Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hobo-- contemplating the meaning of a word...

"Hobo"... A term I haven't heard or used in years, except when referring to a friend's little dog by that name. :)

Last week in my adventurous journey around town, I was re-introduced to the term and it has stuck with me because of the explanation that came with it.  I hadn't heard this reference before last week.

The person that used the term was previously homeless herself, so she wasn't using the term in a derogatory manor.  She used it to describe folks on the street and explained that the term comes from the expression "homeward bound".  That was a new explanation to me.  But it has stuck with me this past week and has rumbled around inside me.  We talked about how we're all hobos in that sense.  We're all homeward bound.  I like that.  I want a t-shirt now that says something about being a hobo.  It is very much akin to being an alien.  She also shared with me that her cardboard sign read, "Jesus was homeless too."  That's a powerful statement that is also a cause for pause.  But, I digress (something I do quite well here).

I associate the word "hobo" with trains and train hoppers, folks carrying sticks with red bandanas on the end of them as they travel.  My association comes from stories, movies, my imagination, and my ay dreams.  Though I never hopped a train, I day-dreamed about it quite a bit, after reading books or seeing movies.  It was romanticized and seemed like a neat way to travel.  I pictured myself carrying a stick with a red bandana tied to it. 

As I grew older, I learned by observation that living on the streets isn't romantic by any means.

As I mentioned, the term "hobo" had disappeared from my vocabulary.  Words such as homeless and hungry are those that I tend to use to describe folks that don't have a home.  Yet this term "hobo", especially when associated with "homeward bound" takes on a new meaning.

There is quite a bit of discussion about the origin of the term "hobo".  Some say it comes from the city of Hoboken, NJ where folks started hopping trains.  Others say it comes from the civil war days when soldiers were given one-way tickets home, thus homeward bound.  

Click here for a discussion on the term from The Word Detective from 2007.
Click here for an article from the Washington Post by John Kelly from August 18, 2014
Click here for information from Princeton on the term, code of ethics, etc.

The above links are interesting and provide historical information.  But they don't discuss the homeward bound aspect.

Click here for an article relating to homeward bound that discussed the ethical code by Linda Johnson from April 14, 2014

I could probably keep searching and who knows what I might find?!?! (or not)  But, it's the last day and hours of 2014 and I still have some things to do for Provisional Elder paperwork.  I also have those three other books to read before Monday. 

As 2014 ends and the fireworks begin (yes, I hear them starting already at 9:45pm EST), contemplating the term "hobo" and its potential origin of "homeward bound" fits my reflection time.

I am an alien.  One that is homeward bound.  Each day, each moment takes me closer to that reality.  Though I'm an alien here, I'm also home in the here and now too, in the sense that God created this place, the present, for us to live.  While here in the Kingdom of God on earth we are called to live out the example set for us by Christ and to follow the greatest commandments of loving God and loving others.  The home, the Kingdom of God that is to come, heaven, well... it is at some unknown point in the future.

For my grandmother, for Will, for Leila, for Dr. Cornelius, for Gene, for April, for Lyman, and for many others that I have known and/or heard about this past year, the future home is now present to them.    For those of us still on our journey "home", it isn't easy as we miss those that have gone on before us, whether it was in 2014 or an earlier year.  Yet, we too, are homeward bound.

How am I making the most of my time, my energy, and my relationships as a hobo?  Am I investing well in those around me as I journey on?  I hope so.  That is my desire.

How about you?  How is your homeward bound journey? 

Maybe it's not something you've thought about much.  If not, it is something to consider.

I am grateful to have been re-introduced to the term "hobo" and to the thought of being "homeward bound" in association with it.

Thank you, Robin!

To all, blessings on your journey!


Here's Simon and Garfunkel and their song "Homeward Bound".  It may not fit the theme of the heavenly home in its intention, yet.... home is waiting and this is a catchy song by talented artists.

P.S.  At some point I'll write a 2014 reflection post, but that will have to wait.  ☺

Monday, December 29, 2014

Convergence....thoughts and reflections from yesterday's sermon

Yes, I know.  I have LOTS of writing to do that is required, so why am I writing one more post?!?!  I can't get yesterday's sermon out of my mind.  Therefore, the best thing to do is to write about it.  Then, I can concentrate on the remaining questions I have to answer and tweak the others I have already answered.  That is my agenda today.  Theological questions. 

But, before I turn my attention there, here are my thoughts and reflections from yesterday's sermon by Pastor Rowland Buck at Burks UMC.

The title of the sermon: "When Christmas Dreams Come True"

The Scripture passage was from Isaiah 61:10-62:3. 

The message centered on the word "convergence".  Convergence is when two things come together to create a whole new way of doing things, expanding the possibilities.  Pastor Rowland mentioned the convergence of two rivers.  How they come together into one.  That's a good example of convergence.  But the one that resonated most with me was the one he gave using the combined technology of the cellular phone and the camera.  He mentioned the polaroid camera and the original bag cellular phones. 

With the convergence of technology, we now have cell phones that take great pictures, cell phone cameras.  Or, I guess you could say we have cameras that we can use to call and text.    Pastor Rowland demonstrated this technology for us during the service.

I attended both services.  During the 2nd service, I uploaded the above picture to Facebook and posted this caption: "Convergence. Two things coming together to create a whole new realm of possibilities. Example-- the cell phone camera. Convergence. That's what Christmas is-- heaven and earth coming together to expand the possibilities with the birth of Jesus Christ."  

Christmas is the ultimate convergence!  Heaven and earth coming together to create a whole new way of doing things, expanding the possibilities.  Wow!  

Pastor Rowland reminded us that Christmas is so much more than what we do to ourselves during the Christmas season.  In fact, we were reminded at the beginning of the service that the Christmas season had only just begun.  Odd, isn't it... by the time Christmas Day comes and ends, most people are ready to put it away.  Yet that is when it really begins.  The 12 days of Christmas BEGIN on Christmas day and continue through Epiphany, January 6, the day that the Magi visited the infant (though not baby) Jesus with their gifts.  But that's a different story, sermon, and blog post.

How can we live into this convergence of Christmas rather than the hustle and bustle?  Pastor Rowland offered several thought provoking questions:
  • How does Jesus' teaching integrate into your life?
  • How do you follow him?
  • How will Christmas converge with your life in this next week?
  • How might your life be changed by the convergence of Christmas?
  • How will it make a difference?
In the first service, Pastor Rowland also mentioned the movie "Unbroken" and talked about the bravery and courage of the main character, Louis Zamperini.  There was a convergence moment in Zamparini's life when he was back in the United States at a Billy Graham crusade and stood up to walk out but instead walked down to the altar.  The movie is out in theaters now.  I've not seen it yet.  It seems like a powerful story about life, history, sacrifice, etc.   

Have you experienced the convergence of heaven and earth coming into your life?  

Take a look again at the questions Pastor Rowland asked.  Reflect upon them for yourself.  

If you'd like to watch his sermon from the 2nd service, check it out.

As you continue through the Christmas season, may you find the possibilities in your own life expanded because of the birth of Christ.  May there be a whole new way of doing things!

Blessings on your journey!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Waiting..... it's not only during the Advent season

I haven't written a blog post since November 20th.  It's not that I haven't wanted to nor that I haven't had many things rumbling around in my heart, mind, or soul.  I have waited.  I wanted to wait until I had everything totally done for my Provisional Elder paperwork, but I found myself at a place of wanting and needing to write today.

Today was the first Sunday of the Christmas season.  It is the 4th day of Christmas.  The past several Sundays were in the Advent Season, the waiting season. 

Waiting is a theme that comes around in the Christian calendar because of the Advent season.  In my home church, we had a 4 part series during the Advent season: "Christmas: Worth the Wait!"  Several Sundays there were thought provoking nuggets that I wrote down and considered.  I wanted to write, but I waited.  My focus was on finishing my Fall semester well and working on Provisional Elder requirements.

Hebrew is likely the hardest course I have taken in my life.  I have taken a handful of linguistic courses.  I have taken Greek.  I taught Romance languages for 24 years.  Even with a foundation of language and language learning experience, the Hebrew language took me for a long and difficult, albeit rewarding journey this past semester.  I am grateful for struggling through the learning and picking up what I can.

Working on my questions for Provisional Elder, the Bible Study, and my verbatim manuscript of the sermon I preached on November 23rd has kept me busy when I wasn't working on finishing the semester well.  That has also taken a high priority over the holidays, though I have taken several days off from writing and need to get back into full swing here quickly to finish it off and meet my deadline.

In the ebb and flow over these past several weeks, I have gone to the Wednesday mid-week Vesper service at the neighboring UMC church for some quiet reflection in song and prayer.  I have been able to walk some.  I met with my Spiritual Director.  I have read Scripture and thoughts from a variety of sources, such as Jesus Calling, Alive Now, and the different Upper Room Guides to Prayer.  I walked the labyrinth prior to my Hebrew final, praying my native American flute along the path.  I was blessed to spend some time out and about around time serving with some folks last week.

These things, along with meeting in community for weekly worship have kept me grounded over the past few weeks.  Yet, there has been a sense of restlessness too.

One does what one can do and lets go of the rest.  Yet, there is that sense of the unknown that remains.  The unknown isn't bad.  But it's there.  It can be exciting and energizing.  There is peace in the waiting.  There is activity in the waiting.  There is work in the waiting. 

God works in and through us while we wait.  God works in and through situations while we wait.  There is so much that we don't see, can't see, might never see.  Yet, we are called to do our part.  That thing, those things that we sense a nudge toward.

Advent is over, the Christmas season is here.  Is the waiting over?  Yes and no.  The waiting for the Christ child to come to earth is over.  But there is much more waiting over the calendar year.  If not in the church calendar year, there will likely be waiting times in your personal life, in my personal life. 

The waiting times are important growing times, healing times, strengthening times, resting times, learning times.  Waiting doesn't equate inactivity, but it does mean watchful listening and preparing for what is to come.

What are the areas of waiting in your life? 

Waiting can be transformational!  If you don't believe me, check out the next butterfly you see.  The time it spent waiting in the darkness was definitely transformational.

May there be peace and joy in your waiting! 


Burks UMC--Pastor Rowland's "Christmas: Worth the Wait" series:


Thursday, November 20, 2014

A New Beginning-- thoughts and reflections from last night's midweek Vesper's service

I was able to attend the Mid-Week Vespers service at Hixson UMC last night.  I wasn't able to attend last week due to the Church Conference at the church I attend, but that was a blessing to attend because I was able to speak with our District Superintendent.  I was also encouraged by reports shared that evening by members of our congregation and the District Superintendent.

Though I didn't write about it, the week prior at mid-week vespers turned out to be very special to me because there was a God-appointment there for me that I knew nothing about until I showed up.  I often help with the service in varying roles as needed.  That night there was no one to read Scripture, so I was asked to read the Scripture portions and glad to do it.  Before the service began, a friend that I hadn't seen in a while entered the sanctuary.  Last spring she had told me how meaningful these services were to her.  It was neat to see her.  The God-appointment was with her.  We stayed in the sanctuary talking after the service for a while.  It was a blessing to sit and listen and share with her.

Back to last night...

The theme was "A New Beginning" from A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God..  Two readings from the reading reflections were shared during the service.  One was by Rueben Job (p.401-402) and the other by William Shannon (403). 

It is always good to enter the sanctuary, to sing the reflective songs, to listen to the Scriptures and reflections, to have time in silence.  This worship service allows my spirit to reconnect with my body, by taking the time to breathe, and allowing my body to rest for a few moments, I find that my soul is always refreshed and refilled after the short time of worship.

The quote above by William H. Shannon touched several connection points in my life and caused me to reflect on change, reality, and prayer.  William H. Shannon is a new name for me, so I researched him and learned that he was a Thomas Merton scholar who passed in 2012.  You can read the homily shared at his funeral here.

The songs that we sang last night can be seen in the bulletin in the second picture shown above:

"As We Gather"

"Three in One Praise"
"Holy Ground"
"The Steadfast Love of the Lord"

"Live Christ" 

The incense had been lit prior to when I entered the sanctuary and the rising smoke was visible.  That always brings to mind the Scripture passage Psalm 141:2--"Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice."

I appreciate the opportunity to rest my heart, mind, body, and soul in a worship experience.  It is also a wonderful opportunity for me as it isn't the local church where I worship, but another church near my home.  That allows me to worship within the connectional system, as it is another United Methodist congregation.  If it were a different denomination, that would  allow me to worship in an ecumenical way, and that would be a wonderful opportunity too.

I won't quote the entire Rueben Job quote, but I will share this from the first paragraph: "Life itself provides a constant opportunity to grow, and to grow is to become new, to have a new beginning.  How is God calling you to begin anew today?" (401)

Blessings on your new beginnings, 


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Silence, Solitude, and Sunshine-- Time Apart at Chester Frost Park

I took some time this morning for "time apart". Some time for some silence and solitude, some time away from the house, away from studies.  Time into the outdoors and creation, into a space that would allow me to refocus, refuel, and re-energize.

Though it was really only for an hour, it was a perfect break, a wonderful get away.  Short, but sweet you might say. ☺

Chester Frost Park is close by and one of my go-to spots.  It is a county campground on the lake (TN River) that has campground spots (tents and RVs), a beach area, picnic areas, fishing, playgrounds, pavilions for rent, docks, and great grounds for walking.

Today I focused on rocks, docks, the playground, walking, the ducks, playing my flute, listening to the sounds of nature, observing, breathing, taking some pictures, and just "being". 

There were some gorgeous trees and flowers that caught my attention. 

There were some rock formations that stood out to me too.

There were also some birds in the water that were just floating around enjoying their time on the water.  One bird was just sitting majestically overlooking the horizon.

It was a great time apart.  It definitely filled my soul and refreshed my being.   I can't say that there was anything I enjoyed more than the other... I enjoyed it all! From sliding down the slide, to taking pictures, to walking, to playing my flute, to watching the birds, to being on the dock, to soaking in the sunshine....

I don't know about your life schedule these days, but for me it takes being intentional to have silence and solitude time.  Oh, that it could just "happen".  But, that is rarely the case.  With my basic life responsibilities, studies, and goals for commissioning, life is a tad busy.  But, I know that my soul requires silence, solitude, time to be still. 

In fact, I'm outside on the patio this evening writing this.  It has gotten dark and the light of the computer screen shines much brighter than the orange and red glow of the setting sun over the horizon to my left.  A gentle breeze blows through the leaves, causing them to rustle for a moment.  The birds and crickets are singing their night song.  Dogs bark in the distance and the voices of children from the cul-de-sac below ring up through the woods between us.

But, there is peace in this moment too.  This, too, is a time apart.  A time to reflect.  A time to pause. 

I am grateful for these times today.  I recognize that the fuel tank needs refilling daily or I take a risk of running on fumes.  For now, it is well with my soul and my soul magnifies the Lord, the Creator of creation.

And you, could you use some time apart to walk, to play, to listen, to observe, to write, to ______???  You fill in the blank.

Blessings on your journey,


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From Doubt to Belief..... readings and reflections for the journey

In preparation for tonight's mid-week Vesper's service, I turned to this week's readings in A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God.  The title?  "From Doubt to Belief".

As I glanced over the Scripture selections for the week and read several of the choices (John 10:31-42, Psalm 146, and Mark 12:28-34), though there were encouraging and admonishing words in all, the Mark passage is the one that stood out to me at this time.

Mark 12:28-34 (NRSV)

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

This passage may be the one that stood out to me those verses are ones I desire to live by.  Or, it could be that I need to live more faithfully into these verses.  Or, it could be a "both/and" answer.  Likely, it's the latter.

Doubt is a normal part of belief.  It is normal to have doubts, to ask questions, to seek answers along the journey of belief.  Doubt can come because of many things and reveal itself in many forms, yet the one thing to remember is to not fear it, reject it, or deny it.  It has its place on the journey.  Working through doubt allows one's belief to become more clear.

In the reflection readings for this week, several of the quotes spoke to me.  I will share them.  Maybe there is something for someone else in these words.

Rueben Job writes:

     "We move away from doubt at out own pace and with our own set of doubts and beliefs to master.  While our first step is a matter of belief and ultimate trust in God, there are many other and some even more difficult steps to take in our movement from doubt to belief.
     One step along the journey that causes many people to stop and struggle is the step of actually believing God loves them and that they can be lovable in God's sight.  This more than any other step along the journey makes men and women, young and old, stumble and fall from faith to doubt.  Why is it so hard for us to believe that God's love really is unconditional and that we should imitate God's love not only for others but also for ourselves?
     Perhaps we have regarded self-centered behavior too harshly.  We are unwilling or unable to give ourselves the same gentle grace that God offers us and that we believe should be offered to others.  Leap from doubt to belief and remember that God loves you, delights in you, and yearns for your response of faith in God and in God's creation." (389-390)

Another quote that stood out to me is by Joan Chittister from Illuminated Life:

     "Life, the contemplative knows, is a process.  It is not that all the elements of life, mundane as they may be, do not matter.  On the contrary, to the contemplative everything matters.  Everything speaks of God, and God is both in and beyond everything.
     Having the faith to take life one piece at a time--to live it in the knowledge that there is something of God in this for me now, here, at this moment--is of the essence of happiness.  It is not that God is a black box full of tests and trials and treats.  It is that life is a step on the way to a God who goes the way with us.  However far, however perilous." (391-392)

And lastly, a quote by Tilda Norberg from Ashes Transformed:

     "The more healing I experience, the more I understand one of the most magnificent truths of the Christian faith: God can turn our worst pain into the source of our giftedness.  It is no accident that my life's work involves helping people invite Jesus into the worst moments of their lives." (393)

These are just a sampling of the reflection readings and the Scriptures for the week.  They are the ones that stood out to me at this time.  The others might meet you more where you are on your journey.  You might consider using A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God (The Upper Room) in your faith journey.

As you read the reflection readings above, what stands out to you?  What speaks to you?  Where do the words intersect with where you are on your journey?

For me, I am reminded that God is with me, every step of the way.... even when it doesn't "feel like it".  I am reminded that I can experience God in the midst of any situation and that God does turn pain into something that is used for the good of the Kingdom and God's glory.

Here is a Charles Wesley hymn that I ran across in A Guide to Prayer For Ministers and Other Servants (334). 

"Father, I Stretch My Hands to Thee"

[Link from]

Father, I stretch my hands to Thee,
No other help I know;
If Thou withdraw Thyself from me,
Ah! Whether shall I go?

On Thy dear Son I now believe
O let me feel Thy power
And all my varied wants relieve
In this accepted hour

Author of faith! to Thee I lift
My weary longing eyes
O let me now receive this gift
My soul without it dies

Surely Thou canst not let me die;
O speak, and I shall live;
And here I will unwearied lie,
Till Thou Thy Spirit give.

How would my fainting soul rejoice
Could I but see Thy face
Now let me hear Thy quickening voice
And taste Thy pardoning grace

I do believe, I now believe
That Jesus died for me.
And that He shed His precious blood
From sin to set me free

Fellow journeyer, in closing, I leave with you a poem I read in the same week's lesson that I read the Charles Wesley hymn in A Guide to Prayer For Ministers and Other Servants (331-332)The poem is by Susan Ruach.

"A New Way of Struggling"
To stuggle used to be
To grab with both hands
and shake
and twist
and turn
and push
and shove and not give in
But wrest an answer from it all
As Jacob did a blessing.
But there is another way
To struggle with an issue, a question-
Simply to jump
into the abyss
and find ourselves
being led
slowly and gently
but surely
to the answers God has for us-
to watch the answers unfold
before our eyes and still
to be a part of the unfolding
But oh! the trust
necessary for this new way!
Not to be always reaching out
For the old hand-holds.

Blessings on your journey,


Monday, November 3, 2014

A multifaceted time out....making time to rest and listen

This past week I took several "time outs" or breaks, if you want to call them that.  After I finished my paper for Pastoral Care two days early and had worked on Hebrew quite a bit, I needed some quiet time. 

I was able to attend the Wednesday night Mid-week Vespers at Hixson UMC and that space for quiet, prayer, and reflection was a balm to my soul. 

I took several solo walks at the Greenway Farm which allowed me exercise plus the silence and solitude time. 

I rested.  I stayed at home more than normal, even skipping TaeKwonDo, a Bible Study, and a meeting.  Some of that was so I could get that Pastoral Care paper written and some of that was because I wrote the paper. 

Along with studies, life has its challenges and it can be overwhelming at times.  That's why I am grateful for "time outs".  Time to stop and listen.  Time to remember and/or be reminded of what is truly important.

I am glad that I've learned to take them.  I may not always take them when needed, but I continue to listen to my body and God. 

This past week God has encouraged me through songs, through the body of Christ, through prayer, through Creation, and writings (Nouwen's Bread for the Journey, Jesus Calling (October 31), quotes from A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God, through worship, through Holy Communion, and through Scripture.  I was even blessed (though a little surprised) to hear praise music playing in the background this morning at my doctor's office.  I was able to take time to "be still" right there in the doctor's office and enjoy some praise music. 

For several days it has been on my mind to pick up Macrina Wiederkehr's Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God and see what God might have for me there.  I didn't particularly like the message that awaited me where I had left off, but I decided that was the message I needed to read and digest.

The message?  "Called to be Holy" from the section The Beautiful Struggle of Daily Life.  I could definitely relate to the 'struggle of daily life' part.... but I wasn't so sure how I was going to accept the 'call to be holy' part. 

The Scripture reference: 1 Peter 1:13-25.  I looked it up in the NRSV, The Message, and the CEV on  I decided to go with the CEV:

13 Be alert and think straight. Put all your hope in how kind God will be to you when Jesus Christ appears. 14 Behave like obedient children. Don’t let your lives be controlled by your desires, as they used to be. 15 Always live as God’s holy people should, because God is the one who chose you, and he is holy. 16 That’s why the Scriptures say, “I am the holy God, and you must be holy too.”
17 You say that God is your Father, but God doesn’t have favorites! He judges all people by what they do. So you must honor God while you live as strangers here on earth. 18 You were rescued from the useless way of life that you learned from your ancestors. But you know that you were not rescued by such things as silver or gold that don’t last forever. 19 You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ, that spotless and innocent lamb. 20 Christ was chosen even before the world was created, but because of you, he did not come until these last days. 21 And when he did come, it was to lead you to have faith in God, who raised him from death and honored him in a glorious way. That’s why you have put your faith and hope in God.
22 You obeyed the truth, and your souls were made pure. Now you sincerely love each other. But you must keep on loving with all your heart. 23 Do this because God has given you new birth by his message that lives on forever. 24 The Scriptures say,
“Humans wither like grass,
and their glory fades
    like wild flowers.
Grass dries up,
and flowers fall
    to the ground.
25 But what the Lord has said
    will stand forever.”
Our good news to you is what the Lord has said.

There is much to chew on here, to digest.  As I prayerfully read through these verses, the end of verse 17 caught my attention: "...honor God while you live as strangers here on earth."  Easier said than done.  But that is my heart's desire. 

As I looked at Macrina's words on the chapter, several things caught my attention.

"Our call to holiness is, in reality, a call to obedience." (112)

"Thus the first call is to listen." (112)

"We listen to our desire to be the person God is calling us to be, in Christ.  Our faithfulness to this listening is the beginning of holiness.  When we look at holiness in this way, it is easy to see that holiness is a process." (112)

"Our sojourn on this earth can pull us in many directions." (113)

To avoid being taken off the path, we must abide and listen carefully to and for the One Voice.  For me, this requires taking "time outs" so that I can hear more clearly. 

Macrina closes with this: "Remember, then, that we are holy and we have been asked to love on another intensely.  Let us bend our ears in obedient listening to this call to live forever in the abiding Word of God." (114)

May it be so!

Blessings on your journey,


Monday, October 27, 2014

The Power of Group Silence

Besides spending quite a bit of time studying Hebrew today, the other focus (reminder) has been SILENCE.

During my morning walk today at the Greenway Farm, the fog was thick and made for a wonderful cocoon in which to walk.  There were areas so thick that you couldn't see the objects, a visual silence.

In my walk this morning I was able to soak in the silence and solitude in the protection of the fog.  Though physically foggy, I was able to to spend needed time listening to God so that my heart, mind, and soul could clear out some. 

I was refreshed and ready to study after my walk.

During one of my study breaks this morning I opened up A Guide To Prayer For All God's People to week 52 "When God Calls" and read a quote from Elton Trueblood that came from his book The New Man for Our Time.  He spoke about the Iona community and their example of starting each day by listening to God for guidance.  But what grabbed my attention today wasn't that, but rather his second paragraph.  Trueblood writes about silence: "Powerful and productive as individual silence may be, group silence may be even more productive.  Many are able to report that a genuine entering into a group silence, when it is dynamic and not merely sleepy, can bring, in the briefest conceivable time, an entire flood of ideas not previously recognized." (p. 315 in A Guide To Prayer For All God's People)

Ah.... yes!

Silence in solitude is wonderful.  I concur.

Yet, I have also experienced group silence and find it to be powerful.  I have experienced group silence in groups of centering prayer.  There is something very special to that.  I have experienced group silence in active silence once during my journey in the 2 year Academy.  That was an extremely powerful and meaningful experience.  There was healing in that experience.  I have experienced group silence on 1/2 day retreats and during silent days on retreats or silent times.

There is something about being together, united through a common bond, that gives life to the silence.

Beyond the simple experience of it, group silence can be extremely beneficial when seeking discernment on issues or situations.  But that aspect of silence for group discernment is a whole other topic, one very well worth time and attention.

Do you take time in groups for silence?  Whether it is silence during prayer, or silence to focus and settle in, silence to reflect on a word or message spoken or sung..... if you haven't tried it, try it.  Allowing the time and space for silence in groups for us to listen to God is powerful.

Meanwhile, if you've not had your individual time of silence today, I encourage you take some time for silence. 

I learned of a new resource today, Friends of Silence.   It is a contemplative community started by Nan Merrill in 1987 in Detroit.   On their website they mentioned T.S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday" poem and the importance of there being enough silence for the word to be heard.

Intrigued, I looked for the poem.  I learned that this was considered T.S. Eliot's "conversion" poem, published in 1930.

It has 6 stanzas.  Though long, it is definitely worth a read (or two).  It makes a good lectio divina exercise.

Here is a link to the written poem: "Ash Wednesday".

If you prefer to listen to it, here is a YouTube video:

Blessings on your journey,


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Be informed...

I don't write political posts.

Well, I may have mentioned my Dad running for State Senator back in the day and my stumping for him as a kid... but, in general, I don't write about political topics.

However, on my drive home last night after class from Wilmore, I learned about an informative website that I wanted to pass along to others from the WMBW Moody Radio Station (88.9).  The show on last night that was sharing the information was "The Public Square" sponsored by the American Policy Round Table.

This website is called "iVoters".  You can access it by clicking on the name.

Once you get there, you can type in your address and zipcode to get a ballot for your specific area.  You will see links to the various issues for which you are allowed to vote.  You will also see all the candidates listed for your area.  Some will have pictures.  There are links to learn more information  on as well You can also read both sides of any issues on the ballot. The links take you to  It calls itself an "interactive almanac of U.S. politics."

During the radio broadcast show they were discussing the Tennessee Amendment 1 issue and how the commercials weren't doing the issue any justice nor were they really much help to the voters.

I agree.  The commercials did me no good when I early voted.  I read and re-read the statement with one certain commercial in mind, attempting to figure out how that commercial related to what was being asked of us to vote.  It did not make sense to me.

What was helpful about the link from iVoters to ballotpedia was the information.  You can find the full wording of the ballot text.  You can find information on the Constitution.  You can find information on those for and against the amendment.  You can make your informed decision.

I wish I had been able to consult a non-biased informative website such as iVoters prior to my early voting, but I learned about it later.  If you haven't early-voted, it's not too late for you.

I voted based on verbage of the amendment and what I thought best for the government based on my understandings and insight and not based on commercial bias.  However, it would have been better to have been better informed of the full situation. 

We all know that to be better informed is good.  We all realize that often commercials, especially political ads, can be biased.  We must be able to filter through what is there and discern to the best of our ability, what is the best choice.

There was an issue I was expecting to be on my ballot when I early voted-- the wine in the grocery stores in Tennessee.  It was voted into legislation back in the spring of 2014 (HB 0610), but is coming before the people before it is finalized.  Just last week I started to see some commercials on television asking, "where's the wine?" for the Red, White, and Food Campaign

However, I didn't see the opportunity to vote on this issue on my ballot.  I learned that municipalities had to petition in order to get it onto the ballot. It seems that 80 municipalities in Tennessee pursued this petition to add this to the ballot.  (Check out this article on the Wine Petition Campaign for more information.) It seems therefore, that there weren't folks wanting it to go to a vote in our suburb area, because I never heard anything about nor saw any petition to sign.   I learned by watching this video below that the petitions started this summer in certain grocery stores and they had to have the required number by August 21.  Because the grocery store that I frequent most wasn't named, maybe that's why I never saw a petition to sign.  Also, I traveled a bit this summer and didn't read the newspaper as much as normal, so I missed this article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press from June 6, 2014.

I was asked about my stand on the matter.  I believe that having the wine in the grocery stores can help revenue and therefore isn't a "bad thing."  I wouldn't want the revenue of the larger grocery stores to destroy the smaller businesses, however.  It is important for smaller businesses to do well.  I would like to know how communities in other states have thrived in their businesses since bringing in wine to the grocery stores.  Has it been a win/win situation or has it hampered business and the economy?   Even with those statistics, because each state and community is a different culture, the results could be different here.  It remains to be seen how Tennessee will do in this area. 

You may still be wondering, 'why is she writing about politics and wine?'  It's about being informed.  It's about doing my best to know what is going on around me as I live out my time here, supporting my community, state, and nation.  I admit it-- I'm not always informed as I can be about the various issues and candidates.  I want to be.  I need to be. 

Wherever we live, we have a responsibility to do all the good we can in our community (state, nation, etc.).  As a follower of Christ it makes even more sense to want to be informed and to share that information with others so that we are able to make the best choices.

Check out the links I've provided in this blog post.  Share them with others.  Have fun with research and reading. 

Blessings on your journey,


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My year of jubilee.... it's finally here!!! Now what?!?!

I have been waiting this whole past year for this moment.  Seriously! I have anticipated turning 50 with excitement so much that you would think last year was my year of jubilee.  It was definitely my preparatory year.

I had the nudge on October 1 to start walking, so I did.  And I walked over 500 miles this past year.

For whatever reason, the nudge to hang glide for year 49 was strong, so I went for it.  That was one of the most incredible experiences ever.

I also experienced some significant difficult times in my life with the declining health and death of my grandmother.  I still have yet to blog about that, but I did post a few things here and there in blog posts and on facebook.  One day, when I'm ready, I will honor the rumblings in my soul and write about those times.  Meanwhile, it was an incredible journey to spend time with her weekly last year and to be with her at the end.

Taking BioEthics at the end of that journey (this past Spring semester in February) was difficult, especially when you add in the other situations in my life that I rarely write about that deal with mental illness and brain injury situations.  Suffice it to say that I have been blessed with opportunities for hands-on learning and ministry of presence.

This past year also brought along the death of a very special young man, Will.  His life, his hospital time, and his death forever are part of my journey.  What a blessing and privilege to have been able to walk the path with his family, then and now.

My preparatory year for my year of jubilee included many things.  I often contemplated how I would celebrate the big 5-0 when it finally came.   What I decided was that I would live into my year of freedom, my year of jubilee.  I would embrace it.  I would have fun.  I would live into the adventures set before me and seek out some new ones.  I would complete the paths I was currently on.  (Meaning that I graduate during my year of jubilee!! And I follow the path of commissioning as a Provisional Elder in the United Methodist Church.)

My husband and I made plans for a two night get-away in KY at a B&B, Eagle's View B&B located near Burnside.  (I had enough credits through the Kentucky frequent B&B plan to get a free night.)  We viewed Cumberland Falls, hiked the Natural Arch and the Panoramic View trail, checked out some fresh raspberries that were locally grown at the Cedar Creek Vineyards and ate dinner at Guthrie's Riverhouse Restaurant.  It was a great way to end 49 and bring in 50.

Eagle's View B&B

Sunset, October 7th 2014

Cumberland Falls, October 8th 2014

Natural Arch, October 8th 2014

Natural Arch (up close)

Natural Arch (from underneath)

Natural Arch (from inside)

Cedar Creek Vineyards

Jeff Wiles picking raspberries-- they were delicious!

The plan was to pick up our daughter from my parents and take her to Atlanta, GA to the Georgia Aquarium.  My folks, my daughter, my brother, his girlfriend, and my nephew surprised me with a special lunch and a cookie cake!  Balloons and streamers decorated the dining room and entrance way.  After the celebration, we headed to Atlanta for a couple of days.

I went to my first TaeKwonDo workout as a 50 year old yesterday (Tuesday October 14) and found that I can still do the workout.   ☺ Whew!  One of my goals for my year of jubilee is to test for my next belt level, which is a 1st degree, level 3.  That requires learning the form well, which requires brain matter, which is currently being overused.  So, TKD is mainly exercise for me right now.  But I have a whole year to accomplish that goal.

I wouldn't mind going hang gliding again during my year of jubilee.  Or even up in a hot air balloon.

There are family members I would like to visit.  There are friends I would like to visit.  There are places I would like to visit.

I am would like to finish this journey of my studies well, realizing that I have to balance my time with studies and other roles of life (parent, wife, daughter, friend, etc.).

It is a desire to get out and hike at least once a week, but sometimes that doesn't happen.  I do try to walk at least 4-5 times a week.

I plan to have some time apart, whether it is a 5 day Academy or SOULfeast so that my soul has time to catch up with my body.  Though that is a significant time set apart, I also plan to set aside smaller sabbath rest times throughout the year to "be", to rest, to play, to relax, etc.

I am hoping that my year of jubilee lives into itself historically and that all my debts are forgiven!  So, for the remainder of my seminary courses.... FREE!  For the remainder of the mortgage..... FREE!  YIPPEE!!  That sure would be super!  But, I'm not so sure that others will want to celebrate my year of jubilee in that manner.

Ultimately, how do I want to celebrate my year of jubilee?  Here's how I want to live it out:  I want to love God, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I want to love others. I want to love myself.  I want to walk humbly.  I want to act justly.  I want to seek mercy.   If any of those things sound familiar to you, then you might be thinking of these verses:

Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

I don't know what all this year of jubilee has in store for me, but I do know that I'm excited to live into it.  I have been looking forward to living into the 2nd half of life for several years now.  I've probably really already been living into it in many ways.  The number is finally catching up to me.

Thank you to all who have been celebrating with me.  Know that I'm celebrating this year of jubilee all year long, so if you want to have coffee, go on a hike, share a meal, catch a play or movie, just chat... whatever, let me know.

How goes it on your journey?  What are you celebrating?  With whom are you celebrating?

Blessings on your journey!


PS-- One of the cool things for me during our time in KY was playing my flute underneath the Natural Arch.  I am still learning to play.  I just play/pray the flute.  That was a very sacred and special time for me to play the flute.  I probably should have taken advantage of having someone with me to take the video, but alas, there is a headless flute player.  The acoustics were incredible there.  Don't blame the acoustics for any poor sound quality.... that would be the flute player. ☺