Epiphany

Generally in today’s culture we think of epiphany as when someone has an enlightening moment. When it is capitalized Epiphany is referring to the Christian holiday with several meanings depending upon your denomination. Today is the celebration of The Epiphany. We do not currently attend church because of Covid 19. We are members of a non-denominational church. My roots are in the Episcopal church which I chose for Baptism and Confirmation at age 15. I learned much about church tradition and prayer in the Episcopal church. I learned Scripture by following the Daily Office Scriptures through the publication “Forward Day by Day.” It is still in print and available in paper copy or online.

The celebration of Jesus being presented to the world is recognized when the Wise Men (Magi) arrived to honor Him and bring Him gifts. This is understood as the Presentation of Christ to the Gentiles, God in the Flesh, Immanuel, God with us. In the Eastern churches this is commemoration of the Baptism of Jesus. When we were traveling and visited Arches National Park I was stunned by this image of the Wise Men, created by the sun and shadows.

I have printed this photo and it holds a prominent place in our home. whether it represents the Magi or the Trinity, I never want to forget the power of God with Us – right here, right now.

The Book of Common Prayer lists this prayer for The Epiphany. “O God, by the leading of a star You manifested Your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know You now by faith, to Your Presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

As far as the presentation of Jesus this passage sums it up well.

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now, Lord, You are letting Your bond-servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all the peoples: A light for revelation for the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Luke 2:25-32 NASB

Epiphany is celebrated and then the Episcopal church calendar counts celebrations for nine weeks called the First Sunday after the Epiphany, Second Sunday after the Epiphany, etc. right up to Ash Wednesday. May the arrival of the Revelation of Christ, His presentation to the world, enlighten our hearts and minds forever.

Speaking of Our Beagle

When our daughter’s family came over Lucky Dog was in heaven. After opening gifts we had cake and ice cream and then put our masks back on while we visited. Oldest Grandgirl gives the dog an all over scratching. Same girl does not like to have her photo taken, so sadly, no picture of her. Younger Grandgirl decided to give Lucky a massage. This dog was hoping the girls would just move in and stay forever!

This is the face of Beagle contentment!

See Grandgirl’s smiling eyes!

I love you! Don’t stop!!!
The Parents are not going to take her away, are they?!?!

I believe Lucky almost cried when they left. Such are the glories of a doggie Christmas!

Star ?

Taken from https://images.twnmm.com/c55i45ef3o2a/5uIs5BUABAKcx7RAh1D4ju/43059da5725182207a342122cffd3644/Jupiter-Saturn-to-Great-Conjunction.jpg?w=680&q=10&fm=jpg

So what is the hype with the weatherman these days? (Guess I should say weather person.) They say that Jupiter and Saturn are going to be in close proximity on December 21st. {Oh! That is Monday she thinks as she writes this on Sunday afternoon.}

Being in the Northern Hemisphere, I am told to look to the southwest. I looked up all this information online for a better understanding about the details. “The December 21, 2020 conjunction will be the closest great conjunction since July 16, 1623. At the great conjunction of 1623, Jupiter and Saturn were slightly less than 0.1 degrees apart. The last time that the two planets were easily observable when separated by less than 0.1 degrees was almost 800 years ago, during the great conjunction of 1226.” Okay, now I am understanding how unusual this is! 1623 or 1226. I am no longer thinking pandemic here, yeah! Got my mind in outer space! Referring to conjuction means how these planets will appear to our eyes. They will not truly be only that far apart.

“In fact, some scholars have theorized that the original Christmas star, known as the Star of Bethlehem, might also have been a great conjunction.” Now we are venturing into speculation. I am not much for speculation. That site also referred to the Star the Wise men followed as Christian lore. Sort of made me grind my teeth.

As Bob and I drove around looking at Christmas Lights and decorations and discussing this my thoughts went as follows.

 
 
 
 20-12-21 © Molly Lin Dutina 
  
 Moon wearing a veil of clouds
 As we try to see planets conjunction of light
 Some speculate that is what happened
 At birth of my Lord
 I think perhaps their minds are veiled. 

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

2 Corinthians 4:3-5 NIV

The bad news is they say this conjunction will be visible in our location at 12:20 PM. Wait, that is lunch time! We will not be able to see the planets at all then. However, if the night sky is clear you can bet I will be going outside (probably with Lucky Dog) to see what I can of Jupiter and Saturn making history. I will start trying an hour after sunset. If I read the time charts correctly, my friends near Kathmandu will have a much better chance.

Lord, open the eyes, hearts and minds of all those veiled to Your truth. Help them to give themselves to You. Then they will have the merriest Christmas ever.

Jesus + You = the Greatest Conjunction ever!

A Favorite Memory

When our daughter was 3-1/2 years and our son a mere 6 months old, we were preparing to attend Christmas Eve service. I had done my best as a young mother to provide decorations and memorable things for our daughter’s third Christmas. I had even found a tiny creche set with a baby Jesus in the manger. He was about 1 inch long. My daughter was given her very first purse that year. I got her all dressed for church and then began getting our son ready. He was not one to be patient if he got at all overheated. Before he hollered over being bundled up we were out the door and in the car.

As our family settled in the pew, I noticed our daughter was holding something in her hand. I finally asked to see what it was, fearing some sticky candy or something. Slowly she opened her hand to show me. Turned out she had taken the tiny baby Jesus out of the manger scene while I was dressing our baby. She looked up at me with her big brown eyes and solemnly said, “I thought He ought to come, too.” I almost burst into tears!

Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. Psalm 8:2 NIV

Now for the rest of the Beagle story!

When the teapot whistled and I went to pour the water over the tea I dropped my lap blanket. Lucky decided mine was a really nice blanket.

I brought hers into the office! As I put my blanket back in my chair I was murmuring “Mine! Mine!”

She is content to use hers. Yes, there are times when she seems to fill the role of the Princess.

Recently I placed her pillow against the arm of the sofa instead of horizontally on the sofa.

She tried to make the best of the arrangement. Just could not quite get comfortable. She has yet to figure out how to rearrange pillows!

She looks to me as if she is saying, “Why, oh why did they do this?”

Poor puppy dog! Viagen Pets cites 10 reasons why folks love dogs: loyalty, friendship, therapy, health, unconditional love, protection, selflessness, exercise, forgiveness, and happiness. Bob says all she ever wants is FOOD. I prefer to understand her differently!

I hope there was a beagle at the manger in Bethlehem!

Cluttered

Yes, I know this is a cluttered photo. I snapped it to share with my daughter. This is my “Christmas Cactus” true name Zygocactus. Mine usually blooms sometime during the winter. This being the year of Covid and doom and gloom, death all around, mine decided to bloom on November 13 and bore mostly DOUBLE blossoms and buds! Yes, I was amazed, surprised and thankful. By November 13 most of my garden flowers are long past blooming. I did have an occasional carnation and snapdragon, but no more bouquets like April-September!

That corner of our office is no longer cluttered. We have been going through the house like the Tasmanian devil cartoon character!

Ruthlessly throwing things out like notes from retreats I have taught in the past. The four drawer filing cabinet is down to one. I just need inspiration to finish that one! I looked at one thing in the office and realized I had not even touched it in a year. Away it went.

The basement is unrecognizable. We have pared down, given away and trashed many items. This is one of my husband’s dreams some true. He knows I call him “Mr. Tidy.” I am not nearly as tidy as him. So Mr. Tidy is enjoying this process. Now he is amazed, surprised and thankful. I am getting into it. Covid staying at home has done this weird thing to me!!

Know anyone who wants some vintage crochet patterns? Yikes.

At The Sea

Oh that would be great, to be at the sea! My friend, Dan, recently posted that seeing a plane fly overhead made him sad. This pandemic is getting to those of us who are trying to stay well by staying close to home.

Pondering better days, I found this poem from 1997. I was absolutely and totally exhausted after our daughter’s wedding. She was our first child and this was our first family wedding. Bob promised to take me to the beach and here is the result of my time on the beach with my Lord. I hope it helps transport you to a place of no pandemic!

 
 At the Sea © 1997 Molly Lin Dutina 

 Distant silver horizon
 Birthed by Your Light
 Breaks through leaden skies
 Enlightens slate-colored seas
 Calls me to You
 Closer to You
 Given over to You
 Nothing withheld.
  
 And I yield to You
 To lie in Your arms
 Imbibing Holy Breath
 Entire being  - renewed.
  
 Your sparkling glow
 Moves rapidly across the expanse of water
 To here and now
 You surround me
             Uphold me
 Indwell me
 Live through me.
  
 How could I ever hesitate
 Preferring dim to illumined?
 You enlighten me
 Flaws, shortcomings,
 Weaknesses, strengths and all.
             Fact: You love me.
                         Fact: You desire me
 You declare I am Yours.
  
 Like sudden deep piles of shells
 Buried, unseen yesterday
 Revealed today by the powerful tide
 Your Kingdom unfolds before me and
 Yes, Lord, I yield
             Knowing You go with me
 And will arrive ahead of me
 You have my life in Your nail-scarred hands.
  
 Abiding under Your wing
 Your Light fills the throne room
 And I must close my eyes
 To bear Your brightness
 O, All-Powerful Lord,
 I refuse to doubt Your methods
 Your holy mercy endures
             As You bathe me 
 In Your everlasting Love.
  
 Come my King
 O Light Eternal
 Bring forth the treasure
 You have hidden within me
             As I embrace Your will
 Illumine me.
   

photo by r m dutina

February 18, 1992

 Moonlight   © 1992 Molly Lin Dutina 
      
 The blue/black velvet sky is 
 punctuated by brilliant stars.
 Their brightness is not diminished
 by the astonishing shine of the moon.
 Even the shopping center lights
 cannot detract from moon glow.
 Everything casts a shadow 
 as the moon shines on and on.
  
 On the horizon broiling veil of clouds
 emit a surprising flash of lightning
 and still the moon is not lessened.
 Alarming lightning, for this is just February
 and still the moon shines on and on.
  
 Periodically last year's leaves
 rustle in the breeze
 as the clouds gain height and breadth.
 The moon highlights them with glory
 and the cloud bank draws nearer.
 Suddenly we moderns understand our
 forefathers' fear of moon madness.
 The edge of the boiling tempest
 is clearly in view and brilliant
 as the moon shines on and on.
  
 One great flash tries to conquer moonlight
 then lightning queerly halts.
 Cotton balls at night
 of height clearly cumulonimbus,
 who has heard of such midnight madness?
 Star punctuations gleaming and fading
 but the moon shines on and on.
  
 Clad in pajamas
 wrapped in a blanket
 male adult earthling
 dances all barefoot 
 as God of the Universe
 chooses to delight him
 with night show of glory
 this midwinter evening.
 Ecstasy of the ages
 holds man's rapt attention.
 As boy-child emerges
 delight and wonder blossom. 

 One gray fellow, loose from the pack
 tries a solo conquer of Night Sun grandeur,
 but moonbeams silently pierce him.
 The roiling storm thins to an edge.
 Mankind's light is muffled and trapped
 as sky fills with gossamer 
 almost fog-like pink shroud.
 Gallant moon shines on.
  
 Edge of the blanket 
 snuggles over star lights
 sleepy light-years away.
 Chill of storm wind
 pushes me to find my comforter
 as toes and fingers, tips of ears
 remind me this is winter still.
 I stand determined
 watching clouds come marching
 pantomime in the heavens
 for the watchful to review.
  
 Without a sound 
 bright moon vanishes
 but as clouds keep advancing
 moonbeams break through the darkness
 far beyond the horizon
 encircling even storm dark
 in light beyond my view.
  
 As I stumble in dazed awe
 and wonder with amazement
 at God's joyous light show
 the storm says "I triumph"
 but my better self knows
 as I go inside my domicile,
 even now, moon glows on and on.  
taken by r m dutina

Sunday is …

… not what it used to be for our household. No church attendance in person. In fact, I feel as if I do not even belong to my church any more. If we were to walk into what was a typical February 2020 worship service this very day, I bet I would remember the stories of those I have prayed with but likely have forgotten their names.

Sunday is not the major part of my faith life though. I learned long ago that my relationship with Jesus is what holds me to His side. This poem from 1988 reflects that sentiment. I learned the phrase “center -down silence” from Richard Foster in his work “The Celebration of Discipline.” Foster says it refers to getting quiet in anticipation of drawing closer to the Lord.

Inside Out © 1988                    Molly Lin Dutina

 I want to live from the inside out,
 always within the center-down silence.
 Having to struggle to get back 
 is not the direction I choose.
  
 Teach me, Lord, and help me 
 know how to grow 
 from the peaceful
 sanctuary within.
  
 Show me please where 
 to refresh our love.
 Give me attitudes that will unravel me
 from the sin which so easily entangles.
  
 Make me one with You, Lord,
 so I will know 
 how to be close 
 to all that is around me.
  
 Help me, Father,
 and be glorified in my life. 


I know the nautilus shell begins very small and grows larger as the animal grows larger. For me the nautilus can also be a useful image for the center-down silence: going from the busy, noisy world to the inner chambers of stillness and willingness to listen for the voice of the Almighty.

Try to center-down and listen

Dispersal to Convergence

 Dispersal to Convergence ©1997 Molly Lin Dutina 
 
 As the sea anemone 
 does nothing of itself
 only opens to the water 
 flowing over and about it
 then closes - 
  
 So you are to rest 
 existing now as My being 
 -less focus on all doing
  
 I am always washing over you
 with truth, with love
 you have only to pull in
 your dissipated energies
 from dispersal 
 to convergence
  
 Focus on this stillness,
 these deep inhalations 
             of My Presence, 
                         of My Power,
                                     your restoration place.
  
 Let splashes of water
 be your call to join Me
 resting in convergent Love