Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tender of the Small Spaces by Sandy VanDerWalker

Reposted from 2019

Dear Friends,

We are about to begin the retreat season at Samish Island Campground. I remember coming here a little over 2 years ago not having a clue as to the expectations and dynamics of my role as a volunteer in this place. The word volunteer can often carry a somewhat broad and abstract job description so I decided to start doing what I enjoy doing and what I felt needed to be done such as weeding, cleaning, and such. It didn’t take long for those routine tasks to become a bit frustrating and challenging for me. The work I was doing seemed so insignificant in the larger reality of this place.

Then I began to hear the amazing stories shared by our guests as to what this place means to them. I heard expressions of sacred, holy, eternal, peaceful, beautiful, and extraordinary. As I embraced these stories I found my daily tasks becoming a part of my spiritual practice. As I worked I tried to be intentional in becoming more aware of my surroundings from the sights and sounds above me to the warmth and diversity below me. I tried to be intentional in thinking about the guests who were present in this place or those guests who would soon be coming.

Through this experience I discovered what my job title and description is in this place. I now think of myself as the “Tender of the Small Spaces”. My job description is to help make the small spaces of this place, in their natural simplicity, warm and inviting for our guests. To help create opportunities for our guests to stop in the midst of those small spaces, wherever they may be, to gain a sense of connectedness, an affirmation of peace, a renewal of possibilities, or whatever they may be searching for. I am looking forward to seeing you this season and sharing with you in the tending of the small spaces in this place.

Blessings of Peace,
Sandy

Monday, August 9, 2021

Tried by Fire by Roberta Tilden

 A couple of weeks ago I glanced out the window and was happy to see what I thought were cloudy skies.  Then my daughter-in-law called me in a panic.  She told me to step outside.  That’s when I saw the red glow of a wild fire and found out that we were at stage two evacuation.  My kids insisted I pack a bag and go to a motel.  I realized as I stepped out of the front door and looked back at my home that almost everything was replaceable.  It is just stuff.  The only thing I would be sad about was losing family pictures.

Well I ended up having a nice little “staycation” and then went back home safe and sound.

Our church community has been tried by fire this year, with the Covid pandemic.  I wonder as we look back, what we will carry forward, and what we will leave behind.

Please pray for the gift of spiritual discernment as make the decisions that will affect our future.  Our communities may be somewhat different as we journey forward.  But with God as our partner, we will move safe and sound into the future.    

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Since I Met You by Pam Robison

I was a GOOD person. I followed all the laws--well, mostly! I'll admit, I did go a little too fast sometimes, but never anything major. I had a job I was good at--not something I loved, but it paid well, and we lived very comfortably. I donated to organizations that helped the less fortunate...did all the things I should--that society expected of me as a good person.

I went to church regularly--Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night...attended camps and retreats. I read my scriptures and prayed faithfully--over meals, at night, whenever someone asked me to.

I knew all about you. You were part of my life--but safely separate from my everyday activities. You were "up there"--where I could take you down when I needed to, but you didn't get in my way.

And then I met you--really met you. You left "up there"...stepped out of the pages of my scriptures--and called me by name.

You came into my life and disrupted it! You led me down paths I used to ignore...into situations I didn't want to deal with. You showed me people in need--real people who needed me, not just my money. You asked me to speak up...to speak out...to be your hands and feet...your voice.

Life WAS so much easier before I met you--but I can't go back. I don't want to go back. I don't know where the road is leading...who my fellow travelers will be...what I will experience. I don't know how difficult my life will be, moving on--but I've learned that none of that matters since I met you.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

“Love one Another” by Nancy Sacry

“I want to find ways for us to work together. I know we’re not always going to agree, and I’m okay with that.  But if we have the same goals–of making this world a better world–isn’t it possible for us to find ways to accomplish that together?” Pam Robison

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  1John 4:11-12 NIV

What a mess! Our world seems to become more divisive every day. And yet the thing that give me hope is the community we have formed in our little congregation. To be sure, we don't all agree on everything, nor do we vote the same, nor do we always agree on some of life’s deep questions, but the spirit of God has allowed us to create a community, a family of love and trust.

I cannot do all things myself, I can't fix the bitter rancor and divides that we are daily bombarded with by the media, but I know that because of the love of God we have created a safe haven of love and sanctuary in our congregation. When one hurts, we all hurt. When on grieves, we all grieve. We celebrate the joys of life together. I may not see things your way, but I can take the time to see things through your perspective.

We can create havens of sanctuary in our congregations. We can support people, even when we don't agree with them on everything. I learned a lesson in listening a long time ago with my job. Most people don't care if you truly agree with them, they just want to be heard and affirmed by having someone listen to them. When the Christ in me sees the Christ in you, it changes our heart.

 We recently spent hours helping someone who had been judged by the apartment community they lived in.  To be sure there were actions by all parties that were causing the situation to deteriorate, but if we didn't help, the situation would have gotten worse.

 Our church community was being judged for helping this person. One of the people came to me and questioned "how could we be so blind? Didn't we know they were just using us?" My response was that God called us to love and value the worth of persons. My thought was even though others had decided this person was not worth helping, God did. That didn't mean we approved of everything this person did, but just that God valued them, and so too did we.

 When we build walls of judgement, we keep others out, it’s safer that way, less messy, and certainly makes life easier, but it’s not what we are called to do. Love one another, in doing so we make God visible.

Not easy, but part of the journey as disciples.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Today, I Experienced Jesus’ Kindness by Gil Martell

I drive special needs school bus for First Student. The morning of November 13, 2018 God’s grace and generosity was expressed through the encounter of two of my students, who are in the Live Skills Program.

Life Skills Program is a very basic, how to feed oneself, verbal and non-verbal communication, dressing of self, going to the bathroom, and other minimal skills.

Brian is a student who uses a wheel chair and needs others to help him move it. He has been taught to use his hands to turn the wheels of the chair for only limited distance. Painful, yes, but it is a feeling of independence for him. The morning of November 13th when his sister brought him to the bus, she informed the bus aide and me that Brian was fussy. Brian lacks good speech skills to communicate how he feels and his needs. My bus aide, as she was fastening his chair in, was trying to comfort him with kind words. Brian sobbed loudly and we could tell he was upset with his sister for some reason.

Gloria, whom we picked up earlier, sat close to where Brian’s chair was fastened. She sensed he was upset. Gloria is almost non-verbal, very cognitive delayed, and has weak motor skills. At times Gloria can get very hyper and yells loudly. When she got on my bus earlier before Brian, my bus aide learned Gloria was upset with her brother that morning too.

I let the Special Ed Resource students depart when we arrived at the school. Brian and Gloria waited for a school aide to get them. I ask Gloria if she would like to help me with the bus chair lift, since she and Brian were both still a bit agitated. I showed her which buttons to push on the remote chair lift and she did her best. When Brian was safely lowered and off the lift, Gloria reached over, put her arm around Brian, and leaned her head to his head. That simple gesture of kindness put smiles on their faces. Gloria’s reaching out brought both Brain and herself comfort and healing in that moment. Two of God’s children sharing kindness with each other. I was overwhelmed as I observed the physical act of kindness of Jesus through Gloria and Brian. Yes, all are of Worth and all are called to share Jesus’ kindness.

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I notice power had gone out from me.”  -Luke 8:40-48 NRSV

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Time with a friend by Lavera Wade

We have during this pandemic had the opportunity during quiet times alone to reflect on how precious our time with friends and loved ones can be.   

Spiritual practices are time spent with our Loving friend.  This time can be spent reflecting on a scripture, a Psalm, a tree, a prayer, or silence.  A few minutes or an hour, sitting or kneeling while weeding.  God will be delighted to spend time with you.

I offer an adaptation of the Spiritual practice Welcoming Prayer

Welcome Peace

Heavenly Parent, we praise you, the beauty and wonder of your creation assures us of your power, as you comfort us with your tender love. 

I hide my face in wonder that you seek my love, for only your love fills my heart.  Help me my Lord, to trust that I am your beloved, that the love and esteem of other’s can never bring the joy I seek and find in your loving care.  

Send your Spirit to teach me again that my needs are as simple as mana, water, and faith in your love and strength.  May I always remember that I am safe and secure in your love.

Remind me Oh Lord, that power and control are an illusion of the human condition, and only come from you.  Help me remember that Jesus came with all power, and walked this earth as a teacher and servant.  Please grant me the grace to follow Jesus’ example.

Help me, Oh Lord, to surrender the thought that I might control any situation.  Bless me with the peace and faith that you will provide the courage and strength to trust and follow you.

Oh Lord when I am in the dark valley, and fear what is before me.  Help me to remember all the blessings you have provided.  Comfort me, that I might be assured that you will always be with me, and your Love and grace will be waiting for me where ever you might lead me.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Second Chances by Dodie Gregory

That title could imply many things.  For me it gives me a chance to continue in my chosen profession as a registered nurse.  Unlike many I was blessed to work for 55 years in a job that I dearly loved.  Probably would still be working had my heart not been hijacked by coronary artery disease.  So, after a 5-vessel coronary bypass surgery I find myself on the discard heap.

 

I got my addiction filled by bugging former workmates about what I was missing and watching medical shows on TV (many I say could use better expert consulting), flipping houses, training and competing for the senior Olympics in swimming, race walking, totally remodeling my condo and garden. Still left was that hole created by 55 years in nursing.

 

Then low and behold along comes covid 19 (I refuse to give it respect with capital letters).  But I do digress.

 

Due to millions of vaccinations needing to be given and not so many givers available the Washington State Department of Health enacted emergency legislation to allow unlicensed medical retired personnel to receive authorization to administer covid vaccinations. 

 

It was like God said "finally I can get Dodie to quit her whining".  After filling out many pages of information that I could barely remember I received authorization to participate as a volunteer.

 

Then on to the next obstacle.  Current BLS/CPR certification was required because of course there may be some that will have an untoward reaction to the vaccine.  Testing, oh no, thought I was done with that.  Well good news I did make it through that requirement and currently am letting pharmacies know I am available to be recycled.

 

God has told us to pray and give praise for ALL things.  I believe this pandemic is for a reason, His reason.  I do thank him that He has allowed me to continue to be of use to His people.  His will be done.

 

I sincerely hope you all consider getting the vaccine.  I really don't think God gave us the vaccine not to be received.  He loves you, trust Him.

 

In His Name

Dodie Gregory, Happy and Fulfilled

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

A Virtual Ordination

 Recently I was ordained to the office of priest. In the early spring of 2020, we had just begun contemplating a date for the service when the COVID-19 Pandemic caused in-person worship to cease. This put a pause on planning. I am grateful the church prepared a way to make most sacraments available to be administered online. My service in many respects had the same elements as most ordination services: prayers, hymns, words of testimony and affirmation, a charge, and of course the laying on of hands and ordination itself. While we were not physically gathered, the Spirit was still ever present. The virtual laying of hands on my head was just as meaningful and spirit-filled. What was even more a blessing was because the service was held online, people from all over the nation and world could attend. People whom I have made connections with through Latter-day Seekers, Graceland Seminary, Spiritual Formation and Companioning Program, and the various congregations I have attended, and of course family and friends. Many people that likely would not have been able to attend if this service were in person. It was a memorable day that I will cherish always, made all the more special by those who were able to attend.

By Tyler Marz

Crystal Spring Congregation (Bothell, WA)

Inland-West Community Elevated Young Adult Ministry

Monday, January 4, 2021

“The Art of Staying at Home” by Roberta Tilden

Unlike most spiritual practices, the art of staying at home seems to become harder the longer we are obliged to do it, especially for those of us who live alone.  Fortunately, I am blessed by God with a cat to love, talk to and, at times laugh at.  My heart really goes out to those who don’t even have that. 

This got me to thinking about our Heavenly Parent, and how lonely and bored he must have been before he created our world and us, his beloved children.  What we are experiencing is nothing compared to that.  This down time can be an opportunity to pray, meditate, and study spiritual books.  After all there is only so much television we can watch before our brains start shutting down.

Remember, we were all created to love our Heavenly Parent, and to be loved in return.  God is truly our rock of eternal salvation.  Now is the perfect opportunity to turn to God in our hour of need.  Come now to God in praise and thanksgiving for all the wonderful gifts God showers upon us each day.

I would end with stay safe, but honestly no worries, we are all safe in God’s loving arms.