Notes from Jan

Of Bridges and Boundaries

September 3, 2020

The words waft across the pond,  like a bridge between England and New England.   Dean Robert  welcomes  the day and listener to join him for Morning Prayer in the Deanery gardens of the Canterbury Cathedral.  “The night has past and the day lies open before us…let us rejoice in the gifts of this day.”  And morning after morning, like a swallow to Capistrano, I return to a peaceful place in the midst of a pandemic that crossed international boundaries and revealed terrible truths about our nation and ourselves.

Daily we’re bombarded with words and images like weapons of mass destruction.  In contrast the Dean’s words bless   mind and heart. His reflections carry wise instruction from the Bible and history and his calm presence, set among nature, green and pulsing with critters and creatures, delivers peaceful, yet powerful encouragement.  For a brief moment in time, it’s as if heaven and nature sing a fresh version of JOY to the world.  Fear not, God’s alive and well. And we need these words and images to combat the pernicious influence of fear and lies, more virulent and destructive than the virus.

Every morning  Dean Robert cites significant people and events from long ago and recent times. History matters. Two significant agreements took place in Paris on September third.  In 1783 the Paris agreement was signed which ended the Revolutionary War and set us free from England to become who we declared our nation to be in our Constitution.  As recent protests demonstrate, we aren’t there, yet.  Then, on September 3, 2016 we signed the Paris agreement on climate change. Since then, we blew up that bridge, pulled out and left other nations and nature to fend for themselves.

So, how are we to live in times like these?   Well, for starters, each morning I open astonished eyes and say, “Thank you, God. I’m still here.”  Even better than fresh coffee or bread, God comes with fresh starts,  second chances at life. Perhaps, one way to “rejoice in the gifts of this new day” is to resist the temptation to see boundaries as protective walls, shielding us  from them(who, also, were  made in God’s image) and protecting our particular tribe’s way of life. It’s dangerous to tear down walls, cross boundaries and venture into unfamiliar territory  to build bridges and Love God and our neighbors as ourselves.   Jesus knows.

Well, we aren’t alone in this battle for our souls or our nation’s, as Biblical history attests.    Joshua’s story still encourages us today.  He trembled, about to lead the balky children of Israel into new territory. But God spoke into his quaking heart and still speaks to ours, “Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NLT)

So, as we welcome this day, let’s see it for what it is, a fresh start. It comes as God’s gift of a second chance to  build bridges and cross boundaries.  We’re still here. Thanks be to God. So, I pray for us Dean Robert’s prayer,” Open our eyes to behold Your presence, God. Set our hearts afire with love for You.”

Love of and for God and others,  can heal our souls and the soul of our nation.

That’s cause to give thanks for the gifts of this day, which includes you.








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  • Reply Stan Gaede September 3, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    Wow, Jan. Another home run. Maybe a grand slam. The problem is, I keep wanting to print these off and put them on my stack of things to “re-read.” I’m old, however. Which means the stack is starting to resemble the Eiffel Tower. Which means….it is time for another Paris Agreement. Anyway, don’t stop. The problem is with the sifter, not the Creator. As usual. Bless you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 3, 2020 at 3:28 pm

      Thank you, Stan. As a writer, sociologist, and friend, your words carry extra meaning and encouragement. As for the blessing, I’ll take it as one of the gifts of this day.

  • Reply Linda Moore September 3, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    Jan-Lovely, calming and challenging words (as always). Do you have a link to this morning prayer time you mention in Cambridge? I’d love to experience it myself!

    • Reply Rita September 3, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      Found it!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 3, 2020 at 9:17 pm

      Just go to YouTube and write: Morning Prayer at the Canterbury Cathedral and Dean Robert will show up somewhere in the garden. The setting alone with lift you spirits.

  • Reply Rita September 3, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you, Jan! I’m encouraged even reading this at 4 p.m.! I, too, was interested in how to access the morning prayer time you refer to here?

    Much love,


  • Reply Jan Carlberg September 3, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Well, good evening, dear Rita. . YouTube: Morning Prayer at the Canterbury Cathedral. You will be so glad you flew across the pond to hear God’s and good words in a lovely setting. We need massive doses of calm and love.

  • Reply Nancy September 4, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Another balm for my soul! Thank you! Please keep sharing.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 4, 2020 at 11:56 am

      Thank you, dear Nancy. We all need balm…in the midst of all the word-bombs.

  • Reply Wendy September 4, 2020 at 2:07 pm


    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 4, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      Thank you, Wendy. We need to cheer each other on. You’re good at that.

      • Reply Wendy September 5, 2020 at 8:13 am

        Thank you – you were one of the first to teach me how to do that <3

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