Monday, December 31, 2007

It all begins with words

If we say the words, things may happen. Truly we don't have the power of a creative God who is said to have spoken the world into creation, however......

I sat in church yesterday thinking of how true this is and one student came to mind. Last year she shined in biology, this year she floundered in self-doubts in physics. I heard she was complaining about the class being too hard so I spoke WORDS to her. I reminded her of how I selected her as the science student of the year for her work in Biology. I told her she was bright and intelligent and that she could succeed in physics. Her work has improved. She smiles these days, but still finds reasons to complain about my class.... I did say she was bright.

After church our minister's wife told me that mosaic woman was the most beautiful woman she has seen. I said that I had chosen well. Last night I repeated those WORDS to Mosaic woman as I hugged her.

Putting copper foil on stained glass as Red Garland plays solo piano, I am interrupted by the good news that Mosaic woman has got through her first medical appointment with good news.

I am in love..... is it Red playing “The Nearness of You” and “You Are Too Beautiful”???

I go back to foiling and I think of how I chose her. Tutoring at a community college I see her walk by. Later that night I tell my best friend that I saw an amazing woman. Did I say the WORDS.... I want to spend my life with her. I had never said anything like that before in my life. Powerful enough to overcome shyness, the desire to know her got me to speak. Six months later we kissed beneath a full moon.... now our April anniversary.... 21 years of relating coming up this spring.

She has a desire to know me which has given me the courage to find out who exactly I am. It is one reason why we both put up with me going away for 8 days of silence each summer. In the stillness with God, I find myself. I come home and share.

Thank God someone told Red Garland he had a talent for piano and that he played love songs, solo, and that someone posted about it, and that I read the post, and that we got a gift card, and that Amazon had the CD, and that I listened.

Life unfolds.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

gifts and desires

fair trade dark chocolate from Peru (nearly vanished), a string of dragonflies made from natural fibers from Vietnam, a travel mug advertising fair trade tea and coffee, a jar of Marula jelly from Swaziland (have yet to try it), a silk bookmark with the word for hope in both English and Vietnamese, and a CD of a man playing his singing bowls of Tibet.....ahhhh to be loved and known by a good woman.... Mosaic woman did her Christmas shopping for me in record time at 10,000 villages . and I am well pleased.

Time off from work has thrown my routine out of whack and I found I was doing my daily examen flat on my back before I fell asleep, not with my journal. I got re-centered using the CD Margaret gave me. I even picked up the singing bowl she gave to me a few Christmases back and played along. see reenactment below...

while praying on Jesus being my friend, I looked up and saw Mosaic woman had replaced a photo. The new one was taken on strudelfest day . My elder sister's short hair being a reminder of her past year.

Thoughts blended with Mosaic's woman's upcoming week-- a doctor's appointment to keep an eye on something that had scared us a few years back, and one to get a closer look at what a recent test showed. No way to celebrate the New Year. A clear reminder of how we are human.. imperfect and mortal. I sat with fears of death and Jesus.

I picked up a book that had sat dormant for weeks and two pages in read about how Jesus freed us from our fears of death. I felt both a failure and a goof-ass (imperfect human nature). But I turned to this master of mine who is being considered a friend and went back to the question he asks early in John to the first two who followed him... "What do you want?"

I desire the peace that comes from believing that my relationship with Jesus is eternal in nature. I desire the hope that at the end of this week, I can hear Mosaic woman sigh from the relief of good news.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mice might have stirred

It was the night before Christmas and I was with Jesus and the evil presence that tempted him in the desert.

My first thought was that it was the wrong place to be.... shouldn't I be in Bethlehem? But spending the night with Jesus was the place to be and no matter where the spiritual exercises landed me on 12/24/07 ... it was the place I was directed to be.

I remember Jesus being guided to the desert by the spirit the entered him at the Jordan, but I don't recall the spirit directing him so that he could face temptation. Have I been guided to those places I did not choose Jesus? Other stories in the Bible would have that evil spirit guiding us to those places.

Could this dream be about choosing Jesus, or about trying to do too many things, or about my fear of administrators...

My dream... I was teaching and I showed up for work. The students and staff were current but location may have been more like where I grew up and/or a place I taught in Illinois. Instead of going into the middle school to help run the science fair I went into the high school to participate in a three day spiritual retreat. I had best intentions of also being at the science fair, but...

I left the retreat and ran into students and staff who listed important people who searched for me all day. The pleasant feeling I had at being at the retreat faded and I walked in dread towards where I would tell my supervisor what happened....

woke before I got there kind of like waking before you hit the ground.

any dream interpreters out there?

any stained glass design interpreters out there.... here is my latest finished earlier today

Thursday, December 27, 2007

random enjoyable reading

A student follows my command and tells me two numbers and a direction. I walk over to the book shelves in the library and using his numbers and direction it takes me to a hardcover book, which I hand to the student and say, "read this for 10 minutes."

He protested when told to read Gay-neck by Dhan Gopal Mukerji. He settles down and five minutes later is telling the rest of us that it is a book about a pigeon and that he has no interest in reading further. Class ends and we put it back on the shelf, but before I do I notice that in 1927 it won a Newbery prize. To some in my anatomy class, this will be what they remember for the year. Especially since I tell them a week later that I checked the book out of the library.

I read the book as part of my effort to do enjoyable reading and in its midst I found some spiritual wisdom passed on by Buddhists to the pigeon and the owner of the pigeon. Twice the pigeon is crippled by fear-- predatory birds and later delivering messages in WWI Europe. The first healing is what moved me to continue on with the book and thus I read....

the final paragraph...

"whatever we think and feel will colour what we say and do. He who fears, even unconsciously, or has his least little dream tainted with hate, will inevitably, sooner, or later translate these two qualities into his action. Therefore, my brothers, live courage, breathe courage and give courage. Think and feel love so that you will be able to pour out of yourself peace and serenity as naturally as a flower gives forth fragrance. Peace be onto all!"

as naturally as a flower.....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

do you see what I see? second answer to Jim

Today was lessons and carols at my church. We sang and went through the first two chapters of Luke plus a couple of psalms. I sat grateful that I spent weeks in what other wise would have been a moment on a Sunday. One of the hymns was Do you see what I see? I love how the lamb is the first to see and passes on the info to the shepherd.

I get a variety of responses to my doodles. Some like the designs. Some are dumbfounded and ask what the abstract design is. Some see something that I don't see. I often see bears, especially the classic shape of the native American totem bear. So the other day when I playing around and saw the bear, I decided it was time to bring it to my stained glass studio. Do you see what I see?

Interesting twist of my life---- prior to the service getting started our minister spoke of the divinity of Jesus, just where Jim and the spiritual exercises had taken me this morning before worship.

Matthew and Luke have the divinity begin at conception, Mark jumps in at the baptism, while John has the word being present at the very beginning, way back when God was getting around to creating the universe. Which is true?

Why not all three? Does one have to be truer than the rest? If I am moved by one does that make the others less true or the one I was moved by more true?

Do you see what I see? What do you see?

I once showed my biology class a DVD about the brain. Electrical impulses shot about. The more they travelled in a certain direction, the stronger that pathway gets. For 20 + years I had many thoughts about nothing being Divine. Those thoughts created some strong Pathways. Ten years ago I realized they had to be put to death if my venture back to the church would take hold and on Christmas morning a minister anointed me after asking all of us to think of something inside of us that needed to die. That was a miracle. New pathways are strengthening in my brain taking me to places I do not know.... that takes me back to what I am doing in this life----- unfolding.

Unfolding with Jesus

Reading Jim's thoughts over at brainwaves the other day led to this question.... "Quick! What linguistic term would you assign yourself on such subject?" to see what led to the question read the rest of his thoughts.

I answered "unfolding".

Now Jim asks if I see a spark of the divine in this young Jesus I have been blogging about.


Ignatius has called me to be a witness of Jesus's life to get to know him, to love him, and to follow him.

How can I imagine...

watching through a hole in the wall as the angel brings the news to Mary...
being there when the baby arrived and seeing the love in the eyes of Mary and Joseph...
befriending Joseph who shared the dreams sent by God to guide him...
witnessing those that saw the truth first.... wise folk, shepherds, Simeon, Anna.....
watching a family of friends flee to Egypt and witnessing brutality of those in power...
watching a young boy grow in wisdom...

and then say NO, I guess I could, however...

Jesus was part of creation and he unfolded with it just as I am unfolding. It takes all my faith to believe he was divine, but that is where my faith has taken me. And in that sense he was perfect.

What I don't buy is that Jesus was perfect. If he was fully human, than the man was imperfect. I may be wrong on this but that just proves my imperfection.

What is truth? Jesus was perfect and he was a goof like the rest of us. His human life unfolded. We are given the same opportunity, for in each moment we are renewed as is all of creation.

Thanks for the questions, Jim.

May all of your Holidays be filled with Joy, hope, peace, and love.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

stained glass and friends

The garden is sleeping away winter time and colleges are quiet also, so I have filled my life with friends and stained glass.

Last Saturday I posted my first suncatchers on mosaic woman's Etsy site and sold two of the four that day. Well, I am not ready to quit my day job for sales have slumped for me, but mosaic woman has sold a couple more. A crafty life is not just in our future it is here. I want to celebrate with her. Tonight I finished a project for a friend who wants to buy it for a mutual friend and I posted the last suncatcher I have to sell on Etsy. Monday I finished one for a dear friend whose name I joyfully pulled out of a hat for a gift exchange (pictured above).

This past weekend I found myself invited to four holiday events. One invitation came from a friend who is nearly completed with the spirituality program, which I am considering. Saying goodbye, wanting to know how the whole experience was for her, and expressing my doubts if I will commit myself to the process, I hear Mosaic woman say to me... "You really enjoyed those classes."

I also spent time with Jesus growing up in Nazareth. What struck me was the Bible's stress on how this time was spent gathering Wisdom and God's favor. Tonight Ignatius calls me to imagine the face of evil and how that entity spreads through society. Then I am imagining Jesus in the light. Emerging from the dark ravine where evil resided to a sunny field, I know the wisdom that Jesus sought. It is the wisdom we find in his call to his followers.... Resist evil, be grateful for what emerges in our life, and work for God's kingdom by seeking justice for all.

[edited July 9, 2015  I now have my own Etsy shop: Stratozpheres]

Saturday, December 15, 2007

open arms

I guess I want a full life. Contemplating the busyness of the last three months, I noticed I have yet decided on focusing my energy in one pursuit, unless that pursuit is a full life with God. I can't imagine not doing any of the things I had considered being my life's focus, but Temple Ambler greeted me with open arms and it may be a place to take courses to increase my wisdom.

Water freezes at 32 degrees and looking at the ice covered trees made me appreciate salt's influence on the freezing point as I drove from work to an open house for adults at Temple's Ambler campus.

I got some nice attention, being the only adult who showed up. My first words were my desire: I am a man with a BS and a MS who wants to take classes in horticulture and horticulture therapy without pressure to work towards a degree. "Welcome."

A half hour later I was signed up for a class on food crops and touching the ice on the branches I passed on the way to my car.

After visiting three other colleges in the last year where I would be pressed to fit their agenda into my life, it was so comforting to be greeted by a college that would let my life fit into their agenda.

photo note-- in August I mourned for a tree near death at Wernersville. This is all that was left when I went back last week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

After the visitors-- part 2

I always jump for the earliest time. At Wernersville I like to meet with my director early, that meant this past Sunday I had three hours to fill between direction and mass. First a little flat on my back jazz meditation before I moved to the easy chair and Matthew.

Imagining myself being a friend of Joseph and hearing him tell me that he was moving the family to Egypt was something I could resonate with and brought up a guy named JD who left PA a little over a year ago. Still miss the guy. So, there I was pissed off at Joseph, best guy to have entered my life for 7 years and he was heading down the road to Egypt. Soon enough I was wishing I had helped Joseph move.

Herod's command for all the males under two to die (Egypt, death of male children... truly seems Matthew was connecting Jesus to Moses) was brutal to witness in my mind. All weekend I was good for an hour of contemplation, but after 30 minutes I was ready to move out of that easy chair, but it wasn't to happier places... a poster on the third floor.

Up the stairs I went and I stood reading the names of Jesuits murdered in Central America .

2000 years later and rulers are still willing to send out others to kill for them. Seeking justice for the oppressed is dangerous business. I look at the long history and see that those who have sought justice have changed the world, but the battle rages. Keeping this long view can get me past the sadness brought on by the news.

Last night I was with another dream which wakes Joseph and again he has to tell Mary they are moving. It is safe to return. It is safe to return. It is safe to return.

What have I fled? What have I returned to? In 1987 I was more than ready to leave Pennsylvania. I left the urologist of my youth. In 1990 we left Massachusetts and we arrived in Oregon. I left a bad habit on the east coast. Eventually I was ready to come back to Pennsylvania. And each time we moved I left friends behind to face the troubles that were to come to those places with one less friend. The school shooting in Springfield Oregon comes to mind. I student-taught in that school district when I got my Masters degree.

And the big question which Isabella brought up... why didn't God warn all the parents? I wish I had an answer. Were they not warned? Were they not open to a dream about warnings? Were that not responsive to dreams? Maybe others were warned and did flee? I don't know but I can only imagine a God who was saddened by the blood shed as he was in Central America, and as she was in that high school in Oregon.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

After the visitors-- part 1

Mary and Joseph received visitors in both Luke (shepherds) and Matthew (wisefolk) after the birth of their son, but what they did next is not something I want to tie together in a historically accurate timeline. In the silence of Wernersville, I sit with each separately and imagine the possibilities of each. Take the child to the Temple or flee to save his life.

LUKE 2:22-38 First time I went with them to the Temple I was amazed at the awareness of Simeon and Anna.

Before going into silence, we chat at dinner where a woman is talking about Zen and mindlessness. I think I see what she was trying to say, but I am baffled, and say that I see it as mindfulness. The call to be present. The will power to be aware of God's unfolding creation. And later reclining in my easy chair, I find two servants of God whose eyes glance upon a poor couple with child and see the savior. I have it so much easier. Four Gospels, thousands of years of tradition and established churches are all here and now to tell me Jesus is my savior. Can I see it as clearly as they did?

Ten hours later I am again traveling with the family to the temple. I hear Simeon's speech to Mary as if it is being directed to me. It ends with these words "... and a sword will pierce your soul too." How did those words sit with Mary? How much for one woman to take? Anna enters the scene and knows that finally her savior has arrived and announces it to all who are seeking the redemption of Israel.

My handout for the spiritual exercises this week reminds me that my goal is to get to Know Jesus, to Love Jesus, and to Follow Jesus. That means I am headed to the cross. Mary will have much more to endure. Mother to a savior is painful business. I know the story, but for her it is still unfolding. But that does not mean that following him 2000 years later is easy.

It takes me to Julian whose sound byte is "all things will be well" But God starts by telling her, "I may make all things well."

Exactly one year ago I flew to California where my sister was suffering. Two strokes, a few blood clots, and then surgery to remove cancer from her ovaries had left her wiped out. The chemo had not even started. Would I have guessed that she would visit us 12 months later? Coming by herself? Are all things well? I don't know. But I do know our God given human bodies can heal in mystifying ways and if there is a 5 year survival rate, than some survive. Sophia renews all things. Jesus reconciles all things. We are small in the midst of all things, but we are a part of it. I think of the strength in my sister's hug after I fed her strudel a few days ago.

My stoic self melts.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Mom Mom may have never used a table cloth with Korean print to make strudel while listening to Miles Davis..... but she was still with me.

It came late this year, then delayed a few days. Strudelfest usually happens in October, then it was to happen on Sunday, but a desire to help Mosaic woman at the craft fair and a possible ice storm caused a delay. So I got up at 6am on Wednesday and made dough.

For the first time since Mom Mom taught me how to do this (amazingly less than a year before she had a stroke), I went solo. Usually my mom shows up and helps with the veggie/fruit prep while my dad does a tiny bit and makes comments (son of Mom Mom type). Mosaic woman likes to help roll, this time she took photos of me rolling...

Back up, before you can roll it, you have to stretch the dough, and you better make it thin enough to see through it.... This one was one of those doughs that feel like heaven when you pick it up, others say something like... "go ahead and try to stretch me."

Anyway, Mosaic woman heated up some black bean soup for lunch during which I forced myself to pick up a piece or two of potato strudel.....

at 2:20 I jumped in the shower but got downstairs to add a pan of grape strudel to the potato, cabbage, and apple already on our table.

all that was left was getting it into our car and driving up to my parents where my sister, who was visiting from California (reason for the delay from October), and 10 other local relatives were waiting to feast.

We eat strudel, it is a full meal, though there have been times that we eat Mom Mom's chocolate cake for dessert!

Ask me if I believe in family Ghosts any other day of the year and I will likely say no, but strudelfest is different... why not have some faith and imagination and believe that Mom Mom's spirit is flowing through my hands while stretching dough.

so after a week of craft fairs, some teaching, strudel, my sister, and finishing my paper..... I am taking another day off and later will be driving to spend some quiet time with Jesuits this weekend.

Peace and family traditional foods be with you all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

under appreciated

The spiritual exercises have now gotten to the birth. When I imagine myself in that scene, I feel love. At one point I think.... there had to be angst between Mary and Joseph, but it floats by and I return to the love for this baby who God has given to them.

In Luke the angels are singing for the shepherds before they go off to heaven. Christmas music flowed into my brain and I kept it there trying to imagine a choir singing glorrrrria. In the sermon on Sunday, our minister says... don't know if I buy this choir stuff, but wish I had been there to hear it. Ignatius says.... imagine being there.

And there I watch the shepherds telling their story and there sits Mary just being filled with joy. nine months earlier it was dread, but then a decision to be God's servant has led to so much. A child who is proclaimed a savior to those shepherds.

Poor Joseph. I have been reflecting on the man for days and then I forget about him at work. My friend says, "I think Joseph is the most unappreciated man in the Bible." And who do I think of none other than another Joseph.... the man with the dreams who annoyed his brothers enough to be sold into slavery. Yes, the man who was the daddy to Jesus was forgotten, so how could I not agree with my friend.

what do we not appreciate fully.... amazing gifts from God's desire to create new life, in music that is inspired, in stories friends tell us that gladden our heart, in those who cared for us when we were little...... What more shall we praise God for?

strudel.... that's tomorrow.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Friday night the man next to me said, "this is slow." I think he was referring to the pace of money flowing into his hands from those who were walking around the craft fair. I responded with, "Yes."

But I sat there with hope which lasted through the moment when it became clear that I would not make my first ever sale. Margaret sold two small items.

My hope was in my friends and the customers at the next sale. My friends came through for us. Many know of M's work, but some were first time viewers. In all 7 came in two days, six before the winter weather arrived. Many brought a friend or a spouse and let me tell you that after a night of not selling it was just nice seeing so many friends. Some bought my stained glass, all but one bought a mosaic or two or three from Margaret. I even sold stained glass to strangers. M sold many to strangers. It is a shame that it got icy for today, maybe I would have seen even more friends. My set up was good but needs improvement because what I knew was obvious...... I need more light, but it is a start.

This morning I imagined myself in a cave with Mary and Joseph waiting for their first child to arrive. The spiritual exercises hit Advent well, though I will reflect on the birth well before the 25th. What I sensed the strongest in my imagination was a deep love between Mary and Joseph and a deep amazement for what was transpiring in their lives. M and I shared many hours this weekend as a team.... emerging from the shadows to be a craftsmen. What is transpiring in your life and whose love is part of it?