Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Summer Busyness

Summertime in the Mountains of North Carolina

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.

"The Girls"

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...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Long TIme between Posts

Isabelle Honaker
It has been a long time since I wrote here and the picture above should tell you why. She is the newest member of our family - Isabelle. She is a lively, 18 month old golden retriever. I mentioned to my vet that I might be ready to adopt another golden. Coming back home after sabbatical was hard knowing that Sugar would not be there. It took some time for Katie (my oldest golden) and Pumpkin (my neurotic Tortoise shell cat) and me to adjust to Suggy's absence. But, I decided that if the right dog came along we were ready. She found Isabelle in the newspaper and I went up to Princeton, Indiana to look at her. She was too much for her owners, who had finally resorted to tying her outside on a rope. Can you see the toddler mischief in her eyes? She is a bundle of activity and so we try to keep her moving. She gets a long run in the Harmonist Cemetery each morning which both she and Katie love. And she is very bright - after only two weeks she figured out that she has to get on the seat in the golf cart so Katie (who can no longer jump up) can sit on the floor for us to go to the cemetery. Pumpkin and Isabelle are still working on their relationship! Anyway, she has taken a lot of my energy and time lately - I think she is going to be a great dog with some training and discipline. Iasked the vet about the little black diamond shaped black spot on her tongue and she said "it is just a freckle!"

Plant growing out of the brick in he Harmonist Cemetery wall

I found this little weed bravely growing out of the brick in the cemetery wall. Last week's gospel lesson was the parable of "the mustard seed." The mustard seed produced those pesky little wild mustard plants that we try so hard to get rid of in our yards. The thought that anyone would "sow" these tiny seeds was probably laughable to Jesus' audience. They were like dandelion fluff - they blew anywhere and everywhere that the wind took them. The common little weed above was probably seeded into the brick by the wind. As Jesus talked about the undesirable mustard seeds he must have had in mind the undesirable people he met everyday in his journeys. The prostitute, the leper, the tax collector, the poor and all who were different from the establishment. When Jesus says, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God?" he answers his own question by saying that it (the kingdom of God) is compared to the mustard seed which grows up into a large shrub with branches that shelter the birds in their nests. For a common weed like the one above or the wild mustard plant to grow up into a great tree was another one of those "inside jokes" for Jesus. These undesirables were always gotten rid of before they could grow or achieve greatness. But the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed - it is like an undesirable thing which is allowed to grow into greatness - the kingdom of God is found in the least, the lost the most undesirable when we allow those people to grow into the greatness that God has in mind for them.

Winter wheat almost ready to harvest

I love the spring time views of the fields around us in southwestern Indiana. The wheat is a golden brown against the fields of bright green corn. It will soon be time to harvest the wheat. The farmers had a hard time getting into their fields to plant corn this spring because of the rain. A lot of the land around New Harmony is bottom land and when the spring rain is excessive the "bottoms" flood and all the fields get water saturated. The corn, which is supposed "to be knee high by the forth of July" is having a hard time getting there this year. I asked one of the farmers in my congregation what the wheat that is grown around here is used for. It is basically wheat for flour or as he said, "flour to make Twinkies!" It is such a transformation to watch it go from green to gold.

The picture above is of balls of fabric strips which I tore from old sheets and fabric. I wound them into balls until I could make the rug pictured below. I liked the rug and gave it to a friend who was moving to Denver. It is a simple crochet pattern and made with a large hook. It is so uncomplicated and fun to make that I am now preparing fabric to make another one. It is great to look for old sheets and fabric at the Goodwill Stores in Evansville. I have found some great pieces there and while I was looking for fabric, I found a beautiful cotton shower curtain that is perfect for my bathroom. It is a light beige and has a raised pattern in white thread. As far as anything wrong with it - I found a couple of lightly faded places on it where strong sunlight had made it a bit lighter. I love it. Shopping at the Goodwill Store is so much fun and I love recycling with them.
The strips I used for this rug were about one and one-half inches wide. When I got ready to tear the sheets into strips, I would tear down to about an inch from the bottom and then measure one and one - half inches over and start another strip so I had a continuous piece. I cut the elastic binding off of fitted sheets and used them as well. When I joined two pieces I did it by cutting a small slit in one end and tying a knot in the other and fitting the knot through the slit like a button and buttonhole. It works great. I learned all of this from a variety of websites but have forgotten which ones. I Googled rag rug to find the directions. Have fun....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes!

Celtic Cross
This morning in our EfM (Education for Ministry) group one of our parishioners shared this poem written by her 11 year old grandson:

Hate is a poison,
Slipped into dinner, through snide remarks,
meager at first 
but escalating over time.

It ruins people,
consumes others,
it is hard to contain it,
harder still to cure it.

It takes away lives,
Egging away the fragile existence,
Devastating the mind,
Turning it to hate's ultimate goal.

Hate destroys nations,
cripples the toughest men,
and yet all can control it
with the simplest tool: forgiveness.

Nathaniel Endicott

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Trinity and Reconciliation

More "Good News"
The piece in the picture is a project of several days - still playing around with newspaper as a medium. I'm reasonably happy with this outcome, but wish it were clearer and less "messy." Collage is still a work in progress for me, but I am having fun and that's what counts.
This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday. I love the image of this "family" of Holy Beings. I believe that each one of us has a different view of what these three look like. In William Young's book, "The Shack", he pictures the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in creative ways. Ignoring traditional "gender" qualifications (i.e. God is Father) he paints a picture of a lively and loving system of communication between the three persons of the Trinity. This picture of "holy relatedness" is the part of the book that I enjoyed the most. I was comforted by the ordinariness of their communication with each other.
The Trinity has been vastly described throughout the ages. Just reading the Creed of St. Anthanasius (The Book of Common Prayer, page 864) is enough to make you dizzy, "That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost." One substance, but three persons is confusing but I believe that we make it more complex than necessary. I also believe that if these three "different persons" can live as "one substance" it is an example of how we can also live together.

We are different persons - some of us are nurturing, some are artistic, and some are intellectuals. Some of us are really grounded in the work of everyday stuff and some of us (although our feet are on earth) see angels and hear music that the rest of us can't. That we are not all meant to be alike or think alike is "color" in an otherwise black and white world. So why is humanity's "colorfulness" the source of so much strife? It seems that there is so much we could gain in recognizing the common "substance" we all bear - the image of the God who created us; while appreciating the different "persons" we also exhibit in all our differences. Whether we are dark skinned or light, Latino or Anglo, male or female, Jew or Gentile, Buddhist or Muslim, gay or straight; we are created in One image - we bear One substance. That One substance makes us equal. It gives us hope becasue it is that One substance in us that seeks understanding in the common experience that we all bear.

Rublev's Icon of The Trinity

"Knowing the Trinity is being involved in this circling
movement: drawn by the Son towards the
Father, drawn into the Father’s breathing
out of the Spirit so that the Sons’ life
may be again made real in the world. It is where
contemplation and action become inseparable."

-Rowan Williams, The Dwelling of the Light: Praying with Icons of Christ