Jul 24, 2015

Honor the Endurance

In the morning light we walked the grounds of the charming rural inn before traveling the next leg of our trip.

An expanse of spring green pasture spread out in front of the lodge, circled round by a narrow farm road bordered by fields of wild flowers dotted among the brambles and dense woodlands. 

We walked the rutted road to get a closer view of lambs in the pasture, of hens freely ranging the grassy places, and of the fresh faced Daisies spreading in the sunlit edges of the forest. 

I whispered prayers as we rambled the road. 

We would, that day, continue our long distance travel, deeper into the rural areas of this region to visit loved ones. Loved ones, soul sore burdened by illness, disability, the vigor of health stilled by incomprehensible injury. 

We two people, two threads binding together to gain strength from each other and from our faith, in order to move past our own sorrow to meet the greater needs of those we love.

Claiming sabbath quiet as we walked, I gathered refreshment for the soul. 

In the company of lambs I whispered prayers under the sweeping clouds and across the clustered heads of Daisy growth, inviting holy Lord to bless the visit that lay ahead, to guide our words, to fulfill our hope to do only good and offer encouragement through our presence. 

That He would guard us against making careless dismissive statements, insensitive platitudes, or sweeping comments that the heartbroken can gain no solace from.

I whispered prayers that we would honor the struggle, come along side the challenge, and that we would be able to extend caring concern. 

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, 
but only such as is good for building up, 
as fits the occasion, 
that it may give grace to those who hear."
Ephesians 4:29 ESV


God covered the visit with our dear ones, with much Grace, a depth of loving effort on everyone’s part, and He provided strength through compassion that we hoped for. My heart swelled with unending admiration for the endurance and effort of our loved one and the fortitude of the devoted family who are providing constant care.

Sources for understanding chronic illness:

Jul 15, 2015

Social Holiness

He was exceptionally gregarious and she had a heart for serving others. Together our parents modeled an active life of community service and hospitality. We knew the inside of most of the churches in town, not just our own. I can not count the number of church potlucks that Dad supported via the purchase of tickets to feed his family eight. One congregation hosted a Spaghetti Dinner, we were there. Another denomination hosted an annual Smorgasbord every spring, we were there. Pancake Breakfast at the largest church in town started way too early on a Saturday morning, but even Dad’s teenagers were strongly encouraged to join him. The little rural church in the country had a potluck lunch and a quilt raffle, my Dad bought tickets even when half his kids were away at college. 

“How many memories do you have of great conversations shared over a good meal? …something special happens when we break bread and share drinks with one another. It is a holy time.”

In the 70’s, Meals on Wheels was one of our mother’s chosen forms of outreach. Here she had six near adult kids at home that she was preparing meals for every evening and still, she loaded up lunches in the back the station wagon and drove around town for several hours delivering lunch along with a few moments of neighborly conversation, to the elderly folks in our community. At times the younger siblings accompanied her. They remember the people, the gratitude, and our mother’s gift of friendship.

Methodist founder John Wesley called this 
active engagement of humanity “social holiness”.

We practice Christian hospitality even in the smallest places of our daily life: when we offer a  smile and whisper support to the mother struggling with her teenager in a restaurant, when we email a note to a woman who was absent from the week’s Bible Study class, when we suggest a lunch date to a person who we know is struggling, when we greet walkers on the path, regardless of race or class; any time we support, serve, and extend grace.

Social holiness requires intention and hospitality.
Someone you know would love to join you for lunch.

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Jul 9, 2015

Morning's Stillness

In early spring wind off the waves brushed gently against our faces with soft touches of warmth and great moist whiffs of the sea. Pants legs rolled up to sink feet in the white bounty of coastal sand and surf. We walked. The wind swept through the mind, carrying the burdens of living far out to sea. I point out the scurrying Sand Pipers and he scours the beds of washed up shells for beauty.

Sand glistens in the way of gems, reflecting light from facets of uncountable grains, all broken, polished, and scattered across the beach. Treasures of the sea cast onto the shore, sourced from rock, shells, and marine life, mingled in tidal deposits washed up by waves. 

As I recall myself bowing over the sand, scanning the collection tumbled onto the beach, I ponder how similar this image could be to holy God gazing down from celestial heights onto the minute beings of humanity. Certainly, the diverse bits of shells, rock, driftwood, the occasional gull’s feather, or dried sand dollar ~ certainly, such a collection is loosely symbolic of humankind’s wide range of color and form in varying stages of wave tossed brokenness. I ponder the scriptures that assure us that our Creator follows the journey of each remnant of life and gathers it all for redeemed purpose.

And I walked, 
heart full to bursting, 
contemplating the divinely guided galaxies in the cosmos 
replicated in small earthly microcosms 
for human eyes to witness 
the magnitude 
and detail 
of God’s power.

The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens and has founded His vaulted dome over the earth,
He who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth,
The Lord is His name.
Amos 9:6


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Jul 3, 2015

As the Cicadas Sing

After morning coffee on the back patio, after puttering with the flower pots, and after a walk around the ponds, the sun’s height begins to heat up this part of the world sending folks like myself to benches situated under the deepest shade or to comfy chairs in cozy air-conditioned spaces, anticipating the company of a good book.

Summer reading lists are iconic. Schools require them. Libraries endorse them. Newspapers publish them. Book sellers advertise them. Readers eagerly share them and scour the titles of favored choices for the season. 

Still preferring the real-deal hard copy to hold in my hands, 
these are some of the books in this month’s stack:

  1. Wearing God by Lauren Winner. I really loved this fascinating exploration of the metaphors found in scripture that are used to describe God. Some were the familiar “clothed by God” and God as "the bread of life", other’s were much more surprising for instance God as “a sweet smelling savor” and as a laboring woman. Would love to read this one as a book study to discuss with others.
  2. In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan L. Richardson. Written in a combined format of a daily devotional and as an informational text of historical accounts about the lives of notable Christian women including Eve, St. Brigid, Hildegard of Bingen, the Desert Mothers and others. This book has succeeded in capturing my heart for these sisters of faith. It requires a leisure pace and has been a reading in progress for several months. 
  3. Eyes of the Heart by Christine V. Paintner.  The photographer in me is relishing this discussion of photography  as a spiritual practice. The work has opened my thinking to many new insights and practical suggestions to implement photography as a contemplative practice. 
  4. No Man Is An Island by Thomas Moore. No doubt you will have heard of this classic and the renown Trappist Monk who wrote it. Although I was aware of the remarkable history of Moore’s devotion to a religious life of service, teaching, and writing; nothing compares to reading his own words. 
  5. “Artful Blogging”, a magazine by Somerset Studio features the photographic beauty of several blogs in each issue. Pure eye candy for artistic photography and an interesting mix of tales about the blogging experience. Light and engaging creative inspiration.

Summer’s traditions include uninterrupted hours spent with well loved books. May you be blessed by an inspiring read as the cicadas sing and the porch swing glides.


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