Posts Tagged ‘Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC

12
Nov
20

11.12.20 … Torrential rains… Ginkgo leaf drop…

Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church-Charlotte NC:

There was torrential rain today in Charlotte. And for quite a while, I waited in the parking lot for it end. I read and I did a few puzzles.

I knew that this would be a quick walk. I had many things to do today, including attending electronically the funeral of the father of a good friend. So both because of the weather and because of my schedule, this was going to be a very quick walk … and of course I walked out in the torrential rain this morning with the wrong shoes.

Despite the date, November 12, it was very warm, probably close to 70°.Oddly, the first thing I heard was reggae music. The music came from the construction site in a yard adjacent to the sacred garden. So between the wet weather, the warm weather, and the reggae music, everything made for a very unusual walk.

About halfway through the walk, I heard a massive clap of thunder. I’m not sure that this walk couldn’t be any stranger with the odd mixture of thunder, saws and reggae music. Oh, and add a few birds screaming.

I am still devastated by the loss of so many trees in the sacred garden. First it was the large oak that centered the garden and then the double row of dogwood trees as you entered. I look forward to how it is renewed in the coming months. Always hopeful.

So what am I grateful for today? Hope, Community, and the awe inspiring experiences of nature. And umbrellas… I prefer red ones.

Singing in the rain…

11.12.20

And afterwords, I drove by the ginkgo tree at Carmel Presbyterian near my house. And damn, I missed the leaf

drop. That is one of my favorite fall events. Next year…

01
Oct
20

10.1.20 … “Ye cannot rival for one hour October’s bright blue weather”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church-Charlotte NC:

I have not “walk”walked in a few weeks. But I have “finger” walked. One of the few positives of the pandemic quarantine is the free facilitated finger labyrinth walks hosted by Verititas. I should have written them up as walks. They started in April and will continue through the end of the year. They have been a nice way to spend my late Friday afternoons. And an added bonus is that many weeks I have walked with my labyrinth loving friend Toni.

But today is a perfect day. It is October 1 and my mother’s birthday. This year she is 94. I am supposed to be in Atlanta celebrating. But there was an accident last night by a family member and although there were no serious injuries, it has been very necessary for me to stay here and make sure that all is fine.

I walked into the Sacred Garden and the dogwoods were gone. That broke my heart. Not only is the huge oak tree that was here for the many years gone, but the now the dogwoods are gone. I felt like I was walking into a wasteland. I wasn’t expecting that. But it sealed my mood. And then I also noticed that the plantings near the labyrinth were burnt out. I just wasn’t expecting this oasis to be so burnt feeling.

When I entered the garden, there was someone walking the labyrinth. That is a rarity. So I went and sat on the bench in the crepe myrtle arbor and dictated for a few minutes.

As I mentioned today is October 1, my mother’s 94th birthday. I’m not sure why, but for many years October has been my favorite month. It is generally a glorious month. In the South, it is often still warm, hot even, but in the evening everything cools off and the sun is just not quite as demanding. We had a full moon, the harvest moon this week, so the night sky has been glorious as well.

My thoughts were all over the place. On Tuesday night, we had the first presidential debate, a train wreck, a shit show, I don’t know what to call it. I think it sealed the deal for many people that there may not be a good outcome with this election.

And now I will walk. The woman walking is doing a perimeter walk at the end. That reminds me that is always a good way to start and end a walk.

The woman who was walking when I arrived is dressed in a blue bohemian skirt. I always wonder why someone is walking. And then I look at myself and realize that I am wearing khakis, black shirt, and a Columbia vest, my Black and Tan uniform, but I have put on my blue shoes because that’s what I picked up and wore to the hospital last night. I wonder if she she wondered who I was and why I walk. and made certain assumptions based on my uniform.

Several weeks ago I met with a friend, an acquaintance, the mother of two friends of my boys. She is a intentional meditation practitioner. She walked me through a meditation session. I told her about my labyrinth walking. And I realized that my labyrinth walking is not that type of meditation. But I realized that that it could be.

So as I walked on the longer stretches, I tried to practice breathing and then I tried to extend it to the shorter stretches…

As I walked/meditated, I kept having to bat away the sound of the chimes. Usually I enjoy that immensely, but today it was a distraction. On my way out, I noticed that the fountain wasn’t running… I thought it had been running when I walked in. The mind plays tricks on me sometimes.

After I walked, I sat in my car and dictated. And then a friend knocked on my window. It was labyrinth loving friend Toni. It was meant to be!

On my drive back home, I saw two 10ish aged boys climbing over a fence… With the lives of kids so structured nowadays, you just don’t see kids playing outside, climbing fences, playing in streams, etc. That sight brought me joy.

Bill Wood who served as Senior Pastor at FPC posted this poem entitled “October’s Bright Blue Weather” by Helen Hunt Jackson. The first and the last stanza are as follows:

“O suns and skies and clouds of June

and flowers of June together,

Ye cannot rival for one hour

October’s bright blue weather;

O suns and skies and flowers of June,

Count all your boasts together,

Love loveth best of all the year

October’s bright blue weather.”

That was my world today!

10.1.20

21
Jul
20

7.21.20 … “Walking the labyrinth immediately takes us into a process world where we can see between the lines of linear thought through to our imagination and intuition.”

Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church-Charlotte NC, walk and talk:

So, this is beginning to be a thing with me. On a sunny day, I come to Avondale and take my class via zoom. I did this last Thursday for the FPC ThuMBS class and then today for the FPC TMBS class.

Today was especially apropos. We were discussing Chapter 3, “Recovering Repentence,” from Barbara Brown Taylor’s “Speaking of Sin: the Lost Language of Salvation.” Taylor begins this chapter with a long discussion of Lent. As most of you know, it was through my first Lenten practice that I began my love affair with labyrinths and this labyrinth in particular.

Our discussion was fairly deep as we danced around concepts of sin, repentence, punishment, authenticity, truth, change and transformation as regards individuals v faith v societys, evolving, edifying and closing with grace.

Nancy closed us with Thomas Merton’s prayer:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

And then I walked. I noticed last time I was here that the labyrinth had been sprayed for weeds. It is a vast desert wilderness right now. So it fits with my discussion from last week’s Thursday class about Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness and today’s discussion of repentence as shaped by Christian practices and rituals around Lent.

And I ran across this quote of Lauren Artress the other day:

“Walking the labyrinth immediately takes us into a process world where we can see between the lines of linear thought through to our imagination and intuition.”

Did I mention it was hot?

Blessings

7.21.20

16
Jul
20

7.16.20 … “fear paralyzes while faith empowers; fear imprisons while faith liberates.”

Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church-Charlotte NC, walk and talk, Adam Hamilton’s Moses, ThuMBS:

I have been virtually attending First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte‘s ThuMBS class during the pandemic because it is held via zoom. For the last five weeks we have been discussing Adam Hamilton‘s Moses. This week we discussed Chapter 5, ”Lessons from the Wilderness.”

I can only attend this class because it is available on Zoom. I have several standing commitments on Thursday morning. This morning I had my monthly hair appointment and so when I finished up, I headed toward a labyrinth halfway between my stylist’s shop and my home. Most of the time I sat in my car and participated. But 20 minutes before it ended, I decided that I could probably walk and talk at the same time… admittedly, I’m not always successful at that combo.

These are my take aways from the class:

Hamilton argues that, based in part on Exodus, architecture matters to God. From a tent in a desert to the majestic temple in Jerusalem- smell, sound, and the place where we worship God is important. We discussed our sanctuary and whether it is a good representation of ‘holy’ architecture.

We also discussed where else we feel the presence of God. I feel God’s presence in nature, in waves, wind or on a hike and, yes, when I walk a labyrinth.

Hamilton argues that God wanted a temple so that God could “dwell” with the people.

Both work for me. 



We closed our discussion with a discussion of fear. The late Harry Emerson Fosdick said,

“fear paralyzes while faith empowers; fear imprisons while faith liberates.”

What would i do today or tomorrow if fear were not a factor? Sky is the limit –

God is the enenemy of comfort … but the prince of peace.

Is the US God’s new Jerusalem?

Is all the Earth a holy and sacred space?

Walk and talk … I didn’t stumble, but my mind certainly faltered. Lots to ponder.

7.16.20

15
Jun
20

6.15.20 … Ruakh Blessings …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC:

Today was the perfect day for a walk. It was 66° at 11 AM when I entered the sacred garden, very unusual weather for Charlotte in mid June. There was barely a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly. Very little humidity.

As I entered, I was hit with so many different trees and bushes in bloom. And the crepe myrtles were in bloom. Mine at my house are not blooming yet. .

It was very noisy … the columbarium fountain was running, and there was a cool strong breeze. I could see and hear the wind in the fully leafed out trees. Ruakh/wind … I guess that’s on my mind since I am leading a discussion tomorrow on the Holy Spirit. Definitely felt THE presence today.

As I walked up, I noticed that the door of the Information box was open and then a small brown bird flew out. I walked up and peeked in to find a bird’s nest in in the information box.

I am using this walk to bring together my thoughts on the Holy Spirit as I understand the Spirit and the experience of the Spirit in thin places. For me, when I quiet my mind, I am able to experience something very real, but other. I have been raised in the Christian faith tradition; for me, this other is God as revealed by Jesus Christ and experienced since Pentecost as the Holy Spirit.

As I entered the center, I saw the sun shining through the tall trees and beautiful green, everywhere, many different shades of green, depending on the light; I heard the strong wind rustling through trees, the hammering of a distant construction site and the wind chimes; I felt the cool moist breeze.

Definitely a thin place ….

Ruakh Blessings to all …
6.15.20

12
Apr
20

4.12.20 … “We may not transform reality, but we may transform ourselves. And if we transform ourselves, we might just change the world a bit.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (47/40), Easter 2020, Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC, kith/kin:

He has risen, indeed!

For the last nine years, if I was in Charlotte, I would attend Avondale’s Easter Sunrise Service. Weather permitting, it was held on the labyrinth. A very appropriate end of my Lenten Walks.

And today there is no scheduled service, but I ventured out with a friend for a Easter Sunrise Labyrinth Walk.

As I drove to Avondale, I thought about how strikingly different this year has been. Normally I am traveling regularly throughout the Southeast and finding new labyrinths in new locations. Because of the coronavirus quarantine restrictions, I have been limited and have primarily walked labyrinths within 5 miles of my home. And Spring came early to the southeast this year. The daffodils were blooming in early February and definitely gone by this point in April. And even the dogwoods are passed their peak. So it is a very green Easter.

As I walked this morning with my friend, we discussed a new labyrinth to be installed in the next year or so at her home church, St. John’s Episcopal. Toni, a mutual friend, is the force behind this new labyrinth which is being built in memory of her husband Win who died in 2017. She has orchestrated a canvas labyrinth for St. John’s prior to the installation of the outdoor permanent labyrinth. I told my friend that the canvas labyrinth’s boundaries are green for two reasons: green is the color designated for Ordinary Time in the church liturgical calendar and green is the school color of Charlotte Country Day, the school where her husband taught for many years. So it seems appropriate that today the primary color that I see is green…

But actually today green symbolizes not ordinary time, but Extraordinary Time.

Although the day had broken when we arrived, the sun had not quite risen. I could see in the distance a faint pink sky telling me that the sun would be arriving from that direction.

This sacred garden is a sanctuary for birds, and today they were rejoicing this new day. We heard them as soon as we got out of the car.

When we entered the garden, a man and his wife were building the traditional Easter flower cross. They told us that although there would be no services today, the congregation has been invited to drop by and add flowers to the cross. They invited us to add flowers.

Again, my overwhelming sensory experiences were the color green and the singing of birds. I am sure this is an ordinary day for them, but I am not often here at this time, so it was an extraordinary experience for me.

The chimes were silent this morning. I often forget that the chimes are there to celebrate children who are part of this faith community who have died.

After walking the labyrinth, we walked the circular path to the cross on the hill.

And then we added flowers to the cross.

It was joyful to have a companion walk with me this morning.

It is an extraordinary time… He has risen, indeed.

And a quote from the poet Gary Snyder:

“We may not transform reality, but we may transform ourselves. And if we transform ourselves, we might just change the world a bit.”

Blessings to all…

4.12.20

2020 Lenten Lists

Blessings:

Too many to list …

08
Apr
20

4.8.20 … “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (43/40), Avondale Presbyterian Church-Charlotte NC:

Truth is eternal. Our knowledge of it is changeable. It is disastrous when you confuse the two.

— Madeleine L’Engle

There are certain people in this world just can’t do technology. And I know one of them very well and is very frustrating. I don’t know if it’s patience or what. So that certain family member will not participate in a family Zoom gathering tonight. Really chaps me…

It’s gorgeously sunny but unseasonably warm today. It is 85° today, but the weather is supposed to cool down for Easter.

There was a slight breeze and the chimes were playing. The fountain was running. The dogwoods are past their prime, but maybe they will still be some flowers for Easter this Sunday. The moon was absolutely gorgeous last night. This full moon is called the pink moon or the Paschal moon. It is this full moon that determines the date of Easter.

I shared the labyrinth with an older man and his dog, social distancing was utilized.

I tried the bird call identifier app, and it was a fail… I’m hoping it was just the clanging of the chimes that confused it. We’ll see you next time.

I haven’t said much about the Coronavirus shutdown, but this article by Arundhati Roy made me think …

Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality”, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.

We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

Source: Arundhati Roy: ‘The pandemic is a portal’ | Free to read | Financial Times, https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca

4.8.20

06
Apr
20

4.6.20 … “He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (41/40), Avondale Presbyterian Church-Charlotte NC, Epiphany Catholic Church – Anchorage KY, kith/kin:

We walked together … 500 miles apart …

If you noticed, I didn’t go for a walk yesterday, but instead i used a finger Labyrinth without the sand because the sand is packed up somewhere. It made me slow down and think just for a few minutes.

Today I shared my walk. We have done this before, RuthAnn and I. So, we set a time, and RuthAnn went to Epiphany near her home and I went to Avondale near mine. And we walked and we talked. We talked about the book I am rereading, Madeleine L’Engle’s first book of three on Genesis entitled “In the Beginning.,” with an introduction by Rachel Held Evans. I really really liked this book. And then we talked about all the different plants that were blooming in our respective gardens where we were walking. And RuthAnn noted that there is an app that will identify flowers. I need that app. So all in all, we both had great walks and collectively we had a great walk.

Later today, I attended a Bible study via Zoom that a friend has started during the quarantine. I am excited to be a part of a group that I generally only see sporadically and as a group once a year when this friend hosts a luncheon. And I missed the luncheon this year.

And several friends have shared this quote recently:

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.

He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

― Saint Francis of Assisi

Laborer, craftsman, artist …

4.6.20

2020 Lenten Lists

New Apps I’m using …

  1. Zoom
  2. Picture This Plant Identifier
01
Apr
20

4.1.20 … “Spring dances with joy in every flower and in every bud letting us know that changes are beautiful and an inevitable law of life.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (37/40), 2020 Lenten Lists, Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC:

Yuck! Today was cold and overcast and damp, probably one of my least favorite types of days. And a little windy, so the chimes were ringing slightly.

I was so excited to see a post on social media by a new friend that I met through the labyrinth community. He is a landscape guru and he described the Japanese maples. I’ve been wondering what these trees were at Avondale, and I think from his post that they are Japanese maples. In addition, he talked about the fact that Japanese Maples flower (and that most trees flower.) So lo and behold, I looked today, and yes, I saw the flowers. I’ve never in my life noticed the flowers on this type of tree. So I learned two new things from my friend John. Thank you, John.

Here is his post … so much in there …

“April 1, 2020

Sheltering, day 9

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

― Pablo Neruda

“Spring dances with joy in every flower and in every bud letting us know that changes are beautiful and an inevitable law of life.” ― Debasish Mridha

We watched for weeks as the large Japanese maple (ilex palmatum ‘bloodgood’) went from bare winter limbs to leaf buds. We rejoiced when we saw the tiny leaf buds start to open. We admired the beautiful burgundy red leaves as they opened and clothed the tree for the celebration of spring.

And, then yesterday…

Yesterday, Milady looked at me and said, “Look at the flowers.”

All plants (except for ferns) make flowers. Some of the flowers are insignificant, but if you look for them, you will find them.

The Japanese maple tree has flowered. Next it will make seeds. I found out once, after much experimentation, that if you harvest the seeds at the right time, allow them to dry until fall, plant them in some good potting soil, and leave them out in the cold and rain all winter, they most likely will grow into baby trees the following spring. They wait patiently until the time is right.

When the time is right this year, I’m sure that we will enjoy a second spring.

Everything is going to be all right.

— John Paul Schulz

On the way in, I dictated a note to Molly‘s boyfriend who is celebrating his birthday today. I always laugh. I knew I would finally meet someone that had the April 1 birthday. I hope he likes his day. And now I realize my nephew’s fiancé’s birthday is today as is Jane, a church friend and the aunt of a close friend … Happy birthday, Peter, Kate and Jane!)

Sometimes the labyrinth quiets me and sometimes it uplifts me. Today was an uplifting day …

4.1.20

Today’s list –

Herb garden favorites:

Parsley

Basil

Chives

Thyme

Marjoram

Sage

lavender

Dill

29
Mar
20

3.29.20 … “When we are grounded in our bodies, we are stabilized and can receive information more accurately. Much like fine-tuning a radio, if we are attuned to our bodies, the static in the incoming messages and impulses is reduced.”- Lauren Artress

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (34/40), 2020 Lenten Lists, Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC:

It was 4:30 PM, and I had had other plans for the day, but I made a change of plans. I walked Avondale. When I arrived, there was another couple visiting/walking. So I waited.

While I waited, I walked up to the cross on the hill. During the winter, I can see downtown from the top of the hill. But today, with the trees now with leaves, I couldn’t see anything.

I noticed the wisteria… I never noticed all the wisteria in Charlotte before… it’s everywhere. On the other side of the barrier bushes of the garden is a big bamboo field. It strikes me as curious. I never have had much experience with bamboo, except that my grandmother knew where some grew in South Georgia, and we would go and cut some for our fishing poles. I have not thought about that in a long time.

It’s funny that I almost never see anyone at the labyrinths when I walk, but both yesterday and today I have found people. Maybe the labyrinths are good source of recreation or entertainment or prayer or meditation during a quarantine.

The dogwoods have come out much more fully since I was here just a few days ago. And there was yellow pollen covering everything. I guess we need another rain to clear it out.

I heard an airplane that was so loud that it overwhelmed the raucous chimes. That was interesting.

After I finished walking up to the cross, I walked by the columbarium on my way to the labyrinth. I loved it that someone took the time to put flowers into the space between the niche covers. I’ve never seen that done, and it was done in two places. Also I thank the people who left the pansies in the large pot for all to enjoy.

Something to ponder …

“When we are grounded in our bodies, we are stabilized and can receive information more accurately. Much like fine-tuning a radio, if we are attuned to our bodies, the static in the incoming messages and impulses is reduced.”- Lauren Artress

3.29.20

2020 Lenten Lists

Favorite Movies to Watch Again and Again

1. Pride and Prejudice

2. Persuasion

3. Sound of Music

4. When Harry Met Sally

5. Notting Hill

6. Pretty Woman

7. Sweet Home Alabama

8. Possession

9. Sliding Doors

10. …




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