Gratitude and the price of admission…

As I walked down the avenue, the late afternoon sun was turning the lovely and dying sycamore leaves into fragments of brilliant stained glass,
and I said to myself, “This alone is worth the price of admission to our broken and glorious world.”

What a perfect time for Thanksgiving! We have been thrown into a sea of doubt.

Give us this moment to realign. the gift of this Thanksgiving is time set apart to see what is good in our lives, what is good in our neighborhoods, what is good in our world. This we can do-  turning to loved ones,  turning to family,  turning to neighbors and beyond we can offer time to give thanks. Blessings this day and always  

Quote: Linda Larrson

A visit, a sanctuary 


A painting by Enedina Vasquez

We have spent three Sundays listening to the strong and powerful voices of wise men and prophets. Men sharing news of what is to come – proclaiming good news and warning of the importance to prepare.

This Sunday the themes of sharing good news and preparation are ever-present yet we now shift to the gentle, honest exchange between two women. Filled with excitement and awe they share their insights. Together they can  acknowledge the holy children they each have been called to birth and mother. They can openly share their excitement and concern. They can support one another as they experience the wisdom they have gained, the sacred they now carry.

Elizabeth and Mary greet one another with a sacred kiss and in her elder-wisdom, Elizabeth shelters Mary as she gathers her strength to proclaim God’s good news to the world. The good news that justice will rain down and mercy will be ever known.  The scene has changed.

The time is near. As we have heard in the past weeks and here on this fourth Sunday of Advent, all of creation is preparing. May we continue to do the same. 

A Blessing Called Sanctuary

You hardly knew
how hungry you were
to be gathered in,
to receive the welcome
that invited you to enter
nothing of you
found foreign or strange,
nothing of your life
that you were asked
to leave behind
or to carry in silence
or in shame.

Tentative steps
became settling in,
leaning into the blessing
that enfolded you,
taking your place
in the circle
that stunned you
with its unimagined grace.

You began to breathe again,
to move without fear,
to speak with abandon
the words you carried
in your bones,
that echoed in your being.

You learned to sing.

But the deal with this blessing
is that it will not leave you alone,
will not let you linger
in safety,
in stasis.

The time will come
when this blessing
will ask you to leave,
not because it has tired of you
but because it desires for you
to become the sanctuary
that you have found—
to speak your word
into the world,
to tell what you have heard
with your own ears,
seen with your own eyes,
known in your own heart:

that you are beloved,
precious child of God,
beautiful to behold, *
and you are welcome
and more than welcome

—Jan Richardson 
from Circle of Grace

How we lead and how we follow…

As I write this entry I am in my third day of retirement.  Unexpected as it is, I’m grateful for the time to focus on rest and healing. It is often said ‘we make plans and God laughs’! For over a year I have listened closely to understand where my ministry was being directed.  Even though I was certain what the next step would look like, I continued to be drawn to quiet places where normal ways of processing were conveniently removed.

There is much to be said for the comfort of companions along life’s journey. My assist dog, Lilly, has been such a companion for over eight years. We have certainly learned the importance of paying attention to one another and I have often found her quiet presence to be a strength and comfort. With all the emotions brought on by change, this patient friend has been by my side. The picture I share speaks to that relationship.

The labyrinth is a symbol of the turns we meet as we dare walk the road of faith. By my side, Lilly pays close attention to my turns while I ‘walk’ this path and soon she finds her own path next to mine. Trusting in our ability to sense one another’s movement, we journey to the center and return to our beginning point – spirits settled and trust strengthened.

This is about how we lead and how we follow. Nothing is simple  when it comes to change yet the Companion’s gift to be near and compassionate helps to uphold us during transition. This is my experience – I welcome hearing about yours!

a Sabbath like no other!

it is the Sabbath. no work can be done – and so they waited. in shock and grief, they are completely separated from their beloved friend and teacher. no tender care can be given to his lifeless body nor sorrow shared in his presence. and so they waited for the dawn — a dawn like no other!

this day is still a day to wait. every year I feel awkward and impatient as I try to practice stillness. I, too, wait for the dawn – prepared for the sounds of joy as the story is told – I remember we are celebrating a Sabbath like no other!

Saturday Silence

The shadows shift and fly.
the air trembles,
thick with silence,
until, finally,
the footsteps are heard
and the noise
of the voice of God
is upon us.
The Holy One
is not afraid
to walk
on unholy ground.
The Holy Work is done,
and the world awaits
the dawn of light.

Ann Weems from Kneeling in Jerusalem

posted by Sue Whitt @ Sunday’s Child

the chaos of Palm Sunday

I have reflected on this day, its chaos and its strange, awkward flow – always challenging liturgists who strive to ‘connect the dots’ between triumphal entry and brutal death. Too much for one service we try to create a flow of worship, where it appears none was intended. Frustrated – we force this story and its impact to fit our form and time.

It is chaos — and yet, when I step back from the function, I sense a possible reason. Was it not chaos for all involved during that week? Who knew – disciples and all the hopeful – that this glorious entry into the city of all that was sacred, an entry that sung of victory and God’s blessing – who knew all would turn so horrible and tragic. The chaos must have been overwhelming. Packed into a week – they went from certainty to despair. Packed into an hour and a half we share that sense of wrenching confusion – we enter with palms waving and exit in silent awe. Exhausted we leave – wondering how all of these moments can happen so quickly.

Our time of wonder is as long as a life. We walk the road this next week, feeling the connection, the compassion and the violent shift. May there be insights in these days, hours and moments. May we realize all creation’s role as God enters our own sacred places.

For Palm Sunday, a poem by Mary Oliver

by Diana Butler Bass on Sunday, April 17, 2011 at 3:16pm

The Poet Thinks about the Donkey

On the outskirts of Jerusalem

the donkey waited.

Not especially brave, or filled with understanding,

he stood and waited.


How horses, turned out into the meadow,
leap with delight!

How doves, released from their cages,

clatter away, splashed with sunlight!


But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited.

Then he let himself be led away.

Then he let the stranger mount.


Never had he seen such crowds!

And I wonder if he at all imagined what was to happen.

Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient.


I hope, finally he felt brave.

I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him,

as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward.

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