The Night Watch

Thursday night I picked up my brother Hank and a crew of two paid observers, a kayaker and a first mate, at the Isthmus on Catalina Island so that he could, for his fifth time, swim over to Palos Verdes. He chooses the depth of night to undertake this challenge for it is then when the sea is most settled. For ten hours and fourteen minutes, it was my job to guide the boat near the kayaker who was escorting my brother.  Hank has said these night swims are akin to being in a watery womb. That night, with the engine purring quietly and nothing but a bobbing green light against the ebony water revealing his location; with the half-moon red and sinking down into the sea, the night black and snug and the crew silent and sipping strong coffee, observing, I intuited a waiting, a guarding, a shepherding and a cherished loving that felt like hope, that felt like life.

by Andrew

Mischief Night

In the northeast, October 30th is known as “Mischief Night.” In the towns where I lived, this eve of Hallowe’en was the time when teenagers would sneak out to their friends’ homes and string miles of toilet paper on the trees and some would even throw raw eggs at the sides of houses. We all knew to leave every exterior light blazing to discourage the pranks, yet some of the more audacious young people were not discouraged by that. My kids were always kept in that night for obvious reasons. Now that I’m aging I look back at that time as almost a metaphor for my own life. There has been many a “mischief night” in my time on earth, some worse than others. Yet, I have always been given the grace to gain forgiveness through the great gift of reconciliation. That dying to sin and making amends hopefully will keep me in the blazing light of the Lord.

by JAM

Celebrating Eternal Life

Within the next few days, our autumn attention shifts to eternal life as we celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints and All Souls Day. These three days are also called “Dia de los Muertos,” (the Day of the Dead) in Mexico. Returning this year, our community will experience the traditional Mexican ofrenda, or altar, located inside the church, constructed by our Hispanic ministry and dedicated to all deceased. Believing that the dead would be insulted by mourning, the celebration of Dia de Los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience. Those who have gone before us remain a part of the community and are called to share in our celebrations. The altar is decorated with the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, many symbolic objects, and marigolds. The most familiar symbols are the skeletons and skulls which are almost always portrayed as enjoying life, often in fancy clothes and entertaining situations. Let us join in these beautiful festivities and rejoice in our eternal promise of everlasting life.

by DC

Loving Grace

Loving Grace, you fill my world with enchantment, illumination, and wonder.

Loving Grace, the warmth of the golden sun beaming down upon my face and the blanket of dancing stars in the inky night sky, fill me with enchantment, the giggle of a child and the trust of innocence fill me with enchantment.

And Loving Grace, when the rain of tears flood my cheeks and the hurricane force of winds destroys my home, my harmony and security, your golden light holds me gently, caringly in an illumination that transforms the ruin into resurrection. I become the phoenix rising out of the ashes of terror, grief, and suffering.

In the end, though, it is the love of hearts that have reached out and held me, the hearts I have taken into my own, the friendships, the family, the music, the people life has brought to me, through your Loving Grace, that have filled my life with wonder.

Please enjoy, “Loving Grace.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg4wcckWyYw

by Gracie

Moving Right Along

In the thirty-nine years of our married life, we have moved eleven times. This week we are moving to a new home again. We have been living temporarily for nine months in a condo while also living in a place of liminality. Liminality comes from the Latin word limen meaning “threshold.” It is those times when you feel like you are standing in the middle of a bridge. There is no going back, only forward, to the unknown or new season of your life. Any type of loss can produce liminality as we are forced to be present to that loss, that grief. It can also be a place of great growth with God’s grace if we can embrace and learn from it. I remember this day that God makes all things new as I walk over the bridge once again and say goodbye to liminality, for now.  “I make all things new.” Revelation 21:5

by Cathy

The Serenity Swing

Hiking the road less traveled was the perfect trail for my son to choose as we climbed the mountain to a swing that has been permanently affixed to a giant oak tree, profoundly named, “The Serenity Swing.” Others walk or climb the trail that is more marked by the foot traffic. Ours was the trail where we encountered a snake, hopped over barbed wire fences, and grabbed onto rocks as we climbed to the top. Once we arrived, we took in all the surrounding beauty of the sunlit hills and the grandeur of the view.  The climb reminds me of the journey we are on, taking on life’s adventures, bumps, and turns. My son is learning to take this life straight on, encountering the snakes and barbed wire along the way. We shared our hearts and connected as we felt the lightness of life when we swung on the swing, giving serenity to the day.

by Liz

At That Moment

It must have been October when Jesus sent out the 72 disciples, in pairs, before him. How daunting to be asked to go out and preach the word, with little instruction or knowledge. The long summer months of heat were behind them and the cold desert nights on the horizon. The one teaching given to them to help answer any doubters was all they really needed. ”For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you should say.”  I decided to go back to work this week after a long career. I retired for a year and contrary to current thought, the adjustment came easy.  I had only worked for two companies prior to retirement so going back to a brand new company rattled my confidence. It was daunting when I was asked to address 160 people after one week on the job. How relevant, even to our present day, are the teachings of the Holy Spirit.

by Diego

Here For A Season

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“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  John 12:24

Evergreens are static throughout the year, exhibiting their coat of needles or leaves in perpetuity. Deciduous trees drop their leaves, often in a glorious show of gold, orange and red. People travel from afar to witness the “turning of the leaves” in New England. Chlorophyll is to a leaf what blood is to a human. As the green chlorophyll breaks down, the beauty of the dying leaf is revealed.  We trust that next spring new sprouts will emerge, fresh green shoots from barren limbs, feeding the tree, hungry from winter’s hibernation. I too am here but for a season. I pray that I may be a humble leaf, swaying with my fellows in the movement of the Spirit, being of some small service to the Holy One and trusting in the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

by Andrew