Category Archives: People

“The Wonderer” (3rd stanza)

This is the third of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here.

Now, the third stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

What of the wonder of my Heart,
That plays so faithfully its part?
I hear it running sound and sweet;
It does not seem to miss a beat;
Between the cradle and the grave
It never falters, stanch and brave.
Alas! I wish I had the art
To tell the wonder of my Heart.

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Hearts at Faith United Church of Christ, February 2013. Photo: TLClark

The wonder of my Heart.  And your heart, too, for that matter.  Working unceasingly.  Beating dozens and dozens of time per minute, every minute of every hour of every day.  Moving blood – nutrients for life – throughout our bodies.

The wonder of big-hearted people.  Loving and generous and kind.  Forgiving and welcoming and encouraging.  Remembering all that is good.  Sharing nutrients for life throughout our communities.

The paper hearts pictured were part of the children’s message one Sunday in early February six years ago.  The scripture for the day was the great love chapter:  1 Corinthians 13.  I invited everyone in the congregation that day – young and old alike – to write something about love on a paper heart.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  – I Corinthians 13:4-8a  NRSV

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“The Wonderer” (2nd stanza)

This is the second of what I imagine to be several posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  You can read the whole poem hereThe first stanza and my first post is here.

Here’s the second stanza:

Then there’s the wonder of my Eyes,
Where hills and houses, seas and skies,
In waves of light converge and pass,
And print themselves as on a glass.
Line, form and color live in me;
I am the Beauty that I see;
Ah! I could write a book of size
About the wonder of my Eyes.

“The wonder of my Eyes.”  Being able to see.

The wonder of my mind’s eye.  Being able to see more than what is seen by the eye.

Looking.  Really seeing.  Appreciating the work of light, the wonder of how light works, the color and design that light reveals. 

And also imagining something more.  Envisioning something, as yet, unseen.

Look around – with your eyes or your mind’s eye.  What do you see?  Possibility?  Hope?  Beauty?  Love?

I have seven nephews and nieces (below).  Each unique and wonderful, seeing the world through their own eyes.  Each with his or her own particular personality and primary interests.  Each growing and learning and exploring the world.  Each beautiful (though the boys may prefer I say handsome).  Each loved – and loving – beyond measure.

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The eyes have it!

Or, in the picture below, his eyes say it.  It’s my favorite selfie with my beloved.  I just see love as he looks at me and, since his cancer diagnosis, I am beyond happy he is still around!

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August 2017. Photo: TLClark.

 

“The Wonderer” (1st stanza)

This is the first of what I imagine to be several posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  You can read the whole poem here.

Here’s the first stanza:

     I wish that I could understand
     The moving marvel of my Hand;
     I watch my fingers turn and twist,
     The supple bending of my wrist,
     The dainty touch of finger-tip,
     The steel intensity of grip;
     A tool of exquisite design,
     With pride I think: “It’s mine! It’s mine!”

Have you considered your hands lately? 

Take a look.  Finger.  Thumb.  Joint.  Palm.  Knuckle.  Notice the colors and the textures.  See the veins carrying blood, keeping you alive.  Are there scars, telling stories of mishaps or something more serious?  Is there jewelry, reminding you of precious vows or a special trip or a favorite person? 

Think about how you use your hands every day.  Marvelous, aren’t they?!!

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Who has held your hand, recently or long ago?  Whose hand have you held?  With love.  In friendship.  To pray.  To teach.  To reassure.  To connect.  To hold up.

“Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.”  – Psalm 37:24 NRSV

“Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.” – Psalm 73:23 NRSV

“…even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.” – Psalm 139:10 NRSV

May your hands be helpful today, to you and to others.  May they bring joy, offer comfort, spread kindness.  May they be a reminder that you are loved beyond measure.

Making Bread

My mother made bread in my childhood.  From scratch.  Using yeast, water, sugar, shortening, salt and flour.  I suspect it was to save money.

My father has taken up bread making in his retirement.  From scratch.  Apparently his first efforts fell a bit flat.  He’s learned to knead the dough more than he thought was needed.  He’ll tell you all about the science of it if you ask.

Mom says Dad makes bread like his mother did – by feel.  There was a recipe in the beginning.  Some experimentation.  Another recipe.  More experimentation.  Some research.  Now he adds an egg and sour cream.  The dough makes great cinnamon rolls; though it’s a bit unorthodox for dinner rolls.

Bread baking.  For the necessity of feeding the body.  For the joy of feeding the spirit.

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Dad with caramel rolls.  Photo:  TLClark.  12/2018

 

 

Advent: Included

Who knew the genealogies of Jesus (Matthew 1:2-17; Luke 3:23-28) would remain with me for more than a week?  When I began these Advent reflections I figured I’d write about the women included on Jesus’ family tree and move on.  I should have known better.  Lingering with a text, reading and rereading the words, and allowing my heart to wander and wonder over what I have read gives the Spirit space and time to reveal ways the ancient story connects to life today. If you haven’t read the earlier posts, see Advent: BlessingAdvent: Missing, and maybe even Advent: Where to begin?.Salmon extended family

Only five women are included in the ancestry of Jesus as recorded by Matthew (Luke names none).  Each is an outsider of sorts.  Three were certainly Gentile not Jew:  Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth.  One was married to an Hittite:  Bathsheba (aka the Wife of Uriah).  And then there’s Mary.  None are the usual daughter, wife, and mother.  Nevertheless they are remembered.

Every clan has members like them.  Individuals who don’t quite fit the mold but who make life more memorable.  Unique human beings who add texture to the family story.  Unexpected people with different points of view.

When we let them, they show us other ways of seeing the world.  They help us better understand the human condition.  They may even teach us how to love more deeply, laugh more often, or live more authentically.

I invite you to think about your extended family.  Not just the relatives by blood or formal adoption.  But also the friends who are often like family.  How have they enriched your life?

Look around again, perhaps beyond the circle of family you have named.  Who doesn’t fit the mold but could use an extra friend today?  Is there some small way you can include them this holiday season?

With gratitude for family, Teressa

Advent: Countdown to Christmas

‘Tis the season.  Christmas merchandise appeared on store shelves the day after Halloween.  Parades and football publicly marked Thanksgiving.  Black Friday, Small Merchant Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday have come and gone.  ‘Tis a countdown to Christmas.

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The church counts down in an entirely different way.  Four Sundays of Advent.  One candle lit today; one more to be lit each Sunday.  A call to pause, to reflect, to prepare, to wait, to remember, to look forward.  Celebrating Christmas comes later.

Behind the scenes, pastors and church staffs and volunteers have been getting ready for weeks: finding new readings for lighting candles on the Advent Wreath, choosing hymns and anthems appropriate for waiting and watching (and sneaking in a Christmas carol?), making plans for the annual children’s Christmas pageant, getting lists for the Giving Tree, decorating the sanctuary, and so much more.  I’m so grateful for their commitment and their good cheer in this crazy season of high expectations.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the Biblical Christmas story:  the people, the places, the creatures, the trips, the songs.  I’ve reread the stories as recorded in the gospels and started a list of questions and observations.

My goal this Advent is to go deeper into the stories, to take another look at what is told and what is left untold.  I plan to blog some of what I discover (or re-remember) along the way and hope you’ll join me for the journey.

Before we begin, I invite you to simply recall the story of Jesus’ birth – the setting, the characters, the words.   You’re welcome, of course, to turn to the gospel accounts.  But it’s certainly not required!

Until next time,  Teressa

Letter to Santa

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Written after reviewing the Iowa Public Radio’s Children’s Holiday Book Guide (click here to see it)

Dear Santa,

Please? Just one? I’ll let you choose.
One for every child, of whatever chronological age.
A book.

For fun.
For hope.
For growth.

To promote reading.
To encourage diversity.
To increase understanding.

I wanted to ask for one of each for me.
But that seemed greedy.
And I really do want everyone to have at least one.

Please.
Without checking the naughty and nice list.
A book for every child, of whatever chronological age.

Thank-you.

Love,
T.

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Thanksgiving Sunday Pastoral Prayer

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I’ll be preaching in a small country church tomorrow – country as you can only get there via gravel road, small as in maybe 50 total members with an average worship attendance of 15 or 20.  I’ve met a few of them in person and talked to two others on the phone (the organist and the one printing the bulletin).  In other words, I don’t know them so the pastoral prayer will be somewhat generic.  But it’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving and gratitude is never out of season.  Please join me in prayer.

PASTORAL PRAYER

Turning to God in prayer, I invite you to take a slow, deep breath.  In the silence, count your blessings and give thanks.  (silence)

Creator of Life, Giver of all good gifts,  having paused to count our blessings, we are amazed.  Thank-you.

Thank-you for the breath of life, the gift of birthdays, and for all who bear your image – the people around us, neighbors and strangers, nearby and far away; infants and children; teens and young adults;  those in the middle years of life; and those living their last days.

Thank-you for family and friends, for partners and encouragers in life’s journey.

Thank-you for love and laughter and even the tears that remind us of the most important thing:  we are all beloved – beloved by others, beloved by you.

Thank-you for land and sunshine and rain, for orchards and gardens and grain.

Thank-you for providing all that we need – food and drink, clothing and shelter, music and art, poetry and prose, rest and play and so much more.

Thank-you for the curious and the brave, for the imaginative and the practical, for hard workers and gentle spirits, for all who make your world – this earth – a good place to call home.

We are grateful to trust you with the concerns of our hearts and so we pray

for the people on the prayer chain…

for all dealing physical and mental illness and for those who love them…

for refugees fleeing for their lives, for immigrants seeking to survive, for individuals everywhere dreaming of a way to thrive…

for communities reeling from disaster – wildfire and tornado, flood and famine, hurricane and earthquake…

Holy One, send healing, send hope, send wisdom.  Use us as answers to our prayers.

We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Elevator Talk

img_2056.jpgFor the record, I prefer taking the stairs to riding an elevator – when my destination is just a floor or two away.

Also for the record, I believe in kindness.  I try to make eye contact and smile at strangers when in public places.  And when I’m taking the elevator I (gasp) talk to the other occupants.

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“What floor?” is the easy question when standing near the control panel and someone gets on the elevator.

The weather can be a good topic – especially when carrying an umbrella.

Remarking on what is being carried might work.

There are generally three reactions:

  1. Being ignored, sometimes preceded by a glance that says “you’re crazy.”  A cell phone in hand makes it really easy for the other to ignore you.
  2. Politeness even if a bit uncomfortable.  People raised with any kind of manners will give at least a half a smile and a simple response.
  3. Engagement, maybe with enthusiasm.  This response is my favorite.

“What floor?” the lady asked.

“Five,” we replied.

“Winner, winner chicken dinner!” she said.

“Are you cooking?” I asked.

She wasn’t sure about making fried chicken.  But told us she worked in a bakery and could certainly whip up something sweet.

The conversation didn’t last long.  It happened at least a month ago.  But it still makes me smile.

Welcomed

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While Elrond lived there, it was said “His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking, best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.”  – J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

My beloved  and I are on a road trip.  We spent three nights, two days with parents a week and a half ago.  We arrived at their home again yesterday.

Their friends call it the party house.  It’s just right for gatherings from four to twenty-four or maybe more.  Help yourself to food and drink.  If they know your preferences, the fridge and pantry will be stocked:  peanut butter, M&Ms, yogurt, tea, diet coke.

They freely share the password for high speed wifi and offer unlimited access to the washing machine and dryer.  Dad is glad to have you play in the wood shop with him.  Mom is eager to have you spend time in the quilting room with her.

Much love.  Good food.  Laughter.  Stories.  Pinochle (a card game).  Sleep.

We are blessed.

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