I’ve Flown South

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Hello to All who are visiting this site.  My new site is http://www.thatgodthing.wordpress.com.

As of May, 2014, I am retired and living in Arizona.  So I have migrated from my “Alaska Preacher” persona to “Rev. Gramma”, with grandchildren both in Alaska (2) and Arizona (1).  Though retired, I am pursuing volunteer opportunities for service in ministry here in Arizona, which you can see is almost directly opposite from Alaska in climate.

I believe that my reflections here on God’s Presence in everyday things and on my journies to the Holy Land are not outdated. So enjoy! The section on Yakutat Presbyterian Church in Alaska is now outdated. But if you enjoy what you see there check out their new facebook site, look for them under the Alaska Cluster of the Northwest Coast Presbytery, or contact them at yakutatpc@yahoo.com.  They are presently in search of a new pastor.

Hope to see you at http://www.thatgodthing.wordpress.com.

When A Phone Was Just A Phone

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In my whole life, I’ve never gotten a phone for my birthday.  It just wasn’t something people gave for gifts when I was a kid.  It would have been like wrapping up a broom and dust pan or a new light switch.  A phone was just a phone – as important as piped-in water, but nothing to dote on … just something we took for granted and ran to answer when we heard the ring.  And the ring tone never varied.  No sudden burst of canned music to get our attention!  That would have caused alarm!  A phone was a phone – nothing more.

But how things have changed!  I remember when phones evolved from sitting on a counter or table to hanging on the wall, when the traditional black phone began appearing in colors, and when dialing was replaced by touch-tone and the whole shape of the phone began to change.

But that was only the beginning!  TV ads now tell us that everyone of almost any age, even children, need a phone of their own, and that this phone can provide almost anything you need in life to make you happy!  And that includes instant friends to chat with, your own favorite music to plug into, perpetual internet and email access, and the opportunity to record any significant moment for posterity via photo or videotape.  But along with this instant access to everyone and everything, comes the temptation to be in your own little world no matter where you actually are, connect to what comforts you or demands your attention from afar, while oblivious to the real world around you.  This is especially evident in airports!

Cell phone service, battery-powered phones and speaker phones make it possible to “multi-task” while on the phone.  And with answering machines, nothing is left to chance; no time is “wasted” on unanswered calls.  No more running home to be there when Auntie Jane calls from Florida, or sitting in one place and focusing on nothing but that call when she does.  But perhaps good old-fashioned anticipation, and the gift of our time and undivided attention, is being replaced by our “need” for instant accessibility and convenience.

I was happy when I got my first remote phone and found freedom beyond my longest phone cord.  But sometimes I’d rather be out on the beach in the real world, where I might even be out of contact for awhile as I walk along the shore with nothing but my own thoughts.

It’s where my thoughts often turn to God, as I experience the beauty and power of His creation and the power of my connection with Him and all that He has made.  It’s a heart to heart connection I don’t need ANY kind of phone for.  It’s a Love connection that He offers to anyone who is willing to reach out and receive it.  Just give Him a call, and He’ll answer.

Blue Moon

Hidden behind an overcast Alaskan sky on August 31 was the second full moon of the month – a Blue Moon. But if we could have gotten a glimpse of it through the Southeast Alaskan clouds and rain, it would have looked like any other full moon. This reminds me that there’s often more to something than what we can see with our eyes.

In fact, the term “Blue Moon” isn’t about the way the moon actually looks at all.  It’s not even blue — just your average full yellow disk in the sky. Only this month, that disk appeared twice.  And that’s the whole point. So we didn’t miss out on such a rare sight after all.  It was still just that same old moon that we depend on being able to see every night in one phase or another – as long as the clouds don’t obscure it from our vision.

In earlier times a Blue Moon was defined as the appearance of the third full moon in a season of four full moons, instead of the usual three. This only occurred every two or three years, so people used to think of it as a rare occurrence – and the term “Blue Moon” is still used to talk about a rare event.  “Once in a Blue Moon” that kid will actually clean up her room without being told!  “Once in a Blue Moon” my husband will actually want to go to a movie. But just how rare is a Blue Moon – really?

Being a person who loves the challenge of finding connections between the things we see and experience in our everyday lives and God’s presence, I couldn’t resist the challenge of finding a connection between the presence of a Blue Moon, and the faithful presence of God. And I have to say right off that the mystique of the Blue Moon falls short.

Whereas God’s presence within our world is a divine concept, dependent on faith, a Blue Moon is a purely human concept, dependent on how we have counted days and arranged them in months and years in calendars. There is a New Moon about every 29.5 days, and it’s only our separating of time into months that gives the allusion that two full moons in one month are something notable. But God’s love and mercy and presence ring true far beyond the way we humans measure time and space. God’s Presence is eternal — in this life – and beyond.

But God and the moon do have something in common. As the presence of a full moon is not really a rare occurrence, neither is the presence of God.  It can be counted on, not only every single night – but also every single day of our lives — both in the worst of times and in the best of times. God’s presence and His love as modeled for us in His Son, Jesus Christ, are always available to us – on any calendar day, as are His mercy and forgiveness. Rather than something we can only experience “once in a Blue Moon”, it’s always there — every day of the year – and we only need to see through the eyes of faith to realize this.

But what actually IS rare, is that our God would send His Son – a part of His own Being – to die for us even when we were sinners, and that He loves us and welcomes us back, even when we have turned away from Him. It’s reassuring to know that in a world which is uncertain, and constantly changing, God remains faithful. Like that old moon, He is present, even when our vision of Him is clouded.

The Death of a Shrew

I bought a mouse trap. Not for a mouse, but for a tiny little shrew, pear shaped and furry plump, with a long tail and pointed nose. He appeared one cold Sunday morning after my return from a Juneau trip and needed to go before he got too comfortable with the accommodations or choices on the lunch menu. But I was busy at the moment with church preparations, so I tried my best to ignore the flash of fur streaking from one room to another except to periodically get up and thrust an empty coffee can in its direction. And I prayed that by some miracle, the little creature would just leave. And I added, “God, I just don’t want to have to kill this thing!” Continue reading

There Was A Bear In My Soap

I remember my first stab at carving.  It was at Vacation Bible School.  I was about 8 or 9years old, and it involved a bar of Ivory soap.  We were learning that Jesus was like a Good Shepherd.  And the point of this project was to make a sheep.  I loved a chance to be creative and was excited to see the animal emerge from the soap, as a Native Tlingit carver might enthusiastically chip away at a piece of wood to reveal the treasure within it.  But I guess there was a bear in my soap, waiting to make its appearance, because try as I might, the sheep was not taking shape.  To tell you the truth, I rather liked the bear, so finally just gave up on the sheep and made the best bear I could.  Fortunately the teacher must have been a “good shepherd” herself in guiding her little sheep, because I remember being encouraged in my efforts, and proudly took my bear home and displayed him on my dresser.