A new way…

In March of 2020, a new way of living began for me…

Living alone, the longing for connections was only beginning.  But, by the end of March and into April, it was becoming apparent that the ‘new way of living’ alone and seeking connections wasn’t to be a short-lived experience. I began to look for a sign of hope in the midst of the struggle of adjusting, accepting, and the  longings.  My sign of hope arrived in early spring through the song of a robin and returned each day, well into summer.  By the time he was ready to move on with another phase of his life, he had planted his song in my heart and chosen the long, sunny days as the time for me to learn to cope with life without him.  I missed him, but I knew it was time.  It’s been almost a year since our bond began.  I am trying to hold back my impatient longing to hear and see him again.  His is a voice that sustains me in my struggle with this ‘new way of living’.  I wrote these words from within the memory of that sustenance…

Tree Top Song

As darkness melds into the light of dawn,

A song trills its way into my being.

A lone robin chants his morning announcements,

Of what?

Of “Love!” beckoned to another?

Of “Time to get up, it’s a new day.”?

Of “Hallelujah! Let’s start again to praise the Lord.”?

Of “Thank you for the air and the light and a tree top perch.”?

The haiku rhythm of his call,

3 syllables, pause, 3 syllables, pause,

Has come to be

         a communication I long for,

         a companion I rely on,

         a predictability I need.

Come back, tomorrow, please.

I long for,

I rely on,

I need,

And I love

All that you bring,

As the darkness melds into the light of dawn.

The love call

The wake up call

The ‘hallelujah’ call

The ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ call

For the air and the light and the hope in the tree top song.

By Susan Ceely Philips

Tiny Practice: Saying the Jesus Prayer

The Jesus Prayer was preached frequently by Dr. Arthur Caliandro, Senior Minister of Marble Collegiate Church from 1984 to 2009 when he retired.   It recently came back into my life when Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer was aired on PBS, which re-sparked my interest in it and Arthur’s teachings.  Subsequently, two written sermons that were distributed at Marble, and include the Prayer, were re-discovered at home; a third, with Arthur preaching, was listened to (refer to resources at the end).  The first two sermons use the same version of the Prayer with the focus on the person praying and is only printed under the first sermon.  The focus of the third sermon is on another person in need of prayer and the Prayer is printed again.       

The Prayer is now included in my regular devotion time; and is helping me sit quietly on a daily basis and trust God to bring into my life what I need, in God’s time.  Which makes me wonder: why now when I’m retired and not when I was younger, and struggling with so many issues?  Some now resolved; others, on-going;  and a few new ones have surfaced after getting re-acquainted with the Prayer.  I’m looking forward to where I’m led and what comes into my life during Covid-19 and retirement.  What new song will I sing?

Sermon:  Trust God and Let Go of It

Arthur preached that the Prayer is an ancient Christian practice and is very powerful as it invokes Jesus’ name.  For a period of time, it was Arthur’s morning prayer when he was:

  • Searching for direction while trying to articulate his needs to God;
  • Trying to surrender his wants and needs to God;
  • Seeking to find out what God would have Arthur do with his life. 

Over time, Arthur found that by saying the Prayer, it became like his breathing and he discovered he no longer had faith crises, “. . . because I found myself trusting God and my life began to straighten itself out.  There was a mini-resurrection.  When we dare enough to trust God with our lives, God takes us through and resurrects us.”  In other words, “God has all the help we need.” 

Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Make haste to help me.

Rescue me and save me.

Do your will in my life. 

According to Arthur, the last line is the foundation, the strength, the power of the Prayer.

Sermon:  the 23rd Psalm

After several years, Arthur noticed his morning prayer life was changing; he was interchanging The Prayer with the Lord’s Prayer, which is central in many religious traditions.  Both felt right for him, so he continued interchanging them. 

Sermon: Hope Made Real,

This sermon may have been Arthur’s last Easter Sermon.  He preached it  after one of his sons died suddenly and he did something he had never done before; he prayed the Prayer for his son, Chuck, for more than a year – over and over until he felt, “Chuck had passed over to the other side.” 

Jesus Prayer

Lord: Jesus Christ, have mercy on Chuck.

Make haste to help him.

Rescue him and save him.

Do your will in his life.

Amen.

RESOURCES

The following sermons can be found on https://www.marblechurch.org/watch/videos?category=2&preacher=27

  • Sermon: Trust God and Let Go of It
  • Sermon: Praying the 23rd Psalm (Lord’s Prayer), May 22, 2005
  • Sermon: Hope Made Real, April 16, 2006 Marble Vision Sermon Vol. 0407

Shared by Karen Reynolds

A Safe Place to Land

Each Sunday on the Lenten Blog for 2021, I will share an inspirational song to help you weather whatever storms you are weathering….with some prayers this week to those affected by the winter storms in Texas and so many other states.

A Safe Place to Land

Words and Music by Sara Bareilles

When holding your breath is safer than breathing
When letting go is braver than keeping
When innocent words turn to lies
And you can’t hide by closing your eyes

When the pain is all that they offer
Like the kiss from the lips of a monster
You know the famine so well, but never met the feast
When home is the belly of a beast

The ocean is wild and over your head
And the boat beneath you is sinking
Don’t need room for your bags, hope is all that you have
So say the Lord’s Prayer twice, hold your babies tight
Surely someone will reach out a hand
And show you a safe place to land

Oh, imagine yourself in a building
Up in flames, being told to stand still
The window’s wide open, this is leap is on faith
You don’t know who will catch you, but maybe somebody will
The ocean is wild and over your head
And the boat beneath you is sinking
Don’t need room for your bags, hope is all that you have
So say the Lord’s Prayer twice, hold your babies tight
Surely someone will reach out a hand
And show you a safe place to land

Be the hand of a hopeful stranger
Little scared, but you’re strong enough
Be the light in the dark of this danger
‘Til the sun comes up
Be the hand of a hopeful stranger
Little scared but you’re strong enough
Be the light in the dark of this danger
‘Til the sun comes up

Be the hand of a hopeful stranger
You’re scared but you’re strong enough
Be the light in the dark of this danger
‘Til the sun comes up
‘Til the sun comes up (Oh)
‘Til the sun comes up (‘Til the sun)
‘Til the sun comes up (Ooh)
‘Til the sun (‘Til the sun)
Comes up

An Invitation to Connect Further

We wanted to reach out to you this Saturday to invite you to participate in our virtual Women’s Retreat 2020 the first weekend in March.

Marble Women’s Ministry Annual Retreat Goes Online!

Join us for our annual retreat as we gather virtually around the theme “We Were Made for More: Hope More. Trust More. Act More.” This retreat is an opportunity to step outside your daily schedule and concerns to learn and care for your soul.

Be ready for community, spiritual growth, renewal, inspiration, and plenty of fun! All women are welcome. (Tech assistance offered all weekend. Recordings will be available for registered participants.)

SCHEDULE
Friday evening, March 5, 7:00-8:30pm
Saturday, March 6, 10:00am-3:00pm (Lunch, 12:00 Noon-1:00pm)
Click here to register by Thursday, March 4. (Please click on all prompts to ensure your registration is completed. You will immediately receive an email confirming registration.) A link to join the weekend retreat will be sent to registrants by Friday, March 5.

For the Book

If you keep a journal it must be a beautiful book
 you return to as I was doing this morning
  
 having put chores aside for my daily entry when
 to my amazement my number two pencil caught fire
  
 that seared up my fingers, my arm to my elbow
 and onto my shoulder where strands of my hair –
  
 perfect tinder – ignited and I became flame, oh!
 I was a flare of irreducible beauty ablaze –
  
 what I truly longed for all my life was happening:
 a visitation, an ordination by fire, an anointing
  
 by the spirit leaving evidence in curls of smoke
 rising like fragrance from a swung censer
  
 like embers flung as stars against darkness –
 but for a moment - it was enough for the moment
  
 and I returned to my journal, my pencil nowhere
 to be seen – but indelible tracks were left in the
                                                                         
 circadian place where I turn myself in as psalmic
 entries of praise and lament, sorrow and joy - 
 none other than Lenten compunction, a record
 of to whom I belong, nothing more nothing less 
 than remembering this happened – as we remember 
 our beloved one’s words to the one who, in longing
 and love, returned to the tomb to tend to the body, 
  
 Do not cling to me - 
  
 words giving consent, awaiting translation:
  
 “Woman, you, too, are a reflection of God’s beauty
 embodied ordained to be who you must be and can be
 arising to be who you are.” 

By Margie Dimoplon

Always remember…

Sometimes the voices in our heads need to be quieted and even dismissed altogether.  I have struggled with this all of my life and have learned the power and strength of saying to the voices that tell me things that aren’t true, “You’re dismissed now.  I am terminating you.  I am replacing you with other voices, other words, words that build me up rather than put me down.”  
 
Some of those words are the ones you see here from Winnie the Pooh.  So simple.  So child-like.  But sometimes we have to go back to the simple and child-like to reclaim the beauty and power of who we are.  
 
During this holy season of Lent, I pray you remember most the first two words of this quote:  Always remember…always remember…
Always remember you are loved.  Always remember you are cherished.  Always remember you are a child of God.  Always remember you are not alone.  Always remember you are braver, stronger, smarter and more loved than you might know.  Yes, you are.

Always remember…

Shared by Reverend Dr. Elise Brown, Executive Minister of Marble Collegiate Church   

Ash Wednesday…

Ash Wednesday is our day of collective reflection and remembrance.

To me Lent is a time for new life and growth, the springtime of the church season.

Welcome to Marble Women’s Ministry Lenten Blog 2021! As you read each day, may you feel the warmth of friends, from near and from far. As the author Dr. Seuss once said, “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Lent is that kind of season. Let us see how much our faith can grow….

A few notes about this year’s Lenten Blog to help you in this season of reflection. A post will arrive in your inbox if you have signed up at 6am EST on most days. Please like, share, tweet, and comment on any post inspires you to grow in faith.

Tuesdays will be for Tiny Practices. Short little practices that you can integrate in your Lenten journey.

Sundays will be for Musical Reflection. A video or two to let the power of music to heal your soul.

And on to our first post…

The Fog Bridge #72494

Several years ago, I went to the Exploratorium in San Francisco to learn more about the extraordinary museum education programs–which are fantastic. If you get a chance, the Exploratorium is worth a visit at any age, but it just might help you grow a bit younger.

An outside artwork called “Fog Bridge #72494” by artist Fujiko Nakaya moved me. And for some reason, this piece represents my journey right now and why I need Lent. All of these struggles will somehow be worth it…but Lord there is some fog blocking my view.

In the first video, you will hear about the artwork from the artist herself and in the second, a look at a famous bridge in San Francisco as the fog moves in and encompass the bridge.

Whether the fog is artificially created or naturally occurring, I know that the fog will lift. And my path will clear up. You see:

“Faith is like radar that sees through the fog — the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.” Corrie Ten Boom

Shared by Marcie Doll

Lent is Coming…

Hello friends,

The season of Lent starts next week and we wanted to share our theme for the Lenten journey with you. We still have places open if you would like to take the theme and write a post for us. Here is our theme for Lent 2021:

Worth the Struggle

We have all been there before. We struggle for days, months, and even years to learn, overcome, achieve, graduate, or something else and once we get to the other side, we know the struggle was worth it.

How do we cope during the time of struggle?

What did we do during the struggle to help us get to the other side?

What are your favorite quotes on “worth the struggle?”

You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging” — Brene Brown.

“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.”  –Helen Keller

A favorite quote on this concept is from Henri Nouwen, “spend some time each morning doing nothing but simply sitting in the presence of God and saying the Jesus Prayer. Gradually, God will enter your heart in a new way and bring new light into your struggle. “

Or maybe there is a song that helped you through the struggle? A favorite for me is the Sara Bareilles song, Brave. Take a listen here:

If you would like to write for our blog this Lent, please note our submission guidelines:

  1. 400 words or less is a good length.
  2. Prayers, songs, pictures, stories, meaningful moments, meditations, poetry, but keep each post to 400 words or less.  
  3. Tell a story from the heart.
  4. Pictures, videos, and even spoken word can be put up on our blog.
  5. Original work is best, if it is not please make sure you credit the author.
  6. Submit your work to doll.marcie@gmail.com. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Thank you so much for considering becoming a writer for this year’s theme “Worth the Struggle.”

Marcie Doll

Unwrapping God’s Gifts this New Year

    I suppose a predictable blog post for the New Year would be about resolutions and making positive changes in your life –healthier behavior, more prudent decisions, self-control, breaking bad habits, etc. But this is a different kind of year. We’ve all been “incarcerated” for the past ten months and we may have learned some lessons from this painful, sobering opportunity. Here are a few lessons I’ve gathered:

Death is a definite possibility. Wow! Unpack that one for a while. How does living change with death at the door?  Make haste to love. Be even more generous with your time and attention and money. Our short time on this planet is precious. Don’t postpone a loving gesture or word. Take a risk in the direction of love. Make your own list and perhaps honor these lessons into the New Year.

Life’s meaning and much of its value lies in small moments of connection, kindness and beauty. We’ve all had to live “small” this past year. Going forward , I hope we can keep appreciating “small” blessings – walking, nature, a greeting, a morning prayer, humming a tune.

And how about honoring and valuing your inner life. Joy cannot be choreographed. It comes and goes. Like grace or the weather, we cannot control it. But we can honor and feel our emotions and dreams and sensations and deem them precious.  We can set the stage for joy and grace to enter by being “in touch” with ourselves and with the spiritual realities and encounters that God provides.

     For this New Year I’m hoping to get back to “normal” but not the normal of rushing, cell distraction and a constant outward focus. Perhaps we can hold onto these small, modest, more vertical lessons from what will be our pandemic past.

    Then again I look forward to some big plans – a big trip, dinner with friends, even a wedding or the birth of a grandchild. It’s nice to anticipate again, to look forward. I’m sure God has something joyful and life-giving in mind for you in this New Year.

Let’s unwrap God’s gifts together.

Reverend Dr. Ken Ruge

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