Tag Archives: integrity

Out of the Mouths of Babes: 1

Benjamin and Lucy:  Christmas Day 2011

Dear Readers,

After I wrote this blog entry:  Magnolia Blossoms, Canopy Roads, and Spanish Moss: Part 1, my  dear friend, Carole, came over to my home to visit.  She and I share the joy of grand-mothering Benjamin and Lucy.  In the midst of our conversations, I said, “Have Mercy!” — one of my favorite expressions.

Now, as you know, “Little pitchers have big ears:”  

Benjamin overheard our conversation.  My brief phrase evidently sounded familiar to him.  He looked up at me, with his soft, liquid, brown eyes and was silent for just a second.   Then, with complete sincerity and reverence, he said slowly, softly, and distinctly: “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.” 

Carole and I silently looked down at Benjamin and then to each other.  Our three-year old grandson had just admonished me.


That prayer of unison response, “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer,”  is part of the Liturgy of the Historic and Ancient Church.

Benjamin recognized the prayer —  from participating in the Catholic Liturgy with his family.

Every Sunday morning in the Sanctuary, in the Anglican Tradition, the congregation kneels and we prepare to enter into “Common Prayer.” 

It is a holy moment, as we prepare to “lift our voices, with angels, and with archangels, and with all the company of heaven . . .  ”  

And in that moment, heaven and earth will intersect.

This is the moment during which I am the most grateful for the Liturgy, meaning, “the work of the people.”  

Our collective prayers, beautifully and masterfully composed long ago, are borne aloft, as the incense is borne aloft, offering a pleasing aroma to the Trinity.

The global and historical prayers will sweep over the sacred space and enfold my small voice, as a mighty, crashing wave of the vast ocean might gather up a piece of sea glass.

[Form IV: Book of Common Prayer, page 388]:

Let us pray for the church and for the world.  Grant, Almighty God, that all who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Guide the people of this land, and of all the nations, in the ways of justice and peace; that we may honor one another and serve the common good.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly, in the service of others, and to your honor and glory.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Bless all whose lives are closely linked with ours, and grant that we may serve Christ in them, and love one another as he loves us.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles, and bring them the joy of your salvation.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 We commend to your mercy all who have died, that your will for them may be fulfilled; and we pray that we may share with all your saints in your eternal kingdom.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


“And a little child will lead them . . . “

Benjamin does not realize that he has exposed the thoughtless attitude of my mind, by noticing and commenting upon my careless speech.

He has no idea that he is challenging me to faithfully apply the truth that I so fervently desire to impart to him, that of The Great Shema of the Hebrew Scriptures:  

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“ Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as  frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Benjamin reminds me:  I can never impart that which I do not first possess.

“The mouth speaks from that which fills the heart:”  

So, it is fruitless to ask Benjamin to ignore my words, for my words surely reflect the condition of my innermost being.

My grandchildren, so eager to learn, watching and listening so closely, will be a constant motivation for me to model for them a life of integrity.

I am grateful for their assistance, as I resist complacency in “the long obedience in the same direction.”

And now, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and Redeemer.”  Amen, amen.

Coram Deo,



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Filed under Language, Liturgy

To a Winter Rose


Dear Readers,

[Note:  This is a re-post.  Monday December 10, 2012 will mark the one-year anniversary of the death of my friend, Cheryl.  I am providing this link on Face Book, to honor the memory of Cheryl.]

January 10, 2011

Exactly one month ago, my friend, Cheryl, died — on the same morning that the first of the Camellias bloomed in our garden.  Since it is difficult for me to find the words to express what her friendship meant to me, I will borrow from the language of flowers:

The Camellia is The Winter Rose but I first met Cheryl in the summer, only six months ago.  I remember my first impression:  she was elegant and lovely yet fragile and delicate.

We refer to the Camellia, poetically, as the rose without thorns.  Yet, I soon learned that Cheryl’s life did contain thorns:  when her mother died of breast cancer, Cheryl was only thirteen years of age.  When I met her, Cheryl was battling breast cancer for the third time, within a span of ten years.

In spite of her affliction, she was spirited and vivacious.  She and her husband, Doug, downplayed the seriousness of Cheryl’s health challenges:  They were brave, courageous, and optimistic.

She possessed a beauty borne of years of suffering.  The natural tendency, in suffering, is to isolate oneself.  Instead, over the decades, she invested herself in nurturing strong relationships with family and friends.

In the autumn, as Cheryl’s health declined, the families of both Doug and Cheryl welcomed me into their closely knit circle.  They taught me how an extended family cares for each other, during the deepest and darkest season of affliction.

Doug was her protector:  She depended upon him and he was entirely trustworthy.  He arranged for her comfort and companionship, during the hours that he was at the university.  He was unfailingly energetic, optimistic, and gracious to everyone, in spite of struggling with the harrowing thought of losing his wife.

Their commitment to marriage [almost 31 years] and to each other was strong, pure, and everlasting.

Cheryl’s life demonstrated the symmetry of integrity:  She knew what she believed and she lived out what she believed.  She was consistent in both character and virtue.  Her commitment to both Christian faith and practice was unwavering.

Elegant and beautiful yet fragile and delicate; loving and trusting her husband and family; generously giving herself in friendship and service to others; trusting in the Holy Trinity for her life on earth and for her eternal future:  Those were the enduring qualities of my friend, Cheryl.

On this winter day, glancing out my window, I can see our Camellia bushes:  The red and pink blooms offer a welcome burst of color in the cold, dreary, rainy landscape.  As I pause to admire the perfect blooms, I remember the gentle and light fragrance of Cheryl’s life.   She loved the Holy Trinity  “with all [of her] heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  It was this self-emptying love for God and for others that drew family and friends to her.  Even when her own life was fading, she was concerned for the welfare of those around her.

Cheryl loved beautiful, sacred music, as do I, and she was gifted with a superb singing voice.  Every Sunday morning, at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, the voices of both the congregation and the choir combine to sing the ancient hymns of worship. As we lift our voices with “all the company of heaven,”  I can imagine the lovely sound of Cheryl’s clear and soaring voice, a reflection of  the depth and beauty of a life lived well, to the glory of God.

“ . . . with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name, evermore praising thee, and saying,

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts:

Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.

Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High!” 


“You only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind; and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we return.  For so did you ordain when you created me, saying, ‘You are dust, and to dust you shall return.’

All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song:  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”


“Grant her your peace; let Light Perpetual shine on her; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in her the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

“Give rest, O Christ, to your servant, Cheryl, with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.  Amen.”

Coram Deo,


[Written by Margot Blair Payne, January 10, 2012].

[Quotes are from the Book of Common Prayer.]

In her book, “A Victorian Flower Dictionary,” Mandy Kirby notes that the Camellia is “the Empress of Winter,” bringing lightness and gaiety to a dark time of year.

“It was the belle of winter flowers, gracing dinner parties, balls and concert rooms,” Kirby writes, and soon came to represent “a simple expression of feminine beauty and love.”

The Camellia:

The Empress of Winter

The Belle of Winter

The Rose Without Thorns

Qualities: Longevity, Evergreen, Symmetry

Feminine Qualities:  Elegance, Loveliness, Beauty,  Lightness, Gaiety, Trust

Masculine Qualities:  Protection, Excellence, Steadfastness, Trustworthiness

Qualities of Love:  Strong, Pure, Everlasting

Other:  Admiration, Perfection, Gratitude



Filed under Life and Death of a Friend