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Posts Tagged ‘religion’

It’s the practice of many churches to have a sunrise service on Easter morning.  There is something symbolic and meaningful to see the dawning of a new day and know that it is the day we are celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

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The sun is just rising above the trees.

This year I had a different type of sunrise service.  It was held on the back porch of our cottage and instead of sitting in a pew I was sitting in a rocking chair.  Instead of being all dressed up I was in my pajamas.  🙂 The porch faces South-East and I was able to enjoy a beautiful view of the sun coming up through the trees.

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It’s now daylight.

I sat quietly listening to the birds singing for a while and then decided to listen to a song that seemed appropriate,  Allegri Misere.   I played it on my laptop so I could see the pictures and the words.  It is sung in Latin, but this particular video shows the words in English as well.

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Getting Brighter

For me there are two things which touch my soul and cause me to worship the Creator  –  the sounds of nature and certain music.  As I listened to this worshipful song which was accompanied by the chirping birds I realized that I was hearing two beautiful things which can help my heart and soul to worship God at the same time.

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My Cathedral in the Forest

There are also two places that I feel closest to the creator–in the woods and in a Cathedral.  ( I know, they are vastly different, but they both have a profound affect on me. ) As I was watching the words on the video and the stunning pictures of cathedrals, I realized I was also seeing two things that bring me into a worshipful place.  I literally had my Cathedral in the middle of a forest.

I may not have gone to any ‘official’ sunrise service, but I was able to worship the risen King in a very real way  –  possibly more than if I’d been in an organized service.

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Can’t you FEEL the emotion on her face?

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Considering that my last blog post was about an ornate, massive cathedral, this one is going in a slightly different direction.  While the grandeur of a cathedral can lead me to worship, much simpler churches can do the same.

 

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We had the opportunity to attend a very old and tiny church near our cottage this past summer.  It was built in the 1800’s and has been preserved and kept as it was in the past.  There are old, wooden pews, oil lamps, and no heat or air conditioning.  The first time I walked into the church many things took me back to the church I attended as a young girl  (especially the hand-held fans with the picture of Jesus.)

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Everything from the picture of Jesus in the front of the church to the board with the attendance numbers felt very nostalgic to me.  On the back of the pew in front of me were old hymnals and a bible. As I pulled out the hymn book and began to leaf through it, I found this taped in the front.  The words to this song captures what I was feeling at that moment.

 

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If you like old-time music, here’s a link to the song.  

Church in the Valley by the Wild Wood

My eyes filled with tears as I though about how much my Dad would have loved this little church.  He would have enjoyed the old hymns as well as the speakers who really taught scripture.  My Dad passed away shortly after we bought the cottage last year so was never able to attend this little church with us.  Even though I know he is in a place that is better than any cathedral or old brick church, I still miss him.

Feeling nostalgic was touching, but then the service started.  A sweet, older man led us in singing hymns.  He wasn’t as refined and polished as most of the worship leaders are in many modern churches, but you could tell he LOVED singing those old songs an meant every single word–it was a beautiful thing.   As I sang the alto part to hymns that I had sung as a teenager it affected me in a way that it didn’t when I was young.  Having experienced 40+ years of life since singing them, the words had a much deeper meaning.

We actually helped to set a record attendance of 39 one week and as a person who usually attends a VERY large church, it was moving to be a part of such a small congregation.  People had either come because they have a cabin in the area or they were camping at the nearby campground.  Even though we were all strangers, we were united in our faith.

The church is only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day so I will miss that little church until next spring.  😦

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Front Entrance of Cathedral and View of Both Spires

 

One of the attractions in Basel that everyone recommends is the Meunster Cathedral.  I love going into Cathedrals and old churches so this was definitely on our list of things to see.

 

 

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One of the Stained Glass Windows

 

We were able to tour much of the Cathedral, which was absolutely beautiful.  This particular Cathedral has 2 spires and we were able to climb one of them – 250 spiral steps.  We stopped at several points on the way to the top and walked around the spire on a narrow walkway.  The view from the top was breath-taking.

 

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Just starting the climb

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Part way up and looking up at the other spire

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At the very top and looking directly across at the other spire

 

It was amazing to see the entire town of Basel from this vantage point as well as looking straight across at the other spire.  Luckily I have no fear of heights so it was sheer joy and pleasure for me.  The walk down was tricky at times, but we made it back to the main sanctuary safely.

 

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The organ…AMAZING!!!

 

After coming down we discovered there was an organ recital about to start so we took a seat and waited for the organist to begin.  As we waited I noticed an elderly gentleman sitting across the way talking and gesturing to himself and my first thought was that he must be a little senile.  After watching him for 30 seconds I realized that he was praying – having an honest, heart-felt conversation with God.  He was experiencing deep emotion and it was very evident that he does this often.  He didn’t care who was around him or what they thought – he was spending time with his Lord. It was clear that his prayer was very earnest and he was listening as well as talking.

As the organ music began he closed his eyes and I could see that he wasn’t just hearing the music, but he was FEELING the music.  He would lift his hands at times and move them to the music much like a conductor would.  He was still moving his lips at times and putting his hand to his head as if overwhelmed by a thought/emotion.  He was enjoying the music with the one he had come to spend time with.

At the end of the recital people began to clap and he put his hands over his ears.  Only the Lord knows why he did this, but I couldn’t help but think that either the sound of the clapping was interfering with his worship or he was offended that people were giving praise to the organist instead of the Lord.  As everyone began to leave I watched him slowly rise from his chair and walk out of the church holding on to his cane and he was fairly stooped over.  He had a look on his face like he had just had the most wonderful time communing with someone he loved very much—the God of the Universe.  He may be feeble of body, but he has an extremely healthy soul.

 

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Empty chairs after he had left

 

Often just being in a cathedral and sensing the Holiness brings tears to my eyes, but watching that man was more beautiful than any grand tower or stained glass window. I can’t help but think that I’ll never see a sight as beautiful as that no matter how many cathedrals I tour.  I hope to someday have that kind of relationship with God that I can freely worship in whatever way I am moved, regardless of what others think.  I guess when you are staring into the face of someone you truly love everything else fades away.  I’m going to keep praying that God will help me to feel that kind of love for him/her.  I hope you might pray the same.

 

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Being sick is never enjoyable, but we can find ourselves with unexpected blessings during those times and Good Friday was one of those for me.

The week before Easter I developed a bit of a cough that eventually wound up developing in to a bad case of bronchitis. Not sleeping, coughing and feeling basically rotten isn’t something I wanted for this special time of year. I had hoped to attend the Good Friday service at our church. Unfortunately, I was exhausted from not sleeping and was still coughing a fair amount so I wound up sitting on my couch feeling disappointed—then I saw IT.

I was looking out our back windows at an absolutely gorgeous sunset. The sky was turning vibrant shades of pinks, blues & purples– it was truly breathtaking. My eyes fell on a clump of trees that are off in the distance and all of a sudden I saw an image in those trees that I’d never seen before….an unmistakeable shape of a cross. The longer I looked at it, the more meaningful it became. I saw it as God’s way of reminding me of the true meaning of Good Friday.

 

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I had my husband take this picture and yes, I posted it to facebook. One comment made by a friend stated my feelings perfecty – “Way, way more meaningful than a church service”. It seems that sometimes we think that the only way we can have a spiritual experience is to sit in a church sanctuary, but we need to be reminded that God can meet us wherever we are—even being sick on a couch.

God gave us the MOST incredible gift on the cross that day, but we continue to be given loving gifts . We just need eyes and a heart that can ‘see’ them.

 

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My Good Friday Cross

 

 

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As I enter this season of Lent, I go in to it with a different perspective than at any other time in my life — much more aware of my need for God.  In years past I made half-hearted attempts at giving something up for Lent, but I never truly opened my soul for God to fill the empty place.  It is my hope that this year will be different.

I’ve been on a journey for the last several years and have had my soul opened up in ways I didn’t know were possible.  There have been times of extreme joy as well as overwhelming sorrow.  I’ve felt intense love, but also deep loneliness.  I’ve found areas of strength inside of myself, but have also discovered places of weakness that have literally brought me to my knees. I wish I could say that I listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit during this time, but I often chose to shut my ears to those quiet whispers.

With the greater awareness of my need, it is my desire to do all that I am able over the next 40 days in order to begin to hear AND listen to those whispers.  The Bible says that God works through our weaknesses. Being more aware of my weak areas,  I hope and pray that is true and that God can use those things that have been made so evident to me.  

The symbol of the butterfly is very special to me.  As I listen to the song “His Hands” by JJ Heller, I truly feel like a fragile butterfly and long to feel the peace of knowing that I’m being held gently in the hands of the one who created the universe.  It is my prayer that as you listen to the words of this song, that you too will feel a sense of being gently held by our Heavenly Mother during this Lenten season.

 Click HERE to listen to “His Hands”

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I enjoy listening to music as I design and create my jewelry.  This past week I’ve been working on Catholic Rosaries and Anglican Prayer Beads.  These designs are different than the rest of my pieces due to the fact that they are not an adornment, but something that has a very deep and spiritual purpose—aiding people in their prayers.  I consider it an honor to be able to make something that may help a person spend time in prayer and I try to have a certain mindset as I make them.  Music can help keep my focus on the spiritual side of things as I go through the process of designing and then creating each piece.

Several songs touched me in a special way as I listened to songs that were focused on God and prayer.  The first was Your Hands by JJ Heller.  I liked the fact that it reminds me that some prayers go unanswered, but even then I am still in God’s hands.   This is a hard concept to understand and totally accept, but I continue to pray for the faith to believe those words.

Another song that hit me was Need You Now by Plumb.  Often we don’t find ourselves on our knees in prayer unless we are in some state of need and this song puts those thoughts and feelings to music.  As with the other song, this one also refers to unanswered prayer.  I can’t even begin to understand or explain why God chooses to answer some prayers and not others, but I just try to do what the one line in this song, “I’m trying to hear that still, small voice.”  Songs like this help to remind me of this.

I, personally use the Anglican Prayer Beads to aid me in my prayers, and even sometimes sleep with them.  When I awake in the middle of the night they remind me to pray instead of worrying or allowing my thoughts to get carried away.

It is my hope that anyone who winds up with prayer beads that I make will find them a very helpful tool in their prayer life.  A lot of work goes in to each set and I enjoy making them in a different way than the rest of my collection.

Here are a few of the prayer beads that came from my hands this past week.  Hopefully they will wind up in the hands of someone who needs them.

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Blue Sky Jasper in Antique Copper (click on picture to view details)

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Classic Pearls (click on picture to view details)

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Midnight Blue Pearls with Silver Cross (click on picture to view details)

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Red Picture Jasper (click on picture to view details)

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