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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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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

For ALL the Saints......

Whether through preaching engagements or assisting on retreats with Barbara I have come to meet many, many wonderful people. There are times when these same people ask whether I might become their spiritual advisor.

There are times when I believe the combination might be a good fit and times when the relationship may be a challenge. In most cases I agree on a one time basis and that each of us review what happened and whether we should continue.

It so happens that I recently met with a directee in her church. Not knowing the layout of this church I was unsure of where this particular room was. As it turned out, the room was a small chapel on the side of the church which was also used as a collumbarium (ashes are kept in niches in the wall - each niche is covered by a simple stone giving the name of the deceased and their life span).

I had never done spiritual direction in a small, intimate space such as this and I had a very intense spiritual reaction. Walking in the room (which at first glance seems simply like a room with decorative tiles on the walls) I heard tens of voices each giving praise to God. High voices and low voices. Whispers and shouts. A type of melodic chant was further away, almost out of earshot. Walking into the center of the room I felt almost light headed - nearly floating on a cloud.

There was a prayer desk in front of a brief altar with a simple cross. I excused myself for one moment to the directee and knelt down with an overflowing inexpressible amount of gratitude in my heart. I was sent to assist someone in their spiritual journey and here we both were, surrounded by the souls of those whose journey was done. They had met perfection and needed no longer strive for it. The two of us in that small space were surrounded by the cloud of witnesses that the Bible speaks of.

I know my directee was moved by the experience and I certainly was. What a debt of gratitude we owe to those who have gone before - those who were known to us and God alone, those who were known to many. The famous, the homeless, the benefactors and the beneficiaries, the overtly kind and those whose kindness and generosity was a private matter. All of them Saints. All of them incorporated into Love. One and All, All in One.

Let us today remember ALL the saints who are embraced by the everlasting joy of God. May they have rest if they need it or do whatever task God now requires of them - if only to support and assist two earthbound souls seeking to know God's call to them more clearly.

Remember UNICEF on Halloween

In response to my ramblings on Halloween last week I got this wonderful note from Tim Muther who lives in South West Virginia... and believe it bears repeating:

Dear Joanna,
Just a short note to say that my Aunt Betty aka
Elizabeth Muther Jacob, who worked at the UN, started
UNICEF in response to her dislike of her children
getting all that candy.
I saw the orange box the other day and was surprised
to see it, down here in S.W. Va, and warmed to see
that her Love for others still lives on. Tim Muther

Yes, Tim, I remember carrying those orange boxes that resembled small milk cartons while I was still of passable trick or treat age. You can complain about the United Nations for some things, but many of its associated organizations, such as UNICEF makes a major difference in developping countries and with children who are exposed to poor living conditions, poverty, lack of electricity, lack of drinking water or proper sewage facilities.

Few of the kids you will see later on today are DYING to have candy. The children who will be dependent upon your support of the Halloween UNICEF tradition of collecting for less fortunate children the world over will be LIVING in a significant way because you made an anonymous but generous donation to a worthy charity.

So... keep some change next to the door as well as the Mary Janes and the Milky Ways - someone other than a dentist will be thankful you did!

p.s. Thank you, Tim, for the story of your Aunt Betty. I'll remember her on Halloween and All Saints day as well!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Work on the lower 40 plus a p.s.

I actually DID get out to do work on the yard Sunday. My friend P came over, ostensibly to mow the front lawn which I had already weed-whacked and used the edger, so the front looks quite well just now, with a latex pumpkin on the top step, two smiling pumpkins in the two front windows and a cornucopia transfer on the front storm door. Another cornucopia graces the decorative flag flapping in the breeze.

While P worked in the front, I concentrated on the back yard, doing KP after my K9 and her recent playmate. It is difficult to detect certain things in the cold when one cannot smell particular odors as readily as they can be detected in summer. In addition to that, a great deal of the dark topsoil has been spread, making it very difficult to be meticulous while being on pooper patrol. Most was found (thank goodness).

Later on I weed-whacked around the patio and the cellar window wells done, and with the mower made a brief pass over the still grass covered area in the back, mulching (as one reader suggested) the various leaves that have fallen as I rumbled along.

We both took out any embedded aggression on the neighbors forsythia bushes which had popped through the chain fencing and hitting the ground, forming runners to make more plants. It took a full 8 years for me to rid the back and side yards of a plague of forsythia (nice plant to look at in the spring, but an awful hearty one to eliminate). She went along with a hedge trimmer and I followed with mega ratcheting clippers. When the dust and clippings settled a rather large mass of green limbs, shoots, twigs and vines lay half way up our legs. We dragged many to the side fence and - then I get another day - I'll scoop the lot of them into the required brown biodegradable bags and line them up on my property by the curb - the last reminder of a furious conquest to make my backyard tidy and presentable.

The two piles of mulch remain to be distributed... but that will hold for yet another day.

Only one passage comes to mind just now, with a twist.: Sufficient to the day is the exhaustion thereof.


As a p.s. to those animal lovers in the NY/NJ area.... I know it's short notice. Tonight at St. Clement's Church (423 W. 46th St.,New York, NY 10036) there will be
The Boston Terrier Tea Party to benefit the St. Clement's Vet. Clinic from 7p-10pm. There will be refreshments and entertainment: a guitarist, vocalist and some doggie tricks, including some from my pooch, Miss Emmy Lou. I'll be doing some stand up and improv. Join us if you can.... and I am sure donations will be accepted after the event. Just send them to St. Clements and mark them for the Vet.Clinic.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

That Falling Feeling

Fall is not my favorite season: it ranks #3 behind summer and spring. I am a summer baby. I enjoy the warmth, the daylight, the minimal layers of clothing.

The reality of this particular fall lends itself to a single invitation: yard work. NOT that work is bad or that I avoid working. There simply seems to be an insurmountable amount of work to be done for by person.

My list (are YOU a list maker,too?) still bears the scribble of tasks that I hoped to have completed during the summer months, but just didn't get around to it: distributing the remaining 20+ cubic yards of mulch and topsoil, pressure washing the house, patio, front walk, basketball backboard and driveway, clipping back the neighbors forsythia bushes which have grown through the wire fencing and began putting out runners - yet again - into my lawn, picking up the branches left behind by the arborist who thinned the pear and maple trees and removed several dead branches from the old apple. The last item was replacing the bent, rusted wire fencing with galvanized fencing and stronger,longer support poles.

My fall list includes engaging someone to clean the gutters in the back of the house - much to high for the ladder I own - and perhaps patching a small area of the roof that has been damaged. I know that because the ceiling in my home office right around the exhaust pipe has burst, the plaster has come down and mold is creeping in. Winter weather will only compound that damage. The front yard needs mowing that one last time before I put an additive in the remainder of fuel in the mowers gas tank to protect both the tank and the gas. Fall grass seed with special fertilizer needs to be applied with the broadcast spreader and weed whacking to be done around the patio and fence line in the back yard.

Oh, if I only had the guile and persuasive powers of Tom Sawyer... to get the neighborhood kids to come and pick up the twigs, snip back the encroaching forsythia and distribute the wheelbarrows full of needed nutrients and soil to the areas of my backyard where the roots of the trees, unable to penetrate the rock table (did I mention I live in ROCKland county???)grow up and through the thin layer of earth above. This pattern has begun to make it impossible to mow the backyard properly without destroying the blades of my mower.

All of this landscape work is impacted by the diminshing daylight. Thanks to Congress, this will be the first October in 41 years which will not see daylight saving time to go into effect. The change has been postponed until the first Sunday in November, ostensibly for energy saving purposes.

All of this being said, the display of color in the leaves remaining on the vines and trees in my region are breathtaking. Taxi cab yellow, pale lemon, lime, fucia, maroon, purple, tan, burnt siena, brown, tangerine, pumpkin and creamsicle orange shout their last hurrah before they haven't the strength to hold onto the branches any longer.

I have fond memories of raking leaves in mid-November into enormous heaps. Then, while dropping the rakes, barreling with wild abandon into the heaping piles, belly flopping into the crunchiness that smelled of earth with an edge. My exasperatted father only shook his head and directed my sister and me to clean up the piles once again. We would come into the apartment afterward, cheeks and noses cold and rosey, and be instructed to go directly into the bathroom to change and wash up; it was easier to sweep up all the crumpled leaf particles from the bathroom floor rather than having them tracked into each room of the apartment.

My other memory of leaves is recalling that it was the one thing we kids would be allowed to do to get apart from the grownups after Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of watching football, we were 'allowed' to go and rake. My cousins, sister and I would compete for the best leaf dive.

As it stands in the here and now, I'll have to rake,gather and compact the leaves into a minimum of 12 tall biodegradable bags and deliver them to the highway department via my ever faithful Henrietta Honda.

Perhaps it is time to make my annual silent personal retreat: autumn is the season that reminds me of the fragile nature of life and own my mortality in the omnipresent cyclicar scheme things. I am in the autumn of my earthly life and older than my father was when he died. A good season to set apart time with God for meditating on the mortal and the immortal - the constancy of change and the constancy of the Divine in it all. Perhaps I will be granted the grace to face that fall feeling with more hope, optimism and wonder. Amen, come Lord Christ and set my heart aflame with love for you and the rest of the path we will journey down together.

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