Thursday, December 31, 2015

When A Painting Comes Together

It happens on her clock, not mine. 
After walking past the unfinished canvas every morning, she suddenly gives me the clue I needed - at midnight.
It's like searching for the right word, to have it suddenly pop into your mind except it's in a foreign language. 
It happens when you relax just enough to remember that creating art is a joy and playfulness is welcome. Playfulness is welcome in this "Dreamscape" and it's just what I needed to feel and see with my own eyes once again.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

365 empty pages...

Luke 3:4-6 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Life is unpredictable, to say the least. We have hopes for our families, our friends, and for our work to inspire us. We desire to fill each day of the year with memories to hold on to. Mary Oliver, the poet, writes about this desire to live life to the full, in her well-loved poem, The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
 Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

The New Year is before us like an open book. The days of 2016 are unwritten with 365 clean pages waiting to be filled in. And while some people’s minds may be dwelling on what their resolution will be, my mind is caught in a loop of words from Luke 3… “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” The imagery of Luke’s words capture my imagination. I love how the gospel speaks of the “valley that shall be filled…mountains brought low…the crooked straight…and rough ways made smooth.” As I take a moment to reflect on 2015, I can see times where the valley seemed bottomless, the mountains reached past my point of seeing their peak, the crooked was horribly tangled beyond untangling, and the rough was an impassible off road journey. But in the midst of all the overwhelming “bigness” of those times that challenged and caused me to question my path – Jesus made a way through. There were blind corners, steep inclines and a few rather unexpected detours in the 365 days of 2015, but somehow Jesus was with me.

Image taken by Gregory Slagle, Jamestown NY
We do not know what the New Year ahead has to hold, but we know that each day gives us the space to write some new stories about each of our “wild and precious” lives. For the unwritten days of 2016, Jesus knows the way to get there and how to be present wherever the year takes us. Jesus is walking with us, pouring him into our lives with the good news of the gospel that resolves to make us new – every day.
For the year we say farewell to and the year that we about to greet – Jesus walks with us – and this is a resolution that God alone can keep.

Vicar Tara

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Slow as vinegar: Waiting for Christmas

Earlier this week I had the chance to wander down Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo and came upon a store called "The House of Olives". The store was filled with metal barrels fill of fancy flavored olive oil and various kinds of vinegar. Each barrels was set up with a sample bottle and little tasting cups for unlimited sampling of their supply of oils and vinegar. I smelled and was amazed at the variety of the flavors available. This place could make cooking really fun! After my friend encouraged me to taste the vinegar -I did and was surprised at it's sweetness, but I was also taken aback by something else.

While I expected the olive oil to be think and oily (after all it is oil), the flavored vinegar was incredibly sweet but it also was thick and syrupy. It's consistency I discovered, from the gentleman filling the small bottles for gift sets, made it necessary for him to slow down in filling them. No matter how he tried to hurry, the vinegar syrup would only pour so fast and that pour was as slow as molasses in winter.

As the days pass through this season of Advent, it seems like the days begin to run faster as Christmas Day approaches. Time begins to spin faster in our tree trimming, cookie baking, and present wrapping. The moments of each day are to fast and furious. We are like the oil and vinegar vendor trying to fill our bottles as fast as we can - so that all of the orders of Christmas will be filled.

But perhaps this Advent, I could learn something about slowing down from my sample of berry vinegar. In order for me to discover this vinegar I had to take a pause from my day and open a door to a space I'd not yet seen. In order for me to get to this place, a friend had to encourage me to taste and see that berry vinegar is good. In order for me to pour it, I had to choose a flavor and wait patiently for it to drip, drop, drip into my shallow plastic cup. In order for me to taste it, I needed to tip the cup and wait as it rolled slowly towards my lips and suddenly all I could smell and taste was sweetness.

It's a wonder how something I'd only understood as sour can become sweet in taking pause, in hearing encouragement from a friend, and choosing to take the slow road to taste unexpected sweetness.

Waiting for Christmas can be a frantic rush or it can be as sweet as slow vinegar.
May your days of waiting for Christmas be unexpectedly sweet and my you have someone to share it's sweetness with.
Image found at

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Advent 2: Julian, Suffering and Peace

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

― Julian of Norwich

It's the Eve of the second Sunday in Advent and "Peace" is our point of focus for the coming week, Julian's words meet us in a time where peace may seem far off...
For refugees wandering...
For victims of senseless violence...
For those without a place to call home...
For those suffering sickness and grief...
it seems crazy to repeat her words.
Some may even go so to say the her words are foolishness.

But, there are some words we need to repeat -
perhaps even more in times like these.Julian's words mean to assure each heart that in the midst of all circumstances that Jesus the Christ is always present.

1 Corinthians 1:18 speaks of how some might perceive the gospel message to be foolishness...
"For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Julian of Norwich was not speaking about suffering, having never suffered. At a young age, she was close to death in the midst of a serious illness at suddenly saw a vision (as well as others) of Christ crucified.Shortly after the series of visions she recovered.  (For more on Julian's life visit Wikipedia)

While this account may seem unbelievable, the records of this event and theological writings that followed Julian's mystical experience remain impressive.

In the midst of suffering, Christ was present with Julian.
So, in the midst of our suffering, Christ also is present with us.

For those hearts too full or empty due to the grief they bear, this presence of Jesus Christ is anything but foolishness.

May all manner of things be well for you and yours in this coming week of "peace".
Christ is present.
Christ is with you.
Christ is the Prince of Peace.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Color for the journey

Art is something that lifts my heart and helps my mind to stop it's spinning. Art is rest and release as well as a way to connect and interact with others. Art is an expression of spiritual matters in simple physical matter. Art (in all its forms) - from cooking a new dish to painting on a fresh canvas bring flavor and color to each day of my journey. I hope this colorful collage of text, watercolor and mixed media help illuminate a new shade of  hope for you too.

"Color for the journey" is a mixed media original art piece integrating text, color and simple everyday resources.

Rilke's advice

Rilke advised me to "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves..."
I took his advice.
I swallowed his words whole hoping they would take root and grow in my belly like the absurd possibility of eaten watermelon seeds.
I watered the questions.
I took risks.
I went to places I'd never dreamed possible and met people that were easier and harder to love than the questions themselves.
I got lost in their stories.
I learned the unspoken language and the pauses in their speech.
I saw that we shared the same questions
and we all struggle to love them.

Questions are hard to love.
They are restless wanderers that leave as soon as you become used to their company
and return to visit when you aren't prepared to face them.

"Live the questions now", Rilke tells me.
In their curvy strength I'm to live, to breathe and be content.
Am I to ride wholeheartedly the uncertainty of this rollercoaster?
At every bend should I raise my arms in gleeful surrender and finally exhale at the abrupt dot’s end?
This question’s ride is not always amusing.

The question isn't if I've lived the question Mr. Rilke,
but have questions really helped me to live?

T.L. Eastman 2015 Copyright

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thankful for Dr. King's words

I can't tell you how many times I've thought about the following quote by Dr. M.L. King...

When I was in sixth grade I was chosen to recite this well-known quote in for a musical that we were performing at my school called, "Kids for America". While I was excited about the singing and dancing and having a chance to have a speaking part in the play, this quote rattle around my young mind in a way that no other words had before.

I grew up in a tiny town in western Pennsylvania and the community was lily white. There was no racial diversity to see or speak of. The only significant differences I recognized were religious ones, and this only happened because the kids who were Catholic were dismissed early on Fridays so they could attend Catechism Class. From my perspective I could not understand why I could not go to class with my Catholic friends to Religious Ed - after all, I loved Jesus too!

The unifying power of Dr. King's words cut through my homogeneous environment. I longed to have friends that were different from me. I wished that there could be a way, for me, to join in Dr. King's call to stop judgement based on skin color or religious perspective. I wanted to be a part of the whole human community in it's difficulty, it's difference and it's diversity. In my small town in western Pennsylvania I longed for equality for all people.

While I probably could not articulate this so clearly as a child, what I could do was recite Dr. King's words with passion and sincerity. The emotion of this longing for equality for all people rattled in my heart and came out of my mouth. Dr. King's words freed me to speak, even from my own space of unknown privilege, about the truth that sets all people free.

This freedom for all and freedom from judgement based on external and uncontrollable qualities is not a simple task to achieve.  In light of recent days we know that differences have been the cause of great grief, loss and destruction. In this time more than ever, we need to bring challenges in the world to the space where Dr. King's words brought us over forty years ago. We all need a refresher lesson in valuing people.

Who do we think we are to decide that one group of people is better than another? 
Who do we think we are to assume that one group or another is wholly evil or intent on the destruction of others? 
Who do we think we are to think that respect for human life is only a quality accessible for some and not others?

Justice, respect, protection and cherishing human life can't be sequestered to speeches from days passed by. These principles need to be the foundation we walk upon until bigotry is a thing of the past.

In another section of Dr. King's 'I have a dream' speech is the following statement...

We may think our accounts for justice are empty, but I refuse to believe this. Dr. King refused to believe this. Will you refuse to believe this too?

Justice for all needs to bring all people back into a sense of balance, respect and dreams filled with hope for each persons future - regardless of skin color, religious perspective or other aspect of diversity. The dream of Dr. King needs to become reality.

To listen to the entire 'I have a dream' speech by Dr. King, please visit American Rhetoric

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thankful for throwing bread

When one hears about food being thrown around, we often think back to elementary or middle school food fights. You would probably agree that food fights are wasteful, messy and ridiculous.

This is not the kind of food throwing that I refer to.

Several years ago, I read a story about two communities of Christians that were separated by to very high wall. The wall was too high to see over, but one day a person walked by the wall and heard a familiar hymn being sung. The music lofted over the wall and the person realized that even though there was a wall between the groups that they had something in common - their faith in Jesus Christ.

The person was so excited about hearing the people on the other side of the wall singing and worshiping, that he gathered some friends from his church and went to listen for sounds of their worship. As they had hoped, they heard the singing and joined in singing with them. Even with the wall between them, the two groups of Christians were united in song.

Over time the two groups continued to worship together and even figured out a way to share communion together. After the bread and wine had been blessed, the people on one side of the wall would shout, "The body of Christ, given for you!" and would throw the bread over the wall to share it with their friends. In return, the wine was placed in a plastic jug and tossed over the wall to be shared with the words, "The blood of Christ, shed for you!".

In spite of the wall and limitations for these two communities of faith to work together, through communion, they were united as one.

Image from First Lutheran Albany, NY

The impact of this story becomes greater when we learn what their location was. One group was in the state of Texas and the other was in Mexico. While these two groups spoke different languages, lived in different countries, and were separated by a wall lined with barbed wire and attended by border patrols - these two groups were made one in and through Christ.

Making these kinds of connections with others different from the group we are comfortable with is challenging, but when hearing how two communities with so many challenges to become united succeeded, makes our challenges seem easier to overcome.

Isaiah 50:4 reads as follows:
"The Lord God has given me
    the tongue of a teacher,[a]
that I may know how to sustain
    the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
    wakens my ear
    to listen as those who are taught."

The prophet Isaiah was called by God to speak up for the widows and orphans and to call Israel back into relationship with God. The successful delivery of this message required that the prophet's and people's eyes, ears, and mouths (tongue) be receptive. Just as the people of Israel needed open ears and eyes to speak the message of God's promises; we also need God's help the see, hear and speak too.

This kind of transformation is not something we "do" on our own. We need God to give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and mouths to speak the good news of Jesus Christ to our neighbors. Our first efforts in sharing this good news, might not look graceful or beautiful. The beginning efforts to share with others may look more like a middle school cafeteria food fight. Ministry can be messy work, but God promises to walk with us in it.

This is why I'm thankful for stories like the Mexican church and the American Church that became united in worship - in spite of the wall that divided them. With Christ's help, walls become a new way of living out the call to worship and mission. With Christ's help, our ears hear songs that connect us with people who are different and we learn in Christ those differences are a gift. In this season of Advent leading to Christmas, we long for hope, peace, joy and love. With God's help - hope, peace, joy and love can be heard, seen and shared and the walls that divide us, can and will be removed.

Walk in the light this Advent asking for God's help to see, hear and speak hope, peace, joy and love to your neighbor and the neighbor you are yet to meet.

Note: Original story of the churches with a wall between them was told by Shane Claiborne from The Simple Way community in Philadelphia, PA.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Chowder Thankfulness

Chowder, in its Western-New-York unique way, is something simple and wonderful. In the parish I serve, chowder is a part of the monthly community ritual that has come down from generation to generation to do what chowder does best - feed the hungry and connect people.

While it may not be surprising for those that know me, but I love to connect with people AND I love food. So earlier tonight, when I was invited to stay for a bowl of chowder at a church member's home - I was delighted and the recipient of a lovely blessing.

The chowder was wonderful. The carrots, potatoes, celery and corn danced in a tomato broth with tender pieces of chicken and beef dancing around my spoon. I heard about the origin of the recipe for this "chowder", I met some of the family's extended members, I learned how chowder was and is woven into the humble but persistent culture of feeding people with food and friendship.

The space this chowder dinner created allowed all around the table to share stories of hope and challenge - and fill my own need to be "with" people.

It did not pass my attention either, that there was an empty place at the table...
it reminded me of the fact that there a many people that long for a community to sit and eat and share life with. This space also reminded me of a tradition some have to leave a place vacant at the dinner table as a reminder that God is there with us.

I am thankful for chowder dinner.
I am thankful for having a place at the table.
I pray that all find a table to share with someone and I'm amazed how God is always present - even when I take it for granted.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thankful for "Peace Always"

Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

One of the amazing and curious parts of serving as a Vicar is having the honor of leading worship - specifically communion. From the great thanksgiving to the preface to the words of institution and the invitation to the table; all of me becomes caught up in this beautiful and mysterious sacrament.

Each Sunday as I pass out the bread and say, "The body of Christ - given for you." I'm amazed to hear these words coming from out of my mouth. It was something I longed to share with others for so long and now, suddenly, it's a weekly part of the worship experience that I have the honor to help facilitate.

This is an amazing fact.

There are times, in spite of my internal wonderment, that this practice starts to become more familiar and comfortable - like this is the place I'm meant to be.

Then there are time that the wonderment of communion is over the top and its all I can do to look at each face, share the bread or a blessing and step on the the next set of eyes and hands saying, "This is the body of Christ, given for you...".

For the little children that do not yet take communion, I usually make the sign of the cross on their forehead or rest my hand gently on their shoulder and say, "The Lord bless you and keep you . The Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace always."

Last week I said these words as I held the tiny hand of a two year old girl. Her eyes were wide as if she was hanging on each word. She smiled a bit and started to speak as I completed her blessing...
"PEACE ALWAYS!" she boldly replied.

Her words hit my heart and all of the internal wonder of that moment hung in the air with the echo of her words in my ears..."PEACE ALWAYS".

In the midst of all of life's sorrows, God's peace always. Yes I know the sorrows and pains of life are often more then my own heart can bear - but God's peace is always present.
In the mess.
In the loss
and even in moments of wonderment - God's peace always is and always is peace.
This is a blessing we all need to hold fast to.
Peace always...

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Thankful for "Mitleid-Help"

Some days seem lined with words like, "Joy" and "Hope", but then there are the days that surround us with calls, conversations, and unspoken chats that long for "Mitleid-Help".

Mitleid- Help for what is going wrong.
Mitleid-Help to meet an impossible deadline.
Mitleid-Help from ears to hear the story we long to tell.
Mitleid-Help to share in when things get a little crazy.

The call for "Mitleid-Help" does more than ask for our time and energy.
These calls ask for who we are to show up, to stand up and give ourselves to the other.
This is not pity, for pity only makes the distance between people grow.
These calls are not one sided.
They are reciprocal.
They are not demands.
"Mitleid-Help" is a request to be with the other - and the other to be with us.

Mitleid-Help for me.
Mitleid- Help for you.
Help is the "Mitleid" - the compassion,
that brings us together so that all can be held secure,
no matter how crazy things get.

Image found at Wikiquote

Monday, November 02, 2015

Thankful for Beth

Years ago, I had the pleasure to meet Beth Whitney when attending an Youth Ministry Forum at Princeton Seminary. Our conversation started over mutual compliments over headbands, scarves or some such nominal thing.

While conversations like this don't often go past the day they happen, this one lived on.

We live far apart.
We work in different fields.
But thanks to social networking and the strong relationships built with the Youth Ministry Institute's Cohort - we are still connected.

Beth is an amazing musician as well as a friend, mom, spouse and human being.
Today she shared a new video and song focused on the space for worry in life. 
These words cut me to the quick...

"If I fall...keep my picture on the wall."

We all worry.
But we also have people who hold us - and our pictures close.

I'm thankful to know Beth and that our first conversation over pretty accessories was more important than we realized.

I'll keep your picture on the wall, thanks Beth.

For your own appreciation, here is Beth and her husband Aaron singing "Sweet On You".

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Thankful for '"JOY!"

This a photo of my friend Pat Moser who created amazing pumpkin sculptures for years in spite of living with MS. (To view more of his "Grumpkins" click here.)

Pat lived life in "Joy!" and challenged so many others to joyful living as well. Just after I shared Pat's philosophy of "Joy" on Sunday morning, I came across a reusable cup at Starbucks that was for sale. It simply said the word, "JOY".

While "JOY" is not something that erases the difficulty of life, it is something to carry (like my cup) to all aspects of living.
"JOY" is, to me, the freedom to live knowing that God is always with me, understanding me, and patient with me in my failings. Living in "JOY" allows me to move into the sadness and grief that is a part of life - 
Because I'm not alone in it. (Or are you.)

While Pat passed away in 2010, his challenge to living in "JOY" remains today and every day.
For all the challenge,
For all the pain,
For all the grief we carry - there also is room for "JOY"
Hold on to "JOY"!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Meeting with me

Seven months between meetings.
Over Jasmine tea.
Wondering how life can be so different.
How did all this come to be?

Some areas have moved forward.
Some have moved back.
There is peace knowing -
that someone greater than me picks up my slack.

Seven months in the future.
I hope there will be Jasmine tea.
But most of all I know that...
You always are carrying me.

October 2015 Copyright T.L. Eastman

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Autumn days in WNY

From winding roads...

To sun-shimmering mornings.

From apples red as red can be,

to beagles' happy to sniff a tree.

To skies looking gloomy and threatening snow,

and wood fit for wild things to grow...

Autumn days are here.
Sit near.
Grab a good book.
Happiness awaits if only you take a look.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Amazing grace named Jessica

Unforeseen circumstances cause people to be literally stuck.
Unexpected travel snafus, debit card ooopsies and distances too far to fix face-to-face or in the nick of time. In those moments, there are many unseen disasters that can happen. Nothing, it seems, can budge the stuck. For reasons I can't explain these hiccups that can turn into terrible things happen.
Some circumstances leave stuck chaos...
but others open a window for grace to enter.

Tonight for my son stuck in Midtown,
grace came walking by.
She saw a need and softened a heart to help -
and planted a seed for hope to grow.

Where self and darkness could have won;
light and kindness made it's way.

Thank you Jessica from the Midtown Hilton.
Your random act of service and kindness
was a blessing deeper and wider than the miles
that my college freshman son and I are apart.
Your were the bridge we so needed tonight.

Thank you Jessica, for your amazing grace.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ecopsychology Resurrection

My daily reader (Simple Abundance)  had something to teach me about 'Ecopsycology' today. According to the author, Psychologists that embrace "ecopsychology believe that deepening our emotional ties to nature is vital to our well-being as the close personal bonds we pursue with family and friends. When we follow our instincts to leave the city for a weekend in the country, garden in the early morning...visit a zoo... we are responding positively to psychological and physiological urges to connect for survival." (Simple Abundance, Oct 16 entry) 

In August of this year, I relocated to a more urban area than I've lived for twenty years, but thankfully where I live is surround by a considerable amount of green space. My living room also connects me to the outside world by a small terrace that looks out onto a green courtyard...this morning I noticed the sweep of fallen yellow leaves dusting its corners. This small change and contrast to the green delighted my heart as I got ready to commute home for a day home with family and friends.

The more I consider it, I think that "ecopychology" is really an important asset to the well being of humanity. I may not be a wonderful gardener but the small green plant that sits at my dining room table is a joy to me. I love to watch its growth and even had a friend who was more plant-wise come to help me figure out how to care for it better. Now, as you can see, this little plant is thriving and this fact brings me joy.

We love to see things grow. We love to pause and take a deep breath of fresh air. As I get ready to drive over hill and valley and vineyard on my commute home I think I may look at my surroundings a bit differently and let the green and autumn colors help bring me to life too,

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wave of light 2015 - Courage dear heart

In 1995 I had a miscarriage of pregnancy surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday. 
I was almost four months along, but on going to my first sonogram appointment it was discovered that there was no heartbeat and the pregnancy was not viable.

For the days to come, I went through some serious medical risks and ended up having to go through labor to deliver the baby that I'd never really know.
While I grieved the loss of my unborn child, I was thankful that my own life had been spared - 
but some guilt remained for having survived it.

Today this child would be almost 20 years old. I do not know its gender. To this day I have a tiny little knit hat tucked into the top drawer of my dresser as a means of remembering this little life. 
That November, I never named this child, but somehow it seems right today to give this child it's name - Courage.

For the losses we live through and the loved ones we miss,
we move on in courage and hope.

Today marks the annual "Wave of Light", a day for remembrance of pregnancy and infant loss.You are invited to light a candle for your own loss today and if you like, tell your own story.

God's peace and comfort be with you.

Thank you, Courage, my dear heart. You are remembered today.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Question prayer

Some days, our feet hurt and our hearts are weary.
Some days, our minds our worn out and our vision is fuzzy.
In the midst of our questions, we find nothing more that more - questions.
We wonder what the point of all this is.

But somehow in the questions and uncertainty we keep on living.
For me, I sense a particular presence of God in this uncertain space.
The questions, for me, have become the space where the Spirit is a work - 
glimmering hope here and there and calling me to a space of welcome where unrest usually resides.

All are welcome in the questions.
In the questions - God is present.
God is present - where you happen to be.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Death is nothing at all

The following reading was written by Henry Scott Holland (27 January 1847 – 17 March 1918) was Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford...

My friend Sarah shared this reading with me earlier today and I can't quite articulate why it cut me to the quick, but it did. Death is something that we often want to separate from daily life. We remove ourselves - or try to - from grief. But death and life are married. Death and life can't be separated.

While I don't know the ways that death or loss have impacted you life,
 I do know that death has impacted and continues to impact me.

But death is a part of life that I can't live without - like the quote states...
"death is nothing at all...All is well."

Monday, October 12, 2015

Messenger of "Peace"

Just a few days ago, a robin greeted me in an unusual way.
As I opened my car door something brushed against my leg.
I turned to see a robin hop into the front seat of the car and 
settled on the front dash.

Image is a cross-stitch that translates from Greek as "Good Morning"
created by Penelope Panagopoulos

The bird did not seem scared of me - but was looking for a way to head back into the beautiful
sunshine and open sky.
With a little help the robin made its way out into the parking lot and flew away.
But after it flew away, I could not help but wonder if 
this feathered friend had a message for me...

In some native american traditions, robins are viewed as messengers carrying a message "Peace".
This message is one that I'm happy to receive.

Peace can hop into our lives when we least expect it - if we are willing to open to door.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Children of the water

How often is it that a ten year old boy says to his great aunt,

"I want to be baptized. Will you baptize me?"

Earlier this summer my great nephew Eli asked me this exact question. His question came on the heels of he baby brother, Atticus, birth. Days passed, but Eli would not forget his question about baptism. He got the ball rolling and kept it going until October 11, 2015.

This story gets even better as Eli continues to ask for what he desires and requests my husband Ian and I to stand as godparents for himself and Atticus. 
We were honored.
We said yes!

The day arrived.
The Eastman and Sullivan clan arrived in full force.
We were so proud, of Eli's desire to be called a child of God and carry his three month old brother to the waters of baptism with him.

This was a day to treasure - and remember.
Elias Robert Eastman and Atticus Joseph Sullivan 
are publicly and forever children of the water.

In Gratitude -
Auntie Vicar Tara

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Road Trip NY

This weekend we had a chance to hit the road and head to 
SUNY Purchase to visit our son for Family Day.
The round trip was well over 800 miles in two days
but was filled with some lovely Autumn colors and topped off
with a lovely stay over at Doral Arrowwood.

Cheers to two days with my two fellows and time to hit
the road with time for a family adventure.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Calling cards for a vicar

There is something fun about business cards that have unexpected dimension and image.
As I've been meeting so many new people here in the Buffalo, it was necessary for me to get some new cards to help make some connections.

Last week I ordered some square cards with the use of some photos from my Instagram account - 
Vicar Tara. What do you think of them?

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Gratitude for a logo

What feelings do these images stir up for you?
What actions do they imply?
After a struggle with concepts - and almost being run over with a mason jar display at Michael's,
this idea really is one that hits my thoughts about the upcoming mission fair home...
The jar is filled.
The jar is an everyday item.
The image is neither too feminine or masculine...

What do you think?
Which jar design do you prefer?
What about the extra text below?
Does the earthy wood grain work?

Thank you for your feed back! 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Filling the page

Some projects fall into place -
ideas pop and images land on the page in perfect space.
Then there are some that are restless. Frustrating. Filling the page with eraser pills and re-writes.

Somewhere in this mess of space and trace the idea will be born.
This idea will take form.
This idea will somehow come to center and fill its space on the page.

T.L. Eastman Copyright 2015

Monday, October 05, 2015

Wholeness is fullness

There is a longing to live life to the full,
that tugs and pulls.
It draws a breath deep and keeps me far from sleep.
I don't want to miss a thing.

From dreams not dreamed
and hopes just starting to gleam
this glass-always-half-full
draws me to drink deep.

So much to see, and do and be -
the limit is beyond the time of each day.
Through the dawn of bright to the fall of night -
wholeness is fullness seeing every hue shades each step along the way.

Copyright T.L. Eastman 2015

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Trading a "Kingdom" for cardboard boxes

Mark 10:2-16 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,[a] 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Jesus Blesses Little Children
13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Cardboard box blessings
If I gave you some card board boxes and a little bit of time, what do you think you could make? I have in fact brought with me today some cardboard boxes for you to do exactly that – make something! When we are young – we believe that we can make anything out of simple things: Card board boxes and blankets are the tools that unlimited dreams are made of!
Jesus loves the fact that children have amazing imaginations and open hearts. In fact, Jesus blesses the littlest children and encourages their open hearts and imagination. May I give you a blessing today? (Anoint the children with oil) ”Remember that you always are a child of God.”

 Heavenly Father: bless each little one here today. Give them big dreams and inspire their hearts and minds to use their gifts and imaginations to serve you and the people around them. AMEN

Trading boxes...
I’m not exactly sure when it happens, but there comes a point in childhood when we switch playing with boxes and blanket forts for other games like tag and “King of the hill”. Thankfully, my grandson Owen is happily blissful with boxes for the time being. We currently have a large cardboard box tucked into the corner of the kitchen that daily comes out to become whatever his imagination can muster. It is true that little children love to play with boxes, but as kids become older the emphasis on imagination can begin to fade in exchange for the enchanting glow of “winning the game”.

Over the past several weeks we’ve witnessed this challenging in our bible readings as we heard about the disciples arguing about “who was the greatest” and “who would have the honor of sitting to the right side (seat of honor) of Jesus in heaven”. While the disciples are walking with Jesus, they stop living in the present and shift their attention on who will be the “best” at the end of the game.
Perhaps the reason little children are good at creating anything from humble resources is only part their imagination, but mostly their ability to live in the present.

Jesus has the amazing ability to always “be” in the present. When Jesus is walking with the disciples – he is really there. When Jesus is responding to the Pharisees questions about the law and divorce, Jesus is so attentive to his questioners that he can see where their question stems from… hardness of heart. Jesus teaches his present-ness to his disciples even when they try to turn little children away; and takes them into his hands and blesses them. In each and every moment of ministry, Jesus is present. Jesus is attentive. Jesus is the one who calls us his own.

Earlier this week, I spoke with a friend from the west coast who is struggling with her belief in God. She desires to have a burning bush experience with God. She wants all of her questions answered. She desires all things about Jesus to be neatly explained. For all the years we’ve been friends, I tell her, Jesus isn’t easily explained –Jesus is mysterious - but Jesus is always reaching out to you. Jesus really does love you. Earlier this week, she had an experience with hearing this message in a new way from a total stranger.

As she was washing clothes at a laundromat, a woman she did not know came up to her and said, “I just feel like I need to tell you that God loves you and that you are not alone.” With delivering the message, the woman left and my friend sent me a message…“God came to me and told me I’m loved! God sent a woman who did not even know me – or that I’d been asking God to help me – but GOD really did want me to know that I’m loved!”

As I listened to her story, I was reminded that Jesus is always with us in the present. While our moments with Jesus may not be as dramatic as laundromat messages from strangers, it does not nullify the still and not so still ways that God speaks hope, comfort, love and faith into our lives. With God’s help, we stop struggling to be at the top of the hill or to be first in line. Jesus comes to us and blesses us – even in the most difficult of times. Jesus is the one who sanctifies each of us – and like Hebrews 1 states…”those who are sanctified all have one Father. For the reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”

Jesus is the one who went to the hill of Calvary and became the king who would die for the sake of humanity – for all the little children, no matter our age. God knows the challenge it is for us to be in the present – to be open to blanket forts and empty boxes being something other than blankets and boxes. God knows that the weight of life and its challenges pull us away from the present and lead us to past regret and future worry, and comes to meet us in all of it.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God send’s us Jesus. To meet us in our joy – in our sorrow – and even in the laundromat – to extend eminent grace and remind us that we are loved, to remind us that we are blessed and to remind us that we are his beloved little children.

Eminent Grace, (Closing prayer from Prayers on the Prairie )

Saturday, October 03, 2015

For wild October days, peace from Wendell Berry

A dear friend posted this poem via Facebook the other day,
 and it found me in the midst of a wild day. 
I'm not familiar with the author, Wendell Berry, but I hope that my re-post of the image will be acceptable. Here also is a link to this particular poem, 'The Peace of Wild Things' at the Poetry Foundation website.

Thank you Wendell for sharing the peace - you helped me on a wild day.
If you would like to listen to Wendell read some of his own poems, visit his podcast here.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Seven word prayer for October


These are the words that I need.
These are the words that I will hold close.
These are the words that are a prayer - 
when I forget to breathe, when I don't remember to trust, when I need to play, when rest is far from me, when I don't feel like being creative, when love is what I long to feel and when "being" needs to be enough.


Thank you Jesus...
 for these seven simple and profound words.
No matter the order - these seven words bring light and life.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Just like that... it's October

Image found at Infinity Institute Newspaper

Just like that...
The air is crisp so that the windows need to be closed at night.
Just like that...
I've worn more sweaters and hoodies in a week than I've worn all summer.
Just like that...
Soup and stew sound like the perfect thing for dinner.
Just like that...
The harvest moon hangs in the sky and autumn is here.
Just like that...
there is pumpkin spice flavored EVERYTHING available!
Just like that...
it's October.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Composition lessons

I can't remember when I learned about Nablopomo, but it can tell you that it has been a major means of encouragement in my regular writing habit. While it's hard to believe that I've been blogging for over fourteen years, I've been writing since I was in elementary school and was given a black and white speckled notebook in English class.

On the day I received my first composition book, I was thrilled. The pages were empty, the lines were straight and my pencil was sharp. What a beginning that was. 

Every day when I open my page (on paper or on my computer screen) to write, I don't always feel excited. Sometimes my pencil is not very sharp and my mind wanders for a while to have something read-worthy to write. There are days that life gets away from me and the regular writing time has to be used in other endeavors, but when I loose writing time I miss it. Writing has a way of re-centering my heart and mind - and  hopefully gives others a chance to catch their breath too.

We compose.
We erase.
We re-write.
Writing is a practice - I don't ever think it's perfect. 

Writing is like life and the Benedictine prayer that I hold close to my heart - 

Open the book and turn to an empty page. 
It's time to write AND begin again.