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

Keeping Christmas

Maddie, SkyeJune11,12 001In a world that seems not only to be changing, but even to be dissolving, there are some tens of millions of us who want Christmas to be the same…with the same old greeting “Merry Christmas” and no other.

We long for the abiding love among men of good will which the season brings…

believeing in this ancient miracle of Christmas with its softening, sweetening influences to tug at our heart strings once again. We want to hold on to the old customs and traditions because they strengthen our family ties,

bind us to our friends,

make us one with all mankind

for whom the Child was born, and bring us back again to the God Who gave His only begotten Son, that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

So we will not “spend” Christmas…

nor “observe’ Christmas.

We will “keep” Christmas – keep it as it is…

in all the loveliness of its ancient traditions.

May we keep it in our hearts,

that we may be kept in its hope.”

from a sermon by Peter Marshall  “Let’s Keep Christmas”



Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life

~ attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

The Old Oak Tree


One of my favorite places to be still is here, beneath a very old oak tree in our church prayer garden. Its branches spread out over a trickling stream and bubbling fountain and a small labyrinth. In dry times, like our present drought, there is crusty brown growth along its mighty branches. But when we are blessed with rainfall, this turns to vibrant green. It is Resurrection Fern.

At all times I soak up the green and growing refreshment of this place. But it is in the times when I feel drought in my spirit that I come here to be still and know God, and to refill and refuel – the greening of my heart, Eastering.

Questions and Answers

We are hearing so many stories of tragedy and trauma, of danger and despair.  Some of the horror is magnified by the immediacy with which we now receive the news.  Social media and news reporting brings word and image straight into our homes and hearts from the real-time scene.  “Breaking news” threatens to break us. For some of us, the pain is present in our immediate and extended families  Is there anything we can reply to disillusionment and despair? To the erosion of hope?  To fear?  What does the intersection of faith and art (which this blog addresses) offer in response to this reality? How is our energy best spent in helping each other?

Howard Thurman offers this:  “The mass attack of disillusionment and despair, distilled out of the collapse of hope, has so invaded our thoughts that what we know to be true and valid seems unreal and ephemeral. There seems to be little energy left for aught but futility. This is the great deception…To drink in the beauty that is within reach, to clothe one’s life with simple deeds of kindness, to keep alive a sensitiveness to the movement of the spirit of God in the quietness of the human heart and in the workings of the human mind – this is as always the ultimate answer to the great deception.”


roots reaching past drought

pushing up through rocky path

surviving In sun or shadow,

blooming with perennial grace


map 6-14-2013


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Receive each day as 
a resurrection from death, 
as a new enjoyment of life.
[William Law]

I do not skip down a Lenten path singing

my steps are slow, measured


a labyrinth path reminding

each day

take one step, then another

on toward center

and Song



The beginning of a new year is a time to think about what is important, what needs to be done, who I am called to be.  I like to ponder and come to those thoughts over a period of time, rather than my making resolutions on January 1.  A good way for me to do that is to choose a word for focus.This year I choose the word Reach. LIke these tomato seedlings  in my kitchen, I start where I am, break open my comfort zone, shed what is unnecessary for growth, and celebrate new opportunity in the present – all the while reaching toward the Light.

Recalibrating, relinquishing

Embracing this season of enough

Attentive and astonished

Called to this journey

Holy mystery

Happening Still


“It is a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight. It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things too. It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive. Yet for all its confusion and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good, who live happily ever after, and where in the long run everybody, good and evil alike, becomes known by his true name….That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still.”  ~ Frederick Buechner,  Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale

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Seeing a Star

100_1854Of the many symbols which decorate our home at Christmastime, my favorite may be the star.  Our big tree is lit with tiny twinkle lights reminding us of stars, and is topped with a star.  A crystal star holds a candle on the kitchen table.  My grandchildren draw stars. Joe loves the Christmas Song  “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.”  I love the deep mystery of the great star which led wise men to search for a baby.  How sweet, then, in this simple and sacred ordinary evening,  to slice an apple to float in the cider on my stove and find this star, marking seed and promise of fruit..

Star giver,

Light shiner

Promise keeper…





  How Filled With Awe

Days pass and the years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles. Oh, Holy One, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing. Let there be moments when your Presence, like lightning, illumines the darkness in which we walk. Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns, unconsumed. and we, clay touched by Thee, will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder, “How filled with awe is this place and we did not know it.”                      ~  Rachel Naomi Remen, quoting a prayer from the Jewish Prayer Book, Gates of Prayer