A hush fell over the congregation.

The pastor had asked, “Are there any other announcements?”

A slender older woman at the back said, “I have one, but I’m coming up there.”

We all waited while she slid out of her pew, went around the back, and walked up the center aisle. Nobody said a word as she climbed the few steps up the lectern. She stood, looking at the congregation, her lips pressed in a tight line. Finally she spoke.

“The rumors, the hate mail — it all has to stop. We need to support our pastor.”

My mind went back some 15 or 16 years before — to a different church, a different problem. The pastor had begun a belittling diatribe from the pulpit against individuals in the congregation. One man — a big teddy bear of a man, a former dairy farmer — stood up.

“This has to stop,” he said, addressing the pastor.

A shouting match ensued. I don’t remember the particulars because I had quickly gotten my children out of the sanctuary. We waited in the safety of the nursery until church was over.

Sanctuary. It’s a funny word for what was happening in there that day.

Sometimes church becomes ugly and unsafe.

“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love,
by our love.
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

We sing, but we don’t do.

Until one person stands up and reminds us that we can choose a better way.

Last week we celebrated the resurrection. This week our pastor read from John 21, when the (unrecognized) risen Christ found the disciples fishing again.

How easily we slip back into old ways!

But He has given us a new way to live — it’s by doing the hard work of love.

S is for Surprise


Oh, no!


(1)Boy is from My Dad’s Job by Peter Glassman, illustrated by Timothy Bush

(2)Girl is from Misty: The Whirlpool (from Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry) excerpted and adapted by Joan Nichols, illustrated by Stephen Moore

(3)Rabbits are from The Bunny Book by Richard Scarry

“Rabbits have large families” (3)
“Maureen felt a stab of fear” (2)
“Dad talked about buying futures” (1)
In rabbits? That wasn’t clear…

Can three divergent books
Be joined in harmony?
Each must accept the others
— And a little absurdity.

Above is a partially “found” poem using lines from the pages from which I borrowed the pictures. Wikipedia says, “Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry (a literary equivalent of a collage)…

So two collages today!

The Good Earth

Planting time

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

Audrey Hepburn

The good earth — fresh from the compost

The ground’s generosity takes in our compost and grows beauty!
Try to be more like the ground.



The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops,
but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.

Masanobu Fukuoka

Photo Challenge — Earth

Q is for Quirky

I often don’t know how to describe my collages, so I use the word quirky. How else could explain this odd conglomeration using a couple of dogs and a Dr. Seuss character?

from The New Century Dictionary, 1948, — a 2 volume set found in the free box at the Endicott library.

A quirk is a sudden twist. I was surprised to read that in the dictionary, because I think of quirks as “unique-nesses” — those things that make you you.

We currently have a cat that loves belly rubs. I consider that a quirk.

Last week our cat disappeared.

The first day, I didn’t think much of it. She’ll be back, I told myself.

But when I went for a walk, I scanned the ditches on either side of the road, just in case she had darted out in front of a car and met her demise.

The second day, I started mentally running through the list of predators in the vicinity. I hear coyotes howl at night. Do they like cats? My brother told me that large owls prey on cats. I hadn’t seen any large owls, but he said there were some in the area. Our neighbor once told us that foxes prey on cats. I know foxes live around here. I was pretty sure that the bald eagles prefer fish from the river, so I ruled them out — hoping I was right about that.

I walked the road again looking for our little black cat, calling her, looking in the fields for her — but the only black I saw were crows.

The third day came and I was worried. I asked my brother, didn’t we used to have cats that would disappear for a week at a time?

Ishibon (1967)

“Ishibon would go off two to three weeks,” he said.

Ishibon had been our first cat. I remembered Ishibon going off and coming back. I felt better.

A little.

But by the fourth day, I felt like I needed to brace Mary for the inevitable.

“If Piper doesn’t come back,” I told her, “we’ll need to get another cat to keep the mice at bay.”

“I don’t want another cat,” she said. “I want Piper.”

Piper, with all her little quirks, was our cat.

It was Good Friday, and I found myself thinking about Jesus’ disciples watching Jesus die on the cross. They had so hoped that He was the Messiah.

“There, there,” the Pharisees undoubtedly said. “We’ll get another Messiah.”

And one of the Marys would have replied, “I don’t want another Messiah. I want Jesus.”

Because for all His quirks — picking grain on the Sabbath and speaking with a Samaritan woman, all those times He behaved in unexpected ways, and then, at the end, to die like that — He WAS the Messiah.

The people simply couldn’t see it at the time.

If He had behaved like everybody else, He wouldn’t have been God.

I know I’m not saying it well, but the quirks made the Messiah.

Your quirks make you. My quirks make me.

And our quirky little cat returned on Saturday, an early Easter gift for us.

I think she wanted a belly rub.