Notes from Jan

Turn Around Times

September 10, 2020

The accent helps.  When Dean Robert speaks from the Deanery gardens of the Canterbury Cathedral, I listen carefully. The setting calms.   And the daily lessons from the Bible, reflections and prayers help me turn around to Faith the Day, instead of giving into fear, anger or utter despair.

This morning the Dean sat in the orchard, reading from Psalm 50.  In such a place it takes no leap to grasp this truth of God, “I know every mountain bird by name; the scampering field mice are my friends.”.” (v.11 The Message) So, what do you get for someone who has everything?  God, in this psalm, answers, “I want your true thanks…your trust in times of trouble.” (from v.14 and 15)  But, some days it’s a struggle to be thankful and trusting.

Well, God must love listening to and observing one old Dean who pats the head of Clemmie, the pig, while sharing the biblical story of  Peter’s vision about unclean animals from the book of Acts.  Or, like today,  when he paused to note a bird’s song.  A reminder we’re “guests in the robin’s territory.”  But frequently, this priest’s gentle ways and the serenity of the garden contrast sharply with the harshness of words and acts that pummel me daily. They challenge my sense of what’s real and true. Often, I wonder what signs are worth following in this strange time in which you and I journey.     Which reminds me that travel  is one aspect of life I miss most these days.

That longing, sends me, now and then, looking at photos of where I’ve been and with whom. Like in 2007 when Jud and I joined friends for a cruise to Norway, Sweden and Denmark with the Prairie Home Companion musicians, actors and Garrison Keillor. Inside that travel file, I found this joke.

“Reverend Ole was the pastor of the local Norwegian Lutheran Church and Pastor Sven was the minister of the Swedish Covenant Church across the road.  I saw them yesterday standing by the road, pounding a sign into the ground that read:

“Da End iss Near! Turn Yourself Aroundt Now! Before It’s Too Late!”

As a car sped past them, the driver leaned out his window and yelled: ‘Leave us alone, you religious nuts!” From the curve we heard screeching tires and a big splash…

Rev. Ole turned to Pastor Sven and asked:

“Do ya tink maybe da sign should yust say ‘Bridge Out’?”

So, you’re wise to ask, “What’s your point? ” Well, we’ve lost some bridges in this country. Sometimes we’ve harmed ourselves or others by ignoring signs. Some signs or leaders delivered confusing messages. However, there’s still time to turn around or rebuild bridges.  For example, trust in God and thanks to God are essential bridges to keep us from crashing and drowning in despair, anger or fear. They’re also important signs to heed.

Each day from his garden perch Dean Robert says, “Wherever you are in the world, please feel welcome.” We  all need welcoming words and ways. Yesterday, he reminded us to “say our prayers in a spirit of enormous thanksgiving.” 

And so I did and do again, offer to God, who needs nothing,  my enormous gratitude and too-timid trust.  I am thankful for family, friends,  Dean Robert and a garden in Canterbury. Oh, and I’m “tankful” for a cruise complete with a “yoke” to tell my brothers, when I can travel  again. It’s better told in person.  The accent helps.




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  • Reply Jeri September 10, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    I love this Jan! And I too “travel” with remembrances of excursions previously made in more normal times. How we took all that for granted! Family, friends, jokes and accents all occupy a special place in our memories. Thanks for reminding us.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 10, 2020 at 5:10 pm

      It’s good we have the company of memories from times past, balanced with the realities of today and hope for tomorrow. Daily doses of gratitude highlight the good in this day and protect us from making too much of yesterday or tomorrow. Trust n God feeds the best of tomorrow, but you know that, Jeri. Always love hearing from you.

  • Reply dale September 10, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    This beats today’s “mindfulness” session where the focus was on us and how to sense all of ourselves. I would rather fill myself with gratitude and be more mindful of Jesus. An option, at least.

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 11, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      Me, too, Dale.
      A good joke helps, too. You’re good at inserting humor into life like “a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.” Sugar’s not good for us but laughter is. Keep it coming, along with your insights.

  • Reply Rita September 10, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    It’s delightful to hear you “picked up” on many of the same things I do while listening to the Dean.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 11, 2020 at 12:45 pm

      I’m so happy you come along with me for morning prayers with Dean Robert. Such peace and wisdom grows in one small patch of God’s green earth.

  • Reply dan September 10, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    I am grateful for your wise and funny reflections that led me to discover Dean Robert. What grace and wisdom shared among the pigs and chickens! Thanks to God for the gift of your insights and wonderful sense of humor.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 11, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      Well, Dan, it was my friend, Martha Stout, who first introduced me to Dean Robert. These morning prayers from the Deanery garden have been a lifeline for me during this tumultuous time. I’m grateful you’ve been encouraged to come along.

  • Reply Suzy Young September 11, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Jan: Thank you so much for the reference to the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral ! I now have music from the Cathedral playing while I write this. I think this will start many mornings for me! Love to you, Suzy

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 11, 2020 at 4:31 pm

      Oh, that makes me so happy, Suzy. I find time spent there sacred in sight and sound.

  • Reply Nancy September 11, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    I love your insights and Scandinavia stories! It reminds me of my husbands Norwegian grandfather who had a strong accent. One day he was having some furniture delivered to his home. They had a very difficult time finding Junion Street. That’s how he said Union Street. God is good!!!! Stay well!!!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 11, 2020 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you, Nancy. You, too. I miss my Norwegian grandfather and his “perfect” English. He practiced often, then would boast, “I’ve got it. I can say it, now. Ven will you come to see us? See? I don’t say ven any more.” As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so love is in the ear of the listener.

  • Reply Wendy September 15, 2020 at 10:32 am

    I’m so behind in email I was tempted to just skip by this, but I’m so glad I didn’t! It’s beautiful Jan. I almost missed this meaningful, humorous, hope-filled post because of the “tyranny of the urgent” – aargh – so glad I didn’t. Thank you for this encouragement and chuckle <3 PS Steve's dear mom is in her last days (hours?) here on earth. She is ready to be with Jesus, please pray for those who love her so dearly to grieve well, with the hope we have in Jesus. <3

  • Reply Jan Carlberg September 15, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    So much happening in the larger world and our smaller worlds…life and death.. I just prayed for Steve and his mom. May she and you all experience the mercy and grace of God.

    • Reply Wendy September 15, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      Thank you! ❤️

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold October 18, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    Thinking of you and dreaming of travel <3

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