Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Celtic Devotions

Liturgy. Reading about it in Galli’s book Beyond Smells and Bells.

Struggling with quotes like this one…

The liturgy comes to us in many forms. There are liturgies for Sunday worship, and liturgies for special days, like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. There are also daily liturgies that one can pray with others or alone. The paradox with these daily liturgies is that we never pray alone despite praying by ourselves. In saying the prayers of the Book of Common Prayer’s service of Morning Prayer, I’m praying with all who that morning are also praying it. And I’m praying prayers crafted not by my lonely piety, but by the church. I’m praying prayers that have their origin in another time and place… and thus I find myself mysteriously connected with believers that have gone before me.

Understand, yes, I understand the spirit of these thoughts. Am even drawn to them. And yet. This morning I sit with my “liturgy”…drinking Earl Grey in the sun, listening to bird calls and rustle of hemlocks and maples…hymns of nature that others have heard before me. I read not from the Book of Common Prayer but from Miller’s Celtic Devotions, songs from an ancient time and Psalms and the poetic thoughts of a modern Christian.

I do not feel a sense of lonely piety in this, nor in my own unique prayers, born of evenings and mornings and afternoons that I have seen, touched, felt. It is enough that I am human, imbued with Spirit and Word, set in time and sacred space on this hill…near these trees…under this sky… watching silken threads shining in the sun, spun last night by some small spider. It is enough.

Celtic Devotions on My Porch photo, by L.L. Barkat.


Christianne's My Space
LL's What's Your Meal Story?
Nikki's Extempory on Liturgy
A. Anjeanette's Clay as Liturgy


Ted's Holding Pfaltzgraff: Inclusion

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Friday, June 20, 2008


Stations of the Cross 1

Standing before this painting, I remember confusion.

Pure emotion of entry... visitation... energy... blood, like Leda under the feathers of the swan, though less violated and more intrigued, comforted... perhaps.

Perhaps... the way I felt this morning, rocking in the white wooden rocker, beneath the warmth of morning light. Watching wasps play at the tips of the hemlocks, their wings made amber-gold by the sun's entry, visitation. And the hemlocks too, visited, energized by light that seemed to glow from the inside out of their myriad needles, transforming them into something like green wands in the hands of a woodland fairy.

Myriad... thoughts played in my mind... of Clairvaux, who, it has been said "absorbed the Bible so completely that his writing breathes with it." Thoughts, too of L'Engle's tribute, written by Luci Shaw... her longtime friend, who observed that L'Engle loved scripture and read it every day and that it inhabited her writing, as if from the inside out.

Out... over the waters of Genesis, the Spirit too, ruah*, breathed first words of light, life, entry, visitation, energy.

Holy Spirit, come afresh and visit Your Words in me, that my own words might golden-amber, life, light be.

Clairvaux quote from Water From a Deep Well, p.178. *Ruah means spirit or breath in Hebrew. Stations of the Cross painting photo by L.L. Barkat.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Just Fun

Hangers at Smithsonian

I had so much fun doing this with Ann, that I had to share it.

And since I'm in the mood for sharing, there's also this... my little thoughts on how Chinese food converges with Mark Galli. Or in other words, how liturgy relates to forks.


Ted's latest book club post Palisades Cliffs: doubt

Hanger Sculpture at Smithsonian, photo by L.L. Barkat.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Of Bridges and Violins and Words

Manhattan Bridge

Day begins to slip away on the Brooklyn Bridge. Eldest Child has run ahead with daddy. Youngest is at my side. We stop, countless times, to look at the water, the wires, the people, and now the Manhattan Bridge. The sky is a painter's palette dabbed with slate blue and powder blue and pinks. The Manhattan bridge (how many times have I passed it by?) is an arc of loveliness, a masterpiece of shape and color embracing the city. I have never see this bridge in just this way.

But today on foot I see you, Manhattan bridge. I see you, sky above, and river beneath and city beyond. And I feel a bit of the way I will feel just a few weeks hence, when I hear Sophia, little child, play Chanson de Matin (not Sophia, this link... but just a clip of someone else playing the Chanson... not nearly as achingly). Tiny Sophia too will be beautiful, leaning in, pulling back, touching the strings of her violin as if she were caressing velvet. Coaxing the sound into the air, into my heart. So, so lovely. The notes tumbling towards an end where they will become so thin and high that I can hardly hear them, yet can hear nothing else in the world. Until I feel I am completely broken and completely whole, completely empty and completely filled.

I have felt this too when I have tasted the intoxicating writing of Ann V. Or when I have seen the icy glory on my street.

What is this I am touching, tasting, smelling in the far corners of the world and right here at my feet? What is it, but the Divine, breaking in, oozing, enveloping, exhaling. Sometimes I am too weak and sometimes too strong to take it in. Make me, O Lord, this day, just right and ready. For the bridges, the sounding strings, the tiny child, the words, the weather... for You.

Manhattan Bridge at Sunset photo, by L.L. Barkat.


Ted's book club post Howe's Cave: Baptism

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Monday, June 02, 2008

125 Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge arches

Two weekends ago, I went to Brooklyn...

'The Brooklyn Bridge is 125 years old. Today's its birthday weekend,' says my spouse. 'Want to go walk over it?'

This is my writing day. I think of all the words I won't put to paper, well, to keyboard. Still. I've never gone to the birthday of a 125-year-old. We'll do it, then, yes. Words will come another day.

We drive past the East River, watch as buildings, clouds go by and tunnels eclipse the sky. Park and walk. Over the Brooklyn Bridge. Bridge that grew from the imagination and ingenuity of a farmer. Bridge that took lives in dark slimy hellish underground work, where air was smoky with candlelight and rank with the smell of long-buried garbage. Bridge that grew strong while men grew weak from disease misunderstood (who knew that people had to adjust to different air pressure upon ascension?). Bridge whose master engineer lost sanity when he made the painful decision to stop digging before hitting bedrock (too many lives were being lost... and the ground was packed tight, so hard to dig). Bridge given over to the wife of the engineer, to manage the project and shock those who perhaps thought a woman was not fit to oversee such as this.

Bridge of songs, of imagination, of stories. Bridge under my feet and over the river. One hundred and twenty-five years old and still standing. Beyond the worries that plagued its makers. Past the celebrations that heralded its opening. Here, in my now, under my feet and my children's feet and who knows how many children's feet to come. Brooklyn bridge.

LL on Brooklyn Bridge

LL's feet on the Brooklyn Bridge.

LL and Whitman

LL reading Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" from a 1940's poetry book, to children who are dreaming of ice cream and wondering if they can walk down near the river. (For a truly beautiful reading, check out Mark Goodyear's Happy 125 Years Brooklyn Bridge: this poem's for you.)

Bridge, feet, and book photos by L.L. Barkat.

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