The Garden of Hope

Gardening is always an act of hope:
not just the hope
that at the end
there will be flowers to brighten a day
or produce to share,
but also hope that there will be rain, and sun;
fertile soil, and strength to weed;
productive seeds; no nasty infestations...
and most of all, the hope --
or perhaps that is belief, not hope --
that we'll be there at the harvest,
on our knees and thankful
for the feel of fruit, or flowers in our hands.

What seeds are you sowing today?
What harvest do you anticipate?
Have you the steadfastness to water,
the time to weed,
the courage to thin, or to transplant as needed?
And who will be there at the end,
to bring in the ripe and the lush,
to feast on that immeasurable bounty?

Words and image by
Diane Walker


And on those days,
when all seems flat and bleak,
too dry to breathe,
too hot to move
and I sag under the weight
of my own internal sky,
am I not like you?

Do I not long
for love to fall into place,
for some discriminating cloud
to drift down round my shoulders
enfolding with its whisper of cool and damp,
its promise of rain to come,
of water -- somewhere --
in this parched desert of a life?

Words and Image by Diane Walker


is the breath of the soul,
the life energy of the spirit.
It is the story of the interplay
between God and me.
It is the link
between the inner and outer life.

There is no formula for it beyond the need
to nourish it with both words and silence.

The prayer of words is simply meant
to fill our minds and thoughts
with an awareness of the nature of God
and the attitudes of soul needed
to immerse ourselves in the God-life
until we melt into the presence of God within.

There the great silence of God becomes
the central, major focus of our lives,

the anchor of our hearts,
the stabilizer that carries us
through all the moments of life
on a straight course directly to the heart of God.

Words: Joan Chittister from The Breath of the Soul: Reflections on Prayer (Twenty-Third Publications)

Image: Red Maple and Russian Sage by
C. Robin Janning


“Both favor and folly are part of the human condition. Heart cries, however, can always be the genesis of healing.”

Words: Charles R. Ringma in
The Seeking Heart: A Journey with Henry Nouwen

Image: Morning Meditation by
Barbara Desrosiers

The Unseeable

"I want to make poems while thinking of
the bread of heaven and the
cup of astonishment; let them be

songs in which nothing is neglected,
not a hope, not a promise. I want to make poems
that look into the earth and the heavens
and see the unseeable."

Words by Mary Oliver from "Everything"
in "
New and Selected Poems"

Image: "Trinity" by James Mangum


your hands, your arms
your heart which bears
still the imprint of my own

Image: "Memorial to My Mother" by Connie Butler, bronze sculpture.

Music Of The Spheres 1

in circles, the poetry of light
wraps itself with spirit to
become music

Seen above: "Music of the Spheres 1" by Virginia Wieringa

It's Over

General Convention is over. We've been reminded and advised; we've been refreshed and energized. We've laughed, we've prayed, and we've danced.

Now, the work begins; it continues. Day in, day out. Breathing in, breathing out.

Image: Photograph by A. R. Pinkus

10 Minutes

"In the Name of God
Our Creator
Our Redeemer
and Our Sanctifier

I have 10 minutes.
I have 10 minutes to save the earth..."

So began the address given by Bishop Steven Charleston at the General Convention Eucharist on July 15, 2009. His impassioned and prophetic words must taken into our minds, our hearts, and our hands.

You can read portions of the address and see it at EpiscopalLife Online.

"This is our moment, this is our time, this is our call and under an anointing of the spirit of God we will not fail in that call, but be in the vanguard of a change that will resound around the world full of hope and grace to renew humanity itself through the hope and power of Jesus in whose name I have preached and in whose name I have prayed."

Words: Bishop Steven Charleston

Seen above: Bishop Steven Charleston addresses General Convention Eucharist, GC Media Hub 09's photostream, 7/15/09 Duane Dale.

You Are There

"I know because you are there that I am here.
The stretching arm of cognition
in a lightning flash,
joining together a million eons of distance,
joining together birth and death,
joining together the known and the knower."

Words: Thich Nhat Hanh from Non-Duality

Image: Diane Walker

The Ubuntu Reredos

"Before time began, the invisible world rested in the eternal. With the creation of our world, time and space began. Every stone, bush, raindrop, star, mountain, and flower has its origin in the invisible world. That is where the first sighting of each of us occurred. We emerged from the folds of time, each an intense mixture of visible and invisible." John O'Donohue, in To Bless the Space Between Us.

The altar space at General Convention in Anaheim is transformed daily by the work and spirit of ECVA President Mel Ahlborn, Producer of The Ubuntu Reredos (a digital altarpiece created for this 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church). This reredos is a symphony of images that offers a co-mingling of visual bread and wine—where the gift evolved is always more than the bread and wine.

Seen above: Convention Eucharist on Sunday July 12, 2009, The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori presiding.


the greeting the mingling flowing highly visible
Spirit moving quietly invisible

for some reason,
General Convention
reminds me of baptism

Image: "Baptism" by Roger Hutchison

Trip To Memory

long ago
down a dirt road
in a New Mexico ghost town
falling down church
falling down life

from self-inflicted wounds
so much collateral damage
a child’s hot tears
a wife’s withering dreams
a husband’s blind regret

a heart was carved
in the tilting wooden cross
broken heart?
sacred heart?
hard to tell

now I see it again
that old adobe church
the tilting, splintered cross
mirage? dream?
hard to tell

the weathered heart remains
and from this distance casts light
where other hearts have healed
on this long and winding journey
this redeeming trip
to Memory.

Words and Image by James Mangum and C. Robin Janning

Full Of Grace

“I invite you into a new way of seeing Mary. We must recapture and reclaim Mary and see her for what she is… an active agent that moves through us through the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

Words: Bishop Steven Charleston from an article by Nan Ross, in The (Episcopal Life) Daily, Issue 4, page 13.

Image: "Mothering Arms" by C. Robin Janning

At The Eucharist

"Here at the Eucharist we state who we are and where and why. We give voice to our hunger and helplessness; we name death, in us and around us; we give thanks that we are called from emptiness to life, and our own true names are spoken by the Word. May this gathering be a sign of life in the face of death, a declaration of who we are in Jesus and with one another, in the heart of God the Holy Trinity: chosen friends who, miraculously, know something of that God's longing for what has been made."

Words: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams offers a mediation and expresses gratitude to Convention during the July 9, 2009 Eucharist at the Episcopal Church's 76th General Convention in Anaheim, California. A video stream will be available on-demand at the Media Hub. The complete text of the meditation is HERE.

Image: Photos seen above by Alex Dyer (top, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams delivers meditation at July 9th Eucharist; bottom: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams exchanges The Peace with a woman in a wheelchair).

Images courtesy of Episcopal Life Online

Artists At The General Convention

Artists help set mood for worship in Anaheim.

Image: "Afternoon Radiance," a pastel by Paula Vukmanic

An Artist's Connection

artists often show
their understanding of unity and divinity
by expressing their connection with mother earth...

Seen above: "Reflection" by James Mangum

Winter In July

Spring time is birth time,
the time of quickening –
summer is the time of growth,
of fullness –
autumn sees maturity,
ripeness, and passing –
and winter is death.
— George W. Jones

Last Fall while attending the last game of the soccer season for the daughter of friends, we met another fourteen-year-old girl who was a friend of a member of the team. Her name was Sarah.

Talking with Sarah off and on during the game, we learned that she did not play sports – a bit clumsy, she loved music and was taking piano lessons, her family were going to Disney World in a couple of weeks. She was pretty and bright, but also polite, well-mannered, and courteous – traits that are often hard to find with today’s youths. I found myself thinking, what a wonderful girl this was and how we could use more young people like Sarah.

After the game ended and we were walking to the car, we learned that Sarah had an inoperable brain tumor. She had perhaps six-months to live. My heart sank. After that day, we would occasionally receive updates on Sarah as her health declined. On July 2, Sarah died. I only met her the one time, yet the sorrow was great. Here was a young girl on the threshold of life’s summer, and now she was gone.

In George Jones’ complete poem, he speaks of how our lives mirror the seasons. His focus is on those of “venerable age” who have reached their winter years. So, what of those whose winter comes too soon?

There was a young man named David that George Jones had known since David was a child at the mission church where Jones was the priest. He thought the world of David, but David was suddenly stricken with an illness and died. Jones was heartbroken. As he described it, “It seems that all the flowers in Sherwood’s valley withered when David died, that all strength turned to weakness.” He later told the following story.

“In the Mission garden, Florence was cutting roses after David died. There she pondered, as perhaps at sometimes do all, why often the fairest of the young must die – as our David or sweet little ones. Many wonder why David had to die at 23, the best boy, the best young man the Mission has nurtured.

“Florence though, how she loved all the roses, how she gathered those spent and withered and old into her basket and as cherished things rather than trash, tenderly put them away. But she further thought how in selecting roses for God’s altars and shrines and glory, she selected the fairest most perfect buds. When the Mission folk heard her story many better understood how God, Who loves us all and gathers all at last, reached into His Mission Garden and gathered David, so young, so fair, into His bosom for His glory.”

Sarah’s seasons have ended, her morning of song has come, and it is time to begin life anew.

Words and Image by Dan Hardison

Working Together

Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. We are free beings and sons and daughters of God. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in His creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity. ...To work out our own identity in God, which the Bible calls "working out our salvation," is a labor that requires sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God as He reveals Himself, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation.

Words: Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions Press, 1961): 32.

Image: "St. Francis" by James Mangum

Asking The Blessing Of Light

In the glare of neon times,
Let our eyes not be worn
By surfaces that shine
With hunger made attractive.

That our thoughts may be true light,
Finding their way into words
Whhich have the weight of shadow
To hold the layers of truth.

That we never place our trust
In minds claimed by empty light,
Where one-sided certainties
Are driven by false desire.

Words from "For Light" by
John O'Donohue,
in To Bless the Space Between Us.

Image by
The Rev. Scott Fisher


Once you plant this seed,
do not expect
some other tree to grow:
each action bears its own unique fruit;
creates its own legacy.
Reach out to me,
and I will bloom in you.

Words and image by Diane Walker