Light Always Breaks Through

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If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139: 11&12

Today is Good Friday, the day on which we remember the crucifixion of Christ. Though it is a day filled with sorrow, it reminds us that even when it seems that death and defeat will be the last words, the light of God will break through. With God, light always overcomes darkness. With the light and love of God, we can overcome the darkness in our lives.

Dr. Michael Bos
Senior Minister, Marble Collegiate Church

Jesus Walked this Lonesome Valley

Jesus walked this lonesome valley.
He had to walk it by Himself;
O, nobody else could walk it for Him,
He had to walk it by Himself.

We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.

You must go and stand your trial,
You have to stand it by yourself,
O, nobody else can stand it for you,
You have to stand it by yourself.

While this song has been embraced by American folk and country music singers since the 1950’s, the origins of this song are found in the African American Spiritual Canon and sung in communities throughout the south following emancipation.   I have included several versions of the spiritual, as all will move you.

  1. Jesus Walked this Lonesome Valley sung by Sunday 7pm Choir
  2. A moving rendition of Jesus Walked this Lonesome Valley by James Hynter and Jack Horner
  3. Middle Collegiate Church singing Jesus Walked this Lonesome Valley
  4. Mississippi John Hurt singing You Gotta Walk the Lonesome Valley

Shared by Marcie Doll

The picture below is of a crass that I found in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It is silver with heart and crosses in purple that stick out.

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Landmark for Peace

MLK and RFK

I did not know about this speech, the one that Robert F. Kennedy gave on the evening of April 4, 1968, the day Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.   This impromptu speech given by a man whose time on this Earth was not long, but he did not know that.  To calm a city at the brink of riots.

This picture has RFK reaching across the divide to MLK in bronze and there is a gap.  My visit moved me to tears and reading the speech made me think of a time such as this.

It was a beautiful night in Indianapolis when I visited with a sky full of wispy and puffy clouds.

Here is the speech given by Robert F. Kennedy on April 4, 1968:

“I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.

In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black–considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible–you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization–black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love–a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”

Shared by Marcie Doll

One of those places…

Hangzhou

This is a picture of my silhouette at West Lake in Hangzhou, China.  For many, this is a place on their bucket list and is listed in the book, A 1,000 Places to see Before you Die.  For many centuries, this lake has inspired a nation and many artists and poets have created masterworks with the beauty they found along the lake.  The lake is sheltered by hills on three sides and has numerous pagodas, temples and spectacular gardens around the shoreline.

One Song Dynasty poet wrote:

Sunny water waves its glow,
Misty rain tricks the hill.
Plainly or gaily decked out like Xi Zi,
West Lake is always alluring.’

When I visited on a rather gloomy day, it looked like winter with barren trees and a mist in the air.  But I felt an overwhelming feeling of God’s presence at West Lake.   Even in winter there is beauty and peace to be found by all who visit.  The birds chirped in song to remind me.

I know that spring will come soon and while I may only see the bare branches and the gray sky, God is at work. As the days warm, I know that those branches will be in bloom in just a matter of weeks.

It’s a matter of my perspective here on Earth.  From God’s point of view looking down on Earth, the sky is always blue.   I need to remember that my perspective is often limited.

Shared by Patricia Wu

 

Rivers and Spirituality

Missouri River from Sioux Falls-2

Sunset on the Missouri River in Sioux City, Iowa on October 31, 2018 from my hotel room…it was a sunset that I wrote about in my journal.  The colors seemed to get better and more vibrant with each passing moment, leaving me in awe of a colorful sky.   While I am in the state of Iowa, across the river is Nebraska and a few miles upstream is South Dakota.

This area and all of the surrounding states have struggled with some of the worst flooding in a century this year.  Even now, the river continues to be just below the flood stage and this past week saw another big winter storm with a great deal of snow that caused havoc for recovery efforts.  I continue to include these areas and the people who are affected in my prayers everyday.

How can water be such a life-giver at one time, but be a life stealer in another?

Water is life.  We need water to survive and so does every living thing.  Water flows in a river calmly like this picture of the Missouri River and can be used in a bath tub to help a person unwind from a day filled with stress.  A river can also have rapids and provide great beauty as it runs through a waterfall.  It still provides a method of  transportation for goods to be shared with those downstream on great rivers like the Mississippi.  A river can be sacred, like the Ganges and gets used in spiritual practices like washing of feet and hands.  And as it has done this year, a river can flood and cause loss of life for farm animals and people.

On this Sunday that commences Holy Week, I wanted to share several very different styles of songs on the spirituality of  a river.  In each of these songs, the music shares a hope when all seemed lost.  That is something I will take with me into Holy Week and I hope you do too.  Hope in our darkest times…

The River sung by Garth Brooks

“Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
‘Til what we put off ’til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don’t you sit upon the shoreline
And say you’re satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide.”

River sung by Josh Groban

“I walk down to the river
Where the troubles, they can’t find me
Let the waters there remind me
The sun will be there when we wake
I walk down to the river
Though I might not understand it
It’s not always as we planned it
But we grow stronger when we break
So I walk down to the river…”

Down by the Riverside sung by Playing for Change

Ol’ Man River sung by Paul Robeson

Shared by Marcie Doll

If you would like to lend a hand or make a donation to the continued disaster in the Midwest, PBS Newshour shared the following resources:  Organizations that need our help and provide flood relief services.  And please continue to pray for all of our brothers and sisters in the Midwest.

 

A Bouquet

Patricia Flowers“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

 This photo is of a spring bouquet in a small crystal vase. The bouquet includes violet and cream calla lilies, pink alstroemeria and white snapdragons.

I had been changing their water and cutting their stems to better absorb the water every day and they were all blooming beautifully. I could almost imagine them saying thank you to me!

I suddenly thought, “How often does God ‘change my water’ and ‘cut my stems’ for my own good?” I can tell you that a prayer of thanksgiving is not my usual response when changes and challenges come along.

I prayed that God would help me to see His loving hand in every circumstance and every person and I thanked Him for the current changes and challenges in my life. I am choosing to trust God that they will cause me to bloom beautifully! I confess that some days it’s easier to do that than others!

Shared by Patricia Wu

From the Cocoon

Kintsugi:  “The art of precious scars”

Kin = Golden
Tsugi = Joinery

 

Quilt

I was doubly blest recently not only to have attended the Marble Women’s Retreat, but also to have shared that powerful weekend with my mother.   She happens to be a talented quilter with a vision for truth.  At the retreat, I had an opportunity to share my story, and I wanted to mention Kintsugi as the process we undergo as we move into our authenticity as women of God.  I couldn’t remember the name Kintsugi, but when I described the process to her, she knew it immediately and gave me its name just in time for me to speak.

The very afternoon we returned from the retreat, she presented the above quilt that she had recently made for me as a gift.  It had been waiting for me the entire weekend.  I hadn’t known anything about it, but the power of it had taken hold long before I even knew it existed.

On the back of the quilt, she included a pieced-together definition of kintsugi from various sources:

“Japanese philosophy which says that broken pieces carefully repaired with lacquer and gold render the breaks beautiful and strong.  There should be no attempt to disguise the damage because the repaired piece is now more beautiful than the original.”

Her own words continue, speaking a truth that, I truly believe, is meant for each and every one of us:

“In the process of repairing things that have broken, we actually create something more unique, beautiful and resilient.  You have repaired yourself in a deeply beautiful, prayerful and thoughtful way.  You are stronger today than you have ever been.  Your scars are truly beautiful and what you are today is a perfect example of ‘the art of precious scars.’”

Thank you, Mom.

Shared by Karla Hendrick

It’s the Weak that Confounds the Mighty

Mighty Flowers

After months of their underground convening
Time had come to desist from further meeting,
The Old Man was about to meet his match,
Warriors hidden from his eyes
Clad in delicate disguise
Now prepared to execute the plot they’d hatched

Sheathed in white their sharpened swords
At signal raised in one accord
Pierced through snowy cover of the enemy shield,
Tiny bells rang their success
Victory pins of green on dress
Theirs the first win to take back the frozen field

Who’d have thought the gentle flowers
Could defeat the Icy King?
Valiantly the lowly snowdrops
Ushered in the reign of Spring!

© 2019 Karen DiProspero

“…God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are might.”  I Corinthians 1:27 (KJV2000)

Rainbow…

Sausalito

12 God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  Genesis 9:12-15

Shared by Patricia Wu