Saturday, May 1, 2021

Hammock time and Haiku

Today's search for hammock time created restlessness for me. I started off to head to the Soddy lake to a picnic area on a peninsula.  I was stopped on the hill by a train on the tracks. It isn't unusual for this road. However, when the line lengthens behind you and those in front of you turn around to seek other paths, you begin to question how long the train will remain. I decided to do as many had done and turned around and left. Based on the train that I saw further down the tracks where I crossed, I would have been waiting a long while. I got onto the highway and continued to my destination. There were families with kids in the water, people in kayaks, and hardly any space for a hammock that would be peaceful. 

Because I figured that a go-to spot on the creek would be crowded on such a beautiful day, I decided on a tiny TVA park I had seen years ago, near the "stacks". There was only one other vehicle when I arrived and another person walking a dog. 

I found a spot between two trees and settled in. I wrote this Haiku:

Hammock time in trees.
Breezes. Birds. View of water.
Calms my restless soul.
[DD, 5/1/21]

I watched the leaves dance in the breezes and listened to the birds sing. I noticed a sign on a tree that marked a trail. I could not find any information about the trail.

A book that was recommended in the spiritual direction cohort came today: Mark Nepo's Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred.

I read the cover and saw that Rev. Ed Bacon had a quote on the back. That made me smile. He was one of my rectors at my home church in Dalton, GA-- St. Mark's Episcopal.

I read through the other quotes and noted Parker Palmer. He impacted my teaching when I heard him at a language conference years ago.  

I read through the quotes slowly and then the introduction.  I can already tell that this book is going to be one of those that reads you more than you read it. 

I write from the hammock and have a great sense of peace. 

The view of the water and the continued breezes continue to relax and refresh me.

The adventurous journey continues.


Rev. Deb

Monday, April 26, 2021

Iris blooms and a Haiku

The first photo is what I saw this morning.  The second one is what I saw just now.  It bloomed today. The iris bloomed. These irises are slower than all the others in the neighborhood and maybe others you have already seen bloom. Yet, they are budding and blooming. In their time. For whatever reason they are not in synch with all the others. As I reflected this morning,  I thought about how I move in different ways and paces too. My growth is not always at the same time as others. It's okay. My thoughts in Haiku form:

Faithful.  Regardless. 
Listening. Following One Voice. 
Audience of One. [DD, 4-26-21]

Though I may not always follow the One Voice well nor listen well, that is my heart's desire.  

May we allow each other the space of grace to be and to grow and bloom as intended. 


Rev. Deb

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Psalm 97 reflection

In yesterday's Simple Presence with my spiritual direction cohort, Psalm 97 by Nan Merrill was shared.  There was much in it that caught my attention, yet what became the focus for me in the silence became a Haiku. 

I wrote: 

Hardened hearts open
Heaven delights over this 
We are welcomed home
[DD, 4/12/21]

This came from 2 different sections of the Psalm, verses 8 and 9. 

1st-- "Heaven delights and rejoices when a hardened heart breaks open and recognizes Love's ever-patient Presence abiding within."

2nd--"For you, O Beloved, encompass and bless all the earth; You forgive our wrongdoings and welcome us home."

Nan Merrill's Psalms for Praying are delightfully refreshing and reflective.

I recognize that my heart must remain open and pliable to the One who created me and to those with whom I live and serve. If I allow my heart to become hardened, then I am unable to live, love, or lead like Jesus. 

May my heart remain open. 

So be it.

Rev. Deb 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

My first TikTok video

Yesterday I was finally able to listen to a podcast about using TikTok for ministry.  I had missed the original webinar, but thankfully they made a podcast out of it and I found it and listened.  The topic had interested me.  I wondered how in the world TikTok could be used for ministry. Listening to "TikTok for Ministry? What the Heck" from March 1st by Steven D. Martin and Lakelands Institute provided answers. 

Brandan Robertson was the guest in this podcast from the webinar. 

His recommendations were to post a video 1x a day, a 1 minute video on something that is meaningful to you-- or has he put it, something that you're passionate about.

Being authentic on TikTok is key.

Interestingly, Brandan has been able to grow a community from TikTok and invite people into ZOOM for Bible Study.  There they can meet 'face-to-face' in a safe space and engage in conversations in public and real time. 

Brandan mentioned that a downside to TikTok is that there is lots of spam.  You can create filters to avoid some of it, but if you post messages of acceptance and love, expect some hate comments and heretic accusations.

Brandan also gave some advice and information for Instagram, including using Canva to "stack" instagram-sized slides.  I have used Canva in the past for newsletters, but haven't tried that feature. 

He suggests having a digital minister on your team.  That makes sense too these days.  

His advice was to choose one (1) platform and allow the others to feed into it.  That is sensible too. Crossposting will save time and energy. 

The hour was informative and helpful.  I decided to set up a TikTok account and give it a try.

My first video yesterday wasn't without some mistakes, but I will say it was fully authentic. :)  I used St. Elmo (the one that goes to REZ in January) and made a short introductory video.

I plan to do a weekly video.  That's not the daily as was recommended, but it is still regular.  

Here is my first TikTok in case you'd like to watch it: 

Peace on your adventurous journey, 

Rev. Deb

Advent 4 2020

I made it!  Here is the 4th and final Advent 2020 post.  These may or may not have been helpful to you, but for me it has been good to put all of the Advent reflections together.  I have done these Advent photo-a-day posts for several years, going back to the days when #alivenow posted the challenges.  Then when they no longer posted them (or I couldn't find them), I began to post them.  It has been a way for me to offer a spiritual practice to those who might enjoy the reflection.  Also, it is a way for me to engage in a spiritual practice that gives me life.

Here are the words for Advent 4: love, holy, mystery, anticipation, renew, birth

December 20. Today's word is love. On this 4th Sunday of Advent we light the candle of love. As you reflect on today's word, what comes to mind? Where do you experience love? How have you seen love lived out this Advent season? Our new "campaign" at St. Elmo is #livinglovehere. As you reflect on today's word, may the love of the Creator be evident to you and may it fill you. You are invited to share your thoughts and reflections on today's word, as well as any photos or drawings you may have. #love #adventphoto #saintelmoumc 

Today's word is love. This is the love mug in my Advent wreath set. There is much about love that comes to mind. God [G-d]/Creator/Great Spirit/YWH is love (1 John 4:8,16). What difference does that make in my life? As someone who seeks to follow the ways of love, it means everything. Loving God and others as I love myself is a life-long transformation of growth and learning. There is grace along the way. In reading Nan Merrill's Psalms for Praying, the word love is found in many of the Psalms. For example, Psalm 46:10--"Be still and know that I am Love." Ah. That opens a space of grace. It was written already in 1John, yet seeing it in unexpected places is a cause for a pause. The truth remains. The love exists. Yet, there is an ongoing opportunity to learn, to grow, and to apply these things. Reflecting on love today, I am grateful for love lived out, modeled well, and shown by many. #loveandacceptancepracticedhere #loveyourneighbor #love #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

December 21. Today's word is holy. Have you experienced holy this Advent season? How so? As you reflect on this word, what comes to mind? How do you express today's word in a photo or drawing? #holy #adventphoto #saintelmoumc 

Today's word is holy. This book came timely today in the day of a winter Solstice and services of Blue Christmas and Longest Night. This is always a holy time for me, to offer space for those who need it, including myself. The Advent season can be busy. We all need time for reflection. A quote from this book‐ what it's about: "honoring our weary hearts in a weary season in a weary world and traveling the road of Advent together as honestly as we can on a quest for encouragement, hope, and strength in the places we are currently living--emotionally, spiritually, and physically." (2) That is holy stuff for me. And lights. Lights somehow draw me into a space of being, of reflection. It's a first for outside lights. If you notice the tree is lacking ornaments, it has been busy for me getting services ready. Ornaments will be on the tree for the Christmas season. For me today, the sacred, the holy, has been this longest day. #holy #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

December 22. Today's word is mystery. How have you experienced mystery this Advent season? What does mystery mean to you? What comes to mind as you reflect on today's word? How do you share these reflections in word and through a photo or drawing? #mystery #adventphoto #saintelmoumc 

Today's word is mystery. Grace is difficult to explain. It is a mystery. The gift of Jesus, the Christ child, is surrounded with mystery. To live into mystery, to not require answers for all things, opens us up to freedom. As we allow ourselves to receive the love given and gifted to us in Jesus, we experience grace. As I reflected on today's word, these are my thoughts. #mystery #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

December 23. Today's word is anticipation. As the end of Advent draws nearer and the celebration of the birth child is upon us, what do you anticipate most? As you reflect on today's word, what comes to mind? How do you share that in a photo or a drawing? #anticipation #adventphoto #saintelmoumc 

Today's word is anticipation. I typically think of ketchup when I reflect on this word and the commercial from back in the day. As I look toward the coming of the Christ child and the celebration, what fills me most is the anticipation of whole lives and whole communities. There is anticipation of the coming of the Christ child and what that means-- for me, for community, for the world. Is it going to be the same ole, same ole or will something change? Can we break through to healthier patterns and truly love one another? As I look into an empty sanctuary week after week in a frustratingly high red zone, my thoughts go to my anticipation of regathering with the flock. May we be changed because of this time apart physically. May we be ready to intentionally be and do that which we are called to be and do. I anticipate awakenings, healings, and sharing life with one another. I still hear Carly Simon singing. #anticipation #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

December 24. Today's word is renew. Have you been able to renew this Advent season? Renew yourself? Renew your spirit? Maybe there has been some renewal, yet there could be more. What area of your life still needs renewal? As you reflect on today's word, what comes to mind? You are invited to share your reflections in a photo or a drawing. #renew #adventphoto #saintelmoumc 

Today's word is renew. Though the past two weeks have been busier than normal, the past several days have begun to fill and renew me. Getting to see the smiles on faces as I delivered stockings, and those online, baking, decorating the tree, seeing snow, and getting some Christmas Eve Cliff time. These are a few of the things that renew me currently. Rest will renew me too. #renew #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

December 25. Today is the end of the Advent season and the beginning of the 12 days of Christmas. Today's word is birth. We have gone through 4 weeks of anticipation, waiting, and reflection for this day. What does the birth of the Christ child mean to/for you? Has anything new been birthed in your life this Advent season? What comes to mind as you reflect on today's word? Share your thoughts and any photo or drawing to accompany them. #birth #adventphoto #saintelmoumc 

Today's word is birth. Birth isn't the beginning, but rather the next step in the journey. There has already been much going on prior to the moment of birth. Each of these nativity scenes remind me of the holiness, awe, and miracle of birth. Whether it is an idea, a project, or a person that is birthed, there is much along the journey that surprises us, that causes us to grow. Bamboo Encounter was an idea that birthed for me. The photo of the little child-- that's Charlie. He has taught me much and brought me joy. The nativity scenes with the Christ child- that child, Jesus, has taught me much too-- how to live and love. I'm still learning. As I celebrate anew this birth, it is my desire for hope, peace, love, and joy to grow deeper. #birth #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

Peace on your journey, 

Rev. Deb

Advent 3 2020

Slowly, but surely, I am making my way through the Advent 2020 posts.  My goal is to get them done so I can then work on the Lent 2021 posts and get them posted DURING the Lenten season.  Then I will be caught up. Woo hoo!  Then I can write about other things that are going on and in my heart, mind, and soul.  

 Here are the words for Advent 3: joy, grace, promise, hospitality, healing, community, journey.

December 13. Today's word is joy. Where do you find joy? How have you experienced joy this Advent season? How do you share joy with others? Share your thoughts on joy and any photo or drawing. #joy #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

Today's word is joy. Rocks and water bring me joy. The bottom two were already there. I added the rest. I sat on a large rock by the water. Being in creation helps me remember who and whose I am. #joy #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

December 14. Today's word is grace. Grace is one of the best gifts I received. I wouldn't be here without grace. Grace continues to play an important role in my life's journey. As you reflect on today's word, what comes to mind? How does grace fit with your Advent season this year? What does grace mean to/for you? Share your thoughts and a photo or drawing. #grace #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

Today's word is grace. There was much grace for this retired language professor in learning Greek (and later Hebrew). Grace is an ongoing part of my life and faith journey. Though learning Greek is a bit different than other ways grace has played out, when you look at all we had to learn in one semester... whew. This was my study guide for the final from 9 years ago. Grace has brought me through many other situations and continues to be a great teacher. The hymn comes to mind with the refrain: "grace, grace, God's grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within". I have much learning, growing, and transforming to do. Therefore, I hold on to grace. #grace #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

December 15. Today's word is promise. As you reflect on today's word, what meaning does it have for you this Advent season? Is there any particular promise you hope is fulfilled? What does the promised birth of the Christ child mean to you? Share your thoughts and any photo or drawing. #promise #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

Yesterday's Advent word was promise. I didn't post because I got stuck. Today, on my way to the office, I passed this sign. This sign is a promise of good coffee. In my opinion, it lives up to its promise. Others may see it differently. We don't all see things the same nor do we all respond the same. Because I am not promised more than the moment in which I live and breathe, I attempt to be present, to offer the best of me. That's my promise, though I know I will miss the mark. That's where the promise of grace comes in. #promise #adventphoto #saintelmoumc #madpriestcoffee

December 16. Today's word is hospitality. How does hospitality play a role in your Advent, in your faith journey? What is hospitality to you? How do you express today's word in a photo or drawing? #hospitality #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

Today's word is hospitality. "Love and acceptance practiced here" is hospitality. The other sign shows hospitality too, reminding people they are loved. How do you show people hospitality, especially during a pandemic? How can we offer hospitality in this moment of time in a safe and healthy way? It may look different, but it's possible. #hospitality #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

December 17. Today's word is healing. What healing have you experienced this Advent season? Or maybe the question is: what healing do you need this Advent season? As you reflect on today's word, what surfaces? How do you visualize today's word in a photo or drawing? #healing #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

Today's word is healing. Seeing and finding hearts is healing. Hearts remind me that I am loved. This heart tonight was by the car, on the asphalt, as we were finishing some errands. Today marks one year of a special day in our family. I am grateful for that day, the healing, the support, the love. #healing #adventphoto #saintelmoumc #seeaheartshareaheart

December 18. Today's word is community. What does community mean to you? In this Advent season when we are still in a pandemic, how is community different for you? Do walls or buildings define community for you? How do you stay connected with community during these times, during this Advent season? As you reflect on today's word, you are invited to share your reflections and any photo(s) or drawing(s) that depict community. #community #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

Today's word is community. This is one of many murals in our community. Community supports one another. It seeks the best for one another. It rejoices with one another. It weeps with one another. It is an honor and privilege to walk with and serve among others in community. Since mid-March we have been stretched in many ways. I have been encouraged how we have found ways to support one another, to encourage one another, to love one another. May we continue to grow together in community to be the best we can be. #community #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

December 19. Today's word is journey. Advent is a season of journey to the birth of the Christ child, to the manger. How has the journey been for you this year? What have you experienced? What have you learned? How has this year's journey been different from years past? You are invited to share your insights from your reflections and any photo(s) or drawing(s) that depict today's word for you. #journey #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

Yesterday's word was journey. I got stuck again for the 2nd time. Seeing as I use "journey" often and in my blog title, one would think yesterday would have not gotten me stuck. But it did. As I reflected on this year's Advent journey, the pilgrimage toward the birth of the Christ child, nothing emerged. This morning, I realized that this Advent has been more difficult to travel through hope, peace, love, and joy because of the added layer of pandemic. At the same time, the pandemic has offered a certain buffer for solitude, if I/we allow it and live into it. This Advent has brought me an online Advent study led by a lay person. That would not have happened, I imagine, in other circumstances. There has been darkness to pass through, grief from death and other losses, just during Advent, not to mention reflection from the entire pandemic path. Like all journeys, there are ups and downs, and rest spots along the way. In the spiritual sense, the journey has its inward and outward parts in which we practice different ways of growing. The photo is one of the more recent hikes on a section of the Cumberland Trail. It is misleading. You see a straight and flat path. It was in sections. However, we traversed up and down too. You don't always see the difficult aspects of a journey or what people have gone through to arrive where they are. The best part of journeys for me? Journeys are adventures. The Advent journey has been no different. #journey #adventphoto #saintelmoumc

Peace on your journey, 

Rev. Deb