Anything is Possible!

With Faith, Hope and Perseverance


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Dream Message

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I had a dream about the daughter of my former colleague. RT was the most compassionate and best-loved counselor I’ve ever known. She always made time for clients who needed her in spite of the mountains of paperwork piling up, in spite of the extra hours of overtime, in spite of commendations that we “worked tirelessly,” yet we got plenty tired.

My colleague came down with cancer while serving in the trenches,  helping others fight the monster of addiction. For many months, she continued to work her heart out. But there came a time when the physical pain was too much. She put up a brave fight, but she had to go home. RT died a couple of years ago.

Now, to the dream I had two weeks ago:

I was at a community event organized by RT’s daughter who I’ll call B.  I saw my former colleague in the background, beaming her proud mama smile at her daughter from across the room. Later, I went up to B, gave her a big hug, and handed her a package of disposable razors. 

After I woke up, I debated about whether I should tell B about the dream. I’ve run into her around town, and we are friends on Facebook. But why would I give her razors?

In spite of the weirdness, I sent B a Facebook message about the dream.  She responded with excitement because she’s in the process of organizing a community event in memory of her mother. She said she knows her mother is happy. And she told me she keeps forgetting to buy razors.

I think I’m supposed to help B with this event. We’re planning to meet later today.

I can still see her mama’s big, beautiful smile.


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Bad News or Good News.What Will We Focus On? How will we live?

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The following is a slightly condensed sermon with two stories from my favorite pastor, Dan Macgill. Our gospel reading was about the ascension of Jesus.

Jesus is at the end of his earthly work; his victory is at hand. That is the good news, but he is leaving his disciples in a world that will not be easy for them They will suffer and be persecuted and put to death in his name. That is the bad news. So, what will we, in our lives, choose to focus on – the bad news or the good news?

There are two stories that took place not too long ago in the same town. It was Erie, Pennsylvania. In the first story, a local man of limited mental capacity robbed a bank. The incredible thing was that he had a live bomb attached to his body by a metal collar that someone had locked around his neck. He was carrying a note written by his assailants ordering him to go to four different places after the robbery to get instructions about what to do next to have the bomb defused. He never made it to stop number one. The police intercepted this simple man in a parking lot immediately after he left the bank. He did not try to run from them, but begged them to help him. He told the police he had been forced to rob the bank because the bomb on his neck was on a timer. The bomb squad did not reach the sight quickly enough, and there on main street, the bomb went off and the man blew up. The man had lived in a tiny house alone with his cats. He earned very little money and spent little. He did not have the mental ability to plan a robbery. This bizarre story made headlines all over the country.

But there is another story that also took place in Erie, Pennsylvania. It is a story about a nun, a block full of children, a small corner store, and an old, drug infested neighborhood. The nun lives there in the center of town with her 90-year-old father who refuses to move. It is his home and it is where he raised his children. When the nun returned to this neighborhood, she immediately went to meet the neighbors. She organized a set of after-school games. She gave reading classes on the front steps of her house. Before long, they all took on community projects such as picking up cans, filling garbage bags with trash, and planting flowers along the curbs. They swept the streets and planted grass. And for this work, they got coupons that the local grocery store accepted for food. They even painted houses. Soon, the neighborhood, and it’s very nature, changed.

The nun wanted to go block by block and continue this project, but that required a lot of money. The local paper gave the story good coverage, but the national press ignored it. (I wonder why.) The bank story is about the evil, violent murder of a simple man. More than that, it is about the deterioration of the US as a human community. The other story is about the rejuvenation of an old neighborhood by young children living in the evil of its neglect. But it is also about the possibility of rebirth in American life.

So, what is the gospel telling us about ourselves, today? Is it telling us more than we really want to know? Are we any closer to carrying out Jesus’ mission that he left us in charge of? Has it become too easy simply to allow ourselves to be squeezed into the world’s mold?

Angelique Arnold wrote once that perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

Amen.


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Serving at Cursillo: a Spiritual Weekend

 

Trinity Center pond

My weekend was intense, busy, and very social. I knew it would be outside my comfort zone, but I was asked to be on the music team, and I wanted to give back for all the blessings I’ve received. Leaning heavily toward introversion, I’m more comfortable finding my spiritual moments alone in quiet places, but thankfully, I found God in many varied moments during my four days serving at “EC 95” (The 95th Cursillo weekend of the East Carolina Episcopal Diocese.)

Cursill is a three day adventure for 20 pilgrims who are there to learn about Christian leadership and to be loved and served by the team. One of the common experiences shared by pilgrims was a deeper relationship with Jesus and one another. As a team member serving the pilgrims, I felt this deepening, too. Even with the lack of sleep from late nights and early mornings, even with my occasional discomfort from being around  many people who I didn’t know well, I felt the deepening. I felt the love for people who became family.

It helped that our Cursillo weekend was held at Trinity Center, a place close to nature and close to my heart, where they build around the trees.

Tree in deck

Trinity is an Episcopal retreat center nestled on the North Carolina coast between Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunset at Sander's Point (2)

ocean from the pavilion

One of my favorite places at Trinity Center, besides the beach….  and the sound….. and the pond….

pond throug trees (3)

Trinity Center pond

…is the tunnel that runs under the main road and leads to the beach.

tunnel sign

tunnel entrance

tunnel with turtle

The tunnel is a great place to sing. Imagine the echo. Or is it called reverb?

On Friday afternoon, as I walked the wooded road to my room during a short break, I stopped to admire the light shining through the leaves ahead.

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It was here that I felt the powerful and undeniable presence of my parents. They “told” me (in feelings more than words) of their joy that I was there serving with my husband, and that they are proud of us both. My parents had a long history of ministry in soup kitchens and working with veterans. This is the first time I’ve felt them both together since my father died in January. The confirmation that they are together still makes my heart sing.

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I finally got me a Djembe!

And I did a lot of singing at Cursillo. As part of the music team, I sang, played my guitar, and got to experiment with the new drum I bought for this occasion.

Cursillo music is mostly folksy with some contemporary praise songs. When somebody requested “Wade In the Water,” we had to hunt for the music because it wasn’t on our song list. But it turned out to be such a big hit, we sang this powerful spiritual three times during the weekend. This article explains that “Harriet Tubman used the song “Wade in the Water” to tell escaping slaves to get off the trail and into the water to make sure the dogs slavecatchers used couldn’t sniff out their trail.” 

The following arrangement, while different than the simple version we sang, gives a feeling close to what I felt during our closing service singing with about 50 people and three guitars as I kept a strong, steady beat on my drum.

In spite of the intensity, I’m thankful to have served at EC 95. But some day,  I want to go to Trinity Center just to relax. I bet I’ll do some singing and wading, too.

Silver beach (2)


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Answering a Call

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”  (Interpretive translation of Talmudic texts)

I’ve been called to be part of the music team for pilgrims attending Cursillio, a four day course in apostolic movement. We convene at Trinity Center, an Episcopal retreat center by the Atlantic Ocean. But I wouldn’t call Cursillio a retreat. Its intensity has been known to stretch the boundaries of this introvert’s comfort zone. Maybe that’s not a bad thing – for a few days, anyway. I’ll be taking my guitar and the new drum I bought. My goal is to have fun while serving, singing, and spending some time in nature.

Trinity Center pond

Trinity Center pond

I’ll be leaving tomorrow and will have limited internet access. Don’t know if I’ll have time to dip my toe in the stream of Consciousness on Saturday, but maybe I’ll get to dip my toe in the ocean.

As they say at Cursillio,

De Colores!

I know this is a little long for a one-liner, but I’ll be gone for a few days. Go visit Linda for lots of great one-liner’s at:

https://lindaghill.com/2017/04/26/one-liner-wednesday-best-friends/

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The rules, which I sometimes follow are:

1. Make it one sentence.

2. Try to make it either funny or inspirational.

3. Use our unique tag #1linerWeds.

4. Add our very cool badge to your post for extra exposure!

5. Have fun!

 

 

 


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A Gift

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Have you ever fallen under nature’s spell

walking in the cathedral forest

with sunbeams streaming down from heaven?

It is a gift from the Creator

Maker of heaven and earth

Creator of the universe and willow bark

crystals and all that we need

for healing and nourishment.

When we fall under the spell of nature,

we honor the Creator, God, The Great Spirit, Yahweh, Allah, Goddess –

Creator of Gaia, her trees, flowers, rivers, oceans

and all kinds of beings that fly and crawl and swim and walk.

We were made to love this gift of love,

to protect and cherish the wonders of the earth.

Mother Earth is a living organism

Blessings to you on this Earth Day.

SOCS

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt was the word, “spell,” brought to us by Linda at:

https://lindaghill.com/2017/04/21/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-apr-2217/

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


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The Human Side of Jesus

Jesus_Washing_the_Feet_of_his_Disciples_(Albert_Edelfelt)_-_Nationalmuseum_-_18677.tif.jpg Wikimedia commons

Painting by Albert Edelfelt 1854-1905

Tonight at my church, someone’s going to wash my feet. Then I’ll wash someone else’s feet. In the past, I’ve skipped this ceremony in our “Maundy Thursday” service, mainly because Holy Week is so busy. I figured Wednesday potluck, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday was enough. But singing in the choir, it’s my responsibility to be there. So, I decided to look deeper into this foot washing business.

Jesus washed his disciples feet during the time of Passover when he knew his time on this earth was coming to an end.

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.  John 13:1 (NLT)

It is this love that pulls me in to Jesus. Like the humility that comes next.

After supper, Jesus took off his outer robe, tied a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he washed his disciples feet and dried them with the towel. (John 13: 4-5)

The foot washing was a expression of love and servitude. A precursor to the ultimate act of love to come. The disciples were no doubt embarrassed by their leader and teacher performing such a humble and personal service. But Jesus told them that, later, they would understand.

(How often has it taken me years for to understand the significance of events that once baffled me?)

Then Jesus gives them the mandate from which the word Maundy comes in tonight’s service:

And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.                 John 13: 14-15 (NLT)

Jesus is telling his disciples to be of humble service to each other. I believe he intended us to serve one another. But he is willing to be first. He used his humanity to set an example.

There are many other times when Jesus showed his humanity.  One was in the garden of Gethsemane.  He asked the disciples to stay and watch with him. But they fell asleep. Then Jesus prays.

 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26: 39 (NLT)

It sounds to me like Jesus was scared. He knew what was coming and he felt real human fear. Yet, he wanted God’s will to be done, understanding and trusting, that God had a much bigger plan.

This scene from Gethsemane is depicted in the movie, Jesus Christ Superstar. Some people may criticize the movie for not being strictly in line with the Bible, but it opened my heart many years ago at a time when my mind was firmly agnostic. That’s why I did a series on the movie a couple years ago and would like to share the Gethsemane post again.

I know Jesus is much more than human, but for me, his humanity is what made and makes him more accessible.

https://joannaoftheforest.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/gethsemane-facing-fear/


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God’s Perfect Grace

Lorrie taps into something powerful here – an awareness that comes when we open our hearts and minds to our loving Creator.

Lorrie Bowden

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God’s Perfect Grace

Some of life’s best decisions

happen in an instant

that is stretched to eternity.

That moment when time slows

and swirls around your head,

distorting all,

and yet your thinking

never had such clarity!

In real time

you don’t skip a beat,

but in this disfigured warp-time

you sense all,

see all,

know all,

that ever was,

that ever is,

or ever will be.

And your soul knows the answer,

because IT IS THE ONLY ANSWER!

And any arguments to the contrary,

just fall to the wayside,

fall out of this other worldly,

time depressed,

image warped place.

And in that instant you know,

where you want to be,

where you were meant to go,

and how you are supposed to get there.

Yes, in that moment,

that is stretched to eternity,

the truth of your soul speaks

in the language of your mind.

And your heart,

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