Saturday, November 29, 2008

Move over Martha Stewart

The turkey at my sister's house - nice shot, huh?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

blessings passed down

Dear ones,

We survived the Treasure Hunt that we did for the twins birthday. My thoughts turn to another time when 11 years ago I was holding two new babies in my arms. I recall that wonderful newborn smell and the softness of their skin as if it just happened. There was an older woman at my church who was a twin and had been looking forward to the birth of my twins, but she had been battling cancer and was near death. It seemed like the only thing keeping her alive was meeting Robert and Maria (we called them Click and Clack then - we didn't know that we had a boy and girl until they were born). Her doctor kept calling me and asking when I was going to go into labor. He said that this woman, Zelda, was ready to die but refused to do so until she met my babies! Finally they came - and when we left the hospital our first stop, even before we went home, was to visit Zelda. Her twin sister came down from Reno for the occasion. They were 95 years old. In preparation to greet these new twins Zelda got out of bed and put on makeup so she could  look her best, and I have to say, she looked stunning. She shone with joy that day. I will never forget the image I have of Zelda and her sister holding these babies who had just come into the world. When Zelda held each one, she leaned over and whispered into their ears. She told me that she had to wait for their birth because  they needed to have the blessing of elder twins to welcome them into this world. I don't know what she whispered but I know that she passed on to them a powerful blessing for their lives.

Enjoy the readings. Take time to reflect on the questions that the poem asks. Peace. Debra+

Malachi. 3:13-4:6 (NRSV)

13 You have spoken harsh words against me, says the LORD. Yet you say, "How have we spoken against you?" You have said, "It is vain to serve God. What do we profit by keeping his command or by going about as mourners before the LORD of hosts? Now we count the arrogant happy; evildoers not only prosper, but when they put God to the test they escape." 16Then those who revered the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD took note and listened, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who revered the
LORD and thought on his name. 17They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve them. 18Then once more you shall see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. Remember the teaching of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. 5Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. 6He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse. "

What's In The Temple?
In the quiet spaces of my mind a thought lies still, but ready to spring. 
It begs me to open the door so it can walk about. 
The poets speak in obscure terms pointing madly at the unsayable. 
The sages say nothing, but walk ahead patting their thigh calling for us to follow. 
The monk sits pen in hand poised to explain the cloud of unknowing. 
The seeker seeks, just around the corner from the truth. 
If she stands still it will catch up with her. 
Pause with us here a while. 
Put your ear to the wall of your heart. 
Listen for the whisper of knowing there. 
Love will touch you if you are very still.
If I say the word God, people run away. 
They've been frightened--sat on 'till the spirit cried "uncle." 
Now they play hide and seek with somebody they can't name. 
They know he's out there looking for them, and they want to be found, 
But there is all this stuff in the way.
I can't talk about God and make any sense, 
And I can't not talk about God and make any sense. 
So we talk about the weather, and we are talking about God.
I miss the old temples where you could hang out with God. 
Still, we have pet pounds where you can feel love draped in warm fur, 
And sense the whole tragedy of life and death. 
You see there the consequences of carelessness, 
And you feel there the yapping urgency of life that wants to be lived. 
The only things lacking are the frankincense and myrrh.
We don't build many temples anymore. 
Maybe we learned that the sacred can't be contained. 
Or maybe it can't be sustained inside a building. 
Buildings crumble. 
It's the spirit that lives on.
If you had a temple in the secret spaces of your heart, 
What would you worship there? 
What would you bring to sacrifice? 
What would be behind the curtain in the holy of holies?
Go there now.
~ Tom Barrett ~
(Keeping in Touch)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

malachi and aquinas

Dear ones,

Interesting reading from Malachi this morning. It is directed at the integrity of priests. Rest assured, I am not guilty of the things that the priests are accused of in this reading.  The poem is attributed to St/Thomas Quinas. I will have to go back to my old Aquinas textbooks and see if I can find more of his poetry. Peace. Rev Deb 

Malachi 2:1-16 (NRSV)

And now, O priests, this command is for you. 2If you will not listen, if you will not lay it to heart to give
glory to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse on you and I will curse your blessings;
indeed I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 3I will rebuke your offspring, and
spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and I will put you out of my presence. 4Know, then,
that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may hold, says the LORD of hosts. 5My
covenant with him was a covenant of life and well-being, which I gave him; this called for reverence, and he
revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his
lips. He walked with me in integrity and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. 7For the lips of a priest
should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the
LORD of hosts. 8But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your
instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, 9and so I make you despised and
abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your

10 Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another,
profaning the covenant of our ancestors? 11Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in
Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the
daughter of a foreign god. 12May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob anyone who does this-any to
witness or answer, or to bring an offering to the LORD of hosts. 13And this you do as well: You cover the Lord's
altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor
at your hand. 14You ask, "Why does he not?" Because the LORD was a witness between you and the wife of
your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15Did
not one God make her? Both flesh and spirit are his. And what does the one God desire? Godly offspring. So
look to yourselves, and do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth. 16For I hate divorce, says the
LORD, the God of Israel, and covering one's garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So take heed to
yourselves and do not be faithless.

How is it they live for eons in such harmony -
the billions of stars -
when most men can barely go a minute
without declaring war in their mind against someone they know.
There are wars where no one marches with a flag,
though that does not keep casualties
from mounting.
Our hearts irrigate this earth.
We are fields before
each other.
How can we live in harmony?
First we need to
we are all madly in love
with the same
~ St. Thomas Aquinas ~
(Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West by Daniel Ladinsky)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

rending and healing

Dear ones,

The prophet Joel tells the people to rend their hearts, not their garments in today's reading. The practice of rending garments was written about in Genesis and is a sign of mourning. Joel calls for the real thing, not just a symbol. Most of you know that my first marriage ended in divorce after 14 years of marriage (it was an 'arranged marriage'  which is longer  story than my daily reading intro can deal with). A few years after the divorce, when I was in seminary and studying the practice of rending garments I decided to rend the garment of my first wedding dress as a sign of that marriage ending. I had no idea how hard it is to rend a garment! It's easier to split a 2x6 in half with your hands (that also is another story from my martial arts days!). I persisted and successfully 'rent' the garment and then sewed two of the pieces together to make a small baptismal stole for a young girl who had been sexually abused by a priest (she was only 2 years old when she came into my life).  I carefully stitched the tear together and sewed a cross over the tear in the fabric. It was very healing for my soul to do that. What do you mourn? What do you carry in your heart that you need to let God take care of for you?

Thanks to Evelyn Wickham for the poem we have for today. Peace.   Debra+

Joel 2:12-19 (NRSV)

12 Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with
mourning; 13rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and
merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. 14Who knows whether he
will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD,
your God? 15Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16gather the people. Sanctify the
congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his
room, and the bride her canopy. 17Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD,
weep. Let them say, "Spare your people, O LORD, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among
the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'"

18 Then the LORD became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people. 19In response to his people the LORD
said: I am sending you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a mockery among the nations.



Now when the breath of frost has chilled

The waiting aspens, when the sky

Has floated the birds to another country

and summer’s brook goes dry,


I can review and list my losses

Without complaint, shoulder my grief

While the cold-fingered wind strips

My heart of its last leaf,


And watch time’s plow turn under days

Like stubble, I must lace my boots

And fill the cellar bins – they winter,

Trees, in their roots.

~James Hearst,  Snake in the Strawberries

Monday, November 3, 2008

Today's reading comes from the book of Ecclesiasticus again. There are many days I find myself disagreeing with the words of scripture. This is one of them. I think that incredible wisdom comes from those laborers that are described in the following passage. Read it, engage in it, talk to God about it. God loves to engage in dialogue!  My grandfather, God rest his soul, was an amazing craftsman. He made his living as an engraver. I remember sitting next to him when I was a child and watch while he  carefully engraved etchings into copper that would become a piece of art or a logo for some business. He was a loving and steady  presence in an otherwise chaotic childhood. 

Also, I ask your prayers today for Tracie Schissel and the repose of the soul of her sister, Leslie. Leslie died yesterday from Lyme disease. I met Tracie and Leslie a few weeks ago at a Lyme Disease Conference. Leslie looked healthy and vibrant, but Lyme is a very strange disease. I went to the conference to learn more about Lyme because my son Cory (32 years old) was diagnosed with it. He moved in with us 6 months ago so we can help him. You can follow the link  to if you wish to know more about Lyme disease. It is more prevalent than you might think. Patty Butler's niece is recovering from it and MaryJane Ostrom's son was diagnosed with it several months ago. Please hold them all in prayer.

Here is the reading and a poem for today:

 Ecclesiasticus 38:24-34
"The wisdom of the scribe depends on the opportunity of leisure; only the one who has little business can become wise.  How can one become wise who handles the plow, and who glories in the shaft of a goad, who drives oxen and is occupied with their work, 
and whose talk is about bulls?  He sets his heart on plowing furrows, and he is careful about fodder for the heifers.  So it is with every artisan and master artisan who labors by night as well as by day; those who cut the signets of seals, each is diligent in making a great variety; they set their heart on painting a lifelike image, and they are careful to finish their work. 

So it is with the smith, sitting by the anvil, intent on his iron-work; the breath of the fire melts his flesh, 
and he struggles with the heat of the furnace; the sound of the hammer deafens his ears, and his eyes are on the pattern of the object. 
He sets his heart on finishing his handiwork, and he is careful to complete its decoration.  So it is with the potter sitting at his work 
and turning the wheel with his feet; he is always deeply concerned over his products, and he produces them in quantity.  He molds the clay with his arm and makes it pliable with his feet; he sets his heart to finish the glazing, and he takes care in firing  the kiln. 

All these rely on their hands, and all are skillful in their own work.  Without them no city can be inhabited, 
and wherever they live, they will not go hungry. Yet they are not sought out for the council of the people, nor do they
attain eminence in the public assembly. They do not sit in the judge's seat, nor do they understand the decisions of the courts; 
they cannot expound discipline or judgment, and they are not found among the rulers.  But they maintain the fabric of the world, 
and their concern is for  the exercise of their trade. How different the one who devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High!"

Tracie Schissel and Leslie Wermers

Saturday, November 1, 2008

poetry from a site I subscribe to called Panhala

Let's remake the world with words.
Not frivolously, nor
To hide from what we fear,
But with a purpose.
Let's, As Wordsworth said, remove
The dust of custom" so things
Shine again, each object arrayed
In its robe of original light.
And then we'll see the world
As if for the first time.
As once we gazed at the beloved
Who was gazing at us.
~ Gregory Orr ~

Reading from the Daily Office

The lesson today comes from Ecclesiasticus 31:12-18,25-32:2 and the poem is from a favorite author of mine, Wendell Berry. Enjoy. It provides some good 'grist for the mill' to reflect upon.

Ecclesiasticus:  "Are you seated at the table of the great?Do not be greedy at it,  and do not say, "How much food there is here!"  Remember that a greedy eye is a bad thing.  What has been created more greedy than the eye? Therefore it sheds tears for any reason.   Do not reach out your hand for everything you see, and do not crowd your neighbor  at the dish.  Judge your neighbor's feelings by your own, and in every matter be thoughtful. Eat what is set before you like a well brought-up person, and do not chew greedily, or you will give offense. Be the first to stop, as befits good manners,  and do not be insatiable, or you will give offense. If you are seated among many persons, not help yourself  before they do. 

Do not try to prove your strength by wine-drinking,  for wine has destroyed many. As the furnace tests the work of the smith, so wine tests hearts when the insolent quarrel. 
Wine is very life to human beings if taken in moderation.  What is life to one who is without wine?  It has been created to make people happy. 
Wine drunk at the proper time and in moderation is rejoicing of heart and gladness of soul. Wine drunk to excess leads to bitterness of spirit, to quarrels and stumbling. 
Drunkenness increases the anger of a fool to his own hurt, reducing his strength and adding wounds.  Do not reprove your neighbor at a banquet of wine, 
and do not despise him in his merrymaking; speak no word of reproach to him, and do not distress him by making demands of him.  If they make you master of the feast, do not exalt yourself; be among them as one of their number. Take care of them first and then sit down; when you have fulfilled all your duties, take your place, 
so that you may be merry along with them and receive a wreath for your excellent leadership."


How do you handle it when you are slandered?

When have you slandered someone else? Why?

Bring your thoughts and offer them to God who will lovingly care for you and fill your souls.

Rev Deb