Dear Kind and Gentle People,
Oh My Soul! Its 48 degrees on this blue “supermoon” first day of September and nature is reminding us of her ebb and flow of seasons. (And yes, I howled!) Here in Newfield, we are gearing up for a very late second cutting of hay, the sunflowers are glorious, and the blackberries are well worth enduring the attack of thorns when picking, especially when a pie is in mind!
This week the Newfield Community Church will be joining with many other churches in six weeks of celebrating “Creation Time in the Season of Pentecost.” New paraments of burnt orange with red in a rich tapestry have been crafted for our tiny sanctuary. In addition, we will have a smidgen of creation-oriented music augmenting the music that compliments the lectionary lessons. For example, this first week our gathering music will be “Circle of Life” from The Lion King and our opening song of praise, “Many and Great,” also known as “Dakota Hymn” will be rendered with the blessings of Grandmother Drum and vibrations of a resonant rattle created with native Maine clay.
We musicians are so very blessed to share in the creative and holy gift of sound. I might inquire how you are embracing and creating the music of the spheres that God is anointing you with. In the rhythm of life and change of nature and season we have great opportunities to create new and fresh music that leads others into deeper relationship during worship. I trust that you are able to avail yourself of the plethora of resources that are obtainable from your chair of comfort and laptop!
Recording of Dakota Hymn by Steve Bell
The mystery of creation is everywhere, and naturally here at “The Mill” one simply gazes onto the everchanging mill pond to be lost in wonder of our Creator’s vast gifts to us. The Holy One truly blesses us by the gift of nature’s ebb and flow. The genius of creation is revealed in each season and we have a choice to be observant or not. May you open yourself fully to the blessings of the Universe and see with new perspective, listen with holy discernment, and align yourself with the affirming action of sacred sound and sacred silence.
Many and Great are you, O God!
Petah cutting with the Yanmar, photo by Nee Nee Carpenter
Gobs of Blessingsand
Heaps of Happiness,
Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney
Here at “The Mill” the peonies are popping into full bloom and they have been plopped into Gram’s vases; she would have been 129 yesterday. Rhubarb pies have been baked and the abundance shared with neighbors. Each day, we move the cows (28 girls and 5 calves) to a large pasture across the road from the barn. Yesterday the “lead" cow was awesome as a thunder shower was coming, leading the herd to the barn. However, this morning she had quite an attitude and was not being cooperative (understatement); lucky for me I managed to get her calf going forward and she followed!
The Newfield Community Church had its first Pride service this week to affirm our LGBQT+ family. Personally, I was humbled that my Atheist, Agnostic, Wiccan and Shamanic practitioner friends attended. Six clergy cronies came to participate in dispensing candles and offering their life force in prayer.
Let’s face it, gay pride means opposing shame! It’s embracing that the truth will set you free. Gay pride is a way for LGBTQ+ people to overcome the shame they’ve had dumped on their heads from an early age. Sadly, much of that dumping has been done in the name of Jesus, turning many away from the church who now see it as irrelevant. Many have become indifferent. This is sad!
You may remember Princess Leia’s parting words, “You have everything you need.” Petah says it’s true: Just ask! Simply cast your bread upon the water and don’t expect to get moldy bread back. Rainbow stoles arrived as gifts from people across the country who saw our event on Facebook. Gorgeous art was given for our posters and bulletins, once again from people I have never met, but who saw this on the internet. Sometimes we all need to be reminded that the God we serve wants nothing from us other than to receive and walk in the abundance of pure love while reflecting the gift of peace that is freely offered. Everything is supplied according to our need.
As you all know, the power of music can work healing magic and transformation to the core of our being. I believe a miracle of transformation happened to many during our Pride service. Dr. Amanda Udis-Kessler’s “Queerly Beloved” was our opening song and I am so grateful that she had the music engraved for the Newfield Community Church. Look this up with lots of other compositions at queersacredmusic.com. I am still experiencing audiation of both the sound and text. Yippee! Hope it continues.
Mark Miller’s “Christ has broken down the wall” is a wonderful example of inclusive love and what the message of Christ is. There was weeping as the music and text washed over our congregation. Here is a version for you to enjoy. This version uses “Love has broken down the wall” rather than “Christ has broken down the wall.”
As a point of reference, I attended my first gay parade in Bangor, Maine in 1985 -- one year after the murder of Charlie Howard who was beaten up on the State Street Bridge and hurled into the Kenduskeag Stream despite his pleas that he could not swim. I was terrified, but two older militant lesbians put me between them and their two German Shepherds. I managed to dodge flying objects. It’s hard to put into words how empowering it was seeing others marching and other “out” people out on the street. I would describe this as a spiritual experience and a wakeup call! A photo of the march made the front page of the local gay newspaper and my position at the local YMCA camp was threatened by a “do-gooder.” I am grateful that my boss at the time stood up for me and protected me from knowing about this situation until later on. He was a wonderful Christian man. We as Christians need to stand up like my boss Ted did for me! (In essence, he was a Lead Cow.) I pray that we will be faithful in the face of hatred, if and when needed.
As we approach Independence Day, let us be mindful with our actions and prayers for the LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya, Uganda, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc., and especially our trans and gender diverse people in the United States and Canada. Let us not take for granted the basic rights to worship as we wish. I urge you to be vigilant with the tools in your toolbox, especially the powerful tool of prayer.
Perhaps you can be a leader in following Jesus by radiating unconditional love and acceptance for all of our brothers and sisters. Petah says, “Be a Lead Cow ahead of a thunder shower.” In other words, lead others to a cozy place that includes safety, liberation from shame and plenty of blessings for everyone.
Finally, remember that Christ has broken down the wall and you truly do have everything you need!
Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness!
Double Rainbow over the Mill June 2023 — photo by Tate Dame
Happy Season of Pentecost! Here at “The Mill” all nature is singing praises to our Creator. The birds awaken me about 4:45 a.m. with a symphony of praise. Last evening the approaching strawberry moon was as brilliant as the noon day sun. Petah will be howling out the second-floor window and letting the sound resonate over the “Mill Pond” when it is full on Saturday evening. The creative energy of nature and the mysterious power of the Divine is revealed to us in so many ways. Take the photo of this lovely yellow iris by my harp sculpture and kettle of yellow violas.
A while ago a dear friend of mine, Catherine, phoned me to ask if she could come and die at my house. My response was that she could certainly come to my house; however, the Creator I serve was a God of Healing and Light. Six months later she left after receiving much prayer and healing. She gave me six of her prized yellow iris bulbs -- I call them Catherine. I was with Catherine, years later, when she made her transition, but it was not related to her previous death sentence. I mention this because each year I am able to give away oodles of prized iris bulbs.
The Universe diligently reminds us to receive her abundant plethora of gifts with thanksgiving. Today’s litany includes the gift of a friend, a beautiful flower, sounds of feathered friends and, of course, sunlight and moonlight to bask in. People, do be mindful of these simple and majestic gifts that complement the gifts of the Holy Spirit (prophecy, healing, miracles, faith, knowledge, wisdom, tongues, interpretation of tongues) that the lectionary presented to us last week.
The Newfield Community Church celebrated Pentecost with a musical call to worship, “Veni Sancte Spiritus,” from Jacques Berthier’s Taizé June 2023 literature. (Do click on the YouTube link.)
Our tiny congregation came together, uniting to create beautiful sound with the pitch center maintained by old Grandfather Timpani. Mere words cannot express what unfolded as the congregation fully embraced this gift of music with open hearts and fullness of being. Indeed, we were all transformed **** and knew it!!!
I agree with Deon Johnson who wrote that, “Come Holy Spirit is a dangerous prayer because it means that we must be open and vulnerable, willing to be challenged and changed so that we can seek and find Jesus in the ones we serve. Come Holy Spirit means that we must become open to the transforming power of God in our lives. It means that we will find ourselves standing with those on the margins, on the edges, on the outs.”
Are you willing to embrace this dangerous prayer? Are you willing to be transformed beyond your wildest imagination? What would a new/fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit look like in your life and how dangerous would it be to your current way of being in the world? Might your life be transformed like Catherine?
There is no disputing the truth that my friend Catherine was transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit during her journey here on Mother Earth. Each year, her Yellow Irises give me a fresh reminder of such power and possibility! The tiny Newfield Community Church was transformed while being immersed in the Sacred Sound of the human voice and a hybrid language of Latin and English and of course Grandfather Timpani keeping the tonal center.
As we prepare to celebrate Trinity Sunday or Unity Sunday and embrace the season of Pentecost, may we be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the limitless possibilities that are bequeathed upon us. Let us live the awesome results of the dangerous prayer, “Come Holy Spirit.”
Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness.
Happy Eastertide to all my fellow pilgrims.
Here at “The Mill,” daffodils are peppering the landscape as St. Francis looks on in awestruck wonder. The lungwort is in full purple bloom, dandelions will be dug soon before they blossom and the rhubarb is popping out of the earth. Petah hopes to make prize-winning rhubarb pies and jam in about three weeks. Sadly, Petah’s knees are singing a lament—think “Dies Irae” (Day of Wrath), due to overwork in the flower beds! However, the satisfaction of being covered with good clean dirt while communing with Gaia makes it all worthwhile! Everyone say, AMEN!
The lectionary declares the fourth Sunday of Easter to be known as “Shepherds Sunday.” Jesus is clear that he is the gatekeeper and he offers liberation and inclusion. We are freed from being in charge of the “right way of thinking and worshipping.” Our personal good shepherd does not use herding dogs to nip our heels nor attack us with an old-fashioned cattle goad. He simply waits for us to accept his call and then leads us and guides us in our journey.
On Shepherds Sunday, many of us will worship in a setting where a shepherd’s crook might be displayed. Perhaps a stuffed lamb or sheep will augment the presentation and add another layer to the celebration. While we probably will not sing the Whiffenpoof Song, there will be many versions of Psalm 23 in its various forms to choose from. I confess that I enjoy the old Scottish Psalter to the tune of CRIMOND with varied dynamics and sweeping phrases. Here is a stunning rendering.
I do hope you will enjoy this Eastertide to the fullest by breathing in the beauty of creation and most importantly partake of the plethora of sacred sound available, both in nature and recordings.
In closing, perhaps the following questions would be good for a meditation and/or mindful reflection.
What gates do you enter and exit in your life?
Who are the gatekeepers?
Do you see them as compassionate and Christ-like?
Is it worth the price to enter?
Gobs of Blessings
Heaps of Happiness!
When I was a little boy and visiting the family homestead on Stickney Hill, my sainted father would lift me up to put my lips on Mr. Moose’s soft fur. We all knew he was a buck who met his demise on the Grand State of Maine’s Borestone Mountain in October 1926, but that is beside the point. We called him Mr. Moose. In 1989, this ghastly stuffed mammal descended to me, making my father was so very pleased.
In 2018, Mr. Moose joined other stuffed carcasses in my hunter son Zeb’s home. After Zeb transitioned to his eternal home, Mr. Moose came back to “The Mill.” Currently Mr. Moose is transformed and dressed for all holidays and occasions. In this way, a bit of my son, father and grandfather are resurrected and a bit of childhood is gleefully revived and enjoyed. In this picture Mr. Moose is all jazzed up for Easter with a dashing Easter Hat and Antler trimmings.
During the long journey of Lent, many of us have questioned our circumstances, our faith, the appearance of troubles in the world and our mortality. We have also had a grand opportunity to reflect and grow in faith and the understanding of our respective ministries. We, as servants of the Holy One, are called to see the sufferings of the world, and not run from them, but towards them — not to escape suffering, but to see how we can comfort, serve, and help. We can only understand with the help of God’s grace and let it understand us as an unrepeatable miracle of love.
The only people to whom the Risen Christ appeared were people who loved him. The Resurrection, therefore, is made visible and possible for those who experienced it because of the love that was in them, because God is love and because God loved the world so much that he gave Christ to these people in a new and living way. The bottom line is, if you can believe that love is stronger than death, you are able to believe in Easter. We can put down our grief, fear, and plethora of burdens at the feet of Jesus, and when he calls our name, we can answer, “Rabbouni! Teacher!”
I hope that you will allow yourselves to receive the limitless blessings and opportunities to be transformed that are at your disposal. The transformations about Mr. Moose from this living dust’s viewpoint (me) have vastly changed from an excited child, a grossed-out teenager, reluctant heir, caring father and grieving parent. We are all on a journey to grow in unction with our creator. At this time, Mr. Moose has been a tool of transformation and is currently a relic of great delight.
May your powerful ministries be filled with Joy—like that of a transformed Mr. Moose, and may your Holy Week, Easter and Eastertide be blessed by our “Rabbouni’s” miracle of Love.
Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney, Chaplain
Yesterday the Newfield Community Church observed the first Sunday of Lent with the placement of our Lenten wreath. Simply put, an elegant wreath of six rich purple candles that are a-kindled each week and with no fanfare or blabbing. The correlating number of candles are extinguished after the sermon. Alas and alack, I extinguished the first candle yesterday with my fingers pinching the flame, no worries, having done this for years. However, a bit of rich purple wax stuck to my paws and before you could say “Rumpelstiltskin” the keys on the Steinway had received an unexpected Lenten blessing. A blessing because it certainly made me even more aware of the musical phrases and texts of our hymn playing with blobs of purple goo under my fingertips. How often the Universe gives us what appears to be a challenge and we fail to see the positive result that can unfold.
The season of Lent can be such a joyful time for letting go of the old ways that hinder us and for expecting good results in our walk with our Creator, especially in ways that we have not pondered before. The Newfield Community Church hosted “Ash and Dash” again this year at 7am and 5pm, ministering from the back of my trusty 2005 Scion XB in the parking lot. After shoveling the new fallen snow and fortifying myself with a prayer and giant swig of coffee, a most holy day unfolded.
Cars and trucks beeped and waved and the morning dog walkers sent me joy! Then it happened! A mother who had seen this event on Facebook and had sent a message at 10pm the night before brought her two children, probably 9 and 11, who were eager to participate. So eager that they got up early on school vacation day. This was a sacred and holy experience for them, and although they pray each night and read the Bible daily, they had never been into a sanctuary.
Our church is unheated but the door is latched open with a trusty bungie cord so all may be welcome to enter. After receiving ashes, this nuclear family went into the church for about 10 minutes and came out with such JOY! People, truly this was a mystical and natural unfolding. Who knew!
At the end of the day, the spiritual life is never about us or about what we can and cannot do. It is about the Universe and its powerful magical workings. Lent is a time to truly embrace God’s mysterious gifting, inviting help as you reside in your holy dust-formed body. This year perhaps you might use the purple candles out of your toolbox as a physical act of intent.
Beyond what you can see are the spiritual gifts including grace or unmerited goodness. Indeed, all the holy gifts that never fail, such as divine love, holy joy, forgiveness, perfect peace and empowerment by the Spirit. During this Lenten season embrace the gift of light and do your due diligence in letting go of the old and being transformed with a new awareness. Be open to the workings of the Spirit. You will not fail. You have everything you need!
Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness,
Photo by Tate Dame
As we approach the February full moon, temperatures at “The Mill” will dip to -18 (F) or -27.7 (C) before windchill. Just as being aware of nature and its cycles is a responsibility of living here on Gaia, to be safe we have choices for the care of our soul and to be mindful of the lessons and teachings of Jesus, especially his “Lesson on the Mount.” Here is a refreshing rendition of the Statler Brothers singing “The Teacher” from the 1970s. This song from my youth danced through in head while preparing to follow the lectionary and to preach on it yesterday. Simply click on this link and be delighted at the rewording of the text.
Jesus calls us to walk in a freedom that mere words cannot explain. It begins when we are able to enjoy the vast creation that has been bequeathed to us. It begins when we are able to be open to Spirit and stop trying to control everything. It begins when we see the face of Christ in each and every person by pursuing justice and kindness for all our fellow humans. When we do these things, our hearts become refined, free from dross and hardness, purified and radiant with light, empowered to “Live and Make it Count.”
Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany! The Newfield Community Church will celebrate the Epiphany or recognition God incarnate in the baby Jesus on January 1. The opening hymn for our Epiphany celebration will be the ancient Welsh carol “All Poor Ones and Humble.” Here is a choral version of it for your listening pleasure. It is an inclusive and holy message with beautiful flowing melody and harmony.
A new year is upon us, a year full of your promise and possibilities. We have a choice to invite the healing balm of love and light to loosen our hidden prisons of un-forgiveness and transform our lives. Unlike the traditional New Year’s dinner of black-eyed peas and the trimmings that many of us enjoy only once a year, we can choose to honor the Christ Child every day of the year.
The Magi offer the baby Jesus three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Traditionally gold because the baby is a ruler, frankincense to symbolize ascending prayer and myrrh as a recognition of the end of mortal life at the cross and beyond. They paid attention to their dreams and did not return to Herod. Joseph obeyed his dream and took his tiny family to Egypt, perhaps using the valuable gifts of the magi for incentives, otherwise known as bribes.
We are all on our own journeys carrying our unique gifts within us and seeking a place of truth to lay them down. Like the Magi and Joseph, may you have the courage to listen and follow the prompts that God is using to guide you. Let’s follow the light that is bequeathed upon us each and every day. During this season of Epiphany and in this new year, may you say yes to new possibilities, embrace freedom from your past and open your heart to the New Jerusalem here on earth. Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany!
Photography by W. F. Quinn Smith
Our advent pilgrimage of waiting and wondering is a time of spiritual renewal and rebirth. As we ponder and seek unction with our creator, many of us (this includes Petah) incorporate the traditional themes of Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy in our observances. Here at “The Mill” candles are put in all the windows, glorious wreaths of balsam, pine, spruce and boxwood are crafted for both inside and outside (Fleurs par Pierre), and naturally the creche and Advent wreath are helping us to wait and wonder for the coming of the Christ Child.
“Come Now, O Prince of Peace” by Geonyong Lee continuously dances in my head. It is a lovely prayer set with a haunting melody that lends itself easily to auxiliary instruments. This arrangement by Jeremy Bankson is simply elegant and inspirational. Some mornings I use this as a devotional prayer and incorporate a gong and wind chimes while chanting at my prie-dieu.
People, Advent is the beginning of the liturgical church year and it begins with a fresh slate! The outward signs aforementioned are only a tiny part of waiting and wondering. You are responsible for the care of your soul and the season of Advent is a perfect time to be aware of what is hindering you from fully embracing each week’s themes.
What in your life needs to have closure; what needs to be blessed and released? What pieces of your life need to be discarded, repented of and/or filled with divine light? Where might you invite our Creator to help you manifest the desire of your heart, dispelling your fears and doubts? How might you receive the gifts of the Universe in fullness and with thanks?
During this Advent, may the old condemnations of ourselves and others be put to rest and may you receive the fullness of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love!
As always, Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness,
Last night Mr. Jack Frost visited “The Mill” with a “Killing Frost.” Needless to say, I was able to dig the dahlia bulbs today (eight buckets full) in preparation for next year and now I am resting in my prayer chair. The gratitude that is flowing for the vision of the fall foliage, being able to dig in the earth and to welcome the changing of our season fills me to overflowing, and causes me to weep. The song, “How Blest We Are” from “Big River” by Roger Miller, is playing in my inner hearing over and over again. If you are not familiar with it do listen to this YouTube clip with Jennifer Leigh Warren. Start it at about 1:30. Simply copy and paste into your browser or click here: https://youtu.be/ctRVzVWdVzc
Photo by Jason Harris
Our God is so good and true and we do seek to honor our Creator when we come together with one another to worship and to give gratitude. The core of our faith is that God loved us first, and God continues to shower us with grace and mercy. How blest we are indeed!
November is especially diverse this year. Truly we have been given a whirlwind of opportunity to worship and express gratitude for the holy and sacred gift of life. We begin on November 7 with “All Saints Sunday” as we acknowledge the blessings of those who have gone before us and the earthly presence of believers who make up a giant choir all singing the same song.
“Stewardship Sunday” November 14, is next and many of us reflect on how to share the overflowing gifts so generously bequeathed upon us. Then on November 21 many of us pair a hybrid Reign of Christ with an annual Thanksgiving remembrance. Perhaps some of you will incorporate Mr. Miller’s awesome song to honor our creator in worship on one of these Sundays.
The final Sunday of the month, November 28, is the First Sunday of Advent, and for those of us who follow the lectionary, we have completed cycle C and return to cycle A. There are many choices to create a celebration of the divine mystery and the incarnation. Have fun! In your prayer time ask the Universe for guidance and Voila! It’s the method that works for me.
I hope you all walk in great joy this month as you travel with the One who is all knowing, all seeing and all powerful. God’s love is enough to touch and change each of us. Let the music flow, let the light and the plethora of gifts from creator guide your journey this month.
Most importantly, do remember this. “How blest we are!”
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