May 30, 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
The drops of rain dancing on the roof were a welcome sound this morning. Their gentle pattern assured me that our driveway wasn’t getting washout again by another deluge, but rather a soft well-needed watering for our fields and gardens. This is the second day of rain. I’m not complaining. The worries of a depleting well are eased and the parched earth is refreshed.
The assurance these wet days bring to the landscape serve as a reminder for me of hope. As the rain washes away the dust that has accumulated on flat surfaces and quenched the thirst of the dry ground filling puddles in which the birds drink and bathe, there is a sense of renewed hope not only for the environment, but also for ourselves. The clouds lift to reveal a clearer view, a brighter day of growth and promise. The sun’s rays that break through the clouds cast a richer landscape of lush greens, yellows and reds. I watch a tiny hummingbird perched atop a twig in a nearby bush as it sways gently in the morning breeze. Is it, too, feeling hopeful as the horizon becomes more visible?
Sometimes, it takes being in the rain, the darker days to see more earnestly what the days of sunlight and clearer skies have to offer. I find that to be true about life in general. There is a rebirth that unfolds every time we move from the darkness into the light, an opportunity for renewal. Being aware of that truth brings strength and courage, especially as we hold on to the promise of brighter days yet to come. Yet, there is truth, as well that even within the dark and gray clouds that loom around us there are moments of inspiration that cast the light of hope.
We are in such a place now with worry about all that is happening in our country. We yearn to be less divided on many levels and joined together in making our world one of peace, health, harmony, justice and love. I won’t give up on that dream, but I also won’t say that it doesn’t come without hard work because it does. Yet, I believe we have it within ourselves to be the force of hope that brings us together, that builds bridges, that scales mountains of obstacles, that lays the groundwork for love and peace.
May we continue the work that the following passage spoke of Jesus’ life …“to give light to those who sit in darkness … to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:79
In Constant Hope,
June 25, 2020
Dear Friends & Family,
The stillness of the early morning is my favorite part of the day. The first light silhouettes the curve of the hills to the east. Birdsong begins with one melody then another until a chorus declares the new day has arrived. Sometimes the air is still, but this morning the breeze makes the tree branches gently wave as if to join in a dance along with the increasing birdsong. Even the woodchuck that has settled into a rock wall below the barn stretches out as if to watch the sunlight cast a golden glow on the hills beyond defining their slopes. That same glow rests on the open window over the barn door beginning the day-long flit of swallows in and out in countless flights.
It occurs to me that the “stillness” of the early morning is not really all that still, but rather nearly void of human sound. The trucks and cars haven’t begun their daily journeys along the newly paved road. The sounds of lawnmowers or phones or voices have not yet broken through the air. Instead, the “stillness” of morning that fills my soul is made up of the call of natural things tiptoeing at first across the dawn until the air is filled with both audible and visible beauty that only nature can inspire.
It is in such moments, I find renewal. Without the clutter of the day having yet broken through the chorus I can think more clearly, see more vividly, hear and feel the wonder that is everywhere to be known around me. This time helps me put in perspective the looming challenges that sit like dark clouds on the horizon, the hard decisions needing to be made, the awareness of my place and role within the whole of this life. Wonder. Gratitude. Hope. Peace.
The sunrise crests the hill. Its brilliance brightens the whole porch where I sit. One more cup of coffee. One more deep inhale of goodness and thankfulness. Filled. Recharged. Renewed. I’m ready to embrace the day.
One of my favorite hymns, I Sing the Might Power of God, captures the awe and wonder that brings me joy and assurance. It was written by Isaac Watts in 1715.
I sing the mighty pow’r of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at His command, and all the stars obey.
I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.
There’s not a plant or flow’r below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God, art present there.
May 23, 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
Frequently, in the heat of summer I will sleep on the porch where the night air is cooler. Two nights ago I was into a deep sleep when Bentley barked and woke me up. It was about 3 a.m.! I’m still not sure what disturbed him, but I ended up being grateful because when I looked out into the darkness of the night, I saw a most beautiful sight. Fireflies were everywhere! Initially, in my sleepy state of being, they appeared like burning embers floating in the air. I sat up and watched in amazement for a little while before need for more sleep beckoned me to close my eyes.
As they dotted the dark night with flashes of light, presumably a part of their mating ritual, I considered the glimpses of light that we can be in the dark moments of our world joining in community to create places of hope and beauty. How often the church has been referred to as a beacon of hope in the world. Symbolically, the building can be when we look on it to consider its history and its future. More importantly, we who make up the church are given the opportunity each day to share the light that we possess.
With everything that is going on in our country today, there is much that is calling to us to reflect and act on as those who believe in a circle of love that includes all people and all of creation. For me, some of the best times of reflection can be in my garden while I’m weeding or sitting looking out at the hills from my Adirondack chair. It usually includes being outdoors where there are no walls, the floor is the blessed Earth and the ceiling is the endless sky. Indeed, some of my best thoughts and awareness come to me in such places.
I am reminded of the beautifully maintained Meditation Garden we have behind the church that offers such opportunity to anyone who wishes to use it. Yet, whether it is outdoors or in your favorite corner of the room, I invite you to take time to pray, meditate and reflect on how the Spirit is moving you in these days.
Be still and listen. Discover how God is using the light in you to shine hope into our world. And perhaps visit the Meditation Garden. It just might be there that you will recognize more fully the gift of light that you are.
Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world.”
June 16, 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
So much in our world is changing around us at a rapid pace. Many of us feel uncontrollably drawn to the news in order to check in on the latest circumstances affecting our health, our climate, and our humanity. Like shifting sand beneath our feet the changes come with one headline and then another leaving our heads spinning and our hearts weary. I’m grateful we don’t have a television to pull me in! Instead, I read the news and have begun guarding how much I read – enough to know what’s happening, but not so much that I become locked in to what seems like a perpetual rollercoaster of ups and downs, twists and turns that I am left with my head spinning and my stomach churning. Too much of that and daily life begins to feel deeply overwhelming! My guard against that downward spiral is to read to be informed, to be aware of what is happening enough to know and decide how that knowledge impacts my life, my values and in turn, what does my knowing require of me.
I think of the scripture in which Jesus uses the story of the *WISE and FOOLISH BUILDERS – one who builds his house on a rock and the other who builds on sand. When the storms come and beat against the house, the one built on the rock remains, yet the one built on sand washes away. It’s in Matthew 7:24-27 – a worthy read in these times. It is a reminder of the strength and hope that is ours when we choose to build our lives on the foundation of love and all that such love means to our living faithfully and positively in an ever challenging world.
*The WISE and FOOLISH BUILDERS
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Dear Friends and Family,
I found this prayer and hope that it will be meaningful to you as it has been for me. As we move forward each day, may we find strength in our faith and the knowledge that we walk together in the common cause for justice, peace and harmony throughout our lives and across the world.
For All That Is Our Life By Liz Weber
Spirit of Life,
help us to be present with all that is our life,
both our deepest sorrows and our greatest joys,
so that we can truly live:
engaging fully in our own life and in our community.
Spirit of Community,
Help us know how linked we are,
how each one of our cares touches us all.
Help us to ask for support when we are in need,
and offer our support to others when we are able,
so that we may rest in the solace of one another's love.
Spirit of Love,
And help us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves,
so that we might fully embody love and resist hatred.
Spirit of Resistance,
help us to stick up for what is right,
even when we are tired or afraid.
Help us to dream of the world as it should be
and act to bring that world about.
Help us to find hope each day.
Spirit of Hope,
Help us through this day and each day.
Help us to be present for all that is our life.
For all this we pray;
amen and blessed be.
May 10. 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
Today, I begin with the following scripture that has given me great strength throughout my life. I find it a powerful reminder in these days to stay the course in the pursuit of justice.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
One of the comments I have been hearing a great deal in the midst of peaceful protests and the push for reform, is “will this last; will this be the time for real and significant change?” I sure hope so! It requires perseverance and the commitment to examine the brokenness that has created such disparity in our society, as well as consider what might be our own role in it. Admittedly, this is all very hard to pursue and sets the stage for a defeatist attitude expressed in ways that suggest the situation is too big, too overwhelming to tackle. That might seem true, but rest assured, nothing has ever changed without hard work and dedication. We have the strength to move forward. We know that equality is a necessity for the benefit of all. It is written into our faith. It is part of who we say we are as Christians – everyone matters, all are important, fairness and opportunity are not restricted to a few, but to all. The love and grace we value in our faith applies to every human being. Let us then put our faith into action through our words and what we do every single day, expressing our sincerity to do our part in whatever form we can. Let us set our vision on the great goal of justice and equality for all and when the road seems daunting and the way overwhelming, hold fast to our faith and our shared mission to bring about change and be the change that we might celebrate that change with one another.
Blessings and peace,
May 6, 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
When I was in fourth grade, I saw one of my classmates knockdown another while calling her the “n” word. Immediately, my teacher stepped in and recess was over. But it wasn’t until I got home and explained to my mother what I saw that she revealed the ugly truth of racism and prejudice. Up to that point I didn’t see color. Karen was a good friend. The dark color of her skin never factored in to our playing together. Over the years I have thought about what it must have been like for her and her family. They and their relatives were the only families of color in our “white” town.
That brief moment has been etched into my memory all these years. The ache in my stomach when my mother explained to me what took place has never gone away. Time and time again, we hear, we witness, we read and sometimes we ourselves may even speak racism in subtle ways that we aren’t even aware of – so much is part of our culture, imbedded in our society. And then, the unspeakable happens like George Floyd and we reel from the reality of deep hatred and racism that is still so prevalent in our society. We say to ourselves, “this time it will be different. This time we will work to fix our broken system that perpetuates such inequality. It’s about time.”
And it is about time we make that change. As people of faith, as followers of Jesus’ principles of justice and equality, it is our duty to act. Above everything else, we are called to make a positive difference in our world. So let us act beginning today by:
Becoming aware and sensitive to the subtle racism around us
Pushing for change that demonstrates equality for all
Calling out racism where we see it and demanding better
Using our positions of privilege to influence positive change
We have the capacity within to change this world for the better, to build bridges, to tear down barriers, to unite our voices in common purpose. Let us not only pray for change, but be that change.
June 2, 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
Over these past few days, I have grown even more deeply disturbed. The chaos in our country continues to escalate and exposes, more than ever, our need to come together for the common good. Those two words I do not use lightly. It is essential and the central point of our faith. My Sunday “armchair sermon” was about that. We celebrated what Pentecost means to us as Christians – the birthday of the “church”.
Over the years history has limited the meaning of “church” to define a structure, a building in which we typically gather with a spire that points to heaven. As historical and beautiful as that is, we cannot forget that WE are the living church in our communities. With that comes the responsibility to carry out the message our faith lifts up – the message of love. There is no color code to love, no criteria that excludes, no justification for injustice. Our faith is about one thing – creating a circle of love that includes everyone. Judgment has no place. Judgment is driven by greed and power. Our faith is driven by love alone. While there have been similar moments in our history when the sounds and actions of love and justice have been greatly needed, this is our moment in our movement of love to raise that banner higher than ever.
This is our wakeup call to dig deeper into our actions as followers of Jesus! He once said, when asked which commandment was the most important, “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And then he said there are two others as equally important: “love your neighbor as yourself. On these hang all the law.” We cannot love God in any other way. Today, I pray from the depths of my soul for peace and love to prevail. I hope you will join me in that prayer.
Peace, love and hope,
May 29, 2020
Dear Family and Friends,
Recently, when we were at the coast I took some time to sit on a rock looking out from the cove taking in the solitude. The rhythm of the waves, the sounds, the smells, the cool damp air, brought a sense of tranquility and peace. An osprey flew overhead then, in another moment a diving duck emerged through the glassy surface and sent a ripple of waves that arced out from the center in an ever- expanding circle.
My observation turned to contemplation as I considered the ripple effect our actions have on our world, on one another. Immediately, positive examples come to mind – ways that what we say and do make meaningful differences in the lives of others.
Our faith reminds us that what we do has great implications on building a world of justice, kindness and peace. May we become intently aware of how who we are and what we do makes a world of difference.
The saying – “be the change you want to see in the world” is worth repeating as a mantra for our lives.
May 19, 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
When I am in need of peace and solace, when the challenges of this life weigh heavily on me and I become overwhelmed, I consider the words from John 14:27 – “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: I do not give to you as the world gives. Let not your hearts be troubled, do not let them be afraid.” They offer inner tranquility and help me see beyond this moment’s troubles to the amazing assurance of God’s loving presence in all things and at all times. How easy it is to get side tracked and pulled down by negative thoughts. Still our faith reminds us again and again that we are not in this alone, but that God, the incredible presence of divine love as witnessed in all goodness, takes every step forward with us. Our task is to open ourselves up to that awareness and when we begin to see goodness around us, we will start to see it everywhere from the loving acts of kindness and care among people to the marvelous works of nature.
Just last week a hummingbird came to our porch window and hovered looking in. It happens every year if I don’t get the feeders out by the time they return for the summer. I smiled and chuckled at the reminder and went off to make the sugar water and hang the feeders immediately! It brings to mind the subtle and not so subtle reminders that God continually places throughout our days of peace and love and hope and joy.
I invite you today wherever you are emotionally, spiritually and physically to rest in the assurance of divine love and allow peace to wash over and embrace you.
“I am holding you in the palm of my hands.” Isaiah 41:13
Blessings upon blessings this day and always,
May 15, 2020
Dear Family and Friends,
Writer Max Ehrmann wrote Desiderata in 1927. I imagine you might know it. For the whole piece you can easily “google” it, but for today I want to pull out a few lines for us to reflect on.
“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,…
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
Rest in those words for a moment. Take in the deep resolve, peace and sense of contentment they impart. Consider the blessings of your life, of this moment and lift them up with gratitude and joy. Ninety-three years ago Erhmann penned these words. They are just as profound today, as is our faith in unending love and hope.
Dear Friends and Family,
I watch my chickens in the wind this morning. As soon as I open their coop they rush out into the day and immediately start pecking the ground – scratch and peck, scratch and peck. They’ve scooted off behind the house where they are a bit more sheltered from the cold wind. Before I put up the fencing to protect my raised bed, they “worked” beside me as I prepped the soil. I used my hand rake and dandelion weeder. They’d dive in for the bugs and worms! I think they thought it was teamwork, but I cringed every time considering the loss of one more worm in my garden!
For the most part they stick together, sometimes scattering about across the lawn, but never far apart and and always with their coop in sight – their safely zone. Lulu, our one guinea hen, seems to have taken charge of the flock and often is seen sitting separately, but watching the rest and calling out warnings when danger is near.
They are entertaining to watch and on occasion I catch glimpses of ourselves in their behavior. There’s the sticking close together for the safety of all, the occasional scuffle over a worm or bug, and their finding shelter under the lilac from a storm. There are also some pretty negative behaviors that chickens have inspired names to like “hen-pecked” and “pecking order” that I will stay away from in this reflection.
Quite simply this morning, their togetherness holds a message of solidarity that binds them as one flock and makes me hope for the solidarity that holds us together in these difficult times. Jesus’ teachings have always taught that everyone matters, that love is the most important value above everything else, that the common good is always better than individual desires.
If there is one thing this pandemic has taught us, it ought to be how important our coming together for the benefit of all is the most important thing we can do. The strength of community can overcome adversity.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
Blessings and peace,
Back in the day I was an avid runner and ran many 10K races in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. I vividly recall my very first race. It was a hot summer day. The 10K course ran along the shoreline and was relatively flat, but the heat off the pavement made the air temperature even hotter and like most novice runners, I started out too fast and paid the price the remainder of the race. I burned out early and though I crossed over the finish line, for the last few miles a race walker and I switched back and forth between last place. In the end, the race walker moved ahead motivated by the sight of the finish line and then I headed down the shoot and crossed over the line – dead last.
I learned a few lessons that day – pace yourself, resist the voice in my head saying “give up” and gratitude for those who stuck around to cheer me across the line. That final lesson has had the greatest impact on my life – the support of others who could have gone home, but chose to stay and more than wait, offer up cheers that ushered me to my personal victory. How much the support of others, of community has given me strength and hope. The goal, the drive to reach for it, and the community of support along the way gives meaning and purpose for each of our lives. I am reminded of the passage in Hebrews 12:2: “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith…”.
us not give in to discouragement then when the road gets more difficult and the way is hard to see. Instead, may we cling to the assurance when we strive for the principles of love and justice toward everyone and choose to walk gently on the Earth, through our strength and determination we will achieve our dreams, we will reach our goals.
Blessings today and always,
Dear Friends and Family,
Yesterday I changed the signboard on the Waterford Common, yet again.
This time it reads “Be Strong, Stay Well”.
I chose those words because I hear more and more in people’s voices a growing restlessness. The pandemic has consumed our minds and our actions to the point that we all are growing weary, but that is just when we need to find the strength within to stay the course and stay together in spirit.
In faith, we are called to place our trust in the one thing that can bring us together – love. That love asks of us to be patient with one another, to be compassionate and caring, to listen and to hear, and more than anything else recognize that we are in this together, not divided.
My prayer today and as we move ahead, is that the core of who we are as fellow sojourners through this life, though different and yet the same, will find us working toward a common goal for the common good. Our faith in action is to build strength and hope in community.
In faith and hope,
Today I changed the signboard on The Common to read – LOVE ABOVE ALL ELSE.
I think we need the reminder of love’s broad reach into the hearts of everyone and our world. As these lengthening days of our important “stay-at-home orders”, wear on each of us in different ways, I find solace in the compassion and care that continues to express itself wherever I turn.
Like my daffodils that were crushed by the snow that slid off the roof the other day only to shake it off and lift their heads again toward the sun, this moment in our history, as painful and heartbreaking as it is will not keep us from reaching for better days and even seeing within the suffering the beauty of love made real in compassionate care. It’s what our faith is founded on – “Love one another as I have loved you…” John 13:34
In Love & Peace,
Dear Friends and Family,
Our time to stay at home is as important as ever. These next few weeks are critical for “flattening the curve” as the people in the know tell us and our best response is to do so. It’s not easy.
Most of us find great importance in our connection with one another, but that connection needs to take another form. It might be via phone, FaceTime, Zoom or a whole lot of other means (thank goodness for technology). We’ve been doing much of that ourselves lately like when we celebrated our grandson, William’s, 6th birthday on April 1st. How much we would have loved to be there with him. Instead, this year his grandparents, aunts and uncles came together via Zoom to sing Happy Birthday and watch him celebrate with his siblings and Mom and Dad.
I am reminded in these days that there are bright moments like those with William that shine through the dark and the grey. There are moments of love and compassion, of being “there” while being apart that can fill us with hope and peace.
Our faith speaks of love above all things and in this time that love is being revealed in deeply meaningful and powerful ways. I long for you to be able to see the brightness in your life and that it brings you a sense of peace and hope. You might even take a moment to write down for yourself a few reasons for gratitude today. For one thing, it helps to keep us focused on the goodness of life over that which drags us down.
In this season of Lent when we model Jesus’ time in the wilderness, which to him were the wilds of the desert, we are invited to look deep within ourselves at our relationship with God, with the Spirit that dwells within us and how that connection is made real in our daily lives.
This year has placed us in a wilderness of our own whether we intended to go or not. It is a place of worry and fear; a time that challenges our faith in ways we have not been challenged before. Some days we want to put our heads in the sand and hope that when we pull them out it is all behind us. It seems much too much to comprehend and to bear. Other days we get sucked into the news and feel our faith threatened by a sense of hopelessness. And then within the darkness, there are moments when we witness the outpouring of compassion and love as our communities pull together to help one another. That to me is hope; the light in the darkness.
While what we are facing is a frightening reality, strength comes as we hold ever tighter to the hope that shapes our faith; a hope that believes we can overcome; a hope that sees promise in the midst of heartache and peace among the turmoil. Hope gives us the eyes to see beyond where we are today and empowers us to move forward with the confidence that we are not alone. Hope gives us purpose and grants us opportunity to stand as one in faithfully serving others and rising above the clouds of darkness to see the brightness of a new day.
We did not choose this particular wilderness experience, but we can choose how we live and act within it. May you find hope in these days that you are not alone; that our God is as close as our breath and in the comforting presence of one another.
In Faith and hope,
We are a people of faith and that means trust in the dark places of life, confidence in the presence of love that sustains and strengthens us, the conviction that goodness will always prevail. The bulbs will continue their push toward the sun. The buds will open in fragrant beauty. The days will grow warmer and summer will come. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope…” Romans 15:13