Notes from Jan

Precious People

May 17, 2022

Just a snippet of the nightly newscast. A phone call interrupted, so I caught only part of the feel good part tagged onto the news. It had something to do with a man learning he had a daughter. He thought he was alone in this world, until this news. Then with awestruck wonder exclaimed, “I have people!”

Belonging. That longing to belong is deep within us. Sometimes I’ve wondered, even with all our liabilities, maybe God made us because it wasn’t any fun even for God to be alone. To communicate with nature is good, but not good enough.

And speaking of nature, today is the first day I came to the garden alone. What?! Well, for more than two years I’ve joined The Garden Congregation for morning prayers with Dean Robert at the Canterbury Cathedral. I feel a deep loss. As someone said, “The Dean and Fletcher have been lock down saviors during the pandemic.” So I feel bereft at the loss of that connection. And, as a result, I miss the communal prayers, Biblical teaching. As well as, learning about art, music, books and the garden’s flora and fauna. I loved watching critters float, fly, waddle, snuffle, lap up milk or creep among that sacred place.

Yesterday, as I viewed tributes for Dean Robert coming from India, Illinois, Africa and Alabama, I realized, “I love these people.” Then add creatures like Winnie and Clemmie, Ducky and Darcy, Mr.Robin, Tiger and Lily who gave meaning to my mornings, as well. Daily visuals and words reminded me that all creatures great and small, all people dark skinned, or freckled are God’s creation, and people. My people.

Which is why I wept at another mass killing. This time at Tops grocery store in Buffalo. Last night’s news carried tributes accompanied by names and faces of men and women murdered as they shopped or helped others. Good people. The killer, a kid, bought the lie, ” black people are out to replace white folks.” Then, he bought a gun. Neither lies nor guns should be so accessible.

The editorial page of today’s Boston Globe showed three people kneeling and praying outside Tops. Two were black, one white. Prayer’s not the answer to everything but it’s an important beginning. Hands clasped in prayer don’t pull triggers. Heads bowed can’t take aim.

Remember those lines from the book of Ruth? They’re sometimes said or sung at weddings, oddly enough. Mine included.Two widows, Ruth and Naomi, her mother-in-law, represent two age groups, two different cultures. But when urged to stay with her own kind, Ruth says to Naomi, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you… YOUR PEOPLE WILL BE MY PEOPLE and your God my God.” ( from Ruth 1: 17,NIV)

Well, I no longer have the garden congregation, but I have you and a world of people out there who long to belong. Precious people. As long as we have breath, we can choose to be WE the people or to our peril feed the lies and create clubs and raise children with fresh ways to post online or through deadly deeds, “KEEP OUT!”

I prefer, “COME IN!”

There’s room at the table.

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  • Reply Marilyn Bullock May 17, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Jan, I too will be missing The Morning congregation. I have learned so much from Dean and Fletcher. I have appreciated sharing in prayers and scriptures with people around the world. And all the creatures and flowers and music that they shared with us. s there another on line group like it?

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 17, 2022 at 4:29 pm

      Good to connect with you, dear Marilyn. No, I don’t know of anything like that but then, I’m not looking. For me, it was a season I needed, especially during the pandemic.

  • Reply Radina Welton May 17, 2022 at 2:26 pm

    Warmly profound. Inviting and welcoming. We are ALL connected and ALL belong to one another. This piece should be out there for a bigger audience.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 21, 2022 at 1:09 pm

      Welcome back to Vermont! It’s good to know you’re back in “the hood.” Thanks for all the encouragement, Radina. We ALL belong to one another, whether we want to or not. As for you and the Petrocelli clan, I’m grateful for the connection. you must be so proud of your Polish heritage. The former president of Poland and Nobel laureate, Lech Walesa, threw out the first pitch Monday at the Red Sox game. And the way Poland welcomed and continues to welcome so many from Ukraine is an model for the rest of us.

  • Reply Myrna May 17, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    It’s an honor and privilege to be a part of Your people. It’s a good day whenever I see your name in my email. Thanks, Jan for sharing your very meaningful and uplifting thoughts.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 17, 2022 at 8:24 pm

      Well, I’m grateful you are one of the people who reads this blog and that something I’ve written adds meaning to your life. We need each other to help each other make it Home.

  • Reply Rebecca May 17, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    We need one another. I am sorry you have lost this richness in your morning but I know God will fill you in fresh new ways.
    Hugs to you, my sister. You are not alone.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 17, 2022 at 8:32 pm

      Yes, we do need each other. And I am grateful for the months the garden congregation gathered. Like much with life, there is a season and that was a season for Dean Robert and those of us who met. He didn’t die. He retired. I think it was mandatory at 75 in the Anglican Church in England. Dean Robert is a musician and a hymn writer so I say regarding his retirement from being Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, “What a note to end on!”

  • Reply Suzy Young May 17, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    Jan: I am so sorry to learn that Dean Roberts is no longer do his morning devotions — just knowing he was there was encouraging.

    My 3 year old granddaughter says the grace “God bless all my people” Feels so special to be her “people”. Love to you,

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 17, 2022 at 8:52 pm

      What a precious prayer from the heart of a child, dear Suzy.. Years ago I pulled into a gas station and noticed the car ahead of me in line. Their bumper sticker read, “And God bless the rest of the world, too.” I think your granddaughter is expressing the heart of God who wants to bless “all my people.” Just before dinner tonight I attended a gathering with Prashan De Visser to hear him talk about Global Unites, “A youth movement for conflict transformation.”. Thrilling. Through a video, I heard young people from so many countries say in their language and in English, “Welcome to the family.” He’s doing holy work around the world, encouraging and equipping young leaders to work for justice, reconciliation through peace building. Too much hate and violence in this world, in our country. Prashan deserved the honorary doctorate Gordon bestowed on him this past weekend. Maybe some day he’ll receive the Nobel prize for peace.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood May 18, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    That verse was on our wedding invitation in 1979. Ken’s people did truly become my people. I felt loved and cherished by my father and mother-in-law People are more alike than they are different. Thank you for reminding us of that. Your writings are so special.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 18, 2022 at 9:16 pm

      Well, I suspect quite a few folks know those words, even if they aren’t sure where they originated. Jud’s folks became my people, too.
      Thanks,, dear Toni., for connecting. We do need reminders in this time of so much divisiveness of where we have common ground . And to look for ways to be civil and kind. Our conversations around the table matter, especially with children. They pick up our hates and our fears. Love is contagious, so is kindness. We need second helpings of those at mealtimes.

  • Reply Evie Karlsson May 18, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    Dearest Jan! Today I felt as though I found a lost treasure, when I stumbled upon your blog. How I’ve missed hearing and seeing you! We shared some memorable times of ministry together in Estes Park years ago with Bonnie Thomas and the team at Reflections in the Rockies. And lately I’ve been reading aloud from your precious mother’s books to my own Mamma, Inge—now 95, nearing 96, living with Pelle and me in our home in Florida. She’s another proud Norwegian that sings “the song of the soul set free!”

    The piece you’ve penned here is so inspiring and so timely. Preach it, sister. We belong to one another and we truly are “in this together.” We need each other somehow more than ever, I feel.

    Thanking God for your deep influence on my life, Jan. And your precious Jud. We shine God’s light on his memory. How I love you, my big sister.


    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 18, 2022 at 9:24 pm

      What a shock to see your name appear, dear Evie! Yes, we shared some sweet times together with Bonnie Thomas at those retreats in the Rockies. I can picture you reading to your mama from my mama’s books. They’ll have fun connecting one day in heaven. Yes, we need each other and to love one another. Thank you for all your years of bringing us together to love Jesus and each other more through your music.
      Tussen Takk, my Norwegian sister.
      Jeg elsker deg,

  • Reply Dale May 19, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    Thanks Jan. I know we have each other so I can check that box. My feelings on this incident, however, are not quite as inspiring. My first reaction was “I never would do anything like this and cannot imagine how someone could. This is just plain evil, which, of course, it was. But then I was humbled to think about how I differ from this young man and my sense of righteousness started to fade. No, I probably would not do the act but my passing sense of sadness and lack of indignation made it clear there is still work to do.

    Love you sister, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 20, 2022 at 12:00 pm

      Ouch! There is that deep truth within all of us, my brother Dale. We, when pushed, fearful or cornered, are capable of that which we abhor in another. Years ago after reading Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago I realized , like he did, that the line of good and evil runs through the human heart. As a grandmother of an 18 year old grandson, I wonder about his family and what began his trek towards the darker side? I’ve prayed for them, along with all those who were murdered. So much suffering. The role of social media frightens me. It’s an enemy I didn’t have to contend with when I was growing up. Whispers behind one’s back are nothing compared to damage done to a person by posts, tweets, photos on-line and more. Lord, have mercy on our children and grandchildren. And ALL the children and grands of ALL the people here and in the rest of this hurting world. Words are powerful weapons for evil or for good.
      We need to speak and write more words anchored in truth, kindness, hope and love. And sometimes to scream,”Enough!” Then follow it up with action to detox our culture from ME to WE and work for the common good, as a starting point.

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