Old Faithful

Having grown up in the Midwest and lived most of my adult life on the East Coast, much of the Mountain West landscape was unknown to me until a few years ago. Yes, I had traveled along the Pacific Coast and throughout much of the Southwest, but I had not been to the “must see” places in this part of the country. After moving here three years ago, I have now been to Zion, Canyonlands, Bryce, and Arches National Parks. I have explored…

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Have No Fear, Little Flock

"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)Several weeks ago, the Gospel for the day began with Luke 12:32. As soon as I heard the first words, “Fear not, little flock” I was transported back to a day in the mid-1980’s when I found myself in the pulpit at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There I was, about to preach the sermon for the graduating class of Luther Seminary. All of those…

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Read more about the article What Does Heaven Smell Like?
Swedish candletree -Augustana Lutheran Church

What Does Heaven Smell Like?

A few weeks ago, as I was washing my hands, a random thought entered my brain: “What does heaven smell like?” I stopped what I was doing and tried to figure out what could have triggered that thought – and then I realized it was the aroma of the hand soap I was using. It is a scent I find very pleasing and is called “Rain Water”. Clean, light, fresh, cool. My sense of smell triggered a thought of what it may be…

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That They Might Lovely Be

16th Street NW in Washington, DC, north of the White House and to the Maryland State Line, is sometimes referred to as the street of churches. There are Catholic and Orthodox churches; synagogues and a Christian Science Reading Room; just about every variety of Protestant churches you can imagine, as well as gathering places for people of a variety of beliefs. 16th Street is also a meridian from which surveyors in the 1700’s and 1800’s measured the distance between north/south roads. It is…

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Love

Today is St. Valentine’s Day, a favorite day among retailers. The price of flowers, particularly roses, rises to amazing heights. Jewelers hope to upsell bewildered patrons on larger and sparklier diamonds. After two years of financial difficulty, restaurants are undoubtedly hoping for a busy evening. In grocery stores and pharmacies, the busiest aisle is the greeting card aisle as last-minute purchases are made.This day dedicated to love is strangely named after St. Valentine, although it is somewhat unclear as to which of the…

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Gifted

We’re coming into the time of the year when thoughts turn to gifts. Many of us will have Thanksgiving dinner at the home of a family member or friend. We may bring food to share with others. Sometimes we also bring a gift for the host and/or hostess. It could be flowers or little delicacies or a bottle of wine – something a bit special to express gratitude. Of course, the big gift-giving extravaganza will be coming in about six weeks. Some may…

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Being a Blessing

For me, the most difficult thing about writing a devotion or a reflection is coming up with the topic. As soon as I turn in my writing and photo, my usual pattern is to determine the theme for the next TVPrays. Then I let the theme roll around in my mind before typing the first word.That didn’t happen this time. I sat quietly and tried to discern what might be a good topic. Nothing. I skimmed through several religious and devotional texts that…

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Fluttering of Paper Wings

This past week I was in Washington, DC, where we had lived for over 31 years. I visited friends, attended a lovely retirement party for my former boss, and drove through the old neighborhood. The one thing I did not do was go downtown to the National Gallery of Art (NGA), or more precisely, its East Building. Ever since that building was built in the 1970’s, whenever I was in DC on business or pleasure, I had to stand in the East Wing…

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Ironing a Messy Life

This spring, I purchased a new linen shirt to wear as the weather warmed. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing quite like linen in the summer. The fabric breathes and stays cool in the hottest weather. That was true even in Northern Virginia, where we lived for over thirty years. The summers there are hot but the worst part is the humidity, which is overwhelming. But my linen clothing stayed comfortable.There is one drawback, however. Linen wrinkles. It requires ironing, although for…

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The Communion of Saints

As I have gotten older, I find that I think more about what “the communion of saints” means in my daily life, not just on All Saints Sunday when we remember those who have died in the previous year.  Instead, I find myself remembering the saints I have known; it could be a memory jogged by seeing a photograph or being with friends and recalling that someone who had been a dear part of the group has moved away.  But thinking about the…

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Soap and Water

The other day while at the grocery store, I realized that I had been standing in the hand soap section for quite a while. I was contemplating whether to buy liquid or bar soap; soap with or without antibacterial qualities; what fragrance; what size – the possibilities seemed to be endless.When I got home, I looked at the shelf in the shower and was taken aback at the variety of soap on display. There were two bars of soap, one known for its…

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Read more about the article On the Sunny Side of the Street
invitation to hopscotch

On the Sunny Side of the Street

A recent television commercial features a young girl sitting on the walkway to the front door of her family’s home. She is chalking the concrete but also looking rather longingly at the people passing by to see if anyone will give her a smile. We see a delivery person walking rather quickly; he may or may not see the girl, but he does not acknowledge her. She looks disappointed but then we notice, from her facial expression, that she’s come up with an…

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Running on Empty

I don’t know about you, but for me, I’m running on empty spiritually. Here we are, half-way through Holy Week, and I’m feeling spent. As with most Lenten seasons, I start out with the best of intentions. I no longer use Lent as a time to lose weight or walk more as a discipline. I try, instead, to revive a spiritual practice or take on a new one that will feed my soul. This year, I vowed to read two daily on-line Lenten…

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My Neighborhood

During this past year of covid-19, our concept of who our neighbor is has undergone some interesting challenges. For some, it may seem like they have no neighbors at all. For individuals and families who have needed to be strictly sheltering in place, they may not have seen their neighbors in ages. Whether living in a large urban apartment building, a private home, or a care facility, access to the person next door has been severely restricted.At the same time, however, the concept…

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Arrival of March

When I was growing up as a member of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (“Tosa” to those in the know), I found the Psalms to be exceptionally boring. There was so much repetition from Psalm to Psalm; the language and topics were archaic; there were no good stories, only a bunch of little verses that didn’t seem to fit together. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found the Book of Psalms to be among the most meaningful parts of scripture. I…

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Oboe Lessons

Nearly five years ago, I started oboe lessons. This was something I wanted to do since I was in elementary school. When the time came in fifth grade to start learning a band or orchestral instrument, I really wanted to play something with flashy, silver keys and that had a cool instrument case. Instead, I was given my father’s violin. Needless to say, with such a lack of enthusiasm, my violin playing days were limited. As I got older and looked toward retirement,…

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Silence

For those of us old enough to remember the music of the 1960’s, one of the iconic songs was “Silence is Golden” by the Four Seasons, later covered by the Tremeloes. The protagonist, upon losing his love to someone else, knew he should keep quiet about the new boyfriend. For as much as he wanted to warn his former girlfriend about her new flame, he knew that saying something would only make matters worse. Best to be silent. Best to wait until more…

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Giving and Receiving

On Christmas Day 2015, I was in a nearly deserted restaurant at the Denver airport. Three other women, also by themselves, were having lunch. I was on my way to Milwaukee, where I grew up, to attend the funeral of my dearest friend’s brother. We had grown up together; his death was unexpected. Although I had made plans to have Christmas dinner with another friend and her family, I must admit I was feeling very sorry for myself because I was missing so…

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I Wonder As I Wander

When I was a small child, I loved to look at the night sky. Doing so in Milwaukee was not the best experience, given all the ambient light, but what a difference when we were at the lake. My father and I would sit on the dock and he would tell me the names of the constellations and how to find them. I would look at the sky, marvel at its beauty and be entertained with stories of why the stars, according to…

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A Brilliant Light in These Very Cloudy Times

For the past six years, I have served as the Executive Manager of Impact1890, a grant-making organization that provides funding to organizations that assist older adults who are aging in place. While grants have supported many different programs, all address the most urgent needs of older adults who are often forgotten and isolated, particularly in these days of covid-19. When I retire from this organization at the beginning of January, I will miss working with so many dedicated, tireless individuals who care deeply…

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Autumn-strong

This is the best time of the year, at least according to my way of thinking. Purely from the perspective of creature-comforts, soft sweaters and flannel shirts come out of their hiding places. The flavors of foods we cook become more robust and flavorful. It is no wonder that one of the symbols of autumn is a cornucopia, a bounty of fruits and vegetables that have ripened and are ready to be eaten. The trees are no longer a uniform green but display…

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Turning, Turning

Just southwest of Lexington, Kentucky, in the lush green and rolling hills, is the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. From 1808 until the early 1920’s, a group of Shakers made a home for themselves at Pleasant Hill to practice their religion. On a 4,000-acre settlement, the Shakers built seventeen sturdy, functional buildings. They farmed and gardened; they built everything that was needed for the community. They were known for their ingenuity and creativity. And most of all, they lived a simple life. Modern…

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Deserts and Mountains

In October of 2019, my husband and I moved to Meridian, Idaho, from Alexandria, Virginia, where we had lived for over 31 years. Due to family living here, we were already quite familiar with the area – we knew where grocery and home improvement stores were located. We had been to Boise State football and basketball games; we had enjoyed the Boise Symphony and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. We had camped at Redfish Lake and fly fished in the Snake and Salmon Rivers.…

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Rituals

On September 1, I will be eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Amazon Prime delivery truck because in it will be my copy of Louise Penney’s next book, “All the Devils are Here.” This is, I believe, the 16th book in Penney’s series of mysteries that focus on Armand Gamache, the Inspector General of the Quebec provincial police. Over the course of these books, Inspector Gamache has become an ever more interesting and nuanced character, always striving to do the right thing but…

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Choose Something Like a Star

When I was in high school, I was a member of the Wauwatosa (Wisconsin) East High School Concert Choir. Every weekday at 11:05, we took our music, got into our assigned seats, and readied ourselves to practice for the next hour. Mr. Bilderback, the director, was a task master but he took great pride in the choir. As a second alto, I rarely got to sing any exciting parts.Sometimes we competed in the Wisconsin high school choir competition, but that depended on whether…

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