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

 

 

Rain

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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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A Reflection: “What is Lent For?”

If in suffering you can no longer give thanks for God’s

goodness and have no taste for paradox, from where comes

succor if nothing’s real but whirl of pain and echo,

“Why am I forsaken?”

 

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani  . . . .

What is the meaning of our brother’s ending cry of sorrow?

Was it despair that all hope is lost – there is no loving abba?

Or was his cry a lament to love itself, the living tissue binding

us all together?  Did he intend to point us past the sorrow

of the psalm he prayed and knew by heart to its ending praise

of ancient promise, remembered?

 

We will never stop these questions pouring from us.  Lent

remembers “the tears of all things” – lacrimae rerum,

a world of tears of seemingly blameless suffering; a world

God made and loves and sees as good, as it is written.

 

Lent remembers we will be stripped of our carefully constructed

meanings, certainties, illusions, even our consolations,

to our primal animal sorrow.  Lent reminds us, Momento mori,

remember your death.  But of what use is remembrance if it

cancels life and life’s meaning?

 

Of what use are the words of those who cared enough to leave

their psalmic response in dialogue with our bewildered questions?

Facing into suffering and death, a choir of voices of our

foremothers and foresisters pray that we remember love is not

concerned with sin but with the sanctuary within that remains

blameless and whole in God’s mothering.

 

Their psalm resounds in polyphonic harmony –

. . . in God without end . . . all is well and shall be

well and all manner of things shall be well . . .

. . . trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be . . .

. . . we must just be . . . as simple as the growing corn

or the falling rain.

 

Sr. Wanda, CSJ, responding to the question, joins the choir from

within her small apartment in a meadow to sing her single word

beautiful in simplicity – spring.  Word spoken stirs, wakens.

 

Lent simply is as the beauty of the lily simply is – mystery never

fully solved, question never fully answered within our human mortal

time.  Each must live and respond in her own way of seeing and

claiming fulfillment of love’s promise – tears of sorrow bringing forth

new life that from the beginning has always known our Easter name.

 

 

Notes

Woven into my narrative verse reflection are words of women to whom I return for spiritual companionship:  women who cared enough to take time to form in words what they learned as they lived the human story of sorrow and joy, Lent’s passion and suffering and mortality preceding Easter’s joy:  women who’ve shown me a face of God and a theology different than the theology I was early taught – a theology that was sourced more in judgment and blame than in a heart opened to the source of infinite good.  Julian of Norwich wrote Revelations of Divine Love in the 1300s during the plague of the Black Death.  Her words, “All is well and shall be well and all manner of things shall be well,” resound through the centuries.  They reflect her experience of God as our mother in infinite making, loving, caring.  St. Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul, and her poems and prayers, record her “dark night” trial of faith. Though she died painfully of tuberculosis near the end of the 1800’s, she left us her prayer, “You must trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”  Etty Hillesum’s  An Interrupted Life is a compilation of her diaries and letters, a testament of her refusal to hate and rant against the Nazi regime that intended to annihilate every Jew as less than human.  Writing during the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s, she perished with her family at Auschwitz in 1943.  Spiritual director, Sr. Wanda, CSJ, lives in a small apartment duplex in a meadow.  When I meet with her, I like to think of her as one of the “spiritual mothers” (desert ammas) of the 4th and 5th centuries AD.  The living words of these women resonate.

 

Margie Dimoplon

God’s Plan

Genesis 45: 4-13 (NIV)

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!  And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.  For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping.  But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.  Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have.  I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

“You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you.  Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

 

For many of us reading through the bible this year, the reunion of the sons of Jacob is emotional. Joseph, Jacob’s favored and beloved son, was sold into slavery by his brothers. In Egypt, he was falsely accused by his employer’s wife and spent several years unjustly imprisoned. He endured many years of hardship. Yet, Joseph did not seek revenge on those who wanted to cause him harm. Nor was he bitter. When God gave him the opportunity to shine, Joseph was ready. And he gave God the glory. Joseph saw his journey and suffering as part of God’s bigger plan to save not just himself. God’s plan ultimately saved all of Israel’s children. Joseph forgave and reunited his extended family.

 

Heavenly Father, even as we endure unpleasant circumstances, may we continue to see the workings of your hands and your favor in our lives. Help us understand that we have certain experiences and situations because it is to your glory. Help us to always trust your plan for our lives and to wait on your deliverance.

AMEN

Shared by Annemarie Edwards

Sunday Musical Reflection…

This song which was written by Patty Griffin in 2005 is based on the Reverend Martin Luther King’s 1968 “I’ve been to the Mountaintop.”  Here are three versions that while very different, captures the ongoing legacy of MLK.

Up to the Mountain sung by Susan Boyle

Up to the Mountain performed by Michiko Hill, Charlene Carmon, and clips from MLK

Up to the Mountain (MLK Song) by the songwriter Patty Griffin

 

Shared by Marcie Doll

 

A Smiling Look…

Sandy PicturePicture taken at the New York Botanical Gardens

 

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”   – St. Thérèse of Lisieux

I came across this quote from St. Thérèse of Lisieux in my search to learn more about her. It reminds me of the saying that one never knows if we are the only Jesus someone might meet.

If we look up and around as we walk, we may notice people doing just that. One day during my morning commute to work, a man who appeared homeless, walked past me smiling and wished me a good morning in a joyful voice. I couldn’t help but smile. I recently learned of Bob Williams, a 94-year old, retired teacher and WWII Veteran from Iowa who demonstrates love by handing out Hershey’s chocolate candy bars to people. He began doing this a decade ago in the doctor’s office and supermarket and extended to his entire community. His reward… seeing the smiles on his neighbors’ faces.

Most days I don’t have to look too hard or too far to see the kindness of others. I work in a hospital where compassion and kindness are at the heart of most people I encounter. You can’t walk the hallways without offering guidance to a clinic, the cafeteria, the gift shop or the pharmacy to a patient or a family member. Volunteers are seen escorting patients to exam rooms, and yes, therapy dogs are providing love and comfort to in-patients. And let’s not forget the “clown” volunteers who come weekly to bring smiles to the children.

Are you smiling yet?

I pray this Lenten season we not “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice” and extend God’s love and compassion to others. Let us bring love to one another and thereby offer hope to someone who needs to see the Jesus in us.

Sandy Diaz

Peace Within

“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.”

This is a story I have carried with me since 1982.  It involves my grandpa at the end of his life.  I can’t tell this story as the meaning is so deep, the words get stuck. So, I welcome the opportunity to write it down and share it that way with others.

My grandpa was 89 years old.  He still lived at home with his wife of 66 years.  They lived in the home built by my grandma’s father.  My grandpa lived on the same block his whole life.  They belonged to and were active members of Sts. Mary and Joseph Catholic church which overlooks the Mississippi River in south St. Louis, Missouri.  For many years, my grandpa had served as an usher.

At 89 years, my grandpa began to struggle.  He was restless, and he wasn’t sleeping through the night.  It wore on my grandma, so my uncle and my mom decided he needed to go into a facility where he could get the care he needed, and my grandma could get rest, too.

So my uncle called an ambulance to transport my grandpa to the facility.  When the ambulance came, my grandpa refused to go.  The ambulance driver said, “Come on, Mr. Z.  We just want to take you for a ride.”  But my grandpa knew better.  His body was weak, but his mind was fine.

My uncle didn’t know what to do.  So, he said a silent prayer, “Lord, please help me.”  Immediately, he had a thought – “Call the priest.”  This was an inspiration in the truest sense of the word.  I can still hear my uncle say, “It just came to me.”

Within a short time, the priest came to my grandpa’s home.  He asked my grandpa, “Henry, why don’t you want to go?”  My grandpa replied, “Because I don’t know if I’ll ever come back.”  The priest’s reply: “But Henry, it’s all part of God’s plan.”

My grandpa said no more. With that thought, he agreed to go in the ambulance. That reminder and my grandpa’s faith, which he had had his whole life, carried him through.

He died that night in his sleep.

My grandparents were an inspiration to me in so many ways, and I hope this story of my grandpa’s faith is an inspiration to you, too. Here is a picture of my loving grandparents in 1973.

Betty Grandparents 1973

This blog post was shared by Betty, who shares her stories of travel on her blog:  https://chambersontheroad.com/ 

 

Angels for Others…

“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. May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence 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. ” – St. Thérèse of Lisieux

 

I have this quote posted on my office cubicle wall and often share with others. I always find comfort in the words: peace, trust and possibilities. One particular line that always stands out to me is “Let this presence settle into your bones.” It encourages me and reminds me that God is always present. Whether in time of joy or sadness, confusion or doubt, God’s love, mercy and kindness shows up through others.

 

Many years back I experienced a period of deep sadness that was unexplainable and difficult to shake off. I prayed day and night for God to lift what felt like a cloud and pressed forward. During that period, God showed up through a good friend. Margaret connected with me daily simply checking on how I was feeling and offering encouragement. After three weeks, the cloud lifted. I still cannot explain it, but what I learned and will always carry in me is that God never leaves us and often sends angels to walk with us during difficult times. I was never alone.

 

I pray during this Lenten season that we may allow God’s spirit of love, mercy and kindness “settle in our bones” allowing us to be angels for others­­­­.

 

Sandy Diaz