Our sacred books, Torah, New Testament and Quran tell us of the many ways, and times our foremothers encountered Adonai, God, Allah. Reflections contributors follow that tradition in their search for meaning and relate their own experience of drawing near in the lighting of candles for Shabbat, painting Ebru, hearing the wind chimes in the garden, and voicing the pleas of the psalmist and poet. Each one answers the call for renewal or "Soul Time" at a point in the day, the week or a particular season of life.
We are Jewish, Christian and Muslim women continuing our faith journey and willing to do that in a community of interfaith sisterhood.
Please take some springtime to discover and enjoy the soulful artistry in this Reflections issue. We are honored to share with all of you.
Soul Space Interfaith Foundres
God's Voice in the Garden
"Do you have a chapel?" I asked the lady at the front desk of the nursing home.
"No, sorry, we don't," she replied.
I had hoped to be able to find a quiet place to sit with the decisions of the day. My mother, who was now 88 years old, had both vascular and Alzheimer's-type dementia as well as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure. Her left arm and hand had become deformed and constricted from her last fall from a wheelchair that had earned her way into the GeriChair - a sort of recliner on wheels. Slowly, very slowly, her body was forgetting how to live.
And so she had entered hospice via doctor's orders in January. She was receiving "total care," meaning she could do nothing herself. She was fed, clothed, bathed and entertained by others: saints and angels who had taken on the calling of caring for the elderly. She returned their careful gestures by smiling when she could and saying or even mouthing the words, "Thank you." Her smile had become famous throughout the wing. Everybody loved her smile. The chaplain even said it "filled the room."
By summer, we were facing some pretty grim circumstances. Understandably, I was reaching out to my Lord for answers, for quiet, for His still, small voice. I thought of the gardens. It's really, really hot in Oklahoma in the middle of summer. I knew that I probably, hopefully, would be the only one braving the 90+ degree weather. I stepped out into the oppressive heat.
In a recently built gazebo in the garden, I arranged an umbrella to shield me from the sun. I was facing a lovely garden of zinnia and marigolds (one of my mother's favorites). Flashing back, I saw us crouching at the flower beds alongside our home in Ohio, picking the dried marigold flower pods to harvest the seeds within for the following year. I was around 7 years old at the time. Such a sweet memory of mother, myself and marigolds!
I returned to seeking the quiet, yearning to hear God's Voice in the midst of all the questions, comments, and decisions. I sat in a softly stuffed lawn chair, propped up my feet on a table and felt a gentle wind...
A wind chime began to gently sound and I was transported to heavenly realms!
I was launched suddenly in a profound peace that only being in the presence of my Lord could offer! It was deep, holy, and I was not alone. God was with me. His Holy Spirit was gently confirming my actions with my mother. He was there supporting us, carrying us, and surrounding us with His blessings and love.
I stayed longer than I expected. The wind chime would stop. And I would hear the birds. And I would look at the zinnias and perhaps catch a hummingbird or two flitting from flower to flower. Then again.
The wind would gently begin again and bring the chime along with the deep sound of heavenly realms. And I'd go right back to being with God. Blessed. Surrounded. Deeply touched.
As the days and weeks went by, I often retreated to my garden gazebo chapel. Most of the time I was alone with the gentle wind and sound of the Holy Spirit. My soul was comforted and my spirit was refreshed. I could stay out in the intense heat for only half an hour, but that was all that I needed. I had found my quiet. I had found my peace. I had found my Answer. I was at peace with what was going on. Returning to whatever came next was easier after this brief respite.
Even when my mother died at the end of August, I was at peace with the decisions I had made. In the sights and sounds of that garden chapel, I had found the confirmation I sought from the Holy Spirit speaking deeply to my soul and spirit. I was at peace within.
Edie Frink Winters, Born-again Christian
Who lavishes cellular excess
on the redwoods that reach
skyward on the California coast?
Soundboard for gasps
within arching giant shadows,
Thurible of scorched bark incense
mixed with spent needles.
Pilgrims tread on crushed cones
gnawed by red squirrels,
molted feathers of horned owls,
lining the path to awe.
Marilyn Gehant, Christian
Floating on Grace
I long to see into the flow of life
like a small child, when after hours
playing at her Grandma’s house, says
I have to go home now, I can come again.
Or is that what You said to your friends?
I am going now, and I will come again.
This clinging part of me wants You
to stay with me, close at my side;
but You come and go in a here and there
that eludes and mystifies me.
I long to see with a clear lens that permeates movement
nd sways to the shifts;
soars above the lofting thermals
flutters on the light air currents
and swirls in the trailing breezes
that loosen my land ties
scatter my genetic dust
and carry me gently
into the next place with You again.
Marilyn Gehant, Christian
Photo Credit: Joan Tisdale
Taken in Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary,
A place of beauty and peace