Category Archives: Prayer

Coping with Troubles

The past few days have been filled with an unexpected batch of complications in several areas of my life, ranging from severe health problems for a couple of friends to very bad news about a couple of friends to very bad relations between a couple of friends. Also, there are stressors occurring in two unexpected spots that create challenges I had not foreseen. Again, none of these occurrences are happening directly to me, but rather around me. It is as though there is friction in the air and it is hovering somewhere just to the right of my left shoulder. That’s not to even mention the impact of daily bad news from the national and international front, which I believe we can all agree is tough to take even from a distance.

This all begs the question: How to deal with this?

I decided this morning that I need to listen to more music. Researchers have shown that listening to certain types of music calms the mind and creates a more positive mood.

Also, I thought, “You need to tidy up loose ends.” I have a few of those dangling about and I think some focused tidying would bring some definite peace of mind.

In addition, I resolved to spend time each day offering up prayers for those who are suffering, not just for those who are close, but also for those whom I’ve heard about on the news. This can’t hurt the people who are in pain and it will give purpose and perspective for me.

Finally, I resolved to stop putting off items on my bucket list until some distant “never-never,” but rather to make small inroads to ensure some come to fruition in the not-too-distant future.

I think all of this discord near me has helped me to recognize that beauty, simplicity, empathy and adventure can bring some real quality to life. I already feel better focusing on what is positive and not feeling mired in the negative.

I hope your life has been moving along without any unexpected complications. If troubles arise for you or around you, I recommend a good listen to one of your favorite musicians. It won’t fix anything out in the world, but it will definitely shift your mind and mood to a happier place.

On that note, I’ll say good night.

As usual, I’ll be checking back in with you tomorrow.

Black Woman Wearing Headphones

Orlando’s Tragedy Today

Today we had a terrible tragedy in our country.

I have little to add that isn’t already splashed across the news.

May light perpetual shine upon the victims.

May their families and friends find some solace at some point.

May we as a nation recognize that our strength is in love not hate.

May we bind together to support the values that make our nation great, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.”

May God bless us and guide us.

rainbow flag at half mast

 

 

 

 

Good Friday: How This Connects to Our Modern World

We have just come from church for Good Friday. Very touching indeed this mass. The Gospel reading was The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. John, which details Jesus’s condemnation by the crowd, his crucifixion and death, then being taken to the tomb. We sang a hymn during Communion with a verse that read:

Thou alone was counted worthy
This world’s Ransom to sustain
That a shipwrecked race might ever
Thus a post of refuge gain,
With the sacred blood anointed
From the Lamb for sinners slain.

This was sung to the tune of the hymn, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent,” for those of you who might know that. I found myself tearing up with this verse. Something about “a shipwrecked race” seems so apropos of today’s world. Could we be more shipwrecked when an American brother and sister are standing in line in an airport in Brussels talking to relatives on the phone when a bomb suddenly goes off and they are both killed? Or Syrian refugees, who are physically and emotionally exhausted after fleeing their country out of fear of being murdered, are turned away at the borders of what they thought would be welcoming countries? Or our politicians telling us that we need to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in the U.S., as if our country is not a melting pot of religions and immigrants from all over the world?

This Good Friday for me feels more meaningful than many in the past because our world is in such need of hope, faith and goodness at this very moment. Mourning is in the air with the deaths of so many innocents over the past weeks and months. I can only pray that we will all strive to find the good in each other and the good in ourselves so that we might reach out to one another in love, not in hate. For me, this is the essential Christian message since Jesus’s resurrection is symbolic of love triumphing over hate and injustice.

May light perpetual shine upon all who have died from acts of terrorism in the past days, weeks and months. May their souls rest in peace and may their families find solace for their pain.

good-friday-austria

Holy Week, Family and Thoughts on Christianity

We are moving into Holy Week and life is going to get hectic around here. There is Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday and I am serving as an acolyte in three of those four services at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Hollywood. Not to mention that the Great Easter Vigil on Saturday evening will span at least 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Despite the length, this is my favorite Mass of the year because it starts out in darkness with everyone holding candles and then after many readings, much singing, loads of incense and then riotous bell ringing, the candles are extinguished and the lights slowly come on all over the church. It is exquisitely beautiful, but not for those who are attending church primarily to please their mother. The Easter Sunday 10:30 Mass is better for that group of individuals.

On that note, I am happy to report that two of my beloved daughters will be coming with their boyfriends to the 10:30 Mass on Easter Sunday. (Sarah will have worked all Saturday night at the hospital so she, Gregorio and Nico will not be attending.) However, granddaughter Luna will be spending Saturday night with Grandma and Grandpa so she can go to the church Easter egg hunt Sunday morning and then sit with Grandpa and the rest of the family during Mass. I am serving as sub-deacon up at the altar so I’ll get a good view of my beautiful family out in the congregation. (This makes me exceedingly happy, by the way.) Grandpa is already planning to take crayons and paper for Luna’s amusement and has graciously offered to go outside and sit with her just in case she gets restless. (Such a saint, my husband.)

The upcoming week is the most sacred in the Christian church’s calendar and is filled with particular meaning for me. I am always deeply touched by the events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. The world then is no different from the world today – a deeply fractured place where “the other” is often humiliated, ridiculed and killed. Being reminded that love, service, and tolerance are the right ways to live could not be more relevant. I am happy to have a vivid example of how love and compassion can triumph over hatred and ill-will. All religions teach these truths. Holy Week is when the Christian faith demonstrates these tenets in the embodiment of Jesus Christ. This is a gift to those of us of this faith – it offers solace for all the suffering in our world; it lightens the darkness.

That is why I love the Great Easter Vigil.  Darkness is overcome by light.  I suspect the symbolism is intentional.

For those of you who live in Los Angeles and are interested in attending Holy Week services, St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood offers a truly Anglican, high church experience.  This means there are copious amounts of incense, beautiful music and high church ritual, which can also be described as having “all the bells and smells.” Here is the link to the church’s website with the days and times if you are interested: http://www.saintthomashollywood.org/html/

randy

 

Ray’s Update + My Lenten Practice

Ray now has a fever. We’re hoping that it is from the sunburn that came from being out in the sun today up in Ojai. We certainly don’t want it to be coming from some lung infection. I think we’ll know more tomorrow since a typical sunburn fever will last only through one night. He is up in bed with Vick’s VapoRub slathered all over his chest. I can hear him coughing up there. I won’t write for a long time since I’ve been out all evening at my stained glass class with Liz and her boyfriend, Ron. Ray was supposed to take the class, but so far hasn’t made it since he’s been out-of-town and then last week at the symphony. Ron is getting the gift of that class so far. Very nice for Ron and I think Ray is okay with that, too, since he knows a lot about stained glass from past experience.

On an entirely different subject, I’ve decided to make the Episcopal Relief and Development Lenten Studies 2016 handbook be my Lenten practice this year. I will read a passage every day and think about it. I may even write about some of those passages or thoughts here on my blog. But I will read the passages. I think that’s a good addition to my day and might spur decent contemplation. If any of you are interested in this, then here’s the link to the handbook. It is in PDF form and can be downloaded onto your computer. Let me know if you’re thinking of doing it. It’s always nice to have company for these sorts of things.

https://www.episcopalrelief.org/uploaded/files/Church-In-Action/Church-Campaigns/Lent-2016/2016%20ERD%20ENGLISH%20BOOK-OFFICE%20reduced.pdf

Okay, I must go up and check on my husband. I said hello and left him to finish the end of an episode of Foyle’s War, which, by the way, is first-rate. British detective series set in World War II. Excellent.

I hope you are well on this Mardi Gras evening. Lots of folks were celebrating over in West Hollywood tonight at the clubs. I saw them as I drove back from my class.

Here’s to life in general!

Talk tomorrow.

Lent 2016 intro

Christmas Eve: Church and A Few Thoughts

I am writing early today because we are leaving in a few minutes to drop a friend at the airport, then go to Sarah’s to spend a bit of time before I leave to serve as the thurifer at the Family Christmas mass at St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood, which starts at 5 pm. (I have to be there by 4.) Ray is going to hang out with Sarah and family while I do this since he, Rachael, Liz, Ron, and his parents will be coming to Midnight mass, where I am also serving this evening. (Not surprisingly, our 9 month pregnant daughter and her family are electing not to join the Midnight mass crew.) Anyway, I thought it might make more sense to write now instead of at 2 am when we return from what I know will be a gorgeous Christmas celebration.

I wish you all well, my friends. I am grateful for your presence, kindness and love in my life and, whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic, atheist, or something else I haven’t mentioned, please know I honor your belief or non-belief. My sense is that the universal truth is LOVE and I am holding you all close to my heart on the eve of the day that for me symbolizes that love.

Enjoy these next few days, whether with family or alone. The best news is that most of LA is gone so the roads are clearer and the weather promises to be lovely. For those of you in other places, these next few days are a great time to rest and relax. I suggest a series of good movies on Netflix or a wonderful book to read, but a hike might be nice or time in a bubbly bath. Whatever is your happy space. Spent time there just because you can.

I will be checking back in tomorrow.

Love to all.

St. Thomas, the Apostle Decorated for Tonight and Tomorrow

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Cynthia Williams, Rest in Peace

Today is a sad day for all of us at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church, Hollywood. Our beloved Cynthia Williams died this morning after being diagnosed several months ago with cancer. While there is relief in knowing that she will no longer suffer any pain, we will miss her ready smile, deep-throated laughter and generous spirit.

Cynthia’s wonderful son, Randy, is a fellow acolyte with me and has been at his mother’s side throughout the process of her diagnosis and treatment. He and his mom have been best friends for years so I know this is tough on our sweet Randy. Yet, I have watched him over these past months go through the entire grieving process from denial, to bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. Just last week he said to us in the sacristy before mass that as much as he will miss his mother, he couldn’t stand the idea of her living in constant pain.

Alas, Randy, your mother is now free.

May light perpetual shine upon our dear Cynthia. She was a fine human being who lived and died with dignity. May she now rest in peace.

As for Randy, my love goes out to you. Here is a prayer I found in which I hope you’ll find comfort:

May she rest in peace where sorrow and pain are banished,
and may the everlasting light of your merciful love shine upon her;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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