Category Archives: People

“The Wonderer” (4th stanza: Brain)

dsc01148

This is the fourth of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here and the third is here.

Now, the fourth stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

Then oh! but how can I explain
The wondrous wonder of my Brain?
That marvelous machine that brings
All consciousness of wonderings;
That lets me from myself leap out
And watch my body walk about;
It’s hopeless – all my words are vain
To tell the wonder of my Brain.

A few observations about how the brain operates.  There is the “Eureka!” sort of moment; a realization of discovery.  There is the “Wow!” of wonder, of being taken aback at how another is thinking.  There is the pondering, the imagining of what might be.

EUREKA!  As a brand spanking new Computer Programmer in the “real world” in 1987 I was amazed at how my brain worked.  Computer coursework in college had not taught me exactly what I needed to know.  But it had taught me how to think to learn what I did need to know for using particular programming languages in a specific computing environment.  I marveled at how my brain made connections.

WOW!  My oldest nephew was about 4 years old when I pulled out the book God’s Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.  Upon hearing the title, B responded in a matter-of-fact tone, “It must be really big.”  It took me a moment to realize that God, who is pretty big to a preschooler, would have a really big paintbrush.

IMAGINE.  Ponder.  Contemplate.  Wonder.  About a creative endeavor.  About a career move.  About the words of a poem, the lyrics of a song, the phrases in a text.  About a relationship.  About God.

Holy God … assure us again that ear has not heard, nor eye seen, nor human imagination envisioned, what you have prepared for those you love you.   – From Book of Worship, United Church of Christ.

God has prepared things for those who love God that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.  – 1 Corinthians 2:9b CEB

 

Advertisements

“The Wonderer” (3rd stanza)

This is the third of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here.

Now, the third stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

What of the wonder of my Heart,
That plays so faithfully its part?
I hear it running sound and sweet;
It does not seem to miss a beat;
Between the cradle and the grave
It never falters, stanch and brave.
Alas! I wish I had the art
To tell the wonder of my Heart.

img_2600

Hearts at Faith United Church of Christ, February 2013. Photo: TLClark

The wonder of my Heart.  And your heart, too, for that matter.  Working unceasingly.  Beating dozens and dozens of time per minute, every minute of every hour of every day.  Moving blood – nutrients for life – throughout our bodies.

The wonder of big-hearted people.  Loving and generous and kind.  Forgiving and welcoming and encouraging.  Remembering all that is good.  Sharing nutrients for life throughout our communities.

The paper hearts pictured were part of the children’s message one Sunday in early February six years ago.  The scripture for the day was the great love chapter:  1 Corinthians 13.  I invited everyone in the congregation that day – young and old alike – to write something about love on a paper heart.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  – I Corinthians 13:4-8a  NRSV

img_2601What is written on your heart today?

“The Wonderer” (2nd stanza)

This is the second of what I imagine to be several posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  You can read the whole poem hereThe first stanza and my first post is here.

Here’s the second stanza:

Then there’s the wonder of my Eyes,
Where hills and houses, seas and skies,
In waves of light converge and pass,
And print themselves as on a glass.
Line, form and color live in me;
I am the Beauty that I see;
Ah! I could write a book of size
About the wonder of my Eyes.

“The wonder of my Eyes.”  Being able to see.

The wonder of my mind’s eye.  Being able to see more than what is seen by the eye.

Looking.  Really seeing.  Appreciating the work of light, the wonder of how light works, the color and design that light reveals. 

And also imagining something more.  Envisioning something, as yet, unseen.

Look around – with your eyes or your mind’s eye.  What do you see?  Possibility?  Hope?  Beauty?  Love?

I have seven nephews and nieces (below).  Each unique and wonderful, seeing the world through their own eyes.  Each with his or her own particular personality and primary interests.  Each growing and learning and exploring the world.  Each beautiful (though the boys may prefer I say handsome).  Each loved – and loving – beyond measure.

eyes - noaheyes - megeyes - lexieyes - kylieeyes - haydeneyes - bryceeyes - ben

The eyes have it!

Or, in the picture below, his eyes say it.  It’s my favorite selfie with my beloved.  I just see love as he looks at me and, since his cancer diagnosis, I am beyond happy he is still around!

eyes - jmc and tlc

August 2017. Photo: TLClark.

 

“The Wonderer” (1st stanza)

This is the first of what I imagine to be several posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  You can read the whole poem here.

Here’s the first stanza:

     I wish that I could understand
     The moving marvel of my Hand;
     I watch my fingers turn and twist,
     The supple bending of my wrist,
     The dainty touch of finger-tip,
     The steel intensity of grip;
     A tool of exquisite design,
     With pride I think: “It’s mine! It’s mine!”

Have you considered your hands lately? 

Take a look.  Finger.  Thumb.  Joint.  Palm.  Knuckle.  Notice the colors and the textures.  See the veins carrying blood, keeping you alive.  Are there scars, telling stories of mishaps or something more serious?  Is there jewelry, reminding you of precious vows or a special trip or a favorite person? 

Think about how you use your hands every day.  Marvelous, aren’t they?!!

dsc01171 (2)

Who has held your hand, recently or long ago?  Whose hand have you held?  With love.  In friendship.  To pray.  To teach.  To reassure.  To connect.  To hold up.

“Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.”  – Psalm 37:24 NRSV

“Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.” – Psalm 73:23 NRSV

“…even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.” – Psalm 139:10 NRSV

May your hands be helpful today, to you and to others.  May they bring joy, offer comfort, spread kindness.  May they be a reminder that you are loved beyond measure.

Making Bread

My mother made bread in my childhood.  From scratch.  Using yeast, water, sugar, shortening, salt and flour.  I suspect it was to save money.

My father has taken up bread making in his retirement.  From scratch.  Apparently his first efforts fell a bit flat.  He’s learned to knead the dough more than he thought was needed.  He’ll tell you all about the science of it if you ask.

Mom says Dad makes bread like his mother did – by feel.  There was a recipe in the beginning.  Some experimentation.  Another recipe.  More experimentation.  Some research.  Now he adds an egg and sour cream.  The dough makes great cinnamon rolls; though it’s a bit unorthodox for dinner rolls.

Bread baking.  For the necessity of feeding the body.  For the joy of feeding the spirit.

DSC00967 (2)

Dad with caramel rolls.  Photo:  TLClark.  12/2018

 

 

Christmas: Shepherds

DSC01064 (2)

I’ve been thinking about Shepherds since Christmas Eve.

Shepherds.  Providing for every need:  clean water, good food, safe shelter.

Not just the men (and women?) who seemed to simply leave their flocks in the fields to rush off in search of a baby in a manger.

Shepherds.  The men and the women who shepherd congregations.  Through the high holy days and the mundane every days, through great joy and deep sorrow – providing water and food and shelter.  Offering rest and healing, play and opportunities to learn.  Sharing story and art and music and movement and so much more.

Shepherds.  The women and men who care for our children – at home, in day care, at school and more – providing water and food and shelter.  Offering rest and healing, play and opportunities to learn.  Leading and teaching with story and art and music and movement and so much more.

Shepherds.  The women and men who care for our elders – at home, at care centers, in hospice and more – providing water and food and shelter.  Offering rest and healing, play and opportunities to learn.  Using story and art and music and movement and so much more.

Shepherds.  Feeding and sheltering and caring for others.  And being fed and sheltered and cared for by others (including the Great Shepherd)!

Thanks be to God.

 

Advent: Zach & Liz

It seems a strange start.  After a few verses of introduction the gospel of Luke launches into the story of Jesus by telling us about Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord.  But they had no children … and both were getting on in years.   – Luke 1:6-7 NRSV

Zach is a priest.  As the story begins he is in Jerusalem at the temple offering incense in the “Lord’s sanctuary” (CEB).

Candle

I’m much more likely to light a candle than to burn incense – especially when something beyond a spoken prayer seems appropriate.

The people who have gathered to worship are outside praying.

 

Until a few days ago I’d never noticed the worshipers in this story.  They were outside PRAYING.

No word on the content of their prayers.  But as I read it on Monday I imagined they were praying for the priest.  Priests and pastors and preachers and worship leaders of all kinds appreciate prayers on our behalf.  We may not mention it.  Most of the time we don’t think about it.  But when church life is crazy or busy or both (like before Christmas!), knowing that even one person has offered a prayer to God for you is a precious gift.

While the people are praying, Zach’s public ministry takes a decidedly personal turn.  An angel appears and tells him HIS prayers have been heard.  He and his wife – who are older than old (kind of like Abraham and Sarah of years gone by) – will become parents.

Somehow I don’t think become a parent was Zach’s prayer that day.  Because of their advanced years I suspect both Zach and Liz were no longer petitioning God for a child.  Not that they didn’t continue to long for a son or a daughter.  But no longer believing it might happen.

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? My wife and are very old.” Luke 1:18 CEB

Zach’s response rings true with me.  It’s honest.  And it’s the last thing he’ll be able to speak aloud until his son is born.

Once he’s home, Liz becomes pregnant.  Her response:  “This is the Lord’s doing.”

This part of the story causes me to pause.  I think of would-be parents who have been unable to conceive and the parents whose children died at – or before – or shortly after – birth.  So much heart ache.  Lord, in your mercy.

Zach and Liz’s child is, of course, John.  Not Jesus.  It’s John, the one who will prepare the way.  A strange start, I think, to the story of Jesus.

With prayers for Pastor Dave and Pastor Amy (my pastors), for all who lead worship, and for parents and would-be parents, Teressa