Lent 2023 (Penny)

Zoomers and slide show

MOM is 95❣️

My mother celebrated her birthday while I was away, virtually with my e-suave sister Susan as Zoom MC. All reports are that it was magnificent. Even though Mom doesn’t remember the details, I’m sure she felt and remembers the love.

I’ll find out today because, five days after my trip, I’m feeling well and even rested, I’m taking her out for lunch. It’s still her Birthmonth, after all.

As I reflect, one of my favorite things about Mom’s party is that I let it go. As the oldest sibling, I grew up bossier than most so as I was leaving for the Holy Land, I really wanted to know this special event would be covered. Who would be responsible? Would someone go see her? Uncharacteristically, I didn’t ask.

And look at the wonderful beauty that transpired, complete with flowers and a Door Dash ice cream cake.

Lent 2023 (Penny)

No man’s land between Israel and Jordan*


Wide awake again at 3 AM, wrestling.

My determination to wade in long, deep unconsciousness is failing me. I can only wait, and pray too, for sweet resolve.

This is the price of spectacular travel.

Maybe I’ll receive a new name, like Jacob did.

*Photo by James Violette

Holy Land 2023 (Penny)

Photo by Stuart Meeks when Ruth and Bhushan’s children were baptized at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle.

Small World of Love

After scurrying at least a mile through the Istanbul airport, to transfer to the long flight home, I was almost out of breath and on fire. I was looking forward to reconnecting with Hannah who was coming in from Tel Aviv, having worked in Jerusalem while we were on the Jordan extension.

Instead my name was called at the gate by Ruth, of all peope! She was behind me with her preschoolers, transferring from Mumbai, after an extended visit with her husband Bhushan’s family. Ruth is currently a yoga teacher at St. Mark’s. I met her traveling on another pilgrimage to Nicaragua more than a decade ago, first met Bhushan at a flamenco fund-raiser at Diocesan-House and witnessed their wedding and the baptisms of their little ones.

My heart flew open.

Imagine. The hope, the warmth.

We pilgrims are all home now. Finished uninjured.

The Light of the World has come.

Lent 2023 (Bryan Jackson)

[From Penny: My friend, Bryan Jackson is ordained in the American Baptist Churches USA, a registered Cherokee descendant, and active in the Cherokee Nation satellite community. While I was in the Holy Land, Bryan submitted a post. I share it with you now, as I re-enter through the haze of jetlag. Thank God for this gift of rare beauty.]

I wonder as I wander on my four legs during the 40 days of this cycle of the Christian year.

I wonder about my friend Penny as she wanders and ponders on her journey in the Holy Land. The Lord be with her. She’s rolling with the big dogs. I saw where she just spent time in the living waters of the Dead Sea. Will she bring back more life for me or will I be gone before the next Lenten season?

Either way is a win because though death feels repeatedly cheated by me, no true death exists because our Lord has promised this

and besides I have

my own Penny (a friend

of Penny too) to look after


I write for the

Little People

of this world and when I’m

on a roll

my heart sings like nobody’s

damn business

because I’m half man/

half dog—or so I’ve

been told—and a dog always

magically appears

in my stories


you just know there’s some

celestial connection between

P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog. Go!

(The I Ching of children’s books

if you must know, and I

think you must) and the homeland of

the Cosmic Christ.

Holy Land 2023 (Penny)

Zaid explaining mosaic at Bethany, baptism site on Jordan’s side of the river

Favorite Memories

Imagine a band of pilgrims gathered around the giant pottery font full of clarified water from the Jordan River. We have come full circle, having prayed with our larger group the week before from the other side in Israel.

This was a spontaneous service. One of us read about John the Baptist—John 1:19-28—then two of us led singing three verses of “Come thy Fount of every Blessing.” Again, unexpectedly, the call came up at the end, “Remember your baptism,” and we all sprinkled each other. What was next? Why, the Passing of the Peace, of course….undirected and unscripted. You might have thought we were Baptists ourselves.

And then, they were like magnets, more that half of us, stripped our feet and stepped down the slippery steps to the cool, muddy water again. Not predicted, as I had done this already, for Heaven’s sake, from the other side.

Zaid says Jordanians are discussing changing their country’s name to the “Kingdom of Peace.” I can imagine it. I am feeling hopeful as we drive toward Queen Aliah Airport in Amman to fly home.