Monday, October 15, 2018

OCTOBER DASH

THE DASH
Another sibling in our family died . . .  at the end of September.
We’re all getting older but she was the youngest . . .  too young.
It’s like she slept into the arms of Jesus.

We all have a ‘beginning’ date and an ‘ending’ date.
That’s a given.
We who are conceived will die eventually.
That 'dash' between the two dates seems so insignificant.
Yet, there is so much more to each life than a short, little dash, isn’t there.

That little ‘dash’ between the beginning and ending dates seems like a microdot of a person’s life, especially if that personality is as loved and well received as my sibling.

My sibling did not live an unusual life per se, but she smiled and spread joy to all in her daily path.

She seemed content in whatever circumstances she was in.
Since she was young, she loved perching comfortably in the large backyard tree and reading a good book most of the day.
She was also the delight of any gathering.
She socialized with the best of us.
She fell in love and married a wonderful man who was several years older than she was.

Their love was enhanced by the birth of two sturdy boys.
Over the decades the family remained a strong unit because she was a very involved mom.
She made each day an adventure.
The boys grew up, married and are now raising families.

Over the past several years she was in constant care of her husband as he dealt with various ailments that come with ill health and age.
We worried about her when he died but knew that her strong bond with grand children would keep her going.

She met with her local (female) pastor weekly just because it was good for her to share challenges of her ‘single’ life after being married for decades.
She was a county clerk so was dedicated to keeping the records for her small, rural community, especially during elections.
She reached out to neighbors to make sure everyone in this small lake town was OK during the 'winter' season when few remained 'at the Lake' as she did.

Her idea of a fun vacation was going further north than she already lived and staying in a sparse cabin in the middle of nowhere.
She was use to taking care of herself.
Her such self-sufficiency may have inclined friends and family to think life floats along seamlessly for her.

Now we wonder . . . 
Perhaps she forgot to get her annual check-up.
For years our phone calls, emails, text messages went unanswered for great lengths of time so we thought all was well.
Hand written notes seemed to float into her home without response.
Yet, when any of us did connect with her we’d chat at great length while her enthusiasm bubble over in conversation.

Isn’t that the way it is with many of us?
We forget to respond.
We forget to reach out.
Until . . . at that perfect moment we do connect.

So often we get so busy living our own “dash” that we forget to reach out just one more time, take just a few more moments or an extra day to extend our dash into another’s life.
We forget.

Suddenly, our dear one is given an ‘end date’.
There is nothing left to do but to remember all the split second moments each of us might have communicated or spent time with her.
Each of us has a story that will be told for a few minutes after our end-date.
What a JOY it would be to extend the "dash" in each other’s lives so that there are fewer ‘what if’ moments and more ‘what a ride’ moments.
The DASH.

There is so much more of life and living and giving and sharing and being in any of our lives than we can ever begin to see in that little DASH.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

SEPTEMBER SIGHTS

September usually signals the end of summer. 
Our ‘lingering’ pace speeds up a bit.
We exchange our light, white garments for deeper autumn shades, thicker shoes and, toward the end of the month, more layers.

This September is a bit different this year.
The moisture gauge has dipped little from the soggy days of summer.
Cooler temps at night still hold heavy clouds that drench the days with relentless moisture.
Some predict that this summer will be the wettest on record.
We’ll see.  
The rains have yet to cease and it’s almost the end of the month!

After too many days of rain, a sunny day is forecast.
So, we plan a picnic and a trip to the local art fair.
Tony’s cousins come from out of town.
A day of FUN is planned and then they will return home.
Within hours, torrents of wet relentlessly splash down on
us.
We huddle in the large tent until the worst is over. Fortunately, we’d seen every offering of art in the park. 

As the rain lets up just a little, we slog through the endless slush of muddy terrain trying to find our car.
If we’d walked from our car instead of embracing an invitation to ride in the golf cart that transported people to the distant entrance, we may have paid a bit more attention to where we parked.
Now, four of us, wandering in the wilderness, umbrellas in hand, moved in varied directions until a dear volunteer drove by to take one of us to the second car-park much further away.
Hubby’s cousin had already gone that direction and found the car but, of course, he did not have his cell phone with him. [note to all over 70.  Always carry a phone with you as a safety concern.]

Brave soul that I was, I thought my little “rain” jacket was waterproof!
I was soaked, head to toe.
It never occurred to me that I could put on the emergency poncho I’d tucked into each day-pack. 
Actually, I did not know I was soaked through until I got in the car and hubby greeted me with two beach towels.  The others were dry because I’d given each an umbrella, with none left for me.

Amazingly, we all had a laugh as as we changed into dry socks and wrung out our shoes.
  1. Always carry a telephone
  2. If carrying extra munitions against rain, ie.tacky poncho with writing all over it, use them.
  3. LAUGH through the adventure if the circumstances are not too dire.
  4. Make a memory . . . as we did.

We’ve made many memories this summer but September drew us into travel mode.
Hubby and I ventured into the big city to the Museum of Art and lingered for five hours, marveling at beauty in every format.  
We sauntered into the middle east, the orient, ancient Israel and foreign countries all over the world as we embraced a Buddhist temple, a Japanese Tea House, a Shinto Shrine, an Italian Atrium leading to monastic art and beautiful statues of Mary, and Jesus on the Cross.

Famous artists’ originals drew us into another world.
Then it was time to leave.
We’ll come again, we said.   
And so we will.

Having managed the most circuitous roads in and out of the city with mind-boggling traffic, hubby felt he’d conquered a nation . . .  and so did I but I was not driving.

We decided our next adventure would be much easier, Washington D.C.
Some gasp at the thought of navigating this busy city but for us, it’s home.
We lived within the ‘city’ parameters for many years and know how to get in and out with ease.

METRO is the easiest way but finding parking and actually walking to the metro were challenging.
Construction work caused us to make many detours but very helpful passersby guided us around this maze of twists and turns.  
The actual metro ride was a breeze.
We exited at the perfect Metro stop, around the corner
from the Bible Museum.
How convenient is that!? 
 Three story high pages of script in bronze greeted us as we entered.
High tech cubbies, each big enough for our day packs, screened our contents as smiling faces invited  us into an amazing six stories of STORIES!  

The impeccable open stair case invited us to climb to the highest floor, where the Manna restaurant, in middle eastern setting, embraced all who ate there with healthy, delicious, mediterranean food.

 A walk through a Jewish village and dozens of other exhibits, including a short-term exhibit detailing the life of the nation’s greatest evangelist, Billy Graham was vibrant and stimulating.
A young, high-energy millennial, in an on-screen tour of our Judeo/Christian routes via various speedy cars, helped us tour Israel to Italy as we embraced both old
and new worlds of Christianity.  

One whole floor was filled with scrolls of ancient Hebrew and Christian texts such as an original King James Bible as small videos explained the history of the printed word. 
Moses actually invented the Hebrew script when he wrote on papyrus the words of Torah.  

A retired Rabbi penned one letter at a time as he copied words for a new Torah.  
A tiny camera enabled us to watch without disturbing him.   
He stoped at certain times to write our names in Hebrew on lovely cards we could take home.  
Perfect timing for us. 
The Rabbi said that every new synagogue needs a new Torah.  
This one would take many years to finish because, in his words, “I take many breaks.”  
We spent Two days studying the origins of ancient scripts, from Old Covenant to New Covenant, and so much more.  
We were totally satisfied with our lingering through the Bible Museum  but hubby was on a roll.  

Of course we visited our old neighborhood and ate at the our favorite little neighborhood Italian restaurant.
What a delight for us to walk into a newly updated piece of Italy with the same delicious food.  
The family history, still on the walls, expanded into a tiny addition.  
Nice.

On one of our many days going into the city we took a wrong turn.  
We ended up going across one of the many bridges right into the Mall, the ‘green space’ that gives the endless density of buildings a place to breathe.   
People could linger, enjoy food trucks, play frisbee, jump on the old marry-go-round, run or walk on the surrounding crushed-rock path, or simply sit on one of many benches and watch people saunter to their next destination.

The Smithsonian museums lined the open green field making  it easy to cross from one row of buildings to another.  
We just ‘happened’ to find a two hour parking place in front of the History Museum, where we wanted to spend just a couple hours.  
Amazing!  
We were very familiar with the contents but we knew there was some revamping since our last visit many years ago, especially with the National Flag from the Civil War.  

We strolled from one exhibit to another and, after two hours, were totally satisfied. 
Almost the minute we returned to our car, in front of the building, the rain began to sputter from the sky.   

The bit of sprinkle  here and there was all we experienced in D.C. while Hurricane Florence was devastating the Carolinas.   
We felt totally blessed.

We moved on to Alexandria, our old haunt.  
Much of it is the same.  
The flooded lower streets next to the pier were cordoned off due to the endless summer rains.  
Yet, shops and restaurants brimmed with tourists.  
The narrow row-homes are still elegant and expensive but lovely to look at.  
We were invited into a church that we’d missed seeing all the years we lived in the area.  
It’s hidden in the neighborhood of tightly fitted abodes and cobbled streets.  
Centuries old beauty in this place of worship  has fortified the souls of very active parishioners.  

We dream of spending a month in this beautiful part of town before we grow too old and gray.  
Who would let us rent for a month?  
We have so much yet to do and see.  
Hubby is excited.  
He is researching ways we can ‘live’ in our favorite area for a few weeks.   
We do have options.  
One is returning to the place we stayed while on this trip.
The seminary guest house is inexpensive, clean, convenient, quiet and safe.  
We’ll see if they can accommodate us, perhaps between summer terms?  
It’s a wonder-filled thought.

There is so much more to this month but I’ve lingered too long with fine memories.
We know we are so very blessed with the ability to make more memories and return to old ones.
God is good.
Life is good.
WE ARE GOOD . . .  as we look forward to lingering through this Fall season.




Monday, August 6, 2018

AUGUST OFFERINGS

It's been far too long since I LINGERED on this blog.
I've spent most of the past several years offering my thoughts on my 'daily' blog.
I've decided to simply place a daily quote on dailygracesfromgod.blogspot.com and use this spot to linger longer with deeper, longer thoughts.
Today is as good a day as any to begin.
I moved this first story from my other blog so . . . .
ENJOY!

August 1, 2018                                              I'm Stuffed!
Can you remember the last time you ate a sumptuous meal?
I think of Thanksgiving meal when I was very young.
Aunts, uncles, grandma and neighbors would join our large family.
Mom set the tables elegantly with tablecloths and good china.
Even the ‘kids’ table was set for a feast. 

Aunt Betty’s brought her green bean casserole.
That’s the one with the mushroom soup smothering the beans with canned onion rings on top.
Then there were real potatoes that dad worked so hard to mash with loads of real butter and whole milk.
The meal would not be complete without the candied yams with huge, glazed, marshmallows on top.
Of course there was the jello and marshmallow salad, 
Ambrosia, and perhaps another salad,Waldorf, with apples and walnuts in it.
Remember the cranberry sauce?
My favorite was right out of the can, sitting in a little dish, jiggling it’s rippled sides as we passed it around.
The grand finale was grandma’s pies - always pumpkin, apple and mincemeat.
We all ate until we were stuffed.
After we cleaned up and gathered leftovers, we settled in for a few hours recounting the extraordinary feast we’d shared.

Sunday’s sermon brought forth memories of another grand feast.
The Gospel of John, chapter 6, is a long discourse (the first of 5 weeks of sermons in our denomination).
The sharing of Five Loaves and Two Fishes with 5000 men and then their families is a miracle we continue today as we come together for our weekly Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving”.
In this story of the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus drew the hungry crowd up the mountain and invited them to sit in the lush, green grass.
Picture to tranquil setting of Psalm 23 . . .  “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures.

The people were hungry for another way of life, for a rest from the constant taunts of the Roman soldiers.
They were hungry for hope.
They were hungry for one who could lead them . . .  a Shepherd.
They were striving for divine purpose from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
They were clinging to their identity as Jews and seeking reprieve from pressure to make Caesar their god.
They were starved.

Jesus’ discourse would take hours.
It was late in the day.
Where do they find bread to feed these people so that their starving bodies can comprehend the new Bread, the new Hope, the new feeder of souls who would eventually feed them for all eternity?

Five loaves and two fishes from one trusting little boy.
Jesus received them graciously, Blessed them, Broke them and gave portions to each of the 12 men who had been with him since the beginning of his ministry.
They distributed, and distributed and distributed as portions multiplied to feed all until they were ‘stuffed’.
“Take, Eat”
The people sat, took and ate . . . and the remnant was picked up in twelve woven baskets.
The remnant of Israel, the remnant of the 12 tribes . . . sitting there, filled to overflowing with the Presence of God, the Bread of Life . . .  filled until they were stuffed!

And after many hours of digesting all of what Jesus offered God’s people, Jesus and the 12 withdrew into the boat and went to the other side (Capernaum).
The crowds walked around the upper part of the lake and eventually met Jesus and his team . . .  asking for MORE.
Were they hungry for free food that multiplied from nothing by through Jesus’ blessing or were they hungry for more of Jesus?
  
That’s what Holy Eucharist is all about.
Some churches offer ‘communion’ once a month or four times per year.
They offer a piece of ‘remembrance’ of this feast and take it very seriously.

Why, if taken so seriously, is this simply a remembrance?
Why is this receiving of God’s Presence through His Son, so rare?
How can we be ‘stuffed’ after being starved for such long periods of time?
Why not offer Eucharist, which is Greek for Thanksgiving, every day of worship?
Why not ‘feast’ on Jesus as often as possible?
Why not make sure we, who are called to draw others into the arms of Jesus, are continuously fed with His Presence?

Throughout scripture Jesus healed the sick, shared words and broke bread with the crowds.
Each time he broke bread he blessed it and shared it.
Each time Jesus spoke, his words were shared far and wide.
In fact, to this day we bite off a ‘piece’ of Jesus as we digest God’s Word.
We digest the full Presence of Christ, God’s Truth, God’s Word, the Bread of Life.
In the same way, by eating of the bread and by drinking of the wine, we receive the Word of God, a piece of God, so that we are filled to overflowing.
We are ‘STUFFED’ with the Presence of God in Christ Jesus.
In fact, we are so stuffed that we can’t help but share this banquet with others who choose to come into the full presence of Christ Jesus through baptism.

Each week I am ‘stuffed’ with such an overflowing presence of my Lord, the Bread of Life, that I can’t help but share this banquet experience with others.
For any who read these very brief notes on the feeding of the 5000, I pray you consider the true meaning of “I am the Bread of Life, . . . whoever comes to me shall never hunger.”
It might be fruitful to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest all of John, chapter 6.

You’ll be STUFFED.






                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~
I took this next 'lingering' moment from my Daily Graces From God blog just in case someone is new to my blog sites.
I so love this experience and I truly did linger much longer than usual with this complex embroidery project.
Enjoy!

July 17-31                                        Lingering Longer

During this 'lingering' time I tested myself by returning to a special kind of embroidery I began decades ago.
Hardanger is a region in Norway that distinguishes it's festive costumes (Bunads) by it intricate embroidery.
The Bunad apron and parts of the blouse include their 'cut' designs.

I took a class with a friend during a sabbatical I took shortly after we were married, decades ago.  I found the stitches too difficult for me to continue on my own after our three-day Hardanger seminar so set it aside.

Fast forward to this month.

Once I returned to my Hardanger Embroidery project it took me at least a month, working every night for several hours, to complete. 






Since it is "white on white" I also had to wash my hands before I touched the piece. . . and not work where I love to sit on the little back porch.  It has been too  hot and sticky.

This time I was aided by YouTube videos.
I watched one video four times before I got the hang of one particular stitch.

The top photo shows half the snowflake-star with holes with the other half blank.
Before 'cutting' in very particular places, the piece looks like the right side . . .  no holes.
I pull larger threads leaving little threads that must be 'bound' (second photo).
Each hole must be bound on all sides for the piece to work.
The fabric is now washed but needs to be ironed before little sequins are placed on a few tiny squares to complete the piece.

All in all, I feel quite proud of myself for pressing through this challenge.


Many times I had to removed work.
In fact, if you notice, the little 'window' squares have some stitching above and below them (both pictures).
These stitches shown on the left were removed as I learned the best stitch for this space . . .  with tiny holes that were made by pulling each thread tight.
These two shots show the 'window' boxes with change in lines above and below.
The one on the left was taken before I completely redid the "Nun's"stitch above and below the windows.
Can you see the difference?

On the left is a simple one-stitch on four sides.
On the right is the corrected stitch (yes, I tore out all the 4-sided stitches on the left) and replaced them with the corrected Nun's stitch.

Stitching threads very tight (part of Hardanger) 'pulls' threads away from the fabric to make tiny holes, adding to the character of the pattern.
This shot of the corner (above) shows the Nun's stitch done correctly to create a boarder that allows all threads to be pulled beyond it.
That's how we create the fringe.

The full length picture of the piece was just ironed.
However, adding the last part . . . sequins in the snowflake-star makes it look a bit raggedy.  

A close up of the completed snowflake-star shows the sequins a bit better.
This piece could be used on a table.
However, I intend to steam-iron this again and place the piece on blue fabric and frame it.
Carefully smoothing the fringe before placing under glass will be a bit tricky but I think it will look nice next to another piece of art.

So, on to another adventure where I linger a little longer,
writing words and setting up the curriculum for my Hebrews class I hope to teach this winter. 

Study and needlework enables me to linger just where I ought to be for the moment.
Love these lingering moments.