Sunday, January 26, 2014

Flowing in the Living Water

I am The Living Water
Holy Trinity Lansdale

It has been 17 years or so since I returned to church. I still have my doubts, but I cannot not doubt that the journey has transformed me.

Mosaic Woman has journeyed with me day by day and has unfolded along with me. We are blessed to have become people who still desire to share lives together.

This past year I reconnected with some friends I knew back in college. One came to town on business and I fed him pizza. One I actually picked up a phone and called. One I met halfway, by a river we both love from those days in college.

I pondered the chances of people disconnected for nearly three decades to have become new people who still would want to be friends with each other. In each case, I am glad to call them my friend. 

Watching the river that day with my friend, I was baffled; the river seemed to be flowing in opposite directions. Finally I asked if she saw what I saw. Rivers are turbulent. In fact trying to get any water to flow without any turbulence is quite difficult.

17 years ago I was afraid to leap into the living water. Where would it take me? I imagined places that I feared. Could I become shaped by God into a person I didn't want to be? A wise man told me that I did not have to believe anything, just be willing to take a journey.

The turbulence has transformed me, but so far not into what I feared. Who knew God wanted me to garden, to listen to jazz, to transform my doodles into glass sun catchers, to decide that creating joy is the ultimate goal of my teaching, to invite 50+ people a year to my house for pizza, to learn how to imagine the pain of others so I can open this stoic heart a bit more day by day, to become an Episcopalian, to find a place to finally release my pain and return year after year for eight days of silence with Jesuits ...

The journey has pushed me into so many places That I have to wonder who this new self is. Then I visit with three of my best friends from back in the day, and I can now see that I am flowing in the living water and I am pleased to have inched myself in a bit deeper each year.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Something New: Celebrating our Boxwood by poem and photo

everything depends upon

streaming through dead

with the blue

behind the orange

I love celebrating our garden, but the Boxwood that divides our front yard from our neighbor to the east never has been the highlight, however did something special today. And after it called out to me for the second time, I said, "OK" and got the camera.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

a Trio of Tree Quilts: Gloria Loughman, Beth Miller, Noriko Matsutro

Tonight I blogged about a mosaic tree over here,
so I thought I would celebrate quilt trees here...

Gloria Loughman / The Baobab Trees of Madagascar / Australia 20" x 30"
Beth Miller / The Drought /
Kambah ACT, Australia / 35" x 59"
Noriko Matsutou / Cherry Blossoms in the Full Moon / Toyama-shi, Japan / 39" x 40"

Monday, January 20, 2014

Eating Out in Lansdale: A Seafood Shout Out to Shellfish Sue

Shellfish Sue
Lansdale PA

It seems most of our eating out these days can be done within walking distance. Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese, ... see my top ten list.

So we often walk by a new place coming into being and ponder what it will be like. A new Greek place is opening soon. So for months we walked by a place that promised to bring seafood dining to within walking distance. And when it finally opened we stopped in and have been back a few times since then to be greeted warmly by the owner and treated to an excellent meal. 

So this is to say that I am glad it came to Lansdale even if I have a hard time saying their name. Would love if this place prospers. [Sadly they closed after a couple delicious years.]

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Of Jazz and Mysteries: A jazz pickup at the Doylestown public library

As usual, I am checking some out again and taking chances on some new ones. They will hang out in our studio for about nine weeks. We dig libraries. Since I made my students write poems inspired by William Carlos Williams, this week; I will give it a try.

So much depends


A well funded


Filled with splendid


Beside the spiritual



Mosaic Woman found the next in this series, in which

an Episcopalian priest helps solve crimes in her town.

The Jazz:

Jason Moran

Bill Frisell

Great Jazz Trio

Chick Corea & Bella Fleck

Ahmad Jamal

BillyTaylor & Gerry Mulligan

Vijay Iyer Trio

Edith Piaf

Donald Harrrison

Bob Mintzer Big Band



Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Starting Place For Jazz in My Church


I had posted a link to my acceptance that jazz in my church would be a journey that could not be predicted. One friend thought that action was needed, not just examens, and another friend offered up a suggestion on Facebook. The suggestion: Jazz playing in the background at an adult discussion that I am leading. I don't want to to that, but the suggestion led to imagining a series of adult discussions that centered about a jazz standard and reflections on spiritual writings that are connected to the standard. This could happen quicker and easier without the scheduling and planning that a bigger event would require. I'm not big on those two things. Eventually my desire for jazz in my church could grow and expand.

We will see. Maybe it will start with Willow Weep For Me, a tune that touched me this summer in the midst of silence.


Friday, January 10, 2014

The Return of The Random Cards at My Workplace

As I left work, I placed this card in a mail slot in the education office. The woman, who will find it on Monday, was recently given a new assignment and no longer works in my building. I miss her smile and the ongoing joke about her unlisted job duty of watching my back. I am glad my finger pointed to her name as I placed it on the employee phone list.

From this point on, for better or for worse, I will count out 21 names and that person will get a card. That is what makes it interesting to me. People who would be on the top of a self made list will be skipped over and some people I barely know at all will get a card.

A card and a short note wishing the person a good day. I can do this. And hopefully it will brighten a day or two along the way.

Earlier today I had to talk to a man about a new ID for one of my students. Inside his office hangs one of my cards from the last time I did this. It brightened my day.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My answer begins in Consider the Birds by Debbie Blue

I left my examen hopeful that it was a start to answering the questions about jazz in my church, but clearly without answers. That is when I picked up the book I am reading, Consider The Birds. Here is the second paragraph I ventured into, then stopped, and reread, then stopped and read outlook to Mosaic Woman.

There's no logical or geographical reason for it to take forty years to get from Egypt to the Promised Land. We sometimes believe the shortest path is the best one, but maybe (God knows) there is a need to wander. There is unmapped territory that needs to be explored -- desires to be let go of, renounced, or transformed. God's seduction is not a crass come-on, nor is it smooth. The path to intimacy may be long and complicated.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Time to examen my simple desire, jazz in my church


One of the seven desires I carried with me from my week of silence this summer is jazz in my church. It may have been born the night Andrea Wolper sang at my church on the evening I chose to celebrate turning 50. But what does that mean and is now the time to figure it out.

For nearly five months it has been on my lips when I pray, and though the other six desires are thriving, I am at a loss of how to proceed and where would it be that I am headed if I proceeded. What is this desire?

To have concerts. To have vespers on a Saturday evening. Or to do something else.

Why is this important? It was important enough that I felt moved to spend a weekend traveling to Cleveland to a conference on jazz and worship.

I can feel the desire to create a liturgy immersed in jazz. Yet I wonder if I really want to do it. So I have avoided prayer to avoid the confusion. Maybe it is time to venture into my chair of contemplation and examen this that and the other thing.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas Shout Outs: Dianne Reeves, Jo Stafford, andTed Rosenthal for day twelve

I love Holiday music and as I put this post together, I am for the last time listening to our rather eclectic collection till the day after Thanksgiving 2014. I start slow. This year I started with a mix that was only 20% Christmas with the rest being random jazz tunes from our collection.
But this is it. Next year the following artists will be part of the larger mix, having bought their Christmas CD's after I set my iPod up for the season. I could not find a tune from the holiday collection by the Ted Rosenthal, so I went for a tune for my students, the poor buggers will be rising in what will truly seem like the wee small hours of the morning tomorrow. As an aware teacher, who may be a bit groggy himself (and coming down with a cold), I will be kind to them tomorrow and let them get acclimated to being students once again.
So here it is the final shout outs ~> 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas Shout Outs:The Buddha in The Garden of Nutmeg Designs for day ten

This morning, the sun came out. Mosaic Woman looked out her studio window and called for me to check out our Buddha. Eventually I got out for a photo; it was not for the first time. Years ago I cleaned up a section of the garden and celebrated that moment in time. Those azaleas failed to thrive.

Now a lilac and a butterfly bush are having there moments in that space. The roses are still here. This summer when I began to call our rather small estate, the garden of Nutmeg Designs, I caught the Buddha in this moment in time.

No Nutmeg Designs did not exist when we moved here, but we did finally break down and buy a home in order for Margaret to have the space to become Mosaic Woman. I also desired a space to create my own garden and have a studio of my own. As new home owners we went off and bought ourselves an unfinished concrete Buddha, and Mosaic Woman spruced it up. Our Buddha has seen many a moment.

Last night inside our house I was unsettled. Snow does that to me, possibly more than anything outside of health scares. Outside snow was settling on the Buddha, inside I needed to be OK with uncertainty.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas Shout Outs: Frederick Buechner for day nine

The conversation this past Sunday began like this...

Me ~> peace

Lay preacher friend ~> what would we do without Buechner? How would I ever end a sermon without him.

My friend knows I dig Buechner. She has been to many an adult discussion led by me in which the man was quoted. I don't like being asked what my favorite this or that is because I tend to have many a favorite and don't enjoy ranking things much. With that said, Buechner is near the top. I have read his theology, his sermons, his autobiographies, and his novels.

So here are some things I have learned from all of that. Tell your story if you hope to heal. Find what brings you joy and if it matches a need of this world, you have discovered your vocation. You and I are peculiar treasures loved by a God that will search us out no matter where we go to hide.

When I went missing for a decade or two, I fled a religion that I wanted nothing to do with. When I returned, Buechner and the man who recommended him, showed me a different side of that religion. And for that I am grateful.

What would we do without him?


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas Shout Outs: The Resolved for day eight

I am a social introvert. Thus I will go out of my way to have conversations. I will roam about my school's campus visiting people. I will meet people for coffee. I will invite people over for pizza. I will vacation where friends live. I will drive halfway to see you and watch a river flow as we talk. I will linger in a town after a conference to see you. I will let you know if I will be driving by your area and meet you for lunch. If you come to my area and have the time to see me, I will do my best to see you. And I already gave a shout out for those who do this.

I am an introvert, so if you want to see me, don't invite me to a big party. I shy away from large gatherings, but I will be delighted to have a simple dinner at your house.

So I can make a resolution to have plenty of these conversations, but I can only imagine them happening, if you resolve to have a conversation with me.