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

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



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



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.



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




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

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

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



August 10th, 2023


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


in a sunbeam.



Kathryn Yingst



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
between sea and sky.

A fine mist
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.

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


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


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.


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.

it is finding the lost sheep, gathering her up
and feeding her.
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

March 9, 2023

Image: Melanie Kyer

Lean in

Like a dog lies down against your leg

With a comfortable thump
In trust and belonging: 
Lean in.

Like a baby falls asleep,
Heavy on your shoulder,
In surrender and security:
Lean in.

Like a caregiver bends close,
To catch barely whispered words
In presence and love:
Lean in.

Lent isn’t always “giving up,”
To suffer through a storm of penitence.
It is about the healing closeness of God,
As simple as finding the space to
Lean in.

– Melanie Kyer
February 27, 2023

February 23, 2023

Image: Nina Bisognani

On Wintering

For years I looked forward to winter and didn’t realize why some others dreaded it so.

I remember going outside for hours on a cold winter day during my preschool years wearing a winter jacket, hand knit woolen mittens and hat and a pair of army green gumboots. The boots had no lining, just thick layers of wool socks. When I came inside my boots were full of snow. My toes and fingers felt frozen. But after warming them up I was fine; ready to go out again the next day.

Then I grew older and less able to tolerate the cold. Making forts and giant snow people was no longer an integral part of a winter day. After a ski accident and resulting knee operation, my doctor told me to stop skiing. Around that time, in my late twenties, I began to notice feeling depressed during November when the air temperature and available light both began to decrease. Winds and rain eventually stripped the trees bare of the last vestiges of faded fall color that still clung to some of the oaks in my yard. My activity level dropped considerably. I was wintering. It wasn’t until  late April or early May that I would feel alive again.

What is wintering? For some animals who live outside it is storing food, hibernating, and often hanging on to survival by a thread. For people, wintering can happen at any time of year. It can be a time of darkness and often withdrawal following personal loss: loss of a job, a loved one, even a pet. According to author Katherine May in “Wintering,” p139, “wintering is the active acceptance of sadness…allowing ourselves to feel it as a need…courage to stare down the worst parts and commit to healing them the best we can.”

This year, when the arrival of winter shriveled my soul, I found refuge in a church near where I am staying. The church is where my healing began. I now think of snow as a liminal space, where magic can occur. I watch the cardinals outside my window and listen to their song. Full-throated, from the depths of cold, there is light in the distance. 

The grace of God brought me here.

 – Nina Bisognani

February 9, 2023

For the Birds

A wild Maine blueberry bush has grown alongside my back porch. It is easily 5 feet high and looks like a bush whose berries would be large and fat, not small and juicy. Often people don’t believe me when I tell them it’s a Maine blueberry bush because it is anything but low to the ground.

It would be easy to pick enough berries for muffins or maybe some blueberry buckle from that bush. I wouldn’t even have to bend over. But I haven’t. We have plenty of other blueberry bushes ripe for picking. So why not save myself from the task of bending over

It’s the birds. Blue jays, cardinals, finches, woodpeckers, chickadees, and in the spring a family or two of bluebirds. In the early summer, when the berries first begin to form the birds begin to peck at the bush. I want to shoo them away. “Go to the feeder, you’re ruining dessert!” I want to yell, for I have stopped trying to pick berries from this bush, even though it would be easy. I finally realized I’ve been leaving it for the birds.

From season to season I watch the birds at the blueberry bush, thankful for this opportunity to see God’s love for the world in these small creatures. I watch as they seem to wait their turn at the birdfeeder, or smile at the very big cardinal who, at Christmastime, claimed the bush as his sole territory. I marvel that even in deepest winter they seem to find snacks among the bush’s tangled branches.

Watching the birds has given me far more joy than a batch or two of blueberry muffins ever would.

– Barbara Kautz
  January 18, 2023


January 26, 2023

Image: Barbara Ryther

Season of Light

For a photographer, every season – every month, every moment – is a season of light. One of the earliest lessons I got with my first SLR camera was “Don’t starve your film of light!” I pictured the nicely ordered clumps of light-sensitive chemicals sitting patiently on the film waiting for the meal of light that would make them burst into the reds, blues and yellows that would miraculously transform into a sunlit iris, a ripple on a pond, a brilliant autumn leaf, a full moon in a dark sky, the smiling face of a loved one. Digital cameras replace chemistry with math and pixels, but the principle is the same – from light comes miracles.

With my camera in hand I see light everywhere, revealed in the texture and structure of the world around me. The quality of the light, its direction, its temperature, will reveal different things. Low light across a snowy beach traces patterns the wind left behind. Strong backlighting uncovers the architecture of a dogwood branch. Soft, indirect light warms the smile on a grandmother’s face.

To be surrounded by light is a gift. It’s no wonder that light is a theme woven throughout Christianity. As C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.”

Let us make this season of light a season of seeing.

– Barbara Ryther

January 5, 2023

Image: Melanie Kyer

A Dialog with Epiphany

Arise, shine, for your light has come!

          But I’m tired and really need to sleep some more.

The shepherds are following the light to the Christ Child.

          But I’ve really got to watch these sheep, I’ll come along later.

The wise men are traveling afar to bring gifts,

          But I didn’t have time to shop, I can’t come empty handed.

The drummer boy is offering a song for the baby Jesus,

          But I’m just not that musical.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

          But…Wait, even me?

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

          I can do that. Maybe while I’m making dinner.

Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace. Goodwill to all.

          Yes, please. All of this.

Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.

         Guidance. I could definitely use some of that.

– Melanie Kyer


December 22, 2022

Image: Barbara Ryther

Hope, Faith, Joy, Peace

Four small candles

The first flame is hope
It flickers out
But is quickly relit

Faith comes to life
uncertainly on its tiny wick
Yet the darkness retreats

Joy shares its glow
And unexpected strength
With the other two

Peace wavers unsteadily
So small and fragile
And so promisingly bright

Four small candles
The light comes from them
But the work is ours.

Barbara Ryther


December 15th, 2022

Image: Barbara Ryther

A Familiar Story

Every year we start the story again. We know this one! The characters are familiar, the plot twists aren’t a surprise anymore. A prophecy! A miraculous pregnancy! A star! Humble shepherds, wise visitors, evil ruler! Flee! We even know how it ends. Preaching, teaching, miracles, then fear, death, resurrection.

We’re comfortable with this story, perhaps too comfortable. It’s like an annual holiday movie that we’ve seen so many times we no longer really watch it but just let it play in the background while we bake cookies and wrap presents.

Maybe this year it’s time for fresh eyes and ears, for a newly open and waiting heart. What if we paid more attention to each part of the story as it unfolds and listened without mentally leaping ahead to the last chapter? What if we discarded what we think we know happened, and looked more deeply into the people and events?

It can be good to hear a familiar story over and over. This year, let’s find something new, be open to surprises, and let it change us.

 – Barbara Ryther