Advent is Coming…Tomorrow

Welcome to the 2019 Advent Blog.  Light the candles, tomorrow is the start of the Advent Season.  

When you wake up on Christmas morning this year, how will you be different?  Advent is a season of transformation, but only if you let the spirit of Advent in your life.  Are you ready to hit the Advent Trail with us? 

The Advent Trail is our theme in 2019.

What is a trail?

A trail can be a beaten path, well-worn, steep and for many, a trail goes through rough country.   When I think of a trail, the Appalachian Trail or A.T. comes to mind first.  The Appalachian Trail in its entirety is 2,178 miles.  Wow!   It is not a journey that you can do unsupported.  And to be successful, you must get help from family, friends, fellow hikers and even strangers.

But we do not need to be on trails as long as the Appalachian Trail to make our life better…

Please join us on the Advent Trail this year and invite your friends by sharing the website for our blog, http://marblewomen.com.  We have added some new features this year that include a book room for some suggestions for books to read, a gift buying guide to share shops that make a difference, and an inspiration space.  And there is a prayer wall to add some prayers for family, friends or yourself.  We will all pray together.

Do not be afraid, as we are walking the Advent Trail. Together. 

Marcie Doll, Elder, Marble Collegiate Church and Curator of the Marble Women’s Ministry Blog

Honoring Memorial Day

June 6th, 2019 will be the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy where 156,000 Allied troops started a campaign to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany.  Today, I want to honor Memorial Day to take a moment to remember the sacrifices of those who have lost their lives in service to our country.

Did your father serve in WWII, Korea or Vietnam? Or Desert Storm?  Or Iraq and Afghanistan?
Maybe you had an uncle who served. Or a Grandfather?
Or an Aunt who volunteered to serve?
Or did you hear about the family member who left for war, but did not comeback?

It is Memorial Day.  We remember the sacrifices of the fallen and lost.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  John F. Kennedy

With the anniversary quickly approaching, I wanted to share this speech from Ronald Reagan that he gave at Pointe du Hoc in 1984 on the 40th anniversary. World leaders gathered to remember. While the first part walks through D-Day, the last half of the speech is what the speech is remembered for.  The speech challenged the world to find a pathway to peace, especially between the US and the then Soviet Union.   You can read the speech here, transcript of speech   or here you can watch Ronald Reagan’s Speech from June 6th, 1984

How do you honor Memorial Day? Many communities have a parade, many head to a national or local cemetery to place flags, and you can also place flowers at your community’s monument or walk of honor. I like to watch the Memorial Day Concert from Washington, DC where our country can collectively remember.

Here are are few songs for Memorial Day:

“Eternal Father, Strong to Serve” performed by Military Wives

Eric Bogle’s “The Green Fields of France”

Sometimes the true meaning of Memorial Day gets swallowed up by the ceremonial start of summer, but focusing on the true meaning is what we should do.

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid.  They have earned our undying gratitude.  America will never forget their sacrifices.”  Harry S. Truman

The following quote is on one of the crosses of an unknown soldier buried in France, “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms know but to God.”

We remember you and you are not unknown to us. You helped us be free. Thank you.

Marcie Doll

Amen Grammie…and thank you for joining us this year!

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For the last lenten blog post for Marble Women’s Ministry this year, I wanted to share a cute story and to honor my Mom too, who played a large role in finding some of the special poets and other contributors for this year’s blog.  And a few times, she had to listen to me when I was overwhelmed a bit.

The picture above is of my Mom, Lynn Doll and her twin granddaughters, Catherine and Chandler (I mentioned them in the “Magical Thinking” post earlier).  We were on vacation together in Bermuda.  All smiles for sure.

You see, my Mom puts her heart and soul into everything she does, but her prayers before a holiday meal, well these are particularly special to me.   She prepares for this important moment and does not forget anyone who needs prayers, our late family members, and all around the table.  I am still not sure how she can go from preparing the meal a few seconds before, to sharing a carefully prepared prayer that is so thoughtful and most of the time leaves me a bit teary.

Well you see there was this one Easter.  Chandler who was 5-years-old at the time was sitting in front of a plateful of food and she was ready to get started.  To her, my Mom’s prayer had gone on a bit too long.  Chandler interrupted the prayer by saying in a stern and definitive voice, “Amen Grammie!”  Then my whole family erupted into boisterous laughter, as a child can say the darndest things! And the prayer was finished that year. My Mom had to throw in the towel.

Honestly, it is a moment that my family will treasure forever.  “Amen Grammie!”  Well it gets said at every holiday meal now.

Now to all of the followers of this blog….

Thank you for joining our Marble Women’s Ministry Blog for Lent this year, a growing community from around the US and world who join us each day.  Praying with a Camera this year was an idea that I had and I so enjoyed looking at the pictures and the stories behind them.  We had another focus, honoring the poetry of women to guide us on our lenten journey.  Our team hopes that the daily blog gave you an opportunity to add something positive to your lenten journey and also helped you to focus more on what is important in this life that you are leading.

We had many contributors who have been a part of our blog for many years.  But these year, our circle expanded and many new contributors felt moved to share their pictures, poems, and stories.   Thank you all for putting your heart out there for all of the readers!

And finally…  If you are local to NYC, our Women’s Ministry is sponsoring a 4-part program: Bold Authenticity: Answering the Call to Greatness with Greta Muller starting on April 29th.  Click here to find more information and to sign-up.

We wish you a blessed year and we will be back at the start of the Advent Season.

Marcie Doll and the Marble Women’s Ministry Team

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

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.

 

Draw the Circle Wide

Hands

This is a picture of hands in a circle at one of our retreats several years ago.  We all have temporary tattoos of butterflies and hearts on our arms.  Though we all have different colors of skin, we are united in the transformative spirit of growth and support at this retreat.

It reminds me of the hymn by Mark Miller with lyrics by Gordon Light called “Draw the Circle Wide.”  With all of the anger you see on social media, we need to really think about how to connect ourselves with others in more genuine ways.  We may not agree, but we can be in community together to help our world.

Here is a version of “Draw the Circle Wide” to watch and listen to.

Shared by Marcie Doll