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 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 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.
Every year, as a Clergy member of the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church, I travel to Colorado for Annual Conference. This year I was delighted that the conference was held at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Not only is it one of the most beautiful settings in the world, it is a place important to my family, a destination for a yearly pilgrimage when we came to Colorado for summer vacations.
Our family’s Colorado roots came from my dad’s two summers of working in the kitchen at the Y-Camp when he was in college. He fell in love with these mountains and, when the chance came to purchase a run-down cabin in the mountains the year I was born, he and Mom cashed out a $1500 life insurance policy and bought the place.
When I sat in Hyde Chapel the other day for our clergy session, I remembered attending church there while we were on vacation. (It seemed much smaller than when I was a child.) I remember Dad being invited to preach there one summer.
He wrote about it in our cabin’s log:
August 13, 1968
I had the privilege of preaching at Hyde Chapel at the YMCA Camp near Estes. It was an experience I have secretly entertained a hope for. It was fulfilled through Dr. Finis Crutchfield’s recommendation to the selection committee.
As I sat in the chapel I thought on all these things with gratitude. Thank you, Dad and Mom, for this gift, this legacy that has brought me such joy and happiness and meaning. I’m grateful to be a member of this conference in this place which is my spiritual home.
I wait each spring,
watching the buds grow
on Grandpa’s peony,
flown from Oklahoma to Tennessee,
tucked in a plastic grocery bag
when I came home from his funeral.
These fuchsia petals,
these golden stamens,
these rich green leaves,
are the colors of memory.
Grandpa carrying in a bucket
of yellow sweet corn,
giant red tomatoes,
and fuzzy green okra.
Grandpa planting in black earth,
Oklahoma red clay
coaxed into fertile soil
by years of care and compost.
Grandpa in crimson on game day,
in dark suit on Sunday morning,
in carpenter khaki off to work.
Grandpa in my heart, in my mind.
Grandpa love, Grandpa wisdom.
Grandpa always present, steady
like the peony bloom
that opens every spring.
Thank you, Creator.
Thank you, memory.
Thank you, Grandpa.
Find more of my prayers in my book Christ Beside Me, Christ Before Me: Celtic Blessings.
Today is my dad’s 82nd birthday. He’s on a difficult journey with Alzheimer’s. The person we knew is slipping away, bit by bit. I am many miles away from him, so I offer this prayer, today, for Dad.
God of love,
be with my dad today.
Let there be kindness toward him
Let him feel that he is loved.
But even if he cannot feel …
or remember …
you are there with him.
You are hold his hand,
wrapping his spirit in your blanket of love.
For the life of my dad
I give you thanks.
Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
– Charles Wesley
Blessings to all on this holy day.
My mom (Marty) and grandma both raised African Violets. I particularly remember the little plant stand in the east window of Grandma Ida Mae’s house in Ada, Oklahoma. The stand had shelves of african violets which she fed, watered, and turned with care. When Grandma died in 1981, I took a pink violet home with me. Then, when my mom passed away in 1983, I took home one of her purple violets.
I’ve kept these plants going through the years, starting new plants from the old ones. After a move a couple of years ago, the plants got some kind of fungus and I thought I had lost all the plants from Mom’s violet. But recently, a young plant bloomed and I realized that my “Marty” violet was still alive.
These plants are special — so much more than houseplants — they’re a little bit of presence of Ida Mae and Marty … women who helped make me who I am. I’m grateful for their presence, still with me after all these years.
Do you have heirloom plants in your life?