Thursday, April 28, 2016

'Munk among monks

This is one of the many, many chipmunks who call the grounds of the retreat house of the Brothers of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), which is called Emery House, home. There are several long, long rock walls on the property, and the chipmunks dart in and out of them.

I call them the 'munks who live among the monks.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 148

Laudate Dominum
1 Hallelujah!
Praise the  Lord from the heavens; *
praise him in the heights.

2 Praise him, all you angels of his; *
praise him, all his host.

3 Praise him, sun and moon; *
praise him, all you shining stars.

4 Praise him, heaven of heavens, *
and you waters above the heavens.

5 Let them praise the Name of the  Lord; *
for he commanded, and they were created.

6 He made them stand fast for ever and ever; *
he gave them a law which shall not pass away.

7 Praise the  Lord from the earth, *
you sea-monsters and all deeps;

8 Fire and hail, snow and fog, *
tempestuous wind, doing his will;

9 Mountains and all hills, *
fruit trees and all cedars;

10 Wild beasts and all cattle, *
creeping things and winged birds;

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, *
princes and all rulers of the world;

12 Young men and maidens, *
old and young together.

13 Let them praise the Name of the  Lord, *
for his Name only is exalted,
his splendor is over earth and heaven.

14 He has raised up strength for his people
and praise for all his loyal servants, *
the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Caturday! Dad's home!

Tom left a black sweatshirt on the bed for Sally to sleep on. (She sleeps on any of his clothes he leaves on the bed, so he thought he'd designate something.) She loves it and sleeps on it all the time.

He came home from a trip Thursday night and emptied his suitcase. Of course both cats needed to get into the suitcase for a bit, but then Sally needed to solve the dilemma of sleeping in the suitcase or on the sweatshirt. Fortunately, she figured out how to do both.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Music: Aoife O'Donovan, Porch Light

New England Conservatory educated Aoife O'Donovan has a new album out: In the Magic Hour. She's one of my faves. Here she is playing a song from that album, Porch Light.

Playing with her on this video are Anthony DaCosta on guitar and Steve Nistor on drums.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thursday's bird is just passing through

This palm warbler (my first time seeing one!) is migrating from the far southern coast up to Canada for the summer. I saw it in Massachusetts last weekend. I always feel very privileged to see migrating birds. Here today, gone next week!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Goose Warning

When it is goose mating season, geese do not want you to come near them. They stick out their necks and hiss at you and show their teeth.

Well, not really about the teeth.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To pose for me, obviously.

Living the Questions

Back from my retreat. It was great. Now on Monday morning, it's time to ask some questions.

Am I on the right road?

Should I cross this bridge?

What is your quest?

OK, just kidding on that last one.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Good Shepherd Sunday

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: 
Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, 
and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, 
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Caturday! When Bella Met Sally

A slightly out of focus shot of the day I went to the SPCA shelter to adopt two kittens.

Sally found the toy stash and Bella (full name Arabella) found Sally.

And the rest is history.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Music for Tax Day: De profundis

Having a professional musician in the family means I am introduced to music I might not otherwise find. Son Jeff recommended a piece by Arvo Part, an Estonian composer, called Fratres. It's a good piece. But also, while nosing around YouTube, I discovered Part's setting of Psalm 130 (De profundis - out of the depths I cry to thee). Here it is, sung by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Organ played by Christopher Broadbent-Bowers, percussion by Tonu Kaljuste.

I know it's still Easter, but this is a moving, meditative, and appropriate piece for income tax day.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Thursday's Bird Zooms Along

Forster's tern (frosty wing tips rather than gray) speeds along the marsh with determination. Taken last May on the island of Chincoteague.

I am headed to Emery House, the retreat house of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), with a group of women from church today. The property is 144 acres bordered by the Merrimack and Artichoke Rivers. Hoping for some great photography opportunities along with three days of prayer and rest.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Need an Oyster?

Well, here's an oystercatcher.

Love the orange.

Taken on the Island of Staffa, off Iona, Scotland, last spring. So it's a Scottish oystercatcher, which I suppose catches Scottish oysters.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Caturday! Music Lessons

Bella says:

It's hard to read the music book from this angle.

I said:

Maybe you should try sitting on the bench.

May your Saturday be filled with music!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday Movie: Catnip!

Well, it's not Christmas (although it is chilly!), but otherwise, this Simon's cat adventure is spot on. We received the gift of a bag of catnip and Bella and Sally did all of these things except knocking over the tree. I'm sure they would have if we had one.

The bag ended up in the water dish, and now it's been partially emptied onto the dining room rug.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Surfing

It's a little chilly for swimming today, but this still looks like fun.
And who couldn't use a little fun?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fuzzy-wuzzy Throwback

Remembering this fuzzy duckling from a couple of years ago. 
Springtime is definitely for ducklings!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Touching Christ's Wounds Where They Bleed in Others

The Easters of my childhood were full of sensory experiences - sounds, smells, tastes and touches.  Not only have I seen the photographic evidence of some of the Easter outfits my mother made for me, but I especially remember how my itchy crinoline petticoat felt and the way my patent leather shoes squeaked when I rubbed them together (which I may or may not have done during church just because); I remember fingering the pearly button on my white gloves and stretching the too-tight elastic strap that kept my Easter bonnet on my head.  
I remember egg hunts in the green grass and the fuzzy cheeping baby chicks at the feed and seed store in my little faming town, and Easter baskets filled with sweet jelly beans and a chocolate bunny.  I remember singing Jesus Christ is Risen Today.
What I don’t remember is anybody offering explanations for all of this,  of what chocolate bunnies and chicks and jelly beans had to do with the empty tomb.  No suggestions of what do to if you don’t understand how Jesus rose from the dead, no offering of conversation about what resurrection means to us now.  

As I grew older, I found that I had a lot more questions than I ever got answers for about how or why the Lord is Risen indeed.

Perhaps you’ve had this experience yourself.  And if you have, don’t you wish Jesus would show up at your house one day and invite you to touch his wounds?  Because it is difficult to get our heads around an idea like resurrection.  We haven’t had the kind of encounter with Jesus that Thomas, and Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha, the beloved disciple and Peter and all the rest had with Jesus.  

And we’re not going to.
And so, even more than Thomas, we may have trouble understanding and believing, ourselves.  

What we do understand is that when we look around the world even though we proclaimed last Sunday that He is Risen, we still see destruction and devastation, starting with a bombing in Pakistan that was happening while we were right here in church on Easter morning.  

It seems that we barely have had time to register one disaster before another has come along: more terrorist attacks this week in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, a shooting here in Richmond, a constant stream of outrage and reports about political and social polarization, about abuses of power and privilege; heartbreaking photos of migrant camps overrun with children, not to mention the disasters that come into our homes and hearts by way of phone calls, letters, conversations: death, illness, separation, loss.

As much as we may deplore these things, we believe in them.  They are not just ideas. Many of us or those we love have been touched by them. We can see with our own eyes that these things do not not appear to have been transformed by the resurrection.  I can understand hiding behind locked doors in the face of a frightening and violent world.

And so, like Thomas, we want to touch something ourselves - in this world - so that we, too, may believe. Because resurrection is not something that happens in the mind. It happens in the body.

As we get older, we seem to favorour minds, our intellect, over our bodies.We let our attentiveness to experience fade as we grapple with abstract concepts and turn to rationality as the medium through which we apprehend. I’m sure people did try to explain the resurrection to me when I was young. But I don’t remember because it was just a bunch of words I was supposed to accept without a connection to actual experience.

Our faith and the faith of those who knew Jesus is about experience, not concepts. Experience is what we crave.
Our faith  - young faith or mature faith - needs expression through tangible things - touch and smile and relationship, through food and water and clothing, sanctuary, acceptance and love -  stuff you can see and touch and smell and hear.  

Jesus knew that - his ministry was not just talking but touching people -washing feet, healing eyes and ears and skin, feeding hungry bodies - and so did Thomas. who had been with him all along.

Of course Thomas wanted to touch Jesus instead of listen to a bunch of words! The Jesus he knew was the Jesus who used touch to heal.  Thomas does not doubt the resurrection any more than anyone else in the Gospel (The disciples thought the report of the empty tomb by the women was just an idle tale.) So let’s not pick on him.
There’s much more to this story, anyway, you know. Before the entrance of Thomas to the scene, Jesus came to be with his friends who had locked themselves away in fear, and he said, “As the father has sent me, so now I send you, receive the Holy Spirit” and he breathed on them, just as God breathed life into Adam.  
With this breath, Jesus commissioned the disciples to continue the work of God in their lives and through their witness, and the witness of many who came after, we are commissioned, too, to live the resurrection life, in our own bodies.

We can’t touch Jesus of Nazareth, but we can touch others. By the power of the Spirit we can show forth in our lives what we profess by our faith.
The New Zealand Prayer Book has a beautiful prayer for us to pray today and any day we find ourselves asking again, what am I supposed to think and do about the resurrection?  It goes like this: “Living God, for whom no door is closed, no heart is locked, draw us beyond our doubts, till we see your Christ and touch his wounds where they bleed in others.”

Touch his wounds where they bleed in others. 

I have seen evidence of that touching. I think of our family friend who continues his work in Greece, first as an EMT and now offering legal help to the continuing wave of people fleeing death and destruction in Africa and the Middle East; I think of our parishioners who tutor students in Richmond’s East End, and those who are involved in our ministry among the men and women of the Richmond City Jail. I think of our folks who help with the Monday food distribution from our pantry and those about to go to Brazil to support of our missionaries who minister to destitute women and children there.

We look around and see disasters, yes, but also we can look around and see people respond to those disasters by touching the wounded where they are bleeding.

This is what believing in the resurrection looks like: that we, having been forgiven and freed from the fear of death, are inspired to come out of our cozy and safe rooms to become part of something much larger than ourselves - to become a vessel for God’s love by touching others in the midst of this broken world. To bring to others the abundant life Jesus came to give us all.  

And so through the inspiration of the Spirit, we have the power to make the resurrection something real and tangible in the world again. We have the power to touch Christ’s wounds where they bleed in others.

Let’s do it.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Caturday! Just lion around.

Bella is too lazy to follow the sun. Besides, her built-in blanket keeps her warm.

Sally relies on external heating. The radiator makes a nice bed on a chilly day.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday Music: Becoming a Dental Floss Tycoon

So much fun out there on the internet today - April Fool's Day! So for your Friday Music enjoyment, here's Frank Zappa's Montana, a song about moving to Montana to raise dental floss and become a dental floss tycoon. (You probably already know that one harvests dental floss with tweezers.)

This is from his 1973 album Over-Nite Sensation. Tina Turner and the Ikettes sing backup.

No kidding.


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