GOD SAID

Sunrise, Edmonds WA September 2, 2013 Ruth Jewell
Sunrise, Edmonds WA
September 2, 2013
Ruth Jewell

I have been trying to make sense of the events of the last week. The deaths of two black men at the hands of the police, the Dallas Police targeted and killed, and the bombings in Iraq and Turkey. And, just today a new shooting in Michigan. My heart is filled with sadness and tears and I could only cry out to God “Where Are YOU.”

“God where were you . . .
when suicide bombers chose to end their lives and take the innocent with them?
Where were you when 29 men and woman
enjoying a night out were used as target practice?
Where are you when cops shoot people,
when people shoot people,
when cops are targeted,
When people die, the good and the bad?”

God where are you . . .
when we are filled with emptiness by shooting after shooting,
when bombings and assaults become common place?
Where are you when we turn the news on and
another child has died, another cop is killed,
another person of color, differing abilities, or characteristics is assaulted or killed?”

“Why Oh God do you not answer?”

God said “I am there . . .
Holding the bodies as they bleed,
I am there leading the survivors’ out of danger.
I am there, holding the victim’s family’s in my arms
I am there in the broken hearts of witnesses, law enforcement.”

“When the darkness is greatest
I will sit with you, and listen to your sorrows,
I will hold you in my arms when you are weary.”
All I can do is lead the dying home to my arms,
to comfort those left behind, if they let me.”

“When pain and grief grip you
I will be there to tell you everything will be alright.
When you scream into the night,
I will come and comfort you,
I will dry your tears, and wrap you in my embrace.”

“I will be there when you are weary and in pain,
I will be there to lift you up, and comfort you,
All you have to do is call”.

God said, “I cry when you do not hear my voice, and
I cannot stop you from harming each other,
that choice is yours alone.

“All I can do is encourage each of you to stand up for justice and mercy.
All I can do is hope your hearts will soften
and let the love I have for each of you awaken your love for each other.
All I can do is wait for you to choose the path of justice, mercy, love and peace
between your selves and all that is created.”

God says “I gave you the choice of right or wrong,
It is up to you to choose. I will not make that choice for you
nor will I force you to choose one path over another!”

“You asked for freedom, it is your responsibility to choose.
Choose to use that freedom wisely.”

Ruth Jewell ©, July 11, 2016

 

Prayerful Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Into the Wilderness
Into the Wilderness

Into the Wilderness

An old Hebrew root for wilderness means “to speak,” {dabar – meaning “to speak” is a primitive root of midbar – meaning wilderness, a place where you can hear G-d speak}.  Those who traveled into the wilderness were outsiders, minorities, women and Judean peasants and they were the ones that heard G-d speak.  All too often we believe we have to be on the “inside” to hear G-d’s voice, we must “do it the right way” in order for G-d to notice us and accept us.  Yet that isn’t the way I’ve observed G-d work.  It is the outsider, the minority, the woman, the one who seems to be doing it all wrong that is called by G‑d.

How often do feel as if you are on the outside?  Might G-d be calling to you, inviting you into the wilderness, to hear the voice of the Creator? Today I invite to take this moment and breathe deeply.  Breathe out your burdens, worries, your cares and the responsibilities that weigh on you.  Sit in stillness and open up to G-d’s voice.  G-d will take your concerns and tend to them while you rest in G-d’s loving kindness and grade.  Breathe in G-d’s presence and love for you.  Remain still for 5 or 10 minutes in your inner silence and breathe the breath of G-d.

My prayer for you this day is that the stillness of this moment will remain within your heart all day letting you see G-d’s grace and blessings in all of the days tasks.

The Peace of G-d be upon you.

Ruth Jewell, September 10, 2013

 

More than Enough

 

Suzie
Suzie

Matthew 25: 40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Saturday John and I welcomed a new family member into our home.  A small stray dog rescued by the Sonoma County Animal Shelter.  She is a 5-year-old Chihuahua who is also completely blind.  For someone she was simply a throw away life, to John, me and my cousin, who brought her up from California, she is a delight; sweet-tempered and loving.

As John and I prepared for her arrival I began to reflect on how privileged I am.  How privileged all of us are.  We have enough to eat, nice clothes to wear, clean drinking water, and warm homes that shelter us.  We are, for the most part, healthy and able to get around without assistance. In general we all have friends who welcome us, even if we do not have family.   We have all been well-educated, never experiencing or having very little experience of being prevented from learning, or doing whatever we choose to do.

We walk our streets without fear of being shot by snipers, or being killed by daily shelling or in the crossfire of combatants.  We know where our children are and have no fear about sending them to school or leaving them alone.  We can shop for anything in the world; shoes, clothes, and food in quantities the rest of the world finds totally amazing. We think nothing of ordering from Amazon a new electronic gadget or, in my case, books of every kind.  Do you realize the poorest of us in Snohomish and King Country has more than those that live in Darfur?  The poorest in this country would be considered wealthy by many in third world countries.

Right now our government is deciding whether to intervene in Syria and my honest prayer is “please let’s not do this.”  But the issue of this intervention is way more complicated than just not wanting to because I am “tired of war” and “I don’t want to open a new front that will suck more of our much needed funds away.”  I am not the one being shelled, I am not the one being poisoned, and I am not the one in the cross-hairs.  My heart goes out to those caught in a war zone and am frustrated because there is so little I can do to help except send my prayers.

I realize I am embarrassed by my riches.  What makes me worth more than those in Syria, or homeless of Nicklesville Tent City, or refugees in Darfur?  So my prayers this week have been extremely troubled.  How do I make a difference?  How do I help the poorest in this country and the rest of the world?  How do I follow in the steps of the one I choose to follow?  I am afraid, uncertain, confused, and unsure. I am overwhelmed by the enormity of what the heart of my heart calls me to do.  My prayers and my small offerings seem inadequate.  But that is what I have to offer.  There is a line from a poem by John Phillip Newell that I practically like, “Be strong and let your heart take courage.”  That is what I am trying to do. I can’t do a lot but my little bit just might be helpful.

Adopting Suzie, one of G-d’s children thrown to the side of the road, is a small thing. And in all that I have been blessed with I have more than enough to live my life. Sharing out of what I have been blessed with only adds to my riches in a new way.  Therefore, I vow to give out of all I’ve been blessed with by doing many small things and maybe if we all did small things they would add up to a collective big thing.   All we have to do is everyday give a small thing out of our great abundance and maybe, just maybe, we might change the world.  For me one of those small things is to never stop praying because it may seem inadequate at the time but calling out to G-D in heartfelt sincerity and surrender is never a waste of my time and leads me to actions that benefit others.  Life is full of choices and I choose to be more giving of the blessings I’ve received.

In the short-term none of what I do may change how the homeless are treated, whether injustices are set right, or whether or not we go to war.  In the long-term it will be only G-d who will remember how a lost heart was pointed to a better path. My small offering will be just one more strand strengthening the ever-growing fabric of life.  I find that to be amazing and astounding and more than enough to keep me going.

Ruth Jewell, ©September 9, 2013

Prayerful Tuesday, August 20, 2013

She Danced
She Danced

Luke 13: 11-13 11.And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12.When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ 13.When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. (NRSV)

She Danced

She entered, bent over
bound by pain
all she could see
was the ground at her feet

“Come to me” He said
“I will set you free”
She stood, straight and tall
a smile on her face

With a cry of joy
She danced

Ruth Jewell ©August 19, 2013

Today‘s prayer is to look up from your smart phone, iPad® or tablet and look around you. Reach your arms to the sky, feeling the warm sun on your face. Offer the following prayer Celtic prayer by John Phillip Newell (Celtic Treasure, Daily scriptures and Prayer, Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005) or one of your own to celebrate the joy of being able to dance:

The blessings of heaven,
the blessings of earth,
the blessings of sea and of sky.
On those we love this day
and on every human family
the gifts of heaven,
the gifts of earth,
the gifts of sea and sky.

May your day be a blessed one and may you be a prayer to all you meet.

Ruth Jewell

Thunder Storm

 

Thunderstorm Picture by NOAA
Thunderstorm Picture by NOAA

A mountain moves toward me
white and gray, filled with rain
suddenly a flash of light
one thousand one
one thousand two
one thousand three
one thousand four
one thousand five, Boom, Crash
five miles,
the storm is five miles away
the air is heavy, the first scent of ozone reaches me

Hurry gather the chickens into their coop
the normally combative rooster runs in first
with clucks and cheeps the hens settle on
their roosts and nests
the now brave rooster hurry’s me out
A flash of light
one thousand one
one thousand two
one thousand three, Boom, Crash
three miles
the storm is moving quickly
the light is fading

Run to the barn and open the gate
to the lounging area
the cows already are waiting to be let in
horses move toward the opening
one recalcitrant pony stands in the middle of the pasture
yelling at the storm, “I command you to stay away”
the wind blows his black main and tail back, the storm moves
closer . . . a flash of light, and the brave soul runs for the barn
hooves flashing, neck stretched out and ears flat
as the first big drops of rain fall on his back he darts into the barn
the other animals look at him
“Didn’t work did it”, a flash of light
one thousand one, Boom, Crash,
one mile
I climb the steps to the hay loft with the dog and cat
and throw biscuits of hay down to the animals, Flash
one thou…. Boom, Crash
the storm is on me,
too late to reach the house

I settle down into the hay loft
dog and cat curl up beside me
rain pounds the tin roof
in a symphony to put Beethoven to shame
lightening and thunder come together now
flashing light and sound through and around the barn
rain rushes and pours off the roof,
the old pine and maple trees bend and sway in the wind and water
rivulets of water run down into the pasture
making ponds and small streams
the smell of wet earth, rain, and ozone fills the troubled air

the horses and cattle mill around down below
the scent of their warm bodies drift up to me
I hear a rustle in the beams of the barn and
Pigeons and sparrows settle in to share my shelter
in a corner, far from the barn owl, who also lives here
a meadow mouse sits and nibbles a bit of grain
sharing my space in companionable silence
many call this barn home, cattle, horses, owls,
pigeons, sparrows, mice and rabbits
it is a sanctuary, a safe place
a place where all live in harmony
at least until they leave its safe walls

The loft is warm, the hay sweetly scented
Using the dog as a pillow I lay down to wait out the storm
I listen to the horses and cattle talk
the pigeons rustle and coo
slowly the rain and thunder lulls me into a place of calm
time stops and I drift into creation

Ruth Jewell ©May 4, 2013

a bit of gardening

ROSEMARYThis past week John and I did a bit of gardening.  We had a rosemary bush being shaded by another bush and I wanted to move it.  So we prepared the new spot where it was to go, dug the new hole and went over to our lovely rosemary bush.  Now you should know I planted this bush 6 or 7 years ago and I haven’t touched it to really prune it in 5 years.  That means it wasn’t a small bush.  For the last 5 years it has been doing a wonderful job of growing as it now stood nearly 5 feet tall and had a spread of closer to 6 feet.  But, we started pruning and pruning, and pruning.  Some of the branches were more than an inch thick and really woody (great in our fireplace though).  After being prickled and rosemary scented by our bush we got down to digging the roots up.  I never knew this about rosemary but it puts down ROOTS, not little roots, big ones and deep.  Also, they extended farther than the drip line of the bush which made finding the ends of the plant actually very difficult.  We ended up cutting a lot of roots because we couldn’t find where they stopped.  But we moved our tenacious plant and got it planted in its new home and it is doing well enjoying all the sun it wants and lots of water.

After we were finished and cleaning up I remembered something about rosemary.  First of all rosemary, in flower language, means remembrance and that sweet, huge, tough bush reminded me of just how persistent our memories are.  Deep within each of us lives a world that was.  Sometimes it surfaces when we least expect it whether we want it to or not.  But our past makes us who we are and embracing the happy, the sad, the good with the bad memories helps balance our present. Learning from my past mistakes and successes provides me with a road map for my way forward.  All of those memories connect me to something greater than just this single moment in time.  It is also the memories of those who modeled the best of their lives which have led me to being a better person in my own life.

It is the memory of my parents and how they loved and cared for me that has taught me to be a more loving and caring wife, friend, and grandmother.  It was my parent’s determination to model a life that included people of all backgrounds, races, genders, and abilities that has given me a passion for my openness to those who are different from me.  It was my father’s love of creation and prayer and silence that has been my model for my spiritual growth throughout my life.  It was a first grade teacher’s kindness to this wounded child that taught me anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

The memories I have of wandering open fields, lying in new mown grass, making storybook figures out clouds, and reading a book while I sat in the crook of an old apple tree gave me a love of open spaces.  I have precious memories of  being awakened at midnight to watch the Aurora Borealis with my father, or going out to our barn to watch as calves or puppies were born that hold a special place in my heart.  It is remembering thunder storms roll across our fields and listening as the rain pummeled the tin roof of our barn, or rushed through the branches of the huge pine tree that was just outside my bedroom window that draws me into a place of contemplation and peace like nothing else can.

It is the memory of pulling a deep fat fryer full of hot grease down on top of me that reminds me that accidents happen but I am not alone even in the worst of times.  It is the memory of a child in the hospital bed next to me who died during the night that taught me that fresh grief is always inconsolable.  It is the memory of uncaring questions by adults and taunts of other children that taught me that sometimes people can be cruel.  The memory of my father’s death from cancer keeps me asking “why” questions of God and doubting the fairness of life the Scripture tells me is good. It was being laid off for a year that taught me to let go of my fears, face them, then hand them over to the all surrounding presence that has always been in my life.  It is the memory of my discovery of how much I have been surrounded by the Spirit that has changed me from who I was into the person I am today. Memories are the soil of our lives; mine goes deep with plenty of memory leaf compost and with each day. With each new memory made the soil gets deeper and richer.

The best part is that each of us has our own bed of memories to draw upon.  Some are wonderful, insightful memories, some are horrid memories we would rather forget entirely, but by facing them we turn those bad memories into rich memory compost.  Even the memories of death and destruction have a place in our lives, just as the memories of our mother’s arms around us does.  Each memory adds to who we are and allows us to see who we were. Memories are the mirrors of our soul and how our soul has grown into who we are.  For the good and bad memories are who we are.  In learning to live with what we remember gives us the skills we need to live in the world we share with all of creation.

Creation, life, isn’t always fair or beautiful to our eyes. But, we don’t see the big picture; we see only our very small portion. Like an ant on a forest floor the view of our individual world of reality is very small.  What we remember of our past helps us see the greater picture. Memories give us a wider view of the life that lies before us and behind us. Our memories connect us to those we have loved, and hated, giving us a past to live from.

Not having a past cuts us off from our life today.  It is the reason those with Alzheimer’s, dementia or traumatic brain injuries that affects memory feel so cut off from the world around them.  They have nothing to compare today with so how do they know what today means; how do they relate to people and the world around them.  The greatest gift we can give those who cannot remember is to give them a piece of their past to ground them in the now moment of their lives and to do it every moment, every hour, every day we are with them.  The joy of someone who discovers their own past is amazing and life giving.

Memories are the soil we stand on, the ground of our lives that allows us to live better lives today and tomorrow.  Rosemary, the plant of remembrance, is tough, strong, and sweet and I want to remember my yesterdays to make my tomorrows tough, strong, and sweet.

Ruth Jewell ©April 30, 2013

The Liebster Award

What Wonder Comes When We Least Expect

April 13, 2013

What is the “Liebster Blog Award?”

The Liebster award is given to up and coming bloggers to encourage them to continue their work. What is a Liebster? The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

It’s an award that was reputedly started in Germany in order to give smaller bloggers recognition for their hard work. You receive this award from a fellow blogger that feels your blog is both worthy & important to them. If you receive this award, there are two rules.

1. You must award 3-5 other bloggers with the award. In this case, it is five.
2. The bloggers awarded must have less than 300 followers.

Participation is completely voluntary and is not limited to any genre or writing for that matter. Basically, the blog can be about anything and simply has to be one that you feel is worthy and that you would like to give recognition to by passing it on.

I am honored to have been nominated by http://sandyshopefulroom.com/ , it was a lovely surprise to be seen as a blogger worth nominating.  Thank you again Sandy’s Hopeful Room.

In the rules of the award I am supposed to nominate 3 to 5 other bloggers but because I am an intermittent blogger I really don’t follow that many. Also this requires a bit of time and  writing and I wouldn’t want to force anyone to do something they are uncomfortable with.  Therefore I am going to nominate 3 for the award and if all they want to do is accept the nomination as Honorary that is just fine with me. I did some research and found you can accept this as an Honorary Liebster award. So I am accepting this nomination for the Liebster award but leave it open to other to accept as honorary or at whatever level they feel comfortable with. Below are the rules for both:

Here are the rules for receiving this honorary award:

  1. Accept the award with a statement of gratitude
  2. Post the award on your blog

If you choose to follow the complete rules here they are:

  1. Answer the questions the person has posted for them
  2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
  3. Choose 5 to 10 people and link them in your post.
  4. Go to their page and tell them.
  5. Post the award on your blog

Some Interesting information about me;

  1. I am a 66 year old perpetual student
  2. I have just completed my second masters degree, a Masters of Divinity and am discerning whether or not I am called to ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  3. I am graduating from the School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle University on June 16, 2013
  4. I love to read.  I am currently reading Gracias by Henri Nouwen, Written That You May Believe by Sandra Schneiders, and (for about the 10th time) The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  5. I love to sit in silence and listen for the word offered me by the All Surrounding Presence
  6. Life for me is simply one big adventure that I dive into with all I have
  7. I love visiting our grandchildren in Boston, 4 year old Amelia and 6 year old Liam, for they bring me great joy in their discovery of life.
  8. I love playing with my two parrots, Green Cheeked Amazon George, and Cherry Head Conure Cuddles (also known as Carlos the South American terror) and our beautiful dog Fred.
  9. I love to travel with my husband John to new and amazing places
  10. I love to cook and watch others enjoy the food I prepare
  11. I love my friends, all of them, from the youngest to the oldest for they enrich my life in ways I cannot explain.

Here are the answers to the questions Sandy has asked of me:

1.      Who is my mentor?

My mentor, or I should say mentors, are those who model the best of who they are in life.  Three of my mentors are my pastor who has shown me what compassion is; my Regional Minister who has shown me the true meaning of courage; and my husband who has shown me what it means to love and be loved.

2.      Who is your favorite author?

Now this is a hard question for I have many favorites.  I currently have 4 that I am enamored with:  Joyce Rupp, John Phillip Newell, Henri Nouwen, and Brian McLaren.

3.      Where did you go on your best vacation and why?

Last December I went on a cruise in the Caribbean.  I love cruises they have only as much activity as I want to engage in and a great deal of space and time for meditation and contemplation.  The cruise to the Caribbean gave me the opportunity to meet people of another culture and discover their kindness and generosity and offer my gratitude.  Our time in Caribbean was a time of engaging creation in unexpected ways.

4.      Do you have a motto you live by?

Micah 6:8

5.      If you could be anyone in the world (alive or dead), who would that be?

I’m not sure I could be anyone other than who I am after all it has taken me 66 years of errors and successes to get here.  If I were anyone else I would not be who I have become and therefore probably not answering these questions.  If anything intrigues me at all it is who I might be if I were born 1 or 2 hundred years into the future.  It would be interesting to know how our world, society and culture will survive these tumultuous years.  I guess I would really want to know if we a people have grown spiritually or have we given away our humanity.

6.      What is your favorite movie?

Now this is a difficult question, as I am not much of a movie person but if I had to choose I think the Princess Bride is one of my favorites.  I like movies that are light and escapist or provide me with something to think about.  So I also like The Lord of the Rings because it gives me insight into what it means to faithfully follow ones task even if you haven’t actually chosen it.  I also love science fiction because it offers today’s issues in new settings that helps me to see them from a different angle.

7.      Newspapers, Internet News or Television News?

I am a hard copy, paper reading, and book holding in my hands kind of person.  The electronic media leaves me a cold so the newspaper I like is our local paper, The Everett Herald, from Everett Washington.

8.      When do you do your best writing?

Five minutes before it’s due.  Well not quite that bad, but, I do often wait until the last minute to write something.  Although I once wrote a homily for Morning Prayers on the bus in route to chapel and it turned out to be one of my best.

9.      Morning person or night person?

I am definitely a morning person.

10.  Name one news story that fascinates you right now.

I am currently struggling with all of the issues associated with gun control. I do not understand our countries fascination with weapons and am trying to come to grips with the violence guns, and all weapons, have on our society.   I am mortified and saddened by the violence against innocents that happens every day and I am confused by those who claim that more access to violent means will make it all better.  No one has given me a satisfactory explanation for any of this horror.

11.  What would you want to do if you knew you had one week to live?

What would I do, well I think I would take the time to hold my family in my arms one more time and then sit and watch the sunrise over the Cascade Mountains and set over Puget Sound.  I would listening to my dog and birds play, the song sparrows at the feeder and the Jays squabble.  That would be my last sounds here on this earth.  Then I would open my arms and let the new adventure begin.

So here are my questions for you:

  1. If you could choose anywhere to live where would it be and why?
  2. What is you favorite piece of music?
  3. What is your favorite book?
  4. What period in time would you most like to live?
  5. What would be your ideal purpose in life?
  6. What task is your least favorite, ever?
  7. What world issue are you current struggling with?
  8. Name one or two people who have been mentors in your life?
  9. If you had to live today over in what ways would it be different?

I am nominating the following Bloggers:

http://cloakedmonk.com/

http://justbetweentheridges.wordpress.com/

http://followingmypathatplts.wordpress.com/