Friday, December 28, 2012

Wise Men aWakening

My wise men have been hermetically sealed in bubble wrap for the past 3 months.

Was that necessary? Well, there was really no where for them to reside in safety.

At least they had their favorite Thomas Merton book to keep them company.

And since we are moving into our new digs within the coming week I thought it best to wake them,

after all Epiphany is right around the corner!

Unfortunately I’m bringing them back on the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

This is not their favorite memory as they feel responsible for

Herod killing innocent children in an attempt to kill the Christ.

But how were they to know?




Anyway, here is today’s Collect – Let us continue to pray for the grieving families of Newtown, CT.


We remember today, O God,

the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod.

Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims;

and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants

and establish your rule of justice, love and peace;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

engaging reality



“Mystery

is an engagement

with reality

that is so deep

as to be

incomprehensible

by our minds

except through

God’s revelation.”


- Rev. Randall C.K. Day,

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Teaneck, New Jersey



lots to ponder in this one!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent Calendars!

Is it just me, or are Advent calendars becoming very popular these days? 
 Everywhere I turn I see them.  For instance,
You've got your Star Wars Advent Calendar:
 
 
And the Barbie Advent Calendar:
 
 
Let's not forget the Beer Advent Calendar:
 
 
And for all the feline fanciers out there, the Cat Advent Calendar:
 

We currently have four Advent Calendars in our home, though none of the above mentioned. 
This must make us a) obsessed with countdowns b) very into Advent,
c) your typical over-the-top consumer, or d) all of the above.

 
The first Advent calendar is one I've had for years. 
It consists of a wooden box filled with doors behind which the seeker will find 
tiny hand blown glass ornaments that are hung on a small tree. 
 This is always a hit with the little ones.
 

Our next Advent calendar has the ever popular Scandinavian Holy Family - all blondes...
notice there are several windows open:
 
 
Every year we receive the Slow Down Advent Calendar at church, which is on our back door:
Every day there is something to read and you can color on it if you so wish:
 
 
And last but definitely not least is the Trader Joe's chocolate calendar:
 
 
This one has caused some issues with Fredrick who is 2. 
 Once he discovered that there was CHOCOLATE
behind that first door he wanted to punch in all the doors.
And why not?  Why can't he just have it all?
 
 Through his 2 year old eyes he probably saw the calendar looking like this one
(which I stole from here.)
 
 
Um....it's not just 2 year olds who have trouble waiting.
I completely relate to the No Self Control Calendar.
And yet, we are called to wait.
For the birth of the holy one.
 
So no matter what kind of Advent calendar you follow,
enjoy opening one day at a time,
living in the present.
And remember this:
 
Waiting is our Advent spiritual practice.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

First Candle

 
Welcome to the Season of Advent...
We are 3 days in and I'm not quite feeling it yet...how about you? 
Maybe because waiting has become such an integral part of my life?
I'm finding that all I have energy for at this moment is in
lighting the first candle which represents hope
and just sitting in its presence. 
That is prayer in itself. 
Jesus is coming.
 
Listen to the opening of Sunday's Prayers of the People,
written by Christine Hemp:
 
"We have lit the first candle, Lord.
Green has turned into purple,
and we begin our walk toward Christmas.
Startle us into seeing the journey afresh this year.
Open our eyes to the sun and the moon and the stars
and what Jesus really meant when he told us to pay attention.
Help us to see you face-to-face and restore what is lacking in our faith,
in our vision of who you are and how you reveal yourself to us.
Give us eyes to see and ears to hear."
 
from Prayers of the People for the First Sunday of Advent
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Port Townsend, WA
Author:  Christine Hemp
 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Growth means Change

 
People have asked, “Whatever happened to Roberta?” Well, I am still here! I find lots of wonderful things to post but never quite get around to actually putting them on my blog. This in part is due to my scattered sense of self as I continue to grasp all the changes my husband and I have recently gone through with our business, our family and our dreams.

Last Thanksgiving we were struggling with the idea of closing our business, dissolving a partnership, familial estrangement and the panic that comes with drowning in debt. That was one year ago. What looked hopeless in our eyes was not. So during this Thanksgiving meal we expressed our gratitude for all that has happened since that last Thanksgiving:

In January we closed the statuary, and the world did not end. It was actually a relief. Then we sold our house after 5 years on and off the market. This was a relief, both emotionally and financially. And because we are not quite sure how we want to live (i.e. move into a house, buy a 5th wheel, etc.) we chose to accept our daughter Faith’s invitation to move in with her family. Talk about downsizing! We are now in the process of paying down debt, and waiting for whatever is next…..

But as often happens, life happens as you wait….and a fine life it is! David is working less and spending more weekends at home (which is a very good thing) and I am working more. I’m enjoying the C.N.A. life skill classes I teach at the college, and the sacred time I spend with my Spiritual Directees. I’m slowly edging away from my role as Director of Spiritual Formation at St. Paul’s as I have recently taken on the position of part-time Chaplain for Assured Hospice here in Sequim! I was not expecting this. But then again, one never expects the gifts God brings. I have so much to learn and look forward to more growth…and we especially give thanks for our recent reconnection with our estranged family members.

As for the blog, I will be posting Advent reflections (which start next week) and of course the Wise Men will be making their annual appearance. They have been with me through all the changes and they too have had to deal with changes – like losing their home on their shelf…you know what whiners they can be!

In the meantime, know that I think of all of you….every day….and am grateful for such wonderful people in my life….May we all be at peace with our own souls….and with one another….


Roberta

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

room for waiting

 
“A waiting person is a patient person.
The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are
and live the situation out to the full in the belief
that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen

this photo of a mural at a community health center waiting room from the west side of Chicago is from here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Triduum


Every year, our “Fall Triduum” of All Hallow’s, All Saints, and All Souls

becomes more precious to me as each one focuses my attention on how connected we are

to not only those who are alive, but to all those who have gone before us –

relatives, friends, enemies, muses,(i.e. the communion of saints.)


Yesterday we celebrated All Saints Sunday

with one of the most “thin place” services of the year –

the one in which we commemorate all the saints

by posting their names on the walls of the sanctuary.
+++

Whether they are from long ago....

(Saint Leontia)


Or more recently...

(Jill Cooper, a friend)



Or a close relative like my father,

(Kenneth)


Or even the name of a woman

who has the same name of my

own mother who is still alive!


(Ok, I have to admit,

it was pretty weird to see

my mother on the wall)...



What wasn’t weird or strange was the feeling of their presence in the room with us.

What the Celts call a “thin place”

All of us together. In one place.

One very “thin” place.


These 3 days are as intertwined as a Celtic Knot.


With themes of death and resurrection,

we are reminded that there is no beginning or ending to our souls.

We move and have our being in a continuous flow of God’s love,

knowing that we are always in the presence of God.

 


“Beannacht De le hanama na marbh

(The blessing of God on the souls of the dead.)

Ta siad imithe ar shli na firinne

(They are gone on the way of truth.”)


Irish Blessing



So until it is our time to join all those saints who have gone before us on the way of truth,

may we continue to enjoy their presence, and

walk in love, seeking and serving Christ in all we meet today.



(last photo is of Fall colors outside the Columbarium at St. Paul’s)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jesus fell off his Cross!


My daughter texted me yesterday from her car with this picture and message:


“Jesus fell off his cross! I need a new one!”


And what would the proper response be to such a statement?


“So sorry to hear the news” or “Well done Jesus!”

but instead I said,

“So where did he land?”


“In the console” she replied.


“Is he ok?” I asked.


“Not really. He broke his arm in the fall.”


This was accompanied by another photo:
 

“So can you re-attach his arm?”
I said.


“I’ve tried that before Mom. He just doesn’t seem to want to stay put. 
Once when I was driving along, I looked down and saw him looking up at me on my leg.
So I glued him back on. But now that his arm is broken, I don’t think that’s going to work.”


As my head filled with the theological implications of Jesus not remaining on the cross,
or of replacing a broken Jesus who was broken for us on said cross,
or of Jesus not desiring to ‘stay put’, even with glue applied,
I considered the worthiness of turning this into yet another one
of my spiritual analogies about God’s desire to draw closer to my daughter.

I thought back over all the years of my telling Jesus stories to my kids and their less than enthusiastic response,
and decided not to read too much into it.


“So what do you think Mom?” she asked.


“I think Jesus wants you to SLOW DOWN. You can’t be sure that he didn’t just try to JUMP to safety.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Celebrate St. Francis Day

 

 
During group this morning we looked at the following prayer
from the book, "Prayers for Healing"  edited by Maggie Oman
 and since this is the Feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi let us
remember all the creatures, both past and present,
that God has so lovingly created. 
Let us also remember and be thankful for all who devote
their lives to caring for our friends, the animals.
 
"Hear our humble prayer, O God,
for our friends the animals,
thy creatures.
We pray especially for all that are suffering in any way;
for the overworked and underfed,
the hunted, lost or hungry;
for all in captivity or ill-treated,
and for those who must be put to death.
 
We entreat for them Thy mercy and pity;
and for those who deal with them we ask
a heart of compassion,
gentle hands and kindly words.
 
Make us all to be true friends to animals."
 
- Christian, date unknown
 
Here is the link for the Humane Society website in the
picture above.
 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Moving On...

I have internet!  Finally!  I love my ipad and iphone but I'm most comfortable with my desktop computer. I enjoy the feel of the keys (instead of a screen) under my fingers. 

 
 




The past month has been all about moving out of our home.  As you can see from the photos all traces of our life have been removed. Such a long process deciding what to keep, what to toss, what to sell and what to give away.   But as I took that final walkthrough, I could almost feel the house aching from the change.  After all, it was built to contain our belongings, to protect our family, and to be a shelter for our stories.  As we move on our house is waiting for its second inhabitants....and it will be comforted by living into its purpose - to be a home.....As for us?  We too look forward to stepping over the next threshold....May we remain open to the possibilities before us....


"We look with uncertainty
Beyond the old choices for
Clear-cut answers
To a softer, more permeable aliveness
Which is every moment
At the brink of death;
For something new is being born in us
If we but let it.
 
We stand at a new doorway,
Awaiting that which comes...
Daring to be human creatures,
Vulnerable to the beauty of existence.
Learning to love."
 
- Anne Hillman

Friday, September 7, 2012

keep it moving!

I'm sure by now you've seen this heart-wrenching video of a mother duck and her babies crossing a major highway in Canada.  The joy is in the knowledge that they actually make it across, even when it looks hopeless. 

I've been spending some time lately with the Breastplate of St. Patrick, that ancient prayer that lists all the places that Christ is to be found, (i.e. above me, behind me, beside me, within me etc.) but the one that I see played out in this short video is "Christ before me." 

Even when it appears that we can't possibly make it across whatever the next lane of life brings, there Christ is, our very own Mother Duck, telling us to keep our eyes on him.  AND TO KEEP WALKING FORWARD. 

Even when we can feel the blowback from the cars and are sure we have been injured beyond repair, Christ runs back to check our feathers and tells us to KEEP GOING FORWARD.

Even when we are absolutely positive that there is no way to make it to the other side of whatever we are facing today, Christ never gives up leading us safely to the other side. 

So here's to the faith of those baby ducklings.  May we all keep our eyes on the one who calls us to keep moving forward in hope and love....



Thursday, September 6, 2012

heart armor

“The armor we erect around our soft hearts causes a lot of misery. But don’t be deceived, it’s very transparent.

The more vivid it gets, the more clearly you see it, the more you realize that this shield—this cocoon—

is just made up of thoughts that we churn out and regard as solid. The shield is not made out of iron.

The armor is not made out of metal. In fact, it’s made out of passing memory.” --Pema Chodron


photo of “chain maille heart keepsake” is from this unique artist on Etsy


Monday, September 3, 2012

 
“Every time there are losses there are choices to be made.
You choose to live your losses as passages to anger, blame, hatred, depression and resentment,
or you choose to let these losses be passages to something new, something wider, and deeper.”

- Henri Nouwen

photo of Knowth Tumulus in Ireland

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

even the wise fear change

My wise guys are feeling some anxiety these days.
You see, we are in the process of moving and their window ledge, their home, is bare. 
 
Gone are the wee books of wisdom that they read together,
 

gone is the waving cat that they once mistook as Divine until they learned his secret,

 
 
and gone is the annoyingly arrogant leprechaun.

 

 This has created a mood of fear as you can see from the picture.


They remain huddled in the corner and no amount of coaxing will move them.

I feel their distress. Packing and purging are painful.

But, they will have to overcome their fear of the future, as will I.

For change involves risk, stepping out into the unknown.

But I will not let the wisemen step off their shelf unassisted.

I will carry them carefully to their new home,

wherever that may be.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

what is our capacity?

“By your capacity for forgiveness
shall I recognize your God.”
- Maurius Grout
I found this art on pinterest

Friday, August 10, 2012

geography of destiny


“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny.
Your soul alone has the map of your future,
therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself.
If you do, it will take you where you need to go,
but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”
— John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
photo of El Camino del Rey, Malaga, Spain

Saturday, July 28, 2012

imagining a new life

 
“This is one of the sacred duties of imagination: honourably to imagine your self.
The shortest distance in the world is the one between you and yourself.
The space in question is tiny.
Yet what goes on in this little space determines nearly everything about the kind of person you are and about the kind of life you are living.

Normally, the priority in our culture is to function and do what is expected of us.
So many people feel deep dissatisfaction and an acute longing for a more real life, a life that allows their souls to come to expression and to awaken;
a life where they could discover a different resonance, one which echoes their heartfelt dreams and longing.


For their short while on earth, most people long to have the fullest life they can.
No one wants to remain a prisoner in an unlived life.
This was the intention of Jesus: ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.’

Of the many callings in the world, the invitation to the adventure of an awakened and full life is the most exhilarating.
This is the dream of every heart.
Yet most of us are lost or caught in forms of life that exile us from the life we dream of.
Most people long to step onto the path of creative change that would awaken their lives to beauty and passion,
deepen their contentment and allow their lives to make a difference.”

John O’Donohue, from his book, Beauty, The Invisible Embrace


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

control your hoard!


According to Frost and Steketee’s Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things,
Hoarders need to convince themselves of 3 things in order to let go of stuff:

1) to know that the item won’t be wasted

2) to know that it goes to a good home

3) to know that the opportunity the item promised is over

Now which of those do we have any real control over?

No wonder we keep so much stuff!
It takes so much energy to make the decision to get rid
of something when we feel such responsibility toward it.
But with practice it can happen.


photo from here

Monday, July 23, 2012

monday prayer


Prayer for Monday
Keep us, O God,
from all pettiness.
Let us be large in thought,
in word, in deed.
Let us be done
with fault-finding
and leave off all self-seeking.
May we put away all pretense
and meet each other face to face,
without self-pity
and without prejudice.
Grant that we may realize that
it is the little things of life that
create differences, that in the
big things of life we are as one.
And, O God,
let us not forget to be kind.
- Mary Stewart

from Prayers for a Peaceful World
Let Peace Fill my Heart
Benetvision.org
art by Rob Reynolds is from here

Thursday, July 12, 2012

change happens by love



"When you love something you wish it goodness;
when you hate something, you wish to annihilate it.
Change happens not by hatred but by love.
Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply
 that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest.
When you begin to inhabit your body from the inside...
any other option except taking care of it is unthinkable."

Geneen Roth - Women, Food, and God, p. 121

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

the mystery of manure

An Excerpt from The Lively Garden Prayer Book by William Cleary
The Lively Garden Prayer Book is a little book that pays tribute to the "Green Spirit God."

Here, for example, is nature's way of practicing transformation.

====================================================

"Among the deeper mysteries of life is the mystery of manure,

how awful it smells,

how disgusting it looks,

how repulsive it feels —

yet how delicious it is to our vegetable cousins in the garden:

the tomatoes, the corn, the carrots.

"We put manure right into their bed.

They not only welcome it, but they take it in,

and through the life powers within them,

absorb its very substance into their individual beings,

transforming its smelly and disgusting substance miraculously into

bright shining red tomatoes,

yellow luscious corn,

sweet wholesome carrots.

"Miraculously, that execrable manure has now turned into something humans can eat:

nourishing, sweet-smelling food, delicious to the mouth and life-giving to every part of our bodies —

a magic we might expect to find only in mythical Eden."


photos of our vegetable patch

Saturday, June 30, 2012

be kind

“Part of kindness
is loving people
more than they deserve.”

~Joseph Joubert


"The Good Samaritan" is by Chinese artist HeQi
and the interpretation of the art is from Howard Carter’s
blog which is located here

Today I hit the 1000 mark on my posting meter....
Imagine that! 

Friday, June 29, 2012

psalm one

 
Psalm 1


“Blessed are the man and the woman

who have grown beyond their greed

and have put an end to their hatred

and no longer nourish illusions.

But they delight in the way things are

and keep their hearts open, day and night.

They are like trees planted near flowing rivers,

which bear fruit when they are ready.

Their leaves will not fall or wither.

Everything they do will succeed.”


translated by Stephen Mitchell

from The Enlightened Heart

p. 5


art by Frits Thaulow from here

Saturday, June 23, 2012

wounds like stones


"There is no freedom until we dance the ghosts
from the chambers of our wounds,
until we pile our wounds like stones
at the mouth of our own quarries."

- Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening, p.201

art:  "Pile of Stones" by Alan Bowring.

  © Copyright Alan Bowring and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

Friday, June 22, 2012

do the hustle


"When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves
from the parts of our lives that don't fit
 with who we think we're supposed to be,
we stand outside of our story and
hustle for our worthiness by constantly
performing, perfecting, pleasing and proving.
Our sense of worthiness - that critically important piece
that gives us access to love and belonging -
lives inside of our story."

-Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, p. 23

Connie Sun comic from here

Monday, June 18, 2012

decisions

 
Doug Savage cartoon from here

“Decisions are the polishing cloths of life.”
-Augusten Burroughs,

 this pithy quote is from This is How,
a book I just loved to bits...