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.

Windy December

The change of seasons always seems to hit hard in December. In southwestern Ohio we tend to have high winds during those times. The folks who display blow up decorations are hard pressed to drop their displays in time not to have them suffer permanent damage.

In years past people tended to buy hard plastic decorations. You have likely seen something like the one below over the years.

One year at Christmas time we were bringing our oldest Grandgirl to our house after her nursery school had let out for the day. At our encouragement she was looking at decorations along the way. It had been one of those windy December days. We passed the home of a Catholic family. They tended to not place the baby Jesus in the display until December 24th.

As we passed their yard Lizzie said, “I see Mary. I see Joseph. I guess Jesus blowed away!”

Sweet memory!

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:6-7 NIV

Make room in your heart for Him this year! You will not regret it.

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

World War II Christmas

My Dad, Paul Rush, was in the United States Navy for two Christmases.

My Dad is the third one over with his pants rolled the shortest!

Both 1943 and 1944 he was gone to war as Signalman 3rd class. He died when I was very young, just eleven years old. Found among his belongings was a re-telling of The Night Before Christmas. You will notice a few rhyming challenges, but hey! This was wartime. It took me many years to realize he must have copied it from a soldier friend because it speaks about the camp and a tent. My Dad was on a ship as far as I know!

My father-in-law was enlisted in the United States Army and missed three Christmases of 1943-1945. So I post this in honor of both of them. They spent those Christmas seasons away from loved ones, as do many military personnel today. May we remember them in our prayers.

Here is a scanned copy of one side. Then I will type it out for you.

“The Night Before Christmas”

 It was night before Christmas, and through the camp yard
 Not a creature was stirring – except the poor guards.
 My stocking was tucked in my shoes to save space
 And, besides, my tent doesn’t have a fireplace.
 My friend in his shorts, and I in my shoes
 Had just settled down for a nice tropic snooze.
 When out in the area there arose a great clatter
 That I sprang from my cot to see what was the matter.
 I became so entangled in my mosquito net
 That, if my friend hadn’t helped me, I’d be struggling yet.
 And then, very cautiously I pulled back the flaps
 Half expecting to see a battalion of Japs.
 Just imagine my amazement when I saw instead,
 The famous St. Nicholas, in his suit of bright red.
 He sat in his sled, which was pulled by six Jeeps
 And they bounced along gaily in short bounds and leaps.
 They came to a halt, and away Santa went – 
 And then very suddenly he was there in my tent.
 He was chuckling so merrily that his little fat belly
 Just like in the other poem, was shaking like jelly.
 And then I thought sure that this was a gag
 When I noticed his toy sack was a blue barracks bag!
 But he reached in the bag, and without hesitation
 Turned to my tent mate with a pack of “K” ration;
 And then for me – lucky guy that I am – 
 He dug in again – and came up with Spam
 He followed this quickly with de-hydrated potatoes,
 And then he produced a can of tomatoes.
 And then with the remark he had work to do,
 He raised a plump finger and up he flew.
 I dashed to the tent flap and was able to see
 Him get in his sled as he waved back to me.
  “Away Willys,” “On Ford,” was his cry in the night – 
 And in no time at all he was clear out of sight
 So it was with reluctance I got back in bed
 And thought of the things St. Nicholas had said.
 I’ll still have a laugh when I’m ancient and old
 At the thought of St. Nick sliding down the tent fold.
 That’s all there is to it. The story is through,
 But before I sign off, here’s my wish for you!
 May Your Christmas Be Merry,
 And filled with Good Cheer;
 May You Be Well and Happy
 Through Out the New Year. 

Christmas Homonym Humor

The first year we were married my husband ruined the joy of Christmas gifting for me. He felt every one of his gifts and correctly guessed what was in each one. When he realized my disappointment, he never did that again (at least out loud).

Years later, just before Christmas, his sister came to visit us from out of state. I drove her to the airport for her return flight. When I got home, he came out the door and stated, “I felt your presence!”

I got really angry and almost punched his arm right there in the driveway, until I realized he was talking about me being home, not about his gifts, his presents. Oy yoi yoi!

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

Other Sites in the Area

There was a one room school house basically surrounded now by cow pastures!! The sign reads “Debs School was attended during summer grades 1-8. Constructed 1930.” When our son-in-law, Dave, spoke with the Colorado water man who came driving past the cabins one day he said he went there as a child. Dave really wanted to go inside but the man did not who to contact or if that was even possible.

Always when returning to the ranch one must unlock and open the gate. Let driver though and then close and re-lock gate. My sister had taught me the how-tos on that over 20 years ago. Here I am doing the chore while Bob drove the vehicle.

My sister told us to be on the look out for their flock of mountain bluebirds. I saw many in the meadows while Bob drove back and forth to Pagosa Springs, but never could catch a photo. They are known to migrate in flocks of 50 or so. Below is a photo I found on the internet. I was delighted seeing so many together!

Mountain bluebird near Tower Jct; Jim Peaco; April 2013; Catalog #20016d; Original #IMG_9980

I included the scrubby photo below so you could see the hostile environment the thistle was growing in. Certain Bob and Dan could have gotten better photos. Remember I was shooting from inside the vehicle. If we had stopped for every photo we wanted we might not be home yet! This is musk thistle and considered an invasive weed. That color does POP! though.

“Oh, and you must eat at Kip’s!” instructed Paula. My sister was afraid the pandemic might have closed down one of her favorite restaurants, Kip’s. They were able to survive. Bob and I split an enormous green chili burger there! Wow! what a great feast! And GOOD guacamole not loaded with raw onion.

I did not eat the jalapenos!

Hike to Piedra Falls, Almost

Here we are loaded onto the “Mule” for the short drive to Piedra Falls. Then we planned to hike. And Jessie is in the back with Betty and Dan. She seemed to think it was a pretty cool ride.

Bob, the Goof Man driver!

Just realized I may not have a face-on photo of Jessie. Hmm …

Aspens among the pines

This was one of those crystal clear days that made you take a deep breath and be thankful!

Now for someone afraid of heights and hiking ahead by herself this seemed very daring – and I did it!

The river below
River in the shadows

I kept climbing higher and looking back. Bob had stopped earlier due to breathing troubles. Then Betty and Dan stopped so she could catch her breath. I passed people with dogs and told them about the Golden Retriever behind me. And then uh-oh. Trail turned muddy and slippery.

Having fallen at the end of a trial in Smoky Mountain National Park I was reluctant to proceed.

Then Betty and Dan arrived and said no, not for them. Then to my surprise Bob arrived! and he agreed not a good idea. So we were close, but the trail told us not to go further. This must be the lower falls?

Using the telephoto we could glimpse the falls, or at least the first falls.

No idea how much further past the downhill mud trail. I was delighted Bob had made it this far. Learned later it was quite a struggle for him, lung-wise.

The actual falls according to http://pagosa.com/adventureguide/piedra-falls-hike/ “The falls are impressive, thundering off a cliff into a V-shaped canyon of huge boulders. The hike takes about 15 to 30 minutes each way.”

And then the trip began to take a turn towards Camp Grenada.

“This is What It’s All About”

Please listen while you look at the photos! Psalm 136:1-6 (NIV2011)  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.

Oh the voices of those children! Don’t they bless your heart?

Do you see the Notch? Thus, the name ….
Bob especially liked the heart shape on the hill.

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV2011)  I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.