Remember
that the whole earth is a sacrament-
a limitless possibility of encountering
God reaching toward us.

MARCH 21, 2024

Image: Nina Bisognani

 Reconciliation

Forgiveness is a process. It began for me one year during Lent. I was reminded of the broken relationship between my older sister and me. When we were children, I thought she was a bad seed. She called me a spoiled brat. Sometimes we exchanged hurtful words and actions. There were feelings of anger, resentment, and jealousy
between us. As time passed, we dealt with our differences by avoiding each other.

One Sunday, I noticed her at church, sitting across the isle from me. Though usually well dressed, she looked disheveled. Her hair was not combed and her once favorite sweater was covered with pills. Through God’s grace, I felt her sorrow. When time came for sharing the PEACE, I crossed the aisle and gave her a hug. She was surprised; uncomfortable at first, but agreed to sit with me for the rest of the service. At the time, this was a tiny step forward -the beginning of reconciliation.

We began to telephone each other. She forgave me for eating peanuts she said our
mother had given her. I forgave her for being mean to me. With God’s help, we took
small steps toward restoring our relationship. It was a two-person process.

Two years later, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I helped her through that
difficult time. We sometimes joked about old memories. She shared food with me
and allowed me to comb her hair. I knew she was going through hellish times, but at least we were together. God was with us throughout the journey.

My last words to her were, “I love you.” She replied, “I love you too, a lot!” We were sisters again, with full hearts. She remains in my prayers.

 

Nina Bisognani

 

February 22, 2024

Image: Barbara Ryther

Trees in Winter

Sometimes I imagine that God sees us as we see trees in winter.
Not through the filter of soft leaves
Or in the warm summer sunshine
But branches, trunk and roots laid bare in the harsh light.

In winter you can truly see a tree’s foundation
As well as its reach.
How strongly does it stand?
How free are its branches?

Scars visible on the trunk
Storm damage revealed in broken branches
A twisted shape evidence of having to reach too far for the sun.
Roots destabilized by the repeated trauma of floods.

Perhaps God is not judging us in the winter light
But instead finding where we can be made more whole
Where we need stronger roots or more reach
Retrained to grow toward the light.

Maybe Lent is a good time to
stand before God and lay ourselves bare.
Acknowledge both where we have grown
And where we need the creator’s touch.

Barbara Ryther

February 22, 2024

 

February 8, 2024

WELCOMED HOME

For the first time in over a year I worshiped in person at St George’s on Sunday October 15th.  My reasons for becoming a “St G’s YouTuber” were legitimate. At first it was the need to protect our immune compromised daughter from potential exposure to Covid. Since August of last year, it’s been a nasty case of Long Covid I developed after a very mild case of the illness itself.
I know I am lucky. I have had no lingering respiratory or cardiac problems that plague so many people with Long Covid. Rather, my constant companion has been exhaustion. I could go to bed at 8 PM, sleep until 10 AM, nap at 3 PM, then hit the repeat button. Day after day after day.
When I hit the one-year mark, blood work showed I had developed good ole fashioned iron deficiency anemia, the kind that required intravenous iron infusions to fix. Three weeks after I had the final infusion, something amazing happened: I woke up without an alarm clock at 7:30 AM. I usually roll over to catch a few more Zzzs, knowing if I do, Jim will have my coffee ready for me when I get up. I still tire easily and my lifelong battle with insomnia has returned, nevertheless I am thrilled.
During my absence I never felt disconnected from St George’s. Father Ryan called to check on me frequently and I had our Reflection group meetings to go to on Zoom. Nancy Davison dragged me to Norma’s Restaurant every couple of weeks, and when I could break away from family dinners that included my grandson, I joined the Wednesday evening knitting group.
Most important was the church’s continued broadcasting of services on YouTube. It is a life saver. A blessing. With headphones on, I can hear every word of every sermon clearly, leading me to ponder Father Ryan’s message more than I might if I were sitting in church. And I can listen to it again.
In fact, I got so interested in the Easter 2022 Sermon, I found myself researching the artwork of Sir Stanley Spencer and his paintings of the resurrection of the villagers of Cookham, England.
But there are things YouTube cannot replace: singing hymns– and with the choir, greeting people during the Peace, and most importantly, taking communion.
Feeling healthier was cause for a celebration. And I knew exactly where! St George’s.
When I first wrote this I had hope for the best, but it was not to be. I reinjured an old back injury while visiting my sister’s in VA on Nov 2. Now at the end of January I am finally able to return to church–partly because July Littlefield convinced me it was no big deal to show up with a walker. I wanted to be there the Sunday after Mike Cocco died to mourn with my choir friends and to be with Sally. Nancy Devour kindly took my hand so I didn’t need the walker to take communion. I still can’t promise perfect attendance, but I still felt as I did in October–that St George’s is a family. My family.
I knew I was home. Back where I belong.

Barbara Kautz
01/18/2024

PS. I will be forever grateful to Father Ryan, Harry Mussman, Bill Yorston, and Melanie Kyer  and the rest of the team of techno-experts who make YouTube work every Sunday.

 

January 25, 2024

Image: Kathryn Yingst

The Practice of Gratitude   

Years back, a friend of mine shared that she was keeping a daily gratitude journal. Each evening, she would write down two or three things that she felt thankful for. At the time, what struck me most was that my friend had just lost her young husband, having become a widow and single mom to two small children. I wondered, what could she be writing? How could she possibly feel grateful during such a heartbreaking time in her life? 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought of my friend and her journal. We’ve seen news reports of the cruel atrocity in Israel and ensuing destruction in Gaza. Closer to home, our hearts have gone out to Lewiston, Maine as they became the latest U.S. city to be touched by the tragedy of gun violence. Perhaps in our own homes, we might be experiencing new or ongoing challenges. How–when life feels especially heavy–do we find gratitude?

I believe it is a practice.

My friend’s first few days of gratitude journaling were likely written with considerable effort. Maybe those first entries even felt a bit mechanical as she tried to think of what she felt thankful for. But she kept writing. Every day, she practiced–finding stillness within herself–and she observed what she found. 

With practice we, too, become mindful of the gifts within and around us. Gratitude journaling is one way to practice. Other practices might include meditation, nature walks, or creative arts. Or simply to try to be completely present as we go about our day, noticing: the aroma of dinner simmering, the smile of our partner or friend, the cozy warmth of a scarf on a blustery day…

Through practice we become aware of the sacred within ourselves, in our connections to one another, and in the world around us. It is to this well of gratitude we can return, again and again.

 

Kathryn Yingst

 

January 11, 2024

Image: Melanie Kyer

Glitter through the Hourglass

When I was growing up, my mom watched the soap opera ,”Days of our Lives,” which began each episode with the voiceover “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” At the start of a new year, sometimes it seems like life is slipping through our fingers. We didn’t get to everything on our bucket list, we didn’t finish that book, that salad we bought with good intentions is already wilting in the crisper…

On Dec. 31st, Bishop Brown spoke in his sermon of a different tiny particle– glitter– which, like sand, does seem to get everywhere. He quoted his mentor, who said that “Our dust–our humanity– is shot through with hints of glory.” In other words, in all that sand passing through the hourglass, there are also bits of sacred glitter.

A couple months ago, my Facebook page was suspended because of some kind of hack and I can’t seem to get customer service to help. For all its flaws, social media is an important way for me to keep in contact with many friends and family. I love seeing their photos and getting that little “serotonin boost” when they like mine. I’ve been grieving the lack of social connection with friends far and near. I decided to send “real” Christmas cards this year as a way to re-establish contact, and at first it seemed like this was only highlighting my disconnectedness. I searched in vain for my old tattered address book, poring through boxes and saved computer files, ultimately realizing even the addresses I could locate were often out of date. Since my mother has Alzheimer’s, I could no longer ask her for addresses, either. I felt lost.

Thankfully, Google searches, email and some legwork helped me to recreate an address list. I wrote a “Christmas letter” and looked back at the joys of the past year. I spent a quiet evening with my fountain pen writing out addresses and remembering how important all these friends and relatives are to me. Even as I realized I wouldn’t be sending a card to a dear friend and a cousin, both of whom died in the past year, I gave thanks for the joy they brought. There is so much that glitters in my life.

Through Epiphany we’ll look at the “wondrous star” and hear how those who walked in darkness have seen a “great light” – but I’m thankful to Bishop Brown this week for helping me look at the tiny light of glitter. I hope as the sand passes through your hourglass you will find some glitter, too. It is everywhere.

 

Melanie Kyer

12/31/2024

 

December 28, 2023

                              Image: Nina Bisgnani
18th C. Nativity, Camel Mission, CA

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:`And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Matthew 2:1-12

 

December 14, 2023

Image: Barbara Ryther

“Peace”

Such an easy word to say.
A soft exhalation through briefly closed lips, then a gentle hush.

Saying it is the easy part. Finding it is harder.

What does it look like to you?

A dove, a crane, a thousand cranes?
A candle in an Advent wreath?
A moment of calm on a noisy day?
The release of troubled thoughts?
The easing of unrelenting pain or grief?
A day without gunshots?
A week without bombings?

Is peace something we hope for? Work for? Search for?

In the midst of searching for human peace, how do we approach the peace of God?

When we ‘pass the peace’ in Sunday morning worship, what do we receive from each other? What do we give? What flows through us? How do we, as individuals and a church, try to grasp the unfathomable peace of God?

Phillipians 4:6-7 says:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

To transcend is to be greater in scope. God’s peace is greater than whatever troubles our lives, our communities, our world.

God’s peace to you. Whether or not we can ever understand it, accept it. Let it guard your hearts and minds.

 

-Barbara Ryther

 

November 30, 2023

Image: Nina Bisognani

Random Thoughts

It is almost dark. I am sitting in front of the firepit on our patio while my husband is in the kitchen cooking asparagus to go with our dinner. The air is full of ocean sounds; reminders that we are only across the street. The slow and steady pull of the sea is calming, eternal.

In the background, a bell buoy clangs its warnings near the Cape Neddick River. I am in a special place, a special moment. The sky is beginning to darken; an end of day time some people call the gloaming.” The short stretch of forest behind our back yard is changing color in
the dimming light. Pine trees are nearly black now. And the bell buoy continues to ring in the distance.

I want to stay here as nature puts herself to sleep while I listen to the crackle of firewood burning. I am immersed in the world around me. The heat is soothing to my bones. The flames have their own stories to tell, but it is getting late and I must go.

 

Nina Bisognani

11/30/2023

 

November 16, 2023

Image: Laura Sunderland

Everyday Saints

It’s “saints” season, and one of the hymns I’ve always liked, even though it’s a bit sing-song and trite is “I sing a song of the saints of God” (Episcopal hymnal #193). Maybe you know it– my favorite part is the last verse, which starts like this:

They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still;
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.

It gives me hope to think about the thousands of positive forces in the world, helping us when we need it most.

Saints really are everywhere, if you look for them. For the past two weeks I have been extremely busy and stressed as I organized the visit of twenty students and their teachers as part of our exchange with a school in Germany. It has been wonderful, but my mental tank was getting depleted. And in stepped the saints (or angels, as I like to think of them):

Angel #1: Grecia. The two teachers were staying with me and while I had some lovely evening meals prepared, I was daunted by figuring out what to pack for their lunches as I usually eat frozen dinners or leftovers. Enter my colleague Grecia, who offered to bring lunches for them and even invited them over to experience trick or treating with her family, giving me an evening off.

Angel #2: Rebecca. After church last Sunday, I bit into one of Betsy’s lovely chocolate chip cookies and a crown fell off one of my teeth. The best dentist appointment I could get was an hour before the farewell potluck. I messaged the parents and lovely Rebecca took over, picking up tablecloths, making 12 gorgeous flower centerpieces, and setting up all the tables for a great send-off.

Angel #3: Laura. While chaperoning a school dance last week, I lamented to an art teacher colleague that I still hadn’t made Max an appointment for his senior pictures. It just didn’t seem that important, since I have taken lots of great photos of the kids and professional photos can be quite expensive. This week she messaged me and offered to come by Friday and take photos of Max (and Chewie!). I was still feeling worn out since the Germans had only left that morning, but it turned out to be the perfect blessing to walk in the woods behind our house and see my far-too-grown-up son smiling in the fall sun.

As we remember the tragedies in Lewiston, Israel, Gaza, Ukraine and other places, it always helps to look for the saints at work. There’s a lot of darkness in the world, but there’s a lot of light, too.

That hymn ends “For the saints of God are just folk like me, and I mean to be one, too.” I’ve had a lot of thanks for the hard work I put in to help our exchange be successful, but I couldn’t have done it without the blessings of these saints. May we all appreciate the saints in our lives and look for opportunities to be saints to others.

 

 

Melanie Kyer

11/19/2023

 

October 19, 2023

Image: Nina Bisognani

Psalm 46

 

God is our refuge and strength, *
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, *
and though the mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea;
Though its waters rage and foam, *
and though the mountains tremble at its tumult.
The God of hosts is with us; *
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, *
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city;
it shall not be overthrown; *
God shall help it at the break of day.
The nations make much ado, and the realms are shaken; *
God has spoken, and the earth shall melt away.
The God of hosts is with us; *
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come now and look upon the works of the Most High, *
who does awesome things on earth.
It is God who makes war to cease in all the world, *
who breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,
and burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, then, and know that I am God; *
I will be exalted among the nations;
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The God of hosts is with us; *
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

10/22/2023

 

October 5, 2023

Image: Nina Bisognani

A Family Tradition

 

The air is crisp. Red and yellow hues begin to wash over leafy green trees in our yards. We decorate our doorsteps with colorful pumpkins and chrysanthemums that echo the changes we see in nature. 

Memories of cookouts and salad days are replaced by thoughts of simmering soups, root vegetables, and full, warm tummies. At our house, the time to get together for an annual family tradition of making homemade gnocchi for the coming holidays has arrived.

Making gnocchi is fairly simple, but it takes the good part of an afternoon with people working together toward a single goal. The final outcome is a delicious dish we all look forward to sharing every year. 

Our family recipe was brought over from Italy three generations ago.
We use basic ingredients: four large russet potatoes, 3-4 eggs, 2 tbsp butter, a pinch of salt and 1 cup of flour for each potato. We cook the potatoes with skins on, peel them while hot and mash them until smooth. Then we make a well in the center of the potatoes, add the remaining ingredients and mix by hand as our ancestors did. No food
processors here.

We knead the dough on an old floured board and cut it into 3 or 4 pieces with a kitchen knife that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. By the time we are finished we are covered in flour. Our granddaughter loves rolling the dough into snake-like strips, as we all cut them in one-inch pieces and indent them with our fingers to hold our favorite homemade sauce. It is messy and fun. Finally we cook the gnocchi in water until they float. They freeze very well.

Voila! A delicious meal made by many hands together and happy memories to carry with us over the cold months ahead.

Story & Photo by Nina Bisognani

 

10/05/2023

 

September 21, 2023

Image: Barbara Ryther

 

Relying on Philippians 4:13 

                                                              Barbara Kautz 

I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

King James Bible 1611

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

New King James Bible, 1982

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. 

New American Standard Bible, 1995

I am standing at the far end of a long corridor, near York Hospital’s  inpatient physical therapy department. I am 54 and recovering from hip replacement surgery. Beside me is my physical therapist Stefan, and in my hand is a cane. My boss called this morning insisting I return to work early. The spring semester has just started and our team of four instructors has fallen apart.  Norene’s husband has suddenly died of a heart attack, Judy is in the hospital needing emergency surgery,  only Marilyn is left to teach classes.

There are not enough substitute instructors to take students to begin their clinical internships on Monday. I must return early, or the nursing program will close.

“But I’m still using a cane,” I tell my boss, who is not the most sympathetic person.

“Well, get rid of it.”
I’ve told all of this to Stefan; he thinks I can do it.

I take two tentative steps with the cane. Okay, not bad, I feel steady on my feet.

“Now drop the cane.”
Terrified, I repeat my mantra I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. I have had to look up the source of the passage.

It is Philippians 4:13.

I let the cane go. And take a step. Still standing. Minimal pain.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
And another step. And another.
“I told you, you could do it,” Stephan says.

Two more steps, then three. Barbara, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. I tell myself over and over again, as I continue down the corridor, then turn around. Thank you God, thank you Jesus. Thank you, thank you.
I will be able to return to work on Monday.

To me, the intent of St Paul’s writing is clear: we find our strength in our faith in and through Jesus. A version of it has been my mantra for years: taking other first steps after other surgeries, leaving a newly married daughter behind in Denmark, even climbing long hills when I crossed the US on a bike.But the variation of the pronouns between Christ and strengthens have always bugged me, thanks to my fourth grade teacher. She insisted who is for people which is for inanimate objects. I took the lesson to heart. Jesus is definitely not an inanimate object. Surely King James I knew this. A revision of the King James Bible, published in 1982 corrects my frustration.: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.There are over 1000 known copies of the Bible translated into English. For generations the King James version, published in 1611 was the gold standard after James I commissioned over 40 scholars to study the original texts in Greek and Hebrew, then agree on its wording. In 1982 a newer version of the King James Bible was published, using more contemporary language. In it, Philippians 4:13 read I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.In 1995, The New American Standard Bible was published. Because it is a direct word for word translations of the original texts in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic the New American Standard Bible is currently considered to be the best English Language Bible in publication. In it Philippians 4:13 reads I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

There it is, the concept I was looking for. That Jesus is not injecting me with a syringe full of strength. Rather, He is beside me as I do the difficult things in life, and that gives me strength.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (NASB 1995)

Barbara Kautz

September 14, 2023

 

 

September 7, 2023

Image:Barbara Ryther

Paths
Barbara Ryther

 

Those of us who make a practice of walking on beaches generally choose a particular path. Much as with life, we have our reasons for our choices, based on personality, circumstances or mood of the day, or perhaps habit. Sometimes we switch from one path to another.

Choices abound at low tide.

Walking knee deep in water at the edge of the surf is for those who want to be soothed by the cool water in the summer or early fall, or to enjoy the extra workout provided by the force of both the waves and the undertow – one driving you toward the sand, one driving you toward the water. On this path you have to fight to stay in a more or less straight line, a test for both leg muscles and balance. In the spring or late fall we refer to this path as ‘invigorating.’ In the winter we don’t refer to it at all.

Just above the breaking surf is smooth, packed sand with a little springiness from the water that still saturates the lower layers, perfect for those who are going for speed. If your goal is to get from one end of the beach to the other as quickly as possible, this is the path for you. With most obstacles recently washed away it’s also the easiest path to walk in a straight line.

Up closer to the high tide mark is the path for those willing to be distracted every few steps by treasures – shells, driftwood and seaweed temporarily left behind by the receding waves, or the occasional sand crab unwisely exposing itself to hungry gulls. There is much to be discovered and photographed here, but it requires you to tread slowly and use your eyes.

Occasionally there’s a path above that which has been raked free of large, unwanted piles of kelp or other seaweed beds washed up and stranded there up by distant or nearby storms. We rarely see the machines that do this but we never fail to recognize the unique sand left behind – heavenly soft and as relaxing on bare feet as walking in talcum powder.

At the top of the beach near the seawall, is the hardest path to walk. Deep, dry, uneven sand that seems to pull you back with every step. Old, leftover remnants of seaweed dried by time and the sun into crunchy assaults on the soles of your feet. Holes dug by toddlers or dogs lying in wait. Your pace seems slow, but your heart is pumping and your leg muscles are working hard. While this is not a path for the faint hearted, persisting builds strength with every step.

But as with life, sometimes our choices are taken away from us.

Every day as the tide rises, the surf walkers are driven higher on the beach, and have to either keep a wary eye out for the less even surface that now lies beneath those breaking waves, or move up out of the water onto the wet sand. Soon even that easy path is gone, as the water relentlessly moves toward the seaweed and shells it left behind hours ago. Inevitably that is reclaimed too. Now those left on the beach have only one choice – the hard slog through deep, dry, uneven sand. Sometimes we struggle through, sometimes we retreat.

Then there are the times – brought on by seasons or storms – when the tide rises so much that seawater meets seawall, obliterating even that one last path. The only thing we can do then is climb up on the seawall and find a rock to sit on, to wait until the powers beyond our control once again reveal different paths and once again we have choices.

As we sit there on a rock without seeing a good path forward, we may be impatient or frustrated. We may even be sad, angry or afraid.

But we are safe.

On this rock.

 

Barbara Ryther

– March 27, 2016

August 24, 2023

Image: Melanie Kyer

Small Town Summer

Small town summer means blessing:
Picking up a box of bruised peaches at the farmer’s market and making jam,
then giving a jar to the mechanic down the road who fixed your air conditioning.

Small town summer shouldn’t mean a mother stuck at home, no money to fix
the car, and no public transportation to bring the kids to the playground.

Small town summer means home:
Driving by license plates from 12 different states on your way to the grocery
store and knowing when to time your shopping trip by the tides.

Small town summer shouldn’t mean an hour’s walk to work at a hotel where
you serve tourists who complain your accent’s hard to understand.

Small town summer means comfort:
Leaving the beach to the tourists and seeking out a spot to read in the shady
park by the public library.
Small town summer shouldn’t mean getting shot because you were out after
dark in a park where no one knows you.

Comfort, home and blessing are a privilege and a gift— but not for ours to
keep.

Above its doors our small town church is proud to show a sign:
“All are welcome at God’s Table.”
But…what if I told you…we are the table?

Melanie Kyer

8/13/2023

 

August 10th, 2023

MORNING

I want to greet the day

the way my dog wakes

having tucked

into the velvet night

heavy with surrender

 

When the silk moon slips

through ambient blue

to welcome her florid sister

and a chorus of birds

calls me from dreaming

 

I want to run

to the warmed floor

near the porch window

with the boundless joy

of one who recognizes

divinity

in a sunbeam.

 

 

Kathryn Yingst

08.01.23

 

July 28, 2023

Image: Nina Bisognani

Walking With Bandit

The first time I visited Vaughn Woods was on a sweltering summer afternoon; the kind of day one might spend inside sitting next to a fan, sipping a cool drink. My energetic puppy had other ideas.

We began on a path leading into a forested area where there was no brush; only trees so tall and straight the tops seemed to disappear into the sky. Filtered light from above drew lovely patterns on the forest floor.

We were surrounded by the presence of God in this calm, quiet place. My body was cooler, more comfortable. Earthly thoughts and worries drifted away. I knew I was where I was meant to be. I breathed in the earthy scents and rested a while. My dog Bandit drank from a nearby stream and sniffed along the forest floor.

Later on, continuing our walk, we came to a place where the trail split in two directions. We chose the path that led downhill toward the river’s edge. Cattails grew next to the marsh. Water flowed over nearby rocks. Ferns and green leafy skunk cabbages added to nature’s bounty. The three o’clock sunlight shimmering on the river reminded me of an impressionistic painting.

As the path narrowed and became overgrown with brush, I saw what looked like a house in the distance. I walked toward it and found a garden planted there. Mysteriously, the house appeared uninhabited. Crab apple trees were blooming along the border of a lawn that seemed newly mowed. Bandit explored the surrounding area while I peeked through the windows of an old cape style cottage on the property. The cottage was empty.

In the stillness of time suspended, I felt a deep spiritual peace. I thanked God for sharing a bit of heaven with the two of us on that steamy day.

Nina Bisognani

July 20, 2023

Beach Meditation 

Walking the shore
while rain blurs
boundaries
between sea and sky.

A fine mist
softens
blending muted blues
and soft grays
into pillowy drifts.

Her bright slicker
defiantly fuchsia
refuses to concede.

She is here for the dog
who has not yet chosen
where to relieve himself.

Damp hair
sticking to her forehead,
she sighs.

Meanwhile
plovers skim the sand.

Breathing in
the scent of rosa rugosa
fills her lungs—
a petal embrace.

Drawing deeply
salt brine
conjures a memory—
hers, yet communal
like a hymn of belonging.

She leans in.

Swirling sensory notes
blur earthiness
with time outside of time
as she feels her edges soften
into the boundless now.

Kathryn Yingst

06.06.23

July 13, 2023

Image: Barbara Ryther

 Just Listen

Searching for discernment
A sign, a message, a word.
Who am I meant to be?

Hunting for a call
A voice, a push, a beacon.
Where am I meant to go?

Pursuing a purpose
A vision, a prophecy, a revelation
What am I meant to do?

Where is my burning bush?  My pillar of fire?
The voice from within the cloud?

In searching we forget to wait.
In hunting we forget to see.
In pursuing we forget to pause.

Sometimes we need to sit.
To be quiet,
To listen.
And have patience that God will come to us.

Barbara Ryther 

June 1, 2023

Image: Nina Bisognani

Come Holy Spirit, Come

As the apostles spread the word of God to many nations,
so can we share the joy of knowing Jesus in our hearts
with those who are still searching for faith.

We re-enter spring with the earth around us coming to life.
Trees are now in bloom. Birdsong fills the air with the language
of love. Our prayers of longing have become prayers of thanks.

Each year, buds on apple trees grow into life-sustaining fruit.
Lady bugs and no-see-ums begin to frequent our homes.
All of God’s creation has a meaningful place in our world,
our lives, and our church. We are all one family.

Pentacost approaches with a mighty rush of wind and fire.
The Holy Spirit enters our souls to remain with us always.

A new beginning is upon us…hope for a more peaceful world.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

Nina Bisognani

June 15, 2023

Image: Nina Bisognani

Come, Holy Spirit, Come

As the apostles spread the word of God to many nations,
so can we share the joy of knowing Jesus in our hearts
with those who are still searching for faith.

We re-enter spring with the earth around us coming to life.
Trees are now in bloom. Birdsong fills the air with the language
of love. Our prayers of longing have become prayers of thanks.

Each year, buds on apple trees grow into life-sustaining fruit.
Lady bugs and no-see-ums begin to frequent our homes.
All of God’s creation has a meaningful place in our world,
our lives, and our church. We are all one family.

Pentacost approaches with a mighty rush of wind and fire.
The Holy Spirit enters our souls to remain with us always.

A new beginning is upon us…hope for a more peaceful world.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

Nina Bisognani

 

May 18, 2023

Image: “Angel with Broken Foot” by Melanie Kyer

Little Angel

You are not broken.
My eyes see only your beauty.
Little Angel, child of God,
You have been wonderfully made.

Do not lament your lack of color,
Or compare yourself to daffodils.
All the best photographers know
The art of contrast found in black and white;
You are all colors: in you, perfect light.

If you are tired, take no shame in rest.
Smell the flowers, feel the warm spring sun.
And if you are still too hurt to walk,
Little Angel, you can fly.

Melanie Kyer
May 2023

May 4th, 2023

IS

I am, You are, He is

I was, You were, He was

I will be, You will be, He will be

When was the last time you thought about conjugating the very IS.  Unless you teach English, or maybe are a writer, I bet the answer is “never.” Why would you?

I have no idea how many times in my life I have said or sung, “Christ is risen. Or Christ has risen.” Hundreds, thousands, I am sure. And I’ve never once thought of the difference between the subtle meaning of those two statements. But on Easter Sunday I found myself thinking about it a lot, thanks to Father Ryan’s sermon and his reference to Sir Stanley Spencer’s paintings. The idea that Sir Stanley could capture a moment of the physical resurrection of the village where he was born captured my thinking. I found the picture online and could study it for hours.

More than anything the painting and the words Christ IS risen brought to mind in a way I had never before considered that Jesus’s Resurrection is a daily, continuing, present event.

Jesus rose from the dead. Resurrection IS. I can worry about needing a cane to take a long walk, or remembering who I am as I grow older, but I need not worry about what will happen when I take my last breath.

Because…

Jesus’s resurrection IS. Christ IS risen. Alleluia.

Barbara Kautz
Lynge, Denmark
April 17, 2023

PS Sir Spencer’s Resurrection paintings (there are more than one)  are in London’s Tate Gallery. To see the painting Father Ryan referenced click here

April 6, 2023

About Lent

I grasped for words
to wrap with neat corners
and crisp edges.
Lent in a box: silky like a purple stole.

But in this season
we find courage
to confront difficult things.

Lent is our communal looking glass.

It is both holding space
and being held by
those who contemplate with us.
We do not do this work alone.

Together, we open ourselves to our own suffering
and to the suffering of the world.

Lent is giving breath
to the parts of us
that beg for healing,
offering compassion
to our eternal child.
Sitting with her
as she weeps.

Lent is seeing injustice in our neighborhoods
inequity among friends
violence against sisters.
It is to embody the wounds of ‘the least of these’
as our own.

Lent is bravery draped in shawls of love.

Sometimes
it is finding the lost sheep, gathering her up
and feeding her.
Sometimes
it is discovering that we are the lost sheep.

Lent is the harbinger
of tombs emptied.
It is sitting with our truths
even when they aren’t flattering.

It is speaking for the ones
whose voices
have been quelled
until their song is heard.

Lent is a quiet roar
a reflection in motion,
a mending
within and between
to break down the walls
that box us in.

It is both our work and salve.

Kathryn Yingst, 03.19.23

March 23, 2023

Image: Nina Bisognani

Creating Spaces

As we enter meteorological spring,
the annual tradition of spring cleaning
comes to mind.
 
Rooms where we spent cozy time over
the winter seem dusty and crowded now. 
Notes scribbled on colored sticky pads 
are scattered on desks; along with, pens, 
pencils and half-finished correspondence.
 
Unread books piled high on end tables
next to comfy chairs are taking up space.
Curtains and rugs need cleaning. Dust balls have
accumulated in hard to reach places.
 
It is time to create space in our homes,
and in our minds, for new beginnings to occur. 
Creating space in our physical surroundings
tends to wash away some of the weight of winter.
 
Prayer, meditation and the practice of forgiveness,
can help remove the tangles in our crowded minds, 

making space for us to develop a closer relation to Christ.

– Nina Bisognani