An Invitation

“Pondering From the Pacific” [ ] invites you to move over to that site to continue following the post that had previously been available on on this site, “A Simple Desire”. Sometime later this year “A Simple Desire” will no longer have new posts but function as a repository of the posts from 2007 until fall of 2017. At this point, posts from “A Simple Desire” are no longer posted to Facebook, but posts that are on the site “Pondering From the Pacific” are posted. It is the same sort of content that has been posted on this site since 2015, that is scripture passages from the Revised Common Lectionary. And it is the same author at “Pondering From the Pacific” who has been posting on “A Simple Desire” since 2010.

I did notice a drop in followers, seemingly overnight. And while I can understand that, considering the changes that are taking place, I am hopeful that those who have been following here at “A Simple Desire” would move over to the new site, which actually had its start in 2012. It is now going to be my only active blog site come fall of 2017. Thank you for your interest over the years! And shalom!

Everything Under One Roof

I do not mean this to be a long post or an involved post. It is simply to let you know that I have successfully exported, then imported, all of the posts from 2015 onward. It means that all the posts I wrote as comments and reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary are now on “Pondering From the Pacific.” It is the next logical step in moving operations from one site to the next. And it was step I was not sure was going to work out! It took a couple of tries to get the mechanics involved to work correctly. Once I figured out the correct steps, it did not take much time. I thought I would be laboring for hours to get it done correctly.

I do not say this to tout my own horn, but to compliment and acknowledge that WordPress is a good place to set a blog. I have been grateful over the years that they have made maintaining a blog and easy one. And to you too, beloved and gentle readers for following the blogs as you have.

This next step in the transition means that it becomes more official that posting that was done on “A Simple Desire” [] will be moving over and posted only on this website, “Pondering From the Pacific” []

The next step, beloved and gentle reader, is for you to switch where you read the posts. And that is actually the part and portion I am most worried about. If you are reading this on “Pondering From the Pacific” I am hopeful you have signed up to follow posts placed here. If you are reading this on “A Simple Desire”, I am hoping that you will switch over. My original plan called for only posting  on “PFtP” (to give it an acronym) at the beginning of 2018. With the ease of each step, that might happen at the beginning of Advent. To reassure all, the posts currently on “ASD” (another acronym) will still be there as long as WordPress allows the site to exist with no new content. It was my “simple desire” to have the overlap of posts only be those related to the Revised Common Lectionary, from 2015 onward.

I am reminded I promised this to be a short post. I have talked previously about my decision. I hope, beloved and gentle reader, you will join me at “Pondering From the Pacific” as we continue to make our way through the lectionary year. Shalom!

Day of Pentecost: The Psalm Passage – Getting instructions and directions

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.” (Psalms 104: 24 – 28)

Some years back I wrote a reflection on Jonah and the whale – specifically when Jonah was spit up on the sand and the Lord asked him again to go to Nineveh. I remembered it so strongly that I went back and re-wrote it again, specific to my current situation. Look for it on my other blog, Pondering from the Pacific . The leviathan part always reminds me of whales. And that reminds me of Jonah, and Jonah reminds me of . . .

“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.” (Verses 29 – 30)

But I am guessing that the Revised Common Lectionary is focused on the “send forth your spirit” part as it pertains to Pentecost. And yes, that was a great time of celebration. But in order to get to the coming of the Spirit part, the disciples/apostles needed to get through the Jesus dying part and then Jesus departing part. Those were hard times, I am sure. I am equally sure that getting to the other side of those experiences made the coming of the Spirit even sweeter. Then they knew what they should be doing, and how to do it. And were empowered and equipped for their calling. My hope and prayer, beloved reader, is that we might all be so prepared and quipped. Selah!

“May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works — who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD! “ (Verses 30 – 34, 35b)

Fourth Sunday of Easter: The Psalms Passage – Walking without fear

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” (Psalm 23)

At different times in my writings I have written on Psalm 23. Most writers who write about spirituality and faith issues have – several times. Sometimes one or another line or metaphor is highlighted. Others times the psalm as a whole is the focus. But there are only some many lines, and so many metaphors etc to be used as the theme. Sooner or later you are bound to repeat. And that was the challenge before me as I sat down to address this psalm once again.

I remembered another time, years and years ago, when I looked at this psalm. At that time I was writing monthly columns and sending them out to a circle of friends and family. It was something I had started doing back when we lived in Indiana, and I had continued doing it when we moved to the west coast. I do not remember why I picked on the 23rd Psalm to write on; perhaps it was appropriate to what was going on at the time. Mind you, this was 10 years ago – ancient history compared to now. Except, once again, I am sending my writings out into the ether-sphere – so to speak. At that time I was using the King James version of Psalm 23, and I suspect that was the motivation for the title I gave it – “Yea . . . Yeah!” Verse 4 in the KJV reads as follows, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” And the RCL does not stipulate one version over another.

So . . . what follows is what I wrote then. I have reused this reflection before, when I was writing a column for the “Third Way Cafe” website which is still in existence and is produced by Mennonite Media. The title for that posting on that website was “From Yea to Yeah!” But that was years ago too, and I no longer post on that website. I am using the same italics font that I use for scripture, simply because I am in a since quoting myself. So sit back, beloved reader, as I turn back years and listen to my “younger voice.”

Through my readings and study, I have come to understand that the phrase “valley of the shadow of death” does not just mean death itself, but also a place of deep gloom where “evil” seems to be all around. Think of a valley so deep that sunlight cannot reach it, and so narrow that there is no easy path. One must constantly step around or on top of stones that have fallen down from the high cliffs above. And the sides of the cliffs rise up so steeply that there is no way to climb them, so one must walk through them. And the surrounding rocks echo one’s own small footfall until you become afraid of the sound of one’s own steps. This is what I imagined when I read about “the valley”. But the Psalmist says, “I will fear no evil”. Not fearing the evil that is real or the evil that is imagined.

There is a section in one of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series where the main characters are walking through such a valley following Aslan. At first only one of the characters sees him and it is only through her persuasion and perseverance that the others continue. Eventually they all see him and are led through the valley safely. The Psalmist says, “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Sometimes the “rod and staff” are physical objects. Sometimes they are people who are traveling the same way or the same path. And sometimes the rod and staff are feelings inside that tell you that you are not traveling alone.

For me, it does seem there is no way to avoid the “gloomy place” I am in. I must walk through it. The sides of my predicament are high. There is no way to climb over it or avoid it. And yes, sometimes I am “spooked” by my own footsteps. I have pondered much on my situation, and as new insights come, I tremble. But I know I am not walking this path alone. There are people along the way who are giving me comfort and strength. I have my Bible and my books of Christian meditations. I have the writing of this column to give voice to my inner thoughts, and to help me process it all. And I have the solace of the Lord that cannot be felt or touched, but is most assuredly there.

Many of us at one time or another have walked through such a valley. Perhaps it has been an actual death of a loved one. Perhaps it has been the death of a hope or dream. Or the death of a relationship. Perhaps it has not been death at all, but a dark place in our lives that we have had to work, and walk, through. Each of us has our own fears and times of testing. That is probably why this psalm is so well known, because it speaks precisely to those times. But this psalm does not say we can avoid these times or that we will be easily whisked through them. It says we need not fear, and we will not be alone.

So let our “yea” turn to “yeah!” Let us rejoice in all of the assurances that are found in Psalm 23. And, let us rejoice that our Lord is the good shepherd that will never leave us or let harm come between us and his love for us. For we are not promised that no harm will befall us, that there will no “valley of the shadow of death”. The promise is the comfort, the solace, the knowing that we will come through the darkness into light. And that light is the Lord our God who watches over us, always! Yeah indeed!!!!

NEEDS MET . . . Possessions given up

“There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” ( Acts 4:34-35 from Acts 2:43-47; 4:32-37 )

The only lands I have ever owned was sand that I had collected. And the only houses I have ever had were doll houses. I do not know what it is like to feel ownership and/or responsibility for land and property. My parents owned their house, and then sold it. My husband and I have rented all our lives. The American Dream and the American Way tells us we should buy a house and land, and then spend time and energy to keep it and maintain it.

But still I find it hard to believe that people would give all that up, sell, and then give the proceeds to others. It takes a dedication to a cause that goes very deep. And it makes we wonder what I have given up for faith and dedication to a faith group.

And, it makes me wonder how did they have these possessions that they could give up and still have a place to stay? I mean, everyone needs a place to stay, and if you sell the only place you have to live and then give the money away, that puts you in the same position as those who are receiving YOUR money, and means that someone else now have to give up THEIR possession to insure your needs are meet. There must be more of a story to all it then what we are told in Acts.

I talked in my other blog (Pondering from the Pacific) of donating my fourteen year old car (“Missing my “Blue baby”) to a worthy cause. It’s the closet thing I have had to a “possession.” While not on the magnitude of selling land/property, it is a donation of sorts to help out others who have need. And that would count for something I presume. It goes without saying – but I say it anyway – these are acts of right relationship and justice, and the working towards shalom. If you do not have possession that can be laid at the feet of good helpers, there are other ways to meet a person’s needs. I pray that our Lord God will guide you to those ways. May you be open to this. Selah! And shalom for your day.

NO FEAR; Finding the places of peace

“I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove savage beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.”   (Leviticus 26:1-13)

I have from time to time talked about this blog, “A Simple Desire”, in my other blog on WordPress, but I have not talked much about my other blog “Pondering from the Pacific” here. I use the same theme, Dusk to Dawn, there as I do here. But on that blog I have a picture of the beach that I took. And the blog theme is “Just watching the waves and thinking out loud.”

The beach for me is very peaceful – even when it is winter time and the wind is cold and whips up the waves, and the waves pound on the beach. It is peaceful because . . . . well, I have really understood why it is peaceful to me. I guess a large part of it is that the sky, the earth, and the water all converge at that one point and they blend together in seamless harmony no matter what the season is. It is a place that for me, I could lie down on and never be afraid; where there is no savage beast and no sword.

Now the blog itself is very eclectic; any and every topic could be fodder to thinking and pondering. And I imagine sooner or later any and every topic will end up there. This blog, A Simple Desire, has a specific starting point, the daily “Sip of Scripture” from Third Way Cafe. And for going on seven years has commented on the daily scripture passage. The other one, “Pondering from the Pacific” is not yet a year old. But, once again, I digress.

We were talking about the beach, and according to me its peaceful nature. Where sword and beast are no where to be found, and the only danger in lying down is that you might get drenched at high tide. This is the promise of verse six; but if you read on to verse seven . . . . “In fact, you will chase down your enemies and slaughter them with your swords. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath your sword.” That, gentle reader, is not the way I envision the acquiring of peace on my beach.

I dearly wish I could ask the writer of Leviticus what was in his/her mind (although I have to admit I think that such theme juxtaposition could only come from the male species!). In verse six we have the Lord promising and assuring the Israelites that God will act for their welfare. But there they are in verse seven chasing down their enemies on my quiet beach! Can you image my indignation?! Here I am quietly sitting on the beach, watching the waves come in and out, and letting what breezes or gusts of wind play in my hair when some screaming bloodthirsty men stampeding and rampaging across the sands! This, gentle reader, is NOT God’s shalom!

In fact, God’s shalom is never won at the end of a sword. Never! And that is why I think we do not have shalom in this world. It is because we hear God’s promise of peace/shalom, but then think that we have to get rid of anything or anybody who threatens what we consider to be our carved out personal plot of possessions. That is one of the reasons I consider the beach to be so peaceful. I don’t own any of it! I don’t have to defend it or keep under control. I can’t exert my will over it because the waves don’t listen to me or obey me; the sand does not arrange itself according to my will. And the sky certainly does not bow down to me. It is peaceful because I am at peace with it, allowing it to be as God intended it to be. It is peaceful to me, because I am at peace with it.

Just imagine if we lived in peace with each other the way I live in peace with the beach. Truly, there would be peace in our land, our fellow human would not be a savage beast to us, and no sword would be necessary. I hope and pray gentle reader that you have oases of peace, and that they would get larger each day until all the lands on the earth would be at peace, and the sky and the water would blend in harmony. Shalom for your day!