Threshold, Then and Now

Three years ago, I posted thoughts about thresholds.  I did not know in early January 2015 that before the year ended we would be getting ready to sell that home and move to share a home with our youngest son and his wife and daughter. And none of us knew then that a baby boy would soon join us in our new home. That post can be viewed in the link at the bottom of this page.

We have been in our new home for a year and a half now. I photographed doorways in this house.  When I compared them to the post in 2015, I smiled (OK, a tear as well) because of the similarities.  Our favorite art hangs on new walls. Our family photos grace a new spot, with a new family member included. I realized that I can say the same words with confidence today, Epiphany, January 6, 2018.  .

The day of Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas, a day for remembering the visit of the Magi to the home of Joseph, Mary, and the infant Jesus. This was a time of discovery, a time of finding what they had been seeking. Although we are not told how they lived out their discovery, only that they returned by a different way, I like to believe that part of that “different” way was not only to avoid Herod, but because they were beginning a new journey of change.  They had come to, and crossed a threshold.

As I enter the new year, I, too, am crossing a threshold.  I am moving from one place in my life to another. I do not always know where my steps take me, but I can trust that light will be given me for the way.

Blessing the Threshold

This blessing
has been waiting for you
for a long time.

While you have been
making your way here
this blessing has been
gathering itself
making ready
biding its time
praying.

This blessing has been
polishing the door
oiling the hinges
sweeping the steps
lighting candles
in the windows.

This blessing has been
setting the table
as it hums a tune
from an old song
it knows,
something about
a spiraling road
and bread
and grace.

All this time
it has kept an eye
on the horizon,
watching,
keeping vigil,
hardly aware of how
it was leaning itself
in your direction.

And now that
you are here
this blessing
can hardly believe
its good fortune
that you have finally arrived,
that it can drop everything
at last
to fling its arms wide
to you, crying
welcome
welcome
welcome.

– Jan Richardson

Jan L. Richardson is an artist, writer, and ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.

Link to January 6, 2015 post:

https://tinyurl.com/y85wyvus

House of Christmas

In these days between Christmas Day and the ending of the year, I read again and again the story. I read it in Luke. I read it in dear messages from friends as I look through our stack of Christmas cards. I read it in the children’s Christmas books I read to my granddaughter. And I read it in poetry.  I am glad for these quieter days, colder now so I want to stay inside.  It is still Christmas.

 

GK Chesterton (1874–1936)

The House of Christmas

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

 

 

Now But Not Yet

Morning Meditation

Even in our most cherished moments, it’s there—this “something more,” a feeling that all life can offer is not enough. C. S. Lewis says of our best experiences, “They are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

Sitting, Still

purpleflower

This bloom on a small container potted shrub reminds me of another purple bloom, in another place, the garden we moved away from a few months ago. It also reminded me that I still need to sit, that I need to be still. The birds and flowers are different, but there are yet the settling and knowing, the holy moments.

“Sitting in your garden is a feat to be worked at with unflagging determination and single-mindedness – for what gardener worth his salt sits down. I am deeply committed to sitting in the garden.”       – Mirabel Osler

Sitting still is necessary for so many things: I listen better when I sit still.  I hear things unheard when I am crunching on the gravel or digging or clipping.  The butterflies and hummingbirds come closer when I am still.  The cardinal pair lingers longer on the fence.  Appreciation and savoring of beauty may run after me when I am on the move but they settle around my shoulders like a soft cover when I sit still.  And in the stillness I begin to settle – the cloudy debris of things which can fret and hurt begin to drift to the bottom, leaving pure, clear knowing.  Holy moments can happen when I sit in my garden.   (Reposted from this blog, written on August 17, 2013.)

Still true, in a very different garden. Three years ago, this is the picture I posted, a different purple bloom on the Vitex tree in that garden.

vitex

 

Amazing. Grace.

MagnoliaAmazingGrace

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

The Avowal  by Denise Levertov

After the Rain

AprilGarden If the saying “April showers bring May flowers” were born out  next month, we would be covered in blooms.  On Monday this week, rains came and camped out over many parts of Texas, creating historic event flooding in Houston and several surrounding counties.  There have been tragic deaths, and thousands of people are displaced.  Although the rain has stopped, flooding continues as rivers and bayous rage out of their banks flooding homes and pastureland.

Our garden welcomes us once more with cool breeze, shade, birdsong, and flowers blooming. Joe brought in a gardenia that I could smell when he opened the door. I am grateful for this peace and beauty  but sad for loss for so many.

Prayer for Those Affected by the Floods

God of compassion,
You created a world for us
To know your love and peace
Yet amidst the beauty of creation
We encounter pain and hurt
And forces beyond our control.
At times like this our hearts are shaken and ache with sorrow
At the destruction of our lives, homes and livelihoods.
Hear our prayers for those affected by the floods
And for all those working
To bring relief and fresh hope.

Amen

from the Toowoomba Diocese in Queenslnd following a devastating flood in 2011

 

The Sweetest Things

20160402_145717

“The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Easter

20160327_083929Photo taken in the prayer garden at First Baptist Church, Richmond, Texas. Our early morning Easter services are held under this oak tree, among the oldest and largest in South Texas. 

Lord, from clay you made us,

to be a living soul

from your own breath

to live in harmony  with you.

Too soon we strayed away.

Kyrie eleison,

 

But clay I am, and you the potter

always shaping and reshaping.

However you make me

I am your child,’fashioned in your image.

Christe eleison,

 

Your continual moulding turns

pride ito humility,

indifference to love,

faint-heartedness to faith,

ingratitude to thankfulness.

Kyrie eleison.

 

` from Clay, by Marianne Dormann

Why?

IMG_2455

Anyone who has been around small children knows how often we hear the question “Why?”  I have been asking that question about my fig harvest this year.  We have a fine fig tree in the garden that typically has so many green figs it is hard to keep up with the harvest as they ripen.  This year we had an unusually wet June and although there were hundreds of green figs and they began to ripen early, harvest slowed and stopped completely in the second week. Our brutal Texas heat came on suddenly. My research tells me the tree went into conservation mode and began aborting its fruit.  Even though we watered heavily, nothing brought back the production so the hard little green figs began to drop to the ground, wasted and of no use to anyone. Not even the birds would eat them.

The problem is that  figs are  shallow rooted and easily stressed. That reminded me of my own need for  being rooted deeply to be able to take the heat and  avoid reacting in damaging ways to the stress of our uncertain times!

” May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love;”  Ephesians 3: 17, The Living Bible