Category Archives: Seasonal

Triduum

It means three days – the Easter Triduum – from Maundy Thursday evening, through Good Friday’s afternoon, to glory at midnight on Saturday. This year we rang in Easter with the Hallelujah Chorus on bells. I’m sure I messed up. But I’m also sure it sounded good, and it was strangely wondrous to be part of it.20190421_104739

Bread and Wine

Bread and bitter herbs and oil
Sponge was dipped in gall
Wine with water smoothly blends
While blood and water pour
One of you betrays me, we
All ask Not I? while each
Betrays him when the end is near
And each forgiven cries
He’s risen; where am I to go from here?

Behold!

Behold the wood—
And cloth of purple dyed is slipped aside—
Behold the cross on which he died.
Behold the wood.

And so I cry—
I did not ask that he should die for me—
And yet I weep
And yet this vigil keep.
Behold the wood.

I am not good.
I do not do the good I would
And what I should not, do,
Yet even with my woulds and shoulds and coulds
He says I’m good enough—
Behold the wood—
For him to pay my price.

So on that tree—
Behold the wood—
He died for me—
Behold the wood—
That I might be—
Behold the wood—
So much much more than me.
Behold the wood.

Behold—I will behold,
And I will try.
Behold, he dies.

And he will rise.

Holy Saturday’s Planting

Yellow in the green grass, suns
Are lit, and, passing, Easter’s Son
Has fit the crime to gift of
Bread and wine. The Son-shine lifts,
And yellow lions bend their heads to Him.
I touch the yellow lion, see
God’s Lion set me free.

Risen Indeed

What threatened us was promise
And what we feared was hope.
In the grave we laid him
Left him then he rose.

Do not fear he whispered.
Tell the world he said
Love to loveless given
Risen from the dead.

Now he gives us promise
Hope instead of fear.
In the grave our trials
Were crushed. The future’s here!

He’s risen indeed!

 

 

Can you get “it” out of your system?

A friend asked if I hadn’t “got it out of my system” yet. And yes, there’s an underlying theme of abuse, forgiveness and recovery in my three novels. And yes, I’ve sort of got it out of my system, but, like a tendency toward migraines, “it” comes back whenever circumstances, politics, current events etc trigger it. My fourth novel will be different though; it’s a mystery, for a start. But it’s still about wounded characters, and abuse of any type will cause those wounds. For me, reading and writing are about seeing through different eyes and realizing life’s not as black and white as I’d imagined; about asking how and why others might be different from me; and about recognizing this is a broken world where none of us are perfect; where difference teaches; and otherness helps us better see ourselves. We none of us have the right to claim another’s imperfections more “wrong” than our own in this world. After all, I can’t eat wheat, though the Bible tells me it’s good…

Which leads to my other books. I’m delightedly seeing my Bible stories republished – same covers, same stories, same “inspired by faith and science” theme (the publisher’s imprint is even called “Inspired by Faith & Science,” an imprint of “Ink-Filled Stories” who have published the novels), and lots more illustrations. There are even “Collectors’ Color Editions” coming out. Getting it all linked up on Amazon will take time. I’m guessing getting the books into real bookstores might take even longer. But it’s exciting (to me at least), and it fits my theme of a broken world, where brokenness needs to be forgiven.

So here’s an excerpt from “Bethlehem’s Baby,” coming soon to print:

In the beginning, God created the universe. He made stars and planets. He made the sun, moon and earth. He made mountains and seas, flowers and trees, birds and bees, and animals and people. And everything was good.

God made the world like a painter creating a beautiful picture. He mixed its colors together, designed its patterns, and added light and dark in all the right places. When God finished painting, the earth was good enough to hang on the wall of heaven.

God made the world like an author writing a book. He worked out the details, solved all the mysteries, and linked all the pieces together. When God finished writing, he gave us his words in the Bible so we could read them. Meanwhile angels rejoiced to know what he’d done.

God made the world like a programmer designing a computer game. He set up all the scenes, made voices for the characters, and planned how all the rules would make everything work. But computer games often have bugs in them. Our world was so good when God finished making it, there wasn’t a single mistake in it anywhere.

But God didn’t hang the world on a wall when he’d finished. He didn’t leave the Bible on a bookshelf to look nice. And he didn’t sell his program to people who wanted to play humans on their computer. Instead, God made the world like a gardener who works in a park. When he’d finished planning and planting everything, God stepped right into the park to help the people look after it. God’s park was a beautiful place called the Garden of Eden.

God worked in his Garden of Eden every day, feeding animals, helping bees, watering flowers, cleaning the rivers, and pouring sweetness into beautiful berries hanging from the trees. God walked and talked with the people in Eden, loving them like a father loves his children. He taught them to play and he kept them perfectly safe. No one was ever hungry in the Garden of Eden. No one was tired or sick. Nobody ever had to work too much and no one was ever bored. Even plants and animals were perfectly safe in Eden, everything beautifully in balance, living and dying in due season with no sickness, no loneliness, no sorrow and no pain.

But then the people in God’s garden, the people God had chosen to be his very own children, broke God’s rules. They didn’t care that the rules were there to keep them safe, or else they didn’t remember. They just wanted to do as they pleased and have fun and pretend they were in charge. So they ate the fruit of a special tree that wasn’t theirs to eat…

And so the world was broken.

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https://www.amazon.com/Bethlehems-Five-Minute-Bible-Story-Sheila-Deeth-ebook/dp/B07K1RNRHR/

 

Maundy

A new command was given on Maundy Thursday – a mandate – mandatum – hence the name. And in honor of “loving one another,” priests wash parishioners’ feet, kings and queens give coins, and altars are stripped ready to remember that giving of it all.

The story below comes from my Bible gift book: Easter, Creation to Salvation in 100 words a day. And if you want to know what happens next (the end of the world perhaps), look for Revelation, from Easter to Pentecost in 100 words a day. Enjoy.

(And if you want a writing prompt, write about the wonder of the season – Easter, spring, whatever season this means to you.)

44. Maundy Thursday

bread and wine

The streets were quiet. Night had fallen, everyone sleeping or praying, except for them.

“Strange about the bread,” said James, still tasting forbidden matzos eaten after lamb.

“And the blessing”—“This is my body,” the master had said, reminding them of something they were too full, or too tired to remember.

They stopped at a garden, sat on rocks, lay on grass, their bodies weary with food. And they barely noticed when Jesus left to pray with Peter, James and John.

Matthew looked up. “Huh? Where’d they go?” then, “Wonder what happened to Judas.”

Voices whispered. Armor jangled. Footsteps approached.

Mark 14:22 “…Take, eat: this is my body.”

 After they’d eaten the Passover meal, Jesus blessed and broke another matzo. He prayed over the third cup of wine—cup of redemption, blood of the lamb—and the feast drew to its end.

Maundy Thursday evening begins a three-day celebration of Easter: Maundy pennies to the poor; priests washing the people’s feet. But it’s communion that matters most—bread and wine shared in remembrance of Him. We file out from church, leaving the light shining in a tiny garden—shrubs and flowers, a place of Easter prayer.

And through the night, people visit, to watch and pray one hour.

45. Good Friday

crucifixion

It didn’t seem so long ago she carried her baby to the Temple, and an old man prophesied, “A sword will piece your heart.”

She hadn’t known what sort of sword. There were all the little swords of childhood, watching and caring for the boy, losing and finding him. There was the sword of his leaving home, and the day he addressed the crowds: “These are my mother and brothers,” as if she hadn’t left everything to follow him too.

This sword was a soldier’s spear, piercing her dead son’s heart.

A mother shouldn’t have to watch her baby die.

John 1:29 “…Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

 Good Friday’s service is the long one. We stand and kneel and sit on cue, and pray for all times and all peoples.

The priest holds up the crucifix—“Behold the wood of the cross.” And all other symbols stay hid under their purple cloths—statues in mourning. The congregation marches forwards to bestow our reverent kisses, quickly wiped.

It must look strange—we fools for Christ; irrational kisses in remembrance of God’s salvation. I touch my lips to plastic, and my heart touches mystery.

Returning home we celebrate with hot cross buns, sweetness and spice, pleasure and pain together.

46. Holy Saturday

death

“They tell me Judas has killed himself. I doubt I could even do that right.

“Remember me, Jesus? I’m the one that betrayed you; told them I never even knew you. I stood there, and I saw you look at me.

“Remember me? I’m the one that couldn’t walk on water after all; can’t even walk right on land. You said you’d build your church on me, called me a rock. Some rock. Some church.

“Remember me, Jesus? And you tell me to remember you.

“I remember seeing you dead and buried, so tell me, now what do I do?”

John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches…”

 We left the church in silence on Good Friday, the altar bare—no candles, no flowers, no music, joyful or sad. On Saturday evening, we’ll meet together in the parking lot, beside the Paschal fire, the air filled with excitement and smoke, shouting “Alleluia” instead of “Crucify.” On Holy Saturday evening we’ll all stand forgiven, and the grave lie empty.

New light, new life, new hope tonight. My brother, the priest, sings “Lumen Christi” and we answer “Deo Gratias”—light of Christ; thanks be to God. Beautiful music, beautiful prayers, and beautiful hope.

This night, our Savior is risen.

47. Easter Sunday

resurrection

“King of the Jews.”

“So they say.”

“D’you think he’ll stay dead?”

The older man laughed. He’d been a soldier long enough to know, the dead don’t walk. “We killed him son.” And if they could keep the body guarded, maybe peace would return to the violent province.

They sat around the fire, telling war stories to flames, cursing the land, scorning people who might be foolish enough to try to steal a corpse.

Then they saw what they could not see, and heard what they could not hear. In the morning, the grave stood empty; the dead had walked.

John 11:25 “…I am the resurrection, and the life…”

 Jesus walked the earth again for forty days. His disciples saw Him. Huge crowds ate and talked with Him. And those who chronicled events wrote their tales, while eye-witnesses still lived to disagree. Like newspaper reporters today, each stressed his own version. But together they tell one story, one the authorities couldn’t suppress, though it would have been so easy to disprove—if there’d only been a body.

After the forty days, Jesus disappeared. After fifty, at the Jewish Pentecost, the Holy Spirit turned frightened fishermen into Fishers of Men. And two thousand years later Christians still follow the carpenter.

Where will your Christmas tree come from?

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Trees make leaves for pages of books, and needles to sew them together. Book fairs make places to sell those books. And returning from the Oregon Historical Society Holiday Cheer event makes a great excuse to see a Christmas tree. img_2000

See
Tree rings cry
for history and mystery inside;
The tree lays flat to die.
Trailer’s rings all jangling metal, dangling chains reply
So low, once high.
Road is ringed with winter’s cold, its shoulder iced with snow.
This tree can’t fly.
But now the crane is lifting, tree is gifted with new life—
A hopeful sight with silver rings, now lighted bright
against the star
struck night.
The tree stands proud and high.
Then tree of Christmas rings its bell
For history and mystery inside.

Oddly, there’s always a beer tent at the base of Portland’s Christmas tree on the evening of Holiday Cheer. So, cheers!

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And for writing exercise, just dream the ringing of the trees.

A New Year Drabble

They told her it couldn’t be done; there’d be no going back; she shouldn’t waste her time. No rhyme or reason now, they said; just live for today. But Verda couldn’t watch unmoved as TV screens grew dark. She couldn’t sleep through radio’s silence, nor take those happy pills and hide herself in the dying cave. Instead she closed her office door; sealed the frame; set plants to cleaning air and water; and cranked her computer.

At the stroke of midnight, that final day, Verdandi, goddess of destiny, reset the human clock. So we began the Fall all over again.

 

Our writing group’s prompt this month is to imagine our main character receives some news which will change the year ahead. I’ve invited members of the group to imagine what they’ve heard is their own commitment to enter something in every month’s writing contest. How will that change their lives? How would it change yours?

Now write!

A New Year Gift

Smashwords just gave my publisher and me a really nice New Year gift. They finally approved The New Testament set of Five Minute Bible Stories for premium distribution. Look out for them soon on Barnes and Noble and Kobo as well as Amazon, and click on the image below to follow from Christmas to Easter and beyond.

New Testament Five Minute Bible Stories
New Testament Five Minute Bible Stories

Meanwhile, I’m working on stories of Peter and Paul, so perhaps I ought to make them my New Year Resolution. Can you suggest a title (or two)?

Happy New Year!

And may Christmas bless and inspire each day of it!

The Oregon Historical Society

Last year a friend took me to the Oregon Historical Society’s Holiday Cheer event. Two huge rooms were filled with lines of tables where authors sat behind displays of their books. So many Oregon authors! So many books! I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, bought a couple of souvenirs (books of course), and ended the day with a fascinating tour of the building’s various displays, learning much of Oregon history, culture and art.

Earlier this year the same friend took me to listen to some real live Oregon author’s speaking. Jane Kirkpatrick is always fascinating to hear, and Greg Nokes was great too. I had a wonderful visit and learned some more Oregon history. And I bought a book (of course).

But now I’m getting ready to go the Oregon Historical Society’s building on my own. My friend will visit, but I’ll be one of those authors behind their tables at the Holiday Cheer event. I’ll be counted as a genuine Oregon author, and I’ll smile and talk about my books – even, hopefully, sell a few. Divide by Zero will be offered in the gift store. And I’ll live a dream come true. Just look at this poster! (Well, look at the cover in the center at the bottom, and you’ll see what I mean.)

Deeth Holiday Cheer FlyerAh, but what if you don’t live in Oregon, and can’t meet with me there? Don’t worry. You too can find Divide by Zero, on Second Wind Publishing’s website at:

http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!product/prd15/2955791331/divide-by-zero

Divide by Zero
Divide by Zero

Enjoy! I know I shall!

We’re in Austin; it must be Monday

Well no; it’s not Monday now, and we’re not in Austin anymore. But we’ve just got back from a wonderful vacation in Texas. I almost wanted to leave the clothes in their bags as we rushed from place to place, trying to see “everything” in the space of a few days. But the grand event of the trip was our son’s graduation in San Antonio; we had to keep our smart clothes clean and uncreased. So every garment was neatly hung, and neatly folded again at each destination.

And on Monday we were in Austin:

Austin Capitol by night
Austin Capitol by night

On Sunday we were in Corpus

Corpus Christi in the evening
Corpus Christi Harbor

visiting the USS Lexington:

USS Lexington
View from the bridge on USS Lexington

On Wednesday we enjoyed the Hill Country

Deer in Texas
Yes, there are deer in Texas

and the Museum of the Pacific War:

National Museum of the Pacific War, Combat Zone
Outdoor exhibit at the National Museum of the Pacific War

On Friday we watched the graduation:

Graduation Day
Graduation Day

And now we’re home again, catching up on washing, cleaning, dandelions and more…

Dandelions
Giant Dandelions

What day is it today? Was I meant to be writing?

Feeling authorly, and writing Bible stories

Last weekend I went to the Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference and suddenly felt like an author. Perhaps it was the way my books were displayed with such care. Perhaps it was the keynote speaker, Jane Kirkpatrick, welcoming me with her usual open arms. Or perhaps it was hearing my name mentioned in her talk! Whichever the cause, I came home walking on air.

Photo of Sheila and Jane
Sheila Deeth and Jane Kirkpatrick at Oregon Christian Writers

But our Coffee Break Bible Study group was coming to an end and I needed a story to shape the summer while we wait to meet again. I had nothing to say. Until my proof copy of Galilee’s Gift arrived in the mail, and opened, by chance, to the page headed “The Bent and Beautiful Woman.”

Cover photo of Galilee's Gift
Galilee’s Gift

The hand of chance belongs to God, they tell me. And Coffee Break is a women’s Bible Study group, filled with women, all beautiful to God, however the world might bend us. So I read the story, my story, and suddenly knew what I had to say. This bent and beautiful woman, like us, was healed by Jesus; but better than that, she learned that she was precious in God’s sight. What better reminder for us in the summer break?

Gift basket for an author
Gift basket for an author

Meanwhile those wonderfully supportive Coffee Break Bible Study ladies gave me a gift, with coffee mug, pens, mouse-pad, and even a bag to carry all my books to my next conference, everything decorated with website and publicity photos of me. Suddenly I felt like an author again!

Thank you ladies. Thank you God!