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

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

 

Marching On…

Richmond

This picture was taken at the March for Our Lives Rally in Richmond, Virginia on one of the first days of Spring last March. I remember feeling so empowered that beautiful morning marching alongside hundreds of passionate young people and realizing that my generation has the power to unite to change the world.

The backdrop of this picture being historic downtown Richmond where Patrick Henry gave his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech complements the ever-present fight for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness throughout our nation’s history. Living in the former capital of the Confederacy, one must also recognize that gun violence disproportionately affects African-Americans and vow to fight alongside our brothers and sisters of different backgrounds towards a more equal and compassionate future.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. – 1 Peter 3:8

Shared by Morgan Doll

Today is the 51st anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  We honor his legacy today and always.

Magical Thinking

DSCN0025

This is a picture of my nieces, Chandler and Catherine at 5 or 6 years old, who are now really teenagers.  Wow, how time flies!  On this trip we went to Hilton Head, SC and they are posing with Jake the Dog.  Who is Jake the Dog, you ask?  He is the Black Dog Cafe mascot and it is a casual restaurant chain that you will find at many resort communities.

When you are the age that Chandler and Catherine are in this picture, little things make you excited and someone in a character suit tops most moments.

Six year olds live in a world of magical thinking.  The world is so much to take in at this age and life can be difficult at times to comprehend.  This magical thinking helps them to cope with the world around them and deal with new experiences like all day school, learning to read, and things that can be a bit scary, like vegetables and well really scary stuff too.

Superheroes matter.
Disney princesses abound.
Books with unicorns and mermaids are a bonus.
Playing school helps them to deal with new responsibilities.
They come up with the most imaginative scenarios….

And this age is also one of those magical times with books.  Oh, how I love to read a book with a child this age, as they start to sound out words and try to read more complex text.  Shortly after this picture was taken, we started to read chapter books together when I would visit.  I would start and then Chandler and Catherine took over with the reading.  But we still liked to read about mermaids….and there was a mermaid birthday party for the next birthday.

Maybe we need to have some of that magical thinking in our lives again.  Life can be difficult for adults, so why not think about reading a book like Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” or Harry Potter or maybe watch a movie about superheroes.  Lent is a time to dig deep and connect with the magical self you are hiding somewhere.   It may just give you the strength to get through some of your difficult times, just like a six year old.

Shared by Marcie Doll

Wilderness

Wilderness

Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces.  “To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken. But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless. Even in the wilderness – especially in the wilderness – you shall love him.”
Shared by Barbara Costigan

Reconnecting with my Faith

It is so easy for me to become overwhelmed with the stuff of life – little things, little tasks, deadlines; I can sink into feeling completely inadequate to the task.

This happens on a regular basis, but recently, it occurred to me to bring up Renee Fleming’s rendition of Bernstein’s “Simple Song”. The melody captures my heart. The message to me is “in spite of everything, praise!” In her voice, I hear both enormous strength, and perfect humility and acceptance. It lifts me; it takes me out of the morass of my own thoughts and puts me gently back into a place of faith where I can again live into the possible.

“Simple Song” sung by Renee Fleming

Shared by Karen Gourgey

 

A May Morning over Everest

Everest

Psalm 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. KJV

As I relive those moments on a small plane between Nepal and Bhutan, a front row seat to God’s majesty, I think of my own journey. Where have I been led and opted to follow those instincts? Where have I chosen a different path? Two years ago, my friend simply asked if I wanted to travel with her to Bhutan, the happiest place in the world. I said yes; not that I wanted to visit monasteries and forts in a reclusive Buddhist haven. Just in need of a vacation. The destination is important; how one gets there is equally so.

Our pilot alerted us that Everest would soon be visible on our left. We all scrambled and jockeyed to get the best vantage point. Wow! It was awesome. My God, you are real! How Great Thou Art! This photograph cannot do justice to the beauty and immensity of Everest. In fact no photograph can. The bird’s eye view of this snow-capped, cloud enveloped wonder comes with intangibles: the emotional impact, the ‘pinch me I can’t believe my eyes’, and the empathy for those who risk their lives for public glory. Sometimes a camera gets in the way. Breathe, and let the vision seize all your senses.

Today I have no desire to climb a mountain. Should I get to urge to scale the heights of Meru or Kilimanjaro, may I quickly reread Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.

But perhaps I shouldn’t run from the urge to do something new. Perhaps I say yes to sailing. Perhaps I accept that this nudging in one direction or another is an avenue to growth. Perhaps I Trust God: Trust that the journey is instructive. Perhaps I abandon myself to the wisdom of my Creator who has never steered me wrong, even as in the moment, I am reluctant to move where I am led.

Almighty God, thank you for unexpected treats you have scattered in my path. Help me walk by faith, abandoning fear.  Amen

Shared by Annemarie Edwards