Thursday, December 29, 2011

So long 2011

Good-bye 2011 - Good-bye Stonecreek Statuary -
Hard to believe we went from this.....

To this morning's view....
Husband David is walking towards the last 2 items to be delivered....
Life is always about change....And though it's sad to see it close,
We look forward to what 2012 may bring.

May we come to accept all that has come our way this past year,
as we remain open to all the new paths that God sets before us in 2012.

Love you all! 

a joyful and arduous journey


As you recall from yesterday's post, our wise men are in a bit of a funk.
I left them with 100 Graces as it is a smallish book perfectly suited
for smallish readers.

Me:  So, have you found any words of wisdom in this book?

Wiseman #3:  We believe that this writing by Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB,
 was written just for us. We have read, meditated on, and discussed it all day. 

Me:  And may I ask what you have learned?

Wiseman #2:  We are drawn to the second paragraph.  Would you like us to read it?

Me:  Yes please. That would be lovely.

Wiseman #1:  "It is both a joyful and arduous journey.  Sometimes the star shines
brightly, the promise seems certain, and the pilgrims can sing,
"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring God's peace." 
Often the star disappears, clouded over, hidden from view,
 and the pilgrims grope blindly, grow discouraged, get weary, give thought
to settling down, to forgetting the promise of peace."

Me:  Ahhh, this speaks to the "both/and" aspect of our spiritual journeys.

Wiseman#3:  Yes, in the past we have felt so certain of our calling. 
We were overjoyed to follow the star.
But this year we know that we have grown discouraged, and have given
thought to settling down right here on this shelf. 

Me:  Well there's nothing wrong with living here on this shelf - 
unless God is calling you to move towards something else. 
Are you being called?

Wiseman #1:  We're not sure because we really haven't spent any time reflecting on our calling or listening for the whisper of God. 
We are sad to say that we focused entirely on keeping our gifts safe -
especially in the face of these tough economic times. 
The leprechaun advised us to keep them close to our hearts.

Me:  What did I tell you about trusting leprechauns who horde gold?  

Wiseman #3:  We know but he convinced us that we should hold on to our gifts.

Me:  How hard can that be when they are attached to your hands?

Wiseman#2:  Your sense of humor is once again teetering on cruelty....

Me:  I know, I know...sometimes I just can't help myself....I apologize.  
 I have an idea that I think might help. 
It involves your seeing how you are connected to other wise ones. 
Tomorrow we will talk again, but before I go,  
can you read the last paragraph to me?

Wiseman #1: "One thing is certain:  All pilgrims need nourishment to sustain the journey.
An occasional oasis for the spirit is essential, a time to feast on the refreshing waters,
the rich food of the spirit, in order to get strength to continue the pilgrimage
through darkness, star-shine or not."

Me:  Oh, those are beautiful words.  I'll leave you to ponder those.
Good Night my little leprechaun lovers!



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

They're back (the wise ones, that is)

'Twas 3 days after Xmas, and all through the house,
there were shouts of glee because Bethany had
finally transferred most of my files from my
"almost dead" computer to my new one:)
So now I'm able to bring you the latest adventures
of the Wise Men.  And if you are not familiar with their previous
 adventures, I invite you to click here to read all about them.

And yes, they are STILL here.  I thought they had left for
the Holy Land last week so I was surprised to see them
on their bathroom shelf this morning.  I have to admit,
they have been in quite the funk for the past few months.
They tell me it's because of the world wide recession but I know
it's because of all the time they have spent with that leprechaun
they've been sharing their bathroom shelf with since March. 

Me:  So why are you guys still here?  Didn't you see the star
shining in the night with the tail as big as a kite?

WM#1:  Yes we saw it but Laddy (the Leprechaun) told us that
we should let some other wise ones visit the Christ child this year. 
After all, why should we always be the one ones who share our gifts? 

Me: You share your gifts because that is what God created you to do.
Wow...you really have been influenced by Laddy.  Haven't I
told you not to trust him?  Just look at that smirk on his face.  All
he cares about is his pile of gold. Not only is he not interested in
sharing it with you, he wants your gifts  too!  Good thing your gifts
 are attached to your arms or they would be in his pile by now!

WM#2: Dearest landlady, is there any conversation during which
you do NOT mention our affliction?  We do have feelings you know.

Me:  I'm terribly sorry.  I forget that you can be quite sensitive about that.  
Please accept my apologies.  In the meantime, I will remove Laddy
from the sill, which I should have done long ago.  Tomorrow we'll have a
 real conversation about your impending journey. 
 In the meantime, I've brought you new reading material.  
100 Graces.  It will help your mind and spirit settle down. 
May you find wisdom inside its pages which will enable you to recall your own story. 
You do have one you know, and it is sacred.

Good Night my wee wise men.

Friday, December 23, 2011

From 2008...

 
"The Advent mystery
is the beginning
of the end
of all in us
that is not yet
Christ."

- Thomas Merton
 
photo of Icon in Thomas Merton's hermitage
taken by Thomas Merton

Thursday, December 22, 2011

a favorite from 2009

"Advent is all about
the unexpected arrival of God."
Paul-Gordon Chandler

Incarnation happens when you least expect it!
As do polar bears arriving for din-din :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

first at the cradle

"Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were
first at the Cradle and last at the Cross.
They had never known a man like this Man -
there never has been such another.
A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them,
never flattered or coaxed or patronised:
who never made arch jokes about them...;
who rebuked without querulousness
and praised without condescension;
who took their questions and arguments seriously;
who never mapped out their sphere for them,
never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female;
who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend;
who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious.
There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel
that borrows its pungency from female perversity;
nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus
that there was anything "funny" about woman's nature."
 
(Dorothy Sayers, as quoted in the book "Freeing Theology")
 
photo from here
 
can you see the heart?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent Joy

What a crazy week this has been. 
In the midst of our Closing Business Sale at the Statuary
 and preparing for Christmas, my email was hacked
(due to my never having changed the password in all these many years)
and my bank cash card pin was also hacked.
Coincidence?  Who knows?  So I had no access to my email
 or my bank account for several days - and life went on!!!
But all is well now and here we are in the middle of
the Fourth Week of Advent.  Can you believe it? 
I've given up on any semblance of normal posting and instead plan
on posting some of my favorite posts from the past 4 years....Enjoy!
This one is from 2008.
 
"Mary and Elizabeth.
Together with child,
they both feel the joy of the Lord,
rejoicing in the great things He's done for them-
In the things He will do for the world..."

Artist: "Susan" from Polk Co. WI
found
here
 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent womb

"We wait in the darkness, expectantly, longingly, anxiously, thoughtfully.
The darkness is our friend.
In the darkness of the womb we have all been nurtured and protected.
In the darkness of the womb,
the Christ-child was made ready for the journey into light.
You are with us, O God, in darkness and light."
 
first stanza of a prayer from the
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand (adapted)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Halfway through Advent

Where has the time gone? 
We are halfway through our season of waiting -
with tomorrow being the 3rd Sunday of Advent! 
(Or Gaudate Sunday as it used to be called which in Latin means "to rejoice." )
This is the time of God coming to us!  Of God being "with us." 
And we wait in such anticipation!
Which reminds me of a story that  I heard Megan McKenna tell once
about a wise little boy ...here is my paraphrase: 
 
A little boy was at home playing with his toys, below an old grandfather clock
that had been in his family for generations.  It chimed every quarter hour and
would strike at every hour.  But just then the clock jammed and it struck 11 o'clock,
and then 12 o'clock, and then 13 o'clock, 14 o'clock and 15 o'clock.
The little boy, who had been practicing his counting, was amazed at what the clock
was doing. He jumped up, ran to his parents in the other room and said:
"Listen! It's later than it's ever been before!"
 
Indeed!
 
May we fill these last 2 weeks of Advent with joyful preparation
for the coming of Jesus!
 
photo is of my grandchildren, Lydia and David, making their Advent wreaths at
our recent Advent Festival at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Port Townsend, WA
 

Friday, December 9, 2011

on the way to Bethlehem...

Yesterday's Pain
 "Some of us walk into Advent
tethered to our unresolved yesterdays
the pain still stabbing
the hurt still throbbing.
It's not that we don't know better;
it's just that we can't stand up anymore by ourselves.
On the way to Bethlehem,
will you give us a hand?"
 
Ann Weems, from her book,
copyright 1980, Westminster Press

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mary of the Sign


Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception,
which has been celebrated as far back as the 7th century
and celebrates the conception of Mary in her mother Anne's womb.
 
As we count down the days until the birth of Christ,
let us honor Mary through this icon (and what, in an ancient yet modern way,
resembles an ultrasound of the child she carried!)
The following piece is from  the December issue of
Contemplative Outreach News
which you can read in its entirety here.

Mary of the Sign
Mary stands square to the viewer, her poised
stillness or silent constant prayer is noted in
the hands, palms extended outward in total
surrender to what has been given. Mary clutches
and yearns for nothing. In early icons Mary was
portrayed as the Burning Bush and Christ the
fire that burns within. She is represented as the
divine vessel of burning love. She knows
and loves Him even before His birth.
 
The orb containing this revelation rests within her
being, Christ surrounded in gold, symbolizing
the totality of God without image. Christ is
holding a tiny scroll, a symbol of the Scripture
being fulfilled in Him and later to be filled in
each and every one of us. Christ is our interior
teacher, guide master, and rabbi. The icon’s
theology is the link between the Jewish tradition
and the new understanding of Christ.
 
“The Lord Himself will give you a sign, behold a
young woman shall conceive and bear a child
and his name will be Emmanuel.” - Isaiah 7:14.
 
Excerpt taken from The Mary Collection 2008
by Mary Jane Miller. To see more work done by
Mary Jane Miller, go to:
 
 
click here to see Mary Jane Miller's icon of Mary of the Sign.
it is stunning!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Life is a constant Advent...

 
"Life is a constant Advent season:
we are continually waiting to become, to discover, to complete, to fulfill.
Hope, struggle, fear, expectation and fulfillment are all part of our Advent experience.
The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be.
But the coming of Christ and his presence among us—as one of us
gives us reason to live in hope:
that light will shatter the darkness,
that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices,
that we are never alone or abandoned.
May this Advent season be a time for bringing
hope, transformation and fulfillment into the Advent of our lives."
from Seed Sown, Theme & Reflections on the Sunday Lectionary Reading by Jay Cormier

Monday, December 5, 2011

2nd Sunday in Advent, 2011

Yesterday we celebrated the Second Sunday of Advent. 
Two candles of the four are now lit, bringing a bit more light into the darkness.  
Isn't this Advent wreath a thing of beauty? 
I'm drawn to both the earthy textures and desert-like colors.
Which brings me to John the Baptist, the voice crying in the wilderness.
The forerunner to the Messiah, who prepared His way.
He was earthy to the max, wasn't he?
 With his rough clothing, austere diet, and calls for repentance.
I have lifted the following quote from a website
that I look forward to receiving every week:
The Edge of Enclosure.  Do check it out here.
And as you light your second candle, consider the pairing of our loneliness,
our desert experiences of life, with the river of life
that the Christ child will bring and fill us with in this season
so that we might offer such a love to those who, like us,
are also wandering in the wilderness. 
***
"Our brokenness is the wound through which
the full power of God can penetrate our being and transfigure us in God.
Loneliness is not something from which we must flee
but the place from where we can cry out to God,
where God will find us and we can find God.
Yes, through our wounds the power of God can penetrate us
and become like rivers of living water to irrigate the arid earth within us.
Thus we may irrigate the arid earth of others, so that hope and love are reborn."
-Jean Vanier
The Broken Body
1988 Paulist Press
quoted from An Advent Sourcebook (LTP)


the photo of the Advent table decoration is from here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

chorus of gratitude


And now for the final segment of Christine Hemp's 'Prayers of the People'
which were read on the First Sunday of Advent 2011
"Finally, Lord, we offer you a chorus of gratitude.
Even when we are grouchy and sad, confused and agitated,
you cup us in your hands.
For we are the clay and you the potter. And oh! what shapes you have made!
We thank you for our bodies, our families, our animals and friends.
The wilderness and the cities and the lights that never go out.
For the trails and the trees, the parties and the silence.
For that which is just around the corner.
And, of course, for the corner of Tyler and Jefferson
where we pray this very moment.
With you at the center of this blessed St. Paul’s family,
unbridled love can’t help itself: See it now?
Spilling from our hearts? Seeping out over the kneelers?
The pews? Beyond the narthex and out the door?

With jubilation that cannot be contained,
thank you for the feasts and celebrations we share.
Continue to show us the light of your face!"
 
visit Christine's website here
 

Friday, December 2, 2011

like stars falling...


here is the next segment of Christine Hemp's 'Prayers of the People'...
"You ask us to stay awake, Lord, and we are trying.
Sometimes it’s not so easy.
Please tip our ear toward your song so we know you are always available,
no matter where we are:  shopping, baking, meeting, planning.
Balancing our checkbooks, sending an email, or trying to find a parking place.
And, when liturgical life itself seems like a stern master,
remind us that structure is only meant to keep us conscious,
mindful of things larger than “holidays” and empty phrases.
Help us to move toward your birth and your coming again
with the excitement we felt as children,
when we wanted to stay awake all night.

Like stars falling from the heavens, Lord,
Awaken us for your arrival, for your infinite surprise."
 
 visit Christine's website here
 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

as old seasons pass...

...here is the continuation of Christine Hemp's 'Prayers of the People'...


"Just as the old seasons pass,
we, too, will slough off our leaves and branches in the wind
and join you with the Christ. 
Until then, we pray for those who have already shed their vexations
and now celebrate the lightness of being.
Help us to trust that they, too, will help us to the next chapter of our infinite life,
showing us how easy it is to fall into your arms.
We bless them now, with love, either silently or aloud.

Though heaven and earth may pass away,
Sustain us with your word and love forever."
visit Christine's website here

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

another window to the mystery

And here is the continuation
of Christine Hemp's prayer from last Sunday.
"Since each living being is an extension of our own heart,
open our eyes to the sacred in all creation:
from the horse’s fuzzy winter coat
to the collage of needles on the forest floor;
from the juncos hop-scotching under the feeder
to the thick mud on our boots.
Each raindrop, each barren tree, each winter storm
is but another window to the mystery that is yours.

When the fire causes water to boil, Lord,
we see the power of your lungs.
Teach us to find your breath in all things, Lord,
and inhale the cloud of the Son of Man."


photo of winter storm, spider rock, nevada from here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Like the doorkeeper on watch...


Here is the next section of Christine Hemp's
Prayers of the People:

"We pray for all those humans and creatures troubled in heart, mind or body,
and those whose hunger goes beyond the belly.
We acknowledge them now either silently or aloud. 
We ask you to heft the burden of our worry,
that we may turn over to you what we cannot handle,
then roll up our sleeves to do what we can.

Like the doorkeeper on watch,
help us to be alert to your presence in those who suffer.
Keep us in your care so that we may comfort, nourish, and treasure
those who need us most."
author - Christine Hemp
photo of the doorkeeper from here

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent stars falling...

Here is section 2 of Christine Hemp's prayer.
"The psalmist says "give us life," and we echo his prayer,
trusting that every time we return to you the past is irrelevant,
the future a mirage.
May this truth guide us and those who serve your church, including our bishop,
other ministers, and our own precious clergy Elizabeth and Karen.
We pray for all who have been placed in guiding roles: 
presidents and kings; coaches and teachers; police officers and admirals;
mullahs and rabbis; lamas and chieftains.
May we all blink with amazement, Oh Creator, at how our thoughts and deeds
have power to bring others ever closer to your heat, your light.
Even when the stars fall from heaven and the powers be shaken,
Know this, Lord:  We are your people."


photo from here

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday Advent

Welcome to the First Sunday of Advent.
I've fallen in love with Christine Hemp's 'Prayers of the People'
which were read in church today.  With her permission,
I am sharing them in sections over the next several days.
Feast on these words as we enter another season of waiting.
 
"Good Morning, Lord. 
It's the first Sunday of Advent and the four winds of the new season are upon us.
Sometimes it feels as if we're being swept into events that have nothing to do with you.
We struggle to "keep up," we hurry to "get things done."
Please help us to live in the knowledge that you are the still center of the maelstrom.
Assure us that your calm and peace always occupy our deepest selves -
individually and collectively.
 
From the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven,
Restore those who look for you, Lord, each in his or her own way."
 
photo from here

Thursday, November 24, 2011

unknown territory

 
Family Enjoying Thanksgiving Dinner
at St. Anthony's Dining Room in San Francisco
This is the day on which we give thanks, and oh, do we not have so much to be thankful for?  Besides my usual litany of family and friends I want to give a special thanks to my mother and father, who in the face of bigotry and economic failure in N. Ireland, took the risk to take their 2 year old daughter to seek a better future in a new country, the United States of America.  The year was 1955 and I was two. 
Most of the time I consider that story in the knowledge that I know how it turned out - which is also how I often read the sacred story of the birth of Christ...ho hum. But upon further reflection today I realize that my parents had no idea how they would be accepted, whether there would be work, or how they would provide for their child.  There were no guarantees and yet they took this giant leap into "unknown territory."  Sound familiar?  Is that not what God is always calling us towards? 
There are many stories that have been left untold about our families and we experience new connections and compassion as new ones are  revealed.  Case in point: I just learned from my mother that upon their arrival in San Francisco, my father spent many a long and lonely day looking for any type of work with no success.  What I didn't know was that his biggest joy every day was the knowledge that he would receive a hot meal from a group of Franciscans in downtown San Francisco.  I never knew that my father was on the receiving end of such kindness.  That new knowledge has enlarged my heart towards him and towards the hands of Christ who ministered to my dad and  countless others.  The founder, Father Alfred, opened the doors to St. Anthony's Dining Room (he did not want it to be labeled a soup kitchen) on Oct. 4th, 1950 (the feast of St. Francis) and the Dining Room continues to serve on average 2600 meals a day.  I'm constantly amazed at how God's sheep weave God's grace through all of our lives. 
So when it is my turn today at the dinner table to offer what I'm grateful for, I will mention the boldness and tenacity of my parents in seeking out a better life for their family and for those Franciscan friars who took the words of Christ to heart, "Feed my sheep." 
And as we edge closer to the season of Advent, I'd ask that you consider what "unknown territory" God may be leading you toward?
Happy Thanksgiving
1956 - St. Anthony's Dining Room
"I see God as one act -
just loving, like the sun,
always shining."
- Father Alfred, founder of
St. Anthony's Dining Room

Monday, November 21, 2011

studying vs. embodying


Meet Ted Shawn,  father of modern dance,
who, after developing polio, felt called to leave
divinity school to become a dancer.
Say hello to author Mark Nepo,
who chose these words to describe Ted:
"It is compelling to realize that
studying God did not heal him.
Embodying God did."
Those are powerful and holy words.
Want more?  Check these ones out:
"...we are each challenged to open the miracle of our lives
by dancing where we are lame and
by loving where we are wounded. 
It is an astonishing thing to ask of ourselves,
and yet all our trials lead us there."
Mark Nepo, from The Exquisite Risk, p. 132
And now I have no more words...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

threaded beads

"...Just as there is one thread
And on it are woven breadthwise and lengthwise
Hundreds of thousands of beads,
So is everything woven unto the Lord."
 
- from Grantha Sahib, 2352,
by Indian poet, Nam Dev,
ca. 13th-14th century
 
these prayer beads are from
a place I encourage you to visit
to find beautiful prayer bead art
 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

a life that is my own

"I can only trust that what lies ahead will be fuller, freer than the present.
I hope for a life that is my own, that has no false chains to bind me,
that allows me to move like a butterfly, on the wind and to stand,
when necessary, like a lioness in the high grass.
I want a life that is directed by the call within myself - not by an institution,
not even by what looks like the care and concern of others."
 -Joan Chittister - from Called to Question, p.54
(thanks E+)
 photo by Gary Voth found here

Saturday, November 12, 2011

you are where?

 
"Knowing prevents seeing.
We cannot simultaneously
hold on to something from the past
and be here, fresh and open,
in this moment." 
 
-Cheri Huber, Suffering is Optional
 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

God who is Wisdom


Below is the first reading from today's service:
Wisdom is radiant and unfading,
and she is easily discerned by those who love her,
and is found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known
to those who desire her.
One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty,
for she will be found sitting at the gate.
To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding,
and one who is vigilant on her account
will soon be free from care,
because she goes about seeking those worthy of her,
and she graciously appears to them in their paths,
and meets them in every thought.
 Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16
From the
New Revised Standard Version


Wisdom appears in our paths but does not
necessarily give us specific directions...
I love that graciousness!

The above Russian icon is Sophia and her daughters,
Faith, Hope, and Love.

The image below is a Medieval mosaic of 
The Father, Sophia, and the Son