Category Archives: Family

“Whatever Happens”

Forest. Soft Pastels Drawing by Teressa L. Clark.

A poem for these times from Wendell Berry.

Whatever happens,
those who have learned
to love one another
have made their way
into the lasting world
and will not leave,
whatever happens.

– Wendell Berry, 1998 I, in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected & New 1979-2013 (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2013), 183.

The note I wrote in the margin is “love one another.” It’s the new commandment Jesus gave after washing the disciple’s feet.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

– John 13:34-35, NRSV

Today I’d circle the phrase “whatever happens.” The pandemic has made life seem surreal. A month ago my best beloved said, “We are living in a science fiction story.” He’s right. Whatever happens isn’t likely to be what we might have expected two months ago.

I wonder…
Are we learning to better love one another?
Are we discovering the lasting world?
Have we experienced love that will not leave?

Whatever happens, dear friends, may you know you are loved.
And may you make your way into the lasting world.

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Note about the illustration: We have been doing art (or maybe just playing) with colored pencils, watercolor, soft pastels or acrylic paints every Tuesday and Thursday since social distancing and stay-at-home orders started. But not on our own! We’re following Facebook Live Instructional Art Videos by Paula Rotshafer. Look for The Creative Quarantine public group on Facebook or click here.

Photo Challenge – Animals

Clyde says Hello. Photo: TLClark, 2/14/2020.

My quilting friend across the street has two cats – Bonnie & Clyde. Clyde nearly always greets me at the door; the one time I had a camera with me he was much more interested in what I had in my hand than in having his picture taken (above). Bonnie typically ignores me but had just enough curiosity to sit up to see what was going on (below).

Bonnie. Photo: TLClark, 2/14/2020.

My sister’s family also has a Bonnie & Clyde. Not cats, though. Dogs.

Clyde & Bonnie. Photo: TLClark, 10/27/2019.

All the dogs at that house are loved, but the favorite is clearly the English Bulldog. I was taking pictures of my nieces and nephews last fall when one of them insisted I take a picture of Gus.

Gus. Photo: TLClark, 6/9/2019.

So there you have it – a few pictures of animals that are keeping some of my favorite people company during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted in response to this week’s Tuesday Photo Challenge.

Photo Challenge: Connect

Clasp of Bracelet. Photo: TLClark, 3/27/2020.

There are so many ways to take the Tuesday Photo Challenge of connect this week! I finally settled on a piece of jewelry. Every time I wear it – or even just see it – I am reminded of love and laughter and relationships that persist across time and place.

We were all together for Thanksgiving about eight years ago. Tanya had an empty bracelet chain for each female in the clan. And dozens and dozens of beads.

Beads. Photo: TLCLark, 3/25/2020.

One by one Tanya handed each of us two or three specially chosen beads that said something about our connection, our interests, our family. She then instructed us to choose as many additional beads as we wanted to fill out our bracelets.

I picked glass beads based on my favorite color and how they would match the PROSTATE CANCER RIBBON bead Tanya had given me to honor my husband.

Glass Beads. Photo: TLClark, 3//27/2020.

Those who know me will easily guess the meanings of some beads.

  • CROSS – I’m an ordained minister.
  • SIS – Tanya is my sister.
  • TEAPOT – My husband and I drink tea (not coffee).
  • BELLS – I have a bell collection.

The CAROLERS take me back to my childhood. We looked forward to Christmas caroling as a family every year. Dad would instigate it. Mom would have treats prepared (with help from the kids!). All five of us would go because it was a family thing. We would stop at friends’ homes, sing a carol or two, and invite them to join us. More often than not, they would drop what they’d been doing and go along. At the end of the evening everyone gathered around the fireplace at our house with mugs of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies in hand.

In this time of physical distancing, may you find ways to connect with others (a phone call? a text? an e-mail? a card?). And may you be reminded of love and laughter and relationships that persist across time and place.

Musing: Worship in the Time of COVID-19

Sunday Morning Sun on Roses. Photo: TLClark, 3/15/2020.

The roses had graced the kitchen table for more than a week.
On Sunday they became altar flowers.

In this time of physical social distancing
and with a householder in a high-risk category,
we opted to worship God at home.

Come, let’s sing out loud to the LORD!
Let’s raise a joyful shout to the rock of our salvation!
Let’s come … with thanks!
Lets shout songs of joy…!

Psalm 91:1-2, Common English Version

There were plenty of options to watch worship.
But I opted to create something a bit more hands-on.
(It might have something to do with the ministerial training in me.)

After Worship, 3/15/2020. Photo: TLClark.
  • SINGING using a keyboard and the songbook Songs & Prayers from Taize;
  • READING from a Bible, the Revised Common Lectionary passages for the day (can be found online at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library);
  • PRAYING for others using an intercessory prayer from The New Century Hymnal;
  • LISTENING and humming, and singing along to the “Lord of Light” CD by the St. Louis Jesuits (Bob Dufford, S.J.; John Foley, S.J.; Tim Manion; Roc O’Connor, S.J.; and Dan Schutte);
  • and PRAYING as the Spirit led with paper and colored pencils.
John Praying with Colored Pencils. Photo: TLClark, 3/15/2020.

But the time is coming–and is here!–
when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:23a, Common English Bible

In ordinary times we gather on Sunday morning with other Christians.
For now, this works.

Be well, Friends.

Please wash your hands
and keep a physical distance from others.

And, if it’s in your spirituality, offer a prayer today for patients and their families,
for the the many, many people working to care for those who are sick,
for researchers and lab workers,
for decision makers,
and for everyone who’s regular routine has been upended.

Photo Challenge – Rest

Rest: the silence in music that makes the music music.

Rest and Rhythm. Photo: TLClark, 2/8/2020.

Rest: asleep, safe and secure.

Rest in Grandpa’s Arms. Photo: TLClark, 9/25/2019.

Rest: quilts made with love and a prayer for sweet dreams.

Pick a Quilt! Photo: TLClark, 2/8/2020.

Rest: relaxing with feet up.

Fuzzy Feet Resting. Photo: TLCLark, 2/8/2020.

Rest: eternal peace.

Rest in Peace. Photo: TLClark, 9/27/2019.

Posted in Response to Tuesday Photo Challenge – Rest by Dutch Goes the Photo!

Musing: Named

Christmas Bouquet. Photo: TLClark, 12/22/19.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet;

– William Shakespeare, from Romeo and Juliet

My birth certificate, my driver’s license, and every legal document I’ve ever signed show my name is Teressa. But when I’m with family, I’m rarely called by that name.

“… you will call him Jesus … “

“… they will call him Emmanuel …”

from Matthew 1:21 & 23

Jesus is the name given to the baby whose birth Christians celebrate this time of year. But it’s not the only name he is called.

In the novels of The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. LeGuin each character has a name known and used by others. But each also has a “true name” known to very few.

The names we use for one another matter. They carry connections to particular people. They may recall a specific place (my Girl Scout camp counselor name was “Louie”). They might speak to a season of life (nicknames of athletes on a sports team).

Names can be used to build up or tear down, as an endearment or a taunting, for expressing affection or ridicule.

Beloved, may you be called by name today – a name that strengthens your spirit and brings a smile to your face. And may every name you use for another be a word of encouragement.

Photo Challenge: Common

Pincushion and Scissors. Photo: TLClark, 12/17/19.

Once upon time – when I was but a child – my mother had common sewing tools. I have similar tools today: a red pincushion and a pair of orange-handled fabric scissors. Those who own fabric scissors share a common rule: THOU SHALT NOT USE THE FABRIC SCISSORS ON PAPER (OR ANY OTHER NON-FABRIC MATERIAL).

When my mother started quilting, her tool kit expanded. I have followed her lead, becoming a quilter and acquiring modern tools of the trade.

Common Tools for Quilters. Photo: TLClark, 12/17/19.

Common quilter’s tools include:

  • Cutting mat (background), rotary cutter (bottom left), and specialty rulers (three shown);
  • Thread in neutral colors;
  • Long, thin pins on a magnetic pin holder;
  • Small pair of scissors;
  • and a good seam ripper (for un-sewing, sometimes called Jack).

Q: What is the difference between a beginning quilter and an experienced quilter?
A: The experienced quilter keeps her seam ripper handy.


I used most of the tools – plus a few others – earlier today making quilted Christmas cards.

Quilted Christmas Cards. Photo: TLClark, 12/17/19.

Posted in response to this week’s Tuesday Photo Challenge: “… it might be interesting to go for something rather Common… Whether it is the every day, common object or the things that you have in common, or crossing the town common.”

Candy Dish

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On the left:  Dad’s latest gizmo.
On the right:  Grandma’s candy dish.

My father fills his candy dispenser with jelly beans.
His mother always had lemon drops in her dish.

The candy dispenser arrived in the mail a month ago.
Mom rescued the candy dish at a garage sale after Grandma Marion died.

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We always have m&m’s at our house.  They’re my husband’s favorite. When I’ve tried keep lemon drops in Grandma’s dish, the candy becomes a sticky blob.

Whatever is in it, I remember visiting Grandma Marion on my to and from college.  Columbus was about half way between Baker and Missoula.  Sometimes I’d spend the night on her coach; sometimes she just fed me lunch.  By that time she was on oxygen 24/7 – cigarettes have a way of ruining lung function.  She still worked her crossword puzzles, kept a few plants, and would liked to have gone fishing on Yellowstone River.

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Turn the knob, get a treat.  Or not.  This was Dad’s first attempt at making a candy dispenser and it tends to jam.  So sometimes you have to tip it or shake it or both;  he says he has now perfected the design.  Not matter, it’s still fun.

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Photo Challenge: Technology

Last week when Frank’s photo challenge was connections I thought about posting this picture of yesteryear:  an old rotary dial telephone.  It might be old technology but it still worked when I noticed it several years ago!IMG_1045

My mom has talked to her mom on the telephone at least once a week for as long as I can remember.  She used to give strict instructions whenever one of us kids went into the Post Office to get the mail:  leave the phone bill in the mailbox if Dad was in the car.  (We lived in a small town where everyone got their mail at the Post Office.)  Long-distance phone calls added up but she managed the money and always made ends meet!

As a college student I talked to my parents by telephone every Sunday morning.  I’d “one-ring” them from the dorm by calling home and letting it ring just once.  They’d call back immediately.  It was the cheapest way to have a phone conversation.  For years I thought it was Mom who wanted to talk; then one day I was with them when Dad asked Mom to call my sister so HE could talk.DSC01731 (3)The rotary dial was replaced by buttons but the phone was still plugged into a wall socket and still had a twisty, twirly phone cord!  As teens we’d stretch the phone cord as far as we possibly could to get around the corner from the kitchen for a more private conversation!

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My husband and I entered the cordless phone age when we moved into a house with very few phone jacks.  At least two houses later – and in an era where landlines are going away – we still use a set of cordless phones.  Every once in a while the question “where’s the phone?” comes up.

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I resisted cell phones until going away for two weeks of continuing education a dozen years ago.  My husband still uses an old flip phone – although we’ve been talking about getting him an upgrade!  Meanwhile I have a semi-smart cell phone which works just fine for phone calls and text messages; in a pinch I can use it to check my email.

My mom now talks to her mom via telephone every other day or so.  I usually talk to my parents a couple times a week.  When Dad wants to talk he’ll phone (or ask Mom to call) and suggest visiting via Skype.  Being able to see each other while talking means he can show off the latest creation from his wood shop or Mom’s sewing room.

Communications technology.  What will they think of next?

Love does not … Love does …

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Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  – 1 Corinthians 13:5b-8a  NRSV

Love insists that every way be loving.  A person acting with love – living love’s way – will not insist on his or her own way.  Usually.  Particularly when the other options available are expressions of love.  But sometimes love means speaking up or speaking out or speaking against a way that is not loving.

Love does not believe all things.  Especially if we are talking about believing everything you hear or everything you read.  Real love believes the best about another, looks for the good, seeks out the inspiring.  True love harbors doubts about second-hand stories and rumors that in any way disparage another; love grieves when such stories and rumors are accurate.

Even if we are talking about believing as giving our heart to and orienting our lives toward, then love still does not believe all things.  Love believes – sets its heart on and orients its life toward – all things life giving.

When one is treated without love in the name of love – say, being beaten or belittled or isolated or controlled – love does not bear it or endure it or simply hope for better.  Love leaves.

When you share life – in all its glorious messiness – with one who truly supports you and wants only the best for you, who would do anything to see you smile or hear you laugh, who can sit in the silence with you when there are no words and share your tears in the midst of the heart-wrenching, then love does indeed bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.  Whether parent or partner or friend, that kind of love that never ends.

May you love and be loved in all ways life giving.