The Sabbath Rest

Church in Bodie, CA

I can still see her in my mind’s eye, a young woman…perhaps even still a teenager…holding a newborn wrapped in a blanket.  She was wearing sandals and a sun dress.  Her chin was pointed slightly downward, and her long golden hair hid part of her face as she walked out on stage

Humility.  Brokenness.  Maybe even shame.

I could feel it all over her.  My heart immediately shattered in pieces for her.

Surrounded by a few family members and church staff, she began to gently weep as Pastor Danny began to pray.   With the hands of those close by on she and the baby, and the hands of those of us in the congregation stretched outward towards them,  we entered all into a holy moment together.  A moment when this young mother, having been forsaken by the man who fathered the child, was there to offer herself up as she  dedicated her baby and herself to Christ.

If ever there was a singular moment over the last 8 months that made me glad we joined this little community church, it was this one.  Not a shred of judgement was anywhere to be found.  None.  And I know for a fact others there, like my husband and I, didn’t know jack about this girl or her family.   We didn’t need to know anything except what was happening in that present moment.   Compassion compelled us, all over that room, to join as One to seek the face of God on behalf of this young person. We were with her.

And with tears streaming down our faces, we asked God for strength and courage for this new little mama, and His hand of protection on the child.   Men committed themselves to step up and offer to be fathers to this fatherless child.   The women offered themselves as well.  We would be additional mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters to this family, there with our love and support whenever and however they needed it.

By the end of the dedication, as everyone left the stage glowing with peace, I felt connected to “the church” and everyone there in a new way.  A deeper way.  It’s been since 2002 since we’ve been members of a church, and I had forgotten how good it felt when it’s done “right”.   Having a spiritual community, even as new as it is, provides us a level of comfort, connection and commonality that’s been missing.   I, particularly, feel ‘safer’.   A feeling that is hard to come by in a world that feels exceedingly unsafe. The Pastor, 42 years old, is down to earth, funny and wise.  The congregation, made up of every age group and every color, displays the diverse nature of God.

I am so happy….so grateful…that we found Bridge. That’s what it’s called.  Bridge Community Church.  Even the name rings deep within me.  Bridges have always held special meaning to me….sacred symbols of joining, connection, and a way to get from one place to another.

Not everyone likes going to church, and I understand that.  We didn’t go for a very long time.  We don’t do denominations or religion.   But we do love Jesus.  Having a place to go where we can worship God with other like-minded folk is a huge blessing that has brought tremendous healing with it.  Not only a “spiritual” healing, but  positive changes in other areas of our lives as well, from our marriage to our finances.

I think that is what happens when you are where you are supposed to be.

This morning we’ll be celebrating the (re)opening of the main sanctuary.  It’s been undergoing renovations since last year while we met elsewhere on property.  The “new” interior us lovely with an understated, peaceful and intimate feeling.  I think the pews  will hold about 500 – not too big, not too small.  A large rustic wooden cross, against whitewashed brick, is the only adornment on the stage, but the worship team has all sorts of great lighting and technology to use now.   Most importantly about this space, I literally feel God as I walk in.

I navigate life through my feelings, and this building is filled with positive intention and good vibes.   It  radiates a warm welcome to all who enter. A place where faith is strengthened, hope is rekindled and love is made manifest.  A place to belong.

PSALM 84:1-4

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.

Things That Go Green In The Night

All Who Wander Are Not Lost

I suppose you know you’re a true fanatic when you find yourself outside at 5 a.m. watering and talking to the Mother of Thousands, who – quite synchronistically – has (finally) found “her” place in the garden.  And because she’s home, she thrives.

Ever since I’ve been on my own (it was 1976, after hastily marrying a professional surfer with a penchant for women, waves and weed), I’ve always had something green  to tend to.

In those early years, it was Pothos, Spider Plants and Wandering Jews in hand-thrown pots and beaded macrame hangers.  They could be found hanging in the bathroom, kitchen or – if I was lucky – outside on the patio.

It also wasn’t unusual to find weed growing in one of those same spaces, only minus the macrame.  I can still smell the buds, red haired and stinking up the air.

Yum.

As I matured and my home (along with my family) became a little larger, there were simple outdoor plants to care for:  A 50- year-old Camilla, rambling white roses along a fence, or a few pretty annuals.  Fortunately , watering and  the occasional trim is always enough to keep a low maintenance yard looking nice.  And a nice looking yard makes me happy.

Finding my Happy Place out in nature isn’t something unusual.  There are hundreds of thousands – millions! – of us out there.  We recognize each other by the slight green tinge to our fingers and a bit of dirt under a nail we missed.  People garden for all kinds of reasons and I do so for many.  One of the important ones? I hear God in the Garden.

With the sun warming my back,  perhaps on my knees bent over something in my hands, I often hear that Still Small Voice – the voice of the Divine.

I heard it again this morning as I was futzing in the yard.  I find myself instinctively in a “Spring Cleaning Mode” these days, even though we are well into Fall.  Oh, how I love this time of year.  It at once energizes me and breaks my heart – in a good way.  For some reason, I am particularly tender this time of year.  Things move me. And with the Season of Thanksgiving almost upon us, I find myself breaking out in spontaneous bouts of gratitude…many times, with tears streaming down my cheeks.  2017 has shaped up to be an amazing year, albeit not without it’s challenges.  I’ve experienced SO many answered prayers.  Prayers about the important things like faith, family, connection and healing.

This is also a season of LETTING GO.  And THAT is what the Voice was talking about.

I quit my job yesterday.  I’ve been there 6 months and just simply couldn’t bear it a moment longer.  This morning I woke up free from the pain and discomfort I’ve had in my head and neck for weeks.  It’s just GONE.   SO not a coincidence.  And the symbology isn’t missed.  That job has been a pain in my neck for months.  Thankfully, through an amazing set of  circumstances, it is over and I’m yet again amazed at the wisdom held in the soft animal of my body.  She KNOWS, intuitively and intelligently, what is best for me.  She speaks to me in pain and peace.  Her wisdom is true.

Not only am I pain free, but I can’t wipe the smile off my face.  PEACE  flows through my veins like a river, and joy bubbles up like a spring.   It’s a time for me to be (re)planted at home, tending my family and my garden, waiting for the New Great Adventure to arrive.  Like my Mother of Thousands plants, all it took was a SHIFT to different location to begin to thrive.

With a sigh of relief and a heart in overflow, I can say with all certainty…..

It is well with my Soul.

Serendipity Sunday

Life is full of magical moments and little synchronicities.

Several happened to me last week and many of them related to my cookbook project.  This might have been the coolest.

It’s been a long standing habit of mine to check two pages of any devotional book before buying it.  Well, I bought one this week based solely on serendipity.

This first photo is from a chapter I wrote back in the Spring entitled, “The Well Stocked Kitchen”.

A Well Stocked Pantry

Now this one:  A page from a little devotional book I picked up last week at the Good Will entitled, “A Grand New Day”.   It’s the page from my birthday, March 30th.

I’m still grinning ear to ear.

Happy Serendipity Sunday to you.

God In My Garden

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“To what shall I liken me?
To little birds in their nest.
If the father and mother do not bring them food,
They die of hunger.  Thus is my soul without you, Lord;
it does not have its nourishment, it cannot live.

To what shall I liken me?
To the little grain of wheat cast into the earth.
If the dew falls not, if the sun does not warm it,
the grain molds.
But if You give your dew and your sun, the little
Grain will be refreshed and warmed; it will take root and will produce a beautiful plant with many grains.

To what shall I liken me, Lord?
To a rose that is cut and left to dry up in the hand.
It loses its perfume; but if it remains on the rosebush,
It is always fresh and beautiful
and keeps all its perfume.

Keep me, Lord, to give me life in You.

To what shall I liken you, Lord?
To the dove that feeds its little ones,
to a tender Mother who nourishes her little babe.

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My enraptured spirit contemplates all Your works.
Who can speak of Thee, O God so great!
O Omnipotent One, it is my ravished soul,
A nothing, a bit of dust says to You:
Come to me.
Who can say that an Omnipotent One takes notice?
One glance! You who look at me, come to me.
You alone, my God, my all.
I see Thee, goodness supreme; Thy glance is maternal.
Come quickly, O Sun of Justice, arise!
My soul is consumed, I languish while waiting.

Come quickly!”

Psalm of Blessed Myriam Baouardy
1846 – 1878
From “Prayers of the Women Mystics” by Ronda De Sola Chervin