Earthen Vessels

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Pastor Annette shared the music she had chosen for the weekend retreat ahead of time so that I could learn the pieces on my guitar. I was intrigued by the theme—Earthen Vessels—and the theme song by the same name, written by John Foley of the St Louis Jesuits. Each retreat member was to bring an earthen vessel hidden away in a wrapper of some sort.

Twenty-three women met at a church camp for our yearly Mount Zion Women’s retreat.  Worship, theme, food and crafts are all planned in advance, assuring an organized and enjoyable weekend for all.

Upon arrival at the camp, we greeted each other. There’s always someone coming for the first time and those who return year after year. This time one of the new people had ministry experience and the other, from my hometown, was in seminary.

We introduced ourselves, put our earthen vessel, still concealed, on the floor in the centre of the meeting room. We were to write something about that vessel and not put our names on the paper. The papers were mixed up and we picked one from the envelope. Then the activity was finding the person who got our note. After everyone had found the person with their note, we revealed our vessel and shared its significance to us. There was everything from an antique container for liquor to a newer vase or pitcher that someone used for pouring maple syrup. My vessel was a small container that was made by my friend Valda who’s done a lot of pottery.

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our earthen vessels

We ended our first evening session with worship, and sang two of the songs the pastor chose. Social time followed with all kinds of snacks around the large kitchen counter in the Stone House.

Doris and I had an 80-something senior sharing our room. We settled in and I told Pat a bedtime story, one I’d written for my first book. It brought a few chuckles. Was it the late snacks or the anticipation that kept me awake a long while? I don’t know, but I did eventually sleep.

The next morning, we had breakfast on our own, with the choice of muffins, toast, fruit and cereal. And the early bird, Donna, had the first pot of coffee ready. By nine am, Anne led us in stretches and movement to some lively music. Another tradition of this group is a lively game of Pictionary on Saturday night.

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We started the morning session by examining the meaning of vessels that have cracks in them and watched the video with Leonard Cohen’s Anthem. After that thought-provoking poem, we considered how we, as earthen vessels, also have cracks in us, and we pondered how God loves us in spite of those cracks. One exercise was breaking down some old clay pots and discussion of those things that cause breaks in us. And when we have those breaks and let God in, that’s letting the light in.

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Arlene and Ida putting finishing touches to their craft

Our pastor leader found something interesting as she prepared for the weekend, that there’s a Japanese art called Kintsugi, in which an artist puts pieces of pottery back together with a sort of glue to which gold is added “that give a new lease of life to pottery that becomes even more refined.”

I found our music worshipful and moving and the sessions provided great discussion. We listened to videos by Dr. Brené Brown, Jeff Christian, and the esteemed Jean Vanier, winner of the Templeton prize for his work founding L’Arche. All of these speakers had one thing in common, that they were willing to show their vulnerability. Jean Vanier said in the clip we heard, “Connection is why we’re here; it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

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We ended our retreat with another session of worship, including communion and anointing of hands to go forward and use them in connecting with others and serving God while we did so.

I left the retreat encouraged, enriched and inspired as I know others did by their last words at our sessions. We have much to think on over the coming days and look forward to retreat next year.

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Ida’s turn at Pictionary

 

May 2, 2019 at 2:24 am Leave a comment

Resurrection–A Mystery to Many

Imagine yourself heading to Jesus’ tomb the day after [Jewish] Sabbath, very early in the morning. The birds might be singing or all may be quiet. You’re bearing spices to leave at the tomb. A special friend like none other—who healed sick people and even brought the dead back to life. One who taught with authority, sharing stories that made you think about life in a new way. And now he’s dead and you’re doing the last thing you can to honour him.

Imagine coming close to the tomb that had been sealed and seeing the large stone that once blocked the entrance. It’s been rolled away. And suddenly the things you brought don’t seem adequate. The gift intended is not what’s being asked now.  Suddenly that cross has a new meaning and you’re not sure what’s expected now.

 

Empty Tomb

 

In the gray dawn

I say goodbye to one

whose hands brought life from death

whose words confounded kings and priests

The cave is shadowed and dark

a boulder rests unneeded, but not unheeded

rising light exposes

folded cloth in an empty cave

confounding

compounding yesterday’s drama

 

footsteps

i turn

 

in a voice as soft as morning

He calls my name

 

© Carolyn R. Wilker, 2007 Esprit

 

Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed.

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Sanctuary dressed for Easter morning,  photo © C. R. Wilker

April 21, 2019 at 10:54 am 2 comments

Notre Dame Fire and Holy Week

 

Whatever happened to cause the fire may be accidental, and that it happened in Holy Week, is unusual indeed. I saw a posting on Facebook today with  a link regarding the cross still being present in the midst of that black hole of burnt-out rubble and think that in itself is a miracle. I think we needed to see that miracle.

That the cross still matters and all that goes with it.

I’ve never been to Paris, have never seen that spire except in photos, and so many more photos this week as people recall a previous visit there (photo credit). That the building still stands after some 850 years is remarkable, and that people were still working on keeping the building strong is also worthy. It is after all, a building. And sometimes those edifices cannot be restored, though it looks as if this one will be.

The edifice represents a significant piece of history. To people of faith, it points upwards as a position of guidance, a place to worship, and a touch point in their lives when life gets messy, as in the wars, our human condition, when we’re not sure where to turn, and I hope also in times of celebration.

I may never see the structure in real life, but I’ll most likely hear of restoration efforts once the embers cool. My hope is that more people will come to know what this season is about, and what the cross means as a symbol of Christianity.

If there’s anything else to celebrate in the midst of this circumstance is that the fire, at some point, was contained and didn’t spread to the structures or the homes and buildings around it. And many will laud the firefighters for their work at containing the blaze as best they could and that artifacts and artwork within the building were saved. It would have been a challenge to consider entering that building to rescue those pieces, nevertheless, they are saved.

In the end, what is important is that human lives were not lost in that fire, though some likely risked their lives by going in. And that the promise of restoration will happen in that historic place, a historic symbol of France’s long history.

Patti Arbon

Photo credit© Patti Arbon, by permission

 

April 16, 2019 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

Off to Palmerston today

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Today I’ll be in Palmerston for a book signing, featuring my newest book, Piece by Piece, and I’ll have copies of my other books along too.

This book makes a great gift for a mother, grandmother or friend. You can treat yourself to a new book to read as well.

Glynis Belec, from Angel Hope Publishing, will be joining me for this event at Family Home Health Centre on 237 Main Street West in Palmerston. From 11 am-3 pm.

We have small treats and a draw prize, and you can get your book signed too.

Time to get ready, hope to see you there.

April 13, 2019 at 11:17 am Leave a comment

Moving toward Holy Week

 

Last evening my husband and I attended the final soup supper at our church for this season of Lent. It was well attended and the numbers have grown throughout the season. We’ve had good conversations, eaten delicious soups and desserts, and gotten to know more people at our new church.

Following supper, we went into the sanctuary for the service. We’ve made good use of Holden Evening Prayer, written in 1985-86 by Marty Haugen during a musical residency at Holden Village. After six weeks of the service we’re finally mastering the round part, and that’s it until next year. Hoping we use it again. I appreciate the prayerful music within it and Pastor Richard’s voice carries it well. [Though the video has some echo, the music is soothing and melodic.]

Thus the six weeks of Lent brings us to Palm Sunday this weekend, a celebration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of Holy Week, as the church calls it. I think of it more as more a hellish week for Jesus, given the betrayal and pain he endured.

This poem is one I wrote years ago, pondering the sacrifice foreshadowed on Palm Sunday. The poem was first published in Esprit (Spring 2006), a women’s magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Women I used to write for until its closure..

 

Sacrifice

 

My borrowed beast

climbs the rocky path

treading cautiously over robes

that carpet dusty earth

 

shaded

by a canopy of palms

his body trembles amid shouts of

 

Hosanna

 

such a young colt

he does not hurry –

as if he knows what is to come

 

outside the city gates

the crowd thins and hosannas fade

inside

a poor man empties his pocket

to buy a dove

 

my beast of burden can rest now

my time is coming

 

© 2006 Esprit Spring Edition, Carolyn Wilker

April 11, 2019 at 11:15 am 2 comments

Changeable Weather

It’s that time of year when the weather is a little fickle, when it’s not completely spring and winter still wants to hang in. We woke Sunday morning to a thick coat of snow on picnic table and lawn, and the car covered with a coating of white.

When we thought we might be done with winter, snow and snow shovel, it made another appearance to keep us guessing. It did look pretty and it was very cold. And very much a surprise.

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However, we are in April now and there were flower stems shooting through the ground and buds on trees before this snowfall, so surely we’ll feel the warmth coming again soon.

 

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shoots poking through the ground for lilacs and other early spring flowers only last week

In a few days, perhaps, we’ll smell spring in the air. We’ve seen the robins and know they’re back. I’m ready for spring. Maybe you are too.

 

April 1, 2019 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Piece by Piece book signings

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Please note that I have several book events already set up for Piece by Piece

 

April 13th, at Family Home Health Care Centre in Palmerston ON, from 11 am to 3 pm

May 11th, at Tavistock Public Library, Tavistock ON, at 11 am, reading and signing books

And I will be at the Tavistock Fall Fair in September. More news on that one later. All of my books available at this event.

More in planning stages

March 14, 2019 at 3:15 pm Leave a comment

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