Monthly Archives: March 2019

A.A.Milne: The Island

Oregan Coast - 1

Cape Meares State Park, Oregon Coast. Photo: TLClark, October 2011.

“If I had a ship,” the poem “The Island” by A.A.Milne begins.  The first stanzas describe sailing the ship through the seas to a beach and leaving the ship to climb up the steep white sand to the trees.  It concludes:

And there would I rest, and lie,
My chin in my hands, and gaze
At the dazzle of sand below,
And the green waves curling slow,
And the grey-blue distant haze
Where the sea goes up to the sky . . . .

And I’d say to myself as I looked so lazily down at the sea;
“There’s nobody else in the world, and the world was made for me.”

A. A. Milne, “The Island,” in When We Were Very Young, Copyright, 1924, by E. P. Dutton, Copyright Renewal, 1952, by A. A. Milne.

On one hand, the last line seems selfishly self-centered.
On the other hand, it reminds me that we all do well to take time away in nature, to spend time alone, to rest, to gaze about, and to wonder.

Oregan Coast - green waves

Green waves, Pacific Ocean, Oregon Coast. Photo: TLClark, October 2011.

I didn’t (and don’t) have a ship, the pictures are not from or of an island, and the weather was too chilly to stay still long!  Nevertheless they are what I remembered when I read A. A. Milne’s poem.

Wherever you are and whatever the weather, may you take time to rest and to wonder!


Astoria Bridge - later afternoon

Astoria Bridge over the Columbia River, Astoria, OR. Photo: TLCLark, May 2010.

Lent.22: Cunning and Stealth

Palm Prints

Mark 14:1-2

It was two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and legal experts through cunning tricks were searching for a way to arrest Jesus and kill him. But they agreed that it shouldn’t happen during the festival; otherwise, there would be an uproar among the people.

Mark 14:1-2, Common English Bible (c) 2011

The religious authorities are so afraid of Jesus (Mark 11:18), they plot to kill him.

They are so afraid of the crowd (Mark 12:12), they keep the plans secret.

Any time we find ourselves in the middle of doing something by cunning and stealth we should pause to consider our true motive.  A surprise celebration may be one thing, but plots and secrets we do not want made public are quite another.

Jesus lived with integrity and transparency.  Seems a reliable role model to me.

-Teressa Clark, 2012, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 22


Lent.21: Be Alert

Palm Prints

Mark 13:32-37

“But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven and not the Son. Only the Father knows. Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming. It is as if someone took a trip, left the household behind, and put the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, and told the doorkeeper to stay alert. Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak. Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!”

Mark 13:32-37, Common English Bible (c) 2011

“Be a lert,” read the poster in Aunt Clara’s bedroom, “the world needs more lerts.”  (groan)

Pay attention.  Notice your neighbor.

Be compassionate.  Be kind.  Make decisions for the welfare of all.

Whatever your task in the body of Christ, the household of God, the neighborhood you call home, do your job well.  Make it your best effort.  Do it with intention, with thoughtfulness, with prayer.

Lest you think this is a command to work 24/7/365, I caution you to remember that even Jesus rested.

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 21


Lent.20: Lesson

Palm Prints

Mark 13:28-31

“Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that he’s near, at the door. I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.”

Mark 13:28-31, Common English Bible (c) 2011

Jesus’ word will not pass away.  What he taught through word and action will not disappear.  His death on a cross did not erase what he had done.  The crucifixion could not kill the living word that had taken root in Jesus’ first disciples.  His resurrection led to stories of Jesus being told over and over and over again.  Jesus’ word continues to take root in every generation, in times and places utterly foreign to first century Palestine.  Faithful to the end, Jesus shows us how to live faithfully.

So, I wonder, what words of Jesus remain close to your heart?  Which stories are rooted in your very being, giving life?

-Teressa Clark, 2012, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 20


Photo Challenge: Rock

Rock.  And not rock.  Because, of course, seeing a fake rock is ever so much better than seeing utility connections.

IMG_2266 (2)

Rock and Not Rock.  Photo: TLClark, 3/26/19.

Rock.  And water.  And a rock retaining wall of sorts.  The little neighborhood stream – which isn’t always so little – goes under the street, through the Woodland Reserve pond and into Fourmile Creek.  The fire hydrant in the top left corner tickles my fancy for some inexplicable reason.  (The pile of snow near the hydrant might be hard as rock but it will melt away one of these days.)

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Neighborhood Stream.  Photo: TLClark, 3/26/19.

Rock.  On a beach, nearly six months ago, some 2000 miles from home.  Ever so much more interesting than what I saw last Tuesday.

Rock on Beach - Seattle

Rocks. Golden Gardens Park (on Puget Sound), Seattle, Washington.  Photo: TLClark, 10/7/18.

Another great Tuesday Photo Challenge from Dutch goes the Photo!

Lent.19: Those Times

Palm Prints

Mark 13:24-27

“In those days, after the suffering of that time, the sun will become dark, and the moon won’t give its light.  The stars will fall from the sky, and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then they will see the Human One[a] coming in the clouds with great power and splendor. Then he will send the angels and gather together his chosen people from the four corners of the earth, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven.

[a] Or Son of Man

Mark 13:24-27, Common English Bible (c) 2011

In the hardest of times,

when it is so dark we cannot see,

when there are dozens of questions

and no good answers,

when a situation has us so trapped

we can see no way out,

when things just cannot get worse,

Jesus sends an angel – a messenger – our way.

A door opens,

an answer emerges,

a glimmer of light appears.

Somehow we are reminded

that we are not alone;

God is with us.

And we are able

to turn the door handle,

to hear the answer to our most difficult question,

to see just enough to move forward.

-Teressa Clark, 2012, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 19


Lent.18: Escape

Palm Prints

Mark 13:14-23

“When you see the disgusting and destructive thing standing where it shouldn’t be (the reader should understand this), then those in Judea must escape to the mountains. Those on the roof shouldn’t come down or enter their houses to grab anything. Those in the field shouldn’t come back to grab their clothes. How terrible it will be at that time for women who are pregnant and for women who are nursing their children. Pray that it doesn’t happen in winter. In those days there will be great suffering such as the world has never before seen and will never again see. If the Lord hadn’t shortened that time, no one would be rescued. But for the sake of the chosen ones, the ones whom God chose, he has cut short the time.

“Then if someone says to you, ‘Look, here’s the Christ,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. False christs and false prophets will appear, and they will offer signs and wonders in order to deceive, if possible, those whom God has chosen. But you, watch out! I’ve told you everything ahead of time.

Mark 13:14-23, Common English Bible (c) 2011

“Be sure to pack an emergency kit,” the weather folk repeated over and over again in February.  If you must leave the house you should have blankets, food and bottled water in the car; winter boots and warm clothes, a flashlight, jumper cables and a shovel are also a good idea.  I sincerely hope that by the time you read this the snow has melted away, slick roads are but a memory, and there has been minimal flooding.

The admonition is, as every Scout knows, to be prepared.

Blizzard. Tornado. Flood. Earthquake. Tsunami. Hurricane. Fire. Volcanic eruption.

Be ready to flee.

Mark is probably not talking about natural disaster. The “disgusting and destructive thing” is likely to be related to the destruction of the temple near the time the gospel was written.

Nevertheless, sometimes the right action is leave.  As Kenny Rogers sings, “You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 18


Lent.17: Speak Out

Palm Prints

Mark 13:9-13

“Watch out for yourselves. People will hand you over to the councils. You will be beaten in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me so that you can testify before them. First, the good news must be proclaimed to all the nations. When they haul you in and hand you over, don’t worry ahead of time about what to answer or say. Instead, say whatever is given to you at that moment, for you aren’t doing the speaking but the Holy Spirit is. Brothers and sisters will hand each other over to death. A father will turn in his children. Children will rise up against their parents and have them executed. Everyone will hate you because of my name. But whoever stands firm until the end will be saved.

Mark 13:9-13, Common English Bible (c) 2011

Reading the words “when they haul you in” made me think of the Rev. Jim Antal.  In his book Climate Church, Climate World he argues for “civil disobedience as a spiritual practice.” [1] While admitting not everyone is called to be arrested, he is adamant that we all must end our dependence on fossil fuels and work together to address climate change.  It is a justice issue – climate change amplifies all forms of injustice.  It is a moral act, an extension of what he calls Golden Rule 2.0 – to love our neighbors ourselves and to “recognize that future generations are no less our neighbors than those who live next door today.”[2]  And, yes, he’s been arrested and spent time in jail.

Look around.  What injustice do you see?  For the health and well-being of your neighbor, are you ready to speak up, to speak out?  If not, what is holding you back?

[1] Jim Antal, Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), “An Alban Institute book,” 142-144, 164

[2] Ibid, 58.

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 17


A. A. Milne: Daffodowndilly

daffodil 1

Daffodils, Reiman Gardens, 5/4/18.  Photo: TLClark.


She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,

She wore her greenest gown;

She turned to the south wind

And curtsied up and down.

She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbour:

“Winter is dead.”

A.A.Milne, in When We Were Very Young, Copyright, 1924 by E. P. Dutton, Copyright Renewal, 1952, by A. A. Milne

Daffodil group

Daffodils, Reiman Gardens, 5/4/18.  Photo: TLClark.

Daffodil season is a month or more away here in central Iowa.  But I read the A. A. Milne poem the other day and couldn’t resist sharing.  The pictures are from an outing last spring to Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University, Ames (click here to discover Reiman Gardens).  The bright yellow makes me smile despite the overcast, rainy, gray day out my window this morning.

daffodils double (2)

Double Daffodils, Reiman Gardens, 5/4/18.  Photo: TLClark.

Have a beautiful day!


Lent.16: Watch

Palm Prints

Mark 13:5-8

Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many people will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the one!’ They will deceive many people. When you hear of wars and reports of wars, don’t be alarmed. These things must happen, but this isn’t the end yet. Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other, and there will be earthquakes and famines in all sorts of places. These things are just the beginning of the sufferings associated with the end.

Mark 13:5-8, Common English Bible (c) 2011

This passage makes me think of Grandma Mary.  There was a time when every earthquake and every rumor of famine raised her expectation that Jesus was coming back very, very soon and she could hardly wait.  Curiously, now that she’s 94, she’s hoping to live to be 100.  It seems earthquakes and famines are less about Jesus coming back and more about having another reason to pray.

What if, in the middle of the upheaval, chaos, or uncertainty in our own lives we begin to watch for something new, maybe even something better?  After all, an end has a way of clearing the way for the new.

-Teressa Clark, 2019

Lenten Reflections 2019:  Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 16