Saturday, September 27, 2014

Early Autumn Celebration...



















My house smells like Autumn...windows open to let in the many
earthy smells of the trees, new mown grass, and freshly spread
mulch on the neighbor's garden...all of this accompanied by the
nurturing, nourishing, delectable odor of apples cooking on the
stove for homemade applesauce.

The birds seem overjoyed, too, their songs punctuating the
people-sounds in the neighborhood with melodic delight, a
reminder to me that all-too-soon some of them will be leaving
my yard for warmer climes, leaving the bird feeders to the
cardinals, blue jays, titmice, and woodpeckers.

I love this time of year, with its cooler nights and its daily
juxtaposition of rainy days following closely on the heels of
brilliantly blue ones...with its call to dig out the long sleeves
and sweaters, to put away the pastels of spring and summer
in favor of the oranges and reds and deeper greens and browns
which seem emblematic of the season.

Of course, Autumn is also a season of melancholy...a time
marked by the awareness that the brief, flaring brilliance of the
changing leaves is marking the death of what has been, moving
us into a fallow, quiet time when the reality of our mortality
seems ever before us...when aging skin and aching muscles
and creaking bones and challenged mobility remind us that the
days and weeks and months are passing, that there is not a
moment to be wasted, that life is counted out in breaths taken,
in opportunities grasped, in loving words spoken, in appreciation
expressed.

Autumn always speaks to me of those I love who are no longer
here among us in the flesh...though my mind and heart are filled
with their presences. Sometimes, I hear their voices, see their
faces in the air around me, as their spirits seem to choose not to
stay dormant and hidden, but make themselves known in ways
both small and great. And often, I find myself dwelling in
Melancholy, that strange and ephemeral land where I wander in
the mists of memory, mindful of the passing time, of the passing
years, and of the still-tender and empty places within me which
no one or nothing else has quite been able to fill.

But lest you think I am sinking into depression- for that has
sometimes been Autumn's accompaniment in my life-
I assure you that these days are also marked by an intense
appreciation for my family and the joy they bring...by the
delight engendered by the presence of my friends who color my
life with an endlessly varied and beautiful palette...by reading
and writing and cooking. As I look out my window into the
branches of my lovely Japanese maple, I can almost see her
leaves beginning to change to the startling scarlet they will
become, that last wonderful celebration of life before she is
stripped bare to stand shivering in the cold days of Winter,
certain that- come spring- new life will come again. God willing,
also for me...



Friday, September 19, 2014

Rise and Shine...


 













I am definitely a morning person. Here it is, only 9:45a.m.
and I have put a beef stew into the crockpot, baked a chocolate
cake and some apple dumplings, and done three loads of wash.
Oh, and made myself a lovely breakfast of my favorite poached
eggs AND taken time for reading, praying, and journaling. Now,
I'm readying to complete my sermon for Sunday.

Please, please don't think I'm bragging or looking for praise
of any sort. And I'm sorry if all of this early-morning energy
makes you feel tired. This is just how I function best: rising
at 5 or 5:30a.m. and entering into the day, first in silence and
then in the joy of doing something I love. Of course, not all
my days are like this. Sometimes I have to grit my teeth and
just DO IT...those tasks I really don't enjoy, like cleaning...
talking with those people who set my teeth on edge...
keeping my nose to the well-worn grindstone. (After all,
they're not called "chores" for nothing.)

But I know, have learned through painful experience, that
morning is my best time...for thought, for creativity, for writing,
for daring to venture into new territory with regards to worship and
preaching ideas...for doing those things which fill up my cup of
joy and energy sufficiently to get me through the rest of my day,
regardless of what comes along.

Of course, all of this morning energy means that I am ready to
crash by 9p.m., the time when lots of folks are just coming
into full stride. My brain turns to mush in the evening hours
and, though I do enjoy being with people then (since that's
when most socializing happens), I am certainly not at my
scintillating best.

I guess where I'm going with all this is that we are each and
all unique creations...that part of our call to wisdom is to
learn who and how we are- and then, TO HONOR THAT. I
know...easier said than done, especially when the needs and
desires and wishes of others make it incumbent upon us to
be in ways which go against our own lovely and well-polished
grain. But failing to honor the person we are is, I think, in
some way to dishonor the One Who Loves, the One Who
Creates, the One Who Invites each one of us to our own
personhood, our own uniqueness. And I can only be truly
connected to you and to all creation- and to God- if I am
connected to my Self, the one I have been truly and fully
created to be.

And so, I celebrate being a "morning person". I revel in the
energy inherent in these early hours, well aware that a nap
may have to be in my future around 2p.m. I salute you night
owls, with your joyful celebration of the darkness and the
solitude and silence which it brings. How beautifully we
complement one another. How wonderfully diverse we all are.
How gloriously we can fulfill the needs of our world with our
endless variety. Have a beautiful day, whoever and however
you are.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Paying Attention...















Two scenes from my travels today
play across the screen of my mind...
two scenes which were totally unrelated,
and yet occurred only two blocks apart
in my town...in my travels...

The first- seeing Christmas paraphernalia
on display at a local craft store and being
completely discombobulated by its appearance
on this, September 15th, technically
still summertime, though autumn is making
brief forays into our weather these days.

The second- seeing two young men- brothers,
I imagine- exiting the AT&T store, hand in
hand...the elder- about 19 or 20, I speculate,
patiently and carefully guiding the younger-
perhaps fifteen or so- and clearly in the thrall of
some kind of mental or emotional problem...
arms gesticulating wildly, gait unsteady,
casting words out toward the not-there people
who apparently populate his world. Gently,
with obvious loving concern, oblivious of 
the looks or opinions of anyone else, the elder led
the younger to their car, talking quietly,
being who and what that beautiful, blond,
fragile boy needed- love in human flesh.

Perhaps that is why these two scenes seem
juxtaposed in my mind...the first, so oblivious
to the miracle of the God-Made-Flesh of Christmas,
focusing instead on the commercialization and
consumerism of this holiday...this once-holy day.
And the second, so clearly the enactment, the
embodiment of the ever-present love of God
made manifest in a jeans-and-t-shirt-clad youth
holding the hand of his not-quite-whole
brother with total focus and concentration
and compassion, his face filled with love.

Captivated, I watched from my car as I
waited for the light to change, and it was only
when I heard the horn of the car behind me
that my attention was pulled reluctantly away
from the Holy Ground of that little moment...
God truly, fully present, reminding me to
pay attention.

Leave-Taking Preparation...

 














Sometimes when I awaken-
especially  to the sound of
voices on the clock radio
on the nearby bedside table-
I am confused as to time
        and place...where am I, I wonder,
        and what is this day?
as dream fragments hold me
entwined in tendrils of
imagination, of fancy's flight,
where voices, faces of those long gone
are vividly present
where the curtain dividing
what was from what is
is gossamer-thin
where past and present fuse into
the one-ness of now, drawing me
into the Spirit's tether where
I am held as gently as a
babe in holy, wholly loving arms

Friday, September 12, 2014

Forever and Ever...











nothing lasts forever
forever is a lie, distorting
  how we see today, tomorrow
finitude contains the truth
  of our humanity, shining
light on this very moment
  this fleeting never-to-be-lived-again
            moment
breathe in.  breathe out
inspiration.  expiration
life riding on the breath
  the ruach   the spirit
until one last breath in-
  or out, and then forever
  is no more or matters not a bit
absorbed into infinity' s deep mystery
with molecules among the stars
our DNA enlivening those we
  leave behind-
             perhaps forever taking a
             different shape?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Walk

Walking in the early-morning freshness,
Breathing in the gift of air
        cleansed by last evening's rains

Seeing...
     the single reddening branch on
          the maple tree around the corner...
     further along, the dogwood with every leaf tinged
          with dusky red, while her more-than-nodding-acquaintance
          neighbor remains resplendently green...
     the purple morningglories glorifying the shrubs
          over which they spread...
     the tightly-closed seed pods studding the magnolia
          where once creamy flower bowls bloomed...

Hearing...
     the absence of traffic, as the human populants
          remain at home on this holiday morning...
     the abundance of birdsong resonating through
          the trees and over the hillsides...
     the occasional dripping of the remnants
          of last night's storm...

Rounding the corner, the morning sun is fully
in my eyes until benevolent branches
gentle its light, leaving me to simply bask
     in its healing warmth

Cresting the hill, I see the porch where once
sat a little old woman who waved delightedly
to my "Hello", smiling her benediction on
my day. I miss her presence,
even as I turn the corner to be greeted
by a fat, brown rabbit- perhaps the very one
I often see in my own yard, now sitting
perfectly still as rabbits do, convinced, I think,
that stillness imbues invisibility. Perhaps I
should try it sometime...

And then, I cross the street and approach
the uneven sidewalk leading to my own
front door, the cement upheaval created by
the willow oak a reminder of just whose place
this really is.

Now I sit here, drinking tea, reveling in the
still-unpopulated beauty of this
Labour Day morning, satiated and solaced
by the silence