Monday, August 31, 2009


A few months ago I learned to knit socks. To my great delight I find that I love knitting socks. There are difficult and challenging aspects requiring a lot of attention followed by a repetitive pattern that takes very little concentration. I learned to knit with five needles. The two most challenging areas for me are the initial joining together of the stitches, which have been divided equally onto four needles, stitches on the fourth and first needles need to be joined together. I was taught how to do this but I seem to have forgotten some piece of that instruction (it was unique to the woman who taught me), so I struggle to create a smooth connection. Once that is accomplished, for better or worse, it is a challenge to knit/purl the initial rows while juggling five unwieldy needles. Once I have knitted about a 1/4 of an inch the needles are much easier to manage, staying more or less stationary due to the weight of stitches. This knit/purl pattern, or some variation of the sock cuff, continues until about 6 inches have been knitted, for an adult sock. Then comes the next part, the heel.

Knitting the heel is really fun, a process of slipping stitches and knitting or purling entire rows. BUT that is followed by turning the heel. The most challenging part, for me, is picking up the dropped stitches to form the gusset of the sock. It is a coordination challenge! But I'm getting better. From there the rest of the sock is simple, finishing off with a Kitchener stitch to close the toe.

Knitting socks is a joy for me. It engages my mind and my creative juices. I love the yarns for socks - so many variations. Right now I am using a lovely yarn made from bamboo. It is incredibly soft. I am working on little socks for my god daughter twins. Really cute - the girls, and the socks. (SHHH, they are going to be a present)....

I am at a place in my life when I need ways to stimulate my mind and my creativity. So many avenues of life are consumed with dealing with angry people. I am astonished at the degree of anger I see all around me. And often I am helpless to change it. All I can do is offer a gentle non anxious presence and try my darnedest to love. Some days though, this is near impossible. I simply have to set my mind and heart to another task, other than wondering about and trying to respond to the anger, a task that feeds me and enables me to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Knitting is one way I can do this.

Thank God I took that class a few months ago.

Sunday, August 30, 2009



Today I am pondering the reality that if you want to find something to complain about you can. But why? Why spend so much energy complaining about this, that, or the other thing?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

If Only

A most peculiar tale, "The Scenic Route" (by binnie kirshenbaum) weaving back and forth in time, through the lives of the main character (the narrator) and her family. While the story weaves through several generations it take place primarily during a few months of travel through Europe.

Here is an excerpt of what I read this morning while traveling nowhere on the stationary exercise bike:

"As we lay on that feather bed, my head resting on Henry's shoulder, I asked him, "If you could do your life over, do you think you'd do everything the same?"

"I'd like to say no," he told me, "I'd like to say I'd do plenty of things different, but I can't say that because I need to believe otherwise."

"You need to believe otherwise?"

"Exactly, I need to believe in predetermination. If I acknowledge free will, I'd have only myself to blame. And who could live with that?" he asked.

I am not one to settle easily with the idea of prederminism. I bristle at the idea that "God has a plan" or, "All things happen for a reason." I am fully in the "free-will" spectrum and understand that I make choices, for better or for worse. Granted I always try to make choices that follow what I hope God desires for me, choices that are God focused even as they are also me focused and "other" focused.

Some days the choices and desire to follow them faithfully leaves me breathless, and I think, how simple it would all be to believe that its all predetermined.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I have been thinking.

Yes, I do that once in awhile.....coming to the end of the alphabet meme, and so, what can I say about Y?

Y: Yellow. Not exactly my favorite color. For example, I NEVER wear yellow - I simple do not do the color justice - and it does not suit me, either. But nonetheless, I love yellow - the color of sun, of warmth, of flowers, of butter and cheese (ok, favorite foods), of paint - as in wall color. I like yellow walls, and if I stay in this house I will paint a few walls a deep yellow, desert, late summer, kind of yellow. Yellow with a little brown in it. That color, or this color, of yellow.

Yes, Yup, Yesterday, Yuck, - all words I use often - grateful for that. I like to think that today will in fact become, yesterday. Gone, past. (sometimes a good thing). I like that there are times, things, circumstances, hopes, joys, loves, that I say "YES" too - or at least, "YUP." Of course there is always something I end up saying, "YUCK" too. (sigh, yuck)....

then, there is still, "Z"...

Zoo - oh I love zoos. I have had so much fun with family and children at zoos. I love seeing animals I would otherwise never see. I do prefer zoos that create, as best as possible, "natural environments" for the animals. I'm not into "caging" animals, if you know what I mean.
Zyrtec -good gracious, the most recent allergy med that helps me, is this one - or the generic version thereof.

Zippiety do dah - zipppety yay - wonderful feeling, wonderful day! This is in thanksgiving for Mrs. Lloyd, my second grade teacher who played this on the piano every morning as a way to start our class. I loved her and still have a post card she sent me some 45 years ago....

and as usual, if I embed something from "Youtube" but move it from being the first object in the post to say, "HERE" - it won't show up...I am really frustrated with Youtube, these days....anyhoo...I tried to post a fun Youtube of Zippity do dah...

but, instead you'll have to go over here

Zippers - a vital part of clothing....well, don't you agree?

Ok. For better or for worse, I have managed to zip through an alphabet meme of gratitude.

Why Z, YZ?

I have been thinking. Yes, I do that once in awhile, even though many days (lately) I prefer to NOT think. Or maybe I mean, not feel? Whatever. Regardless, what can I say about Y? And, what can I say about Z?

Y: Yellow. Not exactly my favorite color. For example, I NEVER wear yellow - I simple do not do the color justice - and it does not suit me, either. But nonetheless, I love yellow - the color of sun, of warmth, of flowers, of butter and cheese (ok, favorite foods), of paint - as in wall color. I like yellow walls, and if I stay in this house I will paint a few walls a deep yellow, desert, late summer, kind of yellow. Yellow with a little brown in it. That color, or this color, of yellow.

Yes, Yup, Yesterday, Yuck, - all words I use often - grateful for that. I like to think that today will in fact become, yesterday. Gone, past. (sometimes a good thing). I like that there are times, things, circumstances, hopes, joys, loves, that I say "YES" too - or at least, "YUP." Of course there is always something I end up saying, "YUCK" too. (sigh, yuck)....

then, there is still, "Z"...

Zoo - oh I love zoos. I have had so much fun with family and children at zoos. I love seeing animals I would otherwise never see. I do prefer zoos that create, as best as possible, "natural environments" for the animals. I'm not into "caging" animals, if you know what I mean.

Zyrtec -good gracious, the most recent allergy med that helps me, is this one - or the generic version thereof.

Zippiety do dah - zipppety yay - wonderful feeling, wonderful day! This is in thanksgiving for Mrs. Lloyd, my second grade teacher who played this on the piano every morning as a way to start our class. I loved her and still have a post card she sent me some 45 years ago.

Zippers - well, don't you agree?

Ok. For better or for worse, I have managed to zip through an alphabet meme of gratitude.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Ok, I have been writing this alphabet meme on gratefulness for, well, how ever many days it's taken to get to "X" - give or take a few distractions for the Friday Five and Sunday Sermons. And really, I had a very difficult time. I simply could not come up with words, things, that I was grateful for, which began with any letter, let alone "X." I mean, there is plenty I am grateful for, I just can't seem to think of them in alphabetical order on any given day. Blame it on the general state of things, these days. Yeah.

Ok, so with that disclaimer, here I go:

First, I meant to remember for "V" - vibraphone - as in Jazz. Love Jazz, love that instrument. So, cool....

All right, enough delaying:

Xylephone: kind of like a tiny vibraphone, but for kids.


is that it??

I guess so.


Sunday, August 23, 2009


What oh what....can one say about..."W"....?

Well. Ok.

Windows: I love windows, I love seeing the world outside and having the sunlight come in.

World: As I said, I love seeing the world outside and bringing it in. I also love to see the world by being in it. Travelling: by car, by plane, by train, on foot, on a bike. And, I'd love to see it from space! We do live in a beautiful world!

Wisconsin: I lived there twice, once as a child and once as an adult. It is a beautiful state: rolling hills, lots of green grass and fields, lakes. I once rode my bike across the southern part of the state - from Kenosha to Madison. It was awesome!

Walking: I have two big dogs...walking goes without saying. I love to walk. I love to walk my dogs.

Work: Ok. I really should have put this in the "V" post - I am really grateful for vocation....but with this vocation comes work. And, usually I love what I do. Usually...

Worship: yeah, usually, when we leave room for the Spirit....

Wind: I am grateful for wind - blows out pollution, keeps us cool, changes the weather. But here - oh here the winds can be outrageous. I have never known wind like this, some days it is just too much. But mostly, I like it and am grateful for it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grace and Serendipity

This is one of those occasions when there is nothing one can really say about what is going in the life of the congregation, and yet every reason to convey a nonanxious presence. Here is a reflection on the Proper 16B, 1 Kings 8: 22-30, 41-43; Psalm 84, with the intention of being light....

After church, Robbie tells his parents he has to go and talk to the minister right away. They agree and the pastor greets the family.
"Pastor," Robbie says, "I heard you say today that our bodies came from the dust."

"That's right, Johnny, I did."

"And I heard you say that when we die, our bodies go back to dust."

"Yes, I'm glad you were listening. Why do you ask?"

"Well you better come over to our house right away and look under my bed 'cause there's someone either comin' or goin'!"

What makes a joke funny? The way in which it points to the truth about human nature? The playfulness of an unexpected outcome?

Our scripture readings this morning point us take a good look at the ways and places in which we are aware of God’s presence – and the ways in which unexpected joy manifests.

For Solomon, in 1 Kings, and the ancient Hebrews, God was found in the temple. People came to the temple to be in the presence of God and people drew security from the idea that God was in that space. And yet, as Solomon notes, the Temple points beyond a literal presence of God to the deeper, uncontained reality of God: “Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built.”

God is mystery and comes to us in unexpected ways.

A priest and an astronomer find themselves sitting together on a night flight. After introductions and a long gaze out the window, the astronomer asks the priest, "Can't all religions be summed up by stating the Golden Rule?" The priest pauses a bit and asks the astronomer, "Can't all astronomy be summed up by singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’?”

God is always more than we can imagine or describe. The ancient Hebrew people in 1 Kings, recognize that God is more than a building – God can dwell in a place but God is not contained by a place.

God is mystery and comes to us in unexpected ways.

Several years ago, psychiatrist Scott Peck wrote a national bestseller called “The Road Less Traveled.” It was filled with what he had learned about life from his work with people with all sorts of mental health issues. One thing he observed was a tendency toward health and wellness even among patients who had reasons to seek psychiatric help. Some of these people had survived serious emotional traumas much better than the circumstances seemed to warrant, and Peck came to think of a force of goodness in the world. He eventually identified this force using the word "serendipity," which the dictionary defines as "the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for."

As a Christian, Peck also realized that the word "grace" fit that definition too. So in the book, he wrote extensively about this force, using both words. Associating grace with serendipity was one of his original contributions to the subject of grace.

Several years later, Peck was on a flight to Minneapolis. He usually took advantage of flying time to do some writing, so when a man took the seat next to him, Peck gave the usual nonverbal signals one gives when one doesn't want to engage in conversation. The man soon buried himself in a novel, and they flew side by side in silence for most of the flight. Finally, the man looked up from his novel and said, "I hate to bother you, but you don't happen, by any chance, to know the meaning of the word 'serendipity,' do you?"

Peck responded that as far as he knew, he was the only person who had written a substantial portion of a book on the subject, and that it was perhaps serendipity that at the precise moment the man wanted to know the meaning of the word, he happened to be sitting next to an authority on the subject: serendipity: "the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for."

God is mystery and comes to us in unexpected ways. – grace and serendipity.

Some might say that Psalm 84 is about grace and serendipity.

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.”

Joy – the unexpected presence of God that fills our hearts with laughter and delight - is expressed in this Psalm. Joy – what we feel in times of serendipity and grace. Perhaps laughter itself is an unexpected gift from God. Studies have been done in the medical world proving that laughing contributes to our health and wellbeing.

I recently watched a video on the internet about a phenomenon taking place in our world. People, whole groups of people, gathering at beaches and health clubs and retreat centers, just to laugh. It’s bizarre and funny to watch the video – the group gathers, then the leader begins to laugh. Big deep belly laughter. Soon another person laughs, and then another, and soon the entire group is laughing. For five minutes. Just laughing. And this, they say, is making people healthier and happier. Who would have thought? Serendipity? Grace? Perhaps. Of God, maybe?
So this morning, let’s remind ourselves to take time out for joy, for laughter, for those grace-filled serendipitous moments of God.

And, with that I leave with one more joke – old, but worth repeating:

Jesus was wandering around Jerusalem when he decided that he really needed a new robe. After looking around for a while, he saw a sign for Finkelstein, the Tailor. So, he went in and made the necessary arrangements to have Finkelstein prepare a new robe for him.

A few days later, when the robe was finished, Jesus tried it on -- and it was a perfect fit! He asked how much he owed. Finkelstein brushed him off: "No, no, no, for the Son of God there's no charge! However, may I ask for a small favor. Whenever you give a sermon, perhaps you could just mention that your nice new robe was made by Finkelstein, the Tailor?" Jesus readily agreed and as promised, extolled the virtues of his Finkelstein robe whenever he spoke to the masses.

A few months later, while Jesus was again walking through Jerusalem, he happened to walk past Finkelstein's shop and noted a huge line of people waiting for Finkelstein's robes. He pushed his way through the crowd to speak to him and as soon as Finkelstein spotted him he said: "Jesus, Jesus, look what you've done for my business! Would you consider a partnership?" "Certainly," replied Jesus.

"Jesus & Finkelstein it is."
"Oh, no, no," said Finkelstein.
"Finkelstein & Jesus. After all, I am the craftsman."

The two of them debated this for some time. Their discussion was long and spirited, but ultimately fruitful -- and they finally came up with a mutually acceptable compromise. A few days later, the new sign went up over Finkelstein's shop, it read:

Lord and Taylor.

Friday, August 21, 2009

RevGals Friday Five: Family Norms

Jan over at RevGals offers this family vacation Friday Five:

***Jan may not have anticipated opening up this can of worms***

1. Formal rules in family of origin Oh my. My mother was raised in a chaotic alcoholic family. She was broken at a young age. A woman who could have been brilliant, creative, and funny (and she was), who implanted deeply into her family strong liberal political views, was also Borderline - or with those tendency at the very least. That said - rules in my family of origin: mother is always right. affirm mothers world view, even if it is a distortion of reality, because then all will be calm in the house. How's that for a strong family rule. Of course, well, it was often impossible to actually do that.

2. Unwritten and unspoken rules in family of origin I think what I have already said sheds light on this one. Mother is always right.

3. Formal rules in current family or workplace We always let one another know where we are. If we go out to one place and then go to another we call at least one person and let them know. I call my husband, he calls me, the kids call one of us. But also: rinse your dishes and PUT THEM IN THE DISHWASHER. Turn off lights when leaving a room. (And for my husband, if only he could really learn this - turn OFF the TV when you leave one room because you will just turn it on in the next...). Let the dogs outside frequently and make sure all the animals have water.

I can't go into the rules at work, I'd be writing all day and, well, I do actually have to show up there sometime this morning....

4. Unwritten rules in current family or workplace Unwritten rule at work: I am clearly the "daughter" who will not behave herself and do what they want. It matters not that I was hired to be the leader...

At home: We must have ice cream in the house at all times. Coffee, too!

5. When was a time that you became aware of different rules in different places/families than your own? As kids do, I understood early on that my family of origin was not "normal" - I mean how many kids have mothers who sleep all day and night? For two years? (Ok, she was depressed and the dr. gave her Valium, and then she got addicted. Life got better when she realized she was addicted and stopped taking it...) - So, I became an expert in the study of others. I learned a lot about normal from spending lots of time with my friends. Well, that and many many years of therapy. Since then I have learned from my husband's family - good learning for me. And I continue to learn from friends. Now my children have been able to say to me: wow, our family is so you know goes on at "so and so's" house? proof of the effectiveness of therapy, love (husband), and faith.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

V, what???

I can't believe that I have been writing these alphabet focused gratitude reflections long enough to come to "V"...what the heck does one say about V?....

Vestments - oh, I do love some of the beautiful attire we clergy get to wear. Back at my former parish we had a gorgeous white silk chasuble...really beautiful. And in some churches really old vestments, well made, hand embroidered. Amazing how years ago these holy men would wear such flowery finery. And, now, I get to wear them. Although generally speaking I like to be alb and a stole. But then I am considering some new albs from womenspirit.

I'd like to say Vermont or Virginia - but I've never been to Vermont and the one time I drove through Virginia was in the dark of night....but I hear they are beautiful states - so I'm grateful they exist, even when I haven't seen them. Is it obvious that I am struggling here?

Voice: oh yes, I am grateful for voice - that I can, that we can, speak. For voice that speaks authentically. For voice that speaks love. For voice that speaks truth. For voices of justice.

Vanilla: ice cream and latte's.

Vinegar: balsamic, raspberry, that kind...on baby greens with goat cheese....


Some of the "U's" I'm grateful for:

Universe - I love looking up at the stars and pondering what's out there

Utah - the state of my birth, and so beautiful. Love the Rocky Mountains the surround Salt Lake City, love the desert, love it all.

Uncle - my mother's brother. He's been an important person in my life.

Urban - I used to live right in the heart of a major city - and I loved the urban life - walking along the lake, riding my bike, easy access to restaurants, parks, no was wonderful when I was single, and newly married....but never lived there with kids.

USA - I do not display huge patriotism, but I am really grateful to have had the stroke of luck to be born in this country. It makes me wonder what I am meant to do with my life, what kind of pay it forward sort of thing for this luck? I'm working on it.

Under - as in that which we wear under...and in particular, lace.

Upside down - I used to be able to stand on my head - yoga style. Still can, but not as well.

Monday, August 17, 2009

T with a graTiTude....

Today, at least as it is the end of Monday as I write this: my wedding anniversary. It has been a bit of a tumultuous day, some major, significant, perhaps transitional, unbloggable stuff. That part, terrible. Tragic. Making certain commitments tenuous, or may just, temporary.

It has also been a terrific day:

Dog walk: terrific
Dog park: terrific
Swim: terrific
dinner out: can one spell delicious with a "T"?....telicious?!!? well, it was.

Tender, some parts of this day were, tender. It was after all our anniversary, twenty-four.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


So, here I am at the "S's"...what to be grateful for, s-wise...?

Sunrises: the sunrise here is late because the sun has to come up over the mountains. If I lived 45 minutes north the sun would rise much earlier. Still, I love that time just before sunrise, when the air is lavender. That said, one of my favorite places to watch the sunrise is here:

Sunsets: can be very awesome, very. Especially where I live...

but, also here:

I also love the Sun - love to sit out on the patio in the sun...for a short while. And sitting in the sun leads me directly to:

Swimming. in the aqua glory of the pool in my backyard, a refreshing break from the heat and sun...

which means I also need a swim suit. Nothing special, but I need one. And, well, grateful for the kind that comes with a low back and narrow straps. Not fond of bikini's....but otherwise, keep it slim and skinny...

Now, at 52 I am not as slim and skinny as I used to Body parts have settled. Muscle tone has diminished. Weight has found it's way Yes, I exercise...but regardless...Did I say I was 52? Ok, I digress....

Snapdragons: love those to squeeze the flower and make it "talk"...

Simple: I am grateful when life is simple...sadly, it almost never is. Still, grateful for simple sunrises sunsets swimming, and snapdragons.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I must admit I have really found it a challenge to ponder that which I am grateful for, ordered by the letters of the alphabet. Mostly a challenge because I simply can't think of anything for the letter of the day. And today is "R"...sigh

R - my brother. We kind of lost each other for a number of years, but now we talk regularly and, well, it's Really great. He's a red head like my mother, his daughter has the same beautiful dark red/auburn hair. He has done some amazing things with his life and, like me, has a tendency toward optimism. We are only 14 months apart and were really close for much of our childhood.

Red: I love the color red.

Red Wine: enjoy a glass with dinner. Frankly, although I LOVE them too....I get tired of water, coffee, and iced tea - the other beverages I tend to drink. No cola's for me - bad bad bad for me. So, a glass of wine with dinner is delightful. Although, I must admit, it also makes me drowsy...yeah, one glass is my limit...sigh...two and I may as well go to bed. (am I old yet?).

Rock and Roll - yes, I am a child of the 60/70's. In the late 1960's I bought my first album, with money I earned by getting good grades - it was, Led Zepplin whole lotta love...and I used to play the album on my stereo as I fell asleep...

Roses - all kinds. all colors. always. And mostly I am grateful to have four beautiful rose bushes in my backyard...I can't bear to cut the flowers off, so I just have to sit outside and enjoy them.

Risk - I am not a HUGE risk taker, but I do take risks. I love a challenge (uhm, anyone reading my blogs and where my "career" has taken me, might guess this)....(ok, so not quite this much/kind of challenge). But I am willing to take a risk, with the possibility that it just might be the Holy Spirit callin'

Ruby - my sweet sweet Vizsla. And Roxie, my labrador/red heeler awesome dog! Oh my, sweet dogs! They are fun, loving, and funny. Great companions, more than pets, they are members of our family.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Five: The Wild Animal Edition....

About a month ago my husband and I discovered a family of bobcats living on the roof of the house across the street.

video taken by mr. mompriest...(notice the stare momma gives...)

Let me explain.

We live on the foothills of a mountain range, in the desert southwest USA. It is not uncommon to see bobcats, coyotes, even mountain lion. Usually, though all we see are spiders, scorpions, lizards, and birds. Lots of birds.

That is until this bobcat family took to roosting on the roof of the empty house across the street. There is a family of three babies (kits?) and the momma. The papa cat, while around for awhile, seems to have moved on. We see them on the roof in the early morning and early evening hours. We see one parent walking along the side of our house, bringing lunch back to the family... They play, and roam around with ease. The biggest problem for us, with 100+ temperatures is trying to figure out a safe time to walk our dogs....

For this Friday Five, share with us a wild animal story from your life. Or if you've never had such an encounter share with us your five favorite animals, and why. Bonus for videos and photos!

Ok. I have a number I could share:

The story about the woodchuck that lived under the deck of our former house. How my dogs would stand at the sliding glass door barking for all they were worth, and the woodchuck would stand at the far end of the deck, on it's hind legs, baring its teeth. Of course the woodchuck is vegetarian, and loved the apples, pears, and plums that fell in the yard. My dogs, not so much love there. Woodchuck moved on to better digs.

A few years later a family of red fox moved into the abandoned woodchuck den under the deck. We had a delightful spring watching the parents and the 8 baby fox playing...until the coyotes came - the next day the fox were gone. Moved onto to safer digs.

This year, in addition to the bobcat family we had a family of coyotes in the arroyo behind my house. (Think small canyon where mountain water flows after a heavy rain). Anyway, the family of coyote would wake up every afternoon about 5:30, when the evening train rolled through and blew its whistle. Trains and coyotes howling. Same thing happened every morning at 5:30am....

I could tell the story about the day my cat trapped a bark scorpion in the room where I was lying on the floor exercising, the scorpion only a few inches from my head. No one was hurt, except the scorpion...

I could go on....but perhaps another day...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quiet....the Q-titude Effect

I have grown to really appreciate the quality of silence. On the evenings when my husband works (and, well, the kids are no longer at home) I envelope myself in quietness. True, there is the gentle hum of my computer and the crick crick of crickets outside and the methodical whirl of the ceiling fan. But no television. No radio. And often no music, either. Silence. And in this quiet I either read, write, or knit.

There was a time when the silence drove me batty. I had to do SOMETHING....I couldn't just be with myself and appreciate the solitude. But then I had years of kids, and husband, and TV and constant sound. Constant. And I found, while I loved having a family around and all the energy of that....I also yearned for balance, for quiet.


Quirky....I've never been one for the status quo, the norm, the usual. I've always felt a little outside of, well, everyone and everything. Quirky. Over time I've come to appreciate that about me.

Queen, as in Dairy. It's not really real ice cream, and not as delicious as the gelato store. But sometimes I just have to have a small chocolate dipped soft served DQ. Just do.

Gratitude, with a Q.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

P is for


Pool - I give thanks every day for the pool in my backyard. In this dry hot dusty desert a pool restores life, soothes spirits, refreshes tired souls, and cools when hot.

People - as much as I love being solitary, I also love people.

Purple - as in the color of the Indian Hawthorn that blooms all summer.

Pasta - oh, almost any and every kind. Especially with a glass of wine and a salad.

Pancakes - these days, blueberry.


O: oranges (which, sadly, I can no longer eat - think mouth sores from the citric acid), olives (green or black), ontological (did I really write that?), optimist (yes, I really am), open minded (usually), oxygen (not the TV channel, the air we breathe), October (in the Midwest its the month when the leaves turn, in the desert it's the month when outdoor swimming ends)....obviously I am struggling to think of "O" things...sigh

OH, so any ideas of "O's" I might have added but couldn't think of?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nature, Nurture, Napping....the "N's"

Today is my day off, so Naturally I am thinking about ways to Nurture myself. One of my favorite is, Napping. There is nothing quite like a good deep sleep in the middle of the afternoon to care for oneself and revive the spirit. There are a number of other ways I nurture myself: including massages, manicures, swimming, walking dogs, knitting and reading....but today is all about the "N's" in that regard: Nature is high on my list...I love to be outdoors and enjoy this beautiful world. I love mountains, and water, sand, and green grass, rolling hills and a vista that goes on forever. Here in my neck of the woods, I mean desert, we have birds galore and wildlife aplenty. I have already mentioned on more than one occasion, the bobcat family living on the roof of the empty house across the street. They are awesome, but have put a damper on our daily dog walks....(naturally, I am disinclined to tempt them at an easy meal - me or my dogs....normally they would be inclined to leave us alone - bigger than they we are....BUT, it is a hungry family and a protective momma) .

Nice - as a general rule I really do try to be nice to everyone. I tend to believe that everyone is struggling with something (or to quote Plato: Be kinder than necessary, everyone is fighting some kind of battle). However I have also discovered that I can be quite defensive when someone steps on my last nerve. I guess that makes me human....and flawed and normal?

On this day off I am grateful to have the time and the ability to be grateful for simple things that begin with the letter "N"....

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Be Kinder than Necessary.....

A reflection on the readings for Proper 14B: 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33; Psalm 130; and Ephesians 4:25-5:2.

The other night I watched the season finale of “So You Think You Can Dance.” As a dance major in college I tend to be captivated by the show and freely add my commentary along with that of the judges. What really caught my eye this year was the leg extensions exhibited by all the dancers – beautiful, graceful, strong, and high! That kind of leg extension only happens when one is both very strong and very flexible. To have both strength and flexibility one must work to build muscle and stretch muscle. Building muscle will build strength but it also makes muscles tight and prone to injury. Stretching muscle keeps one flexible. But gaining flexibility without building strength can also cause injury. Muscles and bones, along with ligaments and tendons, must all work together to enable a body to move in a healthy way.

I can always tell when I have over worked to build muscle and failed to stretch – I throw out my lower back. It’s a painful reminder that I need to balance exercise in the same way I strive to balance all of life.

Friday a number of us gathered for a retreat to reflect on what we mean by Stewardship. Nearly two years ago the vestry determined that we need to come to a new understanding of who we are and whose we are and center that in year-long stewardship. This retreat was a intended to be a significant step in that direction. By design the retreat was both the culmination of 7 months of preparation and reading, initiated when Canon Timothy Dombek spoke to us in January, and the initiation of a new way of understanding who we are. The retreat was led by our own Doug and Norvene Vest focusing on “The Spirituality of Giving.” Much of what we reflected on was intended to stretch us. To do this Doug and Norvene offered a great metaphor: a rubber band, when stretched has tiny holes in it, which allow it to stretch without breaking. Our spiritual life is similar, it too gets stretched, and holes form, holes which make room for God.

We all go through times in life when we are stretched – physically, spiritually, emotionally. Generally these times of being stretched are uncomfortable. Sometimes the stretching is so painful we wonder if God has abandoned us and we fear we will break. That’s the kind of pain I hear in the agony of the king in 2nd Samuel when he learns of the death of Absalom. As the story of David continues we learn more about the sorrow of his life: in part the consequences of David’s own actions. His deceit, his favoritism of one child over another, murder and violence toward both family and nation, have brought on great tragedy. The consequences of his actions cause David some painful stretching.

Psalm 130 also points us to this painful stretching “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!” Then the Psalmist, takes a breath, expanding into a place of hope in God. It’s as if the Psalmist is experiencing life like a rubber band – stretching causes expansion, expansion opens up the possibility of God. And into that possibility God comes! Surely the Psalmist understands this, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.” When stretched to our limits something inside us opens a space for God. As God fills this space, this opening, the person has the distinct sensation of being loved. This is a well known spiritual reality and the subject of many books.

Thomas A Kempis, Christian mystic, wrote a gentle thoughtful book in the 16th century on this subject called, “Imitation of Christ.” Here is a small portion from the fifth chapter titled: The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love,

“ Ah, Lord God, my holy Lover, when You come into my heart, all that is within me will rejoice. You are my glory and the exultation of my heart. You are my hope and refuge in the day of my tribulation. But because my love is as yet weak and my virtue imperfect, I must be strengthened and comforted by You. Visit me often, therefore, and teach me Your holy discipline. Free me from evil passions and cleanse my heart of all disorderly affection so that, healed and purified within, I may be fit to love….”

Ephesians uses a beautiful Greek word to convey this kind of love, a word that we miss in English: chr─ôstos, which means kindness, in the manner that Christ was loving and compassionate. The Letter to the Ephesians reminds us that “chrestos” – kindness – is God’s love manifesting as action in our lives – what we do, what we say, and how we treat one another. Scripture reminds us over and over that loving kindness ought to be the foundation of our behavior toward one another.

Perhaps, though, we can understand this better through the words of Plato, a Greek Philosopher who has had a big impact on Christian thought . Plato said, "be kinder than necessary--everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." [i]

[i] i.ucc blog, Kate Huey

Friday, August 07, 2009

Friday Five

Sally over at RevGals posts this Friday Five Meme. Her family sails with a passion.

1. Is there a sport/ hobby that is more of a passion than a past-time for you? I have had a number of "sports" that were passions, although I have not had one consistent one through out my life. For example,I swam (not well) a lots as a child. I danced for many years, and it was my major in undergrad. I also developed a passion for bike riding. Now I walk my dogs, ride an exercise bike, and swim in my pool. I don't dance very often...but every now and then I get a yearning for a ballet class.

2. Outdoors or indoors? Both

3. Where do you find peace and quiet? Oh, in the pool at night floating and looking up at the stars. A long walk on a cool day with the dogs (very few occasions like that in Arizona lately, it's been triple digits since May). And knitting. Is knitting a sport? It' more than a hobby.... it's probably a passion...

4. A competitive spirit; good or bad, discuss... I can be terribly competitive. But mostly with myself, always seeking to outdo whatever I did last. I don't really enjoy being competitive with other people.

5. Is there a song a picture or a poem that sums up your passion ?
Bonus for posting a video/ link. Well I tried to post a youtube of the Beach Boys singing Sail on Sailor...but as usual it disappeared when I moved it from being it's own post to being part of this one....weird embedding process for YouTube...maybe this link will work.... Sail On Sailor.


RevGals Friday Five:

Sally over at RevGals posts this Friday Five Meme. Her family sails

1. Is there a sport/ hobby that is more of a passion than a past-time for you?
2. Outdoors or indoors?
3. Where do you find peace and quiet?
4. A competitive spirit; good or bad, discuss...
5. Is there a song a picture or a poem that sums up your passion ?
Bonus for posting a video/ link.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


My oh my...I am so grateful today for mmmm....

M&M's - I love 'em. Especially peanut. But also plain. A handful of chocolate delight.

Mocha latte's - well, I actually only drink these on cold winter mornings - but then they are such a cozy pick me up.

Movies - I love to watch movies. I love to go to the theater and watch movies or stay home and watch them. I'll pretty much watch anything as long as it's not too violent and has some aspect of redemption.

Money. I know. But I have had money in my life and I've not had it. I am certainly grateful for the times when I have money.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Life and Love and a Grateful Heart

This morning I rise to ponder that which I am grateful for from the perspective of "L"

Life: My life is and always has been challenging. I have not had it easy. I'm sure that is true for many people, and I'm not complaining. Life could be a whole lot more challenging! But that said, I am grateful for life. Everyday I am grateful for some thing. Maybe it's a tiny thing like the baby rabbit who has found refuge from the midday heat by lying between a planter and the front wall of our house. We have a front row seat from the home office. We give it water and hope it stays safe from the bobcat family across the street. So, today I give thanks for life in all its vulnerability and challenges, and little joys.

Love: I know I am loved. Deeply. By God. and By my husband. That goes a long way in sustaining a person through what ever comes along. I am grateful for love.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Gratitude for "K's"

Continuing with my daily reflection, following the alphabet, on gratitude:

Knitting: I am so grateful for knitting. I love to do it. For many years all I knit were simple straight line scarves. Recently I took a class on knitting socks. Basic sock technique. Since then (beginning of June) I have knit one pair and am finishing the first of a second pair. So many cool yarns for socks. I have also knit a winter hat for one of my God daughter's and will start the hat for the other twin soon. Knitting is relaxing, contemplative, peaceful. It occupies hands during meetings and while waiting. It keeps me busy at night while my husband watches TV.

Kites: I love to fly a kite. Haven't in years - but love too.

Kittens: I haven't had one in awhile, my two cats will be 4 and 12 in September. But kittens are so very sweet and playful.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Gratitude Jazz

It seems that I end up taking the weekend off from my gratitude reflections so I can work on the Sunday, now I return to reflection on "J". But first I also want to point out that there are three others I know of who are participating in the alphabet meme: Alter Ego; Deb; and HotCup.

Ok, now for the "J's"....

Jazz. I love Jazz. Curiously I had almost no jazz on my iPod (the one I HAD before I dropped it on an airplane)...but I do love Jazz. It's fun to listen to at a club, it's fun to dance too, it's perfect music to get sappy with...I especially love the vibes - maybe I'll remember that when I get to the "V'S"....

Jewelry: I don't have a lot, but I love the pearl necklace I found in a resale shop and wore on my wedding day. I have often wondered if they are real...And now in the SW I am accumulating some very nice turquoise. Oh, the choices, if I had big bucks to spend. Then, next year for our 25 wedding anniversary I want to change up my wedding band and engagement ring. I'm thinking of having the original sapphire and diamonds re-set in a slightly different pattern and in platinum instead of yellow gold.

J - my daughter. She is such a wonderful person - strong, smart, beautiful, self-determined.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Sign of Love - Or Love Itself.....

A reflection on Proper 13B: 2 Samuel 11:26 - 12:13a, Ephesians 4:1-16, John 6:24-35

At various times I find myself in conversations with people on the topic of “Comfort Food.” Sometimes it comes up because someone is sick, and comfort food is, well, comforting. Other times it comes up because we are a culture of people who love to eat and have the luxury of having many options to choose from. Sometimes it comes up because a particular comfort food is on the menu – chicken pot pie, for example.

If I had to name a particular food as “Comfort food” I would probably choose bread and butter – particularly freshly baked bread right out of the oven, slathered in real butter.
One of my childhood memories is going on a tour of the Wonderbread bakery in Salt Lake City. We got to see the entire process of making and baking bread, and then at the end we each got a small loaf of freshly baked bread, still warm from the oven.

For many years my mother baked bread and I have fond memories of her slicing a still warm loaf and giving each of us a piece. I have made many loaves of bread myself. In college homemade bread was all my roommates and I would eat. We took turns making it, and we became quite good at making homemade pizza crust too. In seminary we were taught how to make communion bread. Each student had to make a week’s worth of communion bread for the daily Eucharist. It was a delightful and delicious shared ministry.

Comfort food soothes us when we are tired, helps to heal us when we are sick, and reminds us of what it feels like to be loved.

Our scripture readings this morning are not so much like comfort food, but rather like a mixed stew, with some veggies we love and some veggies we disdain. From Second Samuel we continue the saga about David following his taking of Bathsheba and arranging to have Uriah killed.. David, so full of himself, fed on pride until he is fat, blinded by his own gluttony. We hear how Nathan has come, like commercials for a diet company, to set David straight and point out that his actions have consequences: God is betrayed and hurt. People are betrayed and hurt. We all know the consequences of too much bread and butter.

Nathan levels David with a dose of reality – and David is suddenly awakened to the full reality of his actions. He has hurt God. He has hurt others. Suddenly his remorse is deep and uncomfortable – like a cleansing fast for his diet of power and pride.

On the other hand Jesus has been pouring himself out feeding people who are hungry. And the people keep coming. They want, they need this food that Jesus offers. The risk here is not that people will be over fed, it is not a risk of gluttony. Instead the risk here is that people will think that the food is something it is not. The bread they eat is not what they are really craving, just like comfort food is not what we are really craving.

“ They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

How it is, that Jesus is food and drink? The risk is one of confusing the sign with what is really wanted. What the people want, what we want, what our hunger yearns for is love. And Jesus says he has it. It might look and taste like bread, but in reality it is the love we crave.

Again, Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians helps to flush this out:
“… lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…”

This food and drink is not what it appears. Unlike comfort food which is a sign of love, this food and drink of God actually is love.

The amazing thing is that it has the capacity to nourish us in deep and satisfying ways. As the love of God courses through our veins and oozes through our pores we become…” one body and one Spirit…. one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

Becoming one Body, one blood, through the love of God, is a prime example of people becoming what they eat. Becoming an expression of God’s love is like moving from a table set for one to a buffet brunch - all because we share the grace of God’s love acting in and through us. For…” each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

Building up the body of Christ means that we are called to feed others as we are fed, on the love of God poured out in Christ. Nikolai Bordyaev, a 20th century Russian philosopher puts this squarely on the table: "The question of bread for myself is a material question, but the question of bread for my neighbor is a spiritual question." It is this concept that causes David to regret his actions and repent from his self centered ways. David’s remorse redirects him, and therefore us, to God.

Christ offers us food that seems as though it is intended to fill out stomachs but it’s meant to fill our souls with love. It’s a love that redirects us from self to others. And when our souls are filled with this love we, “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…”

So we can’t buy this bread, this love, in a plastic bag in the grocery story. And we can’t slice it and eat it still warm and slathered in melting butter. But this bread, this love, is what we really crave. And we can never have too much of it because it has a tendency to fill up and then pour itself out. This love/bread pours out of God into Christ, out of Christ into us, out of us into others. As a result the “whole body (is) joined and knit together …building itself up in love.”

Homily for the Festive Eucharist at the closing of the Episcopal Women's Caucus

The readings that we chose for the service tonight were all picked specifically for this service because they lift up the role of women ...