Monday, December 24, 2012

a rose e'er blooming

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.  Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you."  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;  then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;  the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.  A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.  No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.  And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.  
-- Isaiah 35

Christmas Eve: Madonna and pups

Unto us some pups are born...

first bath time

happy mama

love my little ones

sleepy Madonna and pups
What a beautiful way to usher in Christmas. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Advent IV

our little Advent wreath on the eve of Advent IV

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

BCP (1979) p. 212

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gaudete pink and blue Christmas

Cathédrale Sainte Trinité
Advent III: Gaudete Sunday

It's not everyone who gets to wear a pink chasuble. Some of us, however, did this past Sunday, Advent III. You've seen the Advent wreaths with three purple and one pink candle: this is the liturgical equivalent. This was Gaudete or Rose Sunday. Gaudete: Rejoice.  As the Advent hymn says, Rejoice, rejoice, believers, and let your lights appear.  We wait in joyful expectation of the coming of Christ - at Christmas, at the end of time, and in our hearts now.

from the Advent in Two Minutes video posted in an earlier entry

At the same time, we have some blue around us - not just Sarum Advent blue, but a blue Christmas.  There are so many among us dealing with loss; Christmas is a hard time of year for some, and I wonder if those of us who absolutely love Christmas (and I am among them) always notice.  As a matter of fact, I've been preparing for a funeral in the morning, and someone else is dying; it is also the one-week anniversary of the shootings. Grandmere Mimi, at Wounded Bird, has written about this today:  Go pray with her and others for all those who are grieving this Christmas. 

found at

And then remember: joy and grief are not mutually exclusive.  Joy has nothing to do with optimism or with things going well.  It has everything to do with the presence of God.  Veni, Emmanuel, God with us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

#26Acts of Kindness

’If you do good, you’ll feel good’: Ann Curry explains origins of #26Acts of Kindness

Acts of kindness honoring those who died.  You've probably all heard about it by now.  We just got power back after a while without, so it's news to me. 

Some of my favorites listed:
-- $10 Starbucks card and a card (note) on someone's windshield
-- feeding the meter for a disabled veteran (saw the plates)
-- sending notes telling people how much they were appreciated
-- sponsoring a child in Haiti (of course I liked this one!)
-- covering for someone at work so she could attend her child's classroom party
-- buying lunch for someone in need
-- listening to a troubled classmate

What could ours be?

Ann Curry is right: doing such things does, in fact, make you feel better.  It reminds me of someone who used to do such things to make himself feel better when he was down.  I was the recipient of flowers on a number of occasions - and it cheered him up at least as much as it made my day.  Sending random care packages is a lot of fun, too.  And feeding the parking meter for someone - what an easy way to brighten someone's day - and your own.  Obviously this isn't just about making ourselves feel better, but she does have a point - and maybe someone will be surprised into continuing.

I'm grateful she thought of this.  It's one of the most fruitful responses I've seen so far.   Blessings on all who are participating as well as to those who have been affected.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Landfill Harmonic

After today's tragedy, I really needed some Advent hope.  And thanks to Bishop Steven Charleston, I found it.  Would this work in Haiti?   I am  astonished that a cello made from an oil can could sound so good! 

I gather there is a documentary to be released; I hope I can find a way to see it when I'm back in the US in August.

We live in a world where severely disturbed people kill children - and not just today.  We also live in a world where trash becomes an orchestra and music pours through souls as a result.  Incarnation.  Paschal mystery. It's all right here. God with us.  Veni, Emmanuel.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

post-Sandy hunger

I think I'm ready for everyone to have a respite from natural disasters.  Aren't we all?

This week we heard that President Obama plans to ask Congress for 50 BILLION dollars for clean-up from Sandy.  Where will we get the money? I understand that worry. And then there are those who are faced with the clean-up itself who know that won't cover it and who were hoping for $82 billion. 

One thing few people in the US will have to worry about, though, is actually starving to death as a result of the storm.  American food insecurity is a reality few recognize, and it's of real concern.  I think especially of children. It's hard to learn when hungry, and lack of proper nutrition hampers physical and mental development.  I could go on, but I'll spare you that in order to point out the obvious: it's worse in Haiti.  Especially this year.  And I don't like what I hear.  This coming year will be rough.  Food prices? I could be concerned about our budget - but we have one.  A budget, I mean.  I don't expect to be going all day without food.  Then there are all those people who eat from their gardens, the gardens that got washed away along with their hopes of selling produce to pay for school tuition for their children.  Now it's about finding them food.

This week an official report was produced to explain the situation.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Study: Widespread hunger in Haiti after storms - Haiti -

An excerpt from the AP coverage of the report:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haitians have suffered widespread hunger following an unusually active storm season this year and are likely to experience more, according to a study released Friday.

The report, backed by a Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-based think tank, found that rural households in the heavily hit areas of Haiti's west, north and Grand-Anse departments experienced what it termed "severe food shortages" after Hurricane Sandy and an unnamed storm that followed. The two merely brushed the Caribbean nation in October and November but caused major flooding and killed as many as 66 people.

Nearly 70 percent of the more than 1,000 households interviewed said they experienced moderate or severe hunger, according to the study, "After the Storm: Haiti's Coming Food Crisis."

The report was written by social scientists Athena Kolbe, Marie Puccio and Robert Muggah, who frequently work in the impoverished country. It echoes U.N. warnings that more than 1.5 million of Haiti's people are at risk of malnutrition because they lost crops in the storms. As much as 90 percent of Haiti's harvest season, much of it in the south, was destroyed in Sandy's floods, the world body said.

Read more here:
[And here's a first for me: I've found the same article translated into French on a Haitian news page:]

The New York Times ran an article about the food situation a few weeks ago, too. 

It starts out like this:
FAUCHÉ, Haiti — A woman who lost just about everything now gives her children coffee for meals because it quiets their stomachs a bit.

Seriously, when is Haiti going to get a break?
As they summarize the situation:
As if the quake were not enough, Haiti is now suffering the combined onslaught of storms and, before that, drought, imperiling its food supply, causing $254 million in agricultural losses and throwing 1.6 million people — about 16 percent of the population — into dire straits.

Tropical Storm Isaac in August destroyed farms in the north, preceded by a spring drought that devastated farms there. Then came Hurricane Sandy, which passed west of Hispaniola and over Jamaica but was large enough to send 20 inches of rain over southern Haiti.

Last week, as the government and the United Nations took stock of the storm and grappled with flooding in the north from a fresh cloudburst that left 10 people dead, they issued an emergency appeal for $39 million in humanitarian aid to a world weary of its recurrent disasters.

Add to the food crisis the fact that bridges were washed out, so there are towns that are nearly impossible to reach.   All this from brushes with hurricanes - thank God for the mercy of avoiding direct hits.

At least the weather seems to have improved for the moment. 

But it continues elsewhere: Enough already! 

Everyone everywhere is up to their ears with disasters, and we still haven't cleaned up from those of the last decade (remember Katrina? how about the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear plant meltdown in Japan?).  Somehow we need to learn to care for the environment and care for each other, to respond to urgent needs and to plan wisely for the future.  I don't know how we can do that, but I am confident that there are those who do and that we can all contribute something to move the world in the right direction.

Advent is a season of hope and expectation.  God reminds us that it isn't over yet, and God promises to walk with us through all of this.  So instead of worrying, we pray and work while we wait.  Pray for seasonable weather and wisdom in planting: may God have mercy on farmers here in Haiti and elsewhere.  Pray for children who drink coffee instead of eating, and also for those who have a Coke or potato chips for breakfast and only look reasonably fed. Pray for our scientists, our leaders, our economists, our media.  Pray for all those people who don't make the news. And keep praying for Haiti. 

Kyrie eleison.

Advent is all about desire

Acrylic, November 2005
Roger Hutchison
Roger writes of Advent, "This painting, for me, came out of a sense of waiting—of expectation. Mary is soon to give birth to Jesus. She is searching, watching, waiting. The star in the sky is also watching – waiting.

Something beautiful for your prayer and reflection this Advent:

"Advent is all about desire," an elderly Jesuit in our community used to say every year as November drew to a close. And whenever he said it, I would say, "Huh?"

But gradually it dawned on me. Christians who celebrate Advent, the liturgical season that precedes Christmas, desire the coming of Christ into their lives in new ways. The beautiful readings from the Book of Isaiah, which we hear during Advent, describe how even the earth longs for the presence of God. The wonderful "O antiphons," sung at evening prayer and during the Gospel acclamations toward the end of Advent, speak of Christ at the "King of Nations and their Desire." The Gospel readings for the season tell of John the Baptist expressing Israel's hope for a Messiah. Mary and Joseph look forward to the upcoming birth of a son. My friend was right. It's all about desire.

To read the rest of the article:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Veni, Emmanuel

This is meditative and a little different; I think she may be singing in Gaelic in parts, though I could be imagining it. In any case, it's lovely.

Here are the traditional words from Veni, veni, Emmanuel, translated by John Mason Neale (Society of St. Margaret's founder) with the Great O antiphons highlighted:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.    Refrain

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.    Refrain

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.    Refrain

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.    Refrain

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.   Refrain

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.    Refrain

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.     Refrain