Cloudy with chance of Awe

Since moving to Dunedin, I have enjoyed seeing unbelievable cloud formations from our view on the water. I especially love going down to our dock on St. Joseph Sound at sunset. Sunsets here are spectacular, but they are noticeably affected by cloud formations in the area.

It’s time to learn more about these precious visitors. Going to read the Cloud Collector’s Handbook and see about putting words to the images. Stay tuned!

Advertisements
Standard

Just like that…!

Just like that, five years have flown by since our 50th Wedding Anniversary. How can that be!?!

I was going to write about all the wonderful adventures Ted and I have had during this time. And also the joyous family events and numerous gatherings with friends that we were able to attend. We have also experienced some sad occasions and gone to too many funerals to count.

What I am most grateful for is that over the years Ted and I learned how important it is to work together. We have very different personalities…different strengths and weaknesses…with different opinions and ways of doing things. We are at our best when we see our lives as “complimentary” rather than “competitive.”

Who knows what the next five years will bring. Whatever comes our way, I pray that we continue to work together and make many more happy memories.

Standard

75th Anniversary of D-Day Remembering Those Who Sacrificed All

Following is the May 29, 2005 Memorial Day Sermon that I preached at St. John the Divine, Ruskin, after an emotional visit to Normandy.  It includes a very personal story.

This weekend we observe Memorial Day.  This is the day we set aside to honor those men and women who have died in the service of our country.

We look back to the earliest observances of Memorial Day, to those years just after the Civil War, when the nation was deep in grief over its losses. People sought to honor those who had died in the War Between The States.

Many began visiting the great battlefields of the war, and the nearby cemeteries where the fallen from both sides of the conflict had been lain to rest.

Often those from the North and the South who were killed in the same battle were buried in adjoining fields.  Mourners included family members, who often had kin and neighbors and friends fighting on both sides of the war.

Fellow soldiers also re-visited battlefields, to remember those who had fallen at their sides, as well as to grieve the losses that had taken place at those hallowed fields.

In 1887, some women in Columbus, Mississippi placed flowers on the graves of the war dead buried in their town cemetery, both the graves of the “fallen Blue of the North” as well as their “fallen Gray of the South.”

Their actions were captured in a poem by Francis Miles Finch, which was widely published and quoted throughout the country.

Around that time Memorial Day, also known as “Decoration Day,” became a traditional time for honoring those fallen in combat by placing flowers, and later flags, on their graves.

That tradition continues to this day.

In cemeteries…in our own country, and across the world, we honor those who have died… by placing flowers and flags on their graves…and by remembering them in prayer.

This month, my husband and I were privileged to visit the American Cemetery in Colleville Sur Mer, on the coast of Normandy, which overlooks Omaha Beach.

This American Cemetery contains almost 10,000 graves of soldiers who died on D-Day, June 6, 1944…and in the following weeks and months in the Battle of Normandy.

In preparation for our visit, I had asked you for the names of your deceased loved ones who had fought in World War II, so that I could remember them in prayer at the Memorial Chapel at the American Cemetery.

As Ted and I walked along the graves, I was particularly drawn to one especially.  There was a huge bouquet of fresh flowers placed on the grave.  As we approached it, it appeared that this man’s name had been engraved in gold on the white marble cross.

I looked around at the surrounding crosses, and as far as I could see, there were no others whose names were written in gold.

Only this grave…the grave of Edward H. Gesner, Pvt 116th Inf 29 Div, Massachusetts July 1, 1944.

That name…Edward H. Gesner…could he be on my list of names from St. John the Divine.

I checked my list…and I checked the golden name on the cross…Edward H. Gesner…and yes…his name was given to me by Florence Johnson…along with the words that Edward had died during the Normandy invasion.

What a special moment that was.  Words cannot express what I felt as I stood at his grave.

I felt a sense of awe that I had been led to stand in front of his cross…as if it had called out to me…come here.

I wondered who this person was, the young man who had given his life in the service of his country.  I had his name, but I didn’t know him.  Now I felt a connection.

When I returned home, I phoned Florence and asked her about Edward.  She told me that he was a second or third cousin…one of five brothers…and the only one to have died during WW II.  He was so young when he died, around 20.  Every year his family remembered him by placing flowers on his grave, on July 1st.…the day he died.

I asked why flowers might have been on his grave in May, and she said she’d have to phone her relatives in Massachusetts to find out.  It seems that a niece was visiting in Normandy, and placed flowers on his grave.  This had to have been within a day or two of my visit.

That explained the flowers.  But what about his name in gold.

We checked with the cemetery staff and learned that with advanced notice, a family member or loved one could visit a grave and be given a vial of sand from Omaha Beach.  They could then take this sand and rub it into the name chiseled in the cross so that it would stand out.  The name would appear golden in the sunlight and would remain until the sand was washed away by the coming rains.

I thought back to the words from Isaiah 43:

“Thus says the Lord, he who created you…who formed you..Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine…when you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you…for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.”

It is a comfort to me that God knows us each by name…and that each and every one of us is precious in God’s sight.

God is with us…whether we are on a foreign battlefield, or facing the challenges of everyday life here at home.

I find comfort in the words of the Psalm appointed for today…Psalm 46…and I find that it is a fitting prayer for this Memorial Day Weekend.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea;

Though its waters rage and foam, and though the mountains tremble at its tumult.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. 

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be overthrown; God shall help her at the break of day.

The nations make much ado, and the kingdoms are shaken; God has spoken, and the earth shall melt away.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Come now and look upon the works of the Lord, what awesome things he has done on earth.

It is he who makes war to cease in all the world; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear, and burns the shields with fire. 

Be still, then, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

This weekend, as we honor those who sacrificed their lives so that we may live in freedom, let us rest in the assurance that God remains our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble…this day, and forever more.  Amen.

Standard

Down to the Last Boxes

After months of moving and downsizing, our rented storage space is now empty and we have brought the last of our boxes, pictures etc. to our new condo.  We committed to having this done by the end of April, so we are way ahead of schedule.  But it doesn’t make it any easier to make the final cuts.

One thing that helps us is that we now realize how little we miss the things we shed over the past few months.  We are happy that our children took some of our “family treasures” which they now have in their own homes.  We also passed along things to Goodwill, our Good Shepherd Church’s Little Thrift Shop and Furniture Thrift Shop, and have found some good homes for countless other possessions that needed to be passed along.

It does feel very freeing to have “let go” of so many items that held lots of memories for us.  We still have the memories thanks to photos and videos of people, places and things that brought us joy.

Our spring cleaning is already done, so now we can enjoy all that free time we will have now that the move is behind us.  We are so looking forward to emptying those last boxes for then we will finally be settled.

What are your hopes and dreams for this spring!?!

Standard

Happy New Year🎉🎉🎉

Last August my world started to shift. I had said “yes” to spending five weeks at Good Shepherd, Dunedin. This meant living in the rectory…being “beach priest in residence”…which included preaching and celebrating at the Sunday services and being a pastoral presence in the parish.

While there, my husband and I began to explore the possibility of “moving back” to Dunedin. I had served as Associate Rector at Good Shepherd from 1994-98, and loved the ministry, the people, and the wider community.

On our 54th Anniversary, we had dinner at Bon Appetit right on the Dunedin Marina. We talked about what it would be like to live down the block at Edgewater Arms, right across the street from Good Shepherd.

We found ourselves contacting a parishioner who is a successful real estate agent. That week we looked at available condos in the area, and soon we signed a contract to purchase our favorite choice. It was “executed.” And that was the turning point. We were moving to Dunedin.

That was the easy part. Then we had to get our house in Wesley Chapel ready to stage and put on the market. Since our house was twice the square footage as our condo, that would also mean downsizing in earnest. That’s when the hard work began.

We made many trips to Goodwill and the Land O’Lakes Library and to Good Shepherd’s Little Thrift Shop as we parted with our treasures. We also sold a few items and gave some furniture to a local family who had just arrived from South America to start a new life.

We also filled a U-Haul with family heirlooms and treasures that our Son-in-law and Grandson then drove up to Delaware and New Jersey to disburse to our three daughters and their families.

The good news is that we soon had buyers. The bad news is that Buyer #1 fell through, and within weeks so did Buyer #2. It was hard not to be discouraged.

But Thanksgiving week we put our house back on the market yet again, and by week end we had two solid buyers submitting contracts. Hooray!

Fast forward to December. We physically moved to our new condo and closed on our house the week before Christmas. Yahoo!

So now that the move is behind us, we can begin the next chapter of our lives. For me, that includes getting back to writing and blogging. What a great way to begin a new year!

Who knows what 2019 will bring. Just stay open to being surprised.

Standard

Summer Sabbatical

This summer has been a time of transition and transformation for me. I feel like things are shifting. Not sure where all this is leading, but I pray that all will become clear soon. In the meantime, I ponder the ebb and flow of life…and will continue to enjoy the beauty of nature and the call of the Sea. Blessings, M+

Standard

It’s June!

Hard to believe that it is June already. I have been procrastinating about blogging. Am I ready to recommit to writing a blog on a regular basis again? Not sure.

There are so many things that I could write about, but I want to be positive. At the moment, I am so discouraged by the political headlines that remind me of the direction that our country is taking on so many issues.

Where to begin? I will start here. I am encouraged by the young high school students who want to make a positive impact on our country.

My heart goes out to the Parkland students who are working to end gun violence in our schools. They are embracing leadership when so many adults just sit on the sidelines.

Last night at my granddaughter’s high school graduation, students were encouraged to continue learning new skills for the future as well as serving our communities and our country with their knowledge and innovative initiatives.

The world is a brighter place because our high school students are unafraid to speak up and take on leadership roles. We need to follow their example.

Standard