Category Archives: Uncategorized

January 2016

Walking the trail at Bethesda Park, Lawrenceville, GA

Walking the trail at Bethesda Park, Lawrenceville, GA

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. ~Seneca

Ne beginnings have so much promise. That is why we love celebrating New Years. I officiated two New Year’s Eve weddings. Bringing two people together to celebrate their commitments gives me joy. One wedding was private in the home of the couple but the other wedding was at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta.

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It was exciting to be there with all the events going on downtown but in that historic place throbbing with New Year’s Eve excitement marrying two people n love was most delightful.

“The beginning is the most important part of any work,” said, Plato . Though I do not disagree with the wise philosopher Plato, endings hold the seeds of the beginning. So if a marriage starts out with love and continues to be nourished with tears and joy, it will thrive and grow into a beautiful relationship. The love that binds two people in the beginning does not die or dissipate but flourishes and thrives in their innermost beings because it is life itself. God with us, the source of love.

God created us for love, for union, for forgiveness and compassion and, yet, that has not been our storyline. That has not been our history.
Richard Rohr

We have a new chance every day, to be loving, forgiving and compassionate.

I am not much for new year’s resolutions but I believe in following one rule. Doing the things that give me joy. I will continue to officiate  weddings, offer spiritual direction, teach swimming and offer grief counseling.

Blessings,

Rev. Gabriella Cahaley

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February Birthdays and Valentines day

Pastor from Hungary (2)

 

The Gabos family working in the flower shop before Valentine’s Day.

My father was born February, 22 1907 in Budapest Hungary. Fifty plus years later, the day the newspaper reporter came to interview my family remains etched on my memory. I recall feeling  apprehensive as the reported talked to us. My parents’ English communication was still very poor. We had been in America only a few years. Both my parents attended night school for English and Citizenship. I answered the reporter’s questions. The reporter arrived only minutes after I got home from swim practice, my hair was still wet. My mother directed me to put on my nicest sweater. It was turquoise and it was my favorite. Reading the story today, I notice misquotes and details that were incorrectly reported. But the story is essentially true.

Our son Daniel was born February 21 in Palm Bay Florida  in our home and my

Patrick, my father, Danny in his arms and Ili

Patrick, my father, Danny in his arms and Ili

husband John delivered him. It was a beautiful warm sunny day. Danny was born in the afternoon. John and I had an incredible experience seeing our last child born.It was a day full wonder and joy. We counted those days in February as miraculous. My mother was recovering from surgery. Ili and Patrick spent time with my mother and father in their home on the Indian River. There they played happily in the shade of palm trees. My mother was healing after surgery. Dark days were ahead of us, but those February days were magical.

February holds a special place in my heart. I met my husband in 1967 February. I received my first Valentine’s Day card from that year.

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I spend birthday celebrations  and Valentine’s Day in sweet revere. The first year without receiving a Valentine’s Day card from my sweetheart.

We want to the lake in Reid Park last February.

JC-02-2014

 

A New Year

 

January 16 and 17 I attended a Prayer Bead Retreat at Camp MInnescah. It could not have been a more beautiful weekend. Twenty women gathered to learn about the history of prayer beads in many different religious traditions. Amazing, we Protestants are discovering their unique properties to aid in prayer. Learning about prayer bead lead us to to selecting clay of wonderful colors and to creating the beads. The creative work was enhanced by our prayers as we formed the beads.

In the brisk Kansas wind, the dry grasses rustled. I felt alive and exhilarated. Path along the Ninnescah River

Path along the Ninnescah River

 

I was among a group of women gathered to create our own prayer beads. We worked in prayerful atmosphere. We prayed, sang and worshiped but most of all we formed bonds of friendship, A new year, just beginning was beginning to fill with hope.

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Camping

My enthusiasm for Camp Mennoscah has deep roots.  Roots that go back to my childhood. The very word camp brings back memories of my years as a Hungarian Girl Scout in Cleveland Ohio. You might be thinking, “you must have meant to say American Girl Scout,” but no, Hungarians formed Scout troops patterned after the Hungarian Scouting movement that was disbanded by the Communist regime and replaced by the Pioneers. Thankfully I was not forced to become a Pioneer in Hungary, I was excused because we lived too far from school. I joined one of the four Scout troops in in Cleveland. There were boys’ and girls’ troops on the East and the West side of town. We did lots of activities most of which were oriented toward folk traditions art, folk song, music, dancing and celebrating Christmas and Easter in traditional Hungarian folk ways. Though I have wonderful memories most have faded over the years except for camping. Annual camping remains vivid in my memories. I loved everything about camping. We did not sleep in cabins, have running water or toilets, it was primitive camping. For one week, we created a camp lasting bonds, respect for each other and our environment in the woods. I loved it from my first time in 1957 to my last camp in 1965.

Hungarian Scouting Folk Art Camp 19645

 

I often longed to go camping as the years went by, but the experience never repeated.  Until now as I bask in reveres of past camping experiences and planning for Camp Mennoscah.

My excitement and anticipation for the 39th annual camping event for Pretty Prairie and Pawnee Rock churches grows stronger as the beginning of  camp, October 17 approaches.

The weather will be cooler than it has been in the past two months. By then the trees bushes will be in their autumn splendor. Over the 38 years the Camp traditions have evolved. The activities involve fellowship, exploring nature, scripture study, creating fantastic community meals and worship. The grand finale on Sunday, after a Communion worship is a turkey dinner.

The Ninnescah River is nearby for nature walks.

Ninnescah River

Ninnescah River

All are invited.  All of us will contribute and help prepare the food served at each meal. We bring our own bedding. There are lots of beds in the men’s and women’s “dorm” rooms. However, some people choose to go home during the two nights of camp.  No need for reservation.

Camp Minoscah is located in Murdock, KS

9458 SE 40 St, Murdock, KS 67111

See Google maps:

Map of Camp Mennoscah in Murdock, KS

Biophilia

The chaos of purging, sorting, packing and moving across 4 states to Kansas is a memory. It seems a life time ago. that I was walking in the desert. Only a little over 2 years ago my partner and I returned from Florida to Tucson. I was convinced then hat I was called back to the desert. I felt that call most while I was at the Redemtorist Renewal CenterHosea 2:14 spoke to me and I listened, “So now I am going to draw her back to me. I will lead her into the desert. There I will speak tenderly to her. ”  While taking a course in Spiritual Direction at the Hesychia School for Spiritual Direction, I came to love the desert even more.

The view from the Chapel courtyard

The desert spoke to me in gentle comforting sounds, through bunnies standing still for me to take their Bunny posingpicture, quails, calling to each other, coyotes sauntering across the road, brilliant bird of paradise plants swaying in the breeze and stunning sunsets and sunrises gave endless delight on my walks. The last week before my move, I experienced the most enchanting sights. I was dazzled by the Century plant on a very rare misty morning on a sunrise walk.

Leaning Century plant in the morning mist

 

Those of you living in this area of Tucson, know that the mountains are nearly always visible. But on this amazing morning, they were whited out not by dust but a mist.

During my last week of working at a night job, I beheld this amazing sunset.

Sauaro in the sunsetg

Frank Rose on the trail

Gabriella by an uproted tree

I  bid farewell with Rev. Frank Rose who lead me on a nature hike to the beloved Mount Lemmon,  where I first fell in love with Tucson.

Rainbows have always delighted me but in Tucson we see them rarely except during the monsoon. A soft gentle rain was falling on one of my last sunrise walks. I went walking anyway looking towards the cloudy eastern horizon breathing in the scent familiar to desert dwellers exhaled by mesquites trees. I rounded a corner and saw it, a bright beautiful rainbow. Then, as I walked along taking pictures, there was another bow in the sky.

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I was comforted by the sight of the rainbow and by these amazing sights during my last days in Tucson. Good wishes and hugs from friends and family gave me comfort but leaving familiar sights, places and friends behind is sad. New beginnings are exciting and full of promise but a sense of loss caught me many times.

The trip to Kansas was tiring for both Danny and I, though he did the driving. I watched the scenes unroll before me. New sights delighted me. Driving through a NM shower, we saw a patch of bright rainbow ahead of us. A sign of hope and restoration. We saw magnificent view of mountains and cattle grazing in green fields, occasionally, deer alongside of the road. Thankfully, they stayed on the grassy side.

Poet Kathleen Raine perfectly describes the way I felt.  “Meaning moods the whole scale of our inner experience, finds in nature “the correspondences” through which we may know our boundless selves.” For Swedenborgians  everywhere this strikes a familiar tone.  As spiritual beings we’re always moving from one state to another. We may be moved in our spirit by the changes we experience with our physical senses.  I was undergoing an internal shift, as we drove through the countryside. I was called to another place, to freshly plowed fields, wheat and corn fields.

My attraction to natural phenomena is not at all unique. Recently, I found the word, biophilia describing a deeply rooted biological instinct for loving living things.

I am in a new environment, marveling at the natural beauty of the fields,  the sky, the trees on my sunset walks. I am content and at feel peace around me. My first Kansas sunset:

Kansas sunset

I am settling into a new life new patterns and work that engages my body mind and spirit. I The congregation of Pretty Prairie and Pawnee Rock Kansas i have made me feel welcome. I embracing my new experiences in Kansas. Look for these in the coming months,

Kindness as a Spiritual Practice

I am very sensitive these days to the way people speak to me. I sense kindness in mannerisms the phrasing of a condolence, tone of voice and especially in facial expressions. Recently widowed, I move in uncharted territory. In spite of studying the grieving process and accompanying clients in their grieving, I could not know while my husband was with me what my particular journey into mourning would be like. I did not try to anticipate. I tried to stay in the present. We watched the birds every morning coming to the feeder. My husband was on the lookout for cardinals and humming birds. He called me to e window

Mourning Doves

to watch them. Together we watched the morning doves come to the little dish I filled early in the morning.  I wondered how mourning doves got their name. They come to my bird cafeteria throughout the day but I watch them most during the early morning hours. Their cooing sound mournful, yet sweet and comforting. Cooing mourning doves

The Spiritual Practice of Kindness  encompasses a range of small acts and habits that we know as old-fashioned good manners — saying “please” and “thank you,” waiting your turn, lending a helping hand, or cheering someone up with a smile. It applies not just to your relationships with other people. Etiquette in the spiritual life extends to things, animals, plants, and the Earth. These days I am most sensitive to the sound of people’s voices. A colleague I called yesterday sounded like she answered the phone with a sweet smile. It felt like a gentle hug sending coming through the wires with her simple “Hello”.

In spite of the sorrow I often feel, I smile easily. On my daily walks, I encounter people walking their dogs. An exchange of smiles and simple “hello” renews my spirit. Some of the pooches see me coming and strain their leashes to come to me. Some owners know I love dogs and they gladly permit me to pet their dog. These sweet encounters delight me.  I walk on happy and content. Little acts of kindnesses nourish my aching heart.

The Dalai Lama known for endorsing “kindness” as the human way of being. has a smile that appears to be kindness itself.

 Dalai Lama

In the Bible surprisingly, “kindness” occurs only in few passages. The most poignant passage, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”  Ephesians 4:32 is among the few direct injunctions to be kind. Of course many passages infer acting kindly as the essence of holy living. The Psalmist often implores kindness form the Lord and names him the source of kindness.  “God is like a sun and shield; the Lord gives us kindness and honor. He does not hold back anything good from those whose lives are innocent.” Psalm 84:10-12 Jesus however, commands us to “Go and learn what this means: ‘I want kindness more than I want animal sacrifices.’ I did not come to invite good people but to invite sinners.” Matthew 12:7 

We think of the Golden Rule as Christian, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” Matthew 7:12 but it is widely held  concept of “the ethic of reciprocity” 

The Golden Rule  in faith traditions

a standard for ethical and moral behavior appears in a wide range of world cultures. Still, they do not convey the intention of the human heart to be kind to another person without expecting reciprocity. Jesus frequently taught about loving kindness.  According to Swedenborg, this is charity and it is the distinguishing feature between the Old and New Testament. That good ought to be done, from the spirit of goodwill, to an adversary and an enemy. Jesus taught a radical kindness, to  love your neighbor and our enemies. Now that is a radical way of acting not exactly the way act on our own. 

I have experienced many acts of kindness lately. One friend offered to gift me with her service. Several dinners invitations from friends nourished my body and soul. Another friend, knowing I love Starbucks, gifted me with a Starbucks “treat” card. Others give me consul and direction when I am confused dealing with Social Security and other agencies. I am grateful for the ways family and friends have shown loving kindnesses, with words and deeds in the past few weeks. Looking and touching the beautiful thoughtful condolence cards, flowers that continue to bloom for me, Looking at them, I smile.  Such sweet kindnesses lift my heavy heart.  

sympathy cards and flowers

 

Walking as Meditation

I do not walk for aerobic exercise, though walking as I do for 30 to 40 minutes does get my heart rate up into aerobic range. I don’t walk for the scenery, though some places provide breath taking views. I recall sweet memories walking with my friend and our dogs on the mountain in the spring time.

Mt Arabia. GA 1999Mt Arabia. GA 1999Friend Linda and our dogs, Flea & Diva

Friend Linda and our dogs, Flea & Diva

Back then I walked in our woods for the sheer pleasure of it.  In my travels to Hungary, I walked with my sister and brother. Breathtaking views delighted us. It was a time to recall childhood memories.

The view of the Danube from the Castle, 2000

The view of the Danube from the Castle, 2000

Over the years, walking has changed for me. Nearly every morning while living in Fort Myers Beach, I walked at sunrise along the beach, there, the sound of the waves lapping at the shore always comforted me. Sometimes friends would join me but most of the time, I walked alone.

Sunrise Meditation Walk December 2011

Sunrise Meditation Walk December 2011

Walking has become a meditation for me. My walking philosophy is nothing as grandiose as David Thoreau declares in his essays on Walking

 In the very first sentence he affirms, “I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil, — to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than

Walking Henry David Thoreaua member of society.”

No grand statements from me. My paths are now in the desert and on sidewalks in my neighborhood, here, I look for wild creatures along my path, I listen for the sounds of birds especially quails, I listen for the sounds of children playing and splashing in their backyard pool behind the fences and walls, families in happy conversations. I feel the breeze whip my hair and delight in the smell of flowers sweeping across my path. Bunny on the path

Although sights and sounds delight my senses, nowadays I walk to nourish my soul. I walk to restore balance to my frazzled confused spirit. Critical voices in my head fade away, heaviness disappears from my heart in the sure knowledge that where ever I am, no matter what path I take, I am not alone, God is with me.

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I love the story of the disciples “walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him. Luke 24:13-35

I often repeat a mantra as I walk. Sometimes a song comes to mind, and I begin signing it to myself.  Recently, this song came to mind as I walked,

I knew it comes from a higher source. Hearing myself sing it, a sense of gratitude fills me with joy.

One step at a time, listening and feeling the rhythm of my foot fall is strangely comforting. Strange because no matter if my mind wondered or troubles re-visited, I am brought back to the present. In that moment once again, everything is perfect.

First sign of the Saguaro blooming

First sign of the Saguaro blooming

Awakening

Dawn in March

 

It was still dark when I woke up, more than an hour before my usual time around sunrise. I sat in the darkened living room my curtains open hearing a few sparrows chirping in anticipation of the dawn. In dark living room with my coffee in hand, I wondered why I woke so early.

Than, I saw the glowing on the eastern horizon. I went outside to see sky turn pink, orange with a hint lavender, impossible to describe but breathtakingly beautiful. Apple blossoms in the pink dawn

The glowing-pink background gave the apple blossoms an amazing tint. It did not last long, only a minute, but long enough for me to capture this image. By then I knew why I had wakened so early. I was called to witness this glorious moment.  A few sparrows chirping  heightened the magic of the moment. Awake my Soul, goes the song.

Our days in body and spirit begin with awakenings. Awakening is mysterious. We don’t know why or when it occurs before the alarm clock goes off. In fact, awakening is being roused from the habitual, routine and the ordinary into something thrilling, stimulating and  new. Suddenly, your senses come alive, seeing and hearing something new and inspiring. A mother feels the  quickening of her unborn child. quickening

Three times I experienced it. Words cannot describe what it was like to become aware of life moving within me. Quickening of life and waking up to the life within share in divine mystery. Physical life and spiritual life have in common times of sleeping and waking up. The Psalmist understood our soul’s journey from darkens to glorious light,

My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 57:7-11

In Awakenings,, Robin Williams, portrays  the real life account of Dr Oliver Sacks who  worked with people afflicted with  encephalitic lethargica, known as sleeping sickness, and their awakenings after decades of being asleep. That glorious sunrise, like  Lenard in the movie, I realized how magical waking up can be marvelous but may not last long. It is difficult to hold unto the excitement of being fully aware. The moment is gone, the inspiration may fade, chores demand our attention and the day moves on. Yet, the memory lingers captured in pictures are prompts me to seek out wakefulness. My reflections on “awake” lead me to the verses where the Psalmist pleads with God,

22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression? Psalm 44:22-24

Job’s dark reflections are anything but glorious, his words speak of the soul’s desperation in the midst of utter misery,

But a man dies and is laid low;

Satan Going Forth From the Presence of God

Satan Going Forth From the Presence of God

he breathes his last and is no more.

11 As the water of a lake dries up
or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,
12 so he lies down and does not rise;
till the heavens are no more, people will not awake
or be roused from their sleep.

13 “If only you would hide me in the grave
and conceal me till your anger has passed!
If only you would set me a time
and then remember me! Job 14:10-14

Jesus warned his disciples to “stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—“  Mark 13:35 “Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38 Gardenof  Gethsemane by Radojavor

Staying awake, synonymous with being alert, being on the lookout.  is hard to do especially when we are weary. We read in the Gospels that the disciples could not stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane,  “…. Jesus went back to his followers and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “You men could not stay awake with me for one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation.”” Matthew 26.

I am left wondering what stirs us to wake up from a comfortable slumber. How do we suddenly see with new eyes and hear with new ears and feel life within us? Swedenborg describes waking into spiritual life after death “as though we were awake; all our senses are as alert as they are when we are fully awake physically-sight, hearing, and strange to say, touch. These senses are more perfect than they can ever be during physical wakefulness.”

The last frontier probed by Psychologists, human consciousness, addresses human awareness of both internal and external stimuli. This can refer to spiritual recognition, psychological understanding, medically altered states, such as the wakeful state brought on by dopamine, administered to Dr. Sack’s patients. Getting back to what happens when we have an awakening, an “aha” moment; we are transformed, somehow changed and motivated to make changes in our life. We become more ourselves than we have been before.

The study of consciousness is a thriving field with many different theories. I am at my very best in the morning before I begin my daily tasks but that is not what awakening or quickening is about. New purpose, new way of being, insights are only in a potential state and do not come into our consciousness until the moment of “awakening”. I knew I was carrying a baby several months before I actually felt the ”quickening”. The sensations I felt confirmed I was carrying a new life. That is awakening, it is a knowing beyond thinking, it is more real than anything we can think about.  Awakening may usher in a new level of consciousness. Many psychologists researched various levels of consciousness. In Psych 101 I learned about Sigmund Freud who described three facets of the psychic apparatus: the unconscious (id) or instinctual facet, the preconscious (ego) or rational facet, and the conscious (superego) or moral facet. Many other theories and descriptions of levels of consciousness take either the medical or pathological perspectives to determine consciousness using the Glasgow Coma Scale,

Glasgow Coma Scale

Glasgow Coma Scale

lean toward ancient Indian Vedas texts take a view of unified consciousness, with a key difference in the purpose of human ascension from stage to stage. The ultimate being to attain pure knowledge and intelligence. The Seven Chakras

chakras describe the gradual progress toward the spiritual level. Surprisingly, the Vedic vision of consciousness in stages resemebles the developmental stages in the groundbreaking work provided by Jean Piaget.  He provided e foundations for understanding the evolution of the brain’s capacity throughout the human lifespan.

Beyond Jean Piaget, Erik Erickson and Lawrence Kohlberg developed theories about moral development in stages.

Piaget, Erickson & Kohlberg Stages of moral development sumary

Piaget, Erickson & Kohlberg Stages of moral development sumary

Piaget, Erickson, Kohlberg brilliant researchers in the field of human development did not delve into the field of consciousness nor did they shed light on how sudden bursts of inspiration or insights occurr  in human consciousness. James Fowler

a developmental psychologist at Candler School of Theology, proposed stages of faith de development throughout the lifespan.

In his seminal work, Stages of Faith though closely related to the work of  Piaget, Ericson and Kohlberg regarding aspects of psychological development in children and adults, Fowler steps into the world of spirituality. However, in spite of dabbling in spirituality, Fowler remains firmly in the idea that everything happens in stages and barely touches upon the sudden, unexpected incursion into the unexplainable transformative experiences.Fowler's Stages

Understanding human development in stages is perfectly logical and reasonable because we experienced being small barely walking, beginning to read, learning our multiplication tables, a new language or new skill from our early years to our present stage in life but stages of development do not explain how we can jump into a whole new way of being. Suddenly aware of inward realities. Being awake to new realities does not fit into stages because it is another level of consciousness and this level of consciousness is not measurable by any test.

We can be more watchful and alert to receive new insights. Prayer and meditation tried and true pathways for Spirit’s presence. Mystics and saints appear to have access to higher levels of consciousness and awareness of the spiritual realms. Hildegard von Bingen, (1098 –1179), a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess and  a visionary was one such a person .  From all accounts, Hildegard experienced “awakenings”, spiritual rousing throughout her lifetime. Her works of art and music are all inspirations from the spiritual realm.

Hildegard's awakening

We do not have to saints to  become aware of all that is in and around us. We only have to ready to experience consolations, insights and inspirations.  We must be awake to the stirrings of Spirit within. Spring is the season to tune into the new life around us.

Palo Verde in bloom

Palo Verde in bloom

Taizé Worship

Taizé Worship

The Taizé worship is not simply a style of worship but humble way of connecting to the divine involving the whole person in prayer chant. The distinguishing marks adapted from Taizé include simple melodies, repetition of phrases, prayer, and silence and responsive readings. Repetition is not a new phenomenon nor unique to Taizé. The use of repetitive prayers and responses are vital part of Christian spirituality and liturgy (for example, in the Jesus Prayer; Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me). What is unique to Taizé is the adaptation of the repetitive form to simple musical lines and core biblical texts that can be sung by a whole assembly of various nationalities, languages, and denominations.

Circle Community joins with Rincon UCC located on 122 N Craycroft Road (just N of Broadway on the E side of Craycroft) Tucson AZ 85711 for a special Wednesday Evening Worship.

Taize Worship

Taize Worship

 

Service is at 6:30 PM.

 

 

 

 

One of the chants sung at this Service  Bless The Lord My Soul

Find out more about the origins of the  The Taizé Community, an ecumenical monastic order in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. It is composed of more than one hundred brothers, from Protestant and Catholic traditions, who originate from about thirty countries across the world. Taize France has become a site for thousands of people from all countries who gather at this unique community to renew spiritually in a confused and chaotic world.

Taize worship invites you to join with others who seek a revival of Spirit.

Spiritual Nourishment

Becoming

In our courtyard orange and grapefruit trees bear flowers and fruit at the same time. It is amazing and wonderful. The scent of the orange blossoms draws me outside to delight in the warm sunshine and the fragrance perfumed air. Flower & Fruit

The purpose of the oranges and grapefruit is all there at the same time; shiny green leaves, white flowers and bright orange and yellow grapefruit. In most other plants and trees, we see the progress, from seed to seedling, leaves on a growing tree, flowers and eventually the ripening fruit. LifeCycle of a FruitTree

But Citrus are evergreen trees grow all year-round. Though they produce flowers in the spring in AZ, blooming now, the long season required to produce the sweet, juicy fruit  we love so much means that the fruit I see on the trees began last year and is still ripening at the same time the new flowers are blooming.

These oranges and grapefruit are always becoming on the same tree. The flower knows what it is becoming.

Oranges & Flowers

This sense of knowing who we are is the essence of becoming, it is the journey of self- discovery and the fulfillment of our special purpose. Agnes Sanford, (1897-1982) was an unconventional Christian mystic and a healer. In her biography, Sealed Orders, she chronicles her gradual realization that she was commissioned by God to be a healer. She preached and lived her commission. She became a world renowned healer.

Agnes Sanford' Autobiogropy - Sealed Orders

The Lenten season compels us to find new meaning for our lives. Like the spring season it can be a time of spiritual flowering and bearing fruit. A time for being lead from an inward knowing and becoming. If we choose to be in the process of growing spiritually, this is the season for continually seeking and finding God’s presence in our daily affairs.

It is good to reflect on the origins and traditions of Lent. The Gospels do not mention Lent so we can presume that the origins of Lent did not begin with them. The early Church Fathers initiated a time of preparation for baptism, . (See Baptism as Illumination in the Early Church — St. Justin Martyr, Justin Martyr’s apology)

By the early third century rituals and practices of preparing for baptism on Easter Sunday morning became the accepted practice for becoming a Christian. The three stages of preparation for becoming a Christian were established by the third century. The first stage of coming to faith involved an examination of the circumstances under which the convert came to faith, the testimony of sponsors, and the convert’s promise to live as a believer. I was surprised by length of the second stage:  a full three years of cathetical training. And the third stage also surprised me by its rigorous demands. More examinations (under auspices of the bishop), to determine whether the candidate had lived piously and done good works, took the form of a full week of daily exorcisms, services, prayers, fasting on the final Friday and Saturday, and an all-night vigil of prayer and Scripture reading leading to baptism at Easter dawn. However, by the latter part of the fourth century the church re-defined the preparation or training-time for converts to forty days before Easter. That was a relief. Over time, the Lent season, became a preparation and re-dedication to Christian life and associated with “giving-up” worldly things, denying self. Baptism

Today, Lent is practiced in a variety of ways in different ways Christian denominations. Growing up in a Hungarian neighborhood, I often heard my Catholic friends ask, “what did you give up for Lent?” For me, a Baptist and later a Swedenborgian Lenten “giving up” held little meaning.  To be honest, I felt a little superior and even critical of my friends. “Giving up” something delightful for Lent, like going to parties seemed hypocritical since they could hardly wait for Easter to resume their pre-Lenten activities. In those days Lent made no sense to me. I was not into reflection but now, I question the negative emphasis of Lent. If my focus in Lent is on self-denial, then I should choose something worth giving up; like being critical and just as surely I should not make Easter the day to return to my old habit of being overly critical.  I seek an affirmative Lent, resolving to do some useful and kind acts and doing them with gladness. In this way I am becoming more Christian, bearing both flower and fruit. Then, when Easter comes, I will discover a new love for being kind and patient growing in me. According to the Apostle John, Jesus encourages his followers to become branches on the vine “bearing fruit”, one that always bears fruit.

The beautiful orange I pluck from the tree is juicy, fragrant and sweet through and through. We are meant to become good fruits through and through, inside and outside.  Swedenborg in his Heavenly Secrets, reveals a deeper meaning of “fruitful”, one that I cherish. I feel blessed to be nourished by these sweet fruits. Like the fruit I enjoy this spring, this Lenten season, I dedicate myself  to becoming a blessing like the fruits I enjoy so much.

Fruits and flowers

Fruits and flowers