Posts Tagged ‘Morningstar Lutheran Chapel – Mint Hill NC


3.18.20 … “The main part of preparedness to face these events is that we need as human beings to realize that we’re all in this together, that what affects one person anywhere affects everyone everywhere, that we are therefore inevitably part of a species, and we need to think in that way rather than about divisions of race and ethnicity, economic status, and all the rest of it.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (22/40), MorningStar Lutheran Chapel-Mint Hill NC, 2020 Lenten Lists:

I am back at MorningStar Lutheran chapel. I noticed the sign on the road today. So I stopped to take a picture of it.

When I arrived the landscapers were working… So I assumed it was going to be a noisy walk. But they finished by the time I was at the Labyrinth. So the sounds that I heard were the water of the fountain which was going today and the chimes.

The weather was absolutely perfect today, 68°, slight breeze and sunny, with just a few clouds in the sky. It was the type of weather you cannot complain about

Although the landscape crew had finished at the chapel, there were several working in the neighborhood behind. So although I thought I might be without the sound of lawnmowers and leaf blowers, I was not.

I have always been drawn to the very old rock wall. And it always brings me back to the thought when I was in Block Island RI, and I asked who made all the rock walls there and was informed that it was by slave labor. This is such an old church, Could slave labor have laid the rock wall?

After a recent walk in Asheville, I learned that there is a registry for old trees. I wonder if any of these trees are on the registry. Another research project…

After for spending a few minutes at the center contemplating what trinkets and tchotchke items I might bring and leave, I headed out and was serenaded by both the birds and the chimes … Lovely walk…

And in light of COVID-19, i realize that I see the labyrinth as a metaphor for what i am experiencing, particularly in unsettling times, when life feels more circular than linear and change is a constant. And in such times, walking the labyrinth reminds me to take my time, to pay attention to the journey along the way.

I’ve always enjoyed history. And of course there is an expert on the history of epidemics.

“In his new book, “Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present,” Frank M. Snowden, a professor emeritus of history and the history of medicine at Yale, examines the ways in which disease outbreaks have shaped politics, crushed revolutions, and entrenched racial and economic discrimination. Epidemics have also altered the societies they have spread through, affecting personal relationships, the work of artists and intellectuals, and the man-made and natural environments. Gigantic in scope, stretching across centuries and continents, Snowden’s account seeks to explain, too, the ways in which social structures have allowed diseases to flourish. “Epidemic diseases are not random events that afflict societies capriciously and without warning,” he writes. “On the contrary, every society produces its own specific vulnerabilities. To study them is to understand that society’s structure, its standard of living, and its political priorities.

I spoke by phone with Snowden last Friday, as reports on the spread of covid-19 tanked markets around the world, and governments engaged in varying degrees of preparation for even worse to come. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed the politics of restricting travel during epidemics, how inhumane responses to sickness have upended governments, and the ways that artists have dealt with mass death.

I want to start with a big question, which is: What, broadly speaking, are the major ways in which epidemics have shaped the modern world?

One way of approaching this is to examine how I got interested in the topic, which was a realization—I think a double one. Epidemics are a category of disease that seem to hold up the mirror to human beings as to who we really are. That is to say, they obviously have everything to do with our relationship to our mortality, to death, to our lives. They also reflect our relationships with the environment—the built environment that we create and the natural environment that responds. They show the moral relationships that we have toward each other as people, and we’re seeing that today.

That’s one of the great messages that the World Health Organization keeps discussing. The main part of preparedness to face these events is that we need as human beings to realize that we’re all in this together, that what affects one person anywhere affects everyone everywhere, that we are therefore inevitably part of a species, and we need to think in that way rather than about divisions of race and ethnicity, economic status, and all the rest of it.

Source: How Pandemics Change History | The New Yorker,

And then I came to visit my friends Carol and Mark. What a lovely friend was visiting … WHO, WHO?

Picture by Mark Fortenberry


2020 Lenten List –

Flowering Trees in Charlotte

* Brilliant magnolias, also known as saucer magnolias, tulip magnolias, or Mulan trees. …

* The showy redbud — a native plant you can see in the woods in early spring. …

* Dogwoods often look like pink or white clouds from a distance. …

* The black cherry, or wild cherry, makes a lovely contrast against broad, green leaves.


3.2.20 … “These religious trappings are pressed, sometimes awkwardly, into the service of L’Engle’s idiosyncratic brand of spirituality, which is layered with science and secular humanism and incorporates many personal quirks, including her use of the Hebrew-derived “El” as a name for God.”

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2020 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (6/40), 2020 Labyrinth Walks, MorningStar Lutheran Chapel-Mint Hill NC, 2020 Lenten Lists:

Today I will discuss Madeleine L’Engle.

Several years ago in a class, the leader asked people to list chronologically their images of God, beginning with their very first image as a child. This was my list:

Images of God

  1. Senior pastor at my childhood Presbyterian Church, Dr. Vernon Boyles
  2. A mysterious concept of time and time warped which I think I got from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time
  3. Love.
  4. Love in Motion and Relationship over eternity

As I entered the chapel’s grounds, I stopped and took a picture of the front of the chapel. I often miss the front because I circle around to the parking area on the other side. But today I just wanted to say hello to the lovely little chapel. I then parked and entered the graveyard where I saw and heard the chimes.

I spied the labyrinth, and it was kind of sad because it was gray and brown looking. There’s a good bit of moss in the boundaries but that moss has not turned bright green like some of the other labyrinths in Charlotte. I found that strange. One thing about the labyrinth here is that the graveyard always has flowers, seasonal fake flowers, but they make me smile. I hope that the families come visit frequently. It really is a lovely old graveyard.

There is a new Prayer Meditation Garden, and there there were several camellias blooming. And someone has put in a wind feature.

One of my favorite things about this labyrinth is the center area. It is large enough to force you to spend a little time there, and I like the etched morning star at the very middle. Today someone has moved one of the painted rocks from the side area to the center.

And as for number 2 above … God as revealed to me as an 8 year old through Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, a friend in my class sent me the article referenced below.

Source: Madeleine L’Engle’s Christianity | by Ruth Franklin | The New York Review of Books, ‪‬

These religious trappings are pressed, sometimes awkwardly, into the service of L’Engle’s idiosyncratic brand of spirituality, which is layered with science and secular humanism and incorporates many personal quirks, including her use of the Hebrew-derived “El” as a name for God. At the root of all her writing is her vision of Christianity as a religion of love. Her God is not the fearsome (in her interpretation) God of the Old Testament but the forgiving, welcoming Jesus. “What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension,” she writes in Penguins and Golden Calves, a book inspired by her journey, at age seventy-four, to Antarctica, where the purity of the landscape leads her to fulminate against the degradations she perceives in American culture—casual sex, pornography—and to reassert her credo:
To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because a tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God’s love, a love we don’t even have to earn.
It is through harnessing her own power to love that Meg must fight evil: love of her father (which needs only the slightest shift to be read as love of the Father) and love of her brother Charles Wallace, who is named for L’Engle’s own father, Charles Wadsworth Camp, and her father-in-law, Wallace Collin Franklin, to whom Wrinkle is jointly dedicated. The book is, essentially, a paean to fathers and children.

I guess I’m not the only one.

Blessings to all who tesser…


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.”


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,

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, 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:

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!



6.30.19 … persuasion and moss …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, MorningStar Lutheran Chapel – Mint Hill NC, 2019 Labyrinth Walks:

For the past few weeks, I have had more control over the remote in my house than I have ever had before (ET has moved to Denver). And I will admit that I have enjoyed it. I have been doing a Jane Austen themed film lit review. I’ve enjoyed her books since high school and the film adaptations are always good entertainment whether the adaptation is good or bad.

As a gift, I received a membership in the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). Last week, my first edition of their journal “Persuasions” arrived. I have brought it with me to the labyrinth today…

I sat and read in the new area with benches. Is it for the laying to rest of ashes in the garden?

On the labyrinth I noticed a collection of nuts, the sound of rushing water in the fountain, the dappled light, many noisy birds, the very old rock wall, red white and blue fake flowers on one of the graves.

There are airplanes flying overhead and flies and other flying insects down with me on the path …

And moss …



3.29.19 … “All joy emphasizes our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, and awakens desire. Our best havings are wantings.” – C S Lewis

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, MorningStar Lutheran Chapel – Mint Hill NC, 2019 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (24/40):

My day began with a Red Boot Way meeting: Elaine summarized it well, “A wonderful Red Boot Way meeting on Step 5: I am open. Sharing about the struggles to assume positive intent, the privilege of assuming positive intent, and the ground to be covered in between.”

And these thoughts followed me throughout my day.

What a treat! The big fountain was running today. And there was much more color in the garden today. The cherry trees were in bloom as were the gold forsythias …

In addition to the sound of rushing water, the chimes were making a very pleasant sound, a gentle ring. I do not usually hear sirens at this labyrinth, but today, I heard them in the distance. And since I last visited, quite a few people have brought flowers to decorate the graves.

At my last walk, I commented on how much I enjoy the old stone wall here. But as I was thinking during the last week, many such walls were built by slaves. And that changes my perspective on the beauty of the wall. I had never thought about who built such walls or any other structures until I visited Block Island, RI, and it was there that I was told the the many miles of stone walls were built by slaves. It actually shocked me. I looked up the history of this chapel and indeed the wall was probably built in the early 1800s, so possibly by slave labor.

“The church was first located nearly a mile east of the present church behind Dairs McCray’s, near Hoods Crossroad, in what is known as the Walter Abernathy pasture. The site is marked by the old cemetery. Names and dates from old slabs there: 1829-

M.E. Harkey and Polly Phifer – May 9, 1804. This graveyard still has part of the original rock wall, and it is quite large.”


I found this article very interesting: Survey of African American Buildings and Sites in Mecklenburg County: The African American Presence in the Mecklenburg County Built Environment, 1850-1950,

And here are a few additional thoughts for today. Several were found after researching C.S. Lewis after seeing the play about his “reluctant” conversion last weekend.

“Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned. The only friend to walk with is one who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared.”

― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Joy is a hallmark of the Christian faith. You are made for joy. You are made to find joy in Christ. Rejoicing should be as automatic and natural as breathing. Here are three thoughts from C.S. Lewis about joy:

“The whole of man is to drink joy from the fountain of joy.” (The Weight of Glory)

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.” (Letters to Malcolm)

“All joy emphasizes our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, and awakens desire. Our best havings are wantinegs.” (Letters)

The Psalms resound with joy. Psalm 100 is five short verses, with each phrase full of praise.

Psalm 103 is 22 verses of exuberant joy, and the reasons for that joy. Even if you are using our daily sermon resources that take you deep into the scripture, you may want to take 5 minutes and read Psalm 103. As you read that Psalm, be sure to notice the REASONS that David has for his joy and praise. As you see the reasons David provides, think about your own experience. Psalm 103 explains why you can flourish, rejoice, and be glad.

Here is one final word from Augustine on joy. It is a short prayer and confession of faith:

“I serve You and worship You, that I may be happy in You, to whom I owe that I am a being capable of happiness.”

If you are paying attention to previous words from Augustine, I hope you are understanding why he is the preeminent theologian of happiness.

Source: Psalms of Joy • Living Word Community Church,

“Your ways O Lord , make known to me, teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me” -Psalm 25 4-5

Joyfully and happily …



3.25.19 … tulip magnolia, redbud (or Cercis canadensis), dogwood (Cornus florida), cherry tree (Prunus caroliniana), aka Carolina cherry laurel, pear tree, often called a Bradford pear …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2019 Lenten Labyrinth Walks (19/40), MorningStar Lutheran Chapel-Mint Hill NC:

As I drove to the labyrinth, it began to get blustery, and the cemetery was a bit messy as I walked up. The flowering trees just jumped at me. I’m always amazed at the beauty of spring.

Since I met the brick mason at my last walk here, I immediately looked around to see the progress on the new prayer garden.

The birds were singing and the small birdbath/fountain was flowing.

The labyrinth itself was a big of a mess. It has not recovered from the heavy power washing to remove the crumbling boundary material. And the moss is either brown or sprouting.

I have an affinity for the very old rock walk …

I found some binoculars recently. I think I will put them in my car so that I can look for the birds I hear birds when I walk. I know there is an app that will tell me what the birds are. Bird calls are not one of my strong points…


Today’s list: Flowering trees in Charlotte

1. tulip magnolias

2. redbud (or Cercis canadensis)

3. dogwood (Cornus florida)

4. cherry tree (Prunus caroliniana), aka Carolina cherry laurel

5. pear tree, often called a Bradford pear


5.14.17 … enough said …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2017 Labyrinth Walks, Morning Star Lutheran Chapel, Mathews NC:

I had a few minutes for a walk with Albert. He actually tried to stay on the path.

Enough said.


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May 2020