Dec 5 2014

Friday Florilegium

Silent Heart-Sulamith Wulfing

 

O break my heart; but break it as a field
Is by the plough up-broken for the corn;
O break it as the buds, by green leaf seated,
Are, to unloose the golden blossom, torn;
Love would I offer unto Love’s great Master,
Set free the odor, break the alabaster.

O break my heart; break it victorious God,
That life’s eternal well may flash abroad;
O let it break as when the captive trees,
Breaking cold bonds, regain their liberties;
And as thought’s sacred grove to life is springing,
Be joys, like birds, their hope, Thy victory singing.

Thomas Toke Lynch (1818-1871)

jesus-feet

While Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head.

But some were there who said to one another in anger, ‘Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.’

And they scolded her.

But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her?…

She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’

–Mark 14:3-9

Friday Florilegium 1

 

 

I’m joining with my friend Kimberlee sharing quotes and book reviews. She writes:

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Feb 2 2014

Candlemas

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word: For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel. – Luke 2:29-32

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Gloucester Cathedral Boy’s Choir – Credit unknown

I love candles, so a day on the church calendar dedicated to the blessing of candles and the celebration of Light holds a special place in my liturgical heart.

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Before there was Groundhog Day, there was (and still is) Candlemas, also known as The Presentation of Jesus (when Simeon and Anna meet Jesus in the temple, Luke 2:22-40).

presentation Bénédite de la Roncière

On the church calendar, February 2nd is 40 days after Jesus’ birth, at which time, according to the Law of Moses, a first-born son would be consecrated to God.

Presentation of the Lord

The final day of Epiphanytide, February 2nd is also the half-way point between the Winter Solstice and the beginning of Spring.

fra-angelico-presentation-of-jesus-in-the-temple

The day receives it name because all the candles to be used in worship for the next 12 months were gathered at the church and blessed, a tradition dating back to the 11th century. This practice is still observed at St James Cathedral, Seattle, and many churches around the world.

Candle Church

Candle Church – credit unknown

Traditionally, candles are lit in the windows of homes on Candlemas evening; in France, people celebrate La Chandeleur by eating crepes by candlelight; and in Mexico, Dia de la Candaleriais celebrated with tamales and hot chocolate. Yum!

The Blessings of the Light of the World be with you today and always!


Jun 12 2012

Practicing Thirst

One of my good friends has a life practice of reading and reflecting for a year on the Isaiah chapter that coincides with her age. I love that idea. Admittedly, I don’t really understand much of Isaiah–oh, there’s awesome parts like the burning coal passage in Isaiah 6 (though, can I just say, Ouch!), or Isaiah 40:31 about eagles and renewing our strength by waiting for God, or the Christ passages in chapter 42, or the calling of the teacher “to sustain the weary with a word” in Isaiah 50:4, or my all time favorite “Ho, everyone who thirsts come to the waters…” of Isaiah 55, or the call to ministry with the poor in Isaiah 58.

Okay. Isaiah is amazing. But I, either from a misperception of the rest of Isaiah (which God will remedy, I’m sure) or a real leading of the Spirit, I decided to meditate each year on the psalm according to my age.

Psalm 42. (And yes, there was a brief instant of, do I really want to put my age out there?)

I made the decision to do this before reading the psalm and was stunned by how perfectly it captured my experience of prayer this year. (A good sign that God pointed me to the psalm.)

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. –Psalm 42:1-5 KJV

I’m using the King James version because the language forces me to stop and think through the text more deeply. It’s also beautiful to read aloud, something that can enliven scripture.

(Try it sometime, if you find scripture uninteresting. Speaking the Word aloud is akin to proclamation and we are promised that “God’s Word does not return void.” Oh, right, that’s another cool Isaiah passage, 55:11.)

Reading between the lines of some of my posts, you may have picked up on the tears, transitions, and general turmoil during these past months as I (and many others) deal with job-hunting and downsizing, alongside discerning some difficult ministry decisions and dissertation writing in a world where higher ed has become a huge question mark.

The line “My tears have been my meat” made me laugh and cry at the same time when I first read it because it captured my experience so completely. I felt God saying, See, I do listen.

As I continued to read, the old praise chorus played in my mind, “As the deer panteth for the water, so my so longeth after thee O God.” When I glibly sang it in my twenties, I didn’t understand.  Longing for God seemed so romantic and epic, and fit my long-skirts, long-contemplative-walks all-for-God persona. I had zero compassion for the deer.

Reading it now, it hit me painfully:  Panting is unpleasant. Thirsting, even in KJV language, is not epic, it’s uncomfortable.

I feel sorry for the deer. Imagine the last time you were parched on a hot day and knew water was not readily available.

I think of West Texas in the summer, where my parents live, with temperatures over 100 degrees and a horizontal hair-dryer wind. After a few moments of walking in that sun, this Seattleite wilts. Dusty mouth. Dry eyes. Weary limbs. My usual dislike of water transforms into desperate need.

At the beginning of this year, I begged for a sense of God’s presence. I remembered how it used to be years ago, as the psalmist does in verse 4, how prayer and worship was easier and more joyful back in the day (whenever that was). I wanted that again. Now.

God used this psalm to reveal that, first, I was thirsty, desperately so, and that all my tears and nostalgia prayers were an expression of that thirst.

And second, he revealed that I needed to stay thirsty for awhile. God was not going to take it away, at least not immediately, and then never completely, this side of heaven.

It is so easy to reach for distraction–media, internet, smartphone, facebook, work, relationships, even worship, when it’s focused more on the experience, not on God.  We often expect all our interactions with God to be sweet and peaceful, and take away any discomfort. But the danger is that we stop looking to God as the Lord and Almighty Other with whom we are in relationship, but a good-feelings vending machine. We can forget that we are travelers and that this current experience of life cannot be completely satisfying.

Thirsting for God is only quenched by one thing–one Person–God himself, and everything else that offers to quench that thirst, as good as it may be, will only make the heart sick if it’s put in God’s place.

It’s like a dehydrated person drinking only salt water.

Staying with the thirst helps us discern what’s really going on. It reveals our coping mechanisms.  It’s teaches patience and grace with our human relationships and circumstances. It helps us to not react unwisely in an effort to find relief. It inspires compassion for the thirstiness of those around us and around the globe.

But just as our bodies need water, so do our spirits.

Thirst invites us to follow our thirst back to God and allow God to quench our thirst.

The choices involved in my moving, taking on a new ministry responsibility and saying no to others, trusting God for job, living situation, and finances, and focusing on the writing, brought me to a place where I asked myself verse 3’s question, Where is your God? I realized I couldn’t do it on my own, that I needed–thirsted–for God to show up, any way He wanted. I wasn’t going to dictate how anymore, in nostalgia for the good ol’ days, that worship would be a great experience, that prayer would be renewing, that I’d enjoy writing.

Just show up, God. Please.

And oh my, He has!

The promise: God is the living water and all our thirsts will be quenched in him.

“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters!” (Isaiah, of course, 55:1)

What are you thirsting for? Stay with it and look for God to show up.


Jan 27 2012

Friday Florilegium

For this week’s Florilegium, here is a stunning time-lapse video of Yosemite’s beauty.

(Please click the pause button on Music for Dreaming to the right  before watching!)  >>>

 

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained–What are we, that thou art mindful of us? –Ps 8:3-4

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth God’s handywork. –Ps 19:1

God telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. –Ps 147:4


Oct 16 2011

{Day 16} Sabbath

Psalm 84 (Amplified)

1HOW LOVELY are Your tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!

2My soul yearns, yes, even pines and is homesick for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out and sing for joy to the living God.

3Yes, the sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young–even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

4Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long.

5Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the one whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

6Passing through the Valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings.

7They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion.

8O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob!

9Behold our shield [the king as Your agent], O God, and look upon the face of Your anointed!

10For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather be a doorkeeper and stand at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell [at ease] in the tents of wickedness.

11For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

12O Lord of hosts, blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the one who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]!


Oct 3 2011

{Day 3} Noticing Thankfulness

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What is a memory for which you are grateful?

Take a moment to put yourself back into the memory, see the colors, hear the sounds, feel the emotions attached to the recollection.

Be there, just for an instant, stretch your imagination back to that moment. Breathe in the thoughts and feelings.

A precious memory I have is from when I was 8 or 9.  My family was living in Kentucky, at Ft Knox. If you are familiar with the area, you know that there are many little civil war cemeteries in the most unusual places. Some are forgotten in forests or sit lonely on top of hills. My dad and I loved to go on walks or bike rides together, exploring, and we’d pour over local maps to find these hidden pieces of history.

One of these little collections of stone monuments sat on top of a hill, right above the Kentucky Fried Chicken. The tallest obelisk poked out from tall grasses and my little historian imagination would go wild every time we drove past.

The problem was getting to it.

Kentucky wasn’t a place you went treading in grass above your head. Critters of the slithering kind were often minding their own business there. But I was not deterred, pestering my dad repeatedly, until one day, he agreed and we forged our way up the steep slope and unkempt path back in time to the 19th century.

The cemetery was small, less than 10 monuments, worn with weather and years. I was thrilled. The forgottenness of the place just made it more mysterious and separate from the commercial strip below.

And that my dad was willing to take me still makes me smile. I am grateful for this, one of many wonderfully clear memories of my dad’s love.

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Three years ago, I stumbled upon Ann Voscamp’s A Holy Experience blog where she challenges her readers to count gratitudes to 1000 and beyond, small and large. Since then, thankfulness has changed my life and my relationships. When I want to enter deeply into the present moment, especially with people close to me, I count gratitudes. Alongside paying attention, it is one of the foundations of contemplative living and makes any moment a moment of  worship.

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journal

When we look for what we are thankful, our hearts expand, hope is near, and love over-flows. We stop consuming life and start living it, with and through the presence of God.

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Practice: Write down 5 things you are grateful for. Not what you think you should be grateful for, but the people, places, memories, sights, smells, sounds, feelings, that make your heart and mind sing, “Oh, yes, thank you God!” I’d love to hear what’s on your list.

And visit Ann’s blog for some printables to start your own list of 1000 gifts.

31 Days



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