Branching Out Blog

White Snow and the Seven Shovels

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 24, 2022 6:00:00 AM

As I write this blog post, Connecticut is covered in a blanket of snow. It is time to break out the shovels to clear the sidewalks and driveways in order to make passage easier. Meanwhile, how about breaking out seven prayer shovels to scoop away anything that interferes with our joyful passage into the new year?

Shovel No. 1 will push away denial of the need for God in our lives and institutions. It can be easy to take our blessings for granted or substitute people or objects for God. Sometimes I recall all the small healings in my life over the years and, I have to reset my gratitude meter.

Shovel No. 2 can be used to scoop away persistent physical viruses and push in good health for soul, mind, and body. We can get so inundated with symptoms and fear of contagion that every part of our lives can be adversely affected.

Shovel No. 3 should be busy clearing impatience out of our way. Technology has helped make so many processes in our daily living very speedy that we can forget how to exercise self-control self-discipline. Patience remains a desirable virtue.

Shovel No. 4 can shove away controversy between individuals and nations. May peace reign in our hearts and in our lands this year. With the help of God, controversies and threats can be reduced and maybe even eliminated.

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Topics: recreate yourself this New Year, Sharon Krause

Look Again!

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 10, 2022 6:00:00 AM

My backyard is populated by lots of squirrels. Part of the reason for the popularity of my property is that my husband loves to feed the squirrels and the birds. He is in the yard daily filling the feeders. It is amusing to watch the squirrels hanging upside down from the bird feeder as they angle for anything edible.

I have noticed that the squirrels are not just typical gray squirrels. Some of the critters have gray bodies with brown tails. Some have brown ears, and some have white ears! It is fun to give them names, although I really don’t know which white-eared squirrel is which. There are more than one “Mr. White Ears” and surely multiple “Missy Brown Tails.” It is entertaining to see the squirrels feeding and to look again to be more specific about who the voracious creatures are at any given time.

Lots of things in life require a second look.and maybe even a third and fourth. Different perspectives can lead to different judgements and varied conclusions. New details can come to the forefront. Different lights can show different angles. Snap judgements and stubborn opinions can prove iffy. Beautiful things can be even more beautiful. In some instances, a little extra time for consideration can be beneficial.

For example, did you ever read the same Bible passage three times at the same sitting? Did you ever visualize yourself, for example, standing in the stable and actually paying a visit to Mary and her new baby? I saw a television program about Jesus’ birth, and the speaker suggested that the manger, an animal’s feeding trough, could have been made of stone and not wood as we usually see depicted on Christmas cards. Hmm. Look again!

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Topics: New Year, recreate yourself this New Year, Sharon Krause, something new

Take the Leap

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 29, 2021 6:00:00 AM

The gospel reading on fourth Sunday of AdventSt. Luke’s account of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and the infant in Elizabeth’s womb leaping at the sound of Mary’s greeting, I have been stuck in idea of leaping. Even though 2022 is not a leap year, after all the grief and anxiety the pandemic had been causing, I believe it is time to leap with joy into the new year. Yes, I know the virus has not gone away; but just as John the Baptist leaped in acknowledgement of the presence of our Savior, we can confidently take a leap of faith in the abiding presence of our Lord of Life.

Now let’s consider the nature of leaping. Leaping implies elevation as we jump up and into something. This reminds me of the responses at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer. The celebrant says, “The Lord be with you.” We respond, “And with your spirit.” Then the celebrant says, “Lift up your hearts,” and we respond, “We lift them up to the Lord.”

I say that is a good place for us to start fresh. Let’s lift up our hearts to the Lord as we confidently leap into the new year. Also, leaping, in my mind, implies a kind of distance. A jump could be a short distance, but a leap seems to be long, encompassing more space. We may have to leap over past regrets, past fears, past failures and doubts, past disappointments and losses; but, with the help of our loving Jesus, we can go the distance.

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Topics: New Year, recreate yourself this New Year, Sharon Krause, something new

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