Archive for November, 2019

29
Nov
19

11.29.19 … May you grow still enough …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, MorningStar Lutheran Chapel – Mint Hill NC, 2019 Labyrinth Walks, Amy Grant’s Christmas music, Amy-Jill Levine’s “Light of the World”:

Today is a day I don’t particularly like, Black Friday. And Black Friday goes against what I think Christmas is all about. Black Friday conjures up stress and spending money and fighting to get the best deal… So I choose today to start my Advent celebration and prepare for Christmas.

I subscribe to/follow several Advent and spiritual emails and blogs. One of my favorites is the Facebook Community page Advent. It directed me to this video …

“Advent is the start of the Christian calendar that tells the story of God and His people by dividing the year into two major segments. As we begin the season of Advent we begin reliving the story of Jesus himself – beginning with the anticipation of His birth. Here’s a neat video on the Christian calendar starting with Advent done by Christ Church Mission going all through each part of the Christian calendar.”

<https://vimeo.com/79923336&gt;

Another Advent practice this year is the study of Amy-Jill Levine’s “Light of the World.” Dr. Levine is a practicing Jew who teaches New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt. She and her book are very interesting.

“I think of myself as helping Chris­tians to find even deeper meanings in the texts they hold sacred, and concurrently in helping Jews recover the parts of our history that were preserved by the Church and that can be located in the pages of the New Testament.” Source: Interview: Amy-Jill Levine, professor of Jewish and New Testament studies, https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2011/15-july/features/interview-amy-jill-levine-professor-of-jewish-and-new-testament-studies

Back to my day … I got up this morning and headed to Red Boot Way. They were only three of us today and we had a great discussion on/around Step 6.

“Step Six: I am more peaceful and centered when I take time every day to be in stillness. I am grounded.”

We threw around ways we achieve stillness and our conversation quickly moved to music, dance, painting, journaling and my labyrinth walking, and we used terms such as thin places, authentic, centered ( in contrast to self-centered), kairos v. chronos time and spaciousness. Once done, I left feeling all of the above and thankful for my Red Boot friends.

Once home, I began planting “my” papperwhite bulbs for my house and for gifts. I’ve already planted them at the homes of one of my sons and of my sister.

I then headed out to get some additional items I needed for my bulb planting as well as some cleaning supplies and some things for my outdoor Christmas decorations.

I am amazed at how my life is re-orienting toward the east side of Charlotte. I will be almost completely oriented that way when the new Lidl opens.

This morning I went to Goodwill and Habitat to make donations, my Mercedes repair guys on Monroe, the Dollar Tree on Albemarle Road, the labyrinth that I really like at MorningStar Lutheran Chapel, Pikes, and I ended at Aldi. I can’t wait for the Lidl…

When I was a student at Davidson I very rarely went to Southpark Mall/South Charlotte. I went to Eastland. I think that’s fascinating that my life in Charlotte is coming full circle …

And included in this re-orientation is the access to one of my favorite labyrinths, MorningStar Lutheran Chapel.

As I walked into the graveyard, my mind got sidetracked … Graveyard/cemetery? “Today, a cemetery refers to a large burial ground, typically not associated with a church. The first citation in the Oxford English Dictionary for graveyard comes from 1767, and a graveyard is typically smaller than a cemetery and is often associated with a church. It is part of the churchyard.” Source: Cemetery Versus Graveyard | Grammar Girl, https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/cemetery-versus-graveyard. This is a graveyard.

As I walked into the graveyard, the first thing I noticed was the rustling of the fallen Fall leaves under my feet and that the fountain was still going. In addition, the fake fall flowers on the tombstones made me smile …

Interestingly, there was a family, a mom and dad and a daughter, middle school age, sitting in the new garden. I wondered who they were visiting.

I worried that the leaves rustling under my feet were going to be a distraction. I have talked often about the crunch of the pebbles that sometimes make up the path. Did the leaves bother me? No! The fall leaves on the path were something Mother Nature added. So it was a part of a seasonal walk in late fall.

It was 52° and overcast, but the sun was trying to burn through the clouds. There was a slight breeze so the chimes were gently ringing. Only a few of the painted stones that children had painted and placed in the garden were visible. So I had fun finding one to take a picture of. There was an occasional bird singing to me as well.

I wonder who thought to turn the fountains on today?

Almost always, it seems to me that the walk out is longer than the walk in. But it is the same walk and should be essentially the same amount of time. And that made me think back to our discussion at the RedBoot Way meeting earlier today, of kairos time.

“The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos (χρόνος) and kairos. The former refers to chronological or sequential time, while the latter signifies a proper or opportune time for action. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative, permanent nature. Kairos also means weather in Modern Greek.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kairos?wprov=sfti1)

As I finished my walk, I heard a dog barking, and that reminded me that my dog Albert was at home waiting for me.There were a few more stops on my errand running on the east side of town.

Once back at home, I continued planting and preparing.

l listened to Amy Grant sing Christmas songs as I stayed away from Black Friday and I found the wonderful blessing which is attached below … reflects much of what I’ve been thinking today.

“May you grow still enough to hear the small noises earth makes in preparing for the long sleep of winter, so that you yourself may grow calm and grounded deep within.

May you grow still enough to hear the trickling of water seeping into the ground, so that your soul may be softened and healed, and guided in its flow.

May you grow still enough to hear the splintering of starlight in the winter sky and the roar at earth’s fiery core.

May you grow still enough to hear the stir of a single snowflake in the air, so that your inner silence may turn into hushed expectation.”

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast, OSB, thanks to Toto Rendlen

Happy Post Turkey Day!

Happy Post Turkey Day!

11.29.19

23
Nov
19

11.23.19 … “Light exists as well as shadow. Creation has not only a positive but also a negative side. It belongs to the essence of creaturely nature, and is indeed a mark of its perfection, that it has in fact this negative side. In creation there is not only a Yes but also a No; not only a height but also an abyss; not only clarity but also obscurity; not only growth but also decay; not only opulence but also indigence; not only beauty but also ashes; not only beginning but also end.

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Labyrinth Walks, The Cathedral of St. Philip-Atlanta GA:

I had a day of errand running in Atlanta today. I headed out from Marietta about noon. First, I got my nails done. While I was in the nail salon, it poured. I’m pretty in pink …

Second, I visited the local Dollar Tree. There I purchased some glass vases and small pebbles for my Christmas paperwhite narcissus flowers which are my first Christmas decoration, my Christmas Eve table decoration and my favorite gift.

Third, I delivered a package to a friend to her mother-in-law‘s house. To get to her house I had to cross the River at Lovett and then back in the neighborhood to the left. This is an area of Atlanta that I have rarely ventured and so I was interested again at the topography, which I love, and, since the brig late afternoon sun was peaking out from the clouds, the drive was magical enhanced with the beautiful very end of fall color, deep reds and bright yellows.

Next, I headed for a labyrinth. The labyrinth at St. Philip’s is my most frequented labyrinth when I’m in Atlanta. And getting to it takes me through one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the US in my opinion. So I always get the pleasure of driving past old haunts and homes of old friends and family. As I drove to the Cathedral, it became overcast again, but luckily was not raining.

When I got to the labyrinth, since I had Albert, I pulled out my cast-iron iron which I have re-purposed as a dog anchor. It comes in very handy when I am walking labyrinths. Ive tried walking “with” Albert, but that is a major fail. As I walked, Albert looked at me quizzically and tried to drag the anchor around a bit. But then he just patiently watched.

Next up was checking the ginkgo trees at E Rivers Elementary School. I definitely missed it this year. However, the light was coming in and out of the clouds and for a brief moment it highlighted the bed of yellow leaves at their bases.

After leaving there, I headed toward my mom’s. I took the back way (Habersham, Old Ivy, Wieuca to Peachtree), and it was now a perfect late fall afternoon. The leaves played with the afternoon sunlight. And as I rounded a corner and saw the beautiful yellows and reds, I smiled, and as soon as I smiled, the sun went back behind the clouds. Some days are like that.

At Lenbrook, I went up the freight elevator with Albert. He doesn’t like steps, and he really doesn’t like elevators. I had to drag him on elevator. But the visit with my mom and Albert was the highlight of my day … really. .She said, “We got lucky when we got Albert!” WE … I chuckled. Albert is the only dog in my extended family currently. My mom truly views him as her dog, too.

So all in all a great day …

And now a quote … “Light exists as well as shadow. Creation has not only a positive but also a negative side. It belongs to the essence of creaturely nature, and is indeed a mark of its perfection, that it has in fact this negative side. In creation there is not only a Yes but also a No; not only a height but also an abyss; not only clarity but also obscurity; not only growth but also decay; not only opulence but also indigence; not only beauty but also ashes; not only beginning but also end. In the existence of man there are hours, days and years both bright and dark, success and failure, laughter and tears, youth and age, gain and loss, birth and sooner or later its inevitably corollary, death. In all this, creation praises its Creator and Lord even on its shadowy side. For all we can tell, may not His creatures praise Him more mightily in humility than in exaltation, in need than in plenty, in fear than in joy? May not we ourselves praise Him more purely on bad days than on good, more surely in sorrow than in rejoicing, more truly in adversity than in progress? If there may be praise of God from the abyss, night and misfortune… how surprised we shall be, and how ashamed of so much unnecessary disquiet and discontent, once we are brought to realize that all creation both as light and shadow, including our own share in it, was laid on Jesus Christ, and that even though we did not see it, while we were shaking our heads that things were not very different, it sang the praise of God just as it was, and was therefore right and perfect.” – Karl Barth

And here’s round one of my paperwhite plantings …

Blessings, Safe Travels and Happy Thanksgiving!

11.23.19

21
Nov
19

11.21.19 … “When you step into the center — after walking, walking, walking — there is a beautiful stillness” …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Labyrinth Walks, St. Barnabas (Episcopal) Church-Denver CO:

So I’m on my fourth day in Denver and I have not taken a labyrinth walk yet. Today is my last full day, so today is the day…

The Labyrinth closest to my son’s apartment is St. Barnabas Episcopal. I headed out at 7:30, after spending a half hour looking for his apartment keys, and finally headed out. So the frustration level was high and the need for the walk higher. (They were in the car.)

Everyone loves Denver. But I must say, coming at the beginning of winter and experiencing four cloudy gray days, with light snow and ice coming down now, I’m rethinking Denver. No, I’m kidding. When you wake up and look out and see those mountains in the distance, that makes up for a whole lot. But the city is flat, something I’m just not used to, and even in the summer, it doesn’t seem particularly green. So it has a dirty feel to me. Maybe that is the rough and tumble Wild, Wild West.

I pulled up and immediately liked the presence of the church. It has a Tudor feel to it, it is a brick with a odd green shade of tan trim. The labyrinth is over to the right as I enter the church yard, the “Holy Ground-Please Be Respectful-No Smoking” grounds.

Before I walked, I noticed the homeless man sleeping on the concrete covered entranceway to the church. I have been confronted by homelessness multiple times since I came to Denver. He did not ask for help. But still, I wonder: What can I do?

As I looked around, I saw the labyrinth, a stone paver path with grass boundaries labyrinth, but something was not quite right. The labyrinth itself was centered by a stone covering something … a fountain in summer?

I started my walk on the pavers … immediate confusion, the root system of the oak tree had definitely made it difficult to place the pavers, which are approximately 1‘ x 2‘, in a flat walkable path. I followed the paver path and quickly got off the path. And then I hit a dead end. So am I supposed to walk the grass?

So I tried to walk the grass. Another dead end at the large oak tree. In the end I walked the grass, but this did not quite work. I had to maneuver around trees and boulders.

So today I was in a cloud … of inclement weather looming and because the labyrinth that was more a maze.

I researched this labyrinth and found little on this one. But I found a 2010 article worthy of reading, Ancient labyrinths enjoying a resurgence – The Denver Post,

‪https://www.denverpost.com/2010/01/08/ancient-labyrinths-enjoying-a-resurgence/‬

Unlike a maze, designed to confuse, a labyrinth has no dead ends, or even choices. The path, though not obvious in all its twists and turns, leads only to the center.

“All our institutions are shaky — educational, medical, religious, legal, financial. Everything is up for grabs,” Artress said. “It’s touching everyone’s lives. We shoot fear into our veins like heroin.”

Or, she said, we can seek to feed our spiritual hunger.

Philadelphian Patricia Pearce is in Denver because her mother is dying in hospice here. Pearce, 51, is in the practice of walking labyrinths and is using the “Petite Chartres” at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Denver.

“Every season of my life, it means something different for me,” Pearce said. “I’m at a transition point in my life. Walking it now is a way for me to affirm my willingness to walk this spiritual path with my mother — to say yes to God.

“When you step into the center — after walking, walking, walking — there is a beautiful stillness,” Pearce said. “I often will stand or kneel there for quite a long time.”

By definition, this one missed the mark.

11.21.19

03
Nov
19

11.3.19 … “In creation there is not only a Yes but also a No; not only a height but also an abyss; not only clarity but also obscurity; not only growth but also decay; not only opulence but also indigence; not only beauty but also ashes; not only beginning but also end. In the existence of man there are hours, days and years both bright and dark, success and failure, laughter and tears, youth and age, gain and loss, birth and sooner or later its inevitably corollary, death. In all this, creation praises its Creator and Lord even on its shadowy side.” – Karl Barth

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Labyrinth Walks, The Cathedral of St. Philip-Atlanta GA, kith/kin, Elizabeth Musser, When I Close My Eyes:

I just returned from 48 hours with some special friends from college. I have been immersed in love and friendship for 48 hours. So today, I chose a quick walk before going with my sister to a book signing for Elizabeth Musser’s new book…

Today is the first day of daylight savings time and I actually slept late feeling completely refreshed and woke up to full daylight. But now at 4:30 as the sun was getting low in the sky, it was time to walk. The light was perfect, and it was a beautiful crisp fall day. As I mentioned, I had just spent a delightful 48 hours with my Davidson College friends at the home of one friend who lives in Gainesville Georgia. As has become a routine, we talked, shared, hugged, encouraged and then went all our separate ways from one end of this country to the other. Every time I spend a weekend with them, my soul is restored.

As for my walk … Birds chirping… I loved the sun playing with the buildings, dancing in the trees … And I saw a sliver of the moon. What is the moon phase today? And then I saw a bed of blooming knock out rises. Do knock out roses forever bloom in the south?

And as for Elizabeth’s talk at the Atlanta History Center, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve read her new book, “When I Close My Eyes“ (https://www.amazon.com/When-Close-My-Eyes-Novel/dp/0764234447) and recommend it. I was talking with someone and they said that they didn’t read Christian literature. Prior to reading Elizabeth’s books, I had not read much if it weren’t veiled in fantasy (think, CS Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, Tolkien, Dante). But what is wrong with being challenged by Christian truths? Because of Elizabeth I have been introduced to another Christian fiction author, Sharon Garlough Brown. In addition, and I assume because I listed Elizabeth’s works as some of my favorites, I now get recommendations for other Christian writers. A funny one was a Christian writer of spy thrillers. When one was free, I actually read it and enjoyed it. Luanda Ehrlich’s Titus Ray Thrillers. I read Book I, “One Night in Tehran.”

And James Howell led me to this quote the other day …

“Light exists as well as shadow. Creation has not only a positive but also a negative side. It belongs to the essence of creaturely nature, and is indeed a mark of its perfection, that it has in fact this negative side. In creation there is not only a Yes but also a No; not only a height but also an abyss; not only clarity but also obscurity; not only growth but also decay; not only opulence but also indigence; not only beauty but also ashes; not only beginning but also end. In the existence of man there are hours, days and years both bright and dark, success and failure, laughter and tears, youth and age, gain and loss, birth and sooner or later its inevitably corollary, death. In all this, creation praises its Creator and Lord even on its shadowy side. For all we can tell, may not His creatures praise Him more mightily in humility than in exaltation, in need than in plenty, in fear than in joy? May not we ourselves praise Him more purely on bad days than on good, more surely in sorrow than in rejoicing, more truly in adversity than in progress? If there may be praise of God from the abyss, night and misfortune… how surprised we shall be, and how ashamed of so much unnecessary disquiet and discontent, once we are brought to realize that all creation both as light and shadow, including our own share in it, was laid on Jesus Christ, and that even though we did not see it, while we were shaking our heads that things were not very different, it sang the praise of God just as it was, and was therefore right and perfect.” – Karl Barth

11.3.19




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