Not so Empty Tomb

Karla Flower

Usually I imagine myself watching from afar with the other women on the day Jesus was crucified and buried.  This year, I feel as if I’m in the tomb.  We don’t know much about day two of that weekend — Saturday — the Gospels all seem to leap from Friday to Sunday.  But we know it certainly wasn’t a busy day.  In fact, all activity had come to a screeching halt because it was the Sabbath.  On Friday Joseph of Arimathea had hurried to get the body to the tomb, burial preparations had been made and sabbath prep done, so by Saturday the women who were always busy suddenly weren’t.  So there was Jesus in the tomb, abandoned, cold, dead, buried and alone.  Stillness and fear pervaded that Sabbath.  But that doesn’t mean God wasn’t at work in the midst of that stillness.

This year so much has come to a screeching halt and life as we know it has ceased to exist.  We may feel helpless due to our inaction or inability to stop this global crisis, and may feel that time has either accelerated out of control or perhaps stopped altogether.  As we find ourselves entombed in places of isolation, aloneness, loss of livelihood, illness or despair over the loss of dear loved ones — let us remember that we are not left there alone.  God is at work even now.

Today in the stillness of Holy Saturday, let us draw a deep collective breath as we remember the words of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux,

“May today there be peace within.  May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.  May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.  May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.  May you be content with yourself just the way you are.  Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.  It is there for each and every one of us.”

 Thank you, Little Flower.  For we know that this place is only for a brief time and that transformation is just around the corner.

A song for today, with gratitude to Ana Hernandez who shared her gift of music with us at the Marble Women’s retreat recently.  Here is her rendition of this powerful battle hymn to carry us through:

“Don’t be Afraid” is by Scottish composer/activist John Bell. Ana’s arrangement is available on iTunes and YouTube, and the album, Sending You Light, by Fran McKendree and Ana Hernandez, is available on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, etc… and on Ana’s webstore here:

https://ana-hernandez-105676.square.site/product/sending-you-light-by-ana-hernandez-fran-mckendree/1?cs=true

By Karla Hendrick

A Message of Hope this Friday

tree photo

Spring is usually my favorite time of the year. I love the tiny yellow green buds dotting the bare branches of winter and their promise of abundant new life.  I took a picture of such a tree on a brief walk the other day.  (As I live in New York City, I practiced social distancing and wore a mask.) It was a gray and cloudy day and part of me wondered why I was even bothering to take the picture with the light so dull and flat. But I wanted a reminder of hope and as I looked through the lens the clouds shifted, and patches of blue appeared in the sky.

Since that day, I have gone back to that picture again and again and here are a few thoughts that came to mind. One, the patches of blue reminded me that blue skies are always there, it’s just that clouds sometimes obscure the blue.  Two, if I wait and look, the blue in the sky will appear even if it wasn’t there just a moment ago. Three, the tiny green buds that promise abundant new life are as plentiful as God’s promises about new life.  These verses came immediately to mind:

Isaiah 43:18-19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Revelation 21:5 Behold, I make all things new.
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

I was curious about just how often God talks about new things. According to OpenBible, it’s 100 times. I guess it was a point that God wanted to emphasize. That’s a good thing. I need all the reminders I can get sometimes.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/new_things

And the ultimate emphasis on that point would be Easter Sunday. As I thought about that this favorite verse came to mind:

Job 8:21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.

During these dark days, sometimes I wonder how laughter and joy are even possible.

Then I remind myself, I don’t have to know how.

Our God is the God of the Impossible. Our God is the God of the Resurrection!

Let’s hold on to hope and faith and trust that God will provide.

 

Shared by sisters Patricia and Eileen Wu

Maundy Thursday

Harp strings flutter their touch through me –
Soothing my soul.
“Holocaust” symphony –
That does not flutter.
It seeps into you –
behind your eyes,
within the wailing wall of your heart.
How could such beauty and gentleness
in the twinkling music
Co-exist with the knowledge of such terror –
knowing that this could happen is horror.
Living it is unspeakable,
And yet, must be spoken.
Was the harp played in a German home
as Jewish families were herded to their death?
Could beauty and this horror co-exist?
Not with the knowledge of the terror –
only in blindness,
cold, dark blindness –
stone silence of deafness.
You can’t hear a harp
and hear their anguished cries
with the same ears.
You’d go mad.

Susan Ceely Phillips

Turning Point

IMG_4347

A time when a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.
A point at which significant change occurs.

Imagine a dancer.
You choose.
A ballerina spinning with supreme control.
A modern dance interpretation.
A jazz gyration.
Swing dancing in synchronized, yet wild enthusiasm.
A powerful footfall through hip hop.
Do it yourself rock n roll.
Salsa swirling.
Hindi twirling.
Imagine the dancer
and the turning point.

Turning, spinning, whirling
Now and then
Or on and on.
But, each turn has a point
When a decision occurs in the dervish
To continue to repeat the cycle
Or to move into a new step,
A fresh pattern,
A solo exhibition,
A cling or clash with a partner,
A fusion with the corps,
Or to just stop.

Turning Point
A time, a point when a decisive change, a significant change, occurs, especially with beneficial results.

Easter – a “turning point”, both grand and minute.  I pray that it’s lovely and kind, either way.

 

Susan Ceely Phillips

Just for Today

Just for today, I will try to live through this day only and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

Just for today, I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that “most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Just for today, I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

Just for today, I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my “luck” as it comes, and fit myself to it.

Just for today, I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do –just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it.

Just for today, I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticize not one bit, not find fault with anything and not try to improve or regulate anybody except myself.

Just for today, I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.

Just for today, I will have a quiet half hour all by myself, and relax. During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.

Just for today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.

There is a great deal of question around who wrote this and it seems the earliest attribution is to Frank Crane in 1921, although Dale Carnegie and Kenneth Holmes show up as the authors on occasion.  George Harrison wrote a song based on this text called “Just for Today.”  

Make a Space for Prayer

Today is the Monday of Holy Week, the week where we journey with Jesus to the cross. It is time to pray without ceasing for this world.   But where do you pray in your home?

Designate a special place to pray in your home, apartment or wherever you may live.  And what should you pray at this difficult time?

Here are some ideas…

  1. A candle or lamp to light your space.
  2. Your Bible.
  3. Family Pictures.
  4. A Cross.
  5. Angels.
  6. Piece of Cloth.
  7. Natural elements like leaves or flowers.
  8. Seasonal Elements.  (see my pictures below).
  9. Anything from your collection that is special to you.
  10. Click here for some healing prayers from Women’s Day…

 

 

Shared by Marcie Doll

 

 

It is Well with my Soul

For our Sunday musical reflection this week, we will be highlighting a favorite hymn of so many, “It is Well with my Soul.”  As we go through dark times in our lives, for many this hymn brings them calm and hope.  Today we share two beautiful versions of the song, one with voice and one with piano.

 

In 2009 Vicki Carter reached out to a close group of women friends asking they send the name of their favorite hymn. They did. I created a cd of my playing those hymns and each woman received the cd as a Christmas gift. Attached is my version of It is Well With My Soul on piano.

Here are the lyrics….

 

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

Shared by Vicki Carter

We’re All in this Together with Virtual Choirs

One of the discoveries I have made whilst in isolation is the virtual choir phenomenon.  The first one that came out during this homebound time was the Chino Valley High School Choir’s “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.”  And then Berklee College shared one and then…

Here are a few to enjoy this Saturday…

Chino Valley HS’s Virtual Choir

Camden Voice’s True Colors

Boston Children’s Chorus, in collaboration with Denver Children’s Choir, Children’s Chorus of Washington DC, Gondwana Choirs, Sydney, and Cincinnati Boychoir sing        Rise Up

The Pittsburgh Youth Choir’s Homeward Bound

A 31-Country Virtual Choir singing You Will be Found from “Dear Evan Hansen”

And one last song, while not a virtual choir like the others is a rendition of the Ben Lee song from different pubs in Australia….

The Pub Choir from all over Australia, “We’re All in this Together”

A Garden Tour or a few…

As many of our favorite gardens are closed to visitors this year, I thought it would be nice on this day of Spring to visit some of the world’s best gardens.  I guess these gardens are our secret…

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”  Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

 

A tour of Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France

A tour of the Tulips in Keukenhof Gardens

A visit to the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Gardens

A tour of the gardens at the Biltmore Estate

A tour of Kew Gardens in London

A walk to see the Magnolia Trees in the New York Botanical Gardens

A Summer tour of The Botanical Gardens of Chicago

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”  Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Shared by Marcie Doll

 

 

Hope

 

Hope Sun 1

I barely can sense it’s shiver of awakening.

But.

I stop in stillness,

Searching for the shimmer.

In a drawn down lip-line,

In a shallow breath,

In a tear-drop caught in its passage.

My consciousness whispers that it’s there.

My footsteps inch toward it.

It must be!

Because.

I hope for it.

By Susan Ceely Phillips

Hope Sun 2