Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Reflection from a lectionary art piece

I saw this piece of artwork in a clergy group yesterday that sparked me to write abut it. 

What I posted:

"Artwork for Pentecost 17, with text from 2 Timothy 1:6-7 by Chris Suerdieck, artist. 

This image and the verses got my attention. Yes, there might be tiny hearts that caught my eye. #SeeAHeartShareAHeart 

The vibrant colors captured my gaze as my eyes wandered over the piece.

As I read the verses, there was a pause within me. Hmmm. I wonder. What gift is waiting within me to be rekindled? What gift within you is waiting to be rekindled?

With power, love, and self-discipline, it is time to kindle a gift or rekindle a gift that has grown cold in the ashes.

As a prayer goes:

"Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy your consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Rev. Deb"

Not in post online: 

Rev. Chris Suerdieck's artwork is posted in the clergy group and can be found all over Facebook. She offers her artwork to clergy and churches to use in services and devotionals, with appropriate credit. I was hoping to find another source t post here, but was not able to. Just search her name to see different art.

Art speaks to different people in different ways. 

I am grateful for the artists I know who share their giftedness with others. 

From drawing to photography to painting to writing to music and every other aspect of art, to all the artists out there, keep on creating! You inspire us! 


Sunday, October 2, 2022

Hiking is good for my soul

I hiked yesterday at Jackrabbit Mountain in Hayesville, NC. It isn't too far from Hinton Center, so I thought I'd give it a try. I had read up on it and knew it had bike trails and hiking trails. I wasn't sure what I would hike or how long I might be able to hike. My left hip (replaced one) has been hurting some this week-- probably from the hike earlier this week. It is a reminder that muscles need more stretching than I have been doing lately.

Some cyclists suggested the center loop. After checking out the map, I decided to start on it. The paths and the surrounding forest are pretty. There are signs on trees and ferns and other plants so you can know what they are. Some of them are seasonal, such as the May Apple and the Pink Lady Slipper and the Trillium, so this would be a good spring trail to see those. But seeing all the different ferns and trees was cool.

I took the center loop (white trail) until the Burnt Tree Peninsula Trail (green) and took it around. That trail allowed me to see the Chatuge Dam plus I found a rock from the Hayesville Rock group on that trail. 

It wasn't too crowded on the trails. I was most surprised by a father/son hunting with a recurve bow. As I was leaving, I noticed two other hunters going in with crossbows. I didn't realize the area was also a hunting area or that it was hunting season. If I had known that, I probably would have worn orange. I have hiked on the AT (Appalachian Trail) before near Springer Mountain in hunting season and one is advised to where orange. 

It was good to share the trails with bikers, walkers, hikers, runners, and folks with their dogs, and the hunters. Multi-use trails at their best.

The trails were clean (for the most part). I only saw two pieces of clothing, one bottle left behind (on a stump), and some toilet paper.

After my hike, I saw this rock in the parking lot. It caught my attention because it looked heart-shaped as I walked over it.  It was so flat on the top. After I took a photo, I pulled it out and took a photo of the hole. The rock was not flat on the backside, bur rather about an inch or so in depth. I returned it to its proper place.

A quote by Socrates last night in a chapter in Jane Rubietta's Resting Place: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreats got me thinking more about that rock. What you see/saw on the outside, on the top, was not what was underneath. Socrates wrote: "Give me beauty in the inward soul; may the outward and the inward man be at one."

Reflecting on that quote (and some of the chapter in Rubietta's book), along with the rock, here are some things I have been mulling over:

  • The rock won't change on the inside, except over time (lots of time) and wearing away. Because it is a hard rock, it is less likely to change its form.
  • As people, we can change our outsides to match our insides and vice versa. What you see is what you get, so to speak. It takes effort, humility, maturity, etc. 
  • It means not wearing masks, living with integrity, allowing our souls to become whole, living into wholeness and freedom, etc.
My whole purpose in hiking and taking time apart is for my soul to catch up with my body, for my soul to have the opportunity to become whole again, for its parts to heal and recover. Hiking also helps the outer me become whole too. It's part of my outdoor and nature therapy, drawing me closer to the Creator.

I don't always get it right. I don't always respond well. I still make mistakes, fall, fail, etc. For the most part I stopped wearing masks long ago and I have been seeking to live into my true self rather than my false self. The false self pops in/up every now and then. But, I'm learning. I'm growing. I'm listening to what God is saying to me and teaching me. Some days it's a slow process. There are others days in which I have a light bulb moment. 

But, much like a hiking trail, it's the journey that matters to me. What do I see and experience along the way? What are the sights, the sounds, the new things, the old things.... how does the air smell.... how does the breeze feel..... etc. How do all these things refresh and renew my soul and spirit and remind me that I am a beloved child of God?

I believe that my outward and inward person are becoming more congruent, more "at one', as Socrates puts it. I will continue the inward and outward journey, living into spiritual disciplines that grow and stretch both sides of those muscles.

Rubietta writes this about spiritual disciplines/practices: "Spiritual disciplines are intended to transform us for the sake of others.' (65)  That is very much the same as I learned from Bob Mulholland when he spoke at my 2 Year Academy and from his books.  If my silence, solitude, prayer, Scripture reading, etc. time isn't transforming me.... then they aren't going to be of help to others and I might as well not do them. Only if the practices are transforming me will they be of use/help to others.

I still don't have all the answers. Nor do I need to. I am where I am to be, doing what I am called to do, for such a time as this. And, even so, I know my calling as pastor is strong and secure. God reminds me of that and I am grateful. 

Hiking may not be the thing that is good for your soul. Find what is and do it.

Peace and adventures on the journey!

Rev. Deb

P.S. Here are my hiking photos. Flowers, trees, views, ferns, mushrooms, etc.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Time Apart

We are "invited" to spend some time apart before every residence in our spiritual direction program (Columbia Theological Seminary). I use the quotations with "invited" because we also have an assignment to turn in from our time apart. :)

We are to spend a minimum of 8 hours apart, in silence and solitude, listening, praying, etc.

For the first residence, I went to a tiny home community in Marion County and hiked the trail there to see their beautiful waterfall. I started the day off with a bike ride on the Riverwalk.

For another one, I used the 5 Day Academy I had attended and added up all the silence and solitude time I accumulated. Not exactly the same, but it was time apart and there was much to that time apart.

Last spring it snuck up on me and I planned a day apart at Chester Frost Park-- from sunrise to the mid afternoon. I took my coffee, my hammock, etc. and hung out in two different spots that day. It was good.

For this last residency, I planned a short time away at Hinton Retreat Center in Hayesville, NC. Riley actually suggested the Hinton Center. I have only been to it once-- driven through, taken a short tour, seen the labyrinth. It's in Riley's hometown of Hayesville, it's a Methodist retreat center, and it's on Lake Chatuge. It has a trail, a labyrinth, water views. It is near lots of other nature.

On the way up yesterday, I stopped in Murphy, NC to walk along the Murphy River Walk. I found one of the Trail Heads, off Thomas Street and walked to the right 1/2 a mile and then back. There was some dirt path and some small gravel path. Some of it went right along the Valley River and other parts were a bit off the river, as far as the view goes. Walnuts had fallen off a tree and made great baseballs to throw into the field and woods. :)

I checked out a new coffee shop and went to the Murphy Chamber of Commerce for information before heading to Hinton Center.  The Buzzed Brew Coffeehouse had pastries, along with coffee and tea. I wasn't disappointed with my choices.

Not being sure what the weather would be the rest of the weekend, I made the most of my Friday after checking in and settling in to my hermitage-- home away from home. I walked the nature trail that was by the hermitage and led to an outdoor chapel. It was a beautiful spot. There were two wooden benches along the way, put there as an Eagle Scout project. There were two rock benches at the garden vista spot. I heard a deer snorting up there, but could never see it. I imagine that was the deer's intention-- for me to NOT see it. I wasn't there to bother the deer or disturb its spot, so I didn't stay too long and headed back down the trail. I took the loop trail on the way back that went by the creek. There wasn't much water running through the tiny creek at all, but there was some.

After the nature trail, I went to the labyrinth and spent some time walking and praying it. It was a good time of listening and praying for me. Here is what I jotted down from that time:

"Not sure what about this prayer journey today caused me to reflect on going away from the center to get to it, but it was the focus. I have often thought about how we are near the center, yet we are not quite there yet. As I noticed that I was going away from the center, it felt counter-intuitive, almost "wrong". How can I arrive at the center if I am moving away from it?!?! Yet, I also knew to trust the path. I have prayed labyrinths before. Today, the message that came to me was "trust the path". As I sit in the center, in the shade of surrounding trees, I breathe in the truth and trust of following the path and breathe out any worry or anxiety that sometimes creeps in. I am grateful for the prayer labyrinth and the reminder to trust the path."

After the labyrinth, I walked around the property and found the bookstore/gift shop (closed), the swing garden that contained a swing and beautiful flowers with butterflies and bees, then I headed down to the lake and found the dock and pavilion and a cross that lights up with solar lights.

The weather has shifted so I am able to get outdoors more than I thought I would be able to today. For that I am glad.

It is good for my soul to be in nature, to be in the trees, to walk.

I posted a photo of the trees from the labyrinth for Bamboo Encounter today with a quote from Dr. Jane Goodall: "The forest is for me a temple - a cathedral of tree canopies and dancing light."

I added a few words of my own:

"Tree canopies have a way of calming my soul, whether I am sitting in them or walking through them. They are restorative for me."

The motto or tag line at the Hinton center is "retreat, reflect, renew". I am leaning and living into these words during this time apart.

Peace on this first day of October. 

May the adventurous journey continue!


Other random photos: