Harrowing Of Hell
February 14, 2023




Summary of the February WRG meeting lead by Elizabeth Roberts.


The Saturday, February 4th Women’s Retreat Groups session focused on Psalm 23 was well attended – twenty-eight of us! — with new friends and faces joining our group. During morning fellowship, we were all agog over, and thankful for Tamara’s breakfast treats, from gluten-free Meyer’s Lemon loaf to Medjool date protein balls and more; we were well sated. Also, hats off to Dani Lugotoff, Epiphany Campus Care Manager, who, behind the scenes, set up the Zoom room and ensured that the coffee and tea service was ready to go – thank you, Dani. Our meeting ended with Special Guest Diane Carlisle speaking about the Liturgical calendar, ministries, and the impending season of Lent.

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Our meeting started with prayer and reading the Saturday morning Hour by Hour. We kept our hearts and ears open for words and phrases that drew us to ponder the context of Psalm 23: grace, redeemed, trust, love, to put away earthly anxieties, and fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Tamara Philip then graciously prayed for us with words about current events and hope for our morning together.


Afterward, we took to the core of our monthly meetings to focus on the Forward Day by Day selection of Bible verses.  Our readers preset so we could dedicate time after each section to discuss and share our thoughts. 


Mary McGuire led us by reading the day’s opening statement, with Kat Randolph reading Psalm 23.  We marveled at the meaning of shepherd and not being in want.  Then we heard aptly from our choir member, Julia Putnam, Psalm 27, Dominus Illuminatio (meaning in song).  This section of the Psalms reminds us to “…o tarry and await the Lord’s pleasure; be strong, and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the Lord.”  Judith Mayotte offered up a book by her dear friend, Isobel de Gruchy, noted below with other good reads we learned of this morning.  The book succinctly puts the Psalms into contemporary language and is a beautiful way to put a new light on these verses.

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Before reading Isaiah 57, Judith Mayotte reminded us of the verse before this text and put Israel’s futile idolatry worship into perspective.  We learn of the Israelites’ false offerings, and offerings to false idols.  They grow weary and wander when they should turn and take refuge in God.  Sophie Hager Hume read Galatians 5:26 – 6:10 where, if we live by the Spirit, and also to be guided by the Spirit – let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

We almost forgot the last reading as we zeroed in on Black History Month and pondered how we, at Epiphany, could be in better relationships with our neighbors.  From Audrey Seale’s recommendation to read the Madrona community newspaper to others reminding us about events at the Northwest African American Museum  (events here: LINK) to the idea of sharing and breaking bread with other parishes, including right next door with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters.  Valerie Conn, so inspired, will take the lead on pulling together thoughts and ideas.  Please reach out to Valerie directly!

Finally, and speaking of Valerie Conn, she closed out our text section by reading Mark 9:14 – 29 where Jesus rebukes the faithless generation yet cures and casts out a demon that can come out only through prayer.  Wrapped up in this pericope, we find comfort in the plea of the healed boy’s father, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  Jesus encourages this father to believe that all things are possible with God.  The boy’s father’s cry to Jesus is our plea, too – even faithful people doubt.2 4 23 Wrg Pix

This reading helped us zero in on the idea of turning around.  Insights abound, and life experiences are shared during our time together.

Audrey Seale shared a fun snip-it from an interview with Jane Fonda, Sally Fields, Rita Moreno, and Lillian Tomlin.  Apparently, throughout her life, Ms. Fonda, *really* pursued her friendships.  Here too, we read and feel God pursuit of us such that our “cup runneth over.”  A few shared books that help with insights: again, Judith Mayotte, Psalms Now Paraphrased for Today by Isobel de Gruchy.  I brought in and shared a book Father Doyt referred in the early days of the pandemic by Dallas Willard, Life Without Lack.  In this book, you read about how to live in abundant satisfaction, to love somebody, or spend a day with Jesus – powerful stuff.


Kat Randolph reminded us of the Golden Compass (book(s) by Philip Pullman) – movie review here: LINK.  Here’s a quick cut to the chase from the review on the topic, “But what could have possibly gone wrong with an adaptation of a children’s book about a plot to murder God…” and then the reason for the great controversy around the movie: The main reason cited for the failure of The Golden Compass was its treatment of religion. The book made it perfectly clear that Philip Pullman had a specific problem with the Catholic church, but the film diluted his fury down to a general disenchantment with all dogmatic belief systems.


Next, Susan Moseley read a poem, Braggard, from the book Enough Rope A Book of Light Verse by Dorothy Parker.  The poem in full below, and a counter point to life without lack.  The character’s feelings, woven by hatred and fear, are meted out that dying young is comparatively better than dying old.  It reads like a zesty cocktail of cautionary tales blended with two parts of Brother’s Grimm.  As Susan read this poem, I could envision her mother’s mid-1920s zeal for Parker’s words.

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