Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bittersweet: A time to mourn and give thanks...

Next week is a hard time for me. Every first week in May will always be a trying and somewhat difficult time because of the memories of loss and what seemed at the time, the superhuman effort it took to do all the things and face all the things that I had to in 2005.

I speak of an 81st birthday and its time so short-lived three days later. Of my 46th birthday and Mothers' Day on the same day, without the mother who had me and that we normally celebrated. Of officiating at my mother's graveside service the next spring day, when the wind moved during the committal and I felt the Spirit moving all around me--us--as we laid her in the grave. The sun was shining and there were dark clouds in the west. The grass, springing up green in the joy of Eastertide, and the wind, rising and falling, hollowing and amplifying my words as I read them, dressed in white alb, black cincture, purple stole--the one I would wear as a hospital chaplain administering sacraments, and those murmured prayers for the dying, my shoes off outside the hospital room door, walking on sacred ground. And then there I was, walking on sacred ground once more.

My niece had carried the processional candle, leading the casket to the grave as I intoned the words of the burial office. She held the shell-shaped dish of holy water as I circled the grave and blessed it with a sprig of rosemary from home. It was the hardest day of my life. But one I am so thankful for and would do again and again for the privilege to show my last act of devotion to she who bore me, and almost died in doing so. To forgive the imperfections and honor the sacred in her. She brought me to know Jesus at a young age and when things happened that I didn't understand, she would tell me that life is this way, and though we may not understand why things happen, God will always show us and make known to us wisdom when we are ready for it, if not now, then later in life, and all will become clear.

It has been an adjustment for me, these last two years, from the routine of the previous 15 years of gradually increasing and complicated care-giving to her passing to eternal life in Christ. Yes we were close, shared many of the same interests and opinions, and we also went many places together of mutual interest. Gardening was a passion we both shared, and I decorated her hospice room with flowers, wreaths of twigs and branches, hastily woven together and adorned with dried flowers and leaves, moss and seashells, smooth driftwood and sprinkled with ocean sand.

So, you see, my memories are very sharp, as if it had all happened yesterday. I will post this as a memorial to her and how she helped cultivate in me the person I am today, and let it be for a while until after May 9th, when the remembering and emotions are calmer and less vivid, when the pain is dulled again by time until next year. But I will be all right. I know exactly where to find her at the end of time, and its not the grave.


"A lovely Lady,
Garmented in light,
From her own beauty."
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley~

Friday, April 20, 2007

10,000 th Visitor!

I wish to congratulate the mystery visitor in Junction City, Oregon for being my 10,000th visitor since my website began on March 20th of 2006. Drop me an email and let me know how you are finding the site and how you like it. I would appreciate it very much.

They have a wonderful Daffodil Festival up there every Spring and these are pictures from their website showing last year's festivities.

The lady with the bunny is spinning the mohair from the rabbit's fur. No harm was imposed on the bunny whilst gathering and spinning.

And these lovely girls are just some of the fine residents of Junction City,
showing off some great blooms.

I also give honorable mention to Bosco Peters+, Anglican priest, in Christ Church, New Zealand for being my 9,999 th visitor! Love ya, Bosco+ ! That's a photo of a baptism from his website showing him to the left [duh, he is the only priest in the pic!].

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Resurrection of Spirit: A personal reflection

Most bloggers that I read have posted either prayers, comments or observations on the Virginia Tech tragedy. I have posted reflections by both Barbara Crafton+ and my bishop, +Johncy Itty on the matter.

I have watched some of the interviews with parents of slain students yesterday and now, today. I don't know or pretend to know how these moms and dads--as well as sisters and brothers--are holding it together at a time like this. It is amazing to hear them and see them talk about their sons and daughters, no longer living, cut down in the prime of their young adulthood; their futures burning brightly ahead of them.

But in hearing these parents speak, the light of their children is not completely out, nor will it be. These are parents ready to celebrate the lives of their fallen children and remember the best of what made these young men and women the outstanding students they were to them and their classmates.

The vigil held last night on the campus was amazing to see live on whatever network you were watching. The images so powerful in their stillness and silence. There was such strength and hope in the midst of devastation, I was moved with emotion and could feel their collective grief and disbelief all at once, as well as their determination never to forget their fallen friends and classmates.

A memorial fund has already been set up for contributions in honor of the students and professors killed. Presumably it will be used for scholarships in their names and, possibly a physical memorial at some point in the future.

We learn today that a judge in 2005 had ruled that the young man--the shooter--was a danger to himself and others. We also learned that two English professors tried to raise the alarm about this troubled young man, but no one would take them seriously or consider further action to protect the individual or the community. We ask ourselves: Why were these two women not listened to or taken seriously? Why, after it had been noted that his behavior was questionable by others, that no one else reported his disturbing behavior? So many questions, too few answers.

"...the more attention you give a thing, the more powerful it becomes..."

We need to also remember that the more attention you pay to the shooter and the circumstances surrounding his actions, the more power you give him and others like him to do the same. We have seen this already: the campus scare at the U of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Springwater High School and Willamette High School in Oregon; the first a shooting, the second, a bomb blast. Thankfully no one was hurt but again it tells us that things were not coincidental, what with all the media coverage on the VT shooter. There are many lone individuals who are hurting and needing help, this is obvious. The ones we should be paying more attention to are the victims, living and dead, and giving them the power that was taken from them instead.

The politicalization of the gun issue is disturbing. Even the President and presidential candidates knew that this was not the time to raise gun law questions or comment accordingly. This is a time of mourning and grief, of trying to support and comfort the survivors and the families. Gun laws should be the last thing on anyone's mind. Why? Because no matter what laws you pass, if someone wants to do something to harm others, they will find a way to get a weapon--regardless of what kind--and nothing can stop them if they are determined enough to carry out their plan.

Many will not agree with me, but that is the beauty of a free society. And I would not change it for the world. We live in the freest nation on the planet. It is far from perfect but I am thankful to be an American, to have gone through our public higher education system and that I survived to witness some of the most horrendous events and acts of compassion as a result, in our history, but also some of the best.

The parents of slain students want to memorialize their children in the lives they led, full of promise and example. The grief will hit them when they receive the body of their child and it will be the hardest thing they have ever had to face. We need to uphold all of them in prayer. Light a candle and remember them all, including the shooter. His parents are grieving too.

Photo One is by Sam E., Virginia Tech student, courtesy of flickr.
Photo Two is by Kevin Cupp, Virginia Tech student, courtesy of flickr.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Message from Oregon Bishop re: Virginia Tech Tragedy

The following message was received today throughout the Diocese of Oregon [from the Cascade Mountain Range and west to the Oregon coast] regarding our Bishop's reaction and his message to all in our diocese. I share it with you here:

Prayers for Virginia Tech Families and for Our Nation

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During this time of national mourning for the innocent victims of the campus shooting in Virginia, may we reflect upon the words of Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea;

Though its waters rage and foam and though the mountains tremble at its tumult.

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be overthrown; God shall help her at the break of day,

Be still, then, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

(Psalm 46:1-6; 11, 12)

Please read the rest of his message on our diocesan website.

Virginia Tech: Worse Case Scenario

Once again, The Rev Barbara Cawthorne Crafton succinctly puts the hammer to the nail as she reflects heavily on the disaster and death at Virginia Tech yesterday morning. Her ability to put thoughts into words is, hands down, better than I could ever do. Here is part of her reflection...


Well, when would be the best time to commit a crime? Wouldn't it be right after another one had been committed in another place nearby, when everyone's attention was focussed on the first one? Such a plan makes enough terrible sense that even a person whose mind is diseased enough to do such things could follow the logic. And, as we know today, it worked -- just well enough, for a shooter who doesn't mind dying himself -- at Virginia Tech's Norris Hall.

So there will be an investigation of police procedures at Virginia Tech. And of emergency communications policy. And the endless American argument about gun control, a discussion so puzzling to people from other parts of the world. When something this large and this crazy happens, people want to find something concrete to fix, so that it will never happen again.

But "never" is a long time. There is only so much protection we can give ourselves against insanity.

Read the rest here.

Keep watch dear Lord with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

If you wish to light a virtual candle and include a prayer, you can go to the Candle Vigil page at The Geranium Farm to do so. Many prayers are already being offered...please add yours, as this is what they need the most.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

"You Do Not Have To Be Good..."

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver, ~ New and Selected Poems

Photo of lab puppy by

Photo of geese in flight by

The Six Weird Things Meme...I've been tagged

Thanks to Saint Pat I have been tagged to reveal the weird and wacky about myself...six times, mind you! So, let's deal and get it over with already, oi vay!

1. I am obsessed with the neatness of my car's interior, including the trunk and engine area. No one may ever see the interior of my trunk, but that's my business.

2. I talk to my dog and act as if I know what his response is and do accordingly, or he does accordingly.

3. Xena, Warrior Princess, will always be one of my contemporary heroes, and no, she does not supplant Wonder Woman.

4. I do not like fruit with chocolate.

5. I have premonitions about people and events and it makes my friends crazy to the point that they say, "Stop doing that!".

6. I had an extensive action figure collection...there I said it.

I now tag Cecilia , Jan , Little Mary , Weiwen, Raspberry Rabbit, and Tangled Up In Blue !

Friday, April 13, 2007

Barbara Crafton+ reflects on Don Imus

One of my favorite blogosphere personalities and spiritual inspirations is The Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton of The Geranium Farm. Nothing like down to earth and real life reflections on Life itself from a woman and priest who knows.

Barbara has a good reflection from her Daily eMos today [when aren't they good??? Never!]. Today she recalls a younger and very different Imus. You can read it here. It is really good.

There have been other thoughts and commentaries on the incident of stupidity and male arrogance throughout the blogosphere and news media. But I like Barbara's best because of her style and quietness, her directness and memory of a better person. I guess we all have memories like that of one person or another but this one is timely and strikes a chord nationwide that really, enough is enough, and that finally, corporate America seems to be actually listening to the people...for once anyway.

The women of Rutgers reacted with dignity and restraint. They can be examples for us all when we face bigotry, prejudice and persecution. I love them for their poise and professionalism, and so much more. I think they have back their stolen moment...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Loveliest of Trees"

Loveliest of trees the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now of my three score years and ten,
twenty will not come again.
And take from seventy years a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom,
Fifty Springs is little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

Written by A. E. Housman
Cherry blossom image by Quiet Heart Images.

Having Faith In Women: USA Today

A journalist friend forwarded this article to me from USA Today regarding the groundbreaking changes in the Church recently and in politics that women have accomplished in the last year. I find it an interesting read and a kind of much needed revelation. Frankly, the Church as we know it today is much better off for having us in it, and it was before this time in history as well, except that we were ignored and buried in the patriarchy of that day and--what I see as--the waning of patriarchy today, in spite of Popes and ABC's.

Well, I guess I am back pretty much from my Lenten observance of no ranting or pointy opinions.

I will however continue the meditative reflections and poetical inspirations at least once a week if not more, especially if I think poetry and gentle but firm prose is more appropriate or if it expresses what I cannot.

Eastertide is upon us. Let us rejoice and celebrate our Risen Lord! Alleluia!!! I know there is a chocolate marshmallow bunny here somewhere....

Saturday, April 07, 2007

"Now the Green Blade Rises..."

Now the green blade rises
from the buried grain,
wheat that in dark earth
many days has lain;
love lives again,
that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that springs up green.

In the grave they laid him,
Love whom hate had slain,
thinking that never
he would wake again,
laid in the earth
like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again like wheat that springs up green.

Forth he came in quiet,
like the risen grain,
he that for three days
in the grave had lain,
quick from the dead
the risen Christ is seen:
Love is come again like wheat that springs up green.

When our hearts are wintry,
grieving, or in pain,
Christ's touch can call us
back to life again,
fields of our hearts
that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again like wheat that springs up green.

Words: John Macleod Campbell Crum (20thC)

Music: Noel nouvelet, medieval French carol
Sequence: Dall Forsythe, Church of St. John the Evangelist

Photo One courtesy of Oregon State University Ag School.
Photo Two courtesy of Google Images.
Photo Three, "Morning Glory",
by Fred of Floyd, VA

Sunday, April 01, 2007

"Longing to be with Christ"

To Jesus, the crown of my hope,
My soul is in haste to be gone;
O bear me, ye cherubim, up,
And waft me away to His throne!

My Saviour, whom absent I love,
Whom, not having seen I adore;
Whose name is exalted above
All glory, dominion, and power;

Dissolve thou these bonds that detain
My soul from her portion in thee.
Ah! strike off this adamant chain,
And make me eternally free.

When that happy era begins,
When arrayed in Thy glories I shine,
Nor grieve any more, by my sins,
The bosom on which I recline.

Oh then shall the veil be removed,
And round me Thy brightness be pour'd,
I shall meet Him whom absent I loved,
Shall see Him whom unseen I adored.

And then, never more shall the fears,
The trials, temptation, and woes,
Which darken this valley of tears,
Intrude on my blissful repose.

Or, if yet remember'd above,
Remembrance no sadness shall raise,
They will be but new signs of Thy love,
New themes for my wonder and praise.

Thus the strokes which from sin and from pain
Shall set me eternally free,
Will but strengthen and rivet the chain
Which binds me, my Saviour, to Thee.

Written by William Cowper
Images provided by Google Images.