Wednesday, November 30, 2011

another window to the mystery

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

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

photo of winter storm, spider rock, nevada from here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Like the doorkeeper on watch...

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

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

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent stars falling...

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

photo from here

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday Advent

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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

unknown territory

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

studying vs. embodying

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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

threaded beads

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

a life that is my own

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

Saturday, November 12, 2011

you are where?

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

Sunday, November 6, 2011

God who is Wisdom

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 4, 2011

mother's kisses

"The interior life is like a sea of love in which the soul is plunged
and is, as it were, drowned in love. 
Just as a mother holds her child's face in her hands
to cover it with kisses,
so does God hold the devout person who seeks him with a sincere heart.
- St. John Vianney
Mary kissing Jesus...Jesus kissing us...Us kissing one another
 "Kissing the Face of God" by Morgan Wiestling
more painting info found here