Friday, January 13, 2017


There are times when I need to step out of things to de-stress or refocus, I need a change of pace or just a break from the everyday stuff. 

We moved recently. When our house went on the market we anticipated that it could take well over a year to sell. Other large, old homes in the neighborhood like ours had sometimes taken two or three years to move. So when we had an offer that involved closing in three months we stepped up our downsizing to warp speed. It was a full-time job to sort our possessions for donating, selling and tossing, and then getting the kids to come home from grad school to do the same. Then there was the packing - actually, that's one of my favorite parts of moving! But it was a lot of hard work.

Finally we left a clean and sparkling home for our buyers and hit the road. Three days of driving across country helped to put a period on that part of our lives but then we had the job of unpacking everything in Arizona, in the heat of July! More hard work.

To say we were a little frazzled after everything was unpacked and in its place is an understatement! Then my husband revealed that he had booked us in at a local retreat center for a two-day retreat. What a lovely surprise! He had never been on a retreat before and neither of us had been to this particular retreat center so it was an adventure for both of us.

We spent time together praying and meditating, and walked the grounds of the Franciscan Renewal Center that sits at the base of Camel Back Mountain in Scottsdale. It was just what we needed to refresh ourselves. 

No schedule, nothing to organize, no appointments just some well-needed peace and quiet.  

It was a gift to ourselves. I highly recommend it.


Photo credit

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Maestro of the Lake

In silver grey raiment,
He looms,
Poised and pedantic,
Overseeing the adagio lakeness.

Thrashing in shallows 
Are former koi
Now dark, whiskered Pirates 
Bereft of their gold.

Percussive plop of turtles and frogs,
Launched sideways 
By twigs snapping.
Joyous melody of finch and fellows
Singing in their creation.

Stand in shadowed snail shallows
And am transfixed.
Drawn to heaven by
The transcending flight of hawk,
Lifted by the lake
But grounded 
Back to where I need to be.

The Maestro soars on wide wings
Cutting the sky like an arrow.

Photo: William the Coroner

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Everything stops for...

Tea. Let's start with this Tea music which illustrates perfectly how we Brits look at our tea-time!

Born and raised in England, I grew up feeling that tea was just part of the fabric of society. When anyone visits, even if it's an official such as a police officer, you offer a cup of tea. If the dishwasher repairman is working in your kitchen, you offer a cup of tea. Part of First Aid training treatment for shock is a cup of strong, sweet tea. When someone has died, the first thing done is usually to put the kettle on for tea.

This ritual of making a drink has become a vehicle of comfort, a sustenance, a way to impart sympathy in those moments where words desert us. The panacea for every situation is ... a cup of tea.

Even in the workplace, tea serves a function. We had a 'tea lady' at work who would bring round tea and biscuits (cookies) for everyone in the afternoon. Her visit to our office was heralded by the sound of the tea trolley coming down the corridor, the rattle of cups and spoons. You could almost feel the collective sigh of relief from everyone as they realized it was 'that' time - time for a break. 

Even if we didn't actually stop working for very long it was a welcome interruption in our day, a time to draw breath, a few minutes of regrouping that helped recharge us to carry on. 

The ceremonial aspects of having tea with others, even in an informal setting, are something I have always found soothing. A large tea-pot, beautiful china tea-cups (or plain stoneware mugs), milk (not cream) and a fragrant tea blend like Jasmine - all the ingredients for a refreshing half-hour, preferably with friends. Someone has to be "mother," that is, the person who pours the tea out. The cups of tea are passed round and everyone relaxes.

There is no need for forced conversation. Sipping tea together in quiet reflection is as companionable as being in lively conversation.

Do you take a break in your day? What is your ritual?

Photo credits:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Imagine that!!

I love workshops! Attending them and leading them. Learning stuff, teaching stuff, discussing the material, reporting back to the group, being collaborative ... Designing a program, researching material, writing hand-outs, making a Power Point presentation, organizing different methods of presenting material ... It lights my fire!


And at today's workshop I found out why.

The subject of today's workshop was "Strengths Finder" - an assessment tool designed by Gallup using extensive research from their polling, which helps you determine your strengths. Originally written for the business community, it's also applicable to churches or anywhere there are teams or groups working together. 

It was pointed out that from our earliest assessments (read 'school report cards') we are encouraged to take note of, and work on, those subjects where we got a C or D, or a U. We are supposed to work on our weaknesses and improve those grades. But strength psychology reverses this and encourages us to build on our strengths.

But, hey, first you have to know what your strengths are and for some of us that can be difficult.

Certainly there are an abundance of psychological tests out there -- tests to find your role in a team, whether you are an introvert or an extravert, or how your birth order affects your marriage. The Meyers-Briggs test comes to mind. 

But Strengths Finder assesses your strengths, gives you input on where those strengths can be applied, and strategies for using them to help build whatever group or organization you are in, amongst other things. 

The pastor leading our workshop also told us that they use this assessment in their premarital counseling and shared stories of how it had helped marriages, even one where the couple had been married for 60 years!

No, this isn't a paid endorsement!! But after doing my assessment and sitting in the workshop, I realized why I love workshops so much - it's one facet of my top strength, Learner. The description fits me like the proverbial glove. Looking at the 'ideas for action' for Learner will help me use and build on this strength, and know how I can more effectively serve at Church, in my community, and perhaps even in my marriage.

Do you know what your strengths are? 

And does anyone need me to lead a workshop?!


Monday, December 22, 2014

As the End of Advent Approaches ...

An adaptation of this beautiful poem was part of the liturgy in our Longest Night Service this evening. 

First Coming
by Madeleine L’Engle

He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he cameto a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.

He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!


Monday, January 27, 2014

More Glass in the Garden

Most days I'm 
Wriggling upward,
Distracted, diverted, dithering.
A hidden diamond of a day finds me
where I

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What's My Job?

How do we live in the light?

How do we share Jesus?

I learned a lesson from a Moravian artifact  from the 1600's ... Come over to Jewels and  join me :-)