Love Is Our Hope

There is this part of me
That, if it were not
For the singing of the Wood Thrush,
Would feel so hopeless.

There is this part of me
That, if it were not
For the beauty of the yellow butterfly,
Would find no joy.

There is this part of me
That, if it were not for
The wild abandon of a puppy’s play,
Would sink deep into despair.

In this long, hard season
Of sickness
Of death
Of isolation
Of injustice and fear …
Where is our hope?
Where is our joy, our purpose, our anchor?

Our hope comes from each other.
Though we are apart,
We are woven together in the fabric of love.

Our hope comes from within,
From the heart of courage
That beats inside each living being.
From the essence of the Holy One, Knit into our spirits
Before we were imagined.

Our hope comes from the One
Who said that nothing.
Nothing.
Nothing in all creation
Can separate us from Love.

Love.
Love is our joy,
Our purpose,
Our anchor.

Love.
Love is our hope.

Summer Art Market – Purple Elephant Wisdom

Purple Elephant Wisdom Cards

I have contributed several items to the Virtual Summer Art Market at Art & Soul in Nashville, TN. (Art & Soul is an artist’s co-op which supports the arts and creative expression. We offer a variety of classes in a welcoming and inclusive space.)

At the market, you’ll find a fantastic variety of artwork, jewelry, leather handbags, photography and notecards representing thirteen local Nashville artists. I’ve offered several collections of my Purple Elephant Wisdom Cards. You’ll find sets of five or ten assorted elephant wisdom cards, packs of five wisdom cards mounted on colorful card stock (with envelopes), and a full set of 36 deluxe wisdom cards. (Learn more about the Purple Elephant Project.)

The Summer Art Market will be open through August 1. Visit SummerArtMarket.com and support the studio and local artists. We have set a pickup date and location for Sunday, August 2 from noon – 4 at the parking lot of Art & Soul in Nashville. If any purchases are from out of town, you will be able to contact info@summerartmarket.com, and each artist will contact you directly to arrange shipping.

JJ’s Week of “Firsts”

puppy in pink towel
First portrait of JJ, the new Scottie puppy

One week ago today, we picked you up from your birthplace.
We met the humans who brought you into this world.
We met your mom (Shannon), your dad (MacGregor), and your siblings.

Then you took your first ride in the car,
Had had your first portrait made,
Spent your first night away from your family.

It has been a week of firsts …
First going to sleep alone in a crate.
First breakfast.
First thunderstorm.
First trying to pee in the rain.
First visit to The Vet.
First time to meet Arya.

We heard your first bark (at Arya),
Watched your first frenzied play that collapsed into a nap,
Laughed at your first romp with each new toy.

You, with your yips and growls,
Your ferocious energy and warm cuddliness,
Your puppy eyes and ears and feet and nose …
You have frolicked your way solidly into our hearts.
And we are grateful for you.

Bless to me this puppy.
His waking and sleeping,
His eating and playing,
His eyes and ears,
His sharp little teeth.
Bless to me the joy he brings —
Bless to me this puppy.

Jack and the Rainbow Blessing

collage of rainbows

We drove east out of Nashville
On a pilgrimage to pick up JJ.
(“JJ,” “Junior,” “Jack, Jr.”)

As we traveled,
A rainbow hung in the sky above us.
Mile after mile after mile,
We watched it curve through the sky.

What a joyful sign!
From you, dear Jack?

And then, a double rainbow …
And we knew that your spirit was traveling with us.

You …
And all the company of furry, winged saints
Were singing a blessing for the tiny pup
Joining our family.

Bless this new life.
Bless this family.
Bless this home.

Bless the leashes and the bowls.
Bless the beds and bless the toys.
Bless the treats, especially … bless the treats.

Bless this pup,
His eyes and ears and feet and tail.
Bless his friends,
Dog and cat and bird and squirrel.
Bless each step that he will take.
Each car ride, to the park and to the vet.

Bless the love.
Bless the laughter.
Bless the tears.
Bless this pup.
Every day of his life.


Today we pick up JJ, a nine-week-old, black Scottish Terrier. He was born at the White Shadow Ranch near Asheville, NC. Pictures will be coming soon.

Quickly

May there be no breach in the walls, no exile,
and no cry of distress in our streets.
-Psalm 144:14

Holy One, the walls have been breached.
Your people are crying,
and we are in exile in our own land.

What is this place where we now live?
Hate marches down city streets at the noon of day.
Abusers walk the halls of justice and power.
Children are stripped from their mothers’ arms and sleep in cages at the border.

Holy One, where are you today?
The evildoers hold the fortresses of power.
The exploiters of the poor grow in their wealth.
Your little ones languish in despair.
Calls of distress go ignored in the streets.

Where is our hope?
Where is our rescuer?
Come quickly, God of Compassion
Come quickly to save us.

This is my conversation with Psalm 144:14 from the Pilgrim Press Book, The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle. Image by David Ramos on Unsplash.com.

Counting Time

When life has slowed,
And days run into days run into days
I count my time in dog walks and cups of coffee.
I watch the plants,
Reaching toward the sun
Offering beauty …
Blooming, fading, dying away.

When life has slowed,
I count my interactions in phone calls and Zoom windows.
I imagine seeing you,
Our arms thrown around each other in love.
How long until that day?

When life has slowed,
And loss builds upon loss.
We grieve in isolation
Far from comforting rituals.
Wakes and potlucks,
Shared tears and handkerchiefs.
The quiet words of a familiar reading, a favorite song.
The gathering of the family from far and near.

When life has slowed,
And days run into days run into days.
We count the time in sunrises and sunsets,
Breaths in and breaths out.

When life has slowed,
Breathe. Listen. Trust. Love.
We are not alone.

I Remember You, Grandpa Tom

Grandpa Tom and me

I remember you, Grandpa Tom.
Resilience forged in World Wars and dust bowls.
Kindness shaped by love and generosity.
Faith cultivated in times of struggle and uncertainty.

You grew vegetables in the back yard,
Three rotated crops,
Food harvested from March to November.
That was the way your people survived.

The garden — a statement of faith
In the One who created the seeds, the sun, the rain.
The garden you called your “Fitness Center.”

In these days of pandemic, I remember you.
Your resilience, your kindness, your faith.

I think of you, at the end of my day, when I put on my work clothes
And walk out the door to my “Fitness Center.”
Trimming bushes, sowing seed, spreading mulch.
Hoping that I, too, in this time of challenge
Might be a person of resilience, kindness, and faith.

Days Run Together

IMG_8664Days run together
And soon I don’t know …
Is it Wednesday or Saturday?
We step through this disorienting, timelessness
of social distancing, quarantine, isolation.

I watch the news, increasingly grim,
And realize that we all will know someone
touched by a COVID-19 death.

And this grief overwhelms me,
Knowing that things will never be the same.
There will be suffering.

There is suffering. Right now.

Can we trust that humanity will get through this?
Like we got through the Black Death?
Like we got through the Great Wars?
Like we got through unimaginable disasters?

Tenacious human spirits hang on.
We adapt, we hope, we move, always, towards healing.

#pandemic

Prayer Practices for This Time of Crisis

During the past few days, I realized that my normal prayer practices were not working very well. When I went into meditation or silence, my brain filled up with anxiety. I’ve realized that I need a different set of practices in this time of crisis. Here are some practices that seem to be working for me. (And I’d like to know — what practices are working for you these days? -Please let me know!)

  • Bring in Spring. Fresh flowers from the yard brought inside.
  • Share the light. I keep a candle burning when I’m awake.
  • Meditate with others. My Headspace meditation app invites me to meditate with others beginning every 1/2 hour.
  • Daily prayer. Upper room colleagues are leading morning prayer each day at 11:00 a.m. (Central Time). We are using Facebook Live. Like our Upper Room Facebook page and tune in to pray with us.
  • Pray for others. I’m spending a little bit of time each day praying for others on The Upper Room Prayer Wall.

How to Pray for Others on The Upper Room Prayer Wall.

Blessings and love to each of you.
Beth