Thursday, October 15, 2020

Finding God in the Verbs :: Brent Bill & Jenny Isbell

Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer by J. Brent Bill and Jenny Isbell – on Amazon

Finding God in the Verbs book coverI've enjoyed all of Brent's books, but the ones that directly engage the reader's connections with God are his best! Although it's not in a traditional workbook format, this colorfully covered book he co-authored with Jenny Isball is full of simple exercises or activities a reader can work through in order to connect more intimately with God. As I tried a few of the suggestions I wrote in a spiral bound notebook; that's been my style for other spiritual and general self-help books, though there's no reason not to make notes on the pages of the book instead of or in addition to.

Finding God in the Verbs is altogether very well done yet in a rare way that doesn't often happen in printed – or on-screen – media. I easily can imagine the Good Book's psalmists approaching their prayers and songs that have become part of both Hebrew and Christian canons in the diverse ways the authors suggest.

Brent and Jenny include sample scriptures, prayer examples, and contemporary real-life incidents. I love the chapter titles! The bright splashy cover would look excellent alongside your scriptures; it would be a good reminder routinely and randomly to add some of these ways of Discovering God in the Verbs to your daily devotional times. You'll probably appreciate the endnotes, too.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September 2020 :: Pandemic Blues

pandemic blue September summary header collage

• Most of the world has gotten caught up in a serious case of existential blues from social isolation and other COVID-19 related realities; doubtless circumstances have led to many cases of clinical depression. Friend who pastors Church on the HIll in Previous City calls the current season Covidtide.

• I've now completed seven months of Reflections on Scripture During a Worldwide Pandemic, once known as early the following week Sunday School notes on my Urban Wilderness blog; here are my four for September.

Season of Creation 2020 5 designs

• Again this year I designed for the Four Sundays plus One of Season of Creation. The past two years I updated old designs and had planned to again, but the organizers changed themes and scripture readings. Nevertheless, despite pandemic blues, I created a group with Facebook cover photo dimensions and even got a major shoutout on the judicatory's FB page and on their website, giving me another pin on the map. Jubilee for the Earth is the overall theme for 2020.

strawberries in basket

• Only very rarely (almost never) do I blog a monthly summary without berries when they're in season. Although blacks and blues have been around, for September it's red strawberries.

moon flower 2020 star formation moon flower 2020 trumpet formation moon flower 2020 full open bloom

• Best guess is this was the last moon flower this year. Noticing one on the way and watching it unfold is such a pleasure.

local succulents local succulents

• This general area is so good for succulents and other desert flora.

church window box flower

• Sooooo… I got invited to real life indoors church! On the last Sunday of September, and only a few of us, very well distanced—and masked, of course. The outside window boxes have new flowers; I don't know if or when milkweed for monarchs will be back. I also don't know when more people will be back inside church and what on earth will all of us be doing for Thanksgiving Day?

autumn season of soul pandemic blues blog footer

• After I announced I wanted to design a new autumn-themed header for my twitter and crowd sourced a quote to add, someone suggested "The Season of Soul." Despite late spring through mid-summer being my fave time of year, I love the full, ripe feeling of early fall days. I truly love how they remind me of the year-round magic of late afternoon's visual and psychological glow (yes, that's a photographic golden hour), of a day that has reached a certain stage so we need to rest and sleep into the next one's sunrise. Autumn makes souls and voices sing differently from any other season, and the overall style of autumn soul relates well to pandemic blues. They make a nice pair that travels well together!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Five Minute Friday • Church


Five Minute Friday Linkup: Church

• Five MInute Friday is a Christian gathering, yet welcomes anyone who wants to practice writing and meet new people. Most prompts are generic, but this time it's—church.

Taking 5 to type

In the beginning I encountered the church as Corita Kent's art and Dietrich Buxtehude's music. I wrote that right: "as" art and music, not "in" art and music. Many people go on pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Wittenberg, or Geneva; I've made them to Corita's studio in Los Angeles, to Buxtehude's Marienkirche in Lübeck. I knew nothing of law or gospel, scripture or sacrament.

Before long I discovered everyone gathered at Central Church to get the news, to shop at the markets. The tower clock rang hours, quarters, halves of secular time, called the baptized into the building to celebrate sacred liturgical time.

Slowly I learned about Christianity's long history of justice, advocacy, compassion, and care. And prayer. Theological distinctions and differences. I *even* learned to read and interpret scripture and finally started to get how Being Church was about following Jesus to the cross (to Jesus' cross, not out own) and to the empty grave.

These days? I sometimes reflect on sin and grace, mercy and healing, scripture and sacrament. Creating as a liturgical artist somewhat in the tradition of Corita is a major part of my participation in being church…

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five minute friday new button

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Hard Side of the River :: Johnny Payne

The Hard Side of the River: A Novel of Abolition by Johnny Payne on Amazon

Novelist, poet, playwright, librettist Johnny Payne directs the MFA in Creative Writing at Mount Saint Mary's University in Los Angeles.

Hard Side of the River by Johnny Payne book coverI ducked my head to get under the doorframe, as if I'd arrived home after a long day's work.

And isn't homecoming the ultimate redemption?

You know about timely! Johnny Payne started The Hard Side of The River long before its 2019 publication date and before this exceptional year 2020, but receiving my copy from the author when I did gave me broader perspective than I could have had earlier.

For a while the USA as a whole imagined it had moved past days when some humans bought and sold other humans like chattel; most probably considered their town of residence and place of work (relatively) safe for all comers.

Thoroughly researched with characters that change and adapt as the plot progresses, this historical novel begins south of the freedom line of the Ohio River in 1831, concludes in 1834—three decades before the Battle of Fort Sumter, Emancipation Proclamation, Juneteenth… close to two centuries before a renewed civil rights endeavor across the United States and other parts of the world in the wake of continued unjust treatment of Blacks and other Persons of Color. Each chapter provides first-person narration related to currents of one of four main characters: slave tracker Dan Baskin; escaped slave Jacob Pingram; abolitionist school teacher Dana Curbstone, or abolitionist parson Cal Fenton. The story includes three other important persons: Dan's partner Leora who later becomes his wife; a young girl named Rae who's designated step-daughter by Leora and Dan; Jacob's partner Esmerelda whom he marries.

Water is the womb of this planet's birth, the matrix of our own beginnings. Throughout the history of humanity, water has equaled life. Waterways have carried necessary cargo to distant destinations; ships have transported humans to lives of freedom, and sometimes into slavery. Just north of Kentucky that belonged to the antebellum South, Ohio was free territory. For Jacob and others like him, the Ohio River bordering both those states symbolized the relative freedom he could own if he could reach the Ohio side. On foot at a shallow location? By swimming? In a vessel? The river's width, its torrents, and its openness to spying eyes of slave trackers all could be serious barriers.

Almost two centuries after Payne's historical novel, southern California has become the most ethnically and linguistically diverse settlement in the history of humanity. Beyond life-generating waters, humans must create a world safe for differences, as people finally did for Jacob and for each other on the safe side (the soft side, maybe?) of the Ohio. Making different safe is a beginning. Next? To create a world that welcomes, celebrates, and revels in diversity, where people no longer feel strange, where they know they have arrived home.

Because no one is free until every one is free, everyone still resides south of the freedom line. Preachers and others seeking justice and freedom for all humanity – and for planet earth – might enjoy Johnny Payne's version of when and how it happened at least once.

I ducked my head to get under the doorframe, as if I'd arrived home after a long day's work.

Doesn't everyone long for a place to belong? Isn't homecoming the ultimate redemption for the one who gets welcomed and for the ones who do the welcoming?


Notice of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from the author without any expectation I'd write a positive review. As always, opinions are my own.

Friday, September 11, 2020

911 nineteen years


we will always remember…

celebrating hope
911 2001
911 2020
19 years

Where were you?

WTC image by GLady on pixabay

Sunday, August 30, 2020

August & Summer 2020

summer 2020 june july august blog sandy beach header collage

June 2020 :: Retrospect Prospect – Into the Future

July 2020 • Into a Future

• As I've been doing at the conclusion of each meteorological season, I've linked to Emily P Freeman's What I Learned…

• My lectionary blog continues with virtual Sunday School notes; here are Reflections on Scripture during a Global Pandemic for August.

yellow school bus 2016 school supplies 2020

• Most years my real new year begins when schools start up again in the fall (or August if that's the case). With COVID-19 filling the planet, 2020 has been different, but I'll still claim a new beginning from now into September. I took this yellow school bus picture four years ago; the "cooling at school" sentiment still holds. Like many grownups, I go crazy in any school-office-art supply department in any store. Happily, stores were well-stocked as usual, so as usual I updated my stash with a few necessities. I already had plenty of notebooks, composition books, and some looseleaf paper, so concentrated on replenishing other stuff.

LA Metro Artist Pool

• This announcement belonged in winter 2020—how could I have left it out?! I got into Los Angeles Metro transit system's artist pool! Happily I noticed the call for entries about a week before they extended the deadline, giving me time to choose the max ten pieces they allowed. My graphically designed résumé was ready to go, and a friend helped me refine the artist's statement they required. Good timing, since I then updated my LinkedIn with a modified version!

• Inclusion doesn't guarantee you'll get a commission; it does guarantee they'll consider you and, of course, it's an awesome CV line item. For 'hoods I especially resonate with I listed Downtown, Glendale, Hyde Park, Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Van Nuys, West LA, and Westwood. They probably consider those preferences when they look for people to contribute to certain communities.

new 2020 sun country blueberries

• No matter what, when, or where, berry season can't stop turning every day and place into a sun country space. They're slowing down some, yet still local, affordable, and fairly abundant at Farmers' Markets and conventional retailers.

Vote Joe Biden and Kamala Harris 2020

• With rare exceptions, it's become always #VoteBlueNoMatterWho. Although this year's Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates would be a stellar pair any year, they bring exceptional integrity and deep experience that's needed more than ever. At. This. Time.

• Thanks for visiting! As you may have noticed, no interesting outings or excursions happened during August, but with life gradually opening up, September may feature a few.

Emily P Freeman What I learned in summer 2020

backyard greens celebrating seasons

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Feast of St Francis


The Feast of St Francis
04 October 2020
Francis of Assisi: Creation Spirituality

Praise the Lord, you sea monsters and all deeps.
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!
Psalm 148:7, 9, 10