Thoughts on Palm Sunday , or how I didn’t become a chaplain.

http://www.gardendesign.com/ideas/art-botany-les-fleurs-animes  The Pansy from J J Grandeville's The Flowers Personified 1847

The Pansy  from J J Grandville’s The Flowers Personified 1847

In my mid-forties, when I was brimming with confidence, and, yes, hubris, I contemplated a career as a chaplain; specifically a workplace/industrial chaplain. With this aim in my mind, I enrolled in a few courses to learn some basic counseling and communication skills.

The outcome of one such course, Basic Preaching Skills, was the opportunity to deliver a Reflection at our church at our first Palm Sunday service of the 21st Century.  I was very touched by the love and support of the congregation for my endeavours, but I am thankful that, later on,  the employers of chaplains were less supportive, and sensibly turned me away.

With Palm Sunday, tomorrow, I have been remembering my brief stand at the pulpit, so many years ago,  and thinking how my faith has changed. In my  own Palm Sunday terms, I suspect I have fallen off the untamed colt/donkey.

Here’s an extract from my Reflection, which, as some of you may surmise, is based on a poor understanding of theology and an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible.  The Reflection is titled Wild Rides.

“From babyhood in Bethlehem, onward to manhood in Jerusalem, God has given his people a leader, a healer, a companion in humanity, doubt and faith. This man has gathered, ON THE WAY, fame, friends and followers, and the requisite enemies, too. He is Jesus in the tradition of Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, Elijah… he’s the Son of Man who could be King. But on Palm Sunday, there is a pause, a change of pace, between the restoration of Bartimaeus’ sight and the whirlwind that follows the triumphal entry to Jerusalem; …….  Jesus, the man of humility, outspoken critic of pomp and ceremony, pauses, lifts his feet off the ground, and takes a ride. He IS the WAY.

In Mark’s description of Palm Sunday, we see a Jesus who momentarily stops directing and healing and preaching, who allows himself to be; to be adulated, to be carried forward, to be King. This creates a challenge….but the challenge is not so much to the owner of the colt, or to the Roman and religious authorities. It’s a challenge to us.

The challenge, I believe, is to be; to be like Jesus and accept God’s gracious offer of a ride into a faith that will move mountains. God loves us for the faith of our comfort zone, a faith that is scheduled and timetabled, that will take us through the week, through 40 days, or 40 years, if necessary; but on Palm Sunday we see God offering a deeper faith of infinite implications and dimensions, and unbounded journeys.

Jesus is the Way. Through him, through Palm Sunday, we know we can accept God’s offer of a faith that moves mountains. God doesn’t offer crowd control, or silent, unchurned stomachs, or freedom from screaming. But, if we accept what, undoubtedly, will be the wildest ride of our lives, God’s underpinning hand of steadfast love will not let us fall. …….”

Hmmm….well, as I said, I do seem to have come unseated from my ride in recent years  but I haven’t been trampled, yet. Which means that, despite my doubts,  I still find great comfort in prayers offered by friends, by our Minister, and members of our church. And, in various past crises related to hospitalization, I have valued, beyond measure, the support and calm guidance/prayer of hospital chaplains.

And I  value beyond measure all the loving thoughts and good wishes that have come my way in response to my previous post.  I am happy to report I am starting to feel almost as perky as these beautiful pansies, given to me on my birthday. :) ( I am also happy my path led to blogging not chaplaincy, even though I have the utmost admiration for chaplains and the wonderful work they do . ;) )

Palm Sunday thoughts in the company of birthday pansies.

Palm Sunday thoughts in the company of birthday pansies.

© silkannthreades

I get by with a little help …from friends, flowers and family

I have been in a rough place since my last post. Almost a month ago, I wrote that I wanted to feast on life, not fear.  And I really meant it. I really did. But Fear, with its fiendish companion Anxiety, decided it was time to make a meal out of me. They set their teeth into me, tore me apart in their jaws, and tried to devour me chunk by chunk. Most unpleasant. ( I hope they got indigestion.)

Friends and family rallied round and helped me prise loose those nasty jaws, and patched me up.  But the struggle has left me tired and short on creativity. Yesterday was the first time in nearly a month that I felt energetic enough to take some photos.

They are not particularly good photos but I am posting them as a way of saying thank you to friends everywhere, and to family, for keeping me steady and upright in recovery.

You are the flowers around me,

The flowers that surround me

The flowers that surround me

you are  perfect companions,

Buckwheat, a perfect companion

Buckwheat, a perfect companion

and help to keep my pathway blooming.

The pathway blooms

The pathway blooms

And, just for fun, let’s lighten the mood with my song of the day

Postscript

The reasons behind my rough patch are multiple; some are earthquake related stresses, and some are family-related. For privacy reasons I am not able to discuss all of the family-related issues.

© silkannthreades

12.51 ~Holding On

12.51 pm ~

that dreadful moment, 4 years ago, today, that ripped apart what was left of our quaint, quiet world.

I am remembering it.

My heart doesn’t want to anymore, but my brain and my body  insist.  12.51, and all the other moments, beginning Sept 4, 2010, are imprinted on my being ~ indelibly. They have leached to my very core. Part of who I am and what I will be, forever.

Four years on and I still stiffen at any unexpected movement in the house, even if it’s only the wind, or a shake caused by a truck rumbling  on the road.   I startle easily. And, then, there are those moments that come, out of the blue, and screech through my head for an intense few seconds, saying, ” Is it going to happen again, NOW?  Is it, is it? What will I do? What will I do? Will I make it? How will I hold on? Can I hold on? ”  I am standing again in the bathroom doorway, holding on to frame and fear. Indescribable fear.

Then it’s over. I survive, and move on. Slowly. On shaky legs.

I set the table, in some trepidation, with my great-grandmother’s china. (Please no shakes, please no shakes.) I remind myself it has survived more than a 100 years. It is chipped, cracked and crazed, but its beauty and value remains.

A friend brings apples.

What would my Bramley ancestors make of these apples http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravenstein in her serving dish?

What would my Bramley ancestor make of these  apples in her serving dish?

 

She has gathered them from an abandoned, earthquake-damaged property in her neighborhood. She calls them gravestone apples. I like that. They are, in a way. The property on which they grow is like a forlorn graveyard.

I eat the apples. I bake them. They are given new life, new form.

Crostatahttp://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/apple-crostata-recipe.html meets Chintz, Felicity, Vermont and Williamsburg

Crostata meets Chintz, Felicity, Vermont and Williamsburg at my table.

 

I bake bread, to share.

Bread to share

Bread to share

I want to feast on life, not fear.

Join me. Take a slice,

Take a slice

Take a slice

a spoon, a fork, “dig in”.

For keeps from Kerry. :) featuring Community Plate (Coronation) from my mother's cutlery set.http://www.rubylane.com/item/362270-1936CO-set-modgrille/Oneida-Community-Plate-CORONATION-Art-Deco

For keeps from Kerry. :), featuring Community Plate (Coronation) from my mother’s cutlery set. The tiny teaspoons belonged to my paternal great-grandmother Alice. http://www.rubylane.com/item/362270-1936CO-set-modgrille/Oneida-Community-Plate-CORONATION-Art-Deco

Something to ponder as you digest :

The china used in this post is a metaphor for continuity. The  Flow Blue  semi porcelain plates which belonged to my maternal great-grandmother were produced about 1912. The pattern is Vermont. They were made in England by Burgess and Leigh. The small blue plates, which I purchased just prior to the earthquakes, are also Burgess and Leigh. They are made in the same way and in the same factory as the Vermont china was all those years ago. One pattern is Felicity, the other is Chintz. Felicity is a small, delicate flower pattern reminiscent of elder flowers in a gentle pale blue originating from the 1930s. Burgess Chintz is a delicate blue chintz  pattern dating from the early 1900s, derived from the wild geranium. How any of this china survived the shaking, I will never know.

 

© silkannthreades

Longevity

Longevity

requires a willingness to ‘go the distance’.

Cape Gooseberryhttp://www.edible.co.nz/fruits.php?fruitid=50 has travelled from the wilds of the Andes to colonize the world. South America to the world.

The Cape Gooseberry has travelled, over the centuries, from the wilds of the Andes to colonize the world.

Longevity

requires stickability and a willingness to adapt to whatever life throws at you.

 

Longevity needs a thin skin that understands, and responds to, the changing of the seasons.

Delicate elegant skin

Delicate elegant skin

Longevity needs companionship, creativity, determination, and careful crafting.

 Physalis, Winter Cherry, a paper collage by Mary Delany. Copyright British Museum.http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pd/m/mary_delany,_winter_cherry.aspx

Physalis, Winter Cherry, a paper collage by Mary Delany. Copyright British Museum. http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pd/m/mary_delany,_winter_cherry.aspx

Mary Delany had it ‘in spades’ )

Sometimes, longevity requires sheer bloody mindedness, as well as generous good luck,  but always, always, longevity requires an open, tender, sweet heart :) ,

Sweet centered physalis with nasturtium and marigold

Sweet centered physalis with nasturtium and marigold

( and a never-mind attitude to the all-important gritty bits that hitch a ride ).

Happy Anniversary, Mum and Dad, celebrating 67 years together, this February.  Longevity, it’s a long road.  ;)  Travel well.

Longevity is a long road and a long row to hoe.

Longevity is a long road ( and a long row to hoe ).

© silkannthreades

Lilts

Star-God burns afar
sparkles rata into flame
cicadas chatter
calling time on berries ripe
O Te Waru Haere Mai

February 2nd ~ Groundhog Day, Candlemas, Imbolc, First Fruits, Lean Time, Te Waru, Lammas,  Lugnasad ~ by whatever name we know it, the underpinning story is the same. The earth is sifting seasons. Do you hear its trickled lilt?  What does it sing to you?

Chilean Guavas: New Zealand Cranberries

Calling time on berries ripe

This post was inspired by Juliet Batten’s book Celebrating the Southern Seasons ~ Rituals for Aotearoa,  and Earthbornliving’s blog, Nona Hora, the Ninth Hour.

The Star-God is Rehua (Antares). Te Waru is the eighth month of the Maori calendar.  For more information on our southern seasons, read Juliet’s beautiful post on Lugnasad here.

© silkannthreades

Of an evening

Jasmine and sweet rose
linger long on waning light
summer’s parting bliss

Jasmine and Sweet Rose

Jasmine and Sweet Rose

linger long on waning light

linger long on waning light

summer's parting bliss

summer’s parting bliss

When I posted my evening photos on Facebook, many people seemed  to prefer this one

Of an evening ~in full colour

Of an evening ~in full colour

to the black and white.

I was intrigued.

Sometimes my days are so saturated with colour, I need the lullaby of black and white.

 

© silkannthreades

Radiating Kindness

My interest in decluttering was flagging.  Alys, at Gardening Nirvana, who is a professional organiser in RL,  offered some timely, kindly advice. “Set a timer, ” she said, “and go all out for 15 minutes or so, and see how much you can get done.”  So I did. Yesterday. Worked like a charm. I raced through a heap of files, containing documents dating back to the 1990s, some of which, ( oh irony of ironies ), related to a storage facility I once used in New York!

Sigh of bliss…. so satisfactory !  to achieve so much in so short a period. And not only did I declutter, but I also discovered, tucked away in a corner of a shelf, a small  Helen Exley giftbook , called Words on Kindness.

It’s the dearest wee book, full of wonderful quotes. Several of them I greeted like old friends. Others were as new, to me, because I had forgotten them completely. Many of them moved me deeply.  The quote I have open before me today is this:

Even as a mother
protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all
living beings;
Radiating kindness
over the entire world.
The Buddha ( c 563 – c 483 B.C. )

A painting, Mother and Child, by Edgar Degas, illustrates the text. I cannot find a link to that painting.  Instead, I have selected this painting by Mary Cassatt who worked closely with, and was influenced by, Degas.

Mary Cassat "Mary Cassatt, 1902, Reine Lefebre and Margot before a Window" by Mary Cassatt - [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg

Mary Cassatt “Mary Cassatt, 1902, Reine Lefebre and Margot before a Window” by Mary Cassatt – [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg

As I read Words on Kindness, in another part of the world, far, far from me, a champion of mothers and children, a champion of kind words and deeds, was celebrating her 91st birthday. I am referring to the remarkable  Dr Catherine Hamlin, co-founder, with her husband Dr Reg Hamlin, of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.  Dr Catherine, has spent more than half a century living in Ethiopia, serving some of the most marginalised women in the world.

” In the 1950s Catherine and her late husband Reg went to Ethiopia to train midwives, but their attention soon turned to the plight of the fistula sufferers.

Together the Hamlins perfected the modern technique for obstetric fistula surgery and
 have treated more than 40,000 women, more than 90% of them cured.”

– See more at: http://hamlin.org.au/#sthash.QyWleIWz.dpuf

An award winner documentary,  A Walk to Beautiful, was made about the fistula patients, and the life-changing care given at the Fistula Centres in Ethiopia.

 

More about the work of the Fistula Hospital and Dr Hamlin can be seen  here. It is a difficult, even harrowing, video to watch but it is ultimately a testament to the transformational nature of compassion and  radiating kindness.

If I can stop one heart
from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life
the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Emily Dickinson (1830 -1886)

Radiating gazania; like kindness it spreads.

Radiating gazania; like kindness it spreads.

© silkannthreades