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Emptiness

Why spend money for what isn’t food,
    and your earnings for what doesn’t satisfy?

Isaiah 55:2   (CEB)

Our theme for this Lenten Season is “Enough.” What is enough? What is enough money or time or energy or food or clothing…

The things I need to let go of, in this season and in life in general, are the things that fill me with empty calories – metaphorically and literally. It is easy to fill my life with the things that don’t satisfy. And when I fill my life with things, whatever they are, I don’t have the space to be filled with God, with peace, with joy, with concern, with sadness, with things that are real.

So, as I let go of things – facebook, shopping – I make room for prayer and even emptiness.

My prayer this Lent is “Fill me, O God.” A breath prayer for all of those moments when I need to center again. Breathing in “fill me” breathing out “O God.”

May you find emptiness in this season and fill it with grace.

Blessings,

Cynthia

 

Hearts and ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day.  It is a day of love and repentance. It is a day of cards, candy, and ashes.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. It seems to me that we should be loving all year long and a card or candy won’t make up for a lack of love. On the other hand, it provides an opportunity to express love that perhaps hasn’t been expressed before. In 5th grade a boy wrote on my obligatory class Valentine, “I like you.” It was the same boy who slipped a cherished red marble into my collection.

Ash Wednesday is also an opportunity, it is a chance to reflect on our lives, to find new ways to show our love for God and our community. It is a chance to look at our lives in new ways, to express our faith in new ways. It is a chance to start afresh on our relationship with God.

How will you show love today to your loved ones, to your community, to God?

Blessings,

Cynthia

 

 

Snow Serendipity

Waiting expectantly for snow…We all listen to the reports and make decisions about our days. This one wasn’t supposed to be more than a hassle, no runs to the grocery store. Just enough to inconvenience us. I will admit that other than some of the hassles of the decisions, I love a storm. I love the free time that it brings.

A friend in California said that some New England transplants out there really missed having a snow day, a day without responsibilities, a day for reading or napping or baking or playing. Without snow days, or even partial snow days, we don’t stop for the serendipitous moment.

I hope everyone is safe. I also hope that you had a serendipitous moment of doing something that wasn’t on the calendar.

Blessings,

Cynthia

 

 

 

 

Pause

I recently returned from my vacation in New Mexico, place of my heart. For several mornings this was perch, coffee in hand, waiting for the sunrise. It was really too cold to sit for long, even in my down robe, wrapped in blankets, but I did it because it filled my soul. It was worth it to watch my breath rise, to hear the ravens, and watch the scurry of critters.

It is so important to find the ways that our souls are filled and then to do them. All around us are things that vie for our attention, important things and less important things. The news swirls around us, life swirls around us, busyness swirls around us. Somewhere in the center we need to find God, we need to find peace.

I hope you have a place – a chair or a stretch of the bike path, a tree you watch or a coffee shop – that centers you. I hope you find the time to be there and breathe.

Life needs a pause. Life needs grace. Life needs peace.

May you blessed ~

Cynthia

Looking for Hope and Beauty

Walking along the bike path in the morning cold, the light was lovely. People were still walking their children and their dogs in the chill. People were still riding their bikes (Paul Rubel), and in the sunlight the word “Hope” was illuminated.

On a crisp, chilled morning, there was still hope to be found. On a crisp, chilled morning, there was beauty to be found. There is an art to looking for hope and beauty in a world that is full of ugliness and despair. Actually, mostly it takes opening our eyes to the possibilities, opening our hearts to love and light.

There is beauty in the faces of those around us. There is beauty on the bike path and on the street. There is beauty within and around us if we are open to it.

There is hope, too. Someone said:

Do not be afraid

of what you believe

be afraid of not believing

 

Do not be afraid

of what you hope

be afraid of not hoping

 

Do not be afraid

of what you love

be afraid of not loving

 

Blessings,

Cynthia

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

We have had a wonderful Advent season and we are still celebrating Christmas for another week or so.  Our mood quickly shifts from all of the busyness of preparing to a quiet celebration of family, friends, and time off. Now is the time when the work of Christmas begins. I read this poem year after year as a reminder that the true work of Christmas is God’s work, Christ’s work. It is the work of care for each other and the world.

We will start stripping the sanctuary this week, returning it to its regular, beautiful state. We will start to return to regular music and worship, with a little less fanfare. But we will still make music in the heart. We will still look for God and try to live our faith. We will turn our lives to the work of Christmas.

Blessings,

Cynthia

 

Good Company

After all these years I have begun to wonder if the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.

                                                                                           Rachel Naomi Remen

 

As we come to the end of this season of waiting and preparing, our first Advent together, I’m reflecting on the good company that is Calvary Church. I am grateful for the vision, inspiration, and hard work of so many people. I am grateful for wonderful music, engaged and engaging teachers, leaders who step up to do the ordinary and extraordinary tasks of writing reports and decorating and folding and printing.

We are in good company. I am grateful to be able to pursue unanswerable questions, to contemplate the mystery of faith in this good company. It is what makes life worth living. It is what wakes me into new life each day.

In this season of thanks and light I am grateful for you, for your company.

Blessings,

Cynthia

Finding and Creating Beauty

 

The decorations are appearing at the parsonage bit by bit. There are many stories attached to many things. This tree sits at the bottom of the stairs. My grandmother made it out of chicken wire and tin cans years ago. I’m sure it was “a thing” years ago. She wasn’t a particularly crafty person but she did follow trends. I loved the rough, quirky beauty of it and one year she shipped it from Texas to me.

Every year I take it out of the huge box it lives in and put it in place. It used to sit in the corner of my living room in Andover, now it has a place in Arlington. It is a piece of history and memory. It is a reminder to find beauty where I can (no pun intended).  On this Advent journey I need to find beauty and create beauty in this rough hewn world.

Where do you find beauty in this season?

Where do you create beauty of heart, soul, mind, and voice, in this season?

What will carry you through?

Blessings,

Cynthia

Lift up your emptiness

                            

 

If you have nothing, gather back your sigh,

And with your hands held high, your heart held high,

Lift up your emptiness!

From “If You Have Nothing”  by Jessica Powers

 

This poem was part of my morning reading today and it felt right, it felt like Advent. We are preparing to make room, to lift up our emptiness, to be filled again with promise and hope. It is difficult in these days of seemingly nonstop bad news, to feel like we have anything to offer.

We offer what we can. We offer deep sighs, and hands and hearts held high, in expectation of a better day, a better world. We work for it but we also offer our emptiness.

May God fill us with love and strength.

Blessings,

Cynthia

 

 

How are we known?

I was sitting in my office yesterday and a young woman appeared at the door.  “I read that you collect for the food pantry, can I give this to you?” I said,” yes”. She smiled, left this green bag full of food, and went her way.

Later I got a call about one of the recovery programs and if it was still meeting. We get calls about cat adoptions and space use, sometimes even about worship times. As we end the church year this Sunday I’m thinking about how we are known. We are known by the banners outside and our signs. We are known by how we share our building and our lives.

I’m just beginning to learn how we are known in the community, for our commitment to the Housing Corporation of Arlington and the Homeless Coalition of Somerville, the Food Pantry and Arlington Eats. I’m learning how we are known in the Annual Conference for our generosity through the Lukas Fund.

I hope that we are known by all of the ways we connect to the world around us. I hope that others will want to share in something of what we do, even if it’s just dropping off a bag of food or attending a meeting.

How do you want to be known?

Blessings,

Cynthia