01  11 2014

Wonder

Wonder… what is it about wonder that still takes our breath away? What is it about something spectacular that captures us and makes us dream again? Can you think of a moment like that in your life… remember it… smell the smells… feel the chills… see the excitement… experience the wonder.

The first time I can remember a something remarkable happened in my life was a birthday when I was in elementary school and I received a bicycle I really wanted… bike bell, tassels, reflectors and all. I promptly put cards in the spokes to make it make sound… just so the neighbors, in case they didn’t know, could hear me coming and celebrate the joy with me. I’m laughing at the thought of them not hearing my approach. I think I have always been this volume… loud.

Remarkable moments. I love the word “mark” as the root of this word… defined by… seen by others… viewed openly… in my life remarkable moments are not few and far between …

I see them every week… well… let’s say I have a chance to see them every week if I am paying attention.

Still, I can think of a few if I were to look over my life and think of the most important ones I might mention…

I remember an encounter with my grandmother Ruby (mama’s side), during a hot summer visit. I was staying with my grandparents Vivian and William (daddy’s side), while my parents were at a regional church event. I had a beloved poodle that I insisted on bringing because I was terribly lonely at their farm during my stay. During that visit, my dog proceeded to pee on every part of my grandmother Ruby’s house. Ruby surprisingly and unexpected I might add, very graciously picked up some paper and wiped the spots up. Then (with a fresh tissue in case you were wondering) wiped tears from my face as my other grandmother scolded me. Ruby made such a small gesture… it was a little thing… her eyes were full of grace and her vocal gently said only two words that to this day I have thought of when the world gets a little crazy… “it’s ok.” ~ grace danced with me that day.

Loved and alive… funny how it seems so simple and small… I pray you feel that today… you experience when you hear a song, a story, are given a hug. Week after week as I travel, I hear stories across the country of how people have overcome; at times been swept away by everyday life tragedies and trials. Simple words seem to get us through, “it’s ok,” “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” “I’m here”… and at times it’s not the words at all… just the presence of a close one that helps us through a tough spot.

I am touched by how the human spirit and how resilient it is… I always have believed that about children. They just get it… they get that there are monsters and things in life to be scared of… they get they need a friend to hold on to and hold hands with … they get that they can try… and it’s okay if it doesn’t work out… they can try again. They see life through the eyes of wonder. They understand being connected and realize at an early age not even knowing why but that we need to be known and know others… they get loyalty… pinkie swear… and BFFs.

But children are not the only ones who get it… those moments when something takes our breath away… books, movies, songs, poems and stories are full of accounts of these occurrences in our lives.

When thinking about my faith, the evidence is there throughout scripture as well as lived out in our everyday lives. Jesus birth… the angels sang and awe filled the stable – Jesus baptism… the clouds parted and a dove flew down and those present heard God’s voice say, this is my child in whom I am well please – the paralytic healed… all were amazed.

Time and time again… we search for words for the unexplainable, the remarkable, the wonder in our lives. Recently for me… it was a beautiful red sunrise that my son Zach noticed one morning. I love that he was the one who had to point it out to me… as I made my way to stand with him at the bus stop in front of our house… I missed it.. and it was huge.. well, sky size… and I once again was reminded… hidden in plain view is the truth of life. Wonder is all around.

Last month while driving to the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine I pulled over and sat in a cove and cried over the simple beauty I was witnessing. A cove so small… so simple.. yet it’s beauty and wonder captured me. I’m not sure what got a hold of me that day… all I can say is it was sacred… and filled me at a time when I felt empty and needed to be inspired.

Recently, we re-watched one of my favorite movies, “Ratatouille.” At the end of the movie when the food critic has come to judge the meal. The critic takes one bite and in an instant there it is… that moment I have been talking about … he is transported and transformed and taken over by joy… by goodness… by the wonderful and in his write up he praises not only the dish but the chef… and what he most points out is the new… that the new needs to be embraced; the new needs friends… sometimes it’s in the new that we have these encounters… and we are free… free to experience something we have not… free to be rule breakers… free to see something in a new way… someone in a new light… and we are unknowingly captured by wonder once again… so I ask you friend… where have you seen and been grateful for wonder this week?

I say God’s kingdom has come down, among us… like my aunt Rosemary’s mac and cheese… my mama’s chocolate sheet cake recipe… Tom Petty’s “Free Falling,” my friend Brent Maher’s new song, titled “Gratitude” that I’ll release soon. Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, the last scene in the movie Gravity… Grandmother Ruby’s “It’s Ok”…. all we can say is thanks!


01  25 2013

The power of “no”

The power of “no” can change a person.  I have lived my life as a yes person.  Someone once asked me, “Do you say, ‘yes,’ then figure it out?” To which I answered, “yes!”  I often say yes, when I need to say no.  I say yes sometimes, because it’s easier than saying no.  I say yes, because I worry what people would think of me if I said no.  I say yes because I want to, even when I know it costs me too much.

 

I often say yes because I’ve been saying yes for so long, but I’m learning no.  I’ve always believed in the power of no… yet I haven’t lived my life using that power.

 

When I started singing and then first moved to Nashville, TN. I heard a lot of nos.  No, you can’t do that… you’re a woman… your husband should do that.  No, you can’t play here… no one knows you.  No, you can’t say that… or sing that … or wear that… or believe that.  I’ve come to believe that I look forward to hearing the no’s in my life… because I know my yes is right around the corner.  I’ve always believed that when a door closes… my open door will appear.  Yet, I have given away my personal power by not invoking that one little life changing word… no.

 

When we say no to things we make space for what else can be.  We sometimes have to turn something off so that something else can be on.  Ever been to camp in a restroom or cabin with a bunch of hairdryers running at the same time… and all of a sudden … nothing?  No power… because of too much power.

 

What do I need to say no to? What if I say no? What new thing might emerge because there was finally room for something new. I might have to let some people down… I might have to change… I might have to stop all the volunteering… the running to help without listening to where my help might make the biggest difference.  I might have to say no to old habits that are so rooted in me that I feel like are best for me… when all along I know it’s past time to let them go.

 

I wouldn’t say I’m a believer in New Year’s resolutions, but I do think it is a good and right thing to take a good look at where you are, where you’ve been, where you want to be and to see what adjustments need to be made.  I can’t get there if I’m still here. Sometimes it means walking toward the unknown and just breathing.  Isn’t that what faith is.

 

Putting our faith in something that seems almost silly… like a baby king… like a kid with a sling shot… like a boy with loaves and fish… like a pregnant teen… like a stutterer as a leader… like a denier as the cornerstone.  I think of those first followers of Christ… on the beach… knowing only a life of fishing… meeting Christ… believing he is the one… laying down their nets and following.  Saying no to everything that they knew was true in order to make space to follow what they believed was their yes.  And in the end, being willing to bet their lives for their yesses… becoming martyrs for their faith.  Whew… that no, was a big one… not like saying no to an extra cookie… I’m talking about big stuff here… life changing nos … nos that you don’t go back on … change your mind for… the power of no in those first disciples lives not only changed their lives but changed history.  I would love to think my life, the way I live, the way I love, the yesses that chart my course, the nos that lead me here would all be the sum of changing the world… Maybe I can’t hope to change the world, but this year I can hope to change a little corner of it.  I can choose to listen, give, risk, believe, offer, try, when in the past it has seemed too hard to do so… I have always loved the quote, “what would happen if I lived my life believing I couldn’t fail?”  I also know that the quote, “what if I lived my life believing I could succeed” But what would success look like? That is the greater question….

 

What would it look like?  Maybe my success starts with what’s important things in my life? The “when it’s said and done”… I cared more… I did hard things… I apologized when it was painful… I threw myself out there and risked everything… I spoke up… I tried new things at the cost of losing old things that had grown familiar and comfortable…. I didn’t kept a ledger of the wrong doings of others or of my own mistakes, but instead celebrated the mundane and the day to day… I believed in hope… and honesty… and truth… and simple. I cultivated relationships here at home and afar with those I’ve know for years and those I just met… and most of this happened because I was willing to say no.  No to the way I’ve done it… no to pretending things didn’t need to change… no to the side stepping uneasy things are challenging in life… no to ignoring obstacles that have taken root in my core and have to be pruned away for new life to spring up… no to I’m afraid… no to fear…no to we haven’t done it that way… no to what if it doesn’t work.

 

Last summer, I helped a mom rescue a situation involving her grown daughter. Now, just months after our encounter there was a change that made the mom think it was all wasted.  I shared with her my belief that nothing is wasted, even though we don’t know the outcome…  we can’t just sit back and do nothing… even if things go back the way they were or heaven forbid get worse… there was a moment… a moment in time when we said it matters… I remember the day the mom and I met. It was in a large cafeteria. That day, instead of sitting by the summer college staff whom I loved and adored I said no and sat by a stranger. That single no, changed both her and me.  I could tell you the incredible details our story, but what you need to know is this: I will forever, forever be grateful for that day. The day that no led to yes… that no led me to making room for a mom’s pain to be healed by my caring… and that daughter and she to be reconciled.  The funny thing about the whole encounter is it all happened with me connecting her daughter to two friends of mine out of state where her daughter was… I was never involved past our meeting… but a couple of  my friends stepped in and in a moment of need they were there because of this mom’s and my paths crossed that day.  Being connected by the strangest circumstances and craziest line up of events.  How many times have I longed for that healing in my relationship with my own mother, that with her death 10 years ago this month, much is frozen as we left it that week, broken and yet connected.  Sometimes a no means… not doing something and letting someone else step in … someone else be the one who reaches a loved one who seems unreachable.  It means letting go… that’s what this mom had done so graciously… she let go… and realized that she had done all she could do… and with God’s grace… she now too will feel that in her helplessness … she has to let go again… and realize again that it’s not in her hands. It is seldom in our hands. The letting go part is hard… and being willing to let something die so that something better might live… being willing to step away so that room is made for a new relationship…. for new growth.  Whew this is hard stuff…. and every parent who has had a moment in a relationship that has been trying knows what I am talking about.  No easy add water and stir answers here… time… healing… space… trust … letting go… all seem to help but sometimes in life there are no fixes… there is just the believing that tomorrow will be better than today.

 

So what about your and my no…. can I say no…. can I continue to let go of the filling in my name on every line out there in life.  Can I not step up at times and wait… thinking that not doing might lead to the what I should be doing all along…. the power of no.

 

I’ll be honest… I’m not comfortable with a lot of no’s … but I could be… if I let myself… and maybe you and I will see that when we say no… others respect it… they may get it better than we get it… maybe they too have some longings for the power of no in their own life… and our little no will help them with a big no.  I’m not sure how it works… but this I’m sure of… no can and must be apart of your and my life… no can change every thing… if we let it.  So here’s to the power of no… say it with me… on the count of three… no on three… ok how about right after three…

one… ( deep breath )

two… ( don’t even think of backing out )

three… ( you know you can )

no.


12  10 2012

“Same thing…. another day!”

Recently while singing at Brighton Gardens retirement home while traveling on the road, some friends there told of a lady who greets everyone she meets with this phrase… and a smile… a huge smile every day, multiple times a day with a smile. I laughed and then I have been thinking about her greeting, “same thing, another day.” If it were said with a frown, or scowl, or clinched fists, it would have a total different meaning. When said with a smile it has a bit of a refreshing, sweet, endearing message. The smile says just as much as the words… I’m still here… I’m still grateful… I’m still thankful… I‘m still smiling! I love that thought – that today I can choose. What is my same thing… that I am living each day?

In the Dec 2012/Jan 2013 issue of the National Geographic Traveler there is a section called Travelers of the Year. Paula Busey, a librarian from Littleton, CO visited Africa in 2009 and fell in love with its people, culture and way of life. Her guide on safari was a 30 year old educated wildlife expert named Samwell Melami. They quickly formed a friendship and Busey invited Melami to visit her hometown and teach her students.  She said, “As an educator, I wanted my students to have a firsthand experience like this.”  I love the quote this Maasai warrior Samwell ended the article with… “American kids are obsessed with becoming adults, with finishing university and starting to work. I understand that they have anxieties, but I tell them that Maasai don’t think about tomorrow. We just try to make today excellent.  If today is excellent, tomorrow will come.” I love that sentiment but I also love the reminder that we have a choice.  I have a choice. I have today… I can choose to make it excellent!

Back to Brighton Gardens – during my same visit, I met a woman named Betsy. When she walked into the fellowship area, I was already singing “How Great Thou Art.” She immediately began singing and swaying her body from side to side and moving her arms and raising her hands as she sang. It was a sight of beauty. Every song was the same. She sang with joy, gusto and enthusiasm and with feeling. At the end of our time there, I began to walk around and thank the residents for coming and inviting me to sing. When I got to Betsy, I sat in an empty chair beside her. She quickly hugged my neck and caressed my face, while saying God bless you, it is so good to see you, what a gift you were today. Then with time-stopping clarity, she looked right into my eyes and said, “what you do is so important, you know that, right?” I hugged her and said, “yes ma’am. I believe it is!” She then gently caressed the lobe of my ear and said, “I love you and am grateful for you today.”

I felt like I was sitting with one of my aunts or one of my grandmothers… her care… her words… her touch… each conveyed a message of joy, encouragement and gratitude that filled me and still brings me delight at the thought of that exchange. I am sure I was not the first nor will I be the last she spoke to at Brighton Gardens… she had a clear message and mission of encouragement… and she knew when to share it and who to share it with.

If my life is filled with these messages of faith, hope and love… not only am I sharing the greatest riches know on earth but I also in return will have the greatest riches… a life of giving.   I hear the scratchy sound of my Charlie Brown Christmas record playing in the background… Vince Guaraldi… the sweet angelic voices of children singing, “Christmas time is here… Snow flakes in the air… Carols everywhere … olden times and ancient rhymes of love and dreams to share… Christmas time is here… families drawing near. Oh that we could always see such spirit through the years.”

The other day, I saw a family with a young baby. They lost themselves in that child.  They would look around the room briefly, notice other sounds, tend to other things, but there was one focus for them… that child.  His laugh, his smile, his fascination with his toes, his gentle way that captured them and me in that moment. Isn’t that what this season is all about? A baby; losing ourselves in that child. The love and dreams of life we share this Christmas is another chance to lose ourselves.  To focus on the one thing, the same thing – Christmas.

I catch myself reflecting during the Christmas season. What will I give that others might receive? What I would give that others might need, really need? Faith, hope, love, joy, care, concern, attention, focus, sincerity, diligent to make a difference, justice and mercy, choice to make today excellent, sharing of dreams, enthusiasm, friendship… but the greatest of these is love. So I end these thoughts I a started at the beginning… I offer my love… “same thing… another day.”

enjoy the journey,

Celia

PS Have a wonderful Christmas friends. When I was 10, we would get the Sears catalog and I would circle everything I loved with a red marker… especially the purple banana seat bike with sparkle tassels hanging from the handle bars! Make this Christmas excellent! I love you all and if I could I’d circle each one of you with a red marker!


10  31 2012

Great Ideas

There is something to be said for having a great idea.  Where do they come from … what inspires us the most?  Trying to have a great idea about anything never seems to work.. We always end up like we are trying too hard.  The best great ideas … just happen.

They fall in our laps. They are brief moments of brilliance that we stumble upon and only in hindsight do we realize what a great idea they were.  I’ve had a few in my life time…

A few friends that I just happened to introduce myself to… sit next to… call and invite them to join me somewhere for a something… and I look back 30 years later and realize they have become my bestest best friend… or maybe it was just a brief encounter we exchange and for a second we shared something profound.. real and genuine that happened unexpected and you end up sharing your heart… spilling all you are to someone you just met and it feels right.. those moments- I love.

Decisions I’ve made have always had a certain sure-ity to them… moving to becoming a teacher… working for a church with youth… marrying my best friend… quitting teaching… moving to Nashville… connecting with my vocal
coach Gerald Arthur 20 years ago… sitting at Merridee’s table and meeting friends there… filling my cup at the Good Cup…following Christ… having my kids, Max and Zach.. even though I call them the dangerous duo… I am so glad
they are on this ride with Ron and I… belonging to my church family, writing books… songs… stories… There has been a peace that has come with every decision… some of them as small as having coffee.. others huge like who I
married and should I have children… always a peace and affirmation that the reason I choose this decision… was good for me, my family, my faith, my future.

Living in Nashville… great ideas are discussed daily.. mostly with regards to songwriting… everyone.. well, almost everyone is a songwriter.. knows a songwriter… lives near a songwriter.. admires a songwriter or their neighbor
does!

But great ideas go beyond songwriting.  They can change everything… they can change our world.  Learning something new, forgiving, taking a risk, stretching, seeking a new door when one closes, not being discouraged, what happens AFTER we fail, remembering a passion we had long ago and rekindling it, starting over, not letting our joy be robbed by what could beat us down each day, following a hunch or a nudge, saying what if, believing things can be different, knowing that our one voice matters, putting everything on the line, making room, doing
things that are hard and scare us, letting go, giving over control, realizing with death comes new life, making mistakes, learning from our mistakes, resting, giving everything, leaning into something we love, not letting fear keep us from trying, being ok with different, accepting others and mostly ourselves, plowing a new row, see things differently, listening, speaking up, waiting… my whole life I have believed there was more … and sometimes the more came when only I was willing for a great idea to come outta something less… something little… something small… almost missed.. and insufficient.  What if that is true for you… you pick one of those statements I listed and you become that… your embrace that something amazing is happening.. is going to happen.. has happened… is about to happen… you believe that your next great idea is not behind you … it’s here! It’s right now.. it’s right around the corner.. it’s in the door that opened only because the door beside it closed!

I have always said… I love no’s because I know my yes is near!

Guys came by and cleaned out our tree line this week… with large machinery they removed more than we wanted… funny our compost pile we had secretly tucked in the bushes and trees.. .was sitting out by itself.. out in the open
for the world to see… What I am watching now is my sons and Ron make piles and burn all the work crew left behind.  On the way home from school, we discussed the kind of trees we’d like to plant .. evergreens along the tree line between our house and the road.. we’ve talked about it for years but now we really need … to do it.  They have never pruned like they did this week… I mean they really cleared out a lot of stuff… stuff we didn’t even know was under there! On the edge of our property.. under all that stuff.. was a young dogwood tree we had never seen before… we have two and are thrilled to have another.  I laughed at the thought that it was there the whole time … I passed it daily and never saw it… maybe mine phrase should be … see things differently!

That’s a great idea.

Last thought … as I was writing this I not only thought .. raise a juice box for our next great idea… raise your juice box friends … you are a great idea! embrace that! You are… no one else is you … and what you offer in this
world.. your smile… your laugh.. your problem- solving, your effort, your heart, your gifts, your everything….

I know is a great idea.
~~~

Some ideas I love:

Solmate socks – http://www.socklady.com

Jamie O’Hara’s new CD Dream Hymns

Thistle Farms Products – http://www.thistlefarms.org

boots and bandana golf – http://www.bootsandbandana.com

listening to music at the Bluebird Cafe’ – http://www.bluebirdcafe.com — I’m there 11/20/2012

listening to music in Luckenbach, Tx…  – http://www.luckenbachtexas.com (everynight starts at 4)

camping in the backyard!


07  5 2012

Home

home is tricky… being home… getting home… missing home… waiting to leave home… all of it is complicated. I remember going to camp when I was in middle school… I wasn’t homesick in the least bit… I believe I even wrote a postcard home asking if I could stay an extra week! I loved sleeping in a room full of girls with all the activity and commotion. The thought of every day being filled with fun activities and counselors playing with us along the way. Who wouldn’t want to live at camp… make camp home! I sure was in!

But even at the end of the week was glad to return to my dog, bed, family and friends. I could have just as much fun on my backyard swing. the sound of cards in the spokes of my tires on my bike was a sweet melody that welcomed my return and the church library record player spinning “The Locomotion” while I played in the sprinkler near the clothes line in my backyard was the cherry on top of a homecoming return.

I loved being on the go, my mom told folks.. the truth was I made every where home.. and everyone family. That was the trick to being home while you were gone. Friends were family… family were friends… new places were familiar places… home places, new places. Tricky to do beyond 10 years old!

I forget that I love the everyday home stuff… washing clothes.. dishes… clutter… chickens… dogs.. water frogs… cooking meals … cleaning up after meals.. huddled on the couch like puppies watching movies… putting away all the blankets and pillows after the movies over… the routine of sameness as well as change…. home is both.. that which is safe and familiar… and that which adapts to what the day brings… home has to be both. What once was an infant room in boys room now has Nerf basketball goals hanging in both… the Wright brother’s poster replaces Winnie the Pooh and his friends picture… and a British and USA flags hang in the place where airplanes used to hang from their ceilings… home changes…because we change… but there is something constant… the love.

Recently Ron talked to a senior about going to college and the anticipation as well as a little worry… College kids working at Lake Junaluska as counselors this summer and I laughed that while one of them was gone to college, a mom had turned his room into an office… then he had to move back in and had to scramble to re-convert it… His mom was like.. well you said, I’m outta here! So honey, we believed you! Ugh! Home…
One time my older sister came home from college to her room being taking over by her 10 year old little sister (me) and GI Joe and Barbie dolls invasion… I loved GI Joe way better than Ken… no offense Ken… just a taste thing! And he looked really cool driving that Barbie Jeep my cousins gave me! The thing we count on for home to be doesn’t always stay true. Time does not stand still … neither does home… even if we want it to in our mind.

When I was writing the book “On the Way to Somewhere,” I talked to Tabitha Tuder’s mom, Debra, whose daughter has been missing for 10 years now… she was so gracious to share her story with me… I used to see her missing picture in our post office in downtown Franklin where I had a box and daily I would touch that picture of Tabitha and say I love you and I hope you make it home soon. While working on a story book I called Tabitha’s mom to see if I could tell her story… and one thing that stuck me was she said she prays and hopes daily her daughter will return home safe and sound… she just can’t bring herself to change Tabitha’s room… she wants Tabitha to step back into her room just as she left it. She was last seen walking to the bus, 7 am April 29, 2003… a witness said she got into the a red pick up truck and she has never been seen since.

While recently reflecting on the death of Andy Griffith, I remembered what I loved about Mayberry… it was a home that was frozen in time… but it too wasn’t real… there are countless things of Mayberry that I long for home to be.. and just the same number of what I know Mayberry wasn’t that it should have been… but the one thing we all loved about Mayberry was the way it made us feel.. like many shows built around family and friends: the Cosby show… and Archie Bunker… I Love Lucy ….Friends… even iCarly.. which I admit I love… all have in common… their homes though very different… has one common thread… people who love you there! People who when you walk through the door… are glad to see you … who are better because you are in their home.

Isn’t that what we love about Jesus… he loved being in people’s homes… Mary and Martha… Zaccheus… wedding parties with friends and family…. home is simply with him… home is the Disciples together… sitting at someone’s table… breaking bread… hearing stories.. telling stories… but the thing I loved most about Jesus the Christ…is He made himself home for all… all all cost.. he became the home we all long for … healing… whole.. love and loving.

I pray your home is filled with love… love that invites you back.. love that lets you fail and succeed.. that lets you try things.. love that is ok with raised voices as well as whispers… love that tells you~ you’re ok~ how you are now~not how you are gonna be one day~ you’re ok now~love that hugs you.. love that laughs with… love that grows and gently challenges you… love that tries new things… and embraces the old, traditions, familiar, worn, tired and true things too… love that sings new songs… smiles with it’s eyes… speaks the truth… does hard things… forgives quickly and often… gets out of the way… love that lets others be the center of attention… that goes second… lets someone else have the last biscuit… shares stuff… smiles often… includes everyone… takes up for the little guy… remembers we were all the little guys once… love that holds hands when someone needs one… howls at the moon when needed… still catches fireflies and makes a wish on a shooting star… love that still falls in love… still giggles… still dreams… still wishes… still believes… still takes risks… still takes a stand… still seeks… still weeps and grieves… still loves and embraces the good…

for you and for me… that description of home I’m longing to create as well as dwell myself…

some of my favorite home quotes… send me yours… and your video from home… you’ll see our new chicken coop video of their new home in days to come… look for it…

Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other.  It is the place of confidence.  It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts.  It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule.  ~Frederick W. Robertson

Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness.  Home is where the heart’s tears can dry at their own pace.  ~Vernon Baker
Where thou art – that – is Home.  ~Emily Dickinson
Peace – that was the other name for home.  ~Kathleen Norris
“When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home” ~Thornton Wilder

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” ~Matsuo Basho

Here’s the story that really got me thinking about home: https://www.facebook.com/notes/sharon-thompson/divine-appointments/3760518504466

peace… Celia


03  22 2012

New Orleans

Three times my youngest son asked me what happened last month in New Orleans. Each time I answered simply, I don’t know.

I went there for ten days to sing for several events like I’ve been doing most weekends for the last twenty years and to be honest I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary. Isn’t it funny how, when we least expect it, life is full of out of the ordinary? We fall in love out of the blue, we lose our job and we discover our true passion, we are filled in a new way and realize we have been empty for some time.

I have fallen in love with a number of cities in years past. Here are a few: Dallas, TX (we have friends who still call and say, when are you coming home!), Santa Fe, NM (I called Ron and said half joking, send my clothes), Denver, CO (After two weeks at a big national meeting one year, I realized looking at grand mountains on a regular basis somehow healed the small places in my life. Each time I’m in those mountains, things in my life line up like the are suppose to), NW Florida beaches (pretty much feet in sand anywhere is my dentist-chair-happy-place. The birds, the sand, the sun, the surf, fishing, floating, watching, I find all of it sacred.), New York City, NY (The first time I spent a night there I could hear the sounds rising up from the street and I knew I loved it. The theater alone is enough for me. Each time I go I fall in love with something new. Just walking in the park or FAO Schwartz toy store is enough to fill my cup), London, England (Ron and I got to go to Wimbledon right around the time that the movie Notting Hill was released. We ran around the city in the morning and watched tennis in the afternoon; all of it felt like home. We danced on a red carpet during a Pavarotti Earl’s Court. We kept being drawn to the Notting Hill area, the book stores, the market, the pubs, the blue door.) Ok I could keep going, with Athens, Rome, Beijing, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Asheville, Billings, Los Angeles, the list goes on. Most of what I loved about those places is the people I was with.

But New Orleans this time was different, I spent time with New Orleans like I was spending time with an intimate friend. We sat together, in silence and in laughter. We tarried, meandered, breathed, and we even got bored, together. I treasured each moment. I met New Orleans’ homeless, ate with them, cried with them, traded stories with them, fed them, hugged them, kissed them, prayed with them and agreed with them to be kind to one another as I would try to do the same with those around me.

I listened to stories–stories of loss, of Katrina, and of the day to day struggles that still cost many of them their lives. My heart broke in so many ways during those ten days. Years ago… while working on a house during a mission week called “Weekend of the Cross” in Shreveport, LA I spoke with a man whose home we were repairing. I asked him what brought him to the area. He didn’t miss a beat as he answered, “ hard times.” I know what he was talking about when I looked into those eyes this time. It was almost unbearable for me to hear about the misery and sorrow, the desperation. But I also was filled with something else almost unbearable–the amazing sound of love that flowed from jazz. It heals and I was the recipient of that music. It flowed through me. As real as New Orleans’ sorrow, was New Orleans’ melody of life’s songs. As painful as the stories were, there were also stories of hope, of healing, of resilience, of accomplishment. Like jazz, some tunes were standards that everyone in the room knew. Others were new songs I had never heard.

Last spring I accompanied an adult group from Rejoice Lutheran in Lincoln, NE on their mission trip to New Orleans. Cheryl Greiss was gracious enough to let me join them in their work repairing houses, and supporting Marie Riviere Elementary School. I had the good fortune to help with the school talent show. I also sang for the students and talked with them about writing, about expressing yourself, about telling your story through writing and I shared my love for songwriting with them. On that spring trip, one evening I was to meet a friend at the park on Frenchman in the neighborhood. When she had to cancel, I wandered onto Frenchman Street and into the Spotted Cat jazz club. For the next 5 hours, I sat by the piano while Brett Richardson and Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses poured their music and their lives into every soul in that room.

Last month, I returned to the Spotted Cat and to my delight my spot was waiting and so was the music. I’m not sure they know. I’m not sure they are aware or even care what the music is doing to those who listen. When you watch them play, it’s as if they couldn’t care less how many people are in the room. They are not thinking about how the music is received. They are playing their jazz and we just get to listen. I’ve always thought the same about the music I make, It is my personal gift to God. Whoever is listening just happens to be in the same room at the time. If I could put my finger on it and tell you what that music did for me and to me, the naming would take away some of it’s magic. I only know that at one moment while listening to a song at the Spotted Cat, when the sax player finished his solo, the entire place shouted at the top of their lungs. I found myself screaming in joy over what each of us had witnessed, at a gift given without thought of commerce–being paid, cd’s sold, music downloaded or even his name mentioned. He simply nodded his head smiled and listened as one of his fellow musicians played. That seemed to be enough for him. And it was and is enough for me. The magic might have been in part George the door man who hugged me when I came through the door the seventh night in a row, or James the Trumpet player who stood and said I remember you from last night, glad you’re back or the poet sitting in front of Spotted Cat with an old typewriter, composing poems on his typewriter for tips. Yes, I have his original Ode to Celia proudly displayed on my fridge or Curtis behind the bar who eventually said, Ok Celia, next time you are in town.. call me and we’ll let you play. Maybe it was all of it. The trumpeter at Cafe Du Monde’, the men in front of the catheral sitting in Jackson Square. I had some extra food left over from the condo where I stayed and I took it and made sandwiches. I passed out cups of orange juice and fruit and I sat with them one more second the last day I was in the city. Around the corner you could hear a single trumpeter playing When the Saints Go Marching In. A Mardi Gras parade was about to come down the middle of the Quarter and as the crowd gathered, I made my way to my car and with windows rolled down, drove away with that tune still playing in my heart.

My friend Sybil and I were talking about faith and life. Like jazz, she said, faith continues throughout our lives, changing, moving, growing with moments of unpredictability and familiar melodies. Some things take years to develop, while others happening instantly. And then every once in a while, you have a week, a day, a moment. I have always thought my whole life, that the way I lived, the way I loved, the way I sang, the way I wrote songs, all of it matters. I can no more hold back in any area of my life or love. I have to be in the moment. I have to give everything. I have to be swept up in where I am and in what I’m doing. It should matter every part of it and it should be my passion.

One night while at the Spotted Cat, I read some graffiti written on the wall in the girls bathroom, “If you are not completely in love with or heart broken by life at this moment. You better start paying more attention.” That’s really it. I want to pay more attention. I want to give my full attention to something I love, to the someones I love, to the everyones I am called to love. I want to be heartbroken for what breaks others hearts, to care enough to listen. A few of my favorite quotes are listed below, but one I really liked about jazz said this, “New Orleans is the only place where a jazz musician can have a paid gig, play it, leave it to go somewhere to play some more, for free!” It’s sometimes just about showing up, showing up to play, showing up to offer what you have to offer. Isn’t that what we are called to do in our lives? To show up and to offer what we have and to do it even after we thought we are done doing it. So many of Jesus’ miracles happened after Jesus had just done what you thought the miracle was. Funny, how like jazz, it doesn’t have a distinct ending or beginning. It just continues and it’s about paying attention. Something I’ve been know to lack in my life, but not always.

That’s what happened to me in New Orleans, I listened. I paid attention, and it changed me again, forever.

Music is what we need when language fails us, but we cannot remain silent. ~ Dr. Cornel West

If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. ~ Charlie Parker

New Orleans is the only place I know of where you ask a little kid what he wants to be and instead of saying, I want to be a policeman or I want to be a fireman, He says, I want to be a musician. ~ Alan Jaffe

One thing I like about jazz is that I don’t know what is going to happen next, do you? ~ Bix Beidenbecke

Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life. ~ Art Blakey

It is becoming increasingly difficult to decide where jazz starts or where it stops, where Tin Pan Alley begins and jazz ends, or even where the borderline lies between between classical music and jazz. I feel there is no boundary line. ~ Duke Ellington

Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise… ~ George Gershwin

The reward for playing jazz is playing jazz. ~ John Lewis

What we play is life. ~ Louis Armstrong

I can tell whether a person can play just by the way he stands. ~ Miles Davis

Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself. ~ Miles Davis

That’s the thing about jazz: it’s free flowing, it comes from your soul. ~ Billy Crystal


10  21 2011

Stunned

Twice today a bird has hit the large window in the den where my desk is. I have gotten up both times to look out the window to find a bird, but have only seen the overgrown crab grass that grows wildly under a white dogwood tree. Those birds are fast! Maybe they didn’t even hit the ground, before they took off. But the sound of both impacts makes me believe they must have hit the ground, but wow, they recovered quickly. I mean I have seen birds just lay there for a moment. I have seen birds die on impact. Each time an animal is lost on our watch, our family has been pretty good about pausing for a moment of silence to celebrate and to remember a life well lived. A few words are spoken and heads are bowed. Just last week, Zach brought home a Fiddler Crab from school and named him Bob. Bob only lasted a day with us. Ron called me to say they carried Bob to the tree line. Ron expected a moment of reverent silence. Ron asked Zach if he had a few words to say. As Zach flung Bob into the trees, he said, “nah, we’re good!” Well, let’s say, sometimes we’re good about that!

When I think about those birds, I think flying is good, death is difficult, but stunned is, well, just stunned. Sometimes it takes a while for resolution. It takes a while to realize what just happened. It takes a while to get up and get back to flying. Can I relate? I don’t know about you, but there have been some stunning moments in my life. Not all of them were life threatening. Some of them have ended up quite pleasantly. Others ended up being heartbreaking. What I know of life is that, that is life. One minute you’re flying and the next you hit your head on a window you never saw coming. What about that window draws birds to it? I guess it looks real. It looks safe. It is falsely perceived as the right way to go. Yet it’s not. Recently, I read a quote from Picasso that said, “art is a lie that tells the truth.” Sometimes there is a hint of that in real life, don’t you think?

Funny, we spend millions on cosmetics, clothes, and accessories, when we know in our heart of hearts that we came into this world in our birthday suit and we’re leaving in the same outfit. Our beauty, our true beauty, lies within ourselves. When we truly share our inner self, the superficial pales in comparison to all that we adorn ourselves with. Our true beauty is our laugh, our gentle look, our sincere smile, our shared tears, the way we share our true selves when we lose all concept of self-awareness. When we are real and genuine with each other and our selves. That kind of treasure can’t be bought or sold or traded or owned or bartered with or stolen from. It is all we ever need to be, just us. When we are that, our true selves, we are not afraid of judgment, imperfection or criticism. The phrase “comfortable in our own skin” has a life, and it’s us, who we are.

This past week during a women’s retreat, a young mom shared her story with me. She told me about the loss of her son Matthew James, born 6 weeks ago. He only lived 3 days; but she said in those three days, she was more certain of God’s presence than ever before. Though she mourned the loss of her son, she celebrated a life lived and loved fully in 3 short days. I told her of my friends, Rodney and Allison, and of my singing for their daughter, Mercy Elizabeth’s celebration of life. I sang “Grayson’s song — Child From Above” from my CD of lullabies. I asked Matthew’s mom if I could sing it for her during the communion service we had during the retreat. I said it was now the “Grayson, Mercy, Matthew” song. She smiled and said, “I would be honored.”

Now to the thing that made me laugh during such a heartfelt moment. Her friend Kim who was sitting on the pew in front of her, as the song started, jumped over the pew to sit with her. All of us began to laugh. I later commented on the moment, “what makes a woman jump over a pew in church during a song, during communion, to sit next to her friend, to put her arms around her? During a time when most folks, won’t make eye contact with her makes her look into her eyes and say, ‘I’m right here.’” It was poetically stunning or stunningly poetic! We all thought at the same time, “why didn’t I do that.” What a sweet gesture. I’m so glad we didn’t just sit in silence and stare at the floor. That mom told me she was numb and her body ached all over. At the same time she said, I almost didn’t come today, but I am so glad I chose to.

I think of her back in her town. All the love they have to give to her, all the ways they want to support her, yet many of us don’t know what to do at times like that. Sometimes ya gotta jump a pew. The lie may be to believe that to be silent and still makes it better. Don’t say the wrong thing. When all along, when we find that we have slammed into a glass window, the truth is we need people to be willing to just be with us through it, not to be afraid to share their own pain with us and maybe we don’t need them to talk at all. Just to jump the pew already and sit by us and to put their arm around us.

On that same weekend, someone gave me this quote that said, “A friend understands what you are trying to say… even when your thoughts aren’t fitting into words.” Ann D Parrish

I’m not sure what made those two birds get up and get on with it and fly toward their next. I know the only thing that gives me the will… what made that woman jump the pew… is only love. Love that surrounds us when we are stunned… love that makes us forget ourselves and reach out to others… love that carries us… love that lifts us when we can’t lift ourselves.

One of my favorite songs says it all…

Love lifted me
Love lifted me
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me

w. James Rowe, 1865-1933 / m. Howard E Smith 1863-1918

Psalm 40:2 He lifted me out of the pit… set my feet on a rock.

All my love… be pew jumpers, friends! ~ Celia Anne


09  21 2011

Where I was / where I am

There are times in our life when we remember exactly where we were when something happened:

November 22, 1963 – I was only two months old, but from my mom’s stories, I grew up knowing where my mom was when she heard Kennedy was shot. She was in the kitchen cooking and I was there with her when she got the call.

January 28, 1986 – When the Challenger exploded, I was driving to Broadmoor Middle School in Shreveport, Louisiana, where I was student-teaching 6th grade science. When I arrived and heard the news, I remember audibly hearing the breath leave my body and walking into a classroom of crying 6th grade science students who looked to me, all of 22 years old to bring comfort. They needed me to be their solace and consolation during the time…. we had been following the science teacher Christie McAuliffe who was on that mission as we were going to follow her lessons plans from space.

January 17, 1991 – I remember being in the car headed home from the Collin Creek mall in Plano, Texas….when I heard over the radio that we had begun bombing Iraq and that the Iraq invasion had begun.

April 19, 1993 – I was eating pizza at Pizzeria Uno in Addison, Texas glued to the TV with Ron and one of our college friend’s John, when the Branch Davidian compound burned in Waco TX. I sang two months later at the UM Children’s home in Waco, where several of the children who survived that day had been sent.

August 31, 1997 – Ron and I were leading a family retreat for Foundry UMC in Washington, DC the weekend princess Diana died. After watching coverage on television from our rooms, we visited the spontaneous memorial in front of the British Embassy in DC.

August 29, 2005 – I watched the Hurricane Katrina coverage from a hotel room in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thad was out with me playing the guitar and we kept yelling back and forth at each other down the hall between our rooms.

September 11, 2001 was a different experience because I was a mom and because I felt like anything could have happened that day . Less than a year prior, we had bought a home just outside of Franklin, Tennessee. I was sitting in the den rocking Max…. pregnant with Zach, only a month from delivering him. Our friend Ashley was there helping us with office work and with Max. I sat, like so many of you, and cried as I watched our day crumble right in front of us on every channel. An hour faded into the several hours. I became a news junkie. I wanted to do something. I called a friend within the hour and I remember her saying the name, “Osama bin Laden,” as if I knew who that was. I did not have a clue what kind of world we were all entering into — an age of terrorism and the fear of terrorism. As I watched President Bush speak from Barksdale Air Force Base only a few miles from our former home in Louisiana, I thought to myself, “anything could happen today.” And it wasn’t a hopeful thought. It was like the sky was the limit, but any bad thing, any crazy thing, any unthinkable thing could happen that day. And it did for so many.

One night while watching Diane Sawyer interview family members of a firm whose members were lost when the towers collapsed, she spoke with a mom and teen daughter. The teen was holding up a picture of her dad and looking straight at the camera and saying, “if anyone knows where my dad is, please contact us. We love him and we want him home. We want him where he belongs. Maybe he left the building and someone knows something. We want him back. Please call us.” I remember wanting to write the number down and to call just to say how sorry I was. I broke down and just wept for her, for her mom, for NY, for our country and for me, really for all of us. There are times when we want things back. We want something fixed. We want someone to call and say it is all gonna work out. I know. I feel it, too.

At some point, I had to turn off the television and start living. I picked up the phone and called Danny, a youth director in Ohio, whose group I had just been with the weekend prior to that Tuesday. One of the best memories from that weekend was their Saturday night tradition. The new seniors shared their wisdom, hopes, dreams and fears with everyone. Those words guided me in the days and weeks following and continue to guide me today. We laughed that evening. We cried. We hugged. We promised to be there for each other. We were reminded that we are not alone and we were reminded that the sky is the limit (of good things). Anything can happen. The unthinkable can come true and all for good! And when the unthinkable happens, when darkness washes over each of us like a violent storm; we will get through it. The sun will rise again.

Maybe as important as 9-11, were and are the days following tragedies. The days when we wake to the sun rising again and we rise to take our first steps forward – we hug our children a little closer, we are a little more patient and we realize how precious each moment is.

September 6, 2011 – I made a phone call and sang over the phone for my friend Marti, a pastor friend who I have had the joy to know for several years. She was in her last days of cancer, being cared for by her loving husband,Mac… family and a wonderful hospice group. I was flooded with all of the wonderful memories I had shared with her in ministry. She was all about …justice… and mercy. She reminded all of us that we each can make a difference. Her daughters have followed in her footsteps finding careers that bring healing and hope. Her love, her smile, her laugh, her presence — she was very real and a presence of goodness during our ministry together. I called to sing to her over the phone — “How Great Thou Art” and “Wonderful World.” I sang “Wonderful World” specifically because even though what’s immediately around us might at times cast a shadow on all the wonderful, we can choose to find the wonder. We can choose to dwell on the wonder filled world we live in — a world that so desperately needs us, needs our laughs, needs our hope, needs our us! Mack said she kissed the phone when I finished. Marti died on Sunday morning, September 11, 2011 at 4:30 am. I smiled thinking, “here she goes again reminding us to remember” — remember the life, not the death, remember the goodness not the bad and to be about forgiveness. The best way to respond to hate is simply to love; which is simple to write in a devotion, but not so simple to follow through on. I get locked up daily with all that weighs me down in life. And yet on some days I get a small reminder of what could be and about the difference I am making. A few days later, I spoke with Marti’s husband who called to say thank you. Thank you for the songs, thank you for taking the time. Thank you for calling when you did (I told him I almost didn’t, because I didn’t want to bug them.) Thank you for your love — it made a difference and it was enough. I kept thinking, I could do more. I should have done more. I can still do more.

September 18, 2011 – I had the chance to sing for someone else receiving hospice care. I had not met Mercy Elizabeth Whitfield who was born days earlier on 9/8/11 with Trisomy 13. She was sent home with her loving parents Rodney and Allison, and her siblings Grace and Justice. She has been surrounded by family, friends and church members, all loving that sweet baby during her limited days here on earth. As my guitarist friend Austin, and I entered their home, we were greeted by my friend Allyson George, the children’s director at Rodney’s church First UMC Richardson where he serves as an associate pastor. As I sang, Mercy was held by those who loved her and sometimes I could hear them singing along with me, like on “Jesus loves me” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Grace and Justice were put to sleep after rocking with their parents. Then the adults all just sat and listened to instrumental music of the guitar fill the room. As I prepared to leave, I took Mercy’s hand and leaned close and whispered, “I love you.” Her mom Allison was holding her and said to me, “you can kiss her” and I placed a soft kiss on her forehead and said, “you sleep sweet baby.” I got the news this morning that Mercy died around 2 am this morning. I believe that she is still held by loving arms. I am a witness to Mercy–love going the extra mile. Those parents and caregivers being in the moment, every second, knowing what they had was the right now. I loved that my friend, Marti paved the way for me to share with Mercy… and in Marti’s ministry… she loved mercy.

I am reminded that our time is precious. I am thankful I used my voice, as tired as it was and as uncertain as to how I was going to be able to sing for my friends. I gave what I had in that moment and it was enough.

I love you all and pray that today you know that YOU are the gift. You use your voice and live with the assurance that you too are surrounded by loving arms.

I’ll always know where I was on September 18, 2011, the day I saw the face of Mercy, in a living room filled with love in Dallas, Texas. I hope I never forget the impact it made on me.

Celia Anne

You can offer your prayers for Marti’s family here: Marti
and for Mercy Elizabeth Whitfield’s family here: Mercy


04  26 2011

On Good Friday

Nearer, my God to thee, nearer to thee!
Even it be a cross that raiseth me,
still all my song shall be,
nearer, my God to thee:

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
darkness be over me, my rest a stone:
yet in my dreams I’d be nearer my God to thee:
Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

Words Sarah F. Adams 1541
Music Lowell Mason 1856

On Good Friday, I was reflecting on what it must have been like to survive the first Good Friday without the assurance of Easter Sunday. It couldn’t have felt like a very good Friday. It might have felt something akin to being on a sinking ship.

I’ve been reviewing the story of the RMS Titanic with my sons as they’ve studied the ship and my mind wandered there as I reflected. I have always been fascinated by the Titanic.

Wallace Hartley, the bandmaster of the orchestra on the famous ship Titanic, changed songs from popular ragtime tunes to Nearer my God to Thee sometime before the ship sank April 12, 1912 around 2:20 am on that incredible evening of its maiden voyage. A friend had asked earlier Hartley what he would do if he found himself on a sinking ship. “I would gather the band together and begin playing,” he responded. Wearing their life vests, not one of them stopped playing till the very end … survivors recounted.

I loved the movie “Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Debbie Reynolds was fantastic as she played Molly Brown, a survivor of the ship. It is understandable why it was the major blockbuster years ago. People are spellbound by someone who survives something like that, because few do. So I was thinking about how those survivors made it to the lifeboats — simply one word…others. Others put them on those boats. Others gave up their seats so that someone else might have one. Others informed them. Others pointed them in the right direction. Others thought of someone else, instead of themselves that evening.

I recently watched a movie about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life. Once in captivity he said, “real Christianity is sharing each others pain… it will shock people.” I think of those who stepped aside so that someone else might live: husbands put wives into lifeboats, women put children in the hands of strangers. What kind of person does that? Someone who is selfless, someone who is willing does that. When the Titanic finally went down, countless people were in the water. Amid the Lord’s prayer being prayed, one cry heard by those in the boats was, “Save one life! Save one life!” Boat after boat… thought about going back to aid those in the 28 degree water, but were talked out of it fearing they would be overthrown by the masses in the water. One did go back though, Fifth Officer Lowe. He thought he might wait and let the crowd “thin out,” but in fact, he waited too long. Even still he did find Steward John Stewart and another unknown gentleman and 2 collapsible life boats with a dozen men still alive, as well as Mrs. Rosa Abbott.

Lowe knew what others forgot that day, that his rescue could not come without his helping others rescued. Molly Brown knew the same. She begged the crewman from their lifeboat to return to aid those in need. When denied, she knew that to stay warm the women would also have to row along with the men in the boat and she carried on until they were allowed to. She wrapped her coat around the legs of a man who sat beside her shivering uncontrollably as she rowed into the night. But those that really captured my attention on the Titanic, were the crew. In Daniel Allen Butler’s book, “Unsinkable: The full story of the RMS Titanic” he notes that, “… it was devotion to the duty, a sense of responsibility, obligation to other people, a knowledge that people were depending on them that caused so many crewmembers to stay at their posts, even at the cost of their lives.” There is no greater love, a love for their fellow men and women. I love what Butler wrote of the crew, “if there was a lasting legacy from the crew of the Titanic, something genuine, meaning that would transcend cliché and platitude… that they could leave for their children and grandchildren… it was their willingness to follow men who were doing what was right and noble and good, and in doing so become right, noble and good themselves.”

Some call it crazy, others call it sacrifice. A kind of sacrifice rarely seen, but when witnessed, it captivates our spirit, it makes us too want to do for others, to be selfless for others, to risk it all without regard for our own gain, to step in when stepping in might not seem popular or easy. Isn’t that what hope is all about? You and I in the icy water as our ship is going down near us calling, “Save One Life” desperately hoping, longing with all that is in us that someoneŠ just one someone, will come to our aid.

I think back on the Titanic moments in my life – those times when I hit an iceberg or when I sunk altogether. As someone one who grew up with a mother who struggled with depression, I know all-too-well what the sinking of a metaphorical ship feels like.

That was part of my survival and my growing up. Someone stepped in; someone lent a hand; people came to my aid. My support system was quilted together by people who surrounded me at times when I felt my ship was going under. Whether or not they knew of my mother’s battle or the challenges that came with living in a pastor’s family, or others that presented themselves as an adult… eating disorders, deaths of my sister, parents, close friends… fear disappointments, loss in all our lives….others were there.

I received that aid time and time again, from friends on my street, in my choir, sitting near me in class, in Sunday school and from teachers, volunteers, aunts/uncles/ cousins, pastors and youth directors. As I look around I’ve continued to have that in my life: blessedness… blessed friends, family,from my best friend Ron and the dangerous duo- Max and Zach, countless folks I’ve met along the way. Names and faces continue to be added to my list. You are on it if you have opened your stories and yourselves to me, have put your arms around me, have laughed and cried with me and drank countless cups of coffee with me, have written songs, edited books, showed up to concerts, eaten many meals, played at the park, gone to the movies… and on it goes. You’ve been present for moments of despair, loss, shame, hope, joy and healing… you were simply agents of loveŠ living love.

And so it goes, each day we all have a chance to put someone else in a lifeboat. We all can huddle together and be on the lookout… we all can simply save one life and in doing so, what a wonderful funny little twist, our lives are saved as well. Isn’t that what really happened Easter morning… the disciples finally really got it.. what real sacrifice looks like… not death at all… real living love.

Following that first good Friday, we find the disciples in a room, huddled together, hanging onto each other for dear life. They are presented with the wonderful news that you and I can’t help hearing the story through. God owns the Omega as well as the Alpha. Light has the last word.

Take care of your soul, friends,
Be yourself,
Enjoy the journey
… and celebrate the simple things of life… like more ice cream!

Celia Anne


03  15 2011

3rd Tuesday Conversation – ELCAYMNet

Next Page »