Genesis 12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
Matthew 2:13a Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you;
The winter stretches across bare trees.
And in our book we close the chapter on creation
And turn to the Exodus, to the leaving,
To our new becoming.
The Mystery reveals itself in a different guise
Out of a burning
It says “I will be that I will be, this is my name,
I am everywhere, in all things, and I call you forward.
Now take off your shoes,
The ground you are standing on is holy.”
It is hard to hear and difficult to imagine
Something with us in the pain,
In the exposed rawness,
Something with us in the brokenness of life.
But the voice is persistent, it whispers, it shouts,
“I am all that is. Everywhere you are, there I am.
I am the oneness, the unity of all being
And we are in relationship.
And I call you forward.”
The very ground we stand upon is holy.
There is nothing outside the realm of God.
We live in relationship with everything.
This is our covenant—our agreement with the continual becoming:
To know that every moment is sacred.
To act with reverence for all.
And to listen for the whispered silence
That holds us and calls us forward
To be of use
Within the fragility of all life.*
*Picture and meditation by Rabbi Yael Levy, founder of “A Way In: Jewish Mindfulness Program,” January 22, 2016, Face Book Page
It seems since the beginning of time we are called to make journeys. Adam and Eve journeyed from The Garden, Abram and Sarai leave for a place known only to God, and Joseph takes his small family of Mary and Jesus on the dangerous roads to Egypt. We too make journeys. In my life time I have journeyed across this country moving from Ohio, to Texas, to Washington, to California, and back to Washington. I have hopes that I won’t have to move again but I never know when God will call me to a new place.
There is one journey I have yet to make. My father and mother have made it, I have had friends make it and my time will come I have no doubt in that. At some point in the future God will call me to make the last voyage in this life and cross to the next life. Now that is a BIG journey. No one has ever returned to tell us that it is safe journey without dangerous places. In a way we will be making a journey similar to Abram’s and Sarai’s in that only God knows our destination. And, we have no choice but to trust that God will find us a safe route.
Every living thing and creature in this universe will make the journey; fish or plant, dog or human, all of us will cross to a new life somewhere that only God can lead us. Like the Hebrews in the desert we will have to look for the pillar of smoke by day and the pillar of fire by night in order to find the right path.
Last week my beloved Chihuahua, Suzie, passed away. She let go of this life and followed a new caretaker. As I held her in my arms and felt her leave, I knew she was now in good hands. I miss her but like family, friends, and other companions I know someday we will meet and cross the bridge together. Until I too am called, I will hold the memory of Suzie, family, friends, and companions in my heart, which grows to accommodate all the memories of those I love.
While I miss those who have gone ahead I am comforted by the peace that comes from knowing that I will join them someday and what a party we will have.
Peace and blessings to you all. May your memories fill you with joy and give you comfort.
for I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
Giver of abundant gifts, on this Thanksgiving we celebrate . . . we celebrate. Ah what are we celebrating God? It seems to me that we have nothing to celebrate, nothing to be thankful for, except empty hearts and soulless comments.
Too many children are dying before our eyes on beaches, in stormy seas, in mountain passes, and refugee camps. Too many are blinded by their fears, unable to see the path to your love. I don’t know God, I can’t really think of something to be thankful for this year, you see my eyes are clouded with tears and my heart is screaming in pain for those who are being denied entry into our so called circle of love. By the way if it is a circle of love would there really be boundaries?
God I don’t know how to say this but I do believe we humans have failed you and maybe it is time to pull the plug on this experiment. We are tired, I know I am, so please just let us go and let us be thankful for the too few moments when we recognized your love and shared it with the world. Let some other species give being your priestly people a go at it. That task is very plainly to difficult for us. Dogs would be a good choice they love without condition just by being who they are, yes; Dogs would do a good job of being your treasured people.
So I guess I do have something to be thankful for. I am thankful for your love, for your compassion, your presence in the darkest of times. I am grateful for the times we danced in the sunlight, and sang at the moon. I am grateful for your faith in us when we have no faith in ourselves. I am thankful for the many blessings you have given us, sunrises and sunsets, a newborns smile, oh so many gifts. So if it’s alright with you God I will lay my gratitude down at your feet and if it pleases you Lord, I would like to come back as a Dog. AMEN
Matthew 25:36-40 (selected verses): “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me . . . Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? . . . “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the one of the least of these by brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”
I would like to introduce my home health care team. In the last they 5 days since I returned home from the hospital following back surgery they have been an awesome team and they deserve recognition.
First is John, by beloved husband. He has been amazing helping me get out of bed, up from the couch, and fixing for meals more than just macaroni and cheese, or peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. I couldn’t ask for a better person to be my Mobility and General Care Specialist.
Next up is Freddie, by sweet Zen natured Schipperke. His job is to sit and watch me constantly every day, every hour, every minute. To never leave my side, no matter where I am or what I am doing (get the picture). I must admit he seems to know when I am going to be in a lot of pain a beat before I do and he alerts John, the head of the team. He is a very special fellow with very special talent.
Suzie is my Pain Control Specialist. My l little blind Chihuahua is the best comforter when I am struck by a lot of pain. She snuggles up tighter and makes small sounds that fill me with calm. She may be small and she may be blind but she is the love of my life and companion that never wants to leave me. (Even visiting me in the hospital).
And then there are these two guys, George on the left is a Green Cheeked Amazon, and Cuddles (Aka Carlos the South American Terrorist) on the right is a Cherry Head Conure. They manage to keep me laughing by their silliness and funny calls. Without them our house would a lot quieter but a lot less fun.
Well there they are my Health Care Team. You might not want to hire them but to me they are priceless.
Mark 3:33-35 33And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
What makes a family? Is it the group you are born into or is it the people you gather around you?
I have often thought about the words of Jesus found in Mark about who he saw as family and I am coming to an understanding of what he meant. For me my family stopped being just the people I am related to by birth a very long time ago. I was never close with my sister, half-sisters, or half-brother and haven’t seen any of them in well over 30 years. Growing up I never really knew relatives of either my father or mother. So when my parents passed away it was the ending, so I thought, of family.
But over the years I discovered something amazing. Family is really more of what I make of it than what I am given. And, with that discovery I realized family means the people and companion animals who share in the life I live.
So some of my family are those who care about things that I care about such as justice, compassion, the environment, mercy, kindness and some are those who stick with me through good times and bad, no matter what. Some of the members of my family have feathers, and some have fur. Some of my family are newly found relatives of my birth family and some are the members of the family I married into. Some of my family are people I care so much about that it often hurts to be separated from them or to see them in pain. All of the them, from recently discovered cousins to members of my faith community, to the children of my husband and their children, and the dogs, birds and other creatures of God who have enriched my life, are my family. Every one of them have shared and are sharing in my life. Every one of those connecting lives is a sacred trust that God tells me to cherish, and nurture so that all live in abundant grace.
Who are your family members? What sacred connections do have and are creating? Offer a prayer for each and every one of them. Their love and friendship is what makes your life vibrant and purposeful. Give them in return your love and friendship.
This last week I heard of the passing of Marcus Borg. I was sadden not just at his passing but because I have learned so much from his writings. I will miss reading his words and having them open up my understanding of Jesus as both human and Divine. Marcus Borg’s writings were instrumental in changing how I came to look at Jesus, the apostles, and the first century Christians. He made me think and doubt what I have always believed to be true and to take that doubt and turn it on its head by searching for answers and being comfortable with finding only more questions.
Because of Marcus Borg I began to read scripture, questioning the standard interpretations, searching for what the words printed in the Bible meant to those they were written to, the first century believers in Jesus. Borg’s books were my first window into the church of the 21st century and why, and how, it is so different from the community of believers in the 1st century. Reading Borg’s books were instrumental in giving me an interest in pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree and looking at the carefully at the path leading to ordination. Yes I will miss this Master of Theology who opened doors and, through his writings, fostered a love of scripture, sacred texts, theology, and history. Whose writing led me on a search for the divine and human Jesus that I wanted in my life.
We do not go through this life alone. There are many people, our mentors, who have walked and are walking with us. Some mentors we know, some mentors we request or go looking for, some we have not known they were mentors but were our companions for a while, showing us us how to live by living their own quiet, faithful lives. Some mentors never know they mentored us at all. Marcus Borg was one of my mentors who never knew he walked with me. I am grateful for his life and his words. I never met him, only read his books, but I felt ‘close’ to this incredible theologian who made Jesus and God accessible to me.
I will never be able to thank him, so, instead I will thank all of my other mentors while I still have time. My parents, my first grade teacher Miss Wooster, they taught me courage and determination. I am grateful for Pastors from childhood to adulthood that listened to my ravings and didn’t belittle me. I am grateful for my current pastor, and friend, Laurie, who has been the most gracious and gentle of mentors as I have grown in my faith. I am grateful for friends who let me be me, inspiring me to be the best friend I could be. I am grateful for my beloved John who has supported me through thick and thin as we have traveled this crazy new journey God has led us both on in the last 15 years.
I am grateful for the love, comfort, and companionship of dogs, cats and birds who have taught me the value of unconditional love. I am grateful for being able to live and work, and play in a world of great beauty, and sorrow. I am grateful for my life as it is and as it will be and I know that whatever life hands me I know I am not alone, there is always someone standing beside me to offer encouragement.
On this Prayerful Tuesday who are you grateful for? Who has walked with you on a difficult path or a path of exploration and great joy? Who walked with you, gave you insights, taught you a lesson of life that you didn’t recognize at the time? We all have people who have brought meaning to our lives, today offer your gratitude, your thanks for your life’s mentors.
Gracious Presence, I am grateful for all who walk, and have walked, with me on my very bumpy life’s journey. I am grateful for your presence as you have been with me always, even though I don’t recognize you. My spirit is grateful for all I have been given, and thankful for all that is yet to come. Amen.
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
I returned home yesterday from a week of traveling. John and I joked that we could now give recommendations for 4 hotels and 4 different beds if anyone wanted such a thing. It is not that we didn’t have fun, the Turner Lecture’s in Yakima was very informative, with lots of insight and just plain good conversation, we loved visiting the Maryhill Museum and had a delightful time at the Maryhill winery (if you like winery’s this is one not to miss). And, I couldn’t ask for a better end to the trip than the wedding of my beloved cousin Sally to the love of her life, Maggie. However, I agree with Lin Yutang, home is best for a good rest.
When we returned home we were greeted with barks of joy and two wiggly furry bodies, screeches of mom and dad are home from two excited parrots and the inviting comfort of our own bed. I am grateful for the comfort of my own bed, the steamy warmth of my own shower, and the cozy comfort of husband and dogs on the couch. But most of all I am grateful for a silence that feeds a soul drained of its energy by activity and the presence of others who, while I love them all, are a bit needy. Here at home I am grateful for being alone, but not lonely, for silence that speaks to me, and for rest that feeds me.
So today I am asking you to spend time each day in the coming week with, at least, one gratitude for home. Every day offer up a prayer of gratitude for something about your home that you are grateful for and let your heart soar with thankfulness for that space you call home.
May your journeys always be so eventful that you are grateful for the return home.
Dear Holy Spirit, bless all creatures living and passed on that wing their ways across the sky, walk the good earth, and crawl along the path of life. Bless companion creatures that help, comfort and provide joy and company to those they live with. Bless those creatures that work alongside us in conflict and in peace, protect their brave souls and surround them with you love. Pray for those creatures that have been abused and neglected, help them to find loving forever homes, and bless those angelic souls that work tirelessly to help all creatures in need.
Oh, and Lord, as much as I am afraid of spiders I ask you to especially bless them, for they do the work you have set before them with great diligence. All I ask of you is to let those eight legged wonders know that if they stay hidden in my home, I will not harm them.
With gratitude for all your creation, this humblest of creatures thanks you for all of the dogs, cats, birds, cows, horses, chickens, turkeys, and duck that have blessed, and still bless my life. AMEN
The month of August is one of my favorite times of the year a time of reflection and gratitude. This has always been a slow time of year for me. A time to sit on the porch with a cold glass of iced tea and just sit, letting the warm air surround me, and the end of summer sounds lull me into a lazy half-sleep. There are fresh vegetables from the garden, or farmers market, that make even the simplest meals a feast. Ice cream tastes better with ripe fat blackberries, or sweet peaches on top. The trees are making a tired sound as the August breezes blow through leaves that are drying out and getting ready to turn into autumns crowning glory of red and gold.
In May there is excitement, joyousness and expectations in the air, but in August the air begins to get sleepy, tired and a little sad. In just a few short weeks our children will be back in school, the air will turn cold and instead of juicy watermelon on the back porch it will be hot chocolate with cookies at the kitchen table.
As you can see, for me, August is a time of reflection and remembrance but it is also a time to take stock and explore what I am grateful for. And, today gratitude fills my thoughts. I am grateful for the warm sun and gentle rains that have fed my vegetable garden this year. I have feasted on fresh lettuce, green beans, garlic, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers. I have been able to put some in our freezer to pull out and remember the warm summer sun in the darkness of winter. I am grateful for the time spent lying in the shade and letting our dogs use me as a chew toy. Together John and I have watched the sun set over the Olympic Mountains, turning the gold and purple and the waters of Puget Sound into silver. I am grateful for walks in Yost Park and along the Edmonds beach, watching children play in forest and sand. I am grateful for the feeling of life that thrums through me when I watch the sunrise over the trees of Yost Park, turning the sky from dark to bright and the Olympic Mountains pink with the first rays of light. I am grateful for the silence of the morning as I sit and meditate on our deck before sunrise. And, I am grateful for the opportunity to write in my blog, to have the time to read or simply sit and just be.
Gratitude is what warms my heart and gratitude is the spiritual practice I am asking you to join me in this week. You have read some of what I am grateful for now it is your turn. As this summer winds down what are you grateful for? Has something, no matter how small, given you pleasure or challenged you this summer? Have you done something that warms your heart and causes’ it to “swell with thanksgiving?” Did you travel, or read a book, or did you just stop and let the summer wash over you? All of these, and more, are reasons to be grateful.
May G-d bless these your last days of summer with juicy berries and sweet peaches, gentle breezes and warm sunshine. And, may you heart swell with gratitude for the gifts G-d graces you with.
Yesterday was Memorial Day, the day we remember the service of those who have fought our wars and protect our borders. We sometimes forget there are more than men in the line of fire. Women are now serving in positions where they too are potentially at risk. And, there have always been animals, pigeons, and dogs who have laid down their lives for a cause they cannot understand and they do it for the love of the soldier partner. Today I am asking you to remember in prayer those faithful winged and 4-footed creatures who have willingly give up their lives.
As You gaze at the picture take a deep breath and let it out slowly, take a second breath and let it out slowly, let your shoulders relax and your gaze soften.
Look deeply at the picture and let the colors and image enter your imagination. What feelings does this bring to the surface? What memories or stories? Imagine you are walking are a soldier whose lives and works with this faithful dog, what does that look like and feel like to you.
Respond to the image with a prayer for all God’s children who serve in dangerous places on this earth. Offer a prayer of intercession and gratitude for the service men, service women, and service animals who protect us while we sleep.
Continue to gaze at the picture, breathe deeply and rest quietly. Let God pray in you in silence beyond words.