Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

What do people do on New Year's Eve? Well, here are today's thoughts from the "Writer's Almanac" ...
"In Mexico, people eat one grape with each of the 12 clock chimes at midnight, and make a wish for the coming year.
In Venezuela, they wear yellow underwear for a year of good luck.
In Japan, people eat soba because long thin noodles symbolize longevity, and at midnight, temple bells ring 108 times, matching the 108 attachments in the mind that need to be purified before the New Year.
At midnight in Greece, families cut a cake called a vasilopita, which has a coin baked inside; whoever gets the coin will have a lucky year.
In this country, the most famous celebration is in New York City's Times Square, where up to one million people gather each New Year's Eve to watch a ball drop."

and this photo is the 1907 Times Square Ball!

In Pasadena, California where I grew up, the night was spent sleeping on Colorado Blvd., waiting for the following day's Tournament of Roses Parade - most of which I slept though because the Blvd. was definitely party central all night long!

So, what happens in your corner of the world on this last night of 2008?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Spirit

As we head towards the New Year,
are you finding this to be the case?

"Next to a circus there ain't nothing
that packs up and tears out faster than
the Christmas spirit."
- Kim Hubbard

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feast of the Holy Innocents

And here we have the 3rd feast day of the first week of Christmas. This time an enraged King Herod orders the murders of all boys in the area under the age of two in an attempt to kill this new "king" the wise men had told him about. Merry Christmas?

This is another one of those mysterious paradoxes - the birth of a Savior and the death of innocent babies. No sooner had Jesus arrived on Earth and someone was trying to kill Him. There have been various numbers thrown around over the centuries. Were 144,000 or 14,000 slaughtered? Or perhaps it was between 400 and 4? Bethlehem was a small village so the number was probably on the lower end of the scale but regardless of the number - if it was your son that Herod was after then one would have been too many.

So who are the Herods that children around the world fear today? And what is our responsibility? May we see Christ in every child we encounter today, realizing that we are all called to nurture and protect the innocent.

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.

The icon: troparion for the holy innocents - "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation: Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they were no more."

Another good son...

Colin and his Catch
And Jesus told his disciples:
"I will make you fishers of men"
(or a 42 pound King Salmon as the case may be!)
This was caught on the Hoh River, 10 miles past Forks, Washington

Saturday, December 27, 2008

St. John the Apostle/Evangelist

Today is the feast of John the Apostle/Evangelist. Like many of the other disciples he had several claims to fame - here are a few:
- He was the first male disciple to believe that Jesus had actually risen from the dead.
-He was known as the disciple whom Jesus loved.
-He is believed to have written the book of Revelation.
But my favorite is that,
- He was asked by Jesus himself to care for his mother. And as I looked at the many images available online this one struck me as the most tender - Jesus was a good son - not only to his heavenly father but to his earthly mum. So for all of His talk as to who was or wasn't a family member (Matthew 12: 46-50), as He neared death on the cross, He took a moment to make sure Mary was cared for. May we realize today that Christ is always taking care of each and every one of us.
This crucifixion view is : 'The Virgin, Saint Dominic de Guzman, Saint John the Evangelist', painting by Juan de BorgoƱa, c. 1515, the Louvre (my only question about this painting is - why doesn't mary have a halo like everyone else? did it slip behind her head? )

Friday, December 26, 2008

St. Stephen

Welcome to the darker side of the Christmas season. Yesterday was all about the sweetness of the birth of Christ and today, St. Stephen's Day, is a reminder of how easily we humans can become frightened & enraged when anyone should start to "mess with" our view of truth. And that is what Jesus came to do - mess with our view of truth. May we all hold our truths lightly today, as the Spirit leads us towards Bethlehem and the Christ child.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

King John's Christmas

When I was 7 years old my grandfather gave me a copy of "Now We Are Six" by A.A. Milne, the author of "Winnie the Pooh". (I still own this book and it looks just like the one on the left though my little sister Rebecca did scribble her name in it when she was about 5.)

I loved this book of poetry to bits and memorized many of the selections. But King John's Christmas was and still is my favorite - for we are all God's children - whether our behavior is good or bad - God loves and is with us. That's what the Incarnation is all about! May you reach out to all the King Johns in your own life on this Christmas Day.

King John's Christmas
King John was not a good man —
He had his little ways.
And sometimes no one spoke to him
For days and days and days.
And men who came across him,
When walking in the town,
Gave him a supercilious stare,
Or passed with noses in the air —
And bad King John stood dumbly there,
Blushing beneath his crown.

King John was not a good man,
And no good friends had he.
He stayed in every afternoon ...
But no one came to tea.
And, round about December,
The cards upon his shelf
Which wished him lots of Christmas cheer,
And fortune in the coming year,
Were never from his near and dear,
But only from himself.

King John was not a good man,
Yet had his hopes and fears.
They’d given him no present now
For years and years and years.
But every year at Christmas,
While minstrels stood about,
Collecting tribute from the young
For all the songs they might have sung,
He stole away upstairs and hung
A hopeful stocking out.

King John was not a good man,
He lived his life aloof;
Alone he thought a message out
While climbing up the roof.
He wrote it down and propped it
Against the chimney stack:
And signed it not “Johannes R.”
But very humbly, “JACK.”

“I want some crackers,
And I want some candy;
I think a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I don’t mind oranges,
I do like nuts!
And I SHOULD like a pocket-knife
That really cuts.
And, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red india-rubber ball!”

King John was not a good man —
He wrote this message out,
And gat him to his room again,
Descending by the spout.
And all that night he lay there,
A prey to hopes and fears.
“I think that’s him a-coming now,
(Anxiety bedewed his brow.)
“He’ll bring one present, anyhow —
The first I’ve had for years.

“Forget about the crackers,
And forget about the candy;
I’m sure a box of chocolates
Would never come in handy;
I don’t like oranges,
I don’t want nuts,
And I HAVE got a pocket-knife
That almost cuts.
But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red india-rubber ball!”

King John was not a good man —
Next morning when the sun
Rose up to tell a waiting world
That Christmas had begun,
And people seized their stockings,
And opened them with glee,
And crackers, toys and games appeared,
And lips with sticky sweets were smeared,
King John said grimly:
“As I feared, Nothing again for me!”“

I did want crackers,
And I did want candy;
I know a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I do love oranges,
I did want nuts.
I haven’t got a pocket-knife —
Not one that cuts.
And, oh! if Father Christmas had loved me at all,
He would have brought a big, red india-rubber ball!”

King John stood by the window,
And frowned to see below
The happy bands of boys and girls
All playing in the snow.
A while he stood there watching,
And envying them all...
When through the window big and red
There hurtled by his royal head,
And bounced and fell upon the bed,
An india-rubber ball!


Christmas Eve

I dreamed it was Christmas Eve,
and while waiting for a green light I noticed the manger scene on the church lawn.
It's all so overwhelming, this Christmas business, I thought.
The shopping and singing and partying and gift-wrapping and Santa Claus and Jesus.
I feel wonderful then guilty then joyful then confused.
God help me, I thought.
And the light changed, and the baby in the manger smiled.
Joe Hickman
photo: This is a Church of England poster that is being shown on a thousand bus stops across the UK. It shows Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, with halos, in a bus shelter. The shepherds and wise men are replaced by bus passengers with some gazing at the nativity while others are checking the timetable and flagging down a bus. The artist, Andrew Gadd had this to say, "The bus stop when simplified is like a stable. It is after all a shelter - a place people go to but never want to be.
So where better to stage a nativity?"

Monday, December 22, 2008

Young Mary

I know not all of that which I contain.
I'm small; I'm young; I fear the pain.
All is surprise: I am to be a mother.
That Holy Thing within me
and no other
is Heaven's King whose lovely
Love will reign.
My pain, his gaining my eternal gain
my fragile body holds Creation's Light.
its smallness shelters God's unbounded might.
The angel came and gave,
did not explain,
I know not all of that which I contain.

from The Ordering of Love, The new and collected poems of Madeleine L'Engle
p. 236 (A
rt by He Qi)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Survey Says!

1) We have now entered the last week of Advent, and a short one it will be - so it's time to take stock - what has your Advent been like so far?
a) this has been the most meaningful one yet
b) this is the first time i've even considered the meaning of Advent
c) Good Grief! Are you ever gonna stop talking about Advent?
d) other

2) Which of the following Advent activities did you engage with this season?
a) the advent wreath
b) the advent calendar
c) I see that you are still yapping on about Advent - reading your endless quotes on it was more than enough for me
d) other

3) Would you like to have Advent quotes again next year?
a) yes please
b) no thank you
c) ya know, you are getting on my last nerve. ENUF ABOUT ADVENT! Bring back the Pack o' Poodles or the Pygmy Pilferers!
d) other

Thank you for your input on this Advent Survey. I will return soon with the results.
Extra Credit: Name the celebrities in this Family Feud photo - I can name two but can't figure out who the mannequin is?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Charlie Brown Christmas

It's Saturday - Top 10 Movie List Day - and the week before Christmas is the perfect time for this selection - A Charlie Brown Christmas - If I was doing a Top 10 Music List the soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi would be right on top - Enjoy Linus!

Friday, December 19, 2008

O Antiphons

The “O Antiphons” are a series of seven brief Advent prayers developed by Benedictine monks in the Middle Ages. These prayers are said/sung during the last 7 days of Advent. Based on Isaiah’s prophecies about Jesus, each one begins with the beseeching “O” and then addresses Christ using a particular title (Wisdom, Lord, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King, Emmanuel). We often pray these prayers ourselves when we sing the ancient hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
The order of the prayers is significant. Starting with the last title in reverse order, the first letter of each (Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapienta) forms an acrostic: the Latin words Ero cras, which speak Jesus’ response and promise to us. “Tomorrow, I will come.”

December 17th - O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.
December 18th - O LORD AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come, and redeem us with outstretched arm.
December 19th - O ROOT OF JESSE, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: come to deliver us, and tarry not.
December 20th - O KEY OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts; who shuts and no man opens: come, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.
December 21st - O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of the light eternal, and Sun of Justice: come, and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
December 22nd - O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.
December 23rd - O EMMANUEL, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

When Waiting takes too Long

Gracious God, there’s so much waiting in my life.
I wait in lines,
I wait for a better job,
I wait for others,
I wait for financial security,
I wait for a doctor’s report,
I wait for love,
I wait for pain to abate, and
I even wait for death.

Sometimes the waiting erodes my joy and fills me with dread. Help me find waiting to be the friend that invites me into the spaciousness of stillness. Give me the grace to refrain from rushing ahead in order to bring waiting to an end. Instead, let me find joy in the waiting itself. I ask this for the sake of your love. Amen.
taken from

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What do we Expect?

Because it looks like we will have SNOW on the ground until the end of the year I thought we could all do with a TROPICAL scene :) Doesn't that hammock look inviting? Wouldn't you like to doze off in it as you feel the heat of the sun and hear the lapping of the water against the warm sand? (Am I being cruel?) Being suspended above the ground, in a state of complete relaxation - not quite in touch with reality - now that does sound fabulous! But not when it comes to our emotional hammocks!

"Disappointment can be like a
to which we instantly
whenever we are
with people and situations
that fail to meet our

- Wayne Muller

So, is there disappointment in this Advent season of waiting? Absolutely - just look at the expectations the world had (and still has) regarding the Savior. What kind of king would be born to people living in poverty? That's not what the disciples & others were looking for. I'm sure that as Jesus was led to His death there were many who kept waiting for Him to "do something"....They were expecting a powerful ruler- so why wasn't He acting like one? How disappointing!

Maybe that's why there is (and has been) so much obsessing over the second coming of Christ - That meek and mild stuff was OK for the first century but some believe that when Jesus returns he needs to break through those clouds with guns blasting! He needs to let everyone know He is in charge and start kicking some serious ass! But what if He returns, not to punish but to forgive? Not to condemn, but to love? Not to check to see if you have said the sinner's prayer, but to hold each and every one of us in his loving and neverending embrace? What do we expect?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

God's Policy

"It is still God's policy
to work through the embarassingly simple,
lowly, and seemingly insignificant
to change the world."
-author unknown

photo: celtic nativity

Advent Widget

Can I just tell you how much I love my Advent widget over on the left? All last week I smiled every time I looked at the 2 candles burning and then when I opened my blog on Sunday I clapped my hands when I saw that the 3rd candle was burning! I have no idea how it works but I am just so happy that it does! And yes, I am easily amused :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Prayer Beads

The following post on using Prayer Beads is from the fabulous writer Ruth Hall Chatlien. As she says, there are many prayers available to use with beads or rosaries but this one, penned by Ruth, is so rich that I had to share it with everyone....So grab some beads! Why should the Catholics have all the fun?

"A few years ago, one of my priests introduced me to Anglican prayer beads, also called the Anglican rosary. Each set contains a cross and thirty-three beads, which symbolize the years of Jesus' life. There are five large beads and twenty-eight small beads, divided into four "weeks" of seven. Four of the large beads are used to separate the weeks. These are called cruciforms because they can be seen as standing for the four arms of the cross. The other large bead is next to the cross. It is called the invitatory.
Many prayers have been written for Anglican prayer beads. Shortly after I started using mine, I began to wish I had a prayer that would help me focus on everything that Jesus is to me. I had two different publications of prayers designed for Anglican beads, but none of the prayers satisfied my longing. So I wrote my own. I offer it to anyone who would like to use it, whether they own Anglican prayer beads or not.

The Cross
Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen (Rev. 7:12)
The Invitatory
Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
The Cruciforms
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me,bless God’s Holy Name. (Ps. 103:1)

The Weeks (Pray each paired phrase on a separate bead)
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of God, Lead us to the Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Firstborn of all Creation, Create in us a clean heart.
Lord Jesus Christ, Holy One, Lead us into righteousness.
Lord Jesus Christ, Light of the World. Illumine our hearts.
Lord Jesus Christ, Righteous One, Make your people holy.
Lord Jesus Christ, Image of the Invisible God, Show us the Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Mystery of God, Give us the conviction of things not seen.

Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, Have mercy on us.
Lord Jesus Christ, Man of Sorrows, Ease our suffering.
Lord Jesus Christ, Suffering Servant, Redeem us from sin.
Lord Jesus Christ, Incarnate God, Deliver us from temptation.
Lord Jesus Christ, Word of Life, Lead us into all truth.
Lord Jesus Christ, Bread of Life, Feed your people.
Lord Jesus Christ, Living Water, Deliver us from thirst.

Lord Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Lead us on the right path.
Lord Jesus Christ, Chief Cornerstone, Build up your church.
Lord Jesus Christ, Head of the Body, Guide your people.
Lord Jesus Christ, Author and Perfector of Faith, Help our unbelief.
Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd, Seek out the lost sheep.
Lord Jesus Christ, True Vine, Make your branches fruitful.
Lord Jesus Christ, Wonderful Counselor, Give us your wisdom.

Lord Jesus Christ, High Priest, Intercede for us.
Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, End conflict in the world.
Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Come into your kingdom.
Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords, Be sovereign over all.
Lord Jesus Christ, Resurrection and Life, Raise us up on the last day.
Lord Jesus Christ, Alpha and Omega, Let us see your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of Man, Receive our praise."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

11 potential Advent Wreaths

In her book "To Dance with God", Gertrud M. Nelson describes how ancient peoples, due to lack of light in winter, would stop their work in the fields, take the wheels off their carts and bring them inside to decorate. They would contemplate this dark period, praying for the return of the sun and the light...the following quote brings this reality home - in an odd sort of way?

"Imagine what would happen if we were to understand that ancient prescription for this season literally and removed - just one- say just the right front tire from our automobiles and used this for our Advent wreath. Indeed, things would stop. Our daily routines would come to a halt and we would have the leisure to incubate. We could attend to our precarious pregnancy and look after ourselves. Having to stay put, we would lose the opportunity to escape or deny our feelings or becomings because our cars could not bring us away to the circus in town." Gertrud M. Nelson - To Dance with God, p. 63 (and yes, I do know this is a tire run :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Paradoxes of Advent

One of the essential paradoxes of Advent:
that while we wait for God,
we are with God all along,

that while we need to be reassured of God's arrival,
or the arrival of our homecoming,
we are already home.

While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith,
but it is God's grace that gives us that faith.

As with all spiritual knowledge,
two things are true,
and equally true, at once.

The mind can't grasp paradox;
it is the knowledge of the soul.

Michelle Blake, The Tentmaker

PARADOX: a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.

And now a word from our sponsor...

HT to Jan

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent Cats

"I have often said that Advent should incite in Christians the same kind of anticipation of Jesus that the sound of the can opener has for my cats. We need to be able to hear the sounds of Advent and be chopping at the bit for Christ’s return to our hearts. But all too often we allow the season of Advent to be overcome with holiday panic." - Muthah (click here to read the entire sermon) Artistic rendering taken from here.

Merton & Mystery

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

- Thomas Merton

Today is the 40th anniversary of Thomas Merton's death. His writings (over 60 books) have had a profound influence on millions, including myself. This Trappist monk embodied simplicity in all areas of his life and his focus on peace and social justice has had a profound impact on the world. This icon is from here where you can find a couple of his poems on Advent.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hope by a Window

"We always think of hope as grounded in the future. That’s wrong, I think. Hope is fulfilled in the future but it depends on our ability to remember that we have survived everything in life to this point—and have emerged in even better form than we were when these troubles began. So why not this latest situation, too? Then we hope because we have no reason not to hope.
Hope is what sits by a window and waits for one more dawn, despite the fact that there isn’t an ounce of proof in tonight’s black, black sky that it can possibly come."–from Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope by Joan Chittister (Eerdmans)
Painting: A Woman Knitting by a Window by Peter Ilsted


found here at ben bell's website. (the fine print says "the arrival of something important or awaited")

I love the posting on this signal that says "cross with care" makes me feel as if someone is watching out for me - as i wait in the darkness for a sign....
If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light around me turn to night,” darkness is not dark to you, O Lord; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike. Psalm 139:10-11

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Happy St. Nick's Day!

Today is St. Nicholas' Feast Day. On the night before, children polish & place their shoes outside their front door in hopes that St. Nicholas will arrive during the night to fill them with small presents such as candy, and fruit and nuts. (This is where having big feet would be a plus!) So did you check outside your door today?
Thank you Father for your
servant Nicholas,
who brought joy to children.
Put into our hearts the spirit
of childhood
about which your Son spoke.
Teach us how to sow
happiness & joy around us. Amen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sense of God's Timing

O God of all seasons and senses, grant us the sense of your timing to submit gracefully and rejoice quietly
in the turn of the seasons.

In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of endings;

grieving over,
grudges over,
blaming over,
excuses over.
children growing, friends leaving, loved ones dying,

O God, grant us a sense of your timing.
In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of beginnings;
that such waitings and endings
may be the starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth what is ready to be born—
something right and just and different,
a new song, a deeper relationship,
a fuller love—in the fullness of your time.

O God, grant us the sense of your timing.

Ted Loder, Guerillas of Grace. found here

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Today I received an email from Office Depot with the title "Reward Status". Upon opening it I saw these big, bold, red words: YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO REWARDS! Ooohhh....Tell me more! "You need $7.79 in Rewards to receive a Reward card." Ok...but what will my reward be? I scrolled down to see that my current "reward" amount after spending another $7.79 will be $2.21! LOL.

So I have to spend more to get a smaller reward? I don't think so! I want a bigger reward! There, I said it. What makes me think/believe/expect a reward? Perhaps this all started as a kid when I knew there would always be a toy surprise in my Cracker Jacks? (and btw, as an adult white female, I'm now feeling a tad uncomfortable with the name of this product.) And yet, I know this sense of entitlement runs much deeper.

Does spending money at a box store qualify me for a reward? Has the idea of receiving a reward lost its value? After all, isn't a reward something given in return for something accomplished? I seem to be walking around with a "She Who Must be Rewarded" bumper sticker plastered across the back of my head.

And do I not expect God to reward me? Scripture is filled with reward scenarios... James & John wanted to know what Jesus was going to do for them in Heaven, and the parables of Christ are filled with talk of rewards - all of which brings me back to Advent...

Our ultimate reward is coming...we must continue in this waiting process....and it won't be like anything a candy company's marketing team could design - it won't be flashy, there won't be any fanfare - just a child, born in a stinky barn to an unwed teen....bringing with Him the greatest reward of all - Himself!

p.s. i used a photo of cracker jacks because a picture of office depot just wasn't that exciting:)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blue Forest

Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!” - Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

St. Andrew's High School

Yesterday was the feast of St. Andrew - and since I graduated from St. Andrew's High School in Pasadena, California I couldn't let that one go by without giving a shout out to my fellow "Atoms" - and yes that was our cougars, wolfs or bears....just your basic molecular structure....did we rock or what?

This is a photo of the church which is across the street from the school. Stunning! And the inside is even better!

So what does this have to do with Advent you ask? Well on my "Slow down it's Advent" calendar it says "St. Andrew dropped his nets and followed Jesus. What do you need to let go of in order to follow?"

Monday, December 1, 2008

AIDS & Advent

Today is World AIDS Day. A time to focus on suffering around the globe. And here we find ourselves in the first week of Advent - a time of waiting for Christ to come - a time of wondering what God is calling us to in this season. I have Good News! We need not wonder any longer! We are called to Love! I know this photo of a man dying of AIDS on a street in Bangladesh is disturbing but I need to be roused from my complacency. After a wonderful Thanksgiving, and time spent Christmas shopping with my daughter. After whining about having to cut back on my spending this year, I look at this photo and it stops me...

As he waits for someone to help him.
As we worry about our dwindling 401K's.
As he calls out to God.
As we trample one another to get into stores to purchase bigger TV's.
As he despairs.
As we wait for what?
What is God calling us to?

"World AIDS Day, which we acknowledge on December 1st, is not another insertion into our liturgies of a cause we might make a contribution to. Rather, it is the invitation from millions of suffering people around the world to wade into the messiness of their annihilation, waters where Grace pulls us under our competency, breaks the surface of our sufficiency, and bites us on the ass of our assurance. Most all that remains after Grace has her way with us is one another, which is more than we have going for us on the shore."
The Rev. William Blaine-Wallace, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Boston, Mass.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Advent 2008

Starting the 4th Sunday before Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve, the season of ADVENT is when we celebrate the coming of Christ into the world as a helpless infant while anticipating His second coming - when every tear will be wiped away. And as some of you may know, I so Adore the season of ADVENT & am looking forward to today's Advent Festival at St. Paul's!

Over the next 4 weeks my posts will focus primarily on our waiting for the hope that is Christ. With the anxiety that many are feeling in these difficult times - be it monetarily, emotionally, or spiritually, it is a good & joyful thing to light a candle in this darkness. May we hold steadfastly to the truth that God is With Us......

Today's selection is an Advent Litany that will be used this morning at church. Enjoy! And may Advent Blessings be upon each and every one of you!

Advent Litany - Among the Poor, "Cloth for the Cradle" Iona Community, p. 31

Among the poor,
among the proud,
among the persecuted,
among the privileged,
Christ is coming,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

In the private house,
in the marketplace,
in the wedding feast,
in the judgment hall,
Christ is coming,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

With a gentle touch,
with an angry word,
with a clear conscience,
with burning love,
Christ is coming,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

That the kingdom might come,
that the world might believe,
that the powerful might stumble,
that the humble might be raised,
Christ is coming,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

Within us,
without us,
among us,
before us,
in this place,
in every place, for this time, for all time,
Christ is coming,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

Mildred Pierce

Happy Saturday! And it's back to the Top Ten films. (I believe we are up to #5?)

Today's pick is "Mildred Pierce" - made in 1945 - it starred the magnificent Joan Crawford - She won Best Actress for her fabulous portrayal of how NOT to raise a daughter. You can check out one of the more delicious scenes between Mildred and her daughter Veda, played by Anne Blyth here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

abundant living?

"If truly following God's call to abundant life
makes Christians into
well-adjusted middle-class citizens,
it makes you wonder how
Jesus ever got himself executed."

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is author of New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today's Church (Baker, 2008). He is also one of the workshop leaders at The Great Emergence National Event

p.s. what is he looking at with the magnifying glass?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


"Feeding the hungry
in Christ is a
greater work than
raising the dead
in Christ."

St. John Chrysostum

Turkey with all the trimmings!
Holy Food for Holy People

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Prayer in the Park

I "took" this photo from yesterday's Daily Office .
This is an art installation.
I found it intriguing. What say you?

Monday, November 24, 2008


Surviving the loss of a loved one is its own kind of test. To tell our story is a way of affirming the life of the loved one we have lost-- the experiences we had together, The favorite family stories.

To tell the story is a way of moving the grief along, and so contributes to our own healing.
- Martha Whitmore Hickman

The husband of a dear friend died unexpectedly today.
I had the honor of sitting in her home tonight with friends & family as she shared the story of their last few days together. May we remember the Balkan Family in our prayers.
photo: The Angel of Grief

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Sometimes when I suggest meditation to my clients as a way to become more fully present there is at least a smigden of resistance :) Many believe that if they can't do it perfectly then why bother? Listen to what Francis de Sales has to say about that and be encouraged. I know he mentions a "meditation hour" but just one minute is a worthy goal. You can always add another minute tomorrow.

"Even if you do nothing in your meditation hour but bring your heart back gently a thousand times, though it went away each time again, your meditation is a success." St. Francis de Sales

photo found at:

Saturday, November 22, 2008


It's Saturday once again and I'm not doing a Top Ten Movie today in order to bring you this breaking early review.....:)

My daughters went to see "Twilight" last night. Both were very disappointed - and isn't that usually the case when you compare a movie with the book? Bethany texted me halfway through the film to tell me it was "bad" and then again at the end to say the 2nd half was better. But over all - she said save your money mom! I have read the first 2 books of the series and enjoyed them & when I find some time I will read the remaining 2. I even assigned the books to my class last month and one of my students read all 4 in a week. Wow!

"Twilight" is not Shakespeare - but a good love story with a bit of Jane Eyre-like darkness. It's also great to see so many young girls reading. And for those of us who live on the Olympic Peninsula, where the story is set, it was a delight to see the names of locales that we frequent in a book. But they were not in the film (it was filmed in Oregon & the author had never been to Forks before writing the book.) For example, Bethany said, "Mom, who in Forks would wear a tie to school?" So out of 4 stars the girls are giving this one almost 2 because at least most of the actors were well cast (not to mention cute:)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Superior Scribbler Award

Jan has presented me with the Superior Scribbler Award. How fun is this! I'm a winner! And to have been chosen by a writer whose blog I never miss! Thank you Jan. So here is how this award business works:
*Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
*Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
*Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to this Post, which explains The Award.
*Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
*Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.
So now for the hard part - How do I choose only 5 where there are so many great blogs that I enjoy? Here goes:
1) Wisdom of the Desert - written by Amma, born in 380 A.D. she brings a daily drop of delicious wisdom from our desert Mothers & Fathers.
2) Does Not Wisdom Call? - Ellie feeds my soul with her meditative pieces on saints, feasts, & lectionary selections. Her holy blog is a great way to start the day!
3) Journey Through Grace - Jayne is definitely for the birds - incredible photos of her fine feathered friends who grace her feeders...she lightens my mood & gives me much to consider....
4) Fun Stuff with Caleb - Rebekah journals her joys and sorrows in her efforts to mother her little boy who lives across the country. This young woman's strength in the face of great personal pain humbles me. She has 3 blogs & this one focuses solely on her son.
5) Chalkballerina - Charis is the epitome of exuberance and life! Her wedding photos are more than stunning and her honesty in her writing is more than refreshing! She definitely rocks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


"To forgive
is not to
condone wrongs
to refuse
to let the past
dictate the future."

Huston Smith

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saint Elizabeth

Today we honor the feast day of Elizabeth of Hungary, 1207-1231. A benefit of finishing one's school work early at St. Phillip's Catholic Grammar School in Pasadena, CA was the privilege of choosing & reading one of the many books on the lives of the saints that were located in the back of the classroom. (Where was Harry Potter when I needed him?)

I recall reading about Elizabeth of Hungary and thinking that here was yet another female saint I would never be able to live up to - she wasn't one of the virgin variety but was an actual princess who wed at 14, had 3 children, and devoted her very short life (she died at 24) to Piety with a capital P while caring for the sick and the poor. Most depictions of her (i.e. holy cards such as the one on the right which I believe was stashed inside my Missal) show her holding bread and/or roses.

So why am I talking about her? Because David and I were married at the exquisitely beautiful St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church in Altadena, California in June, 1979. Here is a picture of the grotto - well actually this is a postcard circa 1935. This grotto was built by a Japanese artist in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes. This is where we waited for our wedding ceremony to commence on a very hot California summer day - almost 30 years ago. I was 7 months pregnant at the time and since the interior of the church was built on a downward slope I dared not enter through the back door for the traditional wedding march because I was so front-loaded that I imagined that I'd work up too much speed coming down the aisle & not be able to stop - really!

The two of us walked in together through the side door (well there were actually 3 of us at that point). No members of my family attended our wedding - that is a long story in itself - but my grandfather did "sneak" over to the grotto for a moment before the ceremony to give us his blessing. My best friend Anita and her family were there as were other friends - such as Jill, and Terre Lou - these are all women I still know and love dearly. And my dear sisters would have been there if they could have - but they were very young and had no control over their situation.
So here's to fond memories of a bittersweet day! And may we continue to love our neighbors as ourselves, especially the poor and the hungry, as dear Saint Elizabeth did...Amen


"One act
of retaliation
burns down
to the ground
a whole forest
of merit."

Zen commentary

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our Healing

"Whatever pain or problem we have,
what helps is to find a quality of presence -
where we can
open to it,
see it,
feel it,
and find the truth
concealed in it -
that is our healing."

John Welwood

this healing hand meditation is from:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Good News

"How can I announce the good news of reconciliation unless I am that?

Henri Nouwen
photo - Reconciliation Statue in the ruins at Coventry Gardens -
a copy of which can be found in the Peace Park at Hiroshima

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pure Country

It's Saturday - movie day! And this one, Pure Country, is a family favorite from over the years - whenever my teenage son was feeling down he'd put this into the VCR - that boy memorized the entire dialogue of this film - the annoying part was that he would say all the lines before the actors would, which was rather a strange form of stereo to have to put up with if one chose to watch it with him.

There's nothing profound about this movie - it's your basic boy loses self, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl and self. The acting isn't great, nor is most of the dialogue but it is George Strait - and he's the best. The soundtrack is also fabuous and doesn't everyone have to have at least one movie that just makes them remember good family times?

As for quotes here is one my son still uses - said by Ernest Tucker - who is wary of Dusty's (played by G.S.) intentions with his daughter Harley - "You know the funny thing about that little white speck on the top of chicken shit? That little white speck is chicken shit too!"

And here is one of my favorites which occurs when Earl, Dusty's friend and bandmate, goes searching for him at his grandmother's home. She's one wise woman!

: Well, sometimes the tree grows too fast and the roots don't develop. And sometimes you have to chop off the top of that tree to let the roots catch up.
Earl: But do you know where he's at?
Grandma: No, but I expect if you follow the roots, you'll find him.
Earl: Grandma Ivy, in all the years I've known you I've never heard you answer a question directly.
Grandma: There are no answers. Only the search.
Earl: Yup, whatever that means.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pulled out from under!

"It's a good thing
to have all the props
pulled out from under us
It gives us some sense
of what is rock under our feet,
and what is sand."

Madeleine L'Engle

Thursday, November 13, 2008

3 Things...

"Three things
cannot be long
the sun, the moon,
and the truth."


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Take comfort in this...

"Grace means that we are not alone;
we are always accompanied."
David Richo

Monday, November 10, 2008

Undeserving Poor

"The woman was livid, pounding her fist on the table. "I wouldn't give a cent to those soup kitchen bums," she declared. 'They spend my tax money on whiskey and cigarettes. They have children just to get bigger welfare checks. They're probably too lazy to get jobs. They don't deserve a free meal.'

Ah, the undeserving poor. How often we've heard those tirades.

But let's pretend for a minute that the woman's accusations are true. Let's say that those who eat at soup kitchens spend their meager checks on booze and drugs instead of food and shelter. Let's agree that they are all offered jobs and refuse them because they are lazy. Let's agree that they only have children because they want more government money.

Would that make them less deserving of help? Any less deserving than we are? It depends on whether you look at it through Wall Street's eyes or Jesus' eyes, I guess.

'We love,' suggests 1 John 4:19, 'because God first loved us.' That love comes through in one of my favorite Hasidic tales. According to the tale, the rabbi of Sassov once gave the last money in his pocket to a man of ill repute. When his disciples objected, he asked, 'Shall I be more finicky than God, who gave it to me?'

None of us deserves what we have. All of us are recipients of an unconditional love, poured out and overflowing.

Creation itself is a gift given without human effort. Who among us deserves another minute of life? Who among us deserves forgiveness for the hurt and harm we have scattered like sand on a seashore? A child's love, the smell of coffee in the morning, a slice of freshly baked bread, a brilliant sunset - everything and everyone is a gift.

Each of us stands before God as a beggar, totally dependent on God's sustaining love. All we are asked to do is to imitate God: to give without judgment or label, to give because we are all 'undeserving poor.'

Daily we receive a torrent, a flood of underserved gifts from the unending waterfall of God's goodness. And daily we are given opportunities to imitate the torrent through acts of kindness and unconditional love."

Mary Lou Kownacki - "A Monk in the Inner City", pp. 133-134...(She is a fabulous Benedictine nun who has spent 40 years in Erie, PA, participating in the lives of the highest % of minority children living in poverty in the U.S.A.)