Friday, December 27, 2013

The Light has come.

Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all. Amen, and come Lord Jesus.
-Frederick Buechner

The winter solstice has come and so has Christmas.  God speaks in creation as the days get longer.   Winter is usually a productive time for me.  I have great energy for knitting and reading and planning.  Sometimes I think that I love Advent more than Christmas- that sense of anticipation and planning.
I've been thinking a lot about light and found this on the blog This Sacramental Life  Check out the pictures and the video at the bottom- they are exquisite.
Light Shower    

This poem came to me through the Tumbler Blog LitVerve.  I love Christian Wiman's thought and poetry and these images of light and dark moved me.

Hard Night
What words or harder gift
does the light require of me
carving from the dark
this difficult tree?

What place or farther peace
do I almost see
emerging from the night
and heart of me?

The sky whitens, goes on and on.
Fields wrinkle into rows
of cotton, go on and on.
Night like a fling of crows
disperses and is gone.

What song, what home,
what calm or one clarity
can I not quite come to,
never quite see:
this field, this sky, this tree.


– Christian Wiman, “Hard Night”

More on Christian Wiman?   Check out this link.  Christian Wiman

I also loved this poem as books are my friends and calm me into thought and silence.

I slept before a wall of books and they
calmed everything in the room, even
their contents, even me, woken
by the cold and thrill, and still
they said, like the Dutch verb for falling
silent that English has no accommodation for
in the attics and rafters of its intimacies.
 - Saskia Hamilton

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Advent Musings.

Love this banner by Amarilys Henderson. Other work can be purchased at Watercolor Devo

Also this by Joanna Winter.  Can be purchased at Messy Lab studio

I saw this picture on this fantastic blog This Sacramental Life

Annunciation by John Collier
 from this source

It gave me a new understanding of Mary.

I read this poem by Malcolm Guite

  O Sapientia
I cannot think unless I have been thought,
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.
I cannot teach except as I am taught,
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneath the words with which I speak,
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,
O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me,
O Memory of time, reminding me,
My Ground of Being, always grounding me,
My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,
Come to me now, disguised as everything.

Google Malcolm Guite - you'll be glad you did.  Priest, poet and rock and roll player.

On less ethereal matters, Elisabeth is home for Christmas and we are glad. She has a new job in Seattle taking pizza orders at Zeke's. The Philippines is still very much on her heart and mind. Three young men from Alabama stayed the night last night while on their layover to the Philippines. She met them in Manila last summer. I do love a little bit of "Ma'am" every once and a while.
I'll be changing jobs (again) in the New Year.  My adjunct job at George Fox is over for now- no classes for me to teach in the Spring.  I'll be working as a para-educator with ESL students in an elementary school that is 30% ESL students ( called ELL's at the elementary level).  I've sat through a few trainings and met the women I will work with and I think it will be a good fit for me.  I'll be working with 4th and 5th graders.
Our foster son was officially adopted and is now with his forever family in the US.  This brings me such great peace.  He seems to be doing well and we are thankful for that.

Christmas should be nice and quiet.  We will try to head over to the coast the day before or the day after Christmas.  We will open gifts and have a traditional Christmas brunch with the three of us and then head to the movies in the afternoon.

Merry Christmas to all.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Watching and Waiting- A Few Random Thoughts.

I've seen this video on several sites and it's definitely worth watching.

Xu Bing and the Phoenix.
The reality of the lives of migrants workers in China is grim.  For this man to see, truly see them is amazing.  We had many migrant workers in our city in China and their living conditions were terrible. 
John Blase at the Beautiful Due The Beautiful Due  and Winn Collier at are doing parallel posts on Advent.  Really beautiful.

I saw a post on Pinterest for black bean fudge- sugar free, gluten free and dairy free.  That isn't hard to say no to at all.  Yuck.  What's the point?

The other day I got an e-mail from a student that said he couldn't come to class because he was "suck and tried."  Aren't we all?

Another student apologized for not coming to class by saying "I am sorry for you."  It's so rare that someone is sorry for me that I accepted the apology.

We actually had some snow here.  Not much but enough to make the roads slippery.  I couldn't get on the highway to get to work, because there was an accident that completely blocked the way.  So I had a Snow Day.  What is it about an unexpected day off that makes it feel like a week off?  It was lovely.

I am reading Return to Our Senses:  Re-imagining How We Pray by Christine Sine.  It's a lovely book that is causing me to go deeper into prayer in so many ways. It's a mix between traditional and contemplative practices and it's so beautifully written.  It's available on Amazon and also the Mustard Seed  Associates website.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013



Come all ye fickle, weary and worn.
O come let us adore him like the O damn fools
we are hanging on if by a thread to the tale
of a girl and the god and the baby they sang
into the whole dear world.
O come all ye citizens of this turning scorn.
O come let us sing though our eyes are tired
of looking for his salvation. Let us raise our
voices of that happy morn and groan him
into the world one more time.
John Blase posted at The Beautiful Due.

In this season of hoping and waiting, I light the Advent candles each morning.

One each week as we get closer and closer to the incarnation.  At a recent Advent retreat, lead by Christine Sine, we talked about the three comings of Jesus.  The first is in the flesh as a baby-this coming attracts our hearts but doesn't demand much of our soul.  The second is the coming presence of God in the resurrection-the question is how are we aware of the presence of God and what part do we want.  The third is the longing for the kingdom of God in the Second Coming- what are we longing for and how do our priorities of time, talent, and resources reflect that.
Our lives are to be a balance and we set priorities of 

Feasting and fasting

Work and rest

Solitude and Community

So our bare tree

becomes this tree

as we celebrate the coming of Jesus.

During this half day retreat, we also talked about Practices of Restoration and Practices of Transformation.  Our practices of restoration remind us of who we are in our faith community and identity- going to church or Mass, prayer, communion, Scripture reading.  At Christmas, the symbols of the tree, the Advent wreath, Nativity sets all remind us of of who we are.  Most practices of Restoration are highly structured and provide a certain measure of order and predictability. 
Practices of transformation are more risky.  They are meant to transform us at our core and to give us a sense of God's eternal kingdom.  These practices have a high degree of creativity and unpredictability.  We have to choose them for do we really want to be transformed?  The practice may be a practice of silence, going deeper to hear the voice of God.  It may be working on a project or with a person who is unfamiliar or uncomfortable.  Whatever it is, it is designed to change us, to make us new and different.

Recently a little sparrow came and looked inside our glass sliding door.

It had snowed the day before and was very, very cold.  I put sunflowers on the patio and he hopped up and looked inside for quite a while.  Yet bringing him inside would mean certain stress and maybe even death.  Birds are designed to be outside in the cold-they fluff up their feathers and sit close together.  What seemed like a safe place for him to be (inside and warm) was the most dangerous for his life.  
That is what a practice of transformation does for us- it puts us where we are meant to be.

Our little foster son is with his family now.  There is such a sense of peace, knowing that he is safe and whole and loved.  We have been in this waiting season for so long now.  What a joy that his journey to his family is finished...and also just beginning.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

From Love to Love to Love.

More than two years ago, our sweet little foster son came into our lives and today he turns four.  He came into our life for one night and ended up staying for two years.  This month, he will finally join his forever family.  He has been loved and will be loved.  We are so thankful.
We will never forget the night he came- skinny and scared and hungry.  He was so weak he couldn't suck on a bottle but we pressed on until he drank a little formula.  We put him down to sleep on some piled blankets and when we woke up two hours late to feed him again, his bright little eyes were looking around the room. What could he have been thinking or feeling?
I picked  him up that night and and looked at him and said "You will live."  And he did.  We figured out a feeding plan, cleared up the pneumonia and he began to grow and thrive.  He had  a sweetness about him that just made my heart melt.  He gained the developmental milestones that he should have and all his teeth came in at about the same time.  His fun and determined personality came out.  He was a treasure.
We were very naive when we got him.  We thought we would get him healthy, find him a family and get him home.  We thought we would have him for about nine months.  We didn't know about the governmental resistance to allowing children with Down Syndrome to be adopted.  We planned and we schemed and we prayed.  Each time we took him to the orphanage for vaccinations, we would dress him up in his cutest clothes.  We would bring books and toys to show them what he could do.  One of the nurses told us that she had never seen a special needs child look at a book. We wanted the people there to see him as a person- a little boy who  needed a family.  On one of our last visits there, several people came into the room to look at him.  Soon after that, we got the text that changed everything.  The text that said to look at our e-mail when we got home, that the orphanage had said yes to doing the adoption paperwork.  I will never, forget that moment when we knew that our sweet little guy had a future. It's one of the top moments of my life.
So this month, he will be joining his forever family.  A family where he will have brothers and sisters and grandparents!  Amazing.  Since we left China, he has been staying with his wonderful, fierce ayi.   She helped us take care of him when we were in China and she is such a major part of his growth.  She and her husband have stepped outside of cultural norms and invested and loved in a child with Down Syndrome who was not a blood relative.  She taught him how to stand by leaning him against a wall so that he would get the idea.  She read books to him.  She took him out in public and let him make friends with kids in the neighborhood. She has sent us pictures and videos in the year and a half since we left China. She has loved him with a strong and sacrificial love.  May she and her family be blessed.
Thank you to Dr. E and Dr. GJ who found him in the orphanage and convinced them to let him go into foster care.  Thank you to Dr. Eva and Dr. Katherine who worked out a feeding plan and came over to check on him every time I called.  Thank you to Dr. Nancy, the tiny Taiwanese doctor who read the hospital the riot act when our little guy needed oxygen.  To HM who kept asking the orphanage if he could be adopted. Thank you to Pam, speech therapist above no other who helped us to strengthen his swallowing.  Thank you to Gillian, who helped so much with our understanding of Down Syndrome.  Thank you to Julie G. who also helped us with physical therapy resources.  Thank you to Maggi for sending over beautiful clothes for our handsome guy.  Thank you all who helped him.
Thank you to Elisabeth for welcoming a little brother into our family and letting it change your life.  Thank you Christa and Jason and Peggy for all that you have done to help this little guy.
Thank you, Lynn and John for sending out the letter that found his forever family.  To his forever family...we have only met by e-mail and SKYPE but we love you and pray for you.  Thank you for taking a risk and adding a special needs little one to your family.  We have no doubts that you are the perfect family for him and we are so thankful you were willing to take on the mountains of paperwork and expenses that it takes for international adoption.  We will always love him with a deep love but we are so glad he will be a part of your family.
Every year on our foster son's birthday, I think about his birth parents and I wonder if they are thinking about him.  We do not know the complicated circumstances that made them abandon him in a hospital.  But I hope they are thinking about him today.  All though I know they will never read this, I want them to know what all birth parents want for their children- that he is loved and he is safe.
To our sweet little guy, the next part of your life may be difficult as you leave all that you know to enter your whole new life.  But it will be worth it because you are worth it.  We love you and will never forget you.  You are always a part of our heart.
Hagar wandering in the wilderness called God "The God who sees" (Genesis 16:13).  We are so thankful that the God Who Sees saw this little one.  Selah.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Things of Great Beauty.

The Landfill Orchestra.  Oh, my.  Children in extreme poverty with instruments made from items in the dump.
The Landfill Orchestra.

People reading around the world.  Never, ever underestimate the power of the written word.

To Light a Fire

Music for Vespers:  from WNYC


My lovely friends who were roommates during college.  Beautiful on the inside and out.

My husband's house during college years.   It's still standing more than 30 years later.

Some of the sunflowers in our garden. They are full of bees!

Part of the harvest of our garden.  From this we got soup, zucchini bread, frozen beans and more.

A sweet little baby happy.  I love simple knitting with beautiful yarn.

Best of all-my beautiful daughter is coming home this weekend after an amazing summer in the Philippines.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The act of creation.

It's hard to describe how happy our little garden plot makes me.  We are all ready planning for next year, thinking what else we could plant and how we could plan better and get more out of our 20X20 plot.

I am thrilled to see these sunflowers coming out!

We have two bean tents that have vines that have cross-over.  The purple beans actually belong to the other bean tent.  The scarlet runner beans are the green ones.  The purple beans are only purple until they are cooked...then they turn green!  Either way, they are lovely.

The yellow cherry tomatoes are the first ones to have color.

This pepper came from this plant.  I'll dice it and freeze it for the winter....there are plenty more on the vine.  I am hoping for serendipitous timing on hot banana peppers, tomatoes, and bell peppers so that I can make salsa.
Behind the pepper are two huge zucchini.  Plenty more are coming.  I bought disposable loaf pans today so I can make and freeze zucchini bread. 

Dave Harrity in Making Manifest says to remember that what you create is something close to holy.  That is what I feel in our garden as I see things grow and become beautiful.  I feel a tremendous sense of peace and yes, holiness as I watch this process.  It's amazing.

A seed only flourishes by staying in the ground in which it is sown. When you keep digging the seed up to check whether it is growing, it will never bear fruit. Think about yourself as a little seed planted in rich soil. All you have to do is stay there and trust that the soil contains everything you need to grow. This growth takes place even when you don’t feel it. Be quiet, acknowledge your powerlessness, and have faith that one day you will know how much you have received.
Henry Nouwen

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Midsummer's Day in the Pacific NorthWest.

 Paul and I rarely get a free weekend.  Since he is a pastor, Sundays are his main gig!  We both work during the week so there aren't many free days to just go out and see things.  We live in such a beautiful part of the country that we try to take advantage of any chance we can do go out.
This Saturday was a free day.  Paul didn't have to preach on Sunday, I didn't have (much) grading to do so we headed out as soon as we could.
But first we had to clean the house.  Then we went out to get a new compost bin.  I  cringe every time I toss a  used coffee filter, knowing that it could transformed into compost and help our garden next year.

Buying this compost bin is part of my  master plan to get Paul to agree to move to a more semi-rural part of our city and let me garden and keep bees.

We drove up to Moulton Falls and and Lucia Falls.  Clear, clean, cold water.  Salmon and steelhead spawn here.  This is about 30 minutes from our house.

We saw this beautiful garter snake eating tadpoles.

We stopped by a blueberry farm to pick 14 pounds of blueberries.  How long does it take to pick that much? About 15 minutes.  We also stopped by a road side stand and bought fresh sweet corn.  Perfect for a summer dinner.

One bowl before freezing.  Cost?  $1.00 a pound.

I stopped by our garden on the way home to water and found this cucumber ready to eat.  There is nothing like fresh food from your own garden.

The sunflowers are starting to really come out.

It was a good day, a joyful day, one that I am glad we had.

So, friends, every day do something that won't compute...Give your approval to all you cannot understand...Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years...Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts....Practice resurrection.” 
― Wendell BerryThe Country of Marriage

Friday, July 12, 2013

A few things that I like.

This article from Wendell Berry's daughter.Wendell and Me  My favorite line from the article -

I was asked once what it was like to be a Berry child. I answered that it was fine except for the constant humiliation. I believe that I went along with my father’s plans for us very agreeably until I was 12 or 13, the age when I think many children realize that their parents need guidance.

She also wrote about her mother.
My Mother's Agrarian Making of a Home.

Don't know who Wendell Berry is?  Here is one of my favorite poems of his.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Other things that I have liked.

Call the Midwife:  Just over the top wonderful.  The positive portrayal of religious life in community- I love it.

Louise Penney's Inspector Gamache.  I started with  The Beautiful Mystery and now need to go back and start this series at the beginning.  Intelligent and interesting mysteries.

Celtic Daily Prayer  prayers from the Northumbria Community.  I read the Compline Prayers before I go to sleep at night.  Just lovely.

Elizabeth Goudge.  I know I am late to the game with this author but I just read The Scent of Water  and really liked it.  Her books show her faith and are very delicate.  They aren't for everyone but I really enjoyed this book.  I'd like to read more.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

One Year In.

It's been a year since we've been back in the US.  I've kind of lost my blogging voice.  In my other blog (that is now shut down), there was always so much to say.  China, language learning, culture, our sweet foster son, the international school, Bible studies that were held in our home.
Now we are back in the US and have a new and different life.  We have had many changes- our daughter has gone off to college, we left our beloved foster son in China where he is awaiting adoption, we live in a part of the country that is new to us.  None of the changes have been easy for us. It's been good...but it's been very hard. There is has much to process but the processing has been very internal.
I came back from China thinking that it would be easy to find a new ESL job.  I thought that with an MA TESOL and experience overseas, employers would snap me up.  What it didn't know was the ESL is a saturated market in Portland....and there are plenty of people with the same or more experience than I have. So I have a job in a small language school that I like but don't love.  The pay is low. It's what I want to do, but not the circumstances or hours that I want.  I am thankful but it's hard to be lowest on the totem pole at age 51.
So I haven't been blogging but I've been journaling like crazy.  I've used two books to help me reflect.
The first one is God in the Yard by LL Barkat.  This is a great series of quiet reflections as a woman steps out into her yard every day for a year to be still and reflect.  I really enjoyed the questions that she asked and the many things she made me think about.
Now I am reading Making Manifest by David Harrity.  You an buy this much more cheaply at  David Harrity is part of this online publication and I am not quite sure how to describe this book!  Here are a few lines from it.
God is making and remaking, creating and revising-in creation, through Incarnation, and into new creation; God is reimagining the whole of this created world. The heart of God began beating in the Incarnation and has pulsed in the world since Creation.  The Incarnation.  Word made Flesh.  God has come; Language has skin, Construction is the ultimate result of our words.  Christ, then, is God's ultimate poem, God's ultimate workmanship- poemia in Greek, which is where we also get the English word poem.  Poetry is the richest use of our human language: carefully crafted words rendering powerful experience, telling the story of human condition...Our words, designed- fleshed out.
The subtitle of this book is "On Faith, Creativity and the Kingdom at Hand."  It is part devotional, part creativity work and part poetry writing.  It's very challenging to work through.

What else have we been into?  Well, bird watching for one!  At and around our feeder we have a flock of goldfinches that comes regularly and maybe two pairs of Grosbeaks.  We also have the usual chickadees, varying kinds of sparrows, mourning doves, hummingbirds, rufous towhees, robins, Stellar Jays and more

Here is a badly shot picture of a kestrel on our fence, hoping to snack on some songbirds.

We've enjoyed going up the Columbia Gorge and seeing views like this.

We also have a garden plot across the street from our church.  It's been wonderful to get our hands dirty and see the tomatoes and peppers grow and the beans start to crawl up the poles.

Banana Peppers

Tomato and Pepper plants with marigolds to keep the bugs away.

Elisabeth is in the Philippines for the summer, working at Kids International Ministries.  Before she left, she gave us this.

It included her passport, itineraries, contact information and a picture in case she was kidnapped.  Very comforting.  You can follow her adventures at Elbe Goes

So bit -by-bit, we adjust. We think, we pray, we read, we talk.  We second guess our every decision and then feel sure we are making good decisions....until we aren't sure.  The first year back in country is a year of adjusment...but I think it will take more than a year until we feel sure and centered again.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What I am seeing these days.

This sculpture outside the Portland Art Museum.  It's all language symbols-fantastic.

Eagle Talon marks in the sand.

There were five eagles on the edge of the water.  They let us come pretty close...but not too close (see talon marks above!)

This charming little Rufous Towhee and his mate visit us regularly.  They are very fun to watch.

We have a community garden plot this summer across the street from the church.

Hilltop nursery-family owned and amazing. Can you see the top of Mt. St. Helen's in the distance?

Flowers on the campus where I work.

Life is full and busy these days. Elisabeth is getting ready to go to the Philippines this summer.  She is blogging at about her trip.  She will be regularly updating throughout the summer.
Paul continues to preach and teach at our small Chinese church.  I continue to teach ESL at a small program in Portland. Some days are happy and some days are sad.  We miss China and our life there.  We miss our foster son.  We miss our daughter.  
We also have days where we are blown away by the beauty that surrounds us.  It's just kind of a mixed bag right now.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Weaving Silence- a Celtic Prayer

I Weave a Silence 

I weave a silence onto my lips
I weave a silence into my mind,
I weave a silence within my heart.

I close my ears to distractions,
I close my eyes to attractions
I close my heart to temptations.
Calm me, Lord,
As you calmed the storm,

Still me, Lord, keep me from harm,  
Let all tumult within me cease
Fold me in your peace.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Book Title Poetry.

One of my favorite publishing houses is T.S. Poetry Press.  They publish a weekly newsletter that comes with all kinds of great prompts, links and writing about poetry.  Here is the link to the site.
One of their fun prompts was to gather books that were near you and form the title into a poem.  I gathered books off the coffee table and a near bookshelf and made this poem about this last year.

Year of Wonders
God in the Yard
God in the Dark
I told my soul to sing
A Sacrifice of Praise
Holy Silence

That pretty much says it about the last 9 months!  God has been with us in this otherwise year of wonders!  He has been with us in the yard and in the dark.  At times we have had to tell our souls to sing a sacrifice of praise.  Holy silence has been essential.  Amen.

I've been enchanted by another book title Poemcrazy.  The writer lives in Chico where I went to college.  It's still a place that I love.  The author makes writing poetry so accessible.  She has great ideas for prompts and word play and so much more.  Highly Recommended.

Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day...and Poetry.

A friend of mine posted this link on her Facebook page and it struck me as very powerful.

The Power of Poetry  The article is from Christianity Today.

Here is the original story from the New York Times.

Why Afghan Women Risk Death To Write Poetry

From Deborah Hirt, A Franciscan Intern

Lord, make me an instrument of peace:
Bless all women who daily strive to bring peace to their communities, their homes and their hearts. Give them strength to continue to turn swords into plowshares.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love:
We pray for all women who face prejudice, inequality and gender disparities. Help us seeand to face the discrimination against women inall the many forms it may take.
Where there is injury, pardon:
Comfort all women who suffer from the pain of war, violence, and abuse. Help them to become instruments of their own reconciliation and peace.
Where there is division, unity:
Forgive all women and men who let differences breed hate and discrimination. Let your example of valuing all of creation help us to see that we are equal partners in the stewardship of your world.
Where there is darkness, light; where there is untruth, truth:
Comfort all women who struggle in the darkness of abuse, poverty, and loneliness. May we stand with them in light to acknowledge their suffering and strive to remove the burdens of shame or embarrassment.
Where there is doubt, true faith:
We pray for all women who live in fear of their husbands, fathers, and forces that control their lives. Help them to be empowered to be their true selves through your everlasting love and faith.
Where there is despair, hope:
We pray for all women who live in the despair of poverty, violence, trafficking, slavery,and abuse. May the light of your love bring them hope.
Where there is sadness, new joy:
Help us to see the strength and goodness in all women and men.
Transform our hearts to celebrate the love and grace of all people.
And may we be blessed with the courage of St. Clare of Assisi to follow our own path of love for you and all sisters and brothers.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Learning to See

During this time of readjustment to the US, I have learned the value of silence.  I've learned the value of slowing down, of reading the Bible slowly and reflectively, of letting God speak to me.  One of the hardest things for me about living in China was the constant noise and chaos.  Sometimes it was fun but often overwhelming.  Now I am in a phase of my life where I crave silence.  Silence helps me to hear and it helps me to see.

Last week I went to a birding class at the Portland Audubon Society.  It was a basic class on identifying birds.  The basic message?  Stand still and look. Look for shape, look for marking, look for size.  We looked at guide books, identified similar birds by pictures.  On Sunday, a Rufous Towhee came to my feeder.  How did I know it wasn't a strangely marked robin?  By looking.  By seeing.  Today a peregrine landed on our fence.  How did I know?  By looking, by seeing, by checking the guidebook.

Wendell Berry says this.
How to Be a Poet.

Make a place to sit down.   
Sit down. Be quiet.   
You must depend upon   
affection, reading, knowledge,   
skill—more of each   
than you have—inspiration,   
work, growing older, patience,   
for patience joins time   
to eternity. Any readers   
who like your poems,   
doubt their judgment.   


Breathe with unconditional breath   
the unconditioned air.   
Shun electric wire.   
Communicate slowly. Live   
a three-dimensioned life;   
stay away from screens.   
Stay away from anything   
that obscures the place it is in.   
There are no unsacred places;   
there are only sacred places   
and desecrated places.   


Accept what comes from silence.   
Make the best you can of it.   
Of the little words that come   
out of the silence, like prayers   
prayed back to the one who prays,   
make a poem that does not disturb   
the silence from which it came.

On Ash Wednesday, I went to an all day reflective retreat.  During a time of individual silence, I looked out of the chapel window and saw this.

Can you see it?  Look closely.  There is a scrub jay hidden in those bushes.  I spent quite a bit of time watching him fly in and out of that bush. Fascinating.

As I walked on the grounds of the retreat center, I saw the stations of the cross.  I am not normally drawn to stations of the cross but these were quite lovely in their simplicity.

The women at the cross.  

This year, I am trying to have a quiet and reflective Lent.  I am taking things out so that God can put what I need in.  I am reading the gospel of John with its beautiful words and imagery slowly.  Phrases like "Bread of Life, Living Water" are staying in my mind.  I've put several things around our home to remind us of this dark season.

A cross made of rose thorns and tied with purple and black ribbon.

Seven candles for the seven weeks of Lent.  Each week, we light one less until we reach Maundy Thursday. We have less and less light as we enter  further into the darkness of Lent.

Three purple candles for the three days between Maundy Thursday and Easter.
I've often felt a loss when Easter came and I hadn't spent time really preparing and thinking.  This year, I hope it's different, as I take time to slow down and to really see.