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

Cloud Angel

Cloudangel

“For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” -Psalm 91:11-12
“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” -Exodus 23:20

Have you ever looked up at the sky and an angel appeared?   This picture captured the moment, where the light and the clouds formed an Angel with wings, looking down on all that afternoon.  You may not see an angel when you look up to the sky, but I do know they are watching out for all of us on Earth.

Shared by Patricia Wu

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

 

At the Place where the Land Ends…

St.MichaelsMount

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

 

I came upon this sundial while visiting St Michael’s Mount in the Cornwall region of the UK on a stellar day last September.  I stood there and gazed out revering the vastness of the ocean with the sundial approaching high noon and the nerd inside me thought of the space-time continuum.  The scripture points out that no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end…..not even Einstein and the scripture urges me to behold and adore all the beauty that unfolds before me in the present because it is beautiful in its time.

Shared by Laurie Aksynowicz

Click here to learn more about St. Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Cornwall, UK.

Be Still…

 

 

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

In the two photos that I have submitted, one is of a lake on a windless, spring morning. The sky and clouds above as well as the towering pine trees ringing the lake are reflected perfectly in the still water, as if reflected in a mirror.  The second photo is of the same lake when breezes are causing ripples in the water and so the reflection is marred.

“Be still and know that I am God.” The directions are short and simple, but oh so very difficult for me. I try to set aside 15 minutes each morning to sit in silence with God, but it usually ends up being 14 minutes of fidgeting, changing positions and quieting the most random thoughts and one minute of actually being still.  Those are the days my heart resembles the photo with the marred reflection. There is no calm, just ripples of worry and what ifs. I keep trying though. I keep trying because I have found that it is indeed during the quiet, still moments that I feel the most peace and closest to God. It is during that quiet, still time that my unruly human heart can for just a fleeting moment reflect the beauty of my Savior’s love and find some much needed respite in the security of His everlasting arms.

I’m praying that we all find that oasis of God’s peace today and everyday.

Shared by Patricia Wu