Ruth Woodliff-Stanley

Arts & Architecture

Walking on Tiptoe

Ted Kooser

Poem by Ted Kooser

Consider the image of stealing past doors on tiptoe in the early hours and what it mean for you to see in the dark.

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Arts & Architecture

World-Renowned Artist Simon Beck Is Bringing His Massive Snow Patterns to Colorado

Cori Anderson

Article about upcoming Colorado exhibit of snow artist Simon Beck.

Pay attention to the attraction the artist has to the “evanescent nature” of this art form.

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Science & Nature

Hands off Uhuru Park – The Green Heart and Kenyan City Jewel

Marion Kamau

Article about the protection of Uhuru Park just next to the heart of the central business district of Nairobi, Kenya.

Listen to Kamau’s description of the park as the “lungs” of over 4 million Nairobi residents and consider its role in increasing pleasure in the city.

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In what ways is pleasure sacramental–meaning, an outward and visible sign of God’s inward and spiritual grace?


Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his Name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2

In my grandmother's house on President Street, I remember walking on tiptoe to try to see things on table and shelves above my reach. I cannot remember when, but there was a time when I quit walking on tiptoe. As life has its way with us, we gradually lose the impulse, and sometimes even the ability, to stand on tiptoe–to try to catch a peek of what is just beyond our reach. Ted Kooser describes in his poem, “Walking on Tiptoe,” in today’s first arts and architecture lesson, the gift of this agile posture of body and heart, a posture that allows us to see the beauty of our own holiness. Our tragic and habitual propensity to carve up humanity’s God-given unity into more and more tiny pieces leaves us without sight for the stunning pattern of our wholeness, like the patterns artist Simon Beck makes with his feet in the snow (see today’s second arts and architecture lesson).

And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17

When one who loves us finds pleasure in us, we become strong. Such pleasure descends upon us gently, without announcement. It comes, most palpably, in those times when we emerge from waters that have taken our old life and given us a new, unexpected one. Those are moments of opening for us. When we experience, in those soft moments, someone else’s delight in us, we are filled with an inner resourcefulness that cannot be taken from us. It is as if we are standing on tiptoe again, able to catch a glimpse of our wholeness. This experience has nothing to do with seeking or needing approval. It is fleeting, yet, eternal in the same moment. In these times, we experience the beauty of holiness–God’s and ours.

In these days, when we stand on the brink of war, when fires rage, pleasure can sound like an extravagance. Yet, one could argue, it is the absence of pleasure born of true self love and true delight in the other that has led us to habits that breed violence.

The problems we have with pleasure in today’s world have primarily to do with the fact that some people’s pleasure is gained at other people’s expense. Reclaiming pleasure is an essential spiritual good; and, it must be done with clear attention to the inequities that presently exist in our world. True pleasure from God is born of delight in all of us, in the whole creation–never in the delight of some at the expense of others.

In today’s science and nature lesson, we learn of a park in Nairobi that is described as the “lungs” of the community. It stands as a striking example of a place where pleasure is increased, not at the expense of some, but in order to increase the distribution of leisure, pleasure, and health to all the citizens of Nairobi.

It is striking that the entire ministry of Jesus is framed by the pleasure of the divine trinitarian love affair. Bursting forth from the water, Jesus feels a dove lighting on his shoulder. Then, he hears a voice of delight. “Behold my well beloved son; in him I am well pleased.” In that moment, Jesus experiences the beauty of his own holiness.

Baptism is our sacrament for holding our stunning, beautiful wholeness in the same tenuous grip with our desperate, ugly brokenness. In the sunlight, just after we break the water’s surface, we experience God, well pleased by us. It is because of this moment alone that we can believe that our wholeness will, in the end, prevail.