Amazing. Grace.


As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

The Avowal  by Denise Levertov

Begin Again

IMG_2335sprouting takes time

cracking the hard black seed shell

pushing through into darkness

reaching for light

then warmed in sunlight, kissed by rain

the green in me reaches up

for strength to lean into

wrapping around and holding on

I grow and bloom


Thoughts and Prayers for April

 In her memoir Iona Dreaming, Claire Marcus Cooper writes: “when something pulls at my attention, it is likely to hold an important message. Stand firm as we do, the trees seem to say. We are resting now – no leaves, no growth It’s a time to hibernate and recoup; without the times of non-doing, we would not be able to form buds in the spring and draw our sap to feed summer growth. Let yourself rest and be. You are gathering strength for a new role that awaits you.”    since these past 2 months have been just such a time of non-doing for me, it is easy to see why those words are  so meaningful. As I watch the greening of my garden from my window and porch, it is as if I feel the blush of an inward greening, urging me to welcome what is to come.
Just before the green begins there is the hint of green
a blush of color, and the red buds thicken
the ends of the maple’s branches and everything
is poised before the start of a new world,
which is really the same world
just moving forward from bud
to flower to blossom to fruit
to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots
await the next signal, every signal
every call a miracle and the switchboard
is lighting up and the operators are
standing by in the pledge drive we’ve
all been listening to: Go make the call.

“April Prayer” by Stuart Kestenbaum, from Prayers & Run-On Sentences

Advent Flames



Another way of counting Advent days is the use of an Advent wreath with a candle to light and add each Sunday during Advent. For our Advent candles at home, we do not use the same arrangement every year, and often do not use traditional colors (3 purple, 1 pink, and a white candle for the center candle, the Christ candle).  I use the same candles from the year before when possible.  Here, the first candle, lit last Sunday, burns brightly – the candle of Hope. Of course the candles lit in the beginning burn down the furthest, If all the candles were new, all of them would be the same height in the beginning. This candle may be the tallest now, but will wind up being the shortest in the last week of Advent.

I recently learned about a little known Advent tradition of using an Advent log, instead of a wreath.  It has a candle hole for each day of Advent, plus one for Christmas day.   Here is a poem  that refers to this lovely tradition:


Prayer at the Advent Log

The small lights steady

against the dark

Your flame is touching ours.

Today is the fifth day.

It is a safe fire,

the candles still tall

against the brittle wood

of the birch, the air

damp and chill.

But the days will draw us

inexorably toward

Your celebration.

And again we’ll stand

in the crackling air,

the first day’s flames

licking the log

with their shortened lives,

the length of it threatened

by Your fire,

Your love dazzling our eyes,

And O Christ,

Your love

searing our nakedness.

~Jean Janzen as quoted in A Widening Light, edited by Luci Shaw.






This will be a week of seeing night skies shot through with neon sprays of light accompanied by gasps and ahs as dramatic firework displays entertain crowds while smaller scale backyard pyrotechnics fizzle and pop.

 I love better, bursts of bloom from our garden

 crepe myrtle trees heavy with crinkly scarlet clusters

lifted  against snowy clouds

free-floating in cerulean sky

I love better,stars blazing

 in the heart of a morning glory

Too, the tall spires of indigo salvia,

 fragrance from tiny white spears of sweet almond

seed fronds of native grasses waving and dancing

afternoon breezes coaxing music from wind chimes






Ideally, a human life should be a constant pilgrimage of discovery. The most exciting discoveries happen at the frontiers. When you come to know something new, you come closer to yourself and to the world. Discovery enlarges and refines your sensibility. When you discover something, you transfigure some of the forsakenness of the world.—John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong

discovery is not always finding

a thing never before found,

coming to know the unknown

I loved the little gardenia bush

my Mother planted

snuggled against the screened porch

struggling to survive East Texas winters

when blooms came,

stars hanging on dark green sky

fragrance reaching

all the way to the porch swing

I picked one to float in a glass bowl

this fragrance is not new to me

nor the ivory petals strange

held brushing my nose

but strangely fresh joy is found

when I place this gardenia

in my granddaughter’s palm

hear her breath of delight

as she cradles it

this thing I have known for 70 years

is new and exciting

Mary Ann, February 6, 2014

Saying Yes



Christmas is a place, like the hearth,

where we all come in from the cold.

Drawn by warmth and promise,

cheered in flickering light,

we get closer to the flame

and each other.

Christmas is a place, like the hearth,

Where we gather

in anticipation

of Gift and Giver,

basking around a campfire

of retold story.

Stoking to keep it hotly burning.

Christmas is a place, like my heart,

where the Mary-me receives once again

astonishing news and says yes

to giving birth and being born,

to delivering and being delivered,

to remembering.

Mary Ann Parker 2011

previously posted in December 2011