Homestead Labyrinth

Homestead Labyrinth

Monday, September 17, 2018

Why we celebrate the Saints as Adults

Today is the Feast of St. Hildegard of Bingen.  Quite a remarkable woman.  At Joy Fellowship, our Homestead community, we are celebrating Hildegard.  We are remembering our life work, her contributions to the church, her music and art.  You can read about Hildegard here: and in many other online sources.

Most parish churches no longer celebrate the feast days of the Saints, or even high holy days.  These days are transferred to Sundays--a time when more of the congregation is present. Or another activity gets planned near the feast.  Many churches provide for the Blessing of the Animals near the Feast of Francis of Assisi--it is an add on, so to speak and yet important. I understand the move toward this trend, but I think something gets lost along the way.  The call to gather as the faithful community in the midst of life seems to be eclipsed in a call to the masses. It's a sad trend in my mind's eye.

If you peruse the internet, you will find many articles written about celebrating these Saints days with children. One such article may be found here:  They provide a wonderful source for continuing formation.  But why is it that as we grow, we lose our zest for remember the saints? 

At Joy Fellowship, we try to take a more adult approach.  For instance, today, we have an Icon of Hildegard prominently placed on our dining table with a small bunch of the last of our summer zinnas.  We will pray her collect at our evening meal and listen to some of her music during our dinner. We will share in a type of cookie that is said to have healing properties and the recipe is attributed to Hildegard herself! Later, we will read from some of her writings together.  She is not just a role model for our children, but for our very adult selves, too.

For Franciscans, today is also the commemoration of the Stigmata of Francis.  We weave this into our conversations by remembering these faithful followers of Jesus.  We give a fuller celebration to Francis on his Feast day, October 4.

In the waning days of my active parish ministry, I chose Hildegard as the patron of a wellness initiative at the church where I served; I called this move toward wellness Hildegard's medicine.  It did not catch on I am sad to say, but I was profoundly impacted by life and her ministry.  She came to retirement with me, and on Wednesdays on our Facebook page (Joy Fellowship at Almost Paradise Homestead), we devote our space to wellness.  My favorite wellness night before I retired was the time we spent learning to belly dance together!  It was a small group with a fantastic teacher.  We weren't great dancers by any stretch of the imagination; but we were filled with laughter!  After all, laughter is the best medicine.

Perhaps there is a book in me--a series of reflections on how to celebrate/commemorate these incredible servants of God in our adult lives.  It isn't just for children anymore.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Always we begin again...

Always we begin again ...

The words above are attributed to St. Benedict.  How we need them.  I am embracing these words these days.  This year hasn't been gentle or kind... but these words remind me that we can begin again.

In January I became quite ill; later I required surgery in April--as did my dear husband. The journey was difficult and frightening.   I retired from active ministry in February--but these first few months of retirement weren't anything like I planned!  As if I could plan!  We have weathered many mishaps since that time--too numerous to write about, but let's say we have a new respect for the Book of Job!

And so, we are beginning again--these eclectic Episcopalians who now live the rhythm of life at Almost Paradise Homestead.  I am the vicar of Joy Fellowship on the homestead--where we walk the labyrinth  and pray; and have an occasional celebration of the Holy Eucharist.  And we're on Facebook.  We don't yet know where God is leading us; but we are grateful for goat milk, eggs, a small garden that keep us grounded as we care for our goats, chickens, dogs, cat and each other!  Each day is a new chance to begin again.  In that light, I am beginning this blog again!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Joy Fellowship

We call our homestead Almost Paradise. It isn't paradise because that was lost!  But it is almost paradise--a place with blueberry bushes, boysenberry and muscadine vines, pear and fig trees, an asparagus bed, and lots of garden space.  We share our lives with six laying hens, 3 dairy goats, 2 dogs and a cat.  It's a work in progress.  

A part of our homestead is Joy Fellowship.  For now it is a Facebook page.  Joy Fellowship shares a piece of our homestead; in part,  it is a small garden Labyrinth.  Each Monday, the labyrinth is walked and prayers are offered.  (Many other times during the week, too.)  We post under the tag "Labyrinth on Lunes" (Lunes is the Spanish word for Monday).  Various and sundry posts are shared, too, from other sources; most are Christian but some are from other faith traditions, too.  Our goal is to share Joy amidst sorrow.  

Joy Fellowship is more than just a Facebook page; it is our domestic church.  It is the place where Morning Prayer is read, intercessory prayer is offered, the rosary is prayed and occasionally, The Holy Eucharist is celebrated.

Some changes are coming to Almost Paradise Homestead and Joy Fellowship.  I hope you'll go and "like" our page on Facebook.  I invite you to stay turned!

May the peace of Christ fill you and rule in your hearts!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

# the simple life

     The days are growing shorter and darkness comes earlier and earlier.  The spring and summer gardens are complete, and the few things we managed to plant for fall are being plucked daily--lettuces and greens--so fresh!  We are savoring the last of our cherry tomatoes as fall settles in. 

     Retirement is on the horizon for me now.  I have been preparing; looking at the life of one of my heros: Tasha Tudor.  She is known and loved by many.  Tasha was an author and illustrator of many books; she lived a life style of simplicity with great charm.  She raised goats and chickens, loved having tea, creating dolls and doll houses, and gardening--oh the gardening.  Tasha lived life fully until age 92; she died in 2008.  

     One of the things I admire about Tasha is her zest for life and living things. In her book Simple Adundance, author Sarah Ban Breathnach writes this, "...the Stillwaters, the mock New England sect imagined by author and illustrator Tasha Tudor.  Stillwater followers...believe that life's simple pleasures are meant to be savored and that Nature is to be revered."  Tasha's illustrations involve much of the beauty of nature.
     Breathnach continues, "The Stillwater religion, which combines the best beliefs of the Shakers, Quakers and Amish, is a state of mind, according to its creator. 'Stillwater connotes something very peaceful,' Eldress Tudor explains, 'Life without stress.  Nowadays, people are so jeezled up.  If they took some chamomile tea and spent more time rocking on the porch in the evening ...they might enjoy life more.' "  Tasha enjoyed life!
     As I prepare for the earliest days of my retirement, I hope to take time for tea and a sit, rocking on the porch and enjoying the view of our Almost Paradise Homestead.  I'm not an author; but I do sew, knit, grow vegetables, raise chickens and goats, love having tea and making dolls.  The simple life is ahead; this eclectic Episcopalian is savoring the final days of my parish ministry as I prepare for the gift that lies ahead.  The Stillwater religion just may be a part of my future!  And a Facebook page called Joy Fellowship at Almost Paradise Homestead.  Worship the beauty of holiness!  # the simple life! 

Friday, September 15, 2017

It's a little thing!

A few months back, my husband and I took a little vacation.  We enjoyed our time away and relished in the togetherness.  One of our stops was in a place called A Taste of Amish.  There were bulk foods, lots of different kinds of teas, homemade items, and wonderful sandwiches.  Our visit was on a cold and dreary day, but we were warmed by the charm of the place.

After eating lunch and on our way to the check out, I noticed the sign at the cash register.  Beside it was a glass jar of little plastic soldiers--and the bidding to take one and place it in your sight as a reminder to pray for those who serve our country grabbed me. I took one--wrapped it carefully with my other purchases.

Later, when our trip was completed I unwrapped the soldier and placed it in my prayer corner.  It is a little thing, but it is a constant reminder to me to pray for our American soldiers serving around the world.

Perhaps others can make this offering!  What if a church or business placed a jar of plastic soldiers as an invitation to prayer?  If you make a trip to the Dollar Tree, a bag of these little things can be obtained for $1.00!

It's a little thing--yes!  But prayer is very important and our service personnel need our prayer.
Join me in praying for them.   
For those in the Armed Forces of our Country (from the Book of Common Prayer)

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Moving toward September…

          Image result for gleaning Planning for the fall season and flipping through the calendar, I am noticing that September is on the horizon.  With the heat of the past few days, fall will be a welcome season with its cooler temperatures and its many colors.  For many people, school is already underway and in some places, startup will follow Labor Day.  I love September—apple season is near!
            But something that knows no season is hunger.  Recently I learned that September is Hunger Action Month according to the Society of St. Andrew.  If you don’t know about this society, you might like to acquaint yourself with their website which may be found here:
            The Society of St. Andrew has many resources for you to develop a plan of action.  Their 2017 Calendar of Prayer and Action is chock full of sound, biblical responses to helping to end hunger.  If you attend St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford, MS, see me; I’ll be happy to make a copy of the calendar for you.  The calendar can also be obtained from their website. Families may find the Society of St. Andrew’s coin boxes a helpful aid in sharing the problem of hunger with children.  These, too, may be obtained online, or you can make your own “bank” for coins.  Perhaps if you treat your children to a child’s meal at a fast food restaurant you might put in the same amount of money into the money box/bank to donation to help end hunger.
            The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is very apt in addressing hunger in the United States.  Look in your local area for what’s being done through food pantries, meals served in churches, education programs.  We’ve often said for environmental issues “to think globally and act locally”—good advice for addressing the issues of hunger.  Let us together ponder Jesus’ words in Matthew: “You give them something to eat.”

            May your September be one of blessing.  May it also be one of prayer and action.  Get a calendar, fill your coin box/bank, and offer it to God on Sunday, October 1, which is World Communion day.  Then, count your coins and send a check to the Society of St. Andrew to aid in their work to end hunger.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

O the times, they are a changin'

It is the beginning of August--where has this year gone?  School begins for our local schools tomorrow!  Have already seen Halloween decorations in the stores!  2017 is going fast.  Faster than I'd like.  And change is in the wind.

The times are changing.  My retirement has been announced.  I'll be retiring in February of 2018.  It is bittersweet; the new embrace of life on the Homestead with my husband is so inviting!  But the laying down of active ministry has my emotions stirring.  How difficult to lay down the relationships--even temporarily.  In some sense it is a protracted slipping away, and yet how quickly February will arrive!  Seize the day!  Make the most of the time we have together!  My head and my heart will come together.

And I'm thinking of a new name for this blog.  Oh, I'll always be that Eclectic Episcopalian!  But perhaps a name that may be more reflective of my new role in retirement--as I continue to discover what that means for me. I invite your thoughts, should you care to share them.  Wife, goatherd, gardener, collector of things that make me laugh, maker of dolls--these are among the things that will be a part of my life.  I hope to be a much better neighbor--and a friend!  Mostly, I seek to be a child of God embracing this new step--even as titles and blog names may change!

Dreaming!  2017 is blowing through--and along with it, change is in the wind.  Thank you God for such rich, golden years as a priest in your church!