Tag Archives: Ken Shigematsu

Wisdom of the Rose Trellis

 

IMG_1798

“Rose Trellis” iPhoto DS 2017

There was a time when the family bloomed full red roses with green leaves. Yes, there were thorns but they were hidden (albeit sharply felt here and there). The scent of the rose trellis sparked instant praise. It was never as perfect as envisioned but it was good, very good.

At some point a deconstruction process took over. Deaths devastated, divorces divided, misunderstandings abounded and confusion set in. Thorns were easily visible tearing all who went too near. Even surface beauty was interrupted with too many dead branches and dry leaves. Blight had attacked with its polka dots of black and aphids crawled in white. Drought had yellowed the surrounding landscape.

Gee it was ugly.

It was thought that the deaths should be forgotten, pruned out for new growth to form – but they held the live branches tall, and gave them strength to hold to the trellis. It was decided to leave these wild elders – ignored yes, but not forgotten memories. The fertilizer of counseling was applied here and there to undisciplined stems.

Soon buds appeared of cranberry, crimson and carmine, attached to vivid green shoots. A tall vine shot up beyond the highest part of the trellis arch. Graduations and new births graced the family. Forgiveness had been planted. Rains came.

Through it all the trellis made of prayer held it all together – dead, alive and bedraggled parts. Tangles are still there. Somewhere it was written that confusion precedes change. A construction site can look chaotic yet the site supervisor knows and implements the building plan. By faith I say that it must also be so with the family. Perhaps again others will enjoy its innate beauty and be stilled by its scent.  Selah.

“After you have suffered a little while … then the promise…” Book of First Peter

“A trellis is a support system for a vine or plant that enables it to grow upward and bear fruit… a vine must have a trellis to support and guide its growth or it will slump to the ground.” God in My Everything, Ken Shigematsu

A Place to Pray

 

img_1049

“North Shore Mountains” iPhone Photo DS

A French Lilac hedge, a grey stone house, and an upstairs window with a ledge seat overlooking the garden – these were parts of the place I had chosen as my prayer spot. We had viewed this house, loved it, painted parts of it, had our older daughter’s birthday party there, then lost it before we officially moved in. It was the house of my dreams. No other has matched it since. I could have prayed a lot of great prayers there, I am sure. But it was not to be.

A prayer can be uttered anywhere, of course, but a prayer practice is also important in our ongoing treasured relationship with God. It is about spending time with God – quality time actually enjoying, not just asking. Pastor/writer and retired professor from Regent College, Eugene Peterson, penned these words: “Intimate friends can feel comfortable with each other in silence and can say much even while exchanging few words.” This is so for time with our Creator also.

Today, the church service had been so life giving for me – the singing, the stained glass window, the smiles and the pastor’s words. I even felt like some words of comfort came to me from the Spirit explaining why there had been so much silence in guiding me this year. After a quiet lunch of beef soup and cheese sandwiches with my loved one, I headed off to the gallery.

At the Silk Purse Art Space I have one painting exhibited in the SPECTRUM Show. It is a piece of work that came to me in layers and layers over time. It is colourful and garden-like. I feel happy when I look at it. I wanted to visit the gallery – of course – to see if it was sold yet, but also just to replenish the supply of Shellseekers Art + Soul business cards I had left on the entrance table.

The gregarious volunteer at the reception desk introduced me as one of the artists to a couple of women sitting on chairs in front of the cozy gallery fireplace. They asked which painting was mine, commented politely, and went back to their conversation, deeply held.

I felt a little discouraged thinking that they were just using the gallery as a place to meet a friend and were not looking at the art at all. I smiled and left a while later and went to check out someone else’s show I wanted to see – Ann Kipling’s drawings at the West Vancouver Museum. I parked easily on this rainy day, walked up the hill and read that the gallery was closed on Sundays.

As I now had some unexpected time I did some reading in Vancouver pastor/author Ken Shigematsu’s modern monastic work “God in my Everything”. (I have offered book study groups using this book over the years.) Always attempting to keep the Sabbath I spent a few minutes in prayer in my prayer spot overlooking the North Shore mountains and read this:

“Though we can pray anywhere, the place where we spend time with God may affect our conversation with Him… we can transform an ordinary space into one that fosters prayer. Removing clutter, putting up a work of art, placing an icon or a candle on a table… people seemed more relaxed and lingered longer in that space. We are bodily creatures: art, beauty, and location matter, even if we are not always aware of them” (Bolded words mine).

In this way did God speak to me? Was I not to be concerned about people ignoring my painting in the gallery? I wonder – the gallery, although a quiet space (often), is not usually a prayer space (although I have prayed many a prayer during my gallery openings). Does the God of all whisper to us in ways that we barely notice? Does God love us that much? Like sitting on a bench at the beach with a friend, do we feel God with us in the silent times?

I have not thought of that grey stone house with the fragrant Lilac hedge for years. I now see God’s hand working through my life, bringing me to this place of my praying that overlooks a then unimagined landscape. I offer a breath prayer of thanks.

First Time Ever

An e-mail arrives to the in box with the subject line: No Service Tomorrow Due to Snow. The church is closed – what? No one can be found in time to clear the parking lot. It is unsafe. A contractor wrote: Even if we were able to plow today it would only expose the ice and make a very bad situation worse.

I guess it is good to know that the pastor has our safety in mind. Now it is on me to deal with the disappointment of the day’s festivities being cancelled – including the Blue Christmas service. It allows me to take stock.

These words came to me after breakfast: The service is cancelled for the first time in the 25 years I have been going there. This snow is too much. The driveway is impassible, the 30 steps a risk to ankles, and the car covered with ice again. It must be said though that we are warm, we have light, we are together and we have enough food. God knows the situation.

We are thrown back on our own resources. We must worship God on our own without the benefit of a worship team today and pray depending only on the Spirit’s prompting. I found help at youtube.com:

“When I’m with You” Citizen Way

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A2jGZfgYH0

Ken Shigematsu’s book “God in My Everything” comes to mind. The next chapter focus in giving Spiritual Direction will be “Sabbath: Oasis for Body and Soul”. We need to rest from our activities. We are invited to ‘question our assumptions” about life and express our love to God. In doing this we trust that God will look after all that concerns us while we take a break. I work on making some Christmas collage cards.

It has been several days now since I have been ‘out and about’. I injured my neck and shoulder early in the week clearing snow from my vehicle. Ice and heat packs have been my intimate companions. I wait for our name to come up on the list for driveway clearing with a local company. We are certainly not alone in our condition of isolation.

A holiday of sorts has begun. I find myself thinking in different ways about many things. Who could really use some extra prayer today? Should I do some contemplative knitting with my sore neck? It is only fall; will we get through winter this year? Will the turmoil of my time commitments falling like dominoes make me draw back from being involved? Should we move to a place where the streets have better snow removal?

Yet the day, as it wears on, becomes a true holy day. I feel more at peace. I remember when God has looked after us in worse situations. I breathe. I trust. I pray. I pray for my family and for those who would have attended the Blue Christmas service this evening.

Hope arrives in the form of dripping snow. The trees are becoming less white as clumps of snow slide down the boughs to thump on the covered grass underneath. Like my knowledge of the green hidden under the white, my faith is there under the fears –

“All will be well and all will be well and all manner of thing will be well”

Julian of Norwich.

In Vancouver snow means recovery from trauma – that of realizing that we are not totally in control of our lives. I have faced one of my basic fears – being snowed in – and discovered again the real meaning of Christmas – that God’s Son is with us – Emmanuel.

I am OK. I am rested. Tomorrow will come with its health and work. God invites us as friends into the changing plans.

John 15:11-15 The Message 

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

iPhone Photo DS

“30 Snowy Steps” DS