Awakening a Keen Observer

Monday, October 30, 2006


On the way home tonight there was a beautiful sunset. Like those over the ocean or mountains it captured my attention. And on a telephone pole the most beautiful owl sitting there caught my eye as well. As I looked at the owl again in the rear-view mirror I had the owl's silouette and the sunset---my oh my what beauty.

I also heard a news report that John Calvin had something to do with the coming of "the Watch" . Apparently because he told the jewelers in his Reformation time that they could not make jewelry because it was, well, fancy. But they could work creating watches. So the Swiss artists did this and so began that trade. I didn't know that watching and watches would remind me of Calvin, but now they do.

We watch for signs in our seeming chaotic world telling us that things will calm down. It seems that many times we are 'wrestling with an angel for a blessing', as did Jacob on his return to his brother. (Genesis 32:24) We have things that happen in our lives, or to dear ones, that make no sense to us. We want to have some idea that there is a plan in the randomness we feel in our lives. We want to have some idea that there will be an answer to questions about suffering in our world and the world around us...sometime.

God gives us the sunset and sunrise. The stars are flung in the heavens with beauty and wonder. The seasons change. The days grow shorter and will again grow longer. And so, we wait.
We watch for that sign that says, It will be alright.
As a sophomore in college my roommates and I had a particulary hard quarter. We were studying on the top floor of the dorm because it was quiet there. For some reason Chrissy looked out the window and shouted! There, in the navy-blue-stormy sky, was the most perfect rainbow I have ever seen. Its colors were so distinct it was as if they were bands of beautiful yarn that had been strung in the sky. We could see an almost complete arch so we went to another window and could see it fully. And we looked without words for fifteen minutes. We looked at one another and said, "It will be alright."
And it was.
And it is

Watch for the sign, it is there for you.
God abides
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Today we set our clocks to 'regular' time. We were supposed to get an extra hour of sleep? I put a ? there because if that is true it seems like I missed it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Easily Amused

Apparently I'm easily amused but it started me thinking.
I was reading an email and it said, "You know him, there is a plaque in his honor in the fellowship hall."
The word plaque just looked odd to me. So I looked it up in an online dictionary it read in part...

plaque Pronunciation (plk)
1. A flat plate, slab, or disk that is ornamented or engraved for mounting, as on a wall for decoration or on a monument for information.

2. A small pin or brooch worn as an ornament or a badge of membership.

a. Pathology A small disk-shaped formation or growth; a patch.
b. A deposit of fatty material on the inner lining of an arterial wall,
c. A scaly patch formed on the skin
d. A film of mucus and bacteria on a tooth surface.

Friends, is it any wonder that English is a tricky language to comprehend? I mean seriously what diverse meaning that one word has... an honor or disease. Context...

And it is context that gives us a lot of information. It is the context in which words are given a good deal of their meaning and that is certain in the Bible texts. We learn to consider the context, who is talking, to whom are they talking, what is the distinctive time and background, where in the history of the people did this occur? These are important considerations.

Our own lives are lived in particular context. When a friend talked about the way certain churches behaved I asked is this in an urban or rural situation? He had not even considered there might be a difference.

The way we are people, church, school, community, all has particular context. Without understanding those differentiations we could be using the same words and speaking a different language.

Remember whose you are, where you are, and what God has in mind for you. Our lives lived in the context of God's love, grace and mercy can make all the difference in our lives well lived.

God abides
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Friday, October 27, 2006

Poem Fragment

"James he was a simple man
he didn't ask for money
he didn't ask for anything
that love could not provide."

I wrote this some time in the late 60's. Tennyson it is not. It was during the Hippy era and before the war protests at Ohio State. The Oval on the campus is big and long and wide with ribbon like walks that take you from here to there at the change of class time.

I sat at the East end of the oval when I wrote this. It was one of those amazing Ohio fall days. Cool/warm and tress dressed in multicolors knowing leaf falling time was coming.

There was no person James to whom I was referring, I had one line I've remembered and still like the most. "he didn't ask for anything that love could not provide." Somehow that seemed to have described so many of the folks Iknew at the time. Those were my true Hippy friends not the faux-hippy-wanna-be's that liked the look of being a hippy but not the philosophy.
That is how one could tell between them-- by a measure of their desires.

Perhaps that is how we distinguish between groups now. What do we 'ask' for in life? and if it is anything but love then maybe we've fallen off the mark. That is not to say we are totally without longings for the 'things' of the world. However the most important thing, we already know, is what love provides. Security beyond worldy measure.
What is the greatest commandment? Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.

Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

wooly worms

I have lots of time for observations as I travel 'out' here. I get to see the real change in seasons, wildflower colors, and birds and insects and spiders...tarantula here and there..

This is the Woolyworm season. Why did the Wooly Worm cross the road? To warn us about the upcoming winter?

When we lived in Kentucky the wooly worms were very beautifully black. And all the farmers said.. bad winter ahead. And it was! The next year the wooly worms were lighter brown... mild winter they said.. and it was!

Perhaps it is just a yearly changing of wooly worm colors, or perhaps they 'know' something. I don't know.. but what I do know is that they are lighter this year than last and last year was a mild winter. We will see.

You can learn to 'tell' things by the trees and the leaves and the way the leaves turn. Rain coming at certain times makes a difference in the brilliance of the Fall colors. The number of acorns 'means' something too. All of these are learned from observations and remembering and records.

I have a record of the Native Americans being in Northern Arizona. A rock drawing. Now before you panic or turn me in it was made by the 5th graders at the local elementary school to raise money for a new gymnasium. But it is the same thing that was left by elders time before. A marking of their being there. A record.

At Lawton for a few weeks there will be a sound booth at the NPR station to record stories of folks...this way the memories and the records will be kept. They will play excerpts on the radio. It is a wonderful way to mark the records of memories about when i was young... They ask that individuals come in with a family member or friend who can ask questions and prime the people to talk about what they remember. I hope a lot of people will do this... we need those memories. Lets check back in the Spring and see what the winter was like and think about our trust in the woolyworm signs...

So be alert
and make a record of your memories.
God abides
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pray for the Children

Monday part 2

Please pray for the Children's Homes and that the needs of the children would be the most important question.
Pray for those who have led with integrity that they would be protected
That those who have not put the children first would move on
That the intervention be one of grace and peace and truth will out.

Thanks be to God
Bobbie G. McGarey

What do we Believe?

When I was in elementary school I went to camp for a week. Somehow, in the 50's the fun thing was to tell ghost stories to the young campers and then pretend to live them out. If you remember most of them involved someone who was haunting the VERY place where you were thereby setting us up for a 'visit' from the ghost of whatever to come that night and knock on the cabin roof. I thought it was funny. Well I thought, I thought it was funny but according to a correction by my mom I woke up for a few weeks scared in the middle of the night. This was even after the counselors told us who it was that had done the knocking and we all laughed. But, somehow in my young unconscious it had not been resolved at all.

What do we believe that lurks in our inner selves that effects what we do and how we view the present world? Do we believe that everything written, in newspaper or posted on the internet is true? Do we believe that a family always looks the same? Do we believe that everyone tells the truth all the time? Do we believe that everything is about us? Do we believe the world is flat, or that the sky is a bowl turned over the top of the world with water outside that rains through on occasion? Do we believe that the earth moves around the sun? or the sun around the earth?

We have shifted in what we believe. Well, sometimes.

But there are core things that don't change.
It isn't all about us (me).
That we can learn our whole life through.
That truth will out --
That kindness matters

That we are loved by the one who created us and has a plan for our lives.

Trust that
live into that
believe that
ok happy second day of the week

God abides believe that too
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Friday, October 20, 2006


I hab a code in my dnoze.

translated I have a cold in my nose

Ya, not a big deal but I don't like colds. I like to breathe. Well seriously I do. And when I can't get a good deep breath I am not a happy camper.
Colds are amazing! seriously, viruses have amazing lives and can transform themselves so quickly. I don't like them either.
Wash hands--alot they say. Apparently I didn't do that at some point. Because the body just doesn't invent a cold on it's own. It has to be passed to you. Other nasty organisms, like strep, live in the soil almost everywhere. But it seems to me that colds need a host to stay happy.
I'm eating Chicken Noodle Soup. It's good. Whenever but especially when I'm not feeling good. Mainly i think because my mother would cook Campbells Chicken noodle soup for me. It still makes me feel good.

What are comfort things for you? A memory? A picture? A ____? Fill in the blank for yourself and let yourself have a little comfort.

I'll need to clean my keyboard soon.

No more codes, colds, for me.
God abides
Bobbie G. McGarey

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Fall comes and lets us know there is a turning of the year. The trees turn, in some places more dramatically than others, days get shorter, the frost comes, the wooly worms cross the road, and we get ready for a new season.
In the Bible it talks of the Hoar Frost and I didn't know what that was until I lived in Utah and saw it first hand. Apparently this happens when the air temperature is colder than the land and the crystals that form are awesome. This frost would cover every limb and trunk and leaf of trees. It would cover fences and lawn furniture and cars--everything. And it was beautiful in the early morning light. This was not a freeze or ice storm kind of coating, a little hairy white coating and it made things look magical. Everything was beautiful as you saw lines and shapes of things all dressed om the outside the same. Here is a picture I found on the computer of this frost. You'll have to cut and paste it to get there but it is amazing.

Ok, back to the frost. All things are equally beautiful --frosted. In a world that looks so often to outer beauty, judging one another or possessions on the outside, there is an equity about this frost that reminds us all are beautiful in the eyes of God and our beloved ones. So, there. Live into that today. You are beautiful.

God abide
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Travel Memory

While we were traveling this summer we stopped on the island of Bali at the Monkey Park. Apparently it was a very popular place but, to be honest, I'm not THAT fond of monkeys, especially running around without a cage. You were told to keep anything that could be lifted, pen, camera, watch, keys, safe as these monkeys were bold and might just lift them from you and run off.
I voted, with myself, and stayed in the Van. It was a nice moment to put my feet up and relax for a few...
wait a minute....
what is that...
jumping and running around that tree right in front of the van?
Yup. Monkey.
It sat about 2 feet high. Right there! I mean right there outside the OPEN front window in the van. I was in the second row seat, I could look down on this monkey's head. John had taken the camera to get a picture I could see and here was a monkey...oh so close. Way too close. I hoped that it would not just jump into the van because there was fruit on the front seat. The door was at my outstretched feet not someplace I could just jump out if it jumped in.

Then something else got my attention.
A column of marching people who were all dressed up.
There were probably about 60 or so who went by and then the ones who carried the casket and another 60 people. It was a funeral procession. Not in cars but walking, with sober faces. The casket was small, perhaps a child. They marched by.

I looked out the window and about that moment the monkey lept up onto the hood of the van and onto a nearby tree and took off. You could see his footprint on the car.

The group returned. The driver, who had stayed behind with the van, said to the returning people, "Did you see the funeral procession?" They had not. He looked at me and I said, "yes".

Monkeys swayed from the tress all along the road for another 1/2 mile or so but the funeral is what I remembered.
Grief speaks all languages--- no translation needed.

But then again... so does joy.

God abides
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sometimes I wonder

The Synod retreat for pastors of small congregations was held monday-thursday this week at Mo-Ranch near hunt tex. It is on the beautiful clear meandering Guadalupe river in the Hill country of Tx. I've been going there for over 25 years.
The folks who came were from all over the synod and one from Pennsylvania. Word got around about the retreat. We had Dr. Arun Jones from Austin Seminary as the workshop leader and he led our discussion with good content and evocative quesitons and good humor. I heard many good comments about him and his leadership role. Rev. Carol Waters led the worship and once more it was wonderful interwoven with the themes that Arun presented.
It even rained in the Hill Country while we were there, someone said 3 inches. It was not unpleasant and the afternoon cleared up and was lovely.

It is also a nostalgic place to me. It has a lot of connections with my life at the time my Daddy died. Bittersweet But today on the news I heard about a drug that is taken in pill form to treat the kind of cancer that killed my Daddy. I pray that some of the testing of drugs and methods they did with him gave them information that was helpful now.

I stood by the river for a few minutes after the retreat was completed. Looked up the tightly tree lined river and could see the grasses on the bottom swaying underwater as if in a gentle breeze with the ebb and flow of the water. It runs through rocks to be so clear. There was a rock in the middle that split the water and the flow around it was particularly lovely.

There was a car-trailer/semi accident on the way home that I got there before the sherrif. I heard one man say two were badly injured. The traffic crept past on the grassy shoulders. I could see the two people, sitting up off the road on the side at a schoolyard. The trailer was at an angle to the car. I passed two ambulances in the next 5 minutes that were racing to help.

I wasn't far behind that accident. four cars had pulled over, the people had been moved, but it was less than 10 minutes or so before I got there.
I had stopped for 10 minutes at a store that sells Wildflowers, for no particular reason just to look.
There was irony in the timing.

The 400 miles home moved quickly as I began to pray for the people in my parish. I think I got them all, the ones from the book. I was happy to have the list so etched in my brain.

Lots of things happening. God abides... as the early sunsets remind us the sun is still moving and the earth is still turning... Whooosh... Thanks be to God.

God abide
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Where you Are is where YOU ARE

While waiting to see the football game ... I started watching a National Geographic movie called The story of the weeping camel. It is part real story and part drama but it gives the image of the people who live this nomatic life. Not only are they not rooted in one place, but because of the shifting sands even the place where they are changes with the shifting sands. The central part of the story is about a camel calf that is rejected by it's mother at first and how to save the calf. The little camel and the mother both make a mornful crying sound as if the little one was weeping.
Interwoven with this is a story of the family life. The "gers" (houses) on the outside are plain heavy canvas but inside they are colorful and decorated with the finery of the people. Because the gers are round the wind and sand blows around the tent and it stays steady and level.
Here is how the National Geograpic page describes this area. "Sandwiched between the colossal Russia and China, Mongolia is a high plateau (average elevation: 5,180 feet [1,580 meters]). The country stretches approximately 1,490 miles (2,400 kilometers) from east to west and about 780 miles (1,260 kilometers) from north to south.
At one point they gather as their accumulated trive around a carne they have set up like a place of worship. Here is their prayer:
"We must honor nature and it's spirits mankind plunders the earth more and more this drives the spirits away that should prtect us from bad weather we have to consider we are not the last genration on the earth. We pray for forgiveness that the spirits may return."
They offer tokens their altar is a pole with blue silk flags tied to it stones at the bottom. There are small sand sculptures of people, camels and the animals of the region.
They are beautiful people. Some of the wealthier of the nomads have television and we see in the movie a grop of children watching a cartoon. The boys we follow want to have a Tv but it costs much in sheep, the currency for exchange.
The small boys are sent to the 'city, to see the grandparents, share the news and get some supplies. They are warmly greeted and given new silk jackets to wear.

These people, though they are less grounded we might think, are truly grounded on the earth. They hold their children and sing lulubys to bring them comfort and tuck them in and watch them sleep.
It is the same earth as your feet touch. It is the very same. It is the same sun and moon. It is the same air and rain.
Be at peace where you are and be grounded.
Tell your story. It may seem simple but it is YOUR story. It is beautiful.

God abides
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

The boys said they saw children playing a computer game. The grandfather said how do you play that? The child holds up his hand as if holding a controller and moves his thumbs up and down rapidly. The Grandfather laughs. If you see this movie--stay for the credits. Seriously

Friday, October 06, 2006

Harvest Moon

I read today that the moon tonight will seem 12% bigger than usual because the moon is at perigee, that orbit that brings it closer to the earth.
Be sure if the sky is right to find it and see it as it rises.
Send your prayers for peace for the world on it around the world.

Beautiful moonrises that come to mind for me
Across the horizon in Oklahoma
Over the Hills in Bhogpur, India
Over the ocean in Virginia
Over the mountains in Pennsylvania and Utah,
Over the edge of the earth while flying in a plane

Pray for peace to blanket the earth like the light God placed in the sky at night.

God abides
God Abide!

Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Thursday, October 05, 2006


When we traveled to see the churches and people in Bali and East Java area we were stopped on the turnpike. There was a place where the road went from 4 to 2 lanes, one lane each way. We looked around at the adjoining area and the driver said it was from the mud volcano. We could see a slick of mud all around the road, and coming across in one place. We drove through not knowing at that time the extent of this tragedy that was unfolding. We could see the gyser like plume--it was mud.
According to one article I read today the mud could keep spewing for 10 or 100 years or if there is a shift in the earth it could quit tomorrow. I looked online for information about how much mud was coming out. One article from the Austrailian newspaper said that it was the same volume as if a football field had 75 feet on it from end to end. Every day that amount of MUD and it was covering everything, homes, fields, land and also it was chainging the livese of everyone and would cause more and more trouble.
Imagine that your house was covered to the roof with mud?

And the rains are coming...and that means that the mud will flow over the tops of the barriers and everywhere, roads, train tracks, everywhere.

What can we do? We can pray for the people who have lost their homes. We can pray for the people who have no homes. We can be ready to give generously when we find a 'need' wherever we are... And friends....

You know what you can do right where you are. Really you do know---I believe you do!
God abides
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Oh look at that!

I was on my way to a Presbytery Committee on Ministry meeting in Utah and driving along when I saw something in the trees by the northern part of the Great Salt Lake. It was January and I pulled over to look at the birds. They were big black birds. Really big.
When I stopped I could see the white shoulders and heads. They were Bald Eagles. I was so surprised to see so many. That day I counted 18. I was about 10 minutes late for the meeting and tried to explain how amazing this was to me. I don't remember others being impressed.

What do we see in the world that makes us just stop? You know that makes us stop what we are doing and just sit in awe and amazement? Surely there are in our part of the world, whatever part that might be, things that take just take our breath?

What is it for you where you are? What would be your answer? If you can't answer right away then watch for it. Watch for something that takes your breath and makes you smile.

Then share it with someone else.

God abides
Bobbie Giltz McGarey

Monday, October 02, 2006

Laughed outloud

Sesame Street was on this morning and they had another of the wonderful creations that draw parents into watching with their children. It was a take off on Law and Order, a very popular detective program here. They called their's Law and Order Special Letter Unit. The muppet characters were modeled after the actual characters on the show. Seriously, or not, we laughed out loud.
The creators of Sesame Street have for years done parodies of adult programs and characters to engage the parents as they hopefully watch with their kids and engage one another as they watch. Years ago they did a parody of Miami Vice called Miami Mice.

However, the rest of the news of the day was anything but humerous. Reports of the continued war in Iraq and the loss of life, the misbehavior of a US Representative, and then the 4th in the school murders, alas all of this too real.
This latest one was in Amish country. We visited there with John's Grandmother Daniels and remember the kindness of the people and their simple dedicated lives. The Zook family we visited, I think I've talked about them before, had such an amazing life. The rows between the beans they had planted seemed to have been swept clean. All of it amazing.
In this area of Pennsylvania someone who was disturbed about something from 20 years ago, killed and seriously wounded several of the young girls. The Amish, as is their custom, are not discussing this with the 'outside'. Their pain is felt everywhere. We fell that pain at the loss of every child who suffers because of the misguided priorities of adults around them.
How do we lead people to a place of peace? How do we live our lives as those who lead our part of the world to peacefulness. We have been working on this search for peacefulness for centuries. Let us not stop that journey now.

Every child needs our protection.
Every child
every child...
every child...

God abides
Bobbie Giltz McGarey