Wednesday, August 31, 2011


When I was a child,my sister and I received a monthly paperback children's book and one year the publishers decided to make the background of each page a pale green.This was restful to the eyes,the thinking went and I recently read that students who overlay a pale green plastic sheet on a text page retain more information.Interesting.

When my youngest son was ten, he and I went to a nearby park and with sweat dripping, we tagged a small oak that was being choked by other saplings.In the fall of that year, we went back and looked for the pink ribbon as all the leaves were gone.Something about digging up that winsome tree and transplanting it in our yard stirred the soul of the future biologist and he has mentioned it many times.For his graduation, I snuck into the yard of that house that we no longer own.The oak has to be over 30 feet tall and gloriously green.I took a picture and framed it as his gift.I think that he liked it.

I thought of this today as I was reading a novel about Hildegarde of Bingen,a Dominican nun who lived in 1098-1179 and whose writings are becoming better known.She speaks of the importance to her sisters of decorating the altar in December with green boughs because of the deep need for green in the bare grey winter in North Germany.I understand this.

This all seemed to be a "co-incidence" when I looked over today's scripture and especially the Psalm:"But I, like a green olive tree in the house of God,trust in the kindness of God forever and ever."Ps.52-10.

I pondered this and then did some research.What is the importance of that particular tree?Some of these marvels have lived for over two thousand years.Amazing.They are full of sap and if one is planted in a garden,it will probably outlive the planter.They produce fruit,beautiful wood,olive oil and leaves for tea.The products can be medicinal.

Regeneration is green.Life and growth are green.

So what am I to be in the house of the Lord? Fruitful,hardy,growing,full of the sap of God's word.A living witness to the "goodness of your name".Ps.52-11.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

you duped me

The reading today from Jeremiah sounds strange to my ears."You duped me ,Oh Lord, and I let myself be duped."Jeremiah loved God but was a reluctant prophet.He goes on and on in scripture complaining how people hate him because he tells God's truth.He moans that although he tries not to share the Lord's name with others,a burning starts in his heart that can only be relieved if he obeys and speaks.Poor Jeremiah.

A few times I have felt that burning.There was a day in 1984 when I was "forced" to call an old friend who I knew was suffering unhappiness.The opinion of this friend was so important to me and I wanted to do anything else but call him and tell him of God's great love for him.With heart pounding,I dialed and we spoke.I shared what I believed God wanted him to know.It was a short call and I could tell that he was uncomfortable.

I belive that the duping is accomplished by God's great love.It is like a warm,melted gold stream that looks for the small cracks,the fissures in our defenses,our masks and it slips in and goes around,over and through until we are snared and His.He is the potter and we ,the clay.

Jeremiah had no choice and neither did I that day.Twenty five years later I ,by grace, found out that the dreaded phone call which spoke of that river of warm gold,had transformed a life.

"Sing to the Lord ,praise the Lord,for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked."Jer 20:13

Monday, August 22, 2011

the wooden bowl

When I awaken in these cooler summer mornings in Georgia,the first thing I see is a plain wooden bowl that I found in a thrift shop.It is obviously hand hewn and has been used many times.

The sight of it starts my day with this thought:what gifts will fall into this poor empty bowl today if I hold it out and keep my eyes open? Buddhist monks are known to walk around with their empty bowls.The hope is that lay buddhists will fill it with either money or food.In this way, the monks who own nothing ,will be taken care of.Could I do this?Detachment,humility.

On Sunday,we took our grandchildren to Mass in their town.Before Mass, we read the scriptures for the day and we talked about them.The readings had to do with the Keys of the Kingdom and how we also have keys that the powerless do not.The middle son who is 9 mentioned the touch pad that opens their garage.He was getting it.The oldest boy,13, spoke of a child in his class whose parents don't care about him.We decided that we could use our power to smile at the powerless in our lives.A start.I place that memory of their openness in my bowl.

After Mass, the middle child who has brilliant auburn hair and deep thoughtful eyes,came over and gave me a big hug.Gratitude,hope? I didn't
ask,I just gently dropped it in the bowl.

Today, a memory came from over thirty years ago.I used to read books by a wonderful,joy filled young author,Ann Kiemel, in the eighties.Her books glowed with light and helped my meager faith considerably.I found her today on Facebook.One of her recent post starts with..."I believe,I believe,I believe even when life is torn apart...even when the sun doesn't shine.".I so needed to read that.Soft as a feather,this thought drifts to the bottom of my bowl.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

an old desk,a thread and Love

Something steals over him,in that empty basement that is hot and airless on this Sunday,August 16,1939 in the South.He brushes his stringy hair from his liquid hazel eyes and picks up a pencil.On a whim ,he writes on the bottom of the desk drawer..."I sit here in the basement little realizing what is to come.I can hear Mama singing her beautiful songs,I have just finished the desk and am in a deep philosophical mood...May God bless Our Father,"

He starts to get up to call his mother down so she can admire his work when he feels impelled to add something else.He cuts a phrase from a book and tapes it to the same surface and only then does he feel that his work is done.He walks up the steep basement steps and out of our story.

On another sweltering day in Georgia,an attractive brown haired young woman drives passed an antique/junk store and stops.She sees what she needs out in front of the store.Because she is starting a new job that requires her to work from home,she needs a desk.On this day,however,she is so bowed in grief that a decision to purchase what she sees is beyond her.Her mind is like a pin ball machine, thoughts
carrening around as if her life is on tilt.It is.

In the glorious evening air of Puerto Rico in January of 2011,she has married the man of her dreams.He is gentle,bright and good,not to metion gorgeous.She never thought that she could be this happy.They are both in their early thirties with life like a shining gold lame' carpet spread out before them.

That was before the June 19th phone call from a friend ,telling her that she had lost him to a heart attck.She is devastated beyond words.

On July 1st,she goes back to the store.The desk is no longer out front.She fears it has been sold but when she enters the store it is right there as she walks in and the man at the counter offers it to her for eight dollars.She didn't realize how much she wanted it until that moment and then it fits perfectly into her small car.

A desk is just a desk,isn't it?Can it be something else?The Spirit,the Comforter,weaves lives together for His own purpose.Urges one human to add a note under the desk drawer for a person yet unborn,who would need this particular grace on July 1,2011.The printed note said,"Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you."