The Ruler

I brought home my last load from the office on Wednesday and am starting to unpack and get things situated here at home. Plastic Jesus is sharing a cubby with Grandpa Tom’s wooden ruler.

More treasures from the office — A ruler from the pre-digital printing days.

Who knows how many years this ruler sat in the office of the Assistant Editor at Alive Now. When I arrived there in the 80’s the magazine was still being produced the old fashioned way. We sent the copy to the typesetters (amazing people who could key in strokes faster than anyone). The copy came back to us on really nice paper with the margins already set. These sheets were glued down on large sheets and marked up by the designer. The boards were then photographed and turned into plates that fit onto the printing press.

My job would be to read through the boards before they went to the production department and check the type and the instructions. That’s when I might use the ruler to try to imagine whether black words on an 80% screen of a color would be easy or hard to read.

I’m not remembering which was our first digitally-produced issue of the magazine. For a few years, the magazine was produced sometimes in the old way and sometimes in the new way. By the time the magazine was redesigned in the late 90’s, it was all digital production.

I loved the hands-on tasks of those early days of printing. And I’m so amazed to have gotten to see how much things have changed in technology since I started working at The Upper Room.

I remain deeply grateful for this wonderful work.

Related post: “Saying Goodbye to the Office.”

Saying Goodbye to the Office

So many people have lost so much this year. I’ve been fortunate in many ways. I have kept my job. I’ve not lost any friends or family to this disease. And I’ve even thrived by being able to work from home. When, six weeks ago, we learned that we would be working from home permanently and would need to clean out our offices by the end of the year, the grief of this time of massive change really hit me.

I’ve had an office at 1908 Grand Avenue for over thirty years. As I’ve worked through the process of cleaning out, throwing away, digitizing, and packing, I’ve felt both deep loss and profound gratitude. The people with whom I have worked these years have shaped and formed me. The Holy One has guided my path through the most amazing jobs. I have not reached the end of this journey just yet, but things will never quite be the same again.

I’ve been taking photos of the treasures in my office as a way to help me remember the stories; as a way to help me let go of possessions. I’m hoping to share a few of these photos with you.

This plastic Sacred Heart of Jesus has been with me since before I started working at The Upper Room. It was a gift to me from friends celebrating my calling as I began Divinity School. We were at a camp in Colorado for some days of renewal. We ate together, laughed, and sat up late at night dreaming about how to change the injustices of the church. The presentation of this plastic Jesus to me was a lovely affirmation of my calling — and a reminder not to take myself too seriously.

Jesus has graced a shelf in all of the eight offices I’ve inhabited. Now Jesus will watch over me in my office here at home.

I am grateful.

P.S. Friends, The Upper Room is not closing.   We are just going to be doing our work in a new way. The chapel is closed now because of Covid. Hopefully it will be open again after things are safe again.

Drink Deep

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
-Psalm 63:1, NRSV

Drink deep
with eyes
with ears
with nose
with mouth
with hands
with heart.

I sip coffee, dark and smooth with a hint of cinnamon.

The wrens scold me as they carry food to their young the bird box on the front porch.

I lie in the lawn chair and watch clouds form, transform, and disappear.

I stack a smooth river stone to the pile on top of the bridge over Cave Creek.

The river roars in the canyon below. Its sounds lift my spirits, my heart.

I walk to the river at dusk and watch the ouzel hopping from rock to rock, stopping to preening its feathers before roosting for the night.

I smell the cool, earthy moisture by the river and the hot dustiness in the kitchen.

Vivid memories inhabit me. I breath them in with gratitude. In this place, I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

Drink deep from the present moment. The living, healing Spirit lives here.

The Unwinding

How strange and wonderful that I can wake up in the hot, humid south and go to sleep in the cool mountains of Colorado.

Today is my first full day of seven here in this beautiful place.

I took two naps after lunch and then walked down by the river to see what was blooming and what I’ve missed in my two-year absence.

I stopped to visit with my favorite wildflower. The shooting star by the river was still there, yellowing and dying back so that it can bloom again next spring.

What comfort to find this place of stability in a world that is ever-changing and often feels out of control.

Now I need to unwind, to let go of the chatter, to be let myself be fully present to this time of rest.

Dear Doughnut Fairy

Dear Doughnut Fairy,

I don’t know who you are, but I wanted to thank you for this amazing gift you left for me this morning with the security guard.

The guard was so responsible. He did not eat the doughnut, but, instead, called me to come get it.

I am so grateful to know that Good Still Exists in this crazy world of ours. And yes, there ARE STILL Magical Doughnut Fairies spreading joy and doughnuts throughout the universe.

Yours, ever-so-gratefully,

Beth

Love Wins

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Last night I performed the marriage of Brian and Sarah. It was a beautiful ritual celebrating the love and commitment of a special couple. In the ceremony we called the name of Brian’s mother, Linda, whose memorial service I assisted in last December.

Many of the same people gathered again … this time to witness, to promise support, to toast a new family being woven together in love. There were times of great joy and times of tender sorrow.

As I prayed a blessing for Sarah and Brian, a single tear rolled down Brian’s cheek. Sarah reached up to wipe it away. How can I doubt the power of love when standing next to such amazing grace, incredible beauty, vibrant life which moves forward even in the midst of the brokenness and death of our world.

God, you are amazing.
You created us to love,
To live, to laugh, to heal.

Open our eyes, our hearts, our spirits
To your Love working
In our lives, in the world.

Brush away our tears
With your gentle spirit
And infuse us with the hope and assurance
That in the end, love is always there.

The Saints Are Singing

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The saints sing loudly on tune (and off)
Welcoming their newest colleague.

“Phyllis Natalie Alexander Tickle,
You are finally here.
We’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”

“Sit down with us on the porch —
Here, you take the rocking chair —
And tell us one of those stories from the farm. …
And your laugh — it’s as great as they said it would be!”

“Oh. You have an appointment?
Well, what are you waiting for?!
You’ve got people to see.
Come back here at sit with us anytime.”

“You’ll be back? It reminds you of home?
Well, thank you kindly.
Bring your husband next time …
And anyone else you’d like to bring.
So glad to have you here after all this time.”

 

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”
The Book of Common Prayer
Quoted by Phyllis Tickle, 1934-2015
in The Divine Hours

Photo: Taken by Beth A. Richardson at The Upper Room’s SOULfeast 2010.

My Heart Lives in the Sky

  
My heart lives in you, sky.
Dome of light, of darkness,
Canvas of clouds and stars,
Of swallows and eagles.

My spirit soars in your vastness,
Exulting in your beauty,
The predawn glow in the east
Or symphony of colors in the west.

The creator slings clouds onto your canvas,
Paints dreams with textures and colors,
Earth dust and meteor granules.
Each new day, a new masterpiece,
A landscape, unique and priceless.

Write my prayers upon the sky.
Let my joys, my fears,
My visions, my gratitude
Paint their way into God’s heart.