The Barn at the Homestead

The Barn at the Homestead

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Purple Hearts

     Retirement brings needed time to sort through the material goods of ones life in addition to all of the memories collected.  Cleaning out, spring cleaning; no matter what you call it, it is the sifting and sorting of things.  My father was a decorated Navy Captain; he served in World War II, Korea and in Viet Nam.  Recently in sorting through some very old things, I came across memorabilia that was Dad's.  Beyond reminiscing, it set me to thinking:  about life, honors, and purple hearts.

Purple Heart
     I set to look up Purple Hearts as awarded to those in the military.  I learned a few things: the idea of purple hearts originated with George Washington, but it was on the 200th anniversary of his birth it was revived and given the name of Purple Heart.  It bears an image of Washington and is awarded those military veterans injured while in service to our country. On online site says, "A symbol of sacrifice."

     About the same time I found some of Dad's honors, I also discovered a pattern for knitting hearts.  I thought of all those who sacrifice in so many ways but never receive much notice: garbage collectors, stay-at-home mothers, teachers, clergy.  As I began to knit, I found myself drawn to purple yarn.  Yes, yes--others deserve a Purple Heart.

    My knitting is slow--but there are those in my life who are worthy of a Purple Heart.  It won't be one with Washington's image, but it will be in recognition of the sacrifice you have made on behalf of my life by picking up my garbage, by teaching little ones so well, by the prayers who have offered on my behalf.  Be on the look out...a Purple Heart, knitted with love may be coming your way.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Searching for Mayberry

It was one of those social media memes that caught my attention; it gave me a chuckle or two.  I grew up in the era of Mayberry RFD.  What a town--from my childhood perspective, everyone seemed pretty happy, everyone seemed safe, everyone seemed to care about one another.  It never dawned on me that everyone was single!

Mayberry--I thought it was just about perfect,  when I was a kid that is.  And in some sense (I think I am not alone), I've been searching for Mayberry ever since-- a place where everyone is pretty happy, everyone is safe, every really cares about each other.  A few years back, a friend was using a Bible Study Guide based on Mayberry; you can read about it here:
or here:
It isn't something that drew me in at the time, but the concept of the Mayberry of my remembrance continues to pull at my heart strings.

As I reflect back on Mayberry, there wasn't a lot of diversity.  It was a pretty homogeneous group--like lots of places today.  Yet, I think the people were striving at a simple, peaceful life.  I want that kind of life--with more diversity, because I believe that's the key in our modern life!  I want to be happy (well...maybe content), I want to be safe, and I want to live in a world where people really care about one another.  I believe it is possible--it begins with conversation and a reminder for me that Jesus said that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Some of us have some work to do here! 

Whether everyone in Mayberry was single or not (and some days, it would be easier to be single--says she of a long-term marriage), with a few adjustments, Mayberry is still possible.  It may take a while, but I'm going to continue to search...

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Always we begin again 2.0

It's March, 2019.  Always we begin again--wonderful, powerful words from St. Benedict.  These words, like words from the Psalmist, are also forgiving.

February 2018 brought a new word to my vocabulary and to my world: retirement. There were good intentions to write something more often--but to be honest, 2018 was a very unkind year!

Create a clean heart , O God
    and renew a right spirit within me
                                Psalm 51:11

These words, like Always we begin again, are words of invitation.  And so, I shall begin again--to make an effort at this write more share the journey deeper into my heart as An Eclectic Episcopalian.


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!