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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, November 30, 2007

Always a Bridesmaid: St. Andrew, November 30

Andrew is the quintessential bridesmaid. He may have even introduced the two who were meant for a special relationship with each other, but that will be simply an anecdote in history and not the main story.

Andrew had been a follower of John the Baptist and was told by John to join Jesus. It was Andrew who introduced Peter to Jesus by most accounts. The rest is history with Andrew always listed as one of the twelve who shared the constant company of Jesus. His destiny was not to be the star. He was in the chorus.

If we have a streak in us -- I speak from personal experience -- to be noticed, praised, have attention drawn to us in one way or another, Andrew should be our patron saint (if not John the Baptist whose motto was: He must increase, I must decrease). They got the job done, pointed people in the right direction and stepped back into the chorus, into the background with everyone else. It's the Christian way.

Thank you Andrew, my patron saint. May your example inspire me more and more so that more are drawn to Jesus, the Christ.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sanctuary and Sabbath

My heart longs for sanctuary
in a world where little refuge is found
for a longing soul.
Here in the monastery, silence is essential
for the heart to hear its greatest fear
or its sweetest music.
Speech is intentional. Anything less would appear
as graffiti on the walls of the corridors of brick
glazed by years of prayer, work and discipline.
My inner demons are not drowned out by exterior noise; rather their clamoring,
clattering is finally experienced as if amplified by 200 percent because there is no resistance here.

How can I take this sabbath experience
the setting aside of time for edification and nourishment of the Holy
applying it to my hectic, disorganized life?

I can remember this time and place,
I can feel the inner sense of centeredness
I can, only with God's love and strength
summon the discipline,
survive the trial and error
to institute a personal routine maintaining a watch on my heart and soul.

Advent comes closer with each day.
may my heart be drawn closer to the HEART of all creation.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

You'll know it AFTER you've stepped in it

If there weren't a slew of books on the market whose subject matter dealt in "what my dog has taught me" and "what I have learned from my dog" and "what animals could teach YOU" I just might be tempted to write a book myself about Miss Emmy Lou Depue.

Let me give you some examples of what Em has taught me. Periodically Em and I stay overnight at the Farm when I am serving as deacon to Barbara's priest at St. Luke's in Metuchen or if I am going to drive her to a retreat early (anything before noon) the following day. Emmy Lou enjoys a good drive in the car and now knows the lay of the land as far as the Farm is concerned.

The Farm is inhabited by Four creatures of the feline variety: What's-Her-Name, Gypsy, Ben and Kitten..oh, and several humans. Em does quite well around humans. Making these trips has also helped her establish an understanding, if you will, with Ben and Kit when they are all indoors together. What's-Her-Name and Gypsy stay mostly outside and when inside keep a low profile on the third floor, so I haven't seen how those relationships are evolving.
Ben quacks much less frequently and Kit seems bewildered by Emmy's tail. I know this because she followed us up the stairs to the second floor yesterday, coming nearly close enough to give Emmy's tail a decent kitty swipe.

At about 4 in the morning, one of the cats was trying to pick the bedroom door open with the old 'paw under the door' trick. It didn't work, but Em, using her indoor manners did not growl or make any type of fuss.

This being said, all bets are off in the out of doors. In my EpiscoPup's mind, anything out of doors is fair in something to be chased and/or caught. This goes for cats, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, rabbits, skunk. This also goes for any food that is left on the ground unattended and woefully neglected -- whether it is cat OR dog food.

Open up the back door at the Farm and she is off like a bullet in the direction of whatever is moving (and in the case of dry cat food, not moving). I call her back and she approaches looking at my body language. No, I am NOT annoyed if she has given a squirrel some aerobic exercise, but the cats and their food is another matter.

She knows this because I use a certain tone of disapproval, her ears go back, head goes down, there is no eye contact, she sits down rather pathetically before me and her normally flagging tail lays straight out -- with only the very tip wagging tentatively. She knows when she has made a mistake.

I know when I have made a mistake if I go to play with Emmy in our backyard BEFORE I have gone on pooper patrol. THAT mistake is unmistakable by the slip, the thud hitting the ground, the distinctive aroma and the unpleasant clean up.

Then again, aren't many of our mistakes like that? We only recognize them AFTER the fact and we come face to face with their consequences. The very wonderful thing about mistakes is we CAN be sorry about them. With God's help we ask forgiveness of the person offended and utilize the grace God provides to make some changes. Just the way Emmy has learned that to escape the wrath of a puff-tailed quacking Ben she must keep her distance, we can learn to approach situations differently or to amend our reactions to people or situations.

Just keep the rather graphic picture of the decidedly un-dainty pratfall in my leaf-cloaked, soggy backyard in the back of your mind. If you ever find out that you've stepped in 'it' you will find a way to avoid the same experience the next time around. With a bit of humor, forgiveness, training, grace and understanding you'll find entire new pastures to explore..being careful to watch your step, of course.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Feast of James Otis Sargent Huntington, November 25

NB: This piece contains biographical information found in Lesser Feasts and Fasts,1994, published by The Church Hymnal Corporation in 1995.

How fitting it is that Barbara will be giving an Advent/Sabbath retreat for Sabbath workers from November 27-29 at the Monastery of the Order of the Holy Cross, the religious order founded by Fr. Huntington.

It should first be clarified that the Episcopal Church doesn't go through the Roman Catholic process of 'making' saints. There don't have to be a certain number of miracles performed by the candidate during and after their earthly lifetime. The body is not exhumed to note whether there has been no, little or minimal decay -- or whether a hand or face are perfectly intact.

What our denomination DOES do on an ongoing basis is consider the names submitted by church organizations or diocese of deceased individuals who, during their lifetime, were extraordinarily gifted and giving in fields such as teaching, human or civil rights, humanitarian efforts, theology, works of mercy with groups of outcasts or the handicapped, etc. These names are then put forward for inclusion in our liturgical calendar in celebration of their lives and accomplishments for the greater good. A vote is taken at General Convention. If there is a consensus for inclusion, lo and behold, the following year they pop up with a feast day in their name.

Fr. Huntington is given a particular day (as recorded in the book Lesser Feasts and Fasts) for his unfailing devotion to a life of prayer complimented by a life of active ministry and his establishment of the first permanent Episcopal monastic community for men in the United States.

Born in Boston in 1854 he later graduated from Harvard, attended Divinity School in Syracuse and was ordained deacon and priest by his father, the first Bishop of Central New York. He originally worked with a blue collar mission church in Syracuse and only later felt a call to the religious life. Instead of joining a community which was based elsewhere but maintained a 'house' in the United States, he believed it important to found an indigenous American community. To that end, he and two colleagues came to minister at Holy Cross mission with the Sisters of St. John the Baptist on New York's lower east side to Eastern European immigrants, paying particular attention to the needs of immigrant children. Parenthetically, to this day the cross given to the Order's life professed members is the cross given to novices of the Sisters of St. John Baptist.

He stood up with labor union organizers for workers rights, helping to establish the Episcopal Church's involvement in social issues and ministries. The Order moved to Maryland and eventually to West Park, NY in 1902 on the site of the current Mother house.

Fr. Huntington served as Superior of the Order on several occasions and remained active in the life of the Order, celebrating the Eucharist, preaching, teaching and spiritual direction until his death in February 1935.

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