I often stand under the canopy of their quietude. At times, we simply bow to one another. I think that may be the deepest lesson that I have learned from the ministry that is SpiritCare - that at times people really do not need my words, but showing up respectfully can sometimes be of use.  

I shall try to go easy into this day. 
When I am among the trees, 
especially the willows and the honey locust, 
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, 
they give off such hints of gladness, 
I would almost say that the save me, and daily. 
I am so distant from the hope of myself, 
in which I have goodness, and discernment, 
and never hurry through the world 
but walk slowly, and bow often. 
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile." 
The light flows from their branches. 
And they call again, "It's simple," they say, 
"and you too have come 
into this world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."      


Tuesday, April 10, 2018


In her lovely book, To Pause at the Threshold, Esther de Waal writes:

The Rev. Francis Kilvert, the nineteenth-century country parson and diarist who lived here in the Welsh borders, came to know his people and their local traditions well. In one of his parishes, he was told the people used to gather on Easter morning "to see the sun dance and play in the water and the angels who were at the Resurrection playing backwards and forwards before the sun." They were not serving any useful purpose, as the local poet Ruth Bidgood tells us in her poem "Resurrection Angels," they were not there for healing, they were at play - and in their dancing and playing they touched  something in each of the onlookers: 

To and fro went the wings, to and fro 
over the waters playing before the sun.
The people had no words to tell 
the astonishment, the individual bounty -
for each his own dance in his veins,  
brush of wings on the soul.    

The photograph was taken in the yard of a house that is being emptied. As I gazed upon this blossom, I felt I was looking at a hint of what one might see when passing from this world. I also discovered that two men were also present. They were not immediately visible because they were sorting through a large refuse bin, searching for usable scrap. We were startled by the sighting of one another; each of us was focused with the task at hand. We greeted one another with laughter.  The iris simply bloomed on, seemingly content to be  living between the ground and the sun.  

Friday, April 6, 2018

Psalm 90

When I arrived in the skilled nursing community, I learned that Ruth died last week.  I met her when I first started with the ministry, so she had been living in this community for over ten years. She had no use of her body from the waist down. That frustrated her, but I think that what frustrated her even more was that she really wanted to live her remaining days and nights in a community dedicated to Christ. She was a no-nonsense Southern Baptist from Arkansas, and I liked and admired her so much. I am grateful we grew close. Her love of the One she call Lord was steadfast and inspiring.  I shall miss her, but I am happy that for few minutes each month, we created sanctuary with and for her so she could set her burdens down for awhile, and simply be.   
The refurbishing that this community has undertaken is bearing some good fruit. The colors that they have chosen are pleasing, and I think that is really important for any kind of healing to take place. Some patients are recovering from illness and surgeries, but those who have dementia are also present.  Such a disparity of conditions is not easy for the staff. Irene repeats phrases almost continually, and that day the phrase was "Help me." I think wherever we worship, whether in an activity room or a cathedral, someone is silently repeating that prayer. It was moving to hear the chant out loud (It is important to note that I believe this woman is physically well tended to.)    
After we celebrated the Eucharist, we sang one verse of Jerry Sinclair's "Alleluia." That changed Irene's chant, and she continued to sing that one word after the rest of us had concluded. She may or may not have known what she was singing, but regardless the effect on those gathered, including the activity director, was noticeable.  The room seemed to relax, and the director looked at me, smiled, nodded her head, and mouthed a thank you.  The alleluias continued.   
Each of us can succumb to repetitiveness, especially complaints. Irene, Ruth, and so many others remind me that anyone can, and will make a difference in the lives of others. Let us tend to our alleluias and share them liberally. Hopefully, we can help lighten, not add to the burdens of those around us. That will make for a beautiful song. 

So teach us now the limit of our days, 
that we may give our hearts to wisdom's voice. 
And turn a gracious face towards us, 
for we are here on earth to serve. 
Each morning let us rise 
to eat compassion's bread. 
And even in the midst of dread, 
and years of deepest pain, 
make us glad for these. 
For there especially you are ever present as the guide. 
You show us secret splendors through your works and ways, 
You teach our hands new crafts, 
new handiwork through these. 
So may this grace, this graciousness be ours, 
and rest upon us now and evermore we pray. 
Psalm 90:12-17
 Ancient Songs Sung Anew 
Lynn C. Bauman    


Thursday, April 5, 2018


"The night will give you a horizon wider than you can see." 
David Whyte 

Now that the sky has grown overcast once more,
the mocking bird that had been driven by 
the bright moon to sing his never ending songs 
through the night  
grows quiet once more.  
I am grateful.  
His copious copying was becoming mine, 
and I worried that I would neither sleep 
nor like mocking birds 
ever again.  
Even bright moons were becoming suspect.  
I do not know why, 
but I think of my dreams of a dark church where I 
can never find my place. 
Where to sit? Where to stand? Is there even room?
Once I opened a door 
that revealed a space filled with barren light
 so bright 
that my eyes panicked.  
I could not stay.  
 I still wince at the thought. 
I still feel the shutting of that door. 
Yet, there has been a more recent dream. 
I find my way in time 
for Communion. 
The smiling pastor in her long 
white robe offers the wafer, 
 and welcomes me, 
noting I have been gone for awhile. 
Enough light, 
I find my place.

This morning I give thanks for the gray sky
and the silence of a resting mocking bird. 

I am glad to be home.   
SAY, April 2018
Photograph, April 2016