The Hand-Off

by Marjorie George

Circled Spelling MistakesIt was supposed to be a great little endeavor that was well-suited to my circumstances. In my semi-retirement, I would take on some free-lance editing. Make a little extra money, work from home, and frolic about in the happy land of commas and semi-colons. Be still my heart.

A client was referred, I got in touch, and we established a working relationship. Then things got touchy, and we quarreled over syntax – no, “impact” is not a verb, I told her. Neither is “office.” We are not going to “office” anywhere. She fired me in favor of another editor. Well, she was just wrong. Continue reading

Speak No Evil

My mother was not a big collector of things, so each of the few knickknacks she left after her death had significance for her and, later, for me. “Oh, your father gave me that on our first wedding anniversary,” she would say of a particular piece. Or, “That’s from my mother – my sisters all wanted it, but I ended up with it.” I can place, in memory, each trinket in my childhood homes: the pink ceramic girl with the flower basket always sat on an end table, the small pewter bell occupied a shelf on a bookcase.three monkeys

I remember as a child asking Mom one day about the little statue she had of the monkeys. Three of them sat side by side on a brown ceramic log. The first had two hands covering his eyes, the second had two hands covering his ears, and the third’s hands covered his mouth. “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” Mom explained. Continue reading

Are you Following Jesus?

Woman holding question mark flagWhat makes one a disciple of Jesus Christ? How do we live out the life that Christ calls us to as his followers?

A new study from the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas explores several characteristics of discipleship:
follower
witness
neighbor
steward
prophet
person of prayer
person of forgiveness and reconciliation

The study rolls out on February 24, but you can get a sneak peek of what to expect by going now to www.followingjesus-dwtx.org and clicking on Week 5 – Neighbor.

You will find scripture, commentary, questions for reflection, prayers, and a wonderful interview with Drew Cauthorn, a person who lives out being a neighbor.

Sign up to receive the study in your email inbox at www.followingjesus-dwtx.org.

Questions? Email Marjorie George at Marjorie.george@dwtx.org.

Come out, come out, wherever you are

gateYash Enclave is a gated community in a new neighborhood. Inside, the streets are clean, homes are well kept, and there is seldom a honk heard from the cars as they cruise through, stopping to make way for kids riding bicycles, gliding by on rollerblades or chasing after balls.

But you probably won’t be buying a new home there because Yash Enclave is located in north Bangalore, India.

According to an article from India Ink in the New York Times, “Beyond Yash Enclave’s manned gates is India’s urban reality: slums, potholed and traffic-choked roads, piles of garbage on street corners, traffic fumes, and a cacophonous din from the revving motors and incessant honking of the cars, buses and motorcycles.” (http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/at-bangalores-gated-enclaves-the-chaos-outside-comes-knocking-at-the-door/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0)

Ah, the legacy of the Western world. Continue reading

Epiphany – Season of Illumination

star xmas

by Marjorie George

In the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10084L3Pqsc), the Buddhist monks were huddled around a square table, leaning over it, meticulously marking the spots where the building of the mandala would commence.  A mandala (pronounced MAN-da-la), the film’s narrator explained, is a colorful, geometric design, usually a circle that may be within a square, representing unity and inclusion.

Often in the Buddhist tradition, mandalas are made of colored sand. This particular mandala was especially important, for the Dalai Lama was present for its creation.

rainbow mandala webIn the simplest mandala, the starting point is a dot, representing a seed, surrounded by a small circle.  From the circle emanate eight short, straight lines, placed equi-distance from each other around the circle. From there the mandala “grows” – one does not create a mandala, one grows a mandala – by adding symbols and shapes in successive rings that encompass the circle.

When the Buddhist monks completed their mandala, it was breath-taking – an exquisitely designed, colorful, intricate piece of art laid out on top of the table.

The Dalai Lama led prayers, blessing the work and the people assembled.  One did not need to speak the language to understand that this was a holy and sacred ritual, as silence and stillness pervaded the room.

Then, slowly and deliberately, the Dalai Lama approached the sand design that lay on the table and commenced to run his hand through it from the outside edge to the center circle, creating rivulets of collapsed sand that blurred the design.

“Nooooo,” I shouted at the video. Then, to my horror, the monks around the table picked up whisk brooms and swiftly swept the entire creation into an urn which the entourage carried to a local river and dumped as one scatters the ashes of the deceased over the water.

I almost could not breathe, so taken aback was I.  I wanted to grab the sand as it wafted over the water – yes, I thought, as I grab at those things I call mine.  When I create or come into possession of something beautiful and meaningful, I frame it and hang it on the wall. My parents’ wedding photo, a child’s kindergarten rendition of “my family” (stick mother, stick father, two stick children, stick dog, blue sky, big yellow sun), my college degrees, a newspaper clipping of myself on the staff of my third-grade newspaper.

Or I pack away special possessions – my deceased mother’s wedding ring, a macaroni necklace (wish I could remember which child made it), Christmas ornaments from my husband’s family that we have not actually put on the Christmas tree in years. My things, my creations, my special stuff.

But the mandala was dumped into the river – “to become a blessing to others,” the narrator explained.

I realized I had just witnessed the best stewardship sermon I had ever heard.

What is it that God asks us to open our hands and let go of? Everything. All that we own, all that we have been given, all the past, all the future, all our talents, all our skills, all our relationships, all our hopes and all our disappointments, all our fears and plans and intentions. This, God says, I call you to release to the wind and the river and the universe.

Does my life need to be as grand and beautiful and organized as the mandala of the monks in order to be a blessing to others? Oh, most definitely it does not.  God will take my life, my very self, and cause it to be a blessing if I will unwrap my grubby fingers and let God have his way.

We understand the season of Epiphany, which the Church designates as the time between January 6 and Ash Wednesday, to be a season of showing forth. On the Feast of Epiphany (January 6), we recalled God’s revelation of Christ as Messiah to the Magi, those who were not of the Jewish faith. With Epiphany there is a new understanding, a new manifestation, a new way of seeing “Messiah.” It was a star the Magi had followed – symbol of illumination.

For the next few weeks, we will look at the ways God comes to us as Epiphany, as illumination, opening our eyes and hearts and minds to see beyond what we see. Perhaps we will grow a mandala, painstakingly gathering the pieces of our lives then letting them go on the wind so that they become blessing to others.

Marjorie George is editor of ReflectionsOnline and Reflections magazine. Reach her at marjorie.george@dwtx.org.

To learn more about growing a mandala, click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g16B64myG-E

Now we Begin

by Marjorie George

voices of adventIt was a dark and stormy night (OK it was a rainy afternoon), and I was squeezed into the front seat of our brand-new 1970 VW Bug as my husband sped to the hospital for me to deliver our first baby. “Come now,” the doctor had said on the phone, “yes you are ready.”

“But I’m not ready,” I kept thinking. Oh, the nursery was properly decorated, baby bottles were sterilized and waiting,  the diaper service was on stand-by, and this was sure enough labor.  But I wasn’t mentally and emotionally ready for this thing that I suspected was about to overthrow my life. We had been married seven years by then and our little life was pretty settled. I sensed that was about to implode. Turns out I hadn’t seen nothin’ yet. Continue reading

For your spiritual journey from The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

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