Saturday, January 21, 2023

Trusting. Letting Go. Being.

The photo is the sky as we headed down to the birthday party. 

The post is from last January.  I didn't write much last year and fully skipped February. "Don't give up"-- the signs in a neighborhood yard were meaningful.

My attempt to live, love, and lead like Jesus was difficult for many reasons. However, I continued and continue to do my best to live, love, and lead like Jesus. 

I didn't give up. I finished the best that I could. 

As I wrote recently, I am healing. Healing takes time. I  kinda knew it would take a good six months. And, that's okay.

I still don't have answers to all my questions. Nor do I understand all things of the past or even present.  And, that's okay too.

Thomas Merton continues to remind me to trust in the One who knows me. That One will show me the way. And Chardin reminds me to trust in the slow work of God.

Trusting. Letting go. Being. 


Thursday, January 19, 2023

Healing takes time

This morning I read a post that caused me to pause some. I read Kat Garcia Hunt's posts daily. They often cause me to pause, offering me encouragement, insight, or something else. I was introduced to Kat's postings by her husband Patrick, whom I met several years ago in an Advent group. His yearly Advent wreath in his yard have encouraged me for years.  I have just "met" his wife recently and her posts, both the words and the art, have been uplifting and encouraging. The post included a cool photo, of a water whirlpool, but what stood out to me was the earthworm in the poem. I looked all day for an earthworm. I finally found one, on my afternoon walk. It's not a complete one, but it fits.

The reading/quote this morning was this: 

Healing comes less like a falcon
with mighty wings,
and more like an earthworm
that slowly, slowly moves
beneath it all, tightening up,
then stretching out, tightening up
and stretching out, a simple
two-part rhythm. Some days,
that is all the body can do.
Contract. Expand. Contract. Expand.
In the meantime, through this
artless act, what is dense
becomes porous.
In the meantime, what is stuck
and clotted gets moved around.
What is dead passes through,
is processed by the grit inside.
There are tunnels now in the soil of me,
thin channels of recovery—
a blessed loosening,
a gradual renewal. It’s unhurried, but
I feel the air, the rain,
the life coming in.
~Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

I am not familiar with Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. First, let's learn a little about the author. You can read about her here.  She lives in Colorado. Hmmm... next time I'm in that awesome state, maybe I can look her up. :)

Her poem, "How the Healing Comes", can be found here.

How the healing comes..... I didn't know the title until just now.  What stood out to me as I read it this morning was that healing comes slowly, like an earthworm. "Contract. Expand."  As I read the poem, it reminded me of Chardin's "trust in the slow work of God". Healing does come slowly, or at least it has been for me. It is taking months upon months for healing and I'm not fully there yet.

However, I am encouraged in that what is stuck is being moved around and what is dead is passing through, there is recovery and there is a loosening, there is renewal, life is coming in.

There are many things attributing to my healing process-- LOTS of outdoor time, silence, solitude, time apart, time away, time serving family, therapy, spiritual direction and supervision, spiritual practices, painting, putting up guttering, putting together a bench from scratch (cutting the wood, painting it, etc.), hiking, walking, travel to CO and UTAH, etc. 

Here is Chardin's "Trust in the Slow Work of God", which was shared at my last in person residency this past November. It was another one of those "cause for a pause" moments. Impactful. Meaningful.

"Trust in the Slow Work of God" 

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955)

Healing. It's a good thing. It's okay for it to take time.

May it be so.

Rev. Deb

An Opportunity to Serve

Me and Rev. Leslie Daniels 

On Sunday, January 8, 2023, I participated in worship at Burks UMC. Though I have preached twice at Fairview UMC during my leave of absence, this was my first time to serve in any capacity at Burks UMC. Burks UMC is my "sending" church, the church that voted for me to pursue candidacy and supported me through the process. It is now my charge conference church while on family leave of absence. We attend there primarily.

The Associate Pastor, Rev. Leslie Daniels, had asked me if I would help with the liturgy that day because the Senior pastor, Rev. Tony Collins would be out. I said yes since we were going to be in town that day. I helped with the call to worship, the affirmation of faith, the prayer before the tithes and offerings, and with holding a bowl for those who wanted to remember their baptism. 

It was a special experience for me. 

I haven't served at Burks UMC since I left as a lay person. It was meaningful for me to look around, to see faces known and unknown, and remember that this church had supported me on my journey to become a pastor.

The dear people at Burks UMC presented me with a hymnal to celebrate my ordination. People had written in the front and back, and on hymn pages. It has always been encouraging and heart warming to open up the hymnal to sing a hymn, and read what someone had written.

On January 8th, being at Burks UMC, opening up that hymnal and seeing words of encouragement was even more encouraging.

The hymns we sang that Sunday were: "Lift High the Cross" #159. There I saw the words "In all we do, " before the title of the hymn and the names Dave & Debbie Bruggink. The next hymn was "Amazing Grace" #378. Carol Harris signed it with a heart, along with Ron & Pam Elsea. I couldn't help but notice the writing on the left hand page as I sang "Amazing Grace". There were two notes on "It Is Well with My Soul". Yes, I thought to myself, it IS well with my soul.

During the time of remembering our baptism, the musicians played and sang "Holy Water". I don't remember hearing this song before, yet as I looked up the lyrics, it does seem familiar. As I stood there holding a bowl of water for people, it was a holy moment.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

God, I'm on my knees againGod, I'm begging please againI need youOh, I need you
Walking down these desert roadsWater for my thirsty soulI need youOh, I need you
Your forgivenessIs like sweet, sweet honey on my lipsLike the sound of a symphony to my earsLike Holy water on my skin
Dead man walking, slave to sinI wanna know about being born againI need youOh, God, I need you
So, take me to the riversideTake me under, baptizeI need youOh, God I need you
Your forgivenessIs like sweet, sweet honey on my lipsLike the sound of a symphony to my earsLike holy water on my skin(On my skin)
I don't wanna abuse your graceGod, I need it every dayIt's the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change
I don't wanna abuse your graceGod, I need it every dayIt's the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change
I don't wanna abuse your graceGod, I need it every dayIt's the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change
I don't wanna abuse your graceGod, I need it every dayIt's the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change
Your forgivenessIs like sweet, sweet honey on my lips (yes, it is)Like the sound of a symphony to my earsIt's like holy water
Your forgivenessIs like sweet, sweet honey on my lipsLike the sound of a symphony on my earsIt's like holy water on my skinIt's like holy water on my skinIt's like holy water


Here is a video of the song sung by "We the Kingdom"

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in the church that sent me into ministry. It's not the only church responsible for my becoming a pastor, but it had much to do with it. 

Peace in and on the journey, 
Rev. Deb

Friday, January 6, 2023

Reflection from A Wind in the Door

I finished book 2 today-- A Wind in the Door

I read book 1 (A Wrinkle in Time) last week. I summed it up in one sentence, though I could probably go back and find quotes. My one sentence from it? 

The power of love overcomes; love wins.

Several things stand out to me from book 2:
*kything-- communicating without words
*how love overcomes evil
*the concept of Deepening

Some quotes that stood out to me:

Blajeny to Mr. Jenkins: 
"It is the nature of love to create. It is the nature of hate to destroy. "
~Madeleine L'Engle, A Wind in the Door, p. 149

Proginoskes on the topic of Deepening:
"But human beings need Deepening Places, too. And far too many never have any."
~Madeleine L'Engle, A Wind in the Door, p. 178

On kything:
"Mr. Jenkins had never had that kind of communion with another human being, a communion so rich and full that silence speaks more powerfully than words."
~Madeleine L'Engle, A Wind in the Door, p. 195

Senex on the topic of Deepening: 
"It is only when we are fully rooted that we are really able to move." 
~Madeleine L'Engle, A Wind in the Door, p. 216

I started book 3 today. I am enjoying these books that I never read somehow in my earlier years.


Thursday, January 5, 2023

12th day of Christmas

The season of Christmas is almost over on this 12th day (now 12th night) of Christmas. Tomorrow is Epiphany and we celebrate the arrival of the Magi to the Christ child (who is about 2 years old at this time) and his family. We recognize the gifts they bring. What we don't often consider (or maybe it's just me) is all the young boys age 2 years and under who were ordered killed by Herod once he learned that the Magi tricked him by returning another way home once they found the Christ child. 

What caused Herod to take such an extreme action? What kept him from being able to see the light, the wonder, the promise, the love, the hope that the young child (Jesus) offered? How could some see it, like the Magi, but not the King?

It is a custom in some cultures to leave out shoes on this night for the Magi to fill with gifts. If I were to put out my shoes tonight, what gifts might I hope to see tomorrow? I think I would want to see gifts of hope, love, joy, and peace. What gifts would you want the Magi to bring you this year? 

Rev. Deb

P.S. The photo is of my only ornament with Magi that I put out this year. It's a carved gourd.

Monday, January 2, 2023

My 2023 Mantra

Back in early December, a friend posted this photo and asked what four words we first saw.

The very first word I saw was "woop". It's on the first line. 

Woop. Her response? "Woop, there it is."


In sharing with another friend, her response was that 2023 might bring laughter. Laughter is welcomed in my world. I haven't laughed a whole lot in a while.

The three other words I saw were: change, strength, breakthrough.

Therefore, my 2023 mantra is:

Woop. Change. Strength. Breakthrough.

Sounds like an interesting mantra to me.

I also continue to read the postings from my colleague Sharon Bowers and her words continue to resonate with me. I quoted one of her posts recently in my blog. I am still reflecting on the others.

As Thomas Merton wrote, 'I do not know where I am going.' Even so, like Merton, I trust the One who guides me, who created me.

I look forward to a 2023 filled with:

  • woop
  • change
  • strength 
  • breakthrough 

Peace in these days and the ongoing adventurous journey,  


Sunday, January 1, 2023

First hike in 2023-- Raccoon Mountain

Today we started off 2023 right-- getting into the woods for a hike.

The road down to Laurel Point on Raccoon Mountain was locked, but we found parking in the overlook parking lot. 

The trail went through the woods and was covered in leaves. It opened up to a piney area for a bit. Then it opened up to the electric power tower right of way. It went back into the woods and then came out to the road that was closed off. A sign mentioned the trail was "Electric Avenue". Depending on your musical tastes and interests, you may now have a song running through your head. :) We continued on "Electric Avenue", crossing the road and going back into the woods. Now we were at the base of the rocks and the road you drive around.

We turned around a bit beyond the historical sign and headed back.

The temperature was mid 60s during our hike. The sky was clear blue, with some white puffy clouds.

There were cyclists, runners, and other walkers/hikers. There were some with dogs,  like us.

It was a great way to begin 2023!

May it be a year of being outside more!


My photos: