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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, March 23, 2007

The Twelve Steps and Lent: Step 9

Step 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Steps. The word 'steps' is neutral. It's a step - and increment - a gradation. I'm making the assumption that most of my readers are not the kind that leap tall buildings in a single bound or that run up steps three at a time. Sorry, Rocky Balboa, but I am no buffed Italian Stallion and the stairs up to the museum in Philadelphia would leave me winded. Perhaps, dear Farmer, you and I have enough mileage or enough aches & pains or enough trepidation that one step at a time is quite sufficient.

Even if you ARE the adventurous type, these kind of steps are best taken one at a time. In fact, you may climb down one or two to start back up again. These steps demand and deserve our attention and focus. It may take us days, weeks, months, even years to stand on just one step for it to feel natural and "right".

Making amends to someone - directly whenever possible - is one hellavuh step. Just trying to make contact with someone you ran over or discarded in your self-centered pursuit of gratification may prove difficult. Bear in mind that you were not on the receiving end of your manipulation, deception, abuse or neglect. You were not the one who was taken for granted.

Through going through the gradual process that are the steps to recovery you have recalled what you have done wrong, confessed it and understood that - as far as God is concerned, the slate is now clean.

Step nine is going back to the person who may have a rather hefty laundry list on you -- the things done and the things left undone -- and saying that you are sorry with your whole being. Trying to right the wrongs. Another tall order, another opportunity for the grace of the Higher Power to work in each of you that which neither of you can inspire. Bruised or broken trust is difficult to recover from.

There are times when you can get in touch with the person you harmed. You get your foot in the door, you started telling them about your divine deliverance to sanity and they may be too embittered to forgive you. That can happen. What you can take from it is that you saw the error of your ways and tried to make it better. Period.

The person you offended may have died. You cannot make direct amends to them. write them. Lay it all out. Then listen to your dreams - whether you get some notion that she or he has heard you. Hold on to the written confession for a while - then when the time is right, burn the confession to ashes as a token of laying that error to rest.

Take the time to seek these people out --- UNLESS you are convinced that revisiting the issue will cause more harm than good.... then use the ritual above.

When we face each of those we have hurt, our pain is exorcised... and so is theirs. Less baggage, less anger, less unfinished business. After this step you will have the freedom to live more and more in the present and a brighter future.

'Create in me a clean heart O God, and sustain me with your Holy Spirit'.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Joseph, husband and stepfather, March 19

I have often thought of what a wonderful man Joseph ben Jacob must have been.

There is no mention in the Bible that Joseph and Mary had an arranged marriage. They sought each other out, rather than marrying for the prestige or any financial implications to either Joesph or his family.

Joseph was a tradesman, not the upper crust. He was, I imagine, a real 'regular guy'. Even while the outside of him tended to the ordinary side, on the inside he must have been a wonderfully holy man.

He had reason, occasion and law to fall back on when Mary disclosed she was pregnant - and he KNEW he wasn't the father. There would be finger pointing and local scandal and the utter humiliation of the woman he had grown to love... and his conscience and a dream convinced him that letting her go would be a devastating mistake to everyone concerned. He believed in God and the power of prayer and the word God speaks to our hearts even when we sleep.

They would marry - and he would love her and the child that he loved as his own. From a humble beginning he would teach his first born son the ways of life and and love and devotion to God in prayer. Joseph continued to be open in his mystic knowledge when warned that his young family may be in danger and they had to migrate elsewhere for sanctuary. They eventually settled in Nazareth.

While it is never mentioned in the books we collectively call the Bible, we can certainly imagine this Jesus going through the terrible twos and inquisitive threes.... and the teen years?? In Luke we know that age 12 on a Passover caravan trip to Jerusalem he peeled off from the group, staying behind. When Joseph and Mary found he was not with any of their relatives or friends, they backtracked to Jerusalem and spent 3 days looking for him, worried out of their wits. When they eventually found him in the temple, swapping questions and interpretations of the Torah with the Rabbis, Mary pulled Jesus aside for a slice of guilt "Why have you treated us like this? We looked everywhere for you!" Jesus' reply, supplied by Luke, could be translated- "Well.... why didn't you look here first? Didn't you think I would be in my Father's house?" ... and they didn't get it(or they may have thought that response was fairly flippant).

After that interaction, we only read that he went back home with them and was obedient to them... and chances are he was, in our vernacular, grounded for some time.

The last entry dealing at all with Jesus' upbringing - again by the personable Luke -is that Jesus "increased in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favor".

There are records that Joseph and Mary had more children after Jesus(a small family in that day and age would have been unusual). It's reasonable that Jesus - from an early age - would have watched Joseph at work in the woodshop and perhaps learned some techniques at his father's elbow...but we don't know. We don't know how and when Joseph died. We know only that he did the best he could with what he had.... and because none of the Evangelists mention him later on during the ministry of Jesus, his death must have occurred before Jesus was 30.

Joseph was a good man, open to divine revelation. He lived and died an honorable, generous man of goodwill - an example to all fathers and workers. A relatively unsung hero, his task was unique in some ways and completely average in others: Be a good Dad, provide for the upkeep of the family, provide a loving and living example of faith in action.

Blessed Joseph, help us to encourage all in our charge to live with dignity, integrity and grace.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Healthy Attitude for Musing on Middle Age

Here I am. At a place it never ever occurred to me I would be:
......middle age. I will become older than my father when he died this year. Now there's a new perspective. Between that fact and the lady that stares at me from the foggy bathroom mirror in the morning.

With that all on my mind, I recently purchased the Nancy LaMott recording "Listen to My Heart" and heard her rendition of James Taylor's song The Secret O' Life. I was moved to tears. Try to find it if you can.... otherwise, just soak some plain down-home wisdom, via Mr. Taylor:

Secret O' Life
------James Taylor

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
Any fool can do it
There ain't nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to
The top of the hill
But since we're on our way down
We might as well enjoy the ride

The secret of love is in opening up your heart
It's okay to feel afraid
But don't let that stand in your way no
'Cause anyone knows that love is the only road
And since we're only here for a while yeah
Might as well show some style

Give us a smile now
Isn't it a lovely ride
Sliding down
And gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It's just a lovely ride

Now the thing about time is that time
Isn't really real
It's all on your point of view
How does it feel for you
Einstein said that he could never understand it all
Planets spinning through space
The smile upon your face

Welcome to the human race
Isn't that a lovely ride
Sliding down
Gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It's just a lovely ride

Isn't that a lovely ride
Oh mama yes
See me sliding down
And gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It's just a lovely ride

Now the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.


For those like me - who have a gan-green thumb - this line of thought may speak to you better than just taking the time to smell the roses.

....... and thank God for the ride of life you've been given(with still more to come)! What an ongoing gift!

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