Where are You Standing?


This is a fragment of a very old leaded glass window featuring painted glass and the one word “Blessed.”  I wish I knew the whole story of the window it came from, but I know only a little.  In the late 1970’s, my husband was approached about repairing vintage leaded glass windows which had been purchased in England by a couple who were members of our church .  They had donated the windows, where they were to be used in specific places inside the church.  This meant they must be cut to fit those places.  Joe disliked trimming the old windows, but did so.  There were many small pieces left, and this piece was given to me.  It now rests on a tiny easel in my kitchen window alongside another piece of stained glass. Recently, when someone cleaned the window sill, the glass was put back on the easel backward.

When I noticed the mistake, I reached for my camera and only after I looked at the image did I realize that the glass might be backward, but the reflection on the shiny granite beneath it is right.

How many times do I not recognize how blessed I am, simply because I need to look in a different way?

” ‘What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.'”   C.S. Lewis, in The Magician’s Nephew

Blooming Anyway

IMG_1716In our part of Texas, we seldom have severe winter weather.  Although November was colder than most years, December was unusually warm until Christmas. But 2015 turned a cold shoulder on us. It has been wet and cold, with twice the normal amount of rain and very cold – definitely coat, scarf, and glove days.  Since we have a few tender plants in our garden, when temperatures are predicted to drop to an extended period of hard freeze, we scuttle about trying to protect plants, pipes, and pets.  We haul out our stack of covers and  try to secure them in gusts of wind that take cover off as fast as we put it on while we weight or pin it down.  We didn’t cover our antique roses, but they seemed to welcome the wet cold days with an extra crop of blooms.  I have written before about the difference in color and fragrance in a winter rose bloom, but this round of blooming was so welcome in the bone chilling  cold, gray days that I found them particularly welcome.  These “Old Roses”  are known for their survival.  They come from root stock that is known for its stay power. The notable thing is that these roses didn’t just stay alive in the bitter cold and whipping winds. They bloomed anyway.

It is one thing to be grateful for having come from strong roots (the stories of my ancestors tell me over and over how much grit and grace they had)) – but it is another thing to be aware of  what I may be passing on to my sons and grandchildren. I want to live in ways that can be described as not just surviving, but blooming anyway.



The day of Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas, a day for remembering the visit of the Magi to the home of Joseph, Mary, and the infant Jesus. This was a time of discovery, a time of finding what they had been seeking. Although we are not told how they lived out their discovery, only that they returned by a different way, I like to believe that part of that “different” way was not only to avoid Herod, but because they were beginning a new journey of change.  They had come to, and crossed a threshold.

As I enter the new year, I, too, am crossing a threshold.  I am moving from one place in my life to another. I do not always know where my steps take me, but I can trust that light will be given me for the way.


Blessing the Threshold

This blessing
has been waiting for you
for a long time.

While you have been
making your way here
this blessing has been
gathering itself
making ready
biding its time

This blessing has been
polishing the door
oiling the hinges
sweeping the steps
lighting candles
in the windows.

This blessing has been
setting the table
as it hums a tune
from an old song
it knows,
something about
a spiraling road
and bread
and grace.

All this time
it has kept an eye
on the horizon,
keeping vigil,
hardly aware of how
it was leaning itself
in your direction.

And now that
you are here
this blessing
can hardly believe
its good fortune
that you have finally arrived,
that it can drop everything
at last
to fling its arms wide
to you, crying

– Jan Richardson

Jan L. Richardson is an artist, writer, and ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. She frequently collaborated with her husband, the singer/songwriter Garrison Doles, until his sudden death in December 2013. 

This Day, This Life


As new calendars appear on our desks and the days begin to fill with scheduling and appointments, it is possible for us to slip into a feeling that one day is like the next, whatever our jobs or commitments.  But that is never the case.  Just as each snowflake is separate and unique and  beautiful, so are our days. Each new day may unfold within a familiar framework, but the minutes and hours it offers are unlike any other and will never be repeated. Of course, the same is true for each of our lives.

From Morning Prayer to Evensong, help me Lord, to treasure my moments and my days.  May I spend them well, because this is the way I am spending my life.

“How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.”  ~Annie Dillard, in The Writing Life


Sacrament of Broken Seed

I like to choose a word at the beginning of each year that I can come back to, like a touchstone in my pocket, over and over again. My word for this new year is ENCOURAGE.

There are times when we can encourage and offer strength to another. There are also times when we are the ones who have need of receiving encouragement, accepting offers of help. I have long loved the following poem.  I am reminded of the power of encouragement when I see the scarlet flash of a cardinal and watch him and his mate choose to nest in our garden.

At the Winter Feeder

His feather flame doused dull  by icy cold,  the cardinal hunched  into the rough, green feeder  but ate no seed.  Through binoculars I saw  festered and useless  his beak, broken  at the root.  Then two: one blazing, one gray,  rode the swirling weather  into my vision  and lighted at his side.  Unhurried, as if possessing  the patience of God,  they cracked sunflowers  and fed him  beak to wounded beak  choice meats.  Each morning and afternoon  the winter long,  that odd triumvirate,  that trinity of need,  returned and ate  their sacrament  of broken seed.

~  John Leax, professor of English and poet-in-residence at Houghton College:


Choosing Seeds



Seed catalogs begin to appear in the mail just as Christmas cards have stopped making their appearance.  I begin to plan which plants will go into my garden long before the weather allows preparing the soil to receive new plants and seeds.  But I know I must plan and choose carefully before planting.  I have a choice whether I grow beautiful fragrant herbs or allow the wind to blow in unwanted, invasive weeds.  We may sow wildflower seeds on the sides of our roadways, but I don’t know anyone who intentionally puts weed seeds in their gardens.

As our new year begins, many of us prepare our hearts and souls for new growth,  expanding our capacity to experience faith, hope, and love. We can choose what is planted and allowed to grow within us.

“…the key to living well is not so much what’s outside of us as what’s inside of us. It is what is deepest within us, not what is vexing around us, that determines the quality of our lives…Everything that’s in the heart we either put there or allow to nest there. We are responsible for the content of our souls.” Joan Chittister


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Still our prayer, for 2015…


For the New Year 1981
I have a small grain of hope–
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.

I need more.

I break off a fragment
to send you.

Please take
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won’t shrink.

Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.

Only so, by division,
will hope increase,

like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source–
clumsy and earth-covered–
of grace

~Denise Levertov