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.