Posts Tagged ‘Avondale Presbyterian Church


10.17.17 … I am feeling grief and loss and devastation. And all that feeling is for a tree… Maybe my feelings of grief and loss and devastation are not just for a tree … #me,too

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

In my opinion today is the first day of fall because today is the first cool crisp day. I actually moved my ac to “off.”

Of course I go to Avondale, and I’m excited because before I can see into the sacred garden, I can hear the chimes. There’s a wonderful cool breeze today and it is making me so happy. But when I turn in, I am immediately feel grief. The huge and gorgeous oak tree that has been there forever is gone, completely gone except for the mark on the ground. They have taken it down and removed the stump and even filled in the hole. A man is walking in the garden and I ask him what happened. He says that they took it down on October 7 because it was dead. I am feeling grief and loss and devastation. And all that feeling is for a tree.

But I hear sounds of life: a train, running water in the fountain, and the cool breeze rushing through the leaves. Everything sounds wonderful today.

As I walk, I actually feel cold.


Although I have several #me,too stories, all from my pre-midlife period, all involve substances and two where I was impaired unknowingly by boys from “nice families.” There is another, tangentially related to the issue, that took away my voice and I have never recovered. It’s still angers me to think about it.

Back in back in the 90s, I was a thirty something lawyer in a political discussion with a “mentor” lawyer that I respected intellectually. He was a liberal. I was centrist conservative. I said that I judged a candidate not just by intellectual ability, political leanings and experience, but also by character. I made the statement that I could never vote for Bill Clinton or any candidate if the thought of being in room with him made me uncomfortable. This senior partner absolutely railed on me, belittled me and repeatedly brought this up for weeks, stating that a candidate’s personal life had nothing to do with his ability to lead the country, and besides all men in power had indiscretions. I said character counts. He considered my opinion uneducated at best. I did not vote for Bill Clinton in 1992. This respected lawyer no longer respected me because he believed I used an irrelevant standard. And this was before Monica Lewinsky.

During the Clinton presidency I delveloped prong two of my test: the likelihood that our constitution could “control” the politician or that if not, the checks and balances therein would work.

I continue to use my standard. I could not in good conscience vote for Trump and voted for Clinton because Trump failed step one of my multi prong test and I believed our constitutional checks and balances would have worked with Hillary Clinton while being challenged by Trump.

It has been very interesting to see many articles and opinion pieces list Weinstein, Ailes, Trump, O’Reilly, Cosby and Woody Allen, but fail to mention Bill Clinton. I wish someone would explain that to me.

I realize that 1992 was the beginning of my personal multi-prong test. First character and intelligence, then constitutional checks and balances and finally political leanings and experience.

Maybe my feelings of grief and loss and devastation are not just for a tree.


and Maren Tirabassi is always on point …

Me, too

To you who are constantly alert

to the signs that sexual harassment is present,

that sexual violence has happened,

to women and girls,

to trans men and gay men,

to anyone vulnerable,

I promise — me, too.

To you willing to stop everything

to listen to a story,

to share from your story

without making it about you,

I promise – me, too.

To you keeping faith with


which means not making it an idol —

being quiet or getting help,

and most of all willing to apologize

when you guess wrong,

I promise – me, too.

In fact, to everyone

who risks being awkward or nosy,

being shut down,

called out for being strident

or self-righteous,

the wrong gender to speak out,

or for actually being wrong

in a particular situation …

in fact, to everyone

who is praying but also staying,

remembering these posts


and also next April,

who knows you surely

will fall short on every promise

you ever make,

I promise – me, too.


6.24.17 … a toy frog …

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

It is hot, but as much because it is muggy as because of the temperature. Actually, a combination of the two. I haven’t walked in a while so I approach the labyrinth with some trepidation.

And this one is overgrown

On my first approach to the center, I noticed a toy frog. I keep meaning to bring some trinkets to leave when I walk.

This walk is all about sound. I hear the rushing water for the fountain, the chimes, the cicadas, a few birds, cars on the nearby road and even a train…



5.6.17 … “To be interested in the changing seasons is…a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” — George Santayana, “Justification of Art”

Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church, Charlotte NC, World Labyrinth Day 5.6.17, We Walk as One at One.

Perfect day, perfect sky, perfect sun, perfect breeze….

And here are a few quotes I’ve collected over the last 2 weeks:

“The path needs more light. To shine the light of your own natural curiosity into the world of another traveler can reveal wonders.” ~ Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage

“I want more than just the top halves of things—just the spirit and not the flesh, just the presence and not the absence, just the faith and not the doubt. This late in life, I want it all.” ~From “Learning to Walk in the Dark”

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” – Martin Luther

The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation

One can understand how someone would have problems relating to some part of the Trinity, or even the whole package. Someone who had been abused by their earthly father finds the image of God as “father” brings up bad associations. Some women who have suffered in a male-dominated society have difficulty relating to the male savior Jesus. The set of relationships is complicated, and the questions that arise from them are legitimate. Even though I have been aware of the difficulties with the Trinity, I still believe there is enough value in the doctrine that we owe it to ourselves to prayerfully consider how we understand it and how it shapes our relationship with God now. Instead of pitching the whole thing, we have a call to update and expand our understanding of the Trinity and contemplate how we can apply it in the most life-giving way.

That’s what Richard Rohr invites us to do in “The Divine Dance.” Instead of getting stuck in a quagmire where we feel required to believe “impossible things” and therefore do not believe anything, Rohr suggests that we focus primarily on the Trinity as a set of relationships that is always open, a community waiting for us to join in. He writes, “Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between Three – a circle dance of love.” Rohr is quick to point out that this is not New Age jargon, but is rooted in the earliest stages of Christian thought. He draws upon St. Bonaventure, Duns Scotus and Hildegard of Bingen (among many others) to take us back to our inclusive, expansive roots and away from a rigid, doctrinaire and sexist understanding of the Trinity. I finished “The Divine Dance” more hopeful than I have been in a long time for the future of Christian dialogue and interfaith relations (see the section titled “Interfaith Friendship”).

Father Rohr has a gift for recognizing the theological underpinnings present in literature, music, movies and other areas of our culture. He uses examples from all of these to illustrate how Trinitarian nature permeates not only our interactions with each other, but potentially our relationship with creation as a whole. At a time when much of the conversation in our world is divisive and fear inducing, Rohr invites us to celebrate the cosmic connection we all share. This is an important, optimistic book that I will return to again.

SOURCE: The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation – The Presbyterian Outlook,

“To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.” – Winston Churchill, “Hobbies”

“A compassionate city is an uncomfortable city! A city that is uncomfortable when anyone is homeless or hungry. Uncomfortable if every child isn’t loved and given rich opportunities to grow and thrive. Uncomfortable when as a community we don’t treat our neighbors as we would wish to be treated.”

—Karen Armstrong, Charter for Compassion

Be Whole-Hearted – Center for Action and Contemplation

Guest writer and CAC teacher Cynthia Bourgeault continues exploring Jesus’ eight blessings known as the Beatitudes.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” —Matthew 5:8

This may well be the most important of all the Beatitudes—from the perspective of wisdom it certainly is. But what is purity of heart? This is another of those concepts we have distorted in our very morality-oriented Christianity of the West. For most people, purity of heart would almost certainly mean being virtuous, particularly in the sexual arena. It would be roughly synonymous with chastity, perhaps even with celibacy. But in wisdom teaching, purity means singleness, and the proper translation of this Beatitude is, really, “Blessed are those whose heart is not divided” or “whose heart is a unified whole.” Jesus emerged from his baptism as the ihidaya, meaning the “single one” in Aramaic—one who has unified his or her being and become what we would nowadays call “enlightened.”

According to Jesus, this enlightenment takes place primarily within the heart. When your heart becomes “single”—that is, when it desires one thing only, when it can live in perfect alignment with that resonant field of mutual yearning we called “the righteousness of God,” then you “see God.” This does not mean that you see God as an object (for that would be the egoic operating system), but rather, you see through the eyes of non-duality: God is the seeing itself.

So this Beatitude is not about sexual abstinence; it’s about cleansing the lens of perception. It is worth noting that Jesus flags this particular transformation as the core practice of the path. Somehow when the heart becomes single (undivided, whole), the rest will follow.

Gateway to Silence:�Create in me a pure heart, O God.

SOURCE: Be Whole-Hearted – Center for Action and Contemplation,

Since Buechner’s quote has been circulation … I thought I would pull the a larger quote. I like it even more …

“Grace is something you can never get but only be given. The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you. I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.” Wishful Thinking [99]

You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about education. But some good, sacred memory preserved from childhood – that is perhaps the best education. For if a man has only one good memory left in his heart, even that may keep him from evil.…And if he carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe for the end of his days.

Source: The Brothers Karamazov

Taylor Rees

‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,’ Annie Dillard

Patience and an appreciation for detail are two shared job requirements for filmmakers and environmental organizers. Taylor Rees, who does both of these jobs, says Dillard’s deep, slow look at her backyard environment made her realize she was part of the ecosystem around her, instead of just an observer. “Her writing became a practice of awareness for me, something I try to embody whenever I am outside,” Rees says. “It’s put my work in climate change, science, film, and digital media into context—put it back into the living world, where the reasons for working began and belong.”

Her Favorite Quote: “Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.”

“To be interested in the changing seasons is…a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” — George Santayana, “Justification of Art”



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,



3.24.17 … I’ve been dropped into the perfect spring evening in Charlotte …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (Walk 24/40), Avondale Presbyterian Church, Charlotte NC:

Cacophony of sound… chimes, many different birds, fire trucks, and music from a neighboring backyard. And the redbud trees just look wonderful.

I drove back from Atlanta this morning and I thought to myself, it is cold and cloudy and feels like we stepped back into the dead of winter. Eight hours later, I feel like I’ve been dropped into the perfect spring evening in Charlotte. This year continues to have strange weather.

From the book shelf:

Four new books for my stack … no quotes yet. 😉



1.16.13 … There are still signs of the holiday season. A wreath is there and there are our some poinsettias (fake, I must add. :-))

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2014 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church:
   IMG_9043  IMG_9040
If the perfect sunny winter afternoon, and I am near Avondale, and decided that I absolutely must walk.
As I approach, I hear the chimes. At the columbarium wall are still signs of the holiday season. A wreath is there and there are  our some poinsettias (fake, I must add. :-))
My mind is very focused today on things that I really would prefer it not be focused. I cannot alter that today. So I just let myself think about them.
IMG_9048 IMG_9047
As I am leaving, I see a Muslim woman sitting in the parking lot. I wonder if she has children in the day care program at this church. It is nice that she is comfortable here, that this space is comfortable for her.

9.21.13 … sacred space …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2013 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church:

  IMG_8240 IMG_8234 IMG_8250



A first:  a professional photo shoot on the labyrinth.  The model is wearing a white gauzy dress and has a slighty ephemeral look to her.  Funny, i don’t think she has a clue as to what a labyrinth is and how to utilize it.  One pose next to the cross was really awkward to watch.  It  is clear that it is just a beautiful garden with a quirky maze and a cross.  I hope they got what they were going for, but I wonder.
I talked with photographer and makeup artist about use of labyrinth for certain type of image.
IMG_8252 IMG_8241
I walk after they are finished.


 IMG_8245 IMG_8244 IMG_8243IMG_8242       :

I hear the wind in the tress, the flowing water in the fountain and the chimes.
I see dying hostas, weeds, a few fallen brown leaves, weeds and large seed pods hanging from mimosa tress, but am surprised that the pink Impatiens are still a brilliant pink. I love this large oak tree at the center of the sacred garden and think of my sister every time I visit.
I feel a cool moist breeze.
I test myself: Can I remember the verse at the center …  Ps.119: 105
The word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
PS – A cute picture of my girl at her fall semi-formal.

8.31.13 … the blessings of a skinned knee … mine … and for polka dot shoes …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2013 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church, The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee:  Today was a multi-sensory experience …

Sounds: chimes, water, wind blowing, rustling of fallen leaves.

IMG_7935  IMG_7936

Sights: chimes, water, flowers by the memorial wall, flowers in the sacred garden, bench set  in trees, trees  blowing in the wind, fall leaves, weeds …
 IMG_7937  IMG_7939
feel: wind blowing, muggy humidity, heat
 IMG_7943 IMG_7947
Blessing of a Skinned Knee … I have a skinned knee which made me think about this parenting book … and where my children are … almost adult/launch mode.  I still have some work to do, even on the oldest to make them self-disciplined, appreciative, and resourceful.

In the trenches of a typical day, every parent encounters a child afflicted with ingratitude and entitlement. In a world where material abundance abounds, parents want so badly to raise self-disciplined, appreciative, and resourceful children who are not spoiled by the plentitude around them. But how to accomplish this feat? The answer has eluded the best-intentioned mothers and fathers who overprotect, overindulge, and overschedule their children’s lives.

The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children: Wendy Mogel Ph.D.: 9780142196441: Books.

Ideas: develop a one-day lesson plan on the labyrinths and pilgrimages in medieval history with an emphasis on the Chartres labyrinth for local schools,  then have local schools offer a field trip to walk one of the Chartres-design labyrinths in Charlotte so that the students would experience the same walk, the same path has been walked  for almost a  1000 years.
I also have to remember to make a laminated Chartres resource for my beach bag.  Same place, next year Elizabeth P and the T family??
Polka dotted shoes … I love my shoes … 🙂
What is the “at the center? ”  I am not one to ever remember things, and although I have walked this labyrinth at least 40 times,  I know it’s a psalm but I can’t tell you what it says.
Here it is:
Psalm 119:105
That word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
… maybe next time I’ll remember it without looking.
Blessings of a skinned knee and for polka dot shoes!

8.5.13 … I knew that she knew I walked labyrinths … It is amazing how time collapses when you are getting older …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2013 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church, kith/kin: Oh, it’s great fun to walk with a friend.



IMG_7605 IMG_7603 IMG_7604
Anne with an e, a friend from the early 80s called on a whim to see if I was available this afternoon.
I knew that she knew I walked labyrinths, so I suggested we get a sandwich and walk Avondale’s labyrinth.
We had a great time talking about the early days in Charlotte, job progressions, spirituality, mission trips, pets, etc.
She noticed the chimes which were virtually silent. We both noted a beautiful red butterfly, pictured, but, unfortunately, not real. It is, however, a nice way to mark Fred Ratchford’s plaque on the memorial obelisks in the Sacred Garden and Columbarium.
All in all a wonderful way to spend an hour with a dear friend. It is amazing how time collapses when you are getting older. 🙂

7.23.13 … Where do we see the face of God? …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2013 Labyrinth Walks, Avondale Presbyterian Church: From my 7.21.13 walk …


Scientifically questioning, does heat change the sound of chimes. They certainly sound more forlorn today and it is really hot.
My weather app says it is 88°, but it feels like 98°.
There is a robin on the labyrinth.
I hear thunder, but it is very sunny. It must be heat thunder.
This is my devotional for today …

Where do we see the face of God?

And the shepherd is there, protecting and comforting. Emmanuel is, as promised, right there with us, each step of the way.

via You Are with Me; Your Rod and Your Staff, They Comfort Me | i feast therefore i am.

Suddenly the water in the fountain begins to run …

IMG_7505 IMG_7506

More thunder and closer.

Birds are noisy, very noisy …

I may have have found Flat Stanley.



IMG_7511 IMG_7514IMG_7512

 IMG_7510 IMG_7513



Blessings. — at Avondale Presbyterian Church

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 618 other followers

November 2020