Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Afternoon Public Art Break

Guess where I am?

Collect for Education

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom: Enlighten by your
Holy Spirit those who teach and those who learn, that,
rejoicing in the knowledge of your truth, they may worship
you and serve you from generation to generation; through
Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(BCP 261)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday Afternoon Bird Photo

A herring gull (juvenile) beats the wave.

Collect for Travelers

O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole
creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: 
Preserve those who travel; surround
them with your loving care; protect them from every danger;
and bring them in safety to their journey's end; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 831)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: The Cutest Couple

A hooded merganser couple, Lucy and Ricky. She's the redhead, natch. Wish I could have gotten closer for a more detailed photo, but they are very shy visitors from the North.

Collect for Our Nation

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the

earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace:
Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the
strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in
accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(BCP 258)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Did you ever wake up one day and suddenly realize that you are stuck in some way? You're in a rut, perhaps, living mostly on autopilot. Or you realize that you've been withdrawn lately. Maybe you feel some vague dissatisfaction about your life, work, relationships. Maybe you are having a spiritual dry spell.

We all get stuck. It often starts out innocently enough. We're extraordinarily busy, someone has been sick, a family or work crisis has kept our attention and focus for a time and then, like the Prodigal Son, we come to ourselves and realize things are out of whack. We've gotten off the path, or stopped in the middle of it, while life has gone on without us.

I had one of those experiences recently. I just felt dull. I decided it was time to take stock and begin to discern something new for myself. I had no idea what that new thing might be except that it would mean getting unstuck.

So I drove to a neighboring town and attended an evening church service that included prayers with a lay pastoral minister in the side chapel. I told her that I felt I needed to discern something new for myself and wished for prayers to begin that discernment.

She said: "God, show Penny who you are, and show her who she is."

The tension in my shoulders released immediately. That was just right. I believe that the way to becoming unstuck is to see who God is and see who I am, and then begin to work with that.

(Seeking God Day by Day: A Year of Meditations, Meditation for February 23, published by Forward Movement)

Collect of the Holy Angels

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a

wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals:
Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and
worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may
help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(BCP 251)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Now the Day is Over.....

No streaks in the sky this time - just deepening pinks and blues.

Morning Prayer: Jubilate

Jubilate    Psalm 100

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; * 

    serve the Lord with gladness 
    and come before his presence with a song.

Know this: The Lord himself is God; * 

    he himself has made us, and we are his; 
    we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; 

go into his courts with praise; * 
    give thanks to him and call upon his Name.

For the Lord is good; 

his mercy is everlasting; * 
    and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

(BCP 100)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Collect for the Seventh Sunday after Epiphany

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday Morning Music: Superstition

The SF Jazz Collective's arrangement of the great Stevie Wonder song Superstition. Enjoy!

(Read more about the SF Jazz Collective here.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Afternoon Public Art Break

Hungry yet?

Collect for All Christians in their Vocation

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

(BCP 256)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

All that Glitters

I like shiny stuff. 

When I was growing up, sparkles and blingy clothes and jewelry were reserved for fancy evening events. Not so any more. I think it's neat that little girls get to wear sparkly shoes and tutus and women can wear spangles and sequins on ordinary days. Boys and girls get to dance around in shoes that light up! Yes! Sometimes you just need to shine a little.

And yet nearly every day I'm confronted with things that are not so shiny, and the sparkles seem frivolous.  

It's a delicate balance. The world is very beautiful and also quite broken. It is important to remember both of these things and to be able to appreciate and embrace both the serious and the silly. We do not live by locusts alone but also sweet honey. Love is beautiful but it is also really hard.

The Ukraine is on fire. Graceful and highly skilled athletes dance and jump and go very very fast in Sochi.

For a long time I've been an admirer of The Rev'd Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene House and Thistle Farms. I've written about her work before - here and here and here. Somehow Becca has found a way to do serious work while not being a humorless grind. I was thrilled to be able to meet her a couple of weeks ago when she came to our town and preached in our church. She is funny and smart and she is dead serious about her work.

Lately, I've discovered the Soup Kitchen at Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. You can learn a lot about Holy Apostles by reading through their Twitter feed.  Unquestionably, they do beautiful work, even though the fact that there is so much need in New York to help a dizzying number of hungry and homeless people is seriously depressing at best. Their volunteers play the piano and lead current events discussion groups and fix good looking healthy lunches and also, no doubt, see and smell and hear the misery and shame and heartbreak that comes through the door every day. It cannot be easy.

As the saying goes, if you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig. You can't just put glitter on top of a desperate situation and call it a success. But somehow we are called to be joyful in our faith and also to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and turn the other cheek and give to anyone who begs from you (as we will read this Sunday). We are called to be willing to see and be present to smashed up disasters and to still share the love of Christ with both humility and joy.  We are called to a vocation of healing and reconciliation if we are to follow Jesus, but that means we must wade into brokenness and conflict and lack and mental illness and meanness and blood and sweat. Nice things probably don't need healing.

Simply seesawing back and forth between despair and giddiness is not the answer.  (I always have loved this quote: "I know there is a middle ground - I've seen it as I swing back and forth on my pendulum.") 

And so I struggle with that balance. In the meantime, the work of Holy Apostles and Magdalene/Thistle Farms inspires me. 
I hope their work inspires you, too.

For the Conservation of Natural Resources

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 827)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nearly Wordless Wednesday Two-Fer: What Does the Goldfish Say?

I'm not sure what this graffiti goldfish is saying.....

.... but I think it's important!

Collect for Vocation in Daily Work

Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory and show forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth: Deliver us in our various occupations from the service of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(BCP 261)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lent Madness is Coming!

Yay! Lent begins in just two weeks and a day! I know you're excited! Well, maybe you aren't.

But, as those of you who've known me for a bit as aware, with the season of Lent, during which we give up the alleluias and perhaps other habits, also comes the season of Lent Madness, that online devotional tool that we can take up to help us learn more about the saints of the church.

If you're unfamiliar with Lent Madness, here and here are links to previous posts about how it works.

Now that you know all about it, here's what you need to know today. First of all, do you have your Saintly Scorecard? New this year, this little publication from Forward Movement includes each of the first round saintly bios so that you can make informed choices as you fill out your bracket. What a great idea! Download one to your Kindle by clicking here.

Second, get a bracket! You can download one from our website,   Once you've got your bracket and read up on your saints, you'll be ready to fill yours out and predict who will win the Golden Halo this year. This is fun to do in community, so create a pool at your office or with your family (and if you're planning to actually bet on your brackets, decide now how you will charitably disburse your winnings).

Third, start learning more about the Celebrity Bloggers who will be advocating for the saints during each matchup. This year we have both returning and new bloggers! So you'll want to know a little more about them. Keep up with the daily posts at during Celebrity Blogger Week which will last longer than a week, but who's counting? Today's post is on the veteran and practically unbeatable Heidi Schott.

As always, here's my personal pitch. Lent Madness is a fun way to learn about holy and inspirational people and to create community across the country. Lent Madness helps us prepare with joy for the coming of the Paschal feast. (I didn't make that up: Here's the second proper preface for Lent from our Book of Common Prayer for use during Holy Eucharist: You bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts, and prepare with joy for the Paschal feast; that, fervent in prayer and in  works of mercy, and renewed by your Word and Sacraments,  they may come to the fullness of grace which you have  prepared for those who love you.) 

So mark your calendars for "Ash Thursday," March 6, get your preparations done, and see you online every day during Lent 2014.

Collect for Stewardship of Creation

Muscovy ducks

O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

(BCP 259)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lighten our Darkness

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy  great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

(BCP 111)

Collect for the Good Use of Leisure

O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 825)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Collect for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Valentine and Me

The best thing I ever did was marry this man.

Collect for Those We Love

Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to thy
never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come,
knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we
can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 831)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Treasures

(This is a meditation I wrote for Forward Movement's Seeking God Day by Day book of daily meditations. It's not too late to order a copy for yourself - either the paperback or you can download a one for your Kindle or Nook. Click here for more info.)

February used to be my least favorite month. It may be short, but it seems long. It's gray and cloudy and cold and I just wanted it to be over.

Now that I've become a dedicated bird watcher, however, I like February a lot more. I can see the things in the trees because the leaves are gone. I can see the nests from last year and how they are shaped and what they are made of, twigs and fabric and paper shards. I can see the birds themselves and watch them preening or puffing themselves up to keep warm.

What's more, where I live now the bird populations actually change in winter. We have Arctic birds living here only during the winter months, and some of our spring and summer birds are gone elsewhere. I can enjoy things I don't normally get to enjoy, if I will just open my eyes to see them.

We go through all kinds of seasons in our lives, and some of them seem bleak and cold. But there are treasures to be had even then, treasures not available in other seasons. We have to have the eyes to see them, though. We have to be able to imagine that such treasures actually exist, and exist in places we didn't expect or value.

Such is life in God's time and among God's creation. It is all there for us to see and be part of, if we will, and there are pleasures in every season.

Even bleak February.

Morning Canticle

8    The Song of Moses    Cantemus Domino
       Exodus 15:1-6, 11-13, 17-18

Especially suitable for use in Easter Season
I will sing to the Lord, for he is lofty and uplifted; *
    the horse and its rider has he hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my refuge; *
    the Lord has become my Savior.
This is my God and I will praise him, *
    the God of my people and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a mighty warrior; *
    Yahweh is his Name.
The chariots of Pharoah and his army has he hurled into the sea; *
    the finest of those who bear armor have been
                               drowned in the Red Sea.
The fathomless deep has overwhelmed them; *
    they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in might; *
    your right hand, O Lord, has overthrown the enemy.
Who can be compared with you, O Lord, among the gods? *
    who is like you, glorious in holiness,
    awesome in renown, and worker of wonders?
You stretched forth your right hand; *
    the earth swallowed them up.
With your constant love you led the people you redeemed; *
    with your might you brought them in safety to
                              your holy dwelling.
You will bring them in and plant them *
    on the mount of your possession,
The resting-place you have made for yourself, O Lord, *
    the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hand has established.
The Lord shall reign *
    for ever and for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Remembering Summer

Here's a ruby-throated hummingbird visiting the front yard feeder a few summers ago.

Since many of us are in the throes of
"wintry mix" or worse, here's a reminder that summer will come again.

Morning Prayer

Thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, 
whose name is Holy, "I dwell in the high and holy place and 
also with the one who has a contrite and humble spirit, to
revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the 
contrite."    Isaiah 57:15

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon Bird Photo Two-Fer

Cedar waxwing grooming itself in the river birch in my front yard. Its distinctive crest is down for this activity, but it is still a stunning creature.

Morning Prayer

The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence 
before him.    Habakkuk 2:20

Monday, February 10, 2014

Now the Day is Over.....

.... night is drawing nigh. Snow geese and tundra swans of the evening steal across the sky.

Morning Canticle

9    The First Song of Isaiah    Ecce, Deus 
       Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely, it is God who saves me; * 
    I will trust in him and not be afraid. 
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, * 
    and he will be my Savior. 
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing * 
    from the springs of salvation. 
And on that day you shall say, * 
    Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; 
Make his deeds known among the peoples; * 
    see that they remember that his Name is exalted. 
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, * 
    and this is known in all the world. 
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, * 
    for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: * 
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Collect for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Afternoon Sports Break

The Winter Olympics start today. So here's a photo from a decidedly un-professional group of skaters. I was living in metropolitan New York and working in Manhattan during the Lake Placid Olympics of 1980, and suddenly everybody decided to take up skating. All the rinks in town were mobbed. And I discovered that I was pretty much not good at ice skating, even if I had been an ace on roller skates (not blades!) back in the day.

Whatever the politics of the Olympics (especially this year) and despite all the silly hype and skewed media coverage, I still love the Winter Olympics. 

Happy Friday!

Morning Prayer: For Knowledge of God's Creation

Bonaparte's gull

Almighty and everlasting God, you made the universe with all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, and galaxies, and the infinite complexity of living creatures: Grant that, as we probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your eternal purpose; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 827)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Life in the Flat Lane

I don't normally take photos in black and white, but I was messing with the camera on my phone when I was walking in the snow last week and apparently hit the "b&w" button somewhere.

I like the photo, though. I like the sense of nostalgia it evokes for me. A snow scene from the olden days.

Also, I like the road, the tracks from the cars and other vehicles that made their way through the snow. I like how there's not a rut in the road that everyone drove on. The vehicles made their own ways, not depending on a track made by those gone before.

The truth is, I find it is not all that hard for me to get into a rut. There's a fine line between routine and rut for me. When I'm trying to focus on diet and exercise, for example, and I find something that I feel I have some control over (I know how many calories are in a particular meal; I know how many I can burn doing a particular activity) I stick with it. And stick with it. Until I either get really bored with myself and rebel or until I discover just how uninspired and unvaried my "routine" has become. My carefulness becomes something that flattens my life instead of something to keep me on a good path. Variety is the spice of life and diets, too.

And so sometimes I have to give up something in order to live better. Maybe it is an idea (or, negatively, a fantasy). Maybe it is a habit. Maybe it's actually a good thing (counting calories) that has begun to tie me down or hold me back because I have slavishly adhered to it and cut out things that give me joy.

And, on a larger scale, it may not be impossible, but it can be hard for the Holy Spirit to move around much in the space of a well-worn rut.

Sometimes one has to give something up in order to grow. I know this is a lesson I have had to learn more than once. I cannot grow if I'm not willing to drive off the path occasionally. I cannot grow if I rely on following others' path instead of finding or making my own. I cannot grow if I flatten my life out by living in a rut. I cannot grow if I will not make room for the Spirit and the surprises and delights that the Spirit brings.

Life is beautiful. Growing is good. Jesus came so that we might have life and have it abundantly.

And so here's to making a path and enjoying the view, too.


20    Glory to God    Gloria in excelsis

Glory to God in the highest, 
    and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, 
almighty God and Father,

    we worship you, we give you thanks, 
    we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, 
Lord God, Lamb of God, 
you take away the sin of the world: 
    have mercy on us; 
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: 
    receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, 
you alone are the Lord, 
you alone are the Most High,
    Jesus Christ, 
    with the Holy Spirit, 
    in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Popup Loon

It's fun to watch loons in the ocean. They float along and then disappear underwater, only to bob back up somewhere else. I was lucky enough to be ready when this one began to pop up after a dive.

(This is a common loon in its winter clothing, swimming in the ocean off the coast of Virginia. During the winter, they are quiet, so we don't get to hear the maniacal laughter. Oh, well.)

Morning Confession

Most merciful God, 
we confess that we have sinned against you 
in thought, word, and deed, 
by what we have done, 
and by what we have left undone. 
We have not loved you with our whole heart; 
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. 
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. 
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, 
have mercy on us and forgive us; 
that we may delight in your will, 
and walk in your ways, 
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon Bird Photo

A group of cedar waxwings showed up in my yard on Sunday.

I had never seen any cedar waxwings in the "feather" before although I have admired photos and drawings of them in bird books for a long time.

They are smaller than I thought  they would be - finch size rather than cardinal sized.

Anyway, here's one of them. Lovely, no? God sure makes beautiful creatures.

Morning Canticle

13    A Song of Praise    Benedictus es, Domine 
          Song of the Three Young Men, 29-34

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers; * 
    you are worthy of praise; glory to you. 
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name; * 
    we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Glory to you in the splendor of you temple; * 
    on the throne of your majesty, glory to you. 
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim; * 
    we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Glory to you, beholding the depths; * 
    in the high vault of heaven, glory to you. 
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; * 
    we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.


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