I was in Sparta,NC a week ago to spend some time at the house there. Two good friends, Ruth and Mary Mac came up and helped me rearrange furniture and do some spring cleaning on the house. Other than a small invasion of little black ants it was a great time. I will have to say that I was impressed by their persistence. A little more of that tenacious spirit towards "hanging in there" might not be so bad for most of us. But for these little creatures it is all about being alive, finding the next meal and a safe place to be. It makes me think about how two-thirds of our world lives in much the same way. Their lives are centered around finding ways JUST to stay alive against forces of poverty and strife that conspire against them. As I cleaned out my old, leaky refrigerator yesterday, my grumbling changed to thanksgiving as I realized how many people in world don't have any refrigeration and certainly not as much food as I have in mine. There are just so many ways to feel grateful.
This is a little collage I did in Sparta of my three girls, Isabelle, Pumpkin and Katie - reading the paper of course!. I wish I had done it larger, but had fun doing it. Our secretary at St. Stephen's, Glenda and her husband David are getting a "Goldendoodle" (mix between a Standard Poodle and a Golden Retriever) puppy next month and we are having "canine shower" for them this week. I continue to revel in the great joy that my animals give me. As I sit here writing Isabelle, who gets up with the sun is surfing the room. She knows the parameters of what is acceptable and not but she still visits all the forbidden places to sniff at the things she knows are off limits. She is very bright but she is a "kid." All the limits of life are things she MUST push! She has recently gotten very fond of Katie and will lie down next to her to be close. Katie is being quite patient. I wish I could say the same for the cat, Pumpkin. She and Issie do not click - yet!
I have been thinking a lot about worship lately. Last Sunday, we had a guest preacher and celebrant, the Rev. Nancy Roth. Nancy was in New Harmony to do a day long retreat for us on Spiritual Exercise. She uses yoga and other "body movement" work with prayer and meditation and it is very effective. Using our bodies and our hands as we pray does focus us and can take us to deep places of meditation. It was wonderful on Sunday morning to simply sit in the pew surrounded by the parish family and worship. I loved Nancy's quiet way with preaching and liturgy.
I am making some simple changes to our worship this summer to "lighten" it up a bit. Singing a simpler song of praise instead of the more formal "Glory to God" at the beginning and softening the Sanctus by using a more familiar tune. We are using a Eucharistic Prayer that focuses us on Our Stewardship of God's Creation. All of this to bring us "home" during this long, green, growing season. Living in the midst of fields of corn, soybeans and winter wheat is a constant reminder to me of the way that God provides for us through creation. Our stewardship of all creation in the way we use our time, our gifts and our money is important. Corporate worship is that very tiny part of our week when we come together with those we call family (whether we like all of them or not) to be re-formed for the work in the world. If we stay away from worship because we we don't want to associate with someone or don't agree with everyone, then we miss the opportunity to find a place in our hearts where we can forgive, accept; be forgiven or accepted. Worship gives us a way to remember why we are here and what is important in our lives. We call this work "liturgy" - the work of the people. It is work, not because doing it is hard but because there are so many things that pull us away from doing it. We need to read the paper, sleep, go get groceries, prepare for company; we've been up late the night before, everyone is busy... Ignoring this one- two hour commitment on Sunday deprives us of so much that we need to remember. We need to remember who God is and who we are to God. We can carry around so much stuff in life that we forget an important thing - God delights in us! So here is the chance to remember that God is a fortress, redeemer, lover, friend, parent; God is full of patience, kindness, goodness, forgiveness, love, joy, hope and most importantly, God is with us.
This morning I am going to meet with a young woman who is an intern at the Contemporary Art Gallery here in New Harmony. We are going to visit some of the art pieces in New Harmony. We have so many lovely sculptures and other art pieces here. My hope is that at some point a small brochure or booklet about those pieces might be gathered together so that people who come to New Harmony can have a guide for these pieces. I am going to take my camera, so I can put some pictures here...