Jul 4, 2017

A Sacred Haven

Celebrations abound across the nation this July day. 

Born in a country prominent and powerful through out the planet, 
vast in splendor geographically, culturally, and materially; 
there is a great abundance to celebrate.

After the star spangled patriotic parades and the grilled feast picnics followed by blazingly spectacular fireworks...  

at the heart of this day
is a deep abiding love of home, 
the nation we claim, 
as well as the literal roof over our heads.

The freedom we have to strive to be graced with walls within which we live with people most dear to us. 
The freedom we have to design our families and create our homes in diverse ways and places. 
The freedom we have to pursue work to build a nest to feather for our comfort, survival, and security.
The constitutional rights and legal protections that make our home a sacred haven.

By the grace of God,
by the courageous might of our 
service men and women,
by the unique ingenuity and contributions
of our diverse people for 241 years,
the freedoms of home remain precious to us all.

Apr 15, 2017

A Poet's Holy Muse

Spring alternately bristled and curtsied this week. 
Cutting, crisp winds with rain and intermittent low temps one moment, 
upstaged by bold rays of sun the next day, 
teasing our trees and budding bulbs to release their fragile blooms.

Amidst the indecisiveness of the outdoors I ventured into the library 
where fortune blessed me with an introduction to poet Jane Kenyon
by way of A Hundred White Daffodils
a collection of her essays, interviews, translations,  and poems.
Pleasantly, as rain flooded the back ponds, I discovered a new favored writer.
Jane Kenyon is a highly regarded contemporary poet whose work is greatly influenced by her Christian faith. 

She writes,
“It was my habit to speak to Him.
His goodness perfumed my life.
I loved the Lord,
he heard my cry,
and he loved me as His own.”
From “Woman, Why are You Weeping”, p.207

* * * 

And later in reading an interview with  Bill Moyers,
Jane claims: There are times when I feel I’m given poems.
Bill Moyers: How do we cultivate that in ourselves?
Jane Kenyon: We have to get quiet. We have to be still, and that’s harder and harder in this century.     ...
Moyers: How did you come to write “Let the Evening Come”? So many people say that is the favorite of your poems.
Kenyon: That poem was given to me.
Moyers: By?
Kenyon: The muse, the Holy Ghost... I felt I needed something redeeming. I went upstairs with the purpose of writing something redeeming...this just fell out.

* * * 

This happens, does it not? In just this way. 
In our creative experiences, as one writes, strums, or applies oils to canvas, sensing a hand in union with eye and the heart, 
the Creator present in our inner musing 
to guide our efforts to record His creation.

A Hundred White Daffodils illuminated these early brooding days of spring, 
these expectant and watchful days Lent.

“It’s not just more flowers I want, it’s more light,
more air for flowers, more sun for cheerfulness...
and a hundred white daffodils that grow after dusk 
against the unpainted boards  of an old barn.” 
From “The Phantom Pruner”, p.50
[Originally posted 2014]

Feb 23, 2017

Honored to Pause

Morning light slipped onto the sill.
Rays arriving with the dawn rarely reach this niche of glass,
rarely attract notice.
Dispersed refractions glimmer among the prisms; 
brilliance within a microcosm, serendipitous and transient.
Honored to pause, 
witnessing the gift ...
acknowledging too,
the multitude of random wonders that flourish unseen.

May you witness the gifts,

Nov 6, 2016

Sabbath in a Sanctuary of the Oaks

"Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, 
a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn."

Photograph by Lisa Moreland

Today's Sabbath was experienced 
in the sanctuary of the Oaks.

Paths lace the curvature of a creek and its pooling ponds that flow through the neighborhood. Decades of consistent water has populated the shoreline with a variety of stately Oak trees. Their diversity is never more apparent than in autumn, as acorns of every size, various patterns, and a range of color cascade from leafy canopies, down through the limbs, to cover the ground with an abundance of uniquely capped nuts. 

Photograph by Lisa Moreland
Their scattered presence speaks boldly to the soul.  Boldly, as evidence of the Creator's mandate for diversity in all species.  Boldly, as examples of His sustaining provision in all seasons. Boldly, according to St. Bonaventure, as an inscription of God's "footprint", along with all things that cover the earth. 

"God writes the Gospel, 
not in the Bible alone, 
but also on trees, 
and in the flowers and clouds and stars."
Martin Luther

May your Sabbath be filled with God's tender presence and reassurance,

Linking with these faith writers: Spiritual Sundays, Scripture & a Snapshot,  & Coffee for the Heart. Click on the links to read more posts. 

Aug 27, 2016

Heed a Song Sung for the Spirit

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, 
and watching for this purpose with all perseverance 
and supplication for all saints…” 
Ephesians 6:18 WBT

A songbird trills its melody just outside the kitchen window, 
a back drop to the rote routines of morning; 
brewing tea, let the dog out, light a candle, empty the dish rack, pour milk over cereal. 

Refreshed from sleep, thoughts are quiet. 
Attention is allowed to settle effortlessly on patterned sequences of tasks and paths around the kitchen. Familiar movements follow: cupping the mug, spooning cereal, holding a match to the wick, opening shutters for the first glimpse at day. 

In the midst of rinsing the bowl, 
candle fragrance rising, 
and still sipping tea, 
the bird’s song register’s again. 
Still singing. 

The mind’s attention sharpens. 
Movements cease. 
Silently I hear You’re missing this.

Return to the table. Search the foliage rich view beyond the window for the feathered resident. 
Sit with the song. 

Hear deep in your marrow a song sung for the Spirit within, by the same Spirit that permeates all. Awaken to the soul’s response as whispers begin my own morning’s praises and prayers, joining the song bird’s melody.

Though the songbird has ceased, 
candle fragrance fills the room 
and prayer continues in gratitude for heeding the Holy Spirit’s invitation.  

“Devote yourselves to prayer, 
being watchful and thankful.” 
Colossians 4:2 NIV

Aug 4, 2016

Be Like Jesus

{For the past several months I have been working with a small group of folks at my church, defining what a Creative Writing Team might contribute to worship. In part we have been in conversation about beginning a blog designed to compliment each sermon series for the contemporary service. This post was first shared on that blog.}


“God decided from the outset

to shape the lives of those who love him 

along the same lines as the life of his Son.” 

Romans 8:29 MSG

God’s fervent intent, His deepest desire, is to make us into Jesus’ image; for us to be like Jesus. The concept may seem daunting. Here are some thoughts that point the way.

Lauren F. Winner, Duke Divinity School Assistant Professor reminds us, “Jesus specialized in asking people to steep themselves in the words of the scriptures and then to look around their ordinary Tuesdays to see what they could see about holiness and life with God.” In her book, Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God, Winner explores multiple Biblical metaphors that symbolically illustrate the nature of God. From such symbolism we gain insight to ways that we can be Christ-like. For instance, Colossians 3:12 NIV tells us, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Put on Jesus’ nature each morning just as you put on your day’s attire. Wrap yourself in His character as you engage in those ordinary days that are every day of the week. Be like Jesus, for His interaction with the people was not just on the Sabbath and did not happen behind the pulpit of a sanctuary. His conversations with seekers occurred across the tables of a meal, down the street around the local well, on lake shores in the midst of workday chores, on the road during travel, in homes and on hillsides, as well as in the congested thoroughfares of city streets. To be like Jesus, to love people as God loves us, we must wear our faith into every venue that we frequent. 

To be like Jesus, Christians simply have to show up. Jesus showed up in the hard places of human life. He showed up when people were diseased and dying. He sought out the poor, the widow, the orphaned, the marginalized, and the felon. Jesus offered food when the crowd was hungry. He washed feet to express His love. As Shelly Miller describes, “... God often shows up in the messy, broken, ordinary, complicated of the mundane.” In the foot steps of Christ, with the love of Christ, we are given compassion and courage to show up, to be His ambassador of hope for people who are struggling.

“ He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; 
and greater works than these he will do.”

John 14:12 NKJV

In the course of our efforts we’ll encounter people with deep questions regarding faith. It’s helpful to remember that Jesus repeatedly engaged in conversations with people who doubted His divine nature. But His followers knew Him to be approachable. Strangers knew Him as a teacher; ever patient, prepared to illustrate again, within the context of daily life, a new metaphor, a new story, of how God lovingly pursues His children and how faith can be nurtured. We can follow His example in the varied circumstances of our contemporary lives by being authentic about our own moments of doubt and our own committed journey to a stronger faith. Christian writer, Shannon Martin wrote, “...(Jesus) keeps showing up for us, often disguised as each other. He reveals himself, quite improbably, through humans who struggle ...”

Try it on, this garment of Christ. Perhaps a few alterations might be made, in keeping with the unique talents and spiritual gifts that God created in you, even though the composition of the cloth is His. Step into your ordinary days permeated with the variances of God’s people, wearing the heart and mind of Jesus.

Dear Lord Jesus,

You spent your life here on earth caring for others.

You reached out to the homeless and the hurting with compassion. 
You forgave those who insulted you and tried to destroy you. 
Seeking hearts found answers from you. 
Weary hearts found rest. You lifted up those who were beat down by life.

Your kind heart broke for the entire world.

May we follow your example and spend our lives reaching out to others. 
When we are tempted to turn away from people,

let us show your love instead. Amen.

Max Lucado

Lauren F. Winner, Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other 
Overlooked Ways of Meeting God
Shelly Miller Blog - spirit-descends-like-a-pigeon/
Shannon Martin - church.html
Max Lucado, Live Loved: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life
Photography by Lisa Moreland

May 11, 2016

A Window to the World

A window to the world,
over the kitchen sink.

This was one of my mother’s major considerations when house hunting, which was done more than two dozen times due to the nature of her husband’s career. 

Her best loved homes provided a view to the outside world as she orchestrated meals and mounds of dishes for eight. In the Georgia pines a tiny house gifted her with backyard views of her young children at play and clothes drying on the line. The St. Louis house had an expansive bird perching hedge just beyond the sink glass. In Minnesota and Virginia, split level designs raised the view beyond the sink to mid tree heights and vistas of neighboring yards. Across the years, from state to state, she enhanced the daily scenes with feeders inviting the birds, brilliant blooms spreading along a fence line or hanging in planters, and a picnic table welcoming meals outside. It was a priority, even I as a child knew, the kitchen window was a priority.

Then there came a house with many fine attributes, historic and gracious. It became our home despite lacking the longed for window above the kitchen sink. Progressively, across the decades of living there, the wall above the kitchen sink was transformed into an exhibit provoking thought and covered with beauty. She curated  an assemblage of small art prints, inspirational quotes, clever cartoons clipped from the paper, prayers, scripture, poems, paintings from greeting cards or magazines. The spread was taped and pinned, fitted and aligned as a publishing house would arrange and edit its best quarterly press release. As a young adult home to visit, reading mom’s collection above the sink became an honored tradition and fodder for deep conversation over morning coffee  ~ a window to the inner world of a our mother’s intensely creative mind and deeply spiritual soul. 

Linking with the communities at Coffee for the Heart, Tell His Story, & Give Me Grace.