Reflecting on a Leap of Faith….

There have been times in my life when simply getting out of bed each morning has been a leap of faith. I wondered how I would ever have the energy to get through a particular challenge, or difficult situation in life. Then God would place a particular person in my life, to help me see the way ahead. I would often recall the huge leap of faith called youth, and persevere. My friend Ajua just graduated from high school and will be attending Yale in the fall. Ajua is an amazing dancer, able to seemingly defy gravity with her leaps. In this photo, she looks like someone out of a Jackie Chan movie. Rather than just jump on the trampoline, she leaps. That summer between high school and college was a lot like this photo. It seemed we were caught in stop action, in midair. The big push to graduate was past us, and we knew the next step. Yet like Ajua and Alexa, we seemed suspended, in wait, for the next big challenge. There is such pressure in modern life to rush around, to push and attack your goals. We forget to savor the summers of our youth, to be present in our current situation. When a river flows without ebbing, it is called a flood. The life giving power of water becomes a destructive force, laying waste to everything in its path. Without pausing in midair, without rest, we become like that flood. We become impatient to have it all now, rather than accepting that all will be provided for us in the fullest of God’s time. Pause to enjoy the early summer evenings, while the breezes are still cool. Recall those huge leaps of faith in your youth, and allow that faith to inform your current situation. And trust that times of watching and waiting are times when God molds us for the challenges ahead. Photo by Daniel Aste


Reflecting on Wandering….

There is more than one way to travel, and over the years our family has tried them all.  We have taken tightly scheduled bus tours, a cruise ferry across the North Sea, and trips with no particular aim in mind.  I must say I prefer the trips that allow us time to wander.  My friend Betsy just returned from a trip to Paris.  What an awesome place to simply take in what the city has to offer!  I was drawn to this amazing photo of a street performer, playing a colorful accordion amidst an even more colorful display. I can imagine people wandering by and pausing to listen, and showing their appreciation with a few coins. What started out as a stroll down an unknown street becomes a chance encounter with beauty.  This performer offers something for both the eyes and ears, something that sparks the imagination.  The whimsy of her display hints at times gone by, or perhaps a long forgotten fairy tale.  Yet we do not need to board a plane to find such beauty.  We simply need to make time and space for such a chance encounter. Take time today to stroll down a street you haven’t taken before, or drive another way to work.  Pause to drink in unexpected beauty along the way, and allow that simple grace to swell in your heart and feed your soul.  Photo by Betsy Graham Myers

Reflecting on Homecoming….

Yesterday my daughter Tori returned home after a week-long trip to Minnesota.  A bus load of high school youth, from across Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia, shared a long bus ride to attend the Episcopal Youth Event, held on the campus of Bethel University.  The bus arrived later than expected, so I walked the labyrinth while I waited.  Pilgrims of old who could not travel to the Holy Land would travel to a cathedral like Chartres to walk a labyrinth.  This labyrinth is next to a very busy road with a bus stop, so at first the traffic noises were distracting.  I was impatient to see Tori after a week away, so each time a bus pulled up, I thought her bus had arrived.  Yet very quickly, all those distractions fell away and I became absorbed in the labyrinth.  Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has one way in, and one way out.  The path reverses itself often, and leads you to the edge just before arriving in the center.  Just as I departed the labyrinth, the bus arrived.  The youth alternated between greeting their parents and one last round of hugs amongst each other.  It seemed this farewell was a lot like the labyrinth.  Homecoming is always bittersweet, especially when a trip is packed with happy memories.  We are so happy to be home, yet unwilling to let go of our recent experiences and new found friends.  Tori commented on how different the return trip on the bus was from the trip out. In the beginning of the journey, the youth did not know each other well, and stuck with a few friends they already knew.  On the way back, everyone kept switching seats, because they all had become friends.  So it is with homecomings.  We return home with new friends, new experiences, new perspectives.  Perhaps homecoming is a lot like the labyrinth, seeing the same things from different perspectives, integrating what you have learned into familiar settings, that somehow seem different, yet the same.  Take time today to reflect on what homecoming means to you, or on a journey that changed your perspective, and perhaps even the course of your life.  Reach out to a friend that shared that journey, and those memories.  Or perhaps, to walk a labyrinth.  Photo, and labyrinth, by St Luke’s Episcopal Church, Bethseda, MD

Reflecting on Memory….

 Those fireflies have led me down memory lane.  What began as a single memory of fireflies led me to make beef vegetable soup this weekend, complete with broth made from soup bones.  So I was drawn to this photo of my Aunt Audrey, holding her great grandson Andrew as a baby.  I’m not sure, but I believe she is sitting in my cousin Diane’s kitchen.  It seems we have a lot of photos of Aunt Audrey in the kitchen. My Aunt Audrey was a wonderful and creative cook, and she shared this gift with us all. We often gathered in the kitchen, helping her to cook and learning to cook at the same time.  She loved cookbooks but rarely used the recipes exactly as provided.  Fortunately for us all, she frequently wrote in her cookbooks, recording these changes and variations. So her cooking, and her memory, is preserved and handed down to the next generation, and the next. At first, I didn’t connect making this soup with those fireflies. Then on Sunday, I saw so many butterflies in our backyard. The day my aunt died, the backyard was full of butterflies, as if tiny angels had arrived to call her home.  Another wonder of nature tied these memories together, and led me again to consciously remember my dear aunt.  Take time today to make a memory come alive, to honor pastimes or skills lovingly taught to you as a child. You’ll preserve the memories of those that have gone before us, and make memories for those who will remain when we are called home.

Reflecting on Childhood….

Last night was one of those perfect summer nights. It was warm, but not too warm. There was a nice breeze and it wasn’t humid. Summer nights like these remind me of my childhood and the days before air conditioning drove us indoors. I remember my father teaching us how to catch fireflies, using an open hand from underneath. Just like in this photo, we would trap the fireflies in an old Mason jar, with holes poked into the lid. When we would stay overnight at my Aunt Audrey’s, she would let us keep the jar on the dresser. I remember watching those fireflies until I fell off to sleep. In the morning, the fireflies would be gone. We would scold my aunt for making the holes too large, and allowing the fireflies to escape. She would promise to be more careful next time, rather than telling us she had let the fireflies loose. And of course, the next time, the same thing happened all over again. There was great wisdom and great tenderness in this tiny ‘deception’. I was sure at least one firefly remained in that bedroom, and I spent time looking for where it might hide. Or wondering how it had escaped through those holes. By allowing us to imagine what happened to those fireflies, rather than knowing she had let them go, a bit of magic was preserved, a tiny sliver of childhood carried on. So when my daughter was little, I taught her to catch fireflies and allowed her to keep the Mason jar on her dresser. And of course, when she scolded me in the morning, I let the magic carry on, for another generation. Is there a child in your life, room for a little magic? Take time to pass along the joys of your childhood, allowing yourself to be a child again, while fondly remembering the adults that took time for you. Photo by Dozenroses13

Reflecting on Transition….

It’s a hot, grey day here in Virginia, with just enough rain to dampen the ground.  I would prefer to be by the water, watching the tide ebb and flow.  My friend Carole took this amazing photo at Harkness State Park in Connecticut.  I love how the water bubbles over the rocks, making the colors more vivid.  At the same time, the rocks are slowly changing shape, gently becoming something new.  It seems to me the Holy Spirit is like this water.  At times, the water of the Holy Spirit pours down on us, drenching our lives and souls.  At other times, God approaches more cautiously, subtly removing our rough edges.  What we perceive as a dead end may open out into a new path, a way we had not considered or even imagined.  Or are we simply slow to discern God’s will for us?  Perhaps like these rocks, we have allowed the dirt and grime of the world to fade our glory. Our brilliant colors only shine through when we are washed with holy water.  Sometimes it takes one huge splash, but more often the process is gradual, gentle, almost a caress.  We change as our perspective changes.  We slowly open our eyes, and gradually receive God’s grace.  Are you in the midst of a transition?  Are there decisions that seem too big, or too difficult to make? Take time to ponder God’s infinite power, and complete sovereignty, over every aspect of creation.  Trust that our Lord has prepared a path for you, and for us all. Photo by Carole Buckwalter © 2011

Reflecting on Travel……

Yesterday my daughter Tori boarded a bus headed for the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) in St Paul, MN.  She is traveling with the same kids she has worked with all year on youth ministry in our diocese.  The farewells were beyond brief as she happily boarded a bus full of excited teenagers and the few brave souls acting as chaperones. So I was drawn to this photo by my friend Bonnie, taken on her way to work in Oregon.  I particularly noticed the sky in this picture, with the clouds hugging the mountains. I miss the big sky of the western US, where it seems you can see forever. Here in Virginia, you can only see this far from a mountain top.  The trees and foliage often obscure the long view.  I wonder what Tori and her traveling companions will see and learn on their journey.  Perhaps there will be a glimpse of the long view, a possibility in life they had not considered before.  Or perhaps a new friendship will develop, a new viewpoint that alters their perspective.  Are you or someone you know about to take a journey, to vacation or visit family?  Take time to open your eyes to your new surroundings, to allow different views and people into your heart and soul.  We are all connected in ways we can scarcely understand.  Enjoy the journey, allowing yourself to see the world through God’s eyes, and to embrace the world with God’s heart. Photo by Bonnie Hamlett

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