Archive for April, 2017


4.30.17 … sistering, boundaries, core values and shadow values, diakonia …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Labyrinth Walks, Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville NC:

I anticipated this walk all weekend!

I attended First Presbyterian Church-Charlotte’s Women’s Retreat at Kanuga. This year’s retreat was just perfect.

-The programming was excellent. Mary Katherine Robinson, Pastor at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, was our leader and helped us to “Find Ourselves in the Stories of the Scriptures.” She led three sessions and I have extensive notes and new research projects!

–some of my takeaways: sistering, boundaries, core values and shadow values, diakonia …

On Saturday, Linda graciously joined me on an afternoon ride through the area. Our visits included the Westervelt Cabin, the BRP, the Pisgah Inn, the road to Brevard (Sliding Rock, Cradle of Forestry, etc.) and Dolly’s for ice cream.

On Sunday, Linda and I headed to the labyrinth at 7:30 AM. I was pleased to find a full Chartres pattern. This one was black and white, black painted boundaries on white concrete, but the pattern is permanently etched on the concrete, a feature that I loved because, if the paint fades, the pattern will still be present. While walking, I noticed that the mountain laurel was in bloom, the clouds were beautiful, there was a boulder garden to rest on and a bridge to nowhere. And I heard the honk, honk of the geese and the chirp, chirp of the morning birds. A very nice walk indeed!

We finished the morning off with a beautiful communion service in the historic chapel.

All is well!



4.19.17 … “the distance between two people is the lack of respect for each other.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church, Charlotte NC:

What great fun to enjoy a night labyrinth walk with a very dear and longtime friend, Marty McMullin (daughter of Martha Wayt ).

Marty and I reconnected after a long hiatus about 6 years ago, and now we have seen each other 2x in the last 6 months!

What a joy to reconnect in this stage of life. To many more long chats about things that matter: Family, friendship, world views, history, art and love and forgiveness!

I am feeling blessed today.

Safe travels, Marty!

Quotes …

“Happy week and remember:

the distance between two people is the lack of respect for each other.”

-Paul Coehlo

“Thinking about monastic ideals is not the same as living up to them, but at any rate such thinking has an important place in a monk’s life, because you cannot begin to do anything unless you have some idea what you are trying to do.”

– Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

And some Henri Nouwen …

When we are spiritually free, we do not have to worry about what to say or do in unexpected, difficult circumstances. When we are not concerned about what others think of us or what we will get for what we do, the right words and actions will emerge from the center of our beings because the Spirit of God, who makes us children of God and sets us free, will speak and act through us.

Jesus says: “When you are handed over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes, because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you” (Matthew 10:19-20).

Let’s keep trusting the Spirit of God living within us, so that we can live freely in a world that keeps handing us over to judges and evaluators.

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” – Zechariah 4: 6

What does spiritual freedom feel like for you?

SOURCE: Henri Nouwen Society | Home | Henri Nouwen Society,



4.14.17 … walking with you …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 45/40), Holy Week Walks, Charlotte NC:

Well, I had lots of opportunities to walk today, but, hey, I read about walking …

About Labyrinths:

A walk with queen of the labyrinth – San Francisco Chronicle

The Ohio native has since founded a labyrinth education not-for-profit, has written books on the subject, hosts pilgrimages to labyrinths abroad and has helped create an international “labyrinth finder” database of more than 7,000 labyrinths worldwide.

I’d lucked into Artress’ expertise. She’s not always at the Grace Cathedral Candlelight Labyrinth Walks. Sometimes, she’s in France training people to become labyrinth facilitators.

Artress is walking, talking warmth and kindness. She insists that she has her cranky days, but I find it hard to believe. Artress patiently answered questions from several curious visitors and delighted in hugging repeat labyrinth enthusiasts. (There’s been an uptick in attendance since the presidential election.)

“This is my heartsong,” Artress said, nodding to Grace Cathedral’s now very permanent inlaid stone labyrinth, constructed in 2007. “It does the work I want to do in the world, which is to help people navigate the world.”

I navigated the labyrinth, waiting my turn in line to be welcomed in by a greeter who namaste-nods guests in one by one. Artress instructed us to use the meditative walk as a metaphor for the outside world. Minutes after beginning my walk, I found myself worried about my pace. I was concerned that some people were taking too long sitting on the floor in the center, concerned that they were sitting on the floor of a cathedral at all. I worried that it was all taking way too long altogether. I do these things in the real world too, and I should stop.

The light through the stained glass and soft music from Muhammad eventually began to take effect. I forgot about my notebook in my purse and the guy who kept coughing. By the time I reached the center of the labyrinth, I took in what the experience was trying to tell me. And then I took in Artress, standing off to the side and in the shadows, amid her heartsong.

SOURCE: A walk with queen of the labyrinth – San Francisco Chronicle,

About Easter …

For believers, the complete story of Good Friday and Easter legitimizes both despair and faith. Nearly every life features less-than-good Fridays. We grow tired of our own company and travel a descending path of depression. We experience lonely pain, unearned suffering or stinging injustice. We are rejected or betrayed by a friend. And then there are the unspeakable things — the death of a child, the diagnosis of an aggressive cancer, the steady advance of a disease that will take our minds and dignity. We look into the abyss of self-murder. And given the example of Christ, we are permitted to feel God-forsaken.

And yet . . . eventually . . . or so we trust . . . or so we try to trust: God is forever on the side of those who suffer. God is forever on the side of life. God is forever on the side of hope.

If the resurrection is real, death’s hold is broken. There is a truth and human existence that cannot be contained in a tomb. It is possible to live lightly, even in the face of death — not by becoming hard and strong, but through a confident perseverance. Because cynicism is the failure of patience. Because Good Friday does not have the final word.

SOURCE: What Good Friday teaches us about cynicism – The Washington Post,

Holy Week

My father-in-law always intrigued me with the stack of novels he brought to the beach for family vacations. Even more interesting was his habit of reading the last chapter first, wanting to know how the story ended, as the basis for determining whether or not he would read the whole book!

All of us know that Easter is the central festival of the Christian faith. We know how the story turns out. Not even death can thwart God’s love for us in Christ! That’s what Holy Week is about: the unfolding drama of the death and resurrection of our Lord. Reading the whole novel—better yet, becoming part of the unfolding of the whole story—is critical to setting the stage for the glorious final chapter.

So why do we have “Palm/Passion Sunday?” Churches were having high attendance on Palm Sunday, even higher on Easter. Good Friday typically draws one-third to one-quarter of the Sunday-on-either-side attendance. “Palm/Passion Sunday” was the 1977 green Lutheran Book of Worship’s (LBW) caving to culture to remind the lovers of “Hosanna” and “Alleluia” that Jesus does in fact die on the cross. So if you follow LBW or ELW (Evangelical Lutheran Worship) you get a processional gospel, a blessing of palms, probably “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” and then at the Prayer of the Day, the service becomes somber and continues with the reading of the passion (suffering) of Jesus.

The following three services are actually one continuous service of the Triduum, the “Three Days”:

1. Maundy Thursday’s name derives from the Latin for commandment, as in “mandate.” The themes are Jesus’ last night and supper with his disciples and his prayer in the garden and subsequent betrayal. The commandments include “love one another,” “do this for the remembrance of me,” and “you must wash one another’s feet.” ELW suggests individual absolution. (In many traditions priestly absolution in general is withheld entirely from Ash Wednesday until Maundy Thursday). Holy Communion is celebrated, and a rich liturgical option is the stripping of the altar in preparation for Good Friday.

2. Good Friday features reading of the Passion, possibly the ancient Reproaches from the cross, the Adoration of the cross, and in ELW the ancient “Bidding Prayer.” More locally, many congregations observe a service of Tenebrae, darkness and shadows. The German observance is called Karfreitag, which literally means, from the old High German, “Grieve/Mourn Friday.”

3. The Great Vigil of Easter happens on Holy Saturday after sundown. Think Christmas worship on Christmas Eve. Virtually lost in the American Lutheran experience until recently, this service begins in darkness around a Paschal Fire. The paraments and altar vessels are carried in dark procession. Salvation History is read, and baptisms are celebrated. There was a time in the life of the church when baptisms were celebrated ONLY at Easter Vigil, and a main Lenten focus was preparation of candidates for baptism. The lights come up with festive ringing of bells and singing as Easter celebration begins, including Holy Communion! Traditional Easter Vigil services last about 3 hours. The more common “Sunrise service” is a remnant of the ancient Vigil.

4. Easter Sunday celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus. It always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, so it can be as early as March 22 and as late as April 25.

Please be kind to your church staff, musicians, and altar guild and allow them a little respite after Holy Week. Liturgically, it’s their hardest week of the year!

Walking with you,

Bishop Tim Smith

SOURCE: Holy Week – NC Synod ELCA,

Put in Christian terms: The Passover Seder recalls and celebrates the resurrection of the people of Israel.

Today we tend to think of slavery strictly as an injustice, which of course it is, and some modern Seders treat the Passover as the triumph of justice over oppression. But this is not the traditional view. In the ancient world, slavery was not just a hardship for individuals but a kind of communal death. An enslaved nation can survive for a time, perhaps, but they have no future. A people in bondage is slowly crushed and extinguished.

At Passover Seders, Jews eat unleavened matzah and spill out drops of wine in symbolic memory of the biblical 10 plagues. PHOTO: DPA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The notion of slavery as a form of death is accentuated in the story told in the Passover Seder. The small clan descended from Abraham settles in Egypt. They are fruitful and multiply, becoming numerous and mighty. The glow of life in the people of Israel arouses Egyptian resentment. Set upon and subjugated, they are ground down by hard labor and harsh oppression. But the descendants of Abraham call out to God—and he raises them up out of slavery, parts the Red Sea, and delivers them from Pharaoh’s murderous anger.

Judaism is realistic. Passover does not promote a dreamy optimism or cheery confidence that God will keep everything neat and nice. Even the chosen people are vulnerable to oppression and murderous hatred. There’s room in Passover for Auschwitz.

The New Testament makes a bold promise. Whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but will have eternal life. But Christianity also takes an honest approach, which makes believers take a long, hard look at death. The central symbol of Christianity, the cross, evokes a brutal execution. For Catholics, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter is the only day of the year on which the Eucharist, the power of eternal life, is not provided. On that day we must endure death’s awful emptiness, in a spiritual way, just as, sooner or later, we must feel death’s terrible blows in brutal, literal ways.

It is a mistake to think that Christian faith somehow denies or evades the reality of death. In a church in Isenheim, Germany, there is an early 16th-century altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald. It depicts Jesus dead on the cross, his fingers gruesomely contorted in final agony. For Christians, the crucified Messiah is the dead soldier, half buried in mud, his face contorted and body torn. He is amid the bodies uncovered in mass graves.

The early Christians did not celebrate Easter with sunrise services. They gathered in the deepest darkness, long before dawn, for the Easter Vigil, which has been restored in many churches, including the Catholic Church. In the Vigil, Christians are like the Israelites fleeing with Pharaoh’s army. Easter begins in a night-darkened church. We are in the valley of the shadow of death.

SOURCE: The Profound Connection Between Easter and Passover – WSJ,

Symbols …

An egg is a tiny mystery, said Erik Larson, chair of FIU’s religious studies department. The opaque shell hides what’s happening until it bursts open and “new life springs out,” he said.

Ancient people were intrigued by eggs and associated their oval shape with rebirth and fertility. Rabbits, with their power to procreate, also are considered a fertility symbol, which may explain where the more secular “Easter bunny” comes from.

Neither eggs nor rabbits have a connection to the Biblical record, said UM’s religious studies chair David Kling. Christians co-opted these pagan symbols and ascribed them a part in the Easter story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Easter eggs are said to be symbolic of Jesus emerging from the tomb and ultimate resurrection on Easter Sunday.

In some places, eggs were considered a delicacy and were forbidden during the 40 days of Lent, a Christian period of abstinence that precedes Easter, and then were eaten on the holiday.

Mesopotamian Christians, who date to the Fourth century, were the first to adopt eggs as an Easter food, and the first to decorate them. They dyed the eggs bright red as a symbol of the blood Jesus Christ shed on the cross. Eastern Europeans took it up a notch, creating intricate patterns out of wax, carving and embellishments.

But Christians also might have adopted eating eggs at Easter from the religion the early Christians converted from — Judaism. Eggs are included on the Passover Seder plate, commemorating one of the sacrifices performed during the Seder in ancient times.

“It’s kind of a universal symbol,” Larson said.

Read more here:


The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.


SOURCE: The Ancient Poem That Will Put Your Life in Perspective | Good Sh*t | OZY,



4.13.17 … “Human beings must be known to be loved; but Divine beings must be loved to be known.” Blaise Pascal

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 43/40), Holy Week Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church, Charlotte NC:

Lots of sounds today… As I entered the Sacred Garden, a light breeze was causing the belltower to ring, the fountain was on so I heard running water, and the birds were quite happy and sang merrily. In addition, there was hammering at a nearby construction site…

What a difference six weeks has made. The garden is now a blaze with color. The dogwoods, the rhododendrum, the red tip trees are all in bloom. And I see landscapers all around. Never thought about it, but I wonder if the week before Easter is a busy time for landscapers getting their church customers ready for Easter Sunday.

The grass barriers that create this labyrinth were overgrown today. But I think I like it that way. The pollen however was also heavy. And there were mounds of clover. Remember the chains we used to make from the flowers?

After I asked my question about the landscapers, one came zooming in on his standup heavy duty lawnmower and zipped up the hill on the other side. Laugh out loud. I may have gotten to walk this labyrinth at the height of wild! And then I saw the heavy duty blower coming my way… Oh, and I heard sirens. And I have gone from the wilderness of nature to the busyness of our world…

Maundy Thursday


Scripture: John 13:1-17, 31b-35

In John’s Gospel the upper room gathering of disciples is placed on Thursday, so that Jesus becomes the new “lamb that was taken to slaughter” on Friday, fulfilling the Passover festival and the promise of God’s deliverance. In the fourth gospel Jesus offers only one commandment: a new command to love (13:34- 35). It is from the Latin word for commandment, mandatum, that we get “Maundy” Thursday.

In John’s recounting of this important evening the disciples gather not only for a Passover preparation meal, but also to be served one last time by Jesus who washes their feet. The task of offering hospitality through washing the dusty, dirty feet of travelers was usually reserved for the lowest among the household servants. Jesus embraced the role and took up towel and basin in order to ritualize the one new commandment that he gave that night. Love each other in ways so clear that everyone will know you are my disciples. Love as I have loved you.

Walking the Labyrinth

Remember as you walk the labyrinth today that you are God’s creation sent by God to this life. You are no greater than the One who sent you, and the One who sent you loves you so much that even washing your feet is not too much to ask. For servants, students, and messengers are not greater than their masters, teachers and senders. We can do no other than to love those to whom we are sent, those with whom we learn and walk and live. If someone were to watch your life closely, would they see a disciple who loves? As you watch your own feet taking the path of the labyrinth, first thank God for the servants who have been Christ to you, who have washed your feet literally or metaphorically. Then ask God to guide your steps to those who need your love and service. Ask Christ to show you those whose feet need washing.

Prayer: You sent me in love. In Christ you have taught me to love. Now help me to live as the beloved.


A few thoughts on Maundy Thursday:

Continuing our theme of considering Jesus’ prayers during Holy Week, we come to the holiest night, Maundy Thursday. The Bible tells us that they did what was the Jewish custom at Passover: they sang Psalms. We can read and pray Psalms; but they knew the music! They would have sung some or all of those Psalms from 113 to 118. I try to imagine what their voices sound like. Did Jesus lead? Did they harmonize? Think of the lines in those Psalms:: “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints” and “This is the day the Lord has made.”

Jesus prayed over the bread and the wine, thanking God as faithful Jews always did for God’s blessings of food and drink. We can imagine his heart was heavy as he looked at the beautiful gift of bread, but as he tore it he caught a glimpse of what would happen to his body the next day; and as he peered into the ruby red cup of wine, the drink for rejoicing, he perceived in it an image of the shedding of his own blood to come.

Jesus’ praying wasn’t done when supper ended. He went out into the dark and made his way to the Garden of Gethsemane – which to this day is haunted by massive, gnarled olive trees that are centuries old. His prayer, late and in the dark, was so intense that the Gospel tell us his sweat was like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). The anguish of his prayer is so moving. He emotion was in some swirl between realizing the immense sacrifice being asked of him, struggling with all his might to yield to God, his sad disappointment in his friends who were napping, clueless, and even his bearing in his heart the agony of all of humanity, struggling to do God’s will, being unable, fearful, sorrowful. That moment, that prayer, tells us all we need to know about Jesus. His heart, one with God’s heart, one with our hearts.

Lord, Jesus’ prayers on that Thursday night move us. Join our hearts to his. May our bodies, our blood, our sweat and tears, be one with him, and you O Lord.


SOURCE: Prayer: Maundy Thursday,–Maundy-Thursday.html?soid=1104220709083&aid=88PMaK7NAv4


“Human beings must be known to be loved; but Divine beings must be loved to be known.” Blaise Pascal



4.12.17 … “there is a wideness in your mercy. Make room for me there”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 43/40), Holy Week Walks, Myers Park Baptist Church, Charlotte NC:

The pollen is enough to kill me! And the ants are going wild …

This labyrinth is a favorite. It is behind the church’s Cornwell Center and is a Chartres replica and approximately 36 feet in diameter. It is one of three in Charlotte that was designed by local artist Tom Schulz, a member of this congregation. Each of Tom’s labyrinths is interesting. This one contains a stone at the center that was brought back from the quarry at Chartres. A nice touch.

And here is the portion of the Holy Week Labyrinth Walk Meditation Guide applicable to today that I found on the internet …

Wednesday of Holy Week

Through the ages Lent has typically been a season of confession, repentance and purification from sin. Early followers of the Way of Christ often used the season to prepare new believers for an Easter morning baptism in which they came out of the water facing the rising sun.

The story of Judas tempts us to divide the world into those who are good and those who are bad: those like Judas who need repentance and those like Peter who lean close to Jesus. But wait! Peter betrayed Jesus, too . . . later that very same night after Jesus was arrested. All of the twelve eventually ran, hid, denied and betrayed Jesus, leaving him to die alone, except for a few women gathered around the cross. Even they were reported by Mark to have fled at the sight of the empty tomb. All of us have betrayed someone dear in our lives. We’ve let down a friend or acted in self-interest or desperation rather than compassion or courage. This season of repentance and purification is not designed as a time to dwell on our shortcomings, but rather as a time to let them go, to make amends, to move forward into a new beginning. Scholars agree that even Judas may have acted in the interest of ushering in the new reign of God, but he missed his opportunity for repentance and reconciliation. Surely we can and must learn from his mistakes.

Walking the Labyrinth

As you walk the labyrinth today, prepare yourself for Easter by reflecting on the need in your life for confession, repentance and purification. As you walk into the labyrinth focus on confession: with each step offer your life for examination by Christ’s loving gaze. See it as God sees it. Confess your shortcomings, betrayals, and hurts as you walk along. When you reach the middle of the labyrinth, shift your focus to repentance, which can be understood as turning in a new direction. Spend a few moments there experiencing the mercy, love and forgiveness that Christ freely offers. As you start away from the center, focus your attention on the purification that is yours in Christ. Revel in the joy of starting anew. When you emerge from the labyrinth you will be facing east. Thank God for the gift of baptism and new life, and turn your heart toward the coming Easter.

Prayer: O God, there is a wideness in your mercy. Make room for me there.




4.9.17 … “guide my path, fire my imagination, and open my heart to the deep and penetrating questions of life.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 40/40), Holy Week Meditation Guide for Walking the Labyrinth, Palm Sunday, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge MA:

It’s an absolutely perfect day. It’s in the 50s with a very light breeze. Not a cloud in the sky… As a matter fact this sky’s only streaked with the exhaust of airplanes.

The Harvard Divinity School, which celebrated it’s 200th anniversary last year, is located on the way backside of Harvard’s main campus. On the other side of Museum Street are frame houses in fun colors: purple, green, salmon, slate blue, gray and a light slate gray with a tinge of green.

Last time I was here, I was not fond of this labyrinth, but amazingly this time I liked it much better. For a divinity school it seemed lacking in sacredness, trying too hard to be inclusive. This time I did not feel that way. I’m wondering if it has something to to do with the energy of the people who walk.

Today a young mother and her young daughter tried to walk. I loved sharing the space with them and hearing the little girl chatter and laugh as she tried to stay within the lines.

About this Labyrinth: Throughout the year, the Office of the Chaplain and Religious and Spiritual Life offers occasional retreats for those who seek time for renewal. Many of the student-run spiritual and religious organizations also sponsor evening and weekend retreats to which all are welcome. We also regularly refer seekers to the many retreat centers in Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast (see a partial list below). Optimally, a retreat won’t be a “stolen luxury” in a busy life or an “irresponsible escape” from a politically oppressive world. It can unveil an experience of the Holy, which may become the seedbed of renewed faith, wisdom, courage, and activism. Ideally, a retreat will also become a rule and not an exception; its effects can spill over into daily life, creating a hunger for regular periods of prayer or meditation and renewal.

Quiet places

There are several quiet, beautiful places on and near the campus that are conducive to contemplation and reflection. Some of our favorite sites include:

* Andover and Divinity Chapels (prayer rugs, meditation cushions, scriptures of many traditions and prayer beads are always available in both chapels)

* The meditation room in the Center for the Study of World Religions

* Harvard Art Museums

* Andover-Harvard Theological Library

Outdoor Spaces:

* The HDS labyrinth and contemplative garden near Andover and Rockefeller Halls

* The benches beneath the trees on Andover Lawn

* The courtyard of the Center for the Study of World Religions

* The park on the grounds of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

* The Minuteman Bikeway

* Walking and running paths by the Charles River

SOURCE: Retreats and Quiet Places | Harvard Divinity School,


Labyrinths have a long history at the Divinity School, temporarily appearing in unlikely places such as the old parking lot in front of Andover. Fittingly, the Rock Hall landscape has a contemplative garden with a stone labyrinth that is based on a 13th century pattern found on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France. The hedge surrounding the labyrinth is low by design, always inviting views to and from the campus surroundings as people make their pilgrimage in and out of the unicursal space.

SOURCE: Rockefeller Hall | The Landscape Architect’s Guide to Boston,

Holy Week!

Holy Week Meditation Guide

for Walking the Labyrinth

The suggested scriptures for daily meditation during Holy Week are taken from Revised Common Lectionary (Abingdon, 1992). You may want to read and reflect on the passage prior to beginning your labyrinth walk. The words of meditation may help you reflect on the scripture, and the words under “walking the labyrinth” may guide your reflections as you make the circuit. It is fine for more than one person to walk the labyrinth at the same time. It may help to observe the following guidelines:

Be mindful that persons may be praying or reflecting deeply as they walk, and so respect both the quiet and the space of each person;

Move at your own pace, and let others pass in silence if they are walking at a different pace;

You may want to take a journal for recording your insights and thoughts after walking the labyrinth and reflecting on the questions for the day.

May your holy week be enriched by taking time to reflect while walking the labyrinth in the days ahead.


Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11

We will never know fully the mind of Jesus. Yet as we look at his life portrayed in the Gospels, we are compelled to wonder what must have been going through his mind as he approached Jerusalem, the city where prophets died? Did he anticipate a showdown with the religious establishment? Surely amid this waving of palms and cries of hosanna, he must have wondered if the reign of God was truly at hand. Maybe love was going to win the day! Were Jesus and his followers swept into the holy city on waves of hopefulness?

Ironies in the gospel stories of holy week abound. Poignant among them is the fickled nature of the crowd which changes its cry in one short week. Even more heartbreaking is the turn of events that ended in a very dark day indeed. Yet we know something about walking through a day or week that quickly shifts from celebration to grief. A Thanksgiving celebration interrupted by heart pains becomes a trip to the emergency room and bypass surgery. A car ride from the ballgame turns into a devastating wreck and then a funeral when someone drives drunk. A march for peace becomes a riot and a jail sentence when demonstrators are mistaken as criminals. The Highway of Hosannas turns into the Via Dolarosa – the way of suffering.

We may not know the mind of Jesus, but we may trust the presence of God to walk with us through devastating moments and dark nights of the soul that disrupt and change our lives.

Walking the Labyrinth

Today as you walk the labyrinth imagine you are present at the first Palm procession. Put yourself into the story and see the crowds around Jesus walking toward Jerusalem on the way to the Passover festival (see John 12). As you walk along are you ahead of him or behind? What shouts come from your lips? Are you a follower, a reluctant watcher, or a studious observer of Jesus of Nazareth? Notice, as you enter the city, the impact of the processional. What is all the turmoil about? What turmoil has been part of your life lately? What turmoil have you witnessed in the lives of others? Where do you sense God’s presence in these circumstances? As you continue through the labyrinth ponder this question from the crowds with reference to your own life: “Who is this Jesus and what difference does my answer make?”

Prayer: O God, in this Holiest of Weeks, guide my path, fire my imagination, and open my heart to the deep and penetrating questions of life.

Click to access holy%20week%20meditation.PDF

Dennard Teague




4.8.17 … “public art becomes a part of the city…an example of public art that is both permanent and alive.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 39/40), Armenian Heritage Park, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway-Boston MA:

I came by train and foot. I exited South Station and walked north along the greenway. A few things jumped out. 1. It is still late winter here, but the Greenway is being prepared for summer. 2. Looking out and up, there are building from 200 years. Everything from modern to an old brick market. 3. Public art abounds in the park. The labyrinth is a pattern of its own. Circular, 10 circuits, splash fountain in the center.

About this Labyrinth:

About Armenian Heritage Park on the Greenway

Armenian Heritage Park welcomes all in celebration of the immigrant experience, and graces the public space with design features to engage all ages.

The Abstract Sculpture, a split rhomboid dodecahedron, commemorates the immigrant experience. Annually, the Abstract Sculpture is reconfigured, symbolic of all who were pulled apart from their country of origin and came to these Massachusetts shores, establishing themselves in new and different ways. In early April, a crane lifts and pulls apart the two halves of the split rhomboid dodecahedron, made of steel and aluminum, to create a new sculptural shape.

“…the Abstract Sculpture shows how public art becomes a part of the city…an example of public art that is both permanent and alive.”

– Joanna Weiss, The Boston Globe April 2015

The Abstract Sculpture sits atop a Reflecting Pool; its waters wash over its sides and re-emerge as a single jet of water at the Labyrinth’s center. The Sculpture is dedicated to lives lost during the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 and all genocides that have followed.

The Labyrinth, a circular winding path paved in grass and inlaid stone, celebrates life’s journey. A single jet of water marks its center, representing hope and rebirth. Art, Science, Service and Commerce are etched around its circle in tribute to contributions made to American life and culture. This is the only Labyrinth on public land in the Northeast.

At the crossroads of residents, business and tourist footpaths, the Park is between Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Christopher Columbus Park.

Armenian Heritage Park and its endowed funds to support the annual Reconfiguration of the Abstract Sculpture, Public Programs, Najarian Lecture on Human Rights at Faneuil Hall and the Park’s ongoing care and maintenance is a gift to the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from Armenian-Americans.




4.7.17 … The little girl who eventually became me, but as yet was neither me nor anybody else in particular, but merely a soft anonymous morsel of humanity—this little girl, who bore my name, was going for a walk with her father. The episode is literally the first thing I can remember about her, and therefore I date the birth of her identity from that day.” – Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 37/40), Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta GA:

Wind, shadows, clouds punctuated by blue sky…

After walking the Amiens Cathedral style labyrinth last night, I’m glad to return to a a Chartres.

At lunch today I was telling my mother about my book study at my church, FPC Charlotte. We are studying Richard Rohr’s “The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation.” Rev. Dr. Paul Hanneman, who is leading the study, asked us to list chronologically our images of God. Mine were 1. Dr Vernon Broyles at North Avenue Presbyterian Church, he appeared as black-robed “scary” minister, but actually was a wise grandfather and a funny kind old man all wrapped in one. 2. Blond, blue-eyed Jesus in a children’s Bible and 3. the Great Mystery, Time and Love as in “A Wrinkle in Time.” So then I asked my mom what was her first image of God after listing my images. And she immediately responded, “Daddy,” referring to her father and my grandfather Joe L. Dennard. I asked her why and she said because he was powerful. And then I asked her what her image of God was today … and she said still her father. A very interesting discussion!

Since I was discussing images of God with my mother, the thing I noticed at the labyrinth was the wind. And I did not just notice, but I experienced the wind/breath, i.e. the Holy Spirit, 🙂 as I walked this labyrinth. And it was a very cold wind.

I am also overtaken by the shocking green of the new leaves on some of the trees. Other trees are still dotted with pollen and don’t have that shocking green color.

And once I mentioned pollen, I started coughing.

Other thoughts … was another windstorm coming? I heard a helicopter. So my peace and quiet was interrupted by a man-made machine. Birds! There was a different callback one that I don’t usually hear on this labyrinth. And it was the “caw” of a crow. And then a black crow flew over my head.

But I left the labyrinth with the sound, no, the roar of the wind.

Peace be with you..

A quote for today:

“It was on a bright day of midwinter, in New York. The little girl who eventually became me, but as yet was neither me nor anybody else in particular, but merely a soft anonymous morsel of humanity—this little girl, who bore my name, was going for a walk with her father. The episode is literally the first thing I can remember about her, and therefore I date the birth of her identity from that day.”

– Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance



4.5.17 … “It was a dark and stormy night.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 36/40), Eastminster Presbyterian Church – Marietta GA:

I left Charlotte today at 5 pm headed for Atlanta in a massive downpour with severe weather warnings. I crawled along I85 for 35 miles in NC in a downpour. As I drove through SC, the sky lightened up and the rain stopped for the 106 mile stretch. But it began pouring again as I entered GA and the weather slowed me down for the 100 plus miles as I drove in GA. Here are a few thoughts from the road:

1. I really don’t like driving in blackout rain. I saw 2 cars after the fact way off the road, and from the position of their cars, I assume they hydroplaned.

2. I’m a water tank kinda girl. I mean they guide me as I travel and they welcome me home. So I love the Gaffney Peach and I miss the Gwinnett Is Great twins. I know this came from the welcoming warmth of the standard issue PINEVIEW GA water tank. Later in life, I came to feel a similar love for the coastal light houses. But I realize that I am more of a water tank girl.

3. I kept thinking I should stop and walk my labyrinth in SC. But as I entered Ga and the rain began in earnest, I set my sights and GPS on Eastminster Presbyterian in Marietta. And amazingly, it stopped raining for my 20 minute walk.

4. The signs warning of the closure of 185 at Midtown are ominous, but at 9 pm everything moved at a very nice pace despite the very heavy rain.

And what did I see, hear and feel? Thunder, lightning, frogs, darkness, shadows, artificial but overpowering light from spotlights, the church steeple (well lighted) (and I realized that church steeples fall in the same category as water tanks and lighthouses.)

This labyrinth is octagonal with a angular turn at each of the 8 corners. It is the Amiens Cathedral pattern, the same pattern as Chartres with 11 circuits, but the angles change the rhythm and pace.

And these are my quotes for today:

“The path isnt a straight line; its a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.”

~ Barry H. Gillespie

Mindful walking is a wonderful way to bring together body and mind. Every step brings you home to the here and the now, so you can connect with yourself, your body, and your feelings. That is a real connection. You don’t need a device that tells you how many steps you’ve walked or how many calories you’ve burned. Focus your attention on your breath and your step. Be aware of your foot, its movement, and the ground you’re touching. While you focus your attention on making the step, you are free, because in that tim36e your mind is only with the step you are making.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

“It was a dark and stormy night.”

(This 7 word sentence is considered the world’s worst first line, and, of course the first line to my favorite childhood novel, A Wrinkle in Time!)



4.4.17 … “Through I might be oversimplifying, but I think there are basically two paths that allow people to have a genuinely new experience: the path of wonder and the path of suffering. When you allow yourself to be led into awe and wonder, when you find yourself in an aha! moment and you savor it consciously (remember that joy and happiness take a minimum of fifteen conscious seconds to imprint on your neurons), then you can have a genuinely new experience; otherwise, you will fit everything back into your old paradigm, and it won’t really be an experience at all.”

“ISolvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 35/40), small finger labyrinth @home, Charlotte NC:

Today was such a busy day .. Tuesday Morning Bible Study, Red Boot Challenge and last but not least taking Albert to the vet. So I used my fingers, again, to do the walking. (Funny thought: that’s another thing that millennials will not understand.)

I’ve quoted Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance before today. Well, today was especially rich. And here are a few thoughts …

“Do you ever wonder why Western atheism is on the rise? Why does the Christian West, by far, produce the highest number of atheists? What I believe, and have dedicated my life to reversing, is that we have not moved doctrine and dogma to the level of inner experience. As long as “received teaching” doesn’t become experiential knowledge, we’re going to continue creating a high quantity of disillusioned ex-believers. Or on the flip-side, we’ll manufacture very rigid believers who simply hold on to doctrines in very dry, dead ways with nothing going on inside. And so we have two big groups on the landscape today: those who throw out the baby with the bathwater (many liberals and academics)—and those who seem to have drowned in the bathwater (many conservatives and fundamentalists).”

SOURCE: “The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation” by Richard Rohr and wanted to share this quote with you.

“Through I might be oversimplifying, but I think there are basically two paths that allow people to have a genuinely new experience: the path of wonder and the path of suffering. When you allow yourself to be led into awe and wonder, when you find yourself in an aha! moment and you savor it consciously (remember that joy and happiness take a minimum of fifteen conscious seconds to imprint on your neurons), then you can have a genuinely new experience; otherwise, you will fit everything back into your old paradigm, and it won’t really be an experience at all. It will at best be a passing diversion, a momentary distraction from your common “cruise control” of thoughts and feelings. That’s all. Awe and wonder are terms that are often correlative with mystery. All fundamentalist religion is terribly uncomfortable with mystery;”

SOURCE: “The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation” by Richard Rohr

And from The Red Boot Coalition Challenge:

Today we discussed Step 6, and the conversation was so rich …

SOURCE: The 11 Steps | The Red Boot Coalition,

And I saw this which reminded of Step One:

You Matter,

Until you multiply yourself times the speed of light squared,

Then You Energy

And as for Albert, he’s a good boy, and now he’s microchipped and he is ours!

This is what I know. 1. The vet loves, loves, loves him. 2. She thinks he’s probably 4-6, but not 7. By 7 something shows up in their eyes. 3. Because of the gray on his chest and paws, he may have some border collie in him. 4. He weighs 84 pounds. Yes, he’s a little chunky! 5. I’m loving Sweet, albeit Fat, Albert!


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April 2017