One of those places…

Hangzhou

This is a picture of my silhouette at West Lake in Hangzhou, China.  For many, this is a place on their bucket list and is listed in the book, A 1,000 Places to see Before you Die.  For many centuries, this lake has inspired a nation and many artists and poets have created masterworks with the beauty they found along the lake.  The lake is sheltered by hills on three sides and has numerous pagodas, temples and spectacular gardens around the shoreline.

One Song Dynasty poet wrote:

Sunny water waves its glow,
Misty rain tricks the hill.
Plainly or gaily decked out like Xi Zi,
West Lake is always alluring.’

When I visited on a rather gloomy day, it looked like winter with barren trees and a mist in the air.  But I felt an overwhelming feeling of God’s presence at West Lake.   Even in winter there is beauty and peace to be found by all who visit.  The birds chirped in song to remind me.

I know that spring will come soon and while I may only see the bare branches and the gray sky, God is at work. As the days warm, I know that those branches will be in bloom in just a matter of weeks.

It’s a matter of my perspective here on Earth.  From God’s point of view looking down on Earth, the sky is always blue.   I need to remember that my perspective is often limited.

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

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.

Let it Spill?

Spill

Spilling –

The act of causing (or allowing) something (or someone))

 to fall unintentionally.

The results:

Puddles, splatter, poisoning, confession, betrayal, guilt, release, relief,

in confidence, in pain, playful, first link in a chain of events.           

Maybe, don’t do it.

Shared by Susan Ceely-Phillips

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

 

The Dance

Isn’t it all poetry?
What we see
What we sense
What sounds reach
What penetrates our depths

What can poetry convey?
What roads traversed
What hills climbed
What tears shed
What stories told

With acceptance and understanding
of each other’s journey:
Hands may entwine
Differences can vanish
Hearts might link
Friendships can begin
The dance of life
Will flourish

By Lynn Doll

©Copyright 2018

Voice

It is a
courageous
conscious

Choice

for a woman to use her Voice
to speak her Truth
from the root
of her pain
and shame
at relenting
to an old patriarchal
game
that would have her use
sex
for financial gain.
A decision that then
drives her mad,
utterly insane,
a mute
filled to overflow
in self-disgust and deep blame;
a sad dimming of her Glow,
her innate beauty she can no longer see,
feeling more like a mere commodity
to be bought and sold.

Without a Voice,
her story left untold,
passing The Burden
onto the next generation.

By Guirlaine Belizaire, honoring Women’s History Month and #metoo

The Gospel of Nature

“The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”
― John Muir

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir took a three day camping trip in the Yosemite Valley.  Muir, who founded the Sierra Club in 1892 shared his vision for protecting places in the United States so that all could connect with nature with the President.  He was the son of an itinerant Minister and helped to start the National Park system during this camping trip.  Some said that Muir preached the gospel of nature to President Roosevelt and I am thankful that he did.

After reading The Nature Fix:  Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier and More Creative by Florence Williams in the fall, I seem to be more aware of nature around me.  As I live in a more rural/suburban area now, I hear the Woodpeckers in the morning, watch the wild Turkeys that roam my neighborhood and am aware of the Coyotes that howl at night in the woods.  But you do not have to live in a rural area to get your “Nature Fix.”  You just need to be more open and mindful of the moments of nature around you and make the spiritual connection to nature.

How do you find your Spiritual Connection to Nature?

 

Day 12: Some thoughts from Henri Nouwen

As Advent is amongst us, may we, as children of God, run with joy to unwrap our gifts of the Spirit, praying, playing, living boldly in Christ’s love. The following is a compilation of thoughts on courage from one of my favorite theologians, Henri Nouwen. Enjoy! – Patrice Donnell

On Courage:

“Have courage,” we often say to one another.  Courage is a spiritual virtue.  The word courage comes from the Latin word cor, which means “heart. A courageous act is an act coming from the heart. A courageous word is a word arising from the heart. The heart, however, is not just the place where our emotions are located. The heart is the centre of our being, the centre of all thoughts, feelings, passions, and decisions.”

On Solitude:

“To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.”

On Spiritual Risk:

“Courage is connected with taking risks. Jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorbike, coming over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or crossing the ocean in a rowboat are called courageous acts because people risk their lives by doing these things. But none of these daredevil acts comes from the centre of our being. They all come from the desire to test our physical limits and to become famous and popular.

Spiritual courage is something completely different. It is following the deepest desires of our hearts at the risk of losing fame and popularity. It asks of us the willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.”

On Challenges:

“Lord, give us patience so that we may truly see obstacles as doors, the “not-quite-rights” of life as a foundation, our sufferings and indifference as eventual gateways to good works, to diligent service, and to our inheritance of salvation. Make the challenges on our spiritual journey into opportunities to say “yes” to your love. Amen.”

– Henri Nouwen

Autumn is here…

Im so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

Rather accidentally this weekend, I stumbled upon “Anne with an E” on Netflix, based on the L.M. Montgomery novel, “Anne of Green Gables.”  After Laura Ingalls Wilder and Nancy Drew, Anne Shirley holds a special place in the literary journey of my girlhood.  She was imaginative, not so comfortable with her appearance, smart, and a bit talkative. But mostly, I remember her to be courageous.  Her quote about October, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” really captures how we should view the season of fall:

  1.  The trees shed their leaves, but in the process the leaves have a show of magnificent color.
  2. Is Pumpkin Spice flavored items everywhere? Yum.
  3. Thanksgiving is a holiday where we gather together to celebrate gratitude and thankfulness.  Are you making your gratitude list?
  4. Cooler weather appears and we can throw on a sweater to enjoy the crisp air.  And if we are lucky, we can snuggle up by the fire pit to lounge an evening away.
  5. Time to look up at the sky to see all of the migratory birds on the move south.
  6. As the leaves fall, we sometimes need some inspiration to shed some of what we need to shed in our lives.
  7. Autumn is also known as harvest season, so October always pushes me to Apple pick and bake an Apple Pie.
  8. Many will put together a sacred spot in their home to honor and remember the people who have made a lasting imprint on our lives.  These Altar’s of Remembrance may have pictures and mementos.

This October, we are seeing a great deal of courage from the women around us and in the world through the #metoo campaign.  When we worked on a theme for this year in June, the Marble Women’s Ministry honed in on the theme Holy Boldness:  Gaining Courage through Christ.  We did not know how much our annual theme would align with our current world and we hope it resonates with you.

Our Hallowtide event on November 2nd at Marble Collegiate Church’s theme is Living Boldly: Stepping Out in Faith.  If you are in the area, please feel free to attend and click here to sign-up:  Hallowtide Event

Today is forty-five days until Advent…and we wanted share that our Advent Blog this year will be focused on courage from the daily courage we muster up to the life-changing courage that the women of the Bible like Mary, the Mother of Jesus had.

So, we at the Women’s Ministry hope that you will find some time to renew and refresh this October, enjoy the abundant colors all around you, and continue to support all of the courageous women who inspire us and encouraged us on our journeys.  We will share soon…

October Splendor