Friday, December 31, 2010

Crossing the Threshold of 2010

"Many times today I will cross over a threshold.
I hope I will catch a few of those times.
I need to remember that my life is, in fact,
a continuous series of thresholds:
from one moment to the next,
from one thought to the next,
from one action to the next.

Help me appreciate how awesome this is.
How many are the chances to be really alive . . .
to be aware of the enormous dimension
we live within.

On the threshold the entire past
and the endless future
rush to meet one another.

They take hold of each other and laugh.
They are so happy to discover themselves
in the awareness of a human creature.
On the threshold the present breaks all boundaries.
It is a convergence,
a fellowship with all time and space.
We find You there.
And we are found by You there.

Help me cross into the present moment -
into wonder, into Your grace:
that "now-place," where we all are,
unfolding as Your life moment by moment.

Let me live on the threshold as threshold."

written by Gunilla Norris from Being Home p. 14-15

And so tonight we shall cross over the threshold of 2010 into 2011.
May we gather up all that we have experienced of God's love & light this year
and bring it with us into this new year, to give away to everyone we meet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the Night Before Christmas
And all through the House,
Not a Creature was Stirring,
Except of course for our Wisemen,
who were still Discerning their Direction...
When what to their Wandering Eyes should appear?
But the Star they'd been searching for from yonder and near!

Wiseman #1: Do you see what I see?
Wiseman #2: Yes #1! It's a star, a star, with a tail as big as a kite!
Wiseman #3: Could this be the Star of Bethlehem that we have been searching for all this time?

Tallest Wisemen Ever: (in unison) Why yes it is!

Wiseman #3: Oh my Goodness! Do you hear what I hear?
Wiseman #2: Yes #3! It's a song, a song, high above the trees,
with a voice as big as the sea!

Tallest Wisemen Ever: (in unison) LOOK UP!
Wiseman #1: WOW. You are the tallest Wise Ones Ever!

Tallest Wisemen Ever: (in unison) We are here to show you the Story.
You see, we carry it with us at all times.
On your right you see the shepherds keeping watch over their fields by night.
In the middle you see Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus, born in a manger,
and on the left you see where you, the Wise Men, bring fine gifts to the King.
This is where you fit into the story.
Wiseman #1: Oh Your Most Majestic Scenicness,
if only we could have the story painted on us,
perhaps we would not forget every year.

Tallest Wisemen Ever: (in unison) Ahh, but that is our story.
We are here as a reminder of how God entered history and
to help you see that we all inhabit that sacred story in some way.
We help to keep the past and the future in mind as you live in the present.

Wiseman #2: Wow! So, do you know where our story leads?

Tallest Wisemen Ever: (in unison) Do you know what we know? A child, a child waits for you in the cold,  you shall bring him frankincense, myrrh and gold!

Wiseman #3: Oh joy is ours!
Wiseman #1: Listen to what I say! Pray for peace people everywhere!
Wiseman #2: The child, the child, sleeping in the night,
He will bring us goodness and light!
Wiseman #3: Oh I can't wait! Let us hurry to meet our King!

May the Wise Men find their way to their King!
May we all discover our gifts in this holy season!
May we all realize how much God loves us as our stories continue to unfold.
Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Spinning Wisemen

Wiseman #3: Oh look! these wise ones are on a journey like us! My! they are traveling so quickly!
Wiseman #1: This must be a sign that they know the way.
Wiseman #2: And now that we know what our gifts are and to whom we are bringing them,  all we desire now are good directions!
Wiseman #3: Hello Oh Wise and Speedy Ones! We see that you are moving swiftly. Could you stop for just a moment to answer our query?
Spinning Wiseman #1: Oh Dear Me! How I wish we could stop to chat & have a cup of tea, but we just keep circling round and round.
Spinning Wiseman #2: And I am getting so dizzy!
Wiseman #1: Pardon me Your Revolvingness, but are you aware that you are going nowhere fast?
Spinning Wiseman #3: We are very aware!  We mistook the light of the candles that keeps this contraption in continual orbit for the Bright Star.
Spinning Wiseman #1: Yes, and now we are stuck moving at breakneck speeds.
Wiseman #2 to #3 & #1: Could this be what the Piano Wise Ones meant when they said to follow the straight paths?
Wiseman #1: Ah, such a brilliant thought #2! These wise men were led astray.
Wiseman #3: And they too mentioned the Star of which the Piano Wise Ones spoke!
Wiseman #2: Oh Orbiting Ones, where can we find the Bright Star that will lead us to the King?
Spinning Wiseman #2: Look for the star of wonder! The star of light! Star with royal beauty bright! Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect light!
Wiseman #3: Oh thank you! We must be off!
Wiseman #1: But we are dismayed to have to leave you like this.
Spinning Wiseman #1: Do not worry about us for these candles will eventually burn down and we will continue on our journey, for as a very wise songwriter once said, "Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on."
quote from Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Gifts of the Magi

Wiseman #1: We are wise men on a journey, who have talked to many before you, and we are losing hope of ever finding the meaning of our pilgrimage.  Can you help us decipher our decree?

Folk Art Wiseman #1: Welcome! We are known as Los Tres Santos Reyes.
Folk Art Wiseman #2: We recognize your weariness as we too were once where you are. But now we reside on this lovely piano.
Folk Art Wiseman #3: Do you, by chance, play the piano?  It would be wonderful to hear someone tickle the ivories for our enjoyment.

Wiseman #2: Alas we are not able to play because our fingers are attached to our arms which are attached to our sides.

Folk Art Wiseman #1: Ah! We know of which you speak. But your fingers are attached to gifts just as ours are.

Wiseman #3: (Long pause as he stares at his arms) Oh my, you are right! Our fingers are attached to gifts.  We've been so busy bemoaning what we do not have that we have not noticed what we do have!

Folk Art Wiseman #3: Yes it has been said that he who knows others is wise but that he who knows himself is enlightened.

Wiseman #2: Tell us about these gifts we possess. Are they for us?

Folk Art Wiseman #1: FIrst, tell us of your decree.

Wiseman #1: 'Go - not knowing where. Bring not knowing what. The path is long, the way unknown.'
Wiseman #2: And so far our path has been very long and our way very unknown.

Folk Art Wiseman #3: You are bringing fine gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Folk Art Wiseman #1: My name is Melchior and I offered gold to the child who would be King.
Folk Art Wiseman #2: My name is Caspar and I brought frankincense to the child who would be priest.
Folk Art Wiseman #3: My name is Balthasar and I brought myrrh to the child who would one day die for us.

Wiseman #2: Oh thank you Your Most Knowledgeable Ones. What a joy to know our own gifts! Can you tell us where we will find this child?

Melchior: Seek counsel from those who are on the straight path. Be wary of those who are not.
Caspar: Look for the bright star in the sky. It will lead you to where you need to be.
Balthasar: And enjoy the rest of your journey!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wise Men, Wise Kids?

Wiseman #2: Greetings! We are on a quest, in search of an interpreter.
wisekid #2 to wisekid #1: Did you try to steal my frankincense?
Wiseman #1: Hello? Children?
wisekid #1 to wisekid #2: Who would want to steal your stupid frankincense?
Wiseman #3: Can I interrupt you for a brief moment, Your Childishness?
wisekid#2: Don't lie! I saw you do it. Keep your hands off my gift.
wisekid #1: You're just jealous because I've got a better gift than you do.
wisekid #2: Nuh-uh. Gold is dumb.
wisekid #1: Gold is not dumb. At least I can buy candy with gold.
What can you buy with frankincense?
Wiseman #1: EXCUSE ME....Can you stop bickering and pay attention?
wisekid #3: Welcome to my world! They never stop fighting. Maybe I can help you?
Wiseman #1: Oh Yes, the canine shepherd sent us your way.
Can you read our decree?
wisekid #3: Sorry, we can't read.
Wiseman #2: Oh that is so know, we can't w---
Wiseman #1: Do you have to tell EVERYONE about our shortcomings?
Wiseman #2: I was just trying to make them feel better.
Wiseman #3: Great! Now we are squabbling just like these children!
wisekid #3: And the difference between a smart man and a wiseman is that
while a smart man knows what to say a wiseman knows whether or not to say it.
Wiseman #1: Excellent counsel Young Sage. Can you show us the way?
wisekid #3: I'd try the wise ones on the piano.
Wiseman #2: Thank you.

Will the Wisemen ever find what they are searching for?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Wise Men Meet Snoopy

Wiseman #1: My goodness, what have we here?
Wiseman #2: It looks like a shepherd with teeny jaundiced sheep.
Wiseman #3: And that shepherd looks suspiciously canine to me.
Wiseman #1: Excuse me Your Yellowness, we have traveled from afar to seek wisdom.
Woodstock #1: ' '''?''''!*')
Wiseman #2: What foreign tongue does this creature speak?
Wiseman #1: I have never heard such a dialect. Your Tinyness, can you interpret a decree?
Woodstock #2 & #3: ' ' ' """"! """(;""")
Wiseman #1: On No! Now we need 2 interpreters: one for our decree and one for this strange communication!
Snoopy: These are my friends, Woodstock, Raymond, and Harriet. We are on a journey.
Wiseman #2: But these are birds! Why do they not fly?
Snoopy: Hush. They have issues with flying in a straight line. They prefer to travel by foot.
Wiseman #2: Ahhh. We understand, for we have issues with waving.
Wiseman #1: ENOUGH chattering about our frailties! Let us focus on our strengths.
Can any of you direct us to wise ones who can interpret our decree?
Snoopy: My feathered friends and I will show you the way.
Wiseman #1: We thank you for your kindness Oh FourLegged One.
Snoopy: I am honored to be of help for I have known a wise man in my own life.
Wiseman #2: And did he treat you with compassion Oh Domesticated Friend of Mankind?
Snoopy: Indeed, though occasionally my dinner was late.
Wiseman #2: "Be Comforted, little dog, Thou too in the Resurrection shall have a tail of gold."
quote by Martin Luther

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lucy's Feast Day

Today is the feast of Saint Lucy. There are various traditions associated with this saint.  In Sweden, the oldest (or youngest) daughter, while wearing lighted candles upon her head, carries a tray of coffee and pastries to her parents before they arise in the morning. That's a tradition worth starting! (the coffee and pastry part - not the lighted candles on top of any of my kid's heads.) Happy Feast Day Lucy!
Here she is receiving her blessing on the Feast of St. Francis.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Giant Wisemen

When we last left the Wisemen, they were chatting with St. Nick.
Today we find them visiting some very special Wisemen!

Wiseman #1:  Hello Very Tall Holy Ones!
Tall Wiseman #2:  I say, did either of you hear something?
Tall Wiseman #3:  It sounded like a whisper from afar.
Tall Wiseman #1:  Why yes, I do hear something from below but I can't make it out!
Tall Wiseman #1:  Ah, yes we can hear you now...but due to our immovable eyes, we cannot look down upon you. We can only look straight ahead.
Wiseman #3:  Wow!  And we thought having immovable arms was bad! 
Tall Wiseman #2:  What is it you wish to ask us?
Wiseman #1:  We have received a decree we would like to show you.
Tall Wisemen #3:  I'm terribly sorry but unless you can bring it up to our eye level we cannot read it.
Wiseman #1:  O Ye of Long Leggedness, our arms do not move from our sides....
Tall Wisemen #3:  Then we shall not be able to help you little ones.  We suggest you find wisemen more your size.  Try the next table over.
Wiseman #2:  Will they have our answers Your Mighty Giantness?
Tall Wiseman #1:  The great Rainer Maria Rilke once said, "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves."

Will our wisemen ever find the answers they seek?  Tune in tomorrow for another exciting installment.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nouwen prayer

Teach Me to Pray
by Henri Nouwen

Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray,
only you can set my heart at rest.
Only you can let me dwell in your presence.

No book, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you
unless you yourself are the one who lets them become the doors to you.

But Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative.
Let me wait patiently and attentively for the hour when you will come
and break through the walls I have erected.

Create new doors.
Teach me, O Lord, to pray.

The photo both intrigues and repels me.
If Jesus broke through a wall in this manner,
his first words, after picking me up from the floor,
would definitely have to be,
"Fear Not"

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Wise Men meet St. Nick

Today the Wise Men left the safety of their guest bathroom shelf in search of guidance.  They journeyed over hill and dale (ok...around the corner and through the lane) to a place where many Wise Ones are gathered.  After a tasty treat of apricot scones and Mexican coffee prepared by their most gracious hostess Christine, the Wise Men sought the counsel of those who had gone before them.

Their first stop was to a man in a red suit near the kitchen sink....

Wiseman #1:  Greetings, Oh Great Bearded One.
Santa:   Ho Ho Ho
Wiseman #2:  What strange tongue does this wise man speak?
Santa:  Oh that's just my official greeting to everyone who visits.  I find it works in all languages.
Wiseman #3:  Ahhhh...well, we are 3 wise men who have traveled far to seek help in deciphering a sacred decree we have received from a holy book.
Santa:  What does your decree say?
Wiseman #1:  Go - not knowing where.  Bring - not knowing what. The path is long, the way unknown.
Santa:  Ah...yes.....
Wiseman #2:  Ah yes what?  Do you have wisdom to impart, Oh Your Redness?
Santa:  Why yes, you see many years ago, in the 4th century to be exact, I was known as Saint Nicholas.  I was a Bishop in Myra, a land very far from here.  I was the patron saint of seafarers and children.  I generously cared for the sick, the needy and those who suffered.  As a matter of fact, today is my official Feast Day.
Wiseman #2:  Well happy Feast Day to ya!
Santa:  Thank you.  It's lovely to be remembered on one's Feast Day.
Wiseman #3:  So may I ask how you ended up here?
Santa:  This is where Christine put me. This window gives excellent afternoon light.
Wiseman #3:  NO!  I meant how did you get here from Myra.
Santa:  Oh, well Dutch immigrants brought my story with them in the early days of America.
Wiseman #1:  Pardon me for saying so, but you don't look like any Bishop I've ever seen.
Santa:  Well, my image has evolved over the years, but I am still known for bringing gifts to children.
Wiseman #2:  Did you  say "gifts?"  That seems to ring a bell.
Santa:  On Christmas Eve, I travel all over the world bringing gifts and joy to children of all ages.
Wiseman #2:  Why does that sound so familiar?  Didn't we bring gifts somewhere last year?
Wiseman #3:  I can't recall.  But I don't think His Fluffiness has the answers we are looking for.  We must journey further.....
Wiseman #3:  Thank you for your kind help Saint Nicholas.
Santa:  Ho Ho Ho....Merry Christmas!

to be continued.......

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent hope...

"Advent calls us to hope in the promise
that God is calling us to greater things
and will be with us as we live them.....
Hope is the recall of good in the past,
on which we base our expectation of good in the future,
however bad the present.
It digs in the rubble of the heart for memory of God's promise
to bring good out of evil and joy out of sadness and,
on the basis of those memories of the past,
takes new hope for the future.
Even in the face of death.
Even in the fear of loss.
Even when our own private little worlds go to dust,
as sooner or later, they always do."
-Joan Chittister

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Wise Decision

When we last left the Wisemen, they had made the shocking discovery that their waving cat wasn't all it was cracked up to be. They've been very quiet since then, speaking only when spoken to. I've left them alone, using my own bathroom, in an attempt to not intrude on their grieving process.  When I have peeked I have noticed that the cat is still on its side, even though I've offered to replace the batteries. But we all know that once you recognize the truth, it's difficult to continue living in the state of delusion.  Let's knock on the door and see what they are up to today.

Me: Knock Knock
Wisemen: Come in.
Me: Hi....thought I'd check up on you. What are you doing?
Wiseman #1: We thought it best to consult our book of wisdom.
Me: Yes, I see that. And what have you learned?
Wiseman #2: Feel free to read over our shoulders.
Wiseman #3: Yes, we'd point but as you know we have no arms.
Me: Do you ever NOT bring that up in a conversation?
Wiseman #3: Not if we can help it.
Wiseman #1: ENOUGH! We have to make a decision here.
Me: Really? What kind of decision?
Wiseman #2: Read the decree.

"Go- not knowing where.
Bring- not knowing what.
The path is long,
the way unknown."
-Russian Fable

Me: Well, that sounds very um...mystical?
Wiseman: #3: Yes, we need to consult other wise ones!
Wiseman #2: Do you know of any in the area?
Me: Well, yes I actually do.
Wiseman #1: Please arrange for an audience.
Me: I will get right on that your highnesses!
Wiseman #1: We must rest. A great journey lies before us!

It looks like we're going on a FIELD TRIP!!!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Andrew's Advent Wisdom

Today we celebrated the
Feast of Saint Andrew. 
He's best known for what he said to
his brother Peter:

'We have found the Messiah.'
John 1:41

Gotta love the fact that he was the first to
drop everything to follow Jesus - This is what Advent is all about.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Paradox of Advent

``A paradox is not a conflict within reality.
It is a conflict between reality and
your feeling of what reality should be like.''
- Richard Feynman

And here is an example:

And here is another:

"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 at 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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

1st Sunday of Advent

Advent - a time of waiting - for Jesus to be born and for Jesus to return.  We're looking backward and forward at the same time.  We're waiting for something that happened 2000 years ago and we're waiting for something that has not happened yet.  And as we all know - no one likes waiting.  This year major department stores couldn't even wait for Thanksgiving to be over to start their Black Friday sales. What does that say about our inability to wait?

So here we are at the first Sunday of Advent. Will we make it to Christmas?  Join me in the spiritual practice of waiting, as I post quotes, prayers and musings over the next four weeks that are primarily related to Advent, my favorite season of the liturgical calendar.  Let's see if that saying, "Good things come to those who wait" is really true. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Those Darn Waving Cats!

I've received several queries regarding the whereabouts of the Wise Men. As you recall I took them to San Francisco in late Spring for a view of the world outside my powder room. They roamed the hotel, enjoyed an Irish pub crawl and sat in on some of the sessions at the Spiritual Director's International (SDI) conference.

But the trouble began when they tagged along on a trip to China Town. They became mesmerized by those Chinese good-luck beckoning cats that can be found in every tourist gift shop. They saw them in a window and just had to run in to purchase one for their very own. They couldn't wait to get home to set it up on their window sill to admire. And then something strange happened. They just couldn't stop watching the cat waving.

At first they said they enjoyed the friendliness of their cat. They were fascinated by the fact that the cat had a moveable appendage - something they lack - and that they are always quick to point out to anyone who will listen.  They also informed me that they could watch the cat wave all day - and that's what they did for months! It was like their own form of Facebook, but without the friends.

I don't know how many times I tried to coax them to come out of the bathroom for some fresh air but they were not interested. They pretty much ignored me completely. I just wasn't as interesting as that waving cat. So I left them to their obsession.  And then one day a loud wail came from the guest bath. I ran in and asked what was wrong.

Wiseman#1: Help! Our cat has stopped waving!
Wiseman#2: Yes! Begin administering CPR!!
Wiseman#3: Call 911!
Me: Um, I don't know how to break this to you, but there is nothing wrong with your cat.
Wiseman##2: What do you mean? Just look at it! It stopped waving! I think...oh dare I say it?
Wiseman#1: OH NO! Our lucky cat can't be DEAD?
Me: Fellas, calm yourselves...the battery died.
Wiseman #1: Battery? What battery?
Me: The one inside of your precious lucky cat.
Wiseman#3: You mean our cat isn't waving at us of its own accord?
Me: Not's battery-operated. See for yourself.

A period of silence ensued.
Wiseman#2: (Sigh)... I feel duped. I thought the cat loved us.
Wiseman#1: Yeah, I cannot believe we wasted all that time just watching it wave.
Wiseman#3: I really thought it was our friend. I guess we were foolish to trust a cat.
Wiseman#2: And a battery operated one at that!

To be continued.............

Sunday, November 21, 2010


To Belong - Oh, how we want to belong!
To fit into a group, a family, a church, a job, or a relationship.
Too many of us just don't belong.
Today on this last Sunday of the liturgical calendar we focus on Christ as King;
Christ, whose kingship was not based on wielding power, but on serving.
Christ, who never truly belonged anywhere.
Christ, to whom we ALL belong.
May you find your sense of belonging in Christ,
the King who delights in you.

doesn't that photo make you say, "ahhhh?"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Got Gravy?

We're not very good at listening are we? And yet it's one of the greatest gifts we can give one another. I remember childhood Sunday dinners at my grandmother's house, where potatoes were always on the menu.

As I recall, she would create a well in the top of the mashed potatoes. It was a protected space used to hold the butter or the gravy.

Well, that's exactly what good listening does. It creates a protected space and shelter for the words, thoughts, and feelings of the person you're listening to. May we all remember to create such sacred spaces for one another!

Friday, November 12, 2010

anticipatory silence

"There are many kinds of silence to encounter in life,
but there is a particular and delicious terror
to the anticipatory silence that we create
from actually following our heart's desire."
- David Whyte

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"What makes a place special
is the way it buries itself inside the heart,
not whether it's flat or rugged, rich or austere,
wet or arid, gentle or harsh,
warm or cold, wild or tame.
Every place, like every person,
is elevated by the love and respect shown toward it,
and by the way in which its bounty is received.
- Richard Nelson, The Island Within

taken from The Circumference of Home
by Kurt Hoetling, who will be speaking
at St. Paul's this evening.

photo of Cypress Island, Washington State 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ode to Soup

"As the days grow short,
some faces grow long.
But not mine.
Every Autumn,
when the wind turns cold
and darkness comes early,
I am suddenly happy.
It's time to start making soup again."
- Leslie Newman
"Soup puts the heart at ease,
calms down the violence of hunger,
eliminates the tension of the day,
and awakens and refines the appetite."
-Auguste Escoffier

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lydia's Joy

Today Lydia Joy was baptized!
Sustain her O Lord, in your Holy Spirit.
Give her an inquiring and discerning heart,
the courage to will and to presevere,
a spirit to know and to love you,
and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.

The Baptismal Covenant
I will faithfully continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship,
in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.
Where there is evil, I will resist it.
Whenever I fall into sin, I will repent and return to the Lord.
I will proclaim, by both word and example, the Good News of God in Christ.
I will seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving my neighbor as myself.
I will strive for justice and peace, among all people,
and respect the dignity of every human being.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nearer, my God, to Thee?

"The atheist staring from his attic window
is often nearer to God than the believer
caught up in his own false image of God."
- Martin Buber

discuss amongst yourselves

"Old Man Looking Through the Window" by Samuel van Hoogstraaten (1627-1678)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day Prayer

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges:  Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives;  that, by faithful administration and wise laws,  the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes;  through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

from the Book of Common Prayer
photo of NY women voting in 1917

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints Day Prayer

Living God, in whom there is no shadow or change,
we thank you for the gift of life eternal,
and for all those who, having served you well,
now rest from their labours.

We thank you for all the saints remembered and forgotten,
for those dear souls most precious to us.
Today we give thanks for those who during the last twelve months,
have died and entered into glory.

We bless you for their life and love,
and rejoice for them,
"all is well, and all manner of things will be well."

God of Jesus and our God,
mindful of all those choice souls who have gone on ahead of us,
teach us, and each 21st century disciple of every race and place,
- to follow their example to the best of our ability,
- to feed the poor in body or spirit,
- to support and comfort the mourners and the repentant,
- to encourage the meek and stand with them in crises,
- to cherish and learn from the merciful,
- to be humbled by, and stand with, the peacemakers.

Let us clearly recognize what it means to be called the children of God,
and to know we are to be your saints neither by our own inclination nor in our strength
but simply by the call and the healing holiness of Christ Jesus our Saviour.

Prayer of Remembrance by Bruce Prewer, Uniting Church of Australia
photo from wikimedia -
All Saints Day, 1st November 1984 in the Beskiel Cemetery, Oswiecim, Poland.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

trick or treat

Remember trick or treating as a kid? Candy apples and those little paper baggies that kind neighbors filled with rice krispie treats and other homemade goodies? Ah yes, the good old days, and then there was that scare of razor blades in the apples and poison in the candies, so out went all the homemade treats and in came Emergency Rooms offering to x-ray our children's candy....

And it turns out that there actually wasn't a widespread threat from our neighbors, but the FEAR remained and so we continue to safeguard our children from the scary bad guys and gals who are out there...somewhere.

I read in a blog today that Halloween is a wonderful opportunity to practice hospitality to our neighbors - by opening our doors to the unknown - kind of along the lines of  that "love your neighbor" idea that Jesus was always talking about.  Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

leaving church?

A man had been stranded on the proverbial deserted island for years.
Finally a boat comes into view, and the man frantically waves to draw its attention.
The rescuers turn toward shore and arrive on the island.
After greeting the stranded man, one looks around and asks,
"What are those three huts you have here?"
"Well, that's my house there."
"What's that next hut?" asks the sailor.
"I built that hut to be my church."
"What about the other hut?"
"Oh, that's where I used to go to church."

So which one of these
Top 10 Reasons People Leave Church
do you think applies to this stranded man?
1. The church was not helping me to develop spiritually.
2. I did not feel engaged or involved in meaningful church work.
3. Church members were judgmental of others
4. Pastor was not a good preacher
5. Too many changes
6. Members seemed hypocritical
7. Church didn’t seem to be a place where God was at work
8. Church was run by a clique that discouraged involvement
9. Pastor was judgmental of others
10. Pastor seemed hypocritical 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

convinced & despised

Tomorrow's Gospel reading is from Luke 18 -
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector -
Here is the first verse (NAB):

"Jesus addressed this parable to those
who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else."

Being convinced of being right,
can lead to setting myself above others,
which can lead to despising others?
I can't even begin to count the areas in which
I'm convinced I'm right!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Harvest Time

"There is nothing--
no thing,
no person,
no experience,
no thought,
no joy or pain--
that cannot be harvested
and used for nourishment
on our journey to God."
--Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB

as my spiritual director is fond of saying,
'nothing is wasted in God's economy'

Port Townsend Farmer's Market, 2010
photographer - Chris Cooper

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

be a story teller

"If stories come to you, care for them.
And learn to give them away where they are needed.
Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive."
- Barry Lopez

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trippy Shoes

"It's easier to put on a pair of shoes
than to wrap the earth in leather."
Chögyam Trungpa

Ok, the quote doesn't say anything
about walking in the shoes,
just putting them on!
But still,
change does begin within.

the trippy photo is from here

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brawling for a Blessing

Today's Old Testament reading was from Genesis 32 - the story of Jacob wrestling with the Angel.
Do you recall this wild story of Jacob's spending an entire night brawling for a blessing?

"In overcoming God you are overcome.
God enjoys a good fight as much as an Irish publican.
From hearts that struggle there is the hope of honest love.
A lover does not want gratitude or compliance;
soggy affection is no more appealing than cold porridge.
Nothing short of a free and equal passion will suffice.
If such love must be won from long and painful wrestling,
better that than an insipid pretence which does not stir the gut.
It is possible to keep running for a long time.
But once you join battle with the Stranger, you are at risk.
- Michael Riddell from Godzone: A Traveller's Guide, 1992
quote from here

i would also say that cold affection is no more appealing than soggy porridge!
Art: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, by Ben-Zion, 1935

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

building bridges

Jesus' prayer was, 'Father, forgive them;
they know not what they do.'
A prayer born in death, writhing with pain.
A prayer risking faith, facing the sorrow.
A prayer living in hope, seeing the future.

My prayer was, 'God, how can I forgive them?
They do know what they did.'
A prayer saying, 'It still hurts.'
A prayer wanting vengeance.
A prayer seeking direction.

My prayer became, 'God, help me forgive them;
they know what they did.'
A prayer saying, 'They were wrong.'
A prayer wanting reconciliation.
A prayer seeking courage.

My prayer became, 'God, forgive them;
they know what they did.'
A prayer that wrestled with injustice.
A prayer that acknowledges weakness.
A prayer that found hope in God's love.

My prayer remains, "God, forgive them;
they know what they did.'
Because forgiving recreates life from death.
Because forgiving cleanses the healing wound.
Because forgiving builds the bridge of freedom.

-Jared Pingleton, The Role and Function of Forgiveness

Monday, October 11, 2010


"Have you seen a symphony orchestra?...
There is a chap at the back carrying a triangle.
Now and again the conductor will point at him and he will play "ting."
That might seem so insignificant, but in the conception of the composer,
something irreplaceable would be lost to the total beauty of the symphony
if that "ting" did not happen."

- Desmond Tutu
extract from a sermon, 8/81

blessings be upon all the "tingers" of the world.
we are irreplaceable in our composer's eyes.
and without our contribution the symphony of life
just wouldn't sound right.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

the grateful leper

Jesus healed 10 lepers in today's Gospel story.
Only one came back to give thanks. The Samaritan.
Even after being healed he would still be considered an Outcast.
And yet, there he was - Grateful as could be.
Rumi says it best:

brings you to the place
where the Beloved lives."

I would love to have a reference
for where this artwork came from?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

what lasts through the ages

"...can you pick one (beautiful thing) that will last longer than an unselfish act of service.
A rose or a violet is beautiful but how long will it keep its perfect form and color.
A tree is beautiful but eventually its heart will decay and it will fall to the ground.
A large well-proportioned building made of marble and granite is beautiful
but at last it will become a ruin.
A simple act of kindness will outlast them all;
will live on through the ages."

These are the opening lines of the graduation speech of Wynona Whitcomb,
first high school graduate of Forks, WA school system
granddaughter of pioneer Martha Maybury,
founder of Congregation Church in Forks, WA
source: 'Women to Reckon With: Untamed Women of the Olympic Peninsula'
by G. Peterson & G. Schaad

(the school is being demolished to make way for a new high school)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

return to sender


(I have no clue who said this.
Perhaps it was Elvis:)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


"Frisbeetarianism is the belief
that when you die,
your soul goes up on the roof
and gets stuck."
- George Carlin

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hints and Glimpses

"All we have
are hints and glimpses,
something seen fleetingly
as in peripheral vision,
a shadowy shape
beyond the drape,
the voice that whispers
behind the grill,
the merest murmur
of Elysian melody,
a prickling of the skin
which might be
but a draft
from an open window.
But it is the window
opening on eternity,
seen now darkly,
but then
face to face."

Bonnie Thurston
A Corner of the Artist’s Room in Paris (with Open Window), Gwen John.

Life is filled with such moments of almost seeing something, almost touching something,
not knowing with certainty, but comforted by the experience.