Saturday, December 29, 2012

5th Day of Christmas: The Farm

Yes, I did get home from Salt Lake City in the wee hours of the morning Thursday.

Yesterday I drove to Chambersville (Sabbatical traveling leg # 53) for Christmas with my mother. Being a Southern Baptist, my mother didn't know that the first day of Christmas was Christmas Day and that Christmas isn't over yet. The gift of being an Episcopalian!

My mother greeted me with my favorite meal, pot roast with potatoes and carrots. My daughter from New York City joined us soon after. This morning one of my brothers drove up from Plano, and we had a delicious fifth day of Christmas lunch.

My daughter had asked my mother to make a lemon pie, and she did--using her mother's recipe. It was amazing!

Best of all were the shared stories and photographs and laughter. A very good way to spend the last weekend of my Sabbatical.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Delayed in SLC

I'm waiting for the final flight of my Sabbatical travels. After a last breakfast with grandson Austin, and a final morning holding baby Jonas, I left snowy Redmond, Oregon, around noon for a flight to Portland. I then flew to Salt Lake City which is covered in snow, and my flight home is delayed an hour--I hope only an hour.

This plane ride will be leg #52 of my Sabbatical travels.

I've traveled on big jets and tiny propeller planes. I've flown first class and in a middle seat. I've ridden in a sherut, a small bus, a camel, and in the back of a pick up truck over no road at all in the desert. I've taken my last trip in my 2007 Prius and my first in my new 2012 Prius.
I've taken ferries and driven across the ocean floor at low tide to an island. I've spent a week only walking on an island with few cars. I've rented cars in two countries and three states.

This weekend I take a final road trip in Texas to visit family. Then a week from today, I'll get in my new green Prius and drive the 3 1/2 miles to St. Mary's for my first day at work since August.

But first I have to get out of SLC.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Church in the Snow, the sequel

My son told me last week that he'd like to go to Christmas Eve worship with me, and even knew the schedule for services. So after a lively and delicious dinner at the home of my ex husband and his wife, after the grandsons were tucked into bed, he and I drove through the snow to celebrate Christmas at the church where I had attended Sunday worship yesterday.

It was the first Christmas Eve in twenty years that I had not been responsible for worship for hundreds of people. I was ready to experience Christmas on the other side of the altar. It was sweet.

There were maybe seventy people gathered at 10.30 PM to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The worship was simple--no sung prayers or incense. However the liturgy was done very well, and a nice touch was Christmas lights strung from the ceiling of the nave. They gave us a canopy of light when the other lights were dimmed for the singing of Silent Night, kneeling, after Communion, just as my parish home would have knelt and sang hours earlier.

As I received Communion, the choir and congregation sang Away in a Manger. Only hours earlier I had sung that very hymn to my grandson after putting him to bed. Returning from Communion, I knew that this was truly my best Christmas ever.

In the morning my daughter will join us for breakfast and the tree. Gift upon gift upon gift being with all my children and grandchildren under one roof.

Tonight we prayed during the Prayers of the People, "0 Lord give us the Spirit to know and to love you and gift of joy and wonder in all your works."

God has already answered yes.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Church in the snow

It's the fourth Sunday of Advent, so before I go to church for Christmas, it seemed fitting that I stop and worship in the final days of this season of preparation. So I put on my blue top, my blue scarf, and my blue socks, and drove in the snow to church. It was really, really, really snowing.

I have to admit. When I visit a church, I can't help but notice those things they do well, and, yes, those things done not so well. I'm especially mindful of welcome and hospitality because that's basic church 101. After all, Jesus taught that what we are to do is love God and love each other. He also made clear that the each other we love are not only those we already love but also the stranger, the hungry, the prisoner, the naked, the thirsty--those kind of friends.

Bless their hearts, though the folks at the church where I worshipped this morning preached about being community, the parish didn't quite rise to the occasion.

They were having baptisms today and had special worship booklets. Unfortunately, I wasn't given one. Two passes by the ushers later in the service, and I scored an order for worship, but I was curious that none of the folks around me tried to help when they saw I was a little lost. If I had been new to Episcopal worship, I would have felt quite the outsider.

Then there was The Peace, that part of worship where we greet one another in the name of the Lord. It often becomes a meet and greet for our friends and family. As in so many parishes, The Peace lasted an extended length of time. I greeted those near me, but as The Peace continued, I was left ignored in my pew except for two dear souls who crossed the aisle to wish me peace. I could have gone off on my own to offer peace, but I was curious about what would happen. I am sad to say that several parishioners greeted folks on either side of me without greeting me. I was fine with being overlooked, but how would another guest have felt?

Finally, there was the dead battery incident. The snow was really coming down after church, and after a snowy walk to my car, I discovered that I had left my lights on, and my battery was dead. I trudged back into church to ask for help. One person said he'd noticed my lights on (why didn't he make an announcement?), but couldn't help. Another suggested that I call AAA. I am sorry to say that no one offered me any assistance. My son and grandson came and jump-started my battery after a very cold wait.

This is not to be critical of this parish specifically but to share what I fear would be too common a worship experience in far too many parishes. I know that when I return from sabbatical in two weeks my experience will inspire some conversation in my own parish.

All too often we in churches welcome and are hospitable only to people we already know. I do not think that Jesus is pleased when that's how we act.

I was left very sad after worship today. In a world that less and less knows the love of Christ, we in the church must offer our very best for those guests who have the courage to come through our doors.

It is the true meaning of Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making cocoa on a snowy day

Before I came to Bend, my son had one request--could we make the hot cocoa we used to make when he was a boy? He loved the cinnamon in it. I hadn't thought of that cocoa mix in years. It was full of things he wasn't likely to eat now--Cremora, Nestlé Qwik, and lots of confectioners sugar. But if a son wants something at Christmas, a mom does almost anything she can to make it happen. I was surprised to find easily the little sheet of paper with the recipe given to me by a good friend years ago.

Last night my grandson, Austin, and I made Jacob's favorite cocoa mix with some minor contemporary adjustments.
Just like it did twenty years ago, there was plenty to share with friends and loved ones.

Here's our 2012 adaption of my friend Kathryn's recipe:

8 quart size nonfat dry milk
1 pound Ghirardelli double chocolate cocoa mix
1 pound powdered sugar
6 ounces Coffeemate
1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa

Mix together.

The original recipe says to fill a cup half full with mix and add boiling water. Jacob used hot milk instead of water and it was delicious.

It's snowing outside tonight, so it will be especially delicious tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


If you look really close, you'll see snow-covered mountains. Only someone who left 78 degree Houston can really appreciate this. Time to put on layers.

A quick Phoenix lark

Last weekend I flew to Phoenix for our soon to be curate, Katie Churchwell's, ordination to the priesthood. It was in her home parish, St. Peter's, Litchfield.

The ordination was part of St. Peter's regular 5 PM Saturday worship with an Advent wreath, O come O come Emmanuel, and a warm welcome. The music was St. Peter's usual praise music.
It was a service filled with joy.

I sat with Katie's husband, Logan, and baby daughter Addison, who was one of the youngest presenters ever. It was such a gift to spend the evening with those who love Katie so very dearly.

I usually know our curates very well having journeyed with them through the three year plus Commission on Ministry process. Katie's ordination was only the second time I'd met her.

It could only be a God-thing that had this Diocese of Arizona deacon move to Houston to a subdivision near St. Mary's.
Our Canon to the Ordinary ran into her at Sunday worship at another church and less than two hours later (apologizing because I'm on Sabbatical) called to ask if St. Mary's wanted a curate--and a Quin grant to help pay her. After meeting Katie for a long chat at Starbucks a few weeks later, it was a yes.

Since I didn't have to be anywhere on Sunday, it was a gift to be able to fly for an overnight in Phoenix.

Two weeks from tomorrow, I'll return to St. Mary's bringing a new priest back with me. But first I've got to go to Bend to be with my grandsons for Christmas. I'll be meeting Jonas in a few short hours. And in the miracle of wireless and iPhones , I'm blogging this from over 10000 feet in the air.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

He's here!

Jonas Everett Fain was born December 8, 2012 at 11:54 PM. A healthy 6 lbs, 1 ounce and 20 1/2" long.

This Grandma in Texas can hardly wait the 10 days until I meet him!

From the Episcopal liturgy of thanksgiving at the birth of a child:

May God the Father, who by Baptism adopts us as his children, grant you grace. Amen.

May God the Son, who sanctified a home at Nazareth, fill you with love. Amen.

May God the Holy Spirit, who has made the Church one family, keep you in peace.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Praying our lives this day in Santa Fe

After a cold morning walk to breakfast (it's grand being able to walk where I want to go rather than drive), I was off searching for the labyrinth of the day. The Cathedral of St. Francis had one outside the entrance, except this morning it was roped off with yellow tape in anticipation of workers coming later to put up a giant wreath.

Slipping under the caution tape, my friend and I decided to start our prayer walk before the workers showed up. Next thing we knew we were joined by a mother and daughter who were walking a labyrinth for the very first time. The daughter quickly decided to take the short cut to the center, but the mother continued to walk thoughtfully. Because she saw us walking, the woman had an unexpected time of prayer. We all felt blessed.

The wonder continued. The New Mexico History Museum had an exhibit of pages from the St. John's Bible thoughtfully curated with photographs of New Mexico sacred spaces and a quiet space within the exhibit for meditation.

The exhibit did an extraordinary job of describing the huge community of artists and theologians who have worked together for over ten years to create the first handwritten and illuminated Bible in five hundred years.

It was truly sacred space.

Brother Curtis' words express how I feel about this day:

The real quest for our prayer is to learn to pray our lives. It’s to practice the presence of God in every moment, every place that we move, every person whom we touch, every word that we speak or hear.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Until next year, Casa De Los Abuelos

Today I leave Taos on a road trip to Chimayo for lunch with a friend, then on to Santa Fe for two days and nights.

This has been the most joy-filled of my trips to Taos. Waking to extraordinary sunrises, rich morning quiet, long walks each day, crafting, blue corn red chile cheese enchiladas, daily labyrinth walking prayer, and beauty beyond measure.

Taos friends asked if I'd be back next year. Was I done with Taos? Absolutely not. My traveling friend and I have two new hikes on the to do list and a coffee card ready to be filled. Here are some of my favorite Taos images.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Living Light

Coming to northern New Mexico for so many years, I have made good friends by happenstance. The path from one friend to another new friend to yet another is joyfilled mystery.

This trip I met Lenny Foster.

Some of our friends participate in an annual art show during Advent called Taos Folk. This year's visit I was attracted by photography called Healing Hands. Turns out that the art was done by Lenny, and we were told we must go to his gallery a couple of blocks away.

As I walked through his gallery, I was attracted to the back room. Dimly lit, it felt like a sacred space. It was indeed.

Lining the walls were Lenny's photographs of hands of people from all over the world. Old hands. Young hands. Hands holding hands. A rainbow of colors. Many were holding or touching some talisman of healing--like prayer beads, paint brushes, herbs, pottery, an apple. It was when I came to the black and white photograph of an older woman holding her Bible, that my heart caught. It was at that moment that I also met Lenny.

It was a holy moment of sharing faith and stories. The photograph that had touched my heart was of his mom's hands. He and I talked about bringing his exhibit to Houston. We'll see what God has in store.

And the name of Lenny's gallery? Living Light. What better place to meet a new brother during Advent?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Every year we begin again

As we drove home last night in the sunset, I remembered that it was New Year's Eve, and by the time we made it home another new year would have begun in the Church calendar.

How did I spend my new year's eve?
Up at sunrise for morning coffee
Quiet holy reading and gentle prayer
Walk into town for fresh bagels and coffee
Walk to visit a dear friend
Drive to walk a labyrinth outside of Questa
Another long drive to be still in one of the most beautiful places in creation, Valle Vidal
Painting and picnicking and walking and deeply looking at the winter beauty

Than the big decision. To end this year, do we return the familiar way or try a new way? Usually we travel with GPS and atlas, but for some reason, not this day. Of course our app-filled phones had no service. Remembering holy words written by the Rev. Barbara Taylor, we decided to go the wilderness way. To allow ourselves to be lost.

Almost as soon as we decided to drive the unknown way, we were met with the most extraordinary vista. Then as we drove the unpaved, washboard road, elk, deer, and wild turkeys crossed our paths. Each time I thought the surprises were done, God popped out yet another good gift.

We were never in truly any danger and were never truly lost. We had a full tank of gas. We were on a Kit Carson National Park service road. It was not so much about being lost, but about trusting God.

I ended the year recalling how I began the year. Here in Taos, seated at the dining room table of the Casa, I said yes to God about allowing myself to be a candidate for suffragan Bishop. At least I thought that what I was saying yes was about. But in fact I was only saying yes to God to go the unmapped road. And oh, the vistas I've seen along the way.

Today another year begins. Another day to say yes.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Nearly Advent

This time of Sabbath is nearer the end than the beginning. As I move from this time of holy rest to returning to my community renewed, it is fitting that this last month will be in the midst of Advent--that most countercultural of church seasons. Filled with the color blue for hope, and words like expectation, waiting, silence, listening, promises revealed and fulfilled.

For over fifteen years I've come to New Mexico with my best friend during Advent. The last three years we've stayed in a beautiful small house called La Casa de Los Abuelos, the house of the grandparents. Which is what my best friend and I are-- grandmothers. This Advent I am waiting for the birth of a particular child-- my second grandson, Jonas.

My image, my icon, as I start this season of mysterious expectation is a fresco I viewed at St. Mary's, West Jefferson, North Carolina, during my fresco pilgrimage earlier this month. This expectant Mary, stopped on the road, one hand cradling the new life to come, and the other hand raised in greeting? blessing? fills me with quiet thought.

A very good place to be in the House of the Grandmothers, this cold November morning.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanks. Giving.

The plan had been for me to drive up to my mom's sometime Thanksgiving week.  My mother had been a little under the weather for a while, so we'd planned a simple Thanksgiving day.  My brothers and I, and the bonus of my nephew, Andrew, were going to have a quiet, feasting day together.  Which happened.  Except I wasn't there.

Turns out early in the week I came down with a cold.  It's actually pretty amazing with all of the traveling I've done during the Sabbatical that this was the very first time I'd been sick.  However, Thanksgiving Day found me in in bed or on the couch at the Rectory.  Alone.

First time in 61 years that I'd been alone on Thanksgiving.  It was strange to look outside the window and see cars parked in front of neighbors' houses, people moving in and out with smiles and hugs and arms full of food, and to be inside still in my pajamas.

I'll be honest.  I had a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself.  I'll admit it.  But then I got out the basket of cards written to me by members of St. Mary's and read their kind words and prayers.  I had a grilled cheese sandwich, made the proper way browned in butter on top of the stove.  Less you feel a bit sorry for me--a  grilled cheese sandwich is one of my most favorite foods, especially when made with homemade bread (baked by me from a cookbook given to me by my wonderful daughter, who, by the way, is featured this month in the Ladies Home Journal) and cheese brought back from my trip to Iona.

I had cookies that same daughter had made for my birthday that I'd frozen away for a special occasion.  I had an organic honeycrisp apple--perhaps the best apple God ever created. I had my drink of choice--sparkling water, and it all felt like a feast to me.  I had phone calls from my son, my daughter, cousins in Virginia, a nephew in Brooklyn, and my best friend.  I knitted.  I watched dvds.  It wasn't the Thanksgiving I'd wanted to have, but it was definitely a day that was easy for me to give thanks.

To top the day off, a friend sent me a Thanksgiving letter written by the Bishop of Atlanta--and his words of wisdom are worth sharing with any of you who have muddled through to this point.
The Right Rev. Rob Wright wrote:

Thanksgiving Day ~ November 22, 2012

"Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices...."

Today many of us will sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family. Just before we dine, we will bow our heads and voice our gratitude to God for food and family and fellowship. This we ought to do. We have been so blessed!

But, go further this year.

This Thanksgiving, in response to all God has done for you, do that which God asks of us. Tell the children and grandchildren of the wondrous deeds of God. Read Psalm 78:1-7 to them. Tell them why you follow Jesus. Tell them the difference it makes.

Further still.

This Thanksgiving, ask God for the courage and grace to make peace with the family member you struggle to love. Ask God for the grace to forgive a longstanding hurt inflicted by a family member. In thanksgiving to God, let it go.

Yet more.

This Thanksgiving, choose one issue that tugs at your heart: homelessness, domestic violence, child poverty, etc. Serve the people in that circumstance for one year, until next Thanksgiving. Do this in thanksgiving to God.

I commend these to you this Thanksgiving, mindful of the words we pray each morning:

" ...We pray give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives...." BCP pg.101

I thank God for you,


Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Fresco of the Running Father

This part of the Sabbatical was all about the frescoes.

Ben Long is an artist whose medium is the fresco. He has created a group of frescoes using this ancient practice in North Carolina in both public spaces and churches. My best friend and I did a three day road trip to see these frescoes.

The frescoes in churches were usually on the wall behind the altar so that they greeted you as you entered the worship space and were the focal point throughout worship.  Imagine celebrating Holy Eucharist with a lively fresco of that meal inviting you to be a part of that first communion with Jesus and his disciples.

One of these frescoes is in the chapel of Montreat College and is inspired by the parable of the prodigal son. The jealous brother. The dancing servants. The ecstatic father. The fresco features each detail of the parable.

It's the gospel appointed in the daily office for today, Luke 15. 11-32.

I am struck that this scripture was selected to be the place of a kind of lectio divina in a space where college students gather--men and women who are in a time in their lives when they are especially searching for the meaning of life.  Do they feel like prodigals?  Like dancing servants?  Like jealous brothers or sisters?  Do we?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A quiet day in Georgia

After a road trip from the Convent through North Carolina seeing extraordinary frescoes (more about that later), I am staying at dear friends' home on a ridge in the southern Appalachians Mountains.

Today we took a walk by the Tallulah River. Last glimmers of fall color peaked through the trees. It was exquisite.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Silence: Day Three

I ended my silence today with Diurnum (Noonday Prayers). But first I sat in the Chapel and prayed the St. Mary's directory--lifting each person's name in prayer. I was saddened that four more of our family are now in the place of Light Perpetual--John, Suzanne, Susanne, and Lou.

Later today I'm off to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit another Woman Touched by Grace, Sally.

It's a beautiful fall day and, as always, God is very good.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Silence: Day Two

As an introvert, I require times of solitude. I love people. I love being with people. However, I process information by being alone.

Silent retreats aren't difficult for me. During this triduum of silence, I have been encouraged to go beyond the familiar silence of my whispering mind to that deeper place where God alone dwells.

So this retreat is a time to be with the Beloved. The One who loves us so very very much and will wait with us for an eternity to open our hearts to that love. Silent only to God's voice.

In silence I eat with Beloved. In silence I walk with the Beloved. The Beloved sits with me as I read and I write. The Beloved is with me in my resting and my rising.

In the quiet, I am reading Scarlet Music, a novel about the twelfth century abbess, mystic, poet, composer, prophet, healer, and artist, St. Hildegarde of Bingen. Here, freshly translated, is one my favorite quotes.

....but I stretch out my hand to God to be sustained by him like a feather born on the wind.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Silent Retreat

I flew to Augusta, Georgia, yesterday on what may be the two easiest plane trips of the Sabbatical. I was picked up at the airport by Sister Miriam who delivered me to St. Helena's Convent in time for Vespers.

St Helena's is the home of the Order of St. Helena, an Episcopal community for women religious which, as God would have it, celebrated the anniversary of their founding today.

I have wanted to come here since the earliest days of the planning of my Sabbatical because St.Mary's uses their excellent inclusive language version of the Psalms, the St. Helena Psalter. This began as a field trip of sorts which has led to a three day silent retreat.

A am a little over half way through my Sabbatical, and it is time to be alone with the God of love.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Ending a lovely visit to Oregon in Portland at Stumptown Coffee. My flight to Houston leaves at 11.30 PM, and charging my phone here, journaling, and knitting is more pleasant than doing it at the airport.

I rode the shuttle from Bend to Portland first thing this morning (riding buses is a Sabbatical sub theme). I rented a car for the day so I could spend some time with one of my dear Women Touched by Grace friends.

WTBG is an Eli Lilly Foundation Sustaining Pastoral Excellence grant for women clergy that sent me and 29 other chick pastors on retreat six times in three years at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana, once in Italy, and a couple of post grant bonus retreats. It was life-changing.

Being with Laurie was the perfect way to end a spirit-filling trip to see my family in Bend.

Much much much more delicious than even this delicious cappacino and fig and fennel scone.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallow's Eve in Bend

While my daughter rides out Hurricane Sandy in safety at the rectory, I'm in Bend for Halloween (which is a holiday I really don't care for, but is delightful when a two year old dressed as Curious George does it) and for Jonas' baby shower, and most of all, to simply be with the Bend Fains.

All treats today!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday in Chambersville

After nearly two weeks taking Sabbath at the Rectory, I'm traveling again. Yesterday I drove to my mother's in Chambersville, Texas. It's right outside McKinney, and her mailing address is McKinney. Even though my iPhone local weather thinks I'm in Celina, I know I'm in Chambersville. That's because it's named for my Greatgreatgrandfather Elisha Chambers, who came here from Indiana in 1847. That's a long time in Texas years.

This morning Mother and I went to the local Methodist church. About thirty people gathered for fellowship, singing, and listening to Scripture. The time of prayer was one where we truly shared cares and joys and concerns. The pastor travels between two churches each Sunday morning, and she gave a lovely sermon of honesty and encouragement.

All over the world there are church communities like this one--small only in the world's eyes. The little church was well-cared for--neat and tidy and obviously loved. Each person, including me, a stranger, was met with a warm word and a touch. There were only a handful of children, and all had a place in the worship, too. It was and is the Body of Christ.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sabbathkeeping on Laneview

I'm home, and for one delicious week I've kept Sabbath at home. The lovely surprise has been each time I remembered that I have no place I have or need to be.

Like yesterday. I took a walk with a friend. Our conversation was still going strong when we came to the end of our three turns around the walking path. Did I have time to walk around again?
Did I? I did.

Walking daily has been part of my Sabbatical rule of life. Near my house is a no longer new walking trail along the bayou. I've never made time to explore it, but now I have the gift of time. I began my exploration earlier this week. As I walked this new trail, this was the Scripture I contemplated:

Thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A rainy trip home

For the two weeks we were in Scotland and England, we saw almost no rain--it waited until the final drive to the airport. It feels like grace.

For the past six weeks I have traveled to some of the most extraordinary and inspiring places on earth. My head and heart are full.

Now quotidian time begins. Tomorrow I begin to Sabbath at home for a while. My next trip will most likely be to Oregon for Jonas' shower.

I need time to put all of my thoughts in order. My photos of the Holy Land will arrive around the first of November via a friend of my brother's who will pick up my no longer lost camera in Tel Aviv and deliver it to Houston.

As I begin the second of my three flights home, I am filled with peace and gratitude. Even with four hours sleep!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Leaving England

When the tide turns and the causeway from Holy Island to the mainland is opened soon, I'll leave this beautiful place and begin the long journey back to Houston.

We've been doing all of our worship at St. Mary's seated in choir, that is facing one another. In the pew there are cards with a blessing for those leaving the island; those leaving the island are encouraged to request the blessing at their final service.

Last night after Evening Prayer (which ended outside overlooking St. Cuthbert's Island while we prayed prayers in honour of him), I let the Vicar know that today would be our final time to join them for worship. At The Peace this morning he asked if we still wanted the blessing. I certainly did!

At the close of the service he invited my friend and me up for our blessing. He also invited anyone else who was taking leave. Another man came forward. My friend and I smiled because our blessing allowed another to be blessed, too. God's abundance for sure.

Here are the words of St. Mary the Virgin parish's blessing:

To the prayers of the island saints we commend you.
May God's angels watch round you to protect you.
May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you for all that lies ahead.
May Christ Jesus befriend you with his compassion and peace.

May the Lord be a bright light before us.
Be a guiding star above us.
Be a smooth path beneath us.
And the blessing of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be with you this day and always.

Go in the peace of Christ:
Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Large Day on Holy Island

It was cold and sunny today which made it great for walking and cappuccinos.

The day started with Morning Prayer followed by Holy Communion at the parish church, St. Mary's, and ended back there for Evening Prayer. The worship concluded with a procession outside to the statute of St. Aidan where we closed our prayers. The walk back to my Bed and Breakfast was along the causeway as the sun set.

I spent time this afternoon walking around the ruins of the Benedictine Priory. I was thoughtful about the many ruins of once vital Christian communities I've visited on my Sabbatical. Although the buildings no longer stand, I believe that the effects of the people's prayers and worship and acts of service continue to be alive and bear fruit. I believe our lives are better because of their anonymous and hidden faithful acts.

I pray the same for what we do.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Another Holy Island

All connections neatly made, I'm now in England on Lindisfarne, after waiting nearly thirty years to arrive The church my family attended for many years was St. Cuthbert in Houston, and I have longed to come to this place he called home.

An Iona connection is that St. Aidan, who founded the monastery here on Holy Island, came as a missionary from Iona. Cuthbert followed him years later as Prior and then Bishop.

Another interesting tidbit is that Christianity came to Scotland from Ireland via St. Columba at Iona thirty or so years before St. Augustine came to Canterbury and founded a monastery there.

Goodbye and Hello

Bittersweet leaving of Iona this new day. I'm off to another Holy Island in another country, Lindisfarne, a place to whence (love using the Brit words) I've wanted to pilgrimage for nearly thirty years.

So I'll have one last bowl of porridge, then take a ferry, drive across Mull Island to take another ferry to Oban, then drive across Scotland to England, timing our drive to cross the causeway to Lindisfarne with the low tide or there will be a long wait till the next low tide.

For whatever God has next in store.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thanksgiving on Iona

Except they call it the Harvest Festival

Anyway. This Sunday morning, the whole island, including all houses of worship and the school children, celebrated the harvest with worship at the Abbey.

This is my last full day on Iona, and I'm a bit sad to be leaving. It was lovely to wake up today without an alarm, have a leisurely breakfast, and to walk by the sea to worship where my only responsibility was to worship.

My friend and I like to arrive early, and this morning there was a cheerful, excited hubbub before worship as all the participants made final preparations. I decided to go sit in the side chapel, the Quiet Corner, for my own preparations. It was sweet to remember all I love and light candles for them, resting in the still place within my heart, as those gathering to worship made their own joyful getting ready sounds.