Webs and Cocoons

Sunlight slipping off silken threads.
Strands spiraling out from antennaed arachnids.
Radiant wings awakening.
Sometimes scarcely visible. Sometimes broken open.
Bound. Set free.
Webs and cocoons. Cocoons and webs.
Life and death. Death and life.
The tangled and mysterious warp and weft
of earthly existence.
We spin. We weave.
Sacred filament
crisscrossing space and time.
Unknowable gifts of an unknowable Creator.

Autumn spider

Butterfly Blog


1. made, done, happening, or chosen without method or conscious decision.
2. odd, unusual or unexpected.

Life…sometimes. Most of the time?
But is anything about life truly haphazard?
Unpredictable, perhaps.
Or out of the ordinary.
But what is random to me–strategic to you. . .
Submerged meaning emerging
in subconscious choosing, doing, deciding?

Images culled on a Tuesday night
from a summer of snapshots.
Not patterned.
Unplanned photo-synthesis.
Purposeful randomosity?

Alone? Diving Squirrel Again Mockingbird Again Together Fuzzy







For Everything a Season

I wrote this on August 25, one month ago. Deacon was fully his Jack Russell self for as long as he lived. We said farewell to him today. He was just too tired to go on. He was well-loved and will be missed. Later today, when darkness comes and the moon is high above the trees, I will go out to say good-bye to the night. I have no doubt Deacon’s spirit will go with me. Some things must not change…

The Deac

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. . .God has made everything suitable for its time. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live.

—from Ecclesiastes

August. A transitional month. At least for me. On Monday, August 25, 44 new ministry students had their first classes at our school. They range in ages from young to middle to older adults and come from many different places. They heard God calling them and decided to embody a new life rhythm.

August is also the time when people post on Facebook photos of their children’s first days of school. Some of them look so young. “First day of kindergarten,” one friend put as the caption on a photo of her little girl. The girl was smiling–but looked nervous too. The shiny new book bag on her back was so big and made her look so small. I think her mama might have been crying…

August. A month of transitions. I felt a chill in the air for the first time on August 27 at the last home baseball game of the season. I even had to wear a jacket. Gardens are producing fewer vegetables. Squirrels will soon begin to gather winter stores of food.

Transitions. How do you do with transitions? How do any of us do with transitions? My dog Deacon defies them. With vigor. At my house, Deacon makes sure that no one strays from the set schedule. We get up on time. We go outside on time. We eat and drink and go out again on time. Yes, Deacon resists changes in life’s rhythms. He is firm about it. Determined. Let daylight savings time end. Not his problem. His clock does not change. We get up at the same time, not an hour later to save or not to save daylight time. What is amazing about Deacon is that his determination to defy change has meant that he also defies getting older. He is determined to be Deacon, to be the best Jack Russell Terrier self he can be come what may, even after his 14 years of life. That means that for the 5,110 mornings or so that he has lived, he has arisen with enthusiasm for heading out into God’s good creation to greet the day and headed out another 5,110 times or so to say good-bye to the night at bedtime. And he has insisted that I join him in this endeavor.


Ancient wisdom writings speak about this. The Hebrew name of the writer of book of Ecclesiastes was Qoheleth. The word means “preacher.” Qoholeth was not a cheery preacher. At least 35 times in Ecclesiastes, he says that life is vanity. This preacher is a realist; he doesn’t look at life through rose-colored glasses. Qoheleth had what has been called a wintry spirituality. But in the verses above, he speaks hopeful wisdom. Life has many rhythms. Many transitions. Some that we long for. Others that we dread. Some that are joyful. Others that are painful. In all of life, Qoheleth says–all of the transitions and rhythms we encounter and embody–God is God. That is what we can count on. God continues to be God, come what may.

Qoheleth’s sermon is a good one for me. I can’t control much of what happens in life. None of us can. But we can live each day with as much joy and gratitude as we can muster. We can spend however many thousands of mornings we have to greet the day and however many thousands of evenings we have to say good-bye to the night, praising a God who continues to be God through each and every moment.

August 2014 is gone now. September is here. September 2, to be exact. Deacon and I have 27 more mornings to greet and nights that await farewells. To everything, there is a season…

And here Deacon is, ready to head out into yet another night…

The Deacon Dog 3

Lamenting a Tree Lost

Author’s note:  Pat died several months ago. I still catch myself looking for her when I walk into my mother’s senior apartment community. Pat lived there, and her living there made a difference. The family asked me to be the minister for Pat’s memorial service. I offered these words in the Atrium of the apartment community where Pat lived with other senior adults. That was where her family wanted to hold Pat’s home-going celebration.

Thus says the Lord God: I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out. I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind.  (Ezekiel 17)

30 Jesus also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’ (Mark 4)

The maple tree had been in our yard for as long as I have lived there. I loved its beauty in autumn and spring. How it blazed orange and red in late September!  And how it gathered birds to it when springtime warmth began to touch the earth each March.

A few weeks ago something happened to the tree. In the night, perhaps. Or during a storm while no one was home. The tree broke. Crashed, I suppose, though I did not see or hear it happen. The tree is gone.

I don’t think I realized until now just how important that tree was to how I see our yard. The yard looks, well, vacant, somehow. And up above, where the tree touched the skyline? Just clouds and sky now.

I remember when Pat first came to live here and I met her. Right here in this Atrium. She looked at me as I walked in, and then she smiled. I was drawn to her. Not unlike I am drawn to elegant oaks and maples that stand deeply rooted in places to offer shade and beauty. Pat smiled, and the sun shined. And so Pat put down roots here. She made friends by becoming a friend. Movie nights. Chapel services. Craft-making adventures. Committees. Conversations. Pat put down roots. Her life here mattered.

I only knew Pat for a short time. But I saw and heard in her presence and voice a lifetime of commitment to living—from culinary artist preparing Italian feasts to “great-grammalamadingdong” sharing a meals with her great-grandchildren right here in this dining room. Pat relished life. Yes, that was Pat—someone who was still adding to her bucket list just a few months ago. She was eager and excited to see and do for her family and to see and do what this ole world has to offer, whether those offerings were traveling to see a beloved family member in Pennsylvania one last time or driving a riding lawn mower for the first time. 

So it was that Pat was planted in God’s good earth. Rooted in it. Weathering its rain and sleet and ice. Surviving many of life’s droughts and difficulties. I hear in her life those ancient biblical texts from Ezekiel and Matthew. Pat provided shade for those who withered and bore fruit for those who were hungry. She was a noble tree, and birds of many kinds were drawn to her and made their nests in her kind and welcoming branches.

And now that she is gone, we miss her. The places where her face and presence were so familiar, seem empty. Vacant. And we are sad. But we can have hope. Pat did. I don’t know if she fully realized it or not, but I am certain that God created and called Pat to be that tree that she became. That was her gift to us. And that was God’s gift to us through her life. Always, right up through the very last weeks of her life, her smile welcomed. Her smile spoke “home.” Her presence promised shade and rest. She was hopeful about her own life, and, I think hopeful for ours. If she were here, she might tell us to have a bucket list—don’t miss out on what life has to offer. And we might be reminded by her life that God creates and calls us, too, to grow and become more than who or what we even know we can be. Pat might remind us that God creates and calls us to offer welcome, home, and rest to the people we encounter along our ways. By faith—as we trust in God’s love and grace in our lives—we can do our part to create God’s good kingdom here on earth.

Pat is gone. We miss her. But, for a while, she was here with us, being Pat. And that matters. And it can keep on mattering as we say “yes” to God’s call to love and laugh and live with beauty and grace.

Yes, Pat is gone. But not entirely. Her spirit lives on. Created by God and called God’s Beloved in Christ, she existed. She lived. Laughed. Love. And she lives still in God’s eternal garden where trees never fall again. We can exist too. We can live here and now. We can be and be better, empowered by God who loves us, Christ who walks with us, and the Spirit who dances in our midst.

Winter shadows 2