Sunday, April 19, 2015

Now the Green Blade Riseth




Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.



In the grave they laid Him, Love Whom we had slain,
Thinking that He’d never wake to life again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.



Up He sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Up from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.



When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.


Words: John M. C. Crum
from the Oxford Book of Carols, 1928





















Saturday, April 18, 2015

Caturday!


Bath time! 

Sally and Bella are almost 10 months old now. I wonder how much bigger they will get? Cats generally stop growing at about a year, so we will see this summer. I am glad we all found each other.








Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Music: Punch Brothers




From a broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion earlier this year, when Chris Thile was the guest host, the Punch Brothers sing My Oh My and Boll Weevil.

The Punch Brothers are: Chris Thile (mandolin), Gabe Witcher (fiddle/violin), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Eldridge (guitar), and Paul Kowert (bass).  A virtuoso mandolin player, Thile also plays with Nickel Creek (a band started by his family when he was 8) and has collaborated with many artists, from Yo-Yo Ma to the Dixie Chicks. He also was a MacArthur Fellow (i.e., recipient of a genius grant) in 2012.

Happy Friday!





Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Practicing Rain


I went out for a walk and saw this lovely tulip today. And then I came home to find the rain pants that I ordered had arrived. I am packing for a pilgrimage to Iona (Scotland) and we are planning to spend a lot of time outside, no matter what the weather. So my little walk in the rain today was a warm up.

The rain certainly adds a lovely dimension to already lovely things.

So, bring it, clouds and wind and rain. I am going on a pilgrimage.



Glorify the Lord, you angels and all powers of the Lord, *
    O heavens and all waters above the heavens.
Sun and moon and stars of the sky, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever. 

Glorify the Lord, every shower of rain and fall of dew, *
    all winds and fire and heat.
Winter and Summer, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever. 

Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold, *
drops of dew and flakes of snow.
Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever. 

Glorify the Lord, O nights and days, * 
    O shining light and enfolding dark.
Storm clouds and thunderbolts, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever. 


(BCP 88)














Sunday, April 12, 2015

Loving our Work

This is my essay for a project called 50 Days of Fabulous. Each day during Easter, one of the writers posts an image or poem or Bible verse or something and writes a reflection and suggests a concrete action to do in response. I was the writer for today - so here it is:
Read
Blooming flowers
Reflect
I think this bee loves its work, don’t you? To live and move among such beauty and such an excess of goodness – literally to be covered in goodness like pollen – must be like heaven. The other day at the botanical garden I spent several minutes watching this bee flat out, and joyously, roll around in something that is life-giving, both to it and to the world around it. This is probably why so many of us feel closer to God outdoors than any other place. We can see God’s generosity. We can marvel at God’s creativity, at the wondrousness of how things grow. We remember Jesus talking about the lilies of the field, that not even Solomon in all his glory is clothed as one of these.
But loving our own work, seeing God’s love of beauty and lavishness in our offices and homes? That’s harder. When I am doing the laundry or mopping the floors or writing up responsibilities for church services and attending to way too many emails, I am not luxuriating in goodness like this bee. If I am covered with anything, it is sweat and maybe ink from the toner cartridge. I sometimes have a hard time connecting God’s generosity with my work.
But it precisely in these Fifty Days that we are called to be attentive to God’s generosity, and to give thanks for that generosity and to spread it around. We are called to pollinate the world with God’s love and goodness, if you will; to show the world that God’s love knows no bounds and washes over all of us, giving us new life. And so let us go forth, luxuriating in God’s goodness, and making even our work a thing of wondrous beauty.
Respond
Sit down with a pen and paper today and make a list of ways we can be joyous at work so that we communicate God’s love to those around us.







Saturday, April 11, 2015

Caturday!


Spring has sprung and with it there are lots of little creatures (mostly birds) in the front yard. After spending a half-hour watching them out of the window with teeth clacking, Sally and Bella have settled in for their afternoon nap.

So glad these two have each other. 


















Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Music: Holiday! Celebrate!




I love these Jimmy Fallon videos with The Roots, his house band from his old show. They all get together and make music with classroom instruments. When life gets tough, it's good to remember that you can do amazing things just by shaking a banana.

Here we have the gang singing Holiday with Madonna. It's Friday, so time to celebrate!

Easter blessings!




















Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Seven Stanzas at Easter


Remember that Easter is 50 days! So I'll be posting about Easter for a while. Here's one of my favorite poems, by John Updike of all people, about Easter. "Let us not mock God with metaphor." Yes.


Seven Stanzas at Easter


Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.


John Updike, 1960








Thursday, April 2, 2015

A meditation for Maundy Thursday



Many years ago, I visited a zoo where there were two otters in an otter habitat. They had a pool full of toys and on the ground around the pool were tunnels and hills and logs for them to play on. Otters are very playful creatures, as you probably know. 

A few minutes after I arrived, a handler came with a big bucket of peanuts, and she stood just inside the habitat tossing them to the two otters.

One of the otters would catch a peanut, roll it around a little bit, and then crack it open and eat it. Then he would look up to the handler, catch another, maybe juggle it, and eat it. Then he would take a break and go for a little swim, or a roll over the log, and then came back for another peanut or two or three. Just doing what otters do.

The other otter, though, responded differently. He caught a peanut and held it between his front paws. Then he caught another and another and swept them together to start a pile. 

The handler tried throwing a peanut several feet to the otter’s side; the otter herded all of his peanuts over those several feet and pulled the new peanut into the pile. He didn’t stop to eat any of them. 

Pretty soon he had an impressive stash of peanuts, but he was so anxious about them, dragging everything this way and that to gather a new peanut while at the same time hanging on to all those peanuts he already had, keeping them in their pile between his front paws.

The first otter clearly understood that the handler was going to feed him, was going to take care of him. He knew she would come every day. So he could play and eat peanuts as they came and be joyful and happy go lucky. Doing what otters do.

The second otter apparently did not operate under this assumption. He seemed to worry that he would not have enough, that he had to hoard what was given him, that he couldn’t stop to play or enjoy his food. I wondered what on earth had happened to that otter to make it act in such an un-otter-like way. He just didn’t seem to believe that he would be taken care of despite the pool and the toys and the regularly scheduled feeding times, the handler who always came to bring peanuts. He wasn’t able to do what otters do. My heart went out to him. 

I have never forgotten the scene. It showed me how warped God’s creatures can become, how alienated from their (our?) nature, when they (we?) do not feel safe and trusting.

Tonight we are here to remember what Jesus said and did on the night before he was betrayed. We see him at supper with his friends, a group of people who had trouble understanding him and who often failed him, breaking bread and pouring wine, saying that this meal represents 
his giving of himself to them, and asking them - and us - to continue this sacred sharing. 

And we see how after supper he washed their feet, an unheard of, unthinkable action for a teacher to take. He washed Peter’s feet,even though he knew that Peter was going to deny and abandon him while Jesus was dragging his cross to Golgotha. He washed Judas’ feet, even though he knew that Judas was going to betray him to the authorities who would kill him the very next day. 

How could he do that?

I’ve always been drawn to this line in the story, which I think helps explain: Jesus, knowing that he had come from God and was going to God, got up and washed his disciples’ feet. 

Jesus knew that he had come from God and was going to God. And that knowledge made him free and gave him the power to do the unthinkable, to take huge risks, to do what he believed he had been sent by God to do. Because he trusted that he was wholly God’s. He trusted God’s promise to raise him up. And that trust was what Jesus was grounded in all of his days.

I often have difficulty believing that as it was true for Jesus, so it is true for me. (Oh, but he's JESUS!  And I’m not. I’m not good enough.)And yet, we, too, have come from God and will return to God and so we are safe, and saved, and free!   are free to risk loving and serving not only our friends but strangers.  We are free from self-doubt and anxiety about our salvation and don’t have to spend all of our energy grasping at it as if it were our only possession, like that poor otter. 

Remember?  God has pursued us through every sort of barrier because God loves us. Salvation is ours if we want and will receive it. God did not come down from heaven to live among us, to show us how lavish God’s love is, only to pull the rug out from under us. We don’t have to be anxious about that.

Jesus came to earth to show us God, and Jesus loved lepers and beggars and social outcasts. Jesus showed God’s extravagant generosity through making hundreds of gallons of wine from plain water and acres of life-giving bread from a few measly loaves.  Jesus was so full of God’s life-giving love that Lazarus could not stay dead in his presence.  God loves us and God’s love is never used up.  We don’t have to hoard it for ourselves. 

Jesus poured himself out for us and asks us to pour ourselves out for others, but that doesn’t mean we come up empty. Instead, if we dare to try it, we come up full, sustained by the love that names us as God’s own beloved ones. That love makes us free to give and give and give. With God, there is always enough and more than enough.
And so, trusting in God’s overwhelming generosity and promise to always be with us, to sustain us with the holy meal we are about to receive, perhaps we might feel free to follow Jesus, who on this night, after he showed them how to do the daring and the unthinkable, said: "I give you a new commandment:  love one another just as I have loved you.  The world will see and know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another."  
Jesus asks us to show God to the world through our actions that are the fruits of this unquenchable love. He was able to love so freely because he was secure in the knowledge that he came from God and would return to God.  

And so in that knowledge we also are free to be what we were meant to be and do what we are made for:  to love.  








Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday


Things went downhill fast, didn’t they?  In less than an hour,] we have gone from shouting “hosanna!” waving palms and singing, to shouting “crucify him!”  with the mob. We’ve all been swept along amid an outpouring first of love and then of violence.  
When I was young, I was able to skip over the violence part of the story. We went from palm-waving on Palm Sunday directly to new-clothes wearing on Easter Sunday, adorned with hats and white gloves. We didn’t read the Passion on this day.

I knew the story, of course, I knew there was a day called Good Friday although for the life of me I couldn’t understand why it was good. But most of it happened off stage. I was able to keep my distance. I didn’t have to look at it.

But if I don’t look at it, then I will never be able to sort out what it means, to understand how or what this has to do with God’s love, much less our salvation.

Our challenge during this coming Holy Week, then, is to come closer, to venture into that now silent aftermath after the Centurion’s declaration with our hearts open to whatever healing and forgiveness we are in need of, or need to bestow upon others.  

Indeed, this story IS about salvation. And so our task is to slow things down and go back over what has happened, to go over what keeps happening in our world that has not stopped with the hating and hurting with a new perspective.  
Our task is to hear and remember the command of the Maundy: love one another, do this in remembrance of me.  Our task is to look again at this death and to be able to name our needs, to name our sins, to name those we have wronged and to name those who have wronged us. To name suffering, betrayal and humiliation, breaking and being broken as that in which we are all caught up, in one way or another.

And then to lay it all down on Friday at the feet of the one who suffered, not so that we would never suffer, but so that we would not suffer alone.  

To lay down our penchant for wounding others.  To lay down our bitterness toward those who have hurt us. To lay down those things we do to each other that wound the heart of God.

Crucifixion shows what the world does, not only to God, but to God’s own beloved people not only to Jesus but to you and me.  We are destroyed by mocking and cruelty, all of us, victim and perpetrator alike.  We are all of us destroyed by jealousy and suspicion.  We are all of us destroyed by the unbridled drive for power and by violence.

So let us make this a truly Holy Week, this week that is at the heart of our life of faith. Let us make time to make it Holy, to experience the breadth and depth of it.

Let us gird our loins and dare to come closer this week and be humbled and touched and finally healed by God’s loving embrace again.







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