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

Turning Point

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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.”  

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

 

Rain

Picture1

I have always envied my friends who love to live in rainy places.  There’s the friend who said, “I Iove to fall asleep to the sound of rain drops falling on my window sill.”  I didn’t understand it then, and I still don’t understand it now.

I think I have always suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder.  The dreary days affect me.  Rain and fog make me want to stay inside under the covers, waiting for the sun to reappear and draw me out of my bed like metal pulled up by a magnet.  The sun is my magnet and I am pulled up by it.

But this year, this Lent, I have made the decision to approach rain differently.  Rather than focus on the wet sogginess of it, I am going to focus on the life force water is, and how important rain is for replenishing this dry earth.  I am going to be my own internal magnet and pull myself up and out into the pouring drops cascading from the heavens or gently falling around me.

I am going to reach out my hand and feel the wetness, lift my face and let the drops fall on it without being concerned about makeup or mascara.  I am going to let the drops fall on my hair with abandon.  I am going to open my hands and heart and transform my ideas about rain, asking God to help me.

Why?  Because Lent is about transformation; it is about turning back or turning around altogether.  It’s about turning.  Lent is about change.

This Lenten season we are living through a time that no one would have expected.  Even in our current situation, what change or turning is God moving you toward this Lenten season?  How might you open your hand to a whole new attitude or idea or behavior or perspective on something that might seem so “fixed” within you?  Nothing is too fixed for God.  Nothing is too concretized for the Holy Spirit to enter in and initiate a great turning within and without.

Blessings on your journey of transformation and turning.  And may you stay safe in these difficult times.

Shared by Reverend Elise Brown

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Sustenance

Weather not always balmy

obstacles appear

amid swirling wind and storms

former experiences illumine

strong ropes:

faith, hope, love

Biblical passages apply over centuries

these guide

provide balance

become sources

of courage and strength

when mountains overwhelm

grasp ropes tightly

 

 

I Corinthians 13

“ And now these three remain: faith, hope, love. But the greatest

of these is Love.”

 

 

Lynn Doll

©2020

Lord, Make us Instruments of Your Peace

For our Sunday musical reflection this week, I am sharing “Lord, Make us Instruments of Your Peace.”  This is based on the Prayer of Saint Francis (1181-1226).  As many of us in the world today are sheltering in place, our staying home is an Act of Peace.  We are saving lives by staying home.   You may not know this hymn by heart, but it is a song that can bring hope to all this Sunday.

Drakensberg Boys Choir singing Lord, Make us Instruments of Peace

Instruments of Peace by A capella Choir

The Sarah McLachlan School of Music singing the Prayer of St. Francis

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

–Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words

And you may want to listen to the author read her own poem and you can click below.

Naomi Shihab Nye reading her poem “Kindness”