The Barn at the Homestead

The Barn at the Homestead

Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 is inching its way toward us--talk of falling off the fiscal cliff continues; we lived through the Mayan Calendar discussion (and the end of the Twinkie!).  Christmas day has come and gone, and Christmastide is well under way.  2013--a new beginning.  St. Benedict said, "Always we begin again."

Again this year, I invite you to choose a companion to travel with you in the New Year.  I have selected two--Julian of Norwich and Thomas Merton.  The life of a priest is often filled with busyness and doing; my soul longs for a more contemplative approach to my work.  I hope you, too, will choose companions to learn something about them, to learn something from them, to learn ...

In 2013 I continue my quest with the Anabaptist tradition, too.  Thinking of Plain dress--modesty--living more simply; living more deeply.  I am grateful for the many blessings in my life that come from such an eclectic mix of friendships.Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life

May you 2013 be filled with exploration, peace, love and joy.  As we begin again...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Self control

What ever happened to self control?
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I have been deeply disturbed the past few days about the increasing violence in our world, and most specifically, the violence that has erupted over a film/trailer posted on the Internet.  For the past few days I've pondered self control.  Often associated with dieting (and oh my, how I have battled weight in my life time), self control really applies to much of our daily living.

As an Episcopalian, my church has often been the subject of much misinterpretation and often under attack.  I'm not writing to debate my denomination; I think I'm here to stay.  However, I've never felt the need for violence when someone speaks unkindly, or makes fun of my denomination.  Hurt--yes, I've often felt hurt; violence doesn't serve us well. It was Gandhi who said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."  I'm not called to agree; I am called to love.

Many years ago a good friend of mine who is a Mennonite said to me, "Isn't it wonderful that God allows us to worship him in so many different ways."  I have never forgotten her words.  I remain grateful for the many people in my life who are dedicated Christians who do worship in different ways from me and many who also feel quite differently from me on various social  and religious subjects.  But my life would not be complete if there were no longer in my life.  Similarly, I am grateful that I have folks in my life who are of another faith--they had zest to my life.  Often inspired by St. Francis' words, "Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary use words" I find it a joy to share my faith with them.

Join me in praying for our world.  Let us pray for self-control and let us work for peace. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Burning hearts . . .

I love rummage sales and thrift stores; in some ways it is a hobby.  Over the years I have found some wonderful things for my home as well as some savvy gifts for friends and family. I've been inspired ever since I first read Living More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre.
[Living More-with-Less Cover]

This past Saturday, after an early morning trip to our local farmers market,  I made my way to a local church's rummage sale.  Arriving later in the morning that I had intended, I made my way around the room feasting my eyes on the treasurers that remained from the early crowd.  I didn't see much, until a box of picture frames caught my eye.  There I discovered a lovely print of the Walk to Emmaus. The colors were beautiful and it was very tastefully framed.  Thinking it might be more than I normally allow myself to spend on my hobby, I decided to see what the treasure might cost.  The price turned out to be $2.00!  Needless to say, I came home with the framed print in hand.

To my amazement, the colors of the print coordinated beautifully with our living room furniture.  My husband graciously hung the print for me--every time I go down the hall I catch a glimpse of it.  Several years ago, I read about a monastery where a painting of the  Annunciation (Angel Gabriel's encounter with the Virgin Mary) was placed on the ascending staircase that led to the monks' cells.  Each time they climbed the stairs, they were confronted with Mary's YES and subsequently with their own.  The placement of my Emmaus print reminds me of how our Lord often walks with me, even when I don't recognize it.  In the company of others, in the breaking of the bread, God is revealed.  I don't know the artist of the painting; but I am inspired by the Grand Artist.  Thanks be to God.

They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’  Luke 24:32

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tending . . .

In a phone conversation with a dear friend recently, I was reminded that it has been some time since I've posted on my blog.  In many ways, I am still sorting out this "blogging" world.  And lately, I have been tending things: my cutting garden, my vegetable garden, my little flock, and tending to the cure of souls.  Blogging hasn't been a high priority.

The call from my friend, however, sparked something within me.  In a recent publication I read that several states have dropped handwriting as an educational requirement.  Saddens me to read this, especially as a former teacher.  It is not surprising in some ways; our world is moves swiftly with computers, cell phones, etc.  But to give up handwriting seems unwise.

I am grateful for my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Harry Broadus, for giving me the gift of penmanship. A wonderful and resourceful teacher, he gave me the thirst for reading, writing and . . . well maybe not arithmetic! (I've often laughed and said I became a priest because I couldn't do math!).  Our daily handwriting lessons fostered a love of letter writing.  In Junior High School, I began to correspond with a girl in England--we wrote to each other for many years.

Today, I am blessed to have an Amish pen-pal.  I enjoy the use of email and Facebook (not on Twitter yet); but I love opening my mailbox, pulling out a letter from my Amish friend, and sitting down with a cup of coffee to savor the joy of her life.  To read about Amish frolics and quilting bees, to hear about her gardening efforts, and stories of traveling by buggy all told in her hand writing means that she made time to write me. Taking time to read her letters means that I must slow down; something I often need in this busy life.

I'm not likely to give up using my computer and modern means of communicating; but I will be tending the art of pen on paper for many days to come.  Handwriting doesn't need to by a dying art.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I am not Amish; but then you get that by the title of this blog. Lately however, I am noticing more and more books, TV shows, articles in the news concerning the Amish.  The National Geographic channel sports a new series called "Out of Order" which features those who are leaving the Amish, and profiles ex-Amishman Mose Gingerich. (You can read more about it at  Erik Wesner does an excellent job of sharing many articles about the Amish.

This interest in the Amish, including those who leave, has caused me to ponder what is really at stake here. Could it be that many in our society seek a simpler life?  I seriously doubt that many of us would like to go back to the days of no electricity, trips to the out door privvy (although many Amish have indoor plumbing, and I seriously doubt we would do with out our cars. What I think people are hungering for is relationships--the kind that are born out of a simpler life.
The appetite for things Amish seems almost insatiable.   Is it the life-style, the values, that speak to us?  Or is it something deeper?  If it is something deeper I highly recommend The Naked Anabaptist by Stuart Murray.  It is not about undressing the Amish or Mennonite; it is however a frank look at Anabaptism in a post-Christian world.  It was Brian McLaren who paired Anabaptism and Anglicanism (Episcopal Church)--in his book A Generous Orthodoxy--I continue to be grateful.

I am one who hungers for a simpler life. I believe that we can learn from one another--not that we have to be like one another.  I cherish the handwritten letters from my Amish pen-pal, and hope to visit her again one day. In the meantime, I'll continue to study about the Amish, dream about dairy goats (in my retirement I hope it will be a reality), and thank God for the gift of work as I seek a simpler life.   

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter is almost here

It's been a very busy Lent; now living in the Triduum.  The Great Fifty Days of Easter are coming . . .

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lent is coming . . .

The season of Lent, that 40 day period (minus Sundays, of course) before Easter, is upon us.  Ash Wednesday occurs this week.  Lent is a word that means Spring.  The days are growing longer, and soon spring planting will take place.  My man and I have been perusing seed catalogs and planning our first garden in our new place.

A few weeks ago, I stopped at a Thrift store while on a trip out of town.  I had finished listening to a book on tape and hoped to find something else for my road trip home.  I found a wonderful CD with the music of a cadre of amazing Irish female singers. One of the songs has become a favorite; "Solid Ground" by Dolores Keane. The chorus or refrain says:

It's the land-it is our wisdom
It's the land-it shines us through
It's the land-it feeds our children
It's the land-you cannot own the land
The land owns you

The land . . . during this season of Lent, I aim to be out in the land--planting and praying.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Brother and my man

We have been privileged to provide hospitality to a Franciscan brother this week.  My husband (who is more than Mr. Mom) was delighted to have company for a few days. It made me recall what our Mennonite friends taught us years ago--people "Mennonite" their way across the country.  Franciscans do the same. 

How wonderful to exercise this gift of Christian hospitality.  Our lives are enriched--and the brother given a place of rest and comfort to continue his journey.  We shall look for him again . . . and others.

Deep conversation with my man--set the notion in place that we might one day soon Franciscan our way in England!  I am already planning. :)

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.  Hebrews 13:2

Monday, January 2, 2012

Companions in the New Year

It came as a suggestion on my post of December 28--to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas in a more spiritual way. Actually, it's the suggestion given for January 3, but I read ahead, and knew the first two days of the year were the perfect days for selecting my companions for 2012.  My spiritual teachers for this coming year are Hildegard of Bingen and Menno Simons.

Hildegard (1098-1179)was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, a visionary and a Benedictine abbess.  She was a woman ahead of her time in her thought and theology.  I'll be listening to music composed by Hildegard in addition to reading more about her.  You can learn more about Hildegard here:

The second companion/teacher this year will be Menno Simons; born in 1496, Simons is often credited for the branch of Anabaptists known as Mennonites.  He died a natural death in 1561.  Much of Simons writings may be found online.  Here is a link that you may find helpful:

If you know of interesting reading materials about Hildegard or Menno, please comment!

Who do you choose in this year of grace?  Happy traveling.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Our deacon delighted us with a wonderful sermon this morning on this first day of 2012.  In the Episcopal Church, we commemorate today as Holy Name day.  In her sermon, our deacon read the text of a beautiful hymn from  The Hymnal 1982.  I share here with you the text of Hymn 250:

1.  Now greet the swiftly changing year with joy and penitence sincere;
     rejoice, rejoice, with thanks embrace another year of grace.

2.  For Jesus came to wage sin's war; this Name of names for us he bore;
     rejoice, rejoice, with thanks embrace another year of grace.

3.  His love abundant far exceeds the volumne of a whole year's needs;
     rejoice, rejoice, with thanks embrace another year of grace.

4.  With such a Lord to lead our way in hazard and prosperity,
      what need we fear in earth or space in this new year of grace?

5.  "All glory be to God on high and peace on earth" the angels cry;
     rejoice, rejoice, with thanks embracce another year of grace.*

May your year be filled with grace; happy new year, one and all.

* From The Hymnal 1982; words : Slovak, 17th century; tr. Jaroslav J. Vajda (b. 1919)
music: Sixth Night, Alfred V. Fedek