Ordinary / Not Ordinary

The calendar tells me that it’s Ordinary Time.  The green of my garden glimpsed through the blinds of my studio window, and my weaving confirm this.  But the time does not feel ordinary.

The news tells us that these times are anything but ordinary.  It tells us that this week, things were said that should not have been - should never be - said.  This is not normal, we are told.  And that is true. But I am determined not to be discouraged.  

So I go to the loom. I put on some vintage Peter, Paul and Mary to weave to.  “No Easy Walk to Freedom,” they sing. Oh so true!

“Keep on walkin' and we shall be free
That's how we're gonna make history”

But then, beautiful voice of Peter Yarrow sadly sings:

“If we don't stop there'll come a time when women
With barren wombs will bitterly rejoice,
With breasts that dry and never fill with promise,
Gladly they'll not suckle one more life.” *

“If we do these things in the greenwood,
What will happen in the dry?”

By coincidence (if you believe in that sort of thing), this was part of the text of my Bible study last Monday night.  This is Jesus’ last prophecy - spoken literally on the way to his death, to the cross.**

It is not hard to imagine what happens in the dry - not when you live in California.  Nor is it hard for a student of history to remember some of the many times in the last 2000 years or so, when things were so bad that childless women were relieved that they had no children to suffer. Starting with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, right up to, well, some places in the world today.  In this way, perhaps, these times are all too ordinary.  

Ordinary / Part II

The iPod moves seamlessly from one album to another.  And the beautiful, hopeful voice of Noel Paul Stokey sings:

“But for the love of it all
I would go anywhere.
To the ends of the earth,
What is it worth if Love would be there?
Walking the thin line between fear and the call
One learns to bend and finally depend
On the Love of it all”
***

So perhaps the lesson is this: the most ordinary of times are the ones where hope and despair live side by side, moment by moment.  

“For the love of it all
We are gathered by grace.
We have followed our hearts
To take up our parts
In this time and place.
Hands for the harvest,
Hear the centuries call:
It is still not to late to come celebrate
The Love of it all.”

Amen.

* ”Greenwood” Peter Yarrow, 1972
** Luke 23:28-30
*** ”For the Love of It All” Noel Paul Stookey, 1991




Christmas in July

When I was a little girl, in the summer, at Vacation Bible School, we would celebrate “Christmas in July.”  There would be an artificial Christmas tree, and we would make handmade ornaments.  We might even sing some Christmas carols - “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…”

We would learn about boys and girls in other countries, about orphanages, and schools, and hospitals.  Like the wise men, we would be asked to bring our offerings to help those boys and girls.  A dime a day was the suggested amount - 50 cents for the week.  

Just 169 days until Christmas!

I’ve been thinking about Christmas as I’ve been finishing weaving the fabric for a white and gold stole - just 169 days until Christmas!  Thinking about Christmas in July gives one a chance to separate the real message from the pressure and the hype - the “perfect” gifts, the “perfect” tree, the “Perfect Christmas.”

Thinking about Christmas in July helps me focus on the main thing - that God is revealed to us every day, that Immanuel is with us everyday, that like the wise men we can seek him every day, and like the shepherds we can “go and see” every day.  

White/Gold Star of Bethlehem

White/Gold Star of Bethlehem

Have a blessed Christmas!

All the Colors of the Rainbow

This morning I started weaving the second stole of the Rainbow Stole warp.  I wove an inch and then started hemstitching the ends.  There’s time to think when I’m hemstitching - unlike weaving where I need to count, or likely loose my place in the pattern.

It seemed odd to be weaving vestments on this day when all of the altars are stripped bare.  Tomorrow they will be ablaze with white, but today, surrounded by vigilants in silent prayer, the altars - wood for the cross or stone for the tomb - are not softened with any fabric.  

The ends of the rainbow stole are white, and it occurred to me that it is white fabric that marks the beginning and the end of life - the swaddling cloths and the shroud.  White, that holds all of the colors of the rainbow.  It is in the middle of life that the colors are broken out and with which we mark the turning of the year - purple for the days of preparation and penitence, red for the strength of youth and the power of the Holy Spirit, green for the days of fresh pastures and still waters.  

But today, for a few inches, I will be weaving a shroud.  Tomorrow, it will be the swaddling clothes of rebirth and resurrection - one in the same.  And after that life goes on, in all its colors.

The Color Purple

Purple is my favorite color.  Red and blue come in close seconds.  I especially like them together.  After all, red and blue are just purple that haven’t been mixed yet.  

A couple of weeks ago my Bible reading took me into the book of Exodus.  Now, parts of this book are stirring and dramatic.  There is the parting the Red Sea, pharaoh and his army, Moses coming down the mountain with the stone tablets of the ten commandments. 

So, Moses is up on the mountain with God.  He’s been there for forty days.  This is when he gets the stone tablets with the ten commandments.  But in addition, God gives Moses some very specific instructions on the construction of a place of worship - the Tabernacle.  

This is where the story gets truly exciting - if you’re a weaver.   Because here we learn that God wants them to “Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker. All of the curtains are to be the same size -  forty-two feet long and six feet wide.”  Even more detailed instructions are given for the construction of the priestly robes for Aaron out of “gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen.”

Now the Israelites are camped in the desert, at the foot of Mount Sinai.  They aren’t growing flax for linen here, or indigo and madder for the blue, purple and scarlet dyes.  No, these are some of the precious materials they smuggled out of Egypt.  The finest linen yarns the world has ever known - probably spun by the Israelites as slaves in the workshops of Egypt, dyed with indigo and madder.  A call is put out for donations, and “everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn, or fine linen… brought them.”  People are so generous, Moses had to tell them enough - stop!

I like to think about the weavers who were selected for this task - the best and most skilled workers.  How proud and yet humbled they must have been.  Excited, and overwhelmed - this was a massive undertaking. Also maybe a little bit nervous - face it, the Lord had a habit of punishing anyone who didn’t follow His instructions to the letter.  Seriously, it’s right there in Exodus.

We’ve just started the season of Lent - forty days of penitence and preparation.  Forty days that mirror the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness, where Moses spent forty days on the mountain with God, and, yes, where the Israelites wandered for forty years in that same wilderness.  For Lent, the priests still wear purple vestments and there is a purple cloth on the altar - all harkening back to the priestly robes of Aaron and the curtains of the tabernacle, thousands of years ago.

Hand dyed, handwoven stole in purple and gold - for Lent and Advent

Hand dyed, handwoven stole in purple and gold - for Lent and Advent