Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 4 Descent of the Priest

Day 4
Who put that boulder there?
The Descent of the Priest
Our co-campers leave before we do. We are in no hurry. We have the 4000 foot descent of the Priest and our wives are not due till noon to pick us up. I have planned well in terms of food and clothing. I have worn all my clothing and only once. By the time I am done with a morning snack I will have eaten all my food except for one serving of tuna fish and I have stayed hydrated.
If only there were time to climb every mountain.
We begin our walk with an ascent of a few hundred feet to the summit of the Priest. We are rewarded with a wonderful northern view and a strong wind that almost blows us off the rocks. We cross the summit and begin our descent and are soon rewarded with a southern view. For the next half hour we are walking a downward trail along a ridge of rocks that at places is less than 20 feet wide. Between the trees and boulders we can see both northern and southern views. We then begin the switch backs. The trail book says there are 38 but Bo, counting in Spanish, numbers off 43. (Someone might call that annoying and wrong. I wouldn’t.)
Bridge Over the River Tye
The fresh air and energy of the day starts my mind working on a new novel entitled The Descent of the Priest which will consist of 38 chapters that slowly, but graphically chart the fall of my main character the Rev. Mo into an ever greater and greater wilderness of depravity. His fall will be imaged through the book as he makes ever more frequent visits to the tattoo parlor increasing his body art. Beginning maybe with a simple heart then adding an angel to one side of the heart and then a fallen angel to the other side of the heart. The angels then begin amassing armies to battle for his soul. I share this rather brilliant idea with Bo who suggests I find a different name for my main character. Now I ask, do you think that was helpful critique.
View from the Bridge
For some reason I want to do our descent quickly and we do it in 2 and a half hours. About 30 minutes of that were spent on the two overlooks and in one ‘pack off’ break. We end at a gravel parking lot and route 56. It is 10 am we have two hours before our wives arrive. We cross the highway and a few yards on the other side we find the Tye River. It is about 100 feet across and 2 – 3 feet deep here. The Appalachian Trail crosses it on a beautiful suspension bridge which is of course the Bridge Over the River Tye. We take off our hiking boots, socks and shirts (ONLY) and go and sit in the river for about 45 minutes it feels great. We pass the time with a final snack and then our wives arrive at noon with cold sodas and fried chicken and stories of their own. We get to share our lunch with a fellow hiker from Australia who is on day 8 of a 20 day hike. He tells us this chicken is the first meat he has had in ten days because two days before he started hiking he had all four wisdom teeth out. And I think I’ll stop there.
Thanks Bo, for planning a great hike.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day Three Ascent of the Priest

Day 3
Seeley Woodworth Shelter to the Priest Shelter
We have another day of moderate up and down climbing with about a 600 ft climb at the end as we begin our ascent of the Priest. The Priest is one of three peaks in the ‘religious range’; the Cardinal and Little Priest are the others. As is often the case along the trail there are various stories to explain the names of mountains. One says a pastor living up here named them another says a solitary priest lived on the mountain at one time and named them. It at first seems unlikely that a protestant pastor would have given these mountains such Catholic names. However to climb up the north east face of the priest is a steep 4000 ft climb. Definitely one of the hardest climbs in Virginia, perhaps he was climbing it on a hot day and thought it rather hellish and so named the mountains.
videoToday’s Hike includes a side trip to Spy Rock. Bo takes offense that the Appalachian Trail book says that this rock was ‘Allegedly Used’ by the confederates as an observation post to watch for invading Yankees. Bo is certain it was used as such. I think it would have taken a while to get the news down from here. There is no clear trail up the rock and at places it is hard to find a foothold and hand hold but the challenge is rewarded by an amazing 360 degree view from the top. We take a nice long break before climbing down.
As we begin our ascent of the Priest we cross into the Priest Wilderness area. We cannot help but be struck by the imagery of the priest lost in the wilderness and its spiritual parallels. As we make this final ascent of the day I point out to Bo there is a sermon in climbing the mountain. He of course asks me to elaborate. Well it is hard to ascend a mountain but there is great reward at the top in the way of a view and a fresh breeze and a feeling of accomplishment.  In contrast it is relatively easy to descend a mountain and at the bottom the air is hotter and still and the view is limited and the trail is crowded by brambles.
Even though the weather is pleasant for our hiking the sweat pours off each of us when we are in the ascending mode. I spent a little over $100 in preparing for this year’s hike. That included three new pairs of socks.   Bo only brings two pairs of socks on the hike and wears each pair twice. I also bought a water bottle with a built in filter. This year there has been no shortage of water but I have been carrying 3 liters of water which is about twice what I have carried previously. Water weighs about two pounds per liter. I also have sweat wicking T Shirts. These shirts are designed to draw the sweat away from your body and evaporate it more quickly. This is supposed to keep me cooler and dryer.   The other thing is a dry shirt is significantly lighter than a wet shirt. A regular cotton T shirt weighs one half pound dry but a wet one weighs three times that. Plus they don’t dry out overnight so the dirty laundry just increases the pack weight.  The wicking shirts seem to really work.
We have been doing such good time on today’s hike that we arrive at the shelter thirty minutes before we expect to. The shelter is vacant when we arrive, and we select a camp site some distance from the shelter but convenient to the privy. This is a great summer privy because it has a stainless steel toilet seat. However I fear in the winter it could be quite a shock. Our two previous camps have had piped springs. These are preferred because the pipe is set back into the earth and means animals have not been playing in the water prior to your arrival. They will have been drinking from the stream below the spring. It also means the water spills out at a height you can place your water bottle under and that there is no sediment. Tonight’s spring is an in ground spring, meaning the water bubbles up out of the ground and mister raccoon and I are drinking out of the same area. In this type of spring I dip my cup in the stream, which here is very shallow and hard to do without stirring up sediment, and pour the water in my water bottle. I then have an ultraviolet magic wand I hold in the bottle for a minute that kills all the microbes. That is very important here because we can see little tiny worms in the bottom of the spring. The shelter log book says they are anabolic worms. (I looked this up on line but could find nothing but the fact that there is some connection between anabolic steroids and worms.)
This evening it continuously threatens to rain so we sit up by the shelter so we can retreat into a dry space when it starts to sprinkle. No rain really materializes. About 8 two hikers show up. They hiked up the Priest in four hours. They are just out for one night and are hiking back to their car in the morning. One is from Michigan he is about 22 and the other is maybe 18 or 19 and from Vienna, Austria. We chat for awhile before heading off to our tents. When it comes to full darkness the sky is amazingly clear. I can see stars as I have not seen in years.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day Two No Great adventures just a Great Life

Appalachian Trail Day 2
Cow Camp Shelter to Seeley Woodworth Shelter
We leave camp about 8:30 the next morning. Our boots are damp but our socks are fresh and dry. This matters because of the risk of blisters. Today’s hike will take us up over Cold Mountain (Not the one in the book.) and through Hog Camp Gap and Tar Jacket Ridge. We begin with a 700 ft climb to the summit of Cold Mountain. The summit of Cold Mountain along with Hog Camp Gap and Tar Jacket ridge are one of the few places along the trail in Virginia that are mowed several time a year in order to maintain the pasture look they had at the time the trail first crossed them. In reality most of this area had been fully cleared by 1900 and the forest we currently see is new growth. It’s great to walk in the open and it means there is an abundance of black berries along the trail to provide second breakfast and then even a snack after lunch. I eat my berries as I pick them but Bo has this obnoxious habit of filling his hand with berries and walking on. It is called differed gratification. As he walks in front of me eating his berries I consider tripping him with my walking stick so I can take his berries but I manage to restrain myself. This area is called Hog Camp Gap because they used to bring the hogs up here in the early fall so they could fatten up on acorns and chestnuts.
There are lots of birds, butterflies and wild flowers in the meadows as well as a great breeze. We also cross the remnants of a stone wall several times. The guide book reports that this wall is a total of 12 miles long which indicates its owner and builder was probably a significant land owner. It is unclear exactly when in the early to mid 1800’s it was built.
This is the day of this year’s greatest adventure. About mid afternoon we come across a family of four out on a day hike, parents and two teenagers. They are paused for a rest when we come on them and we stop and exchange a few pleasantries before going on. I am in the lead at this point and we have moved back into the woods. I am brought up short by a snake sunning itself in the middle of the path. I stop about three feet from it. Bo comes up and immediately says it’s a rattler. Both its pattern and tail indicate so. I ask Bo if he will lay down beside it so you can have a perspective of its size. He refuses. I then suggest he stand by it with his shoe next to it. He won't do this either he is very uncooperative. (I estimate the snake is three to four feet long but we will never, know will we.)

We back off and Bo decides that if he rolls some rocks near it, it might decide to leave. After about five throws that land very near the snake but don’t hit it he gives up. At this point the family catches up to us. The mother who apparently usually takes the lead swears she would not have seen it and that we saved her life. (Isn’t that nice.) I decide to take a long branch and nudge it from the trail. I very gently point its head up hill and off the trail. Mr. Snake takes great offense to this suggestion and winds himself up into strike position and starts shaking away at his rattler. We withdraw and decide to leave him with the trail and we make a 25 foot arc off the trail into the woods. 

Later Bo reads from our Appalachian Trail map rules that we are not to bother the wild life. I contend that Bo throwing rocks at is far more bothersome that me just nudging it with a stick. To prove my point throw some things at the person next to you at work. Then just nudge somebody at work with a stick. Let us know who take the greater offense.
We take our afternoon break at this amazing tree that has grown on top of this rock.
Our hike today is just over seven miles and we arrive at the Seeley Woodworth shelter at 5 pm. This shelter area is great because it is very open allowing for more breeze and dryer air. We have made it through the day without blisters. We are alone in the camp tonight.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day One


4 Days and 3 Nights on the Appalachian Trail
No Great Adventures Just a Great Life
Another chance out on the trail with my good friend Bo Milner. It doesn’t get much better than this. Our wives drop us off at route 60 and the Appalachian trail in Amherst County Virginia, about 40 miles south of Waynesboro. I am starting the hike 25 pounds lighter than I was last year when we were hiking so I am feeling pretty good. This will be our most remote hike. We will not see a paved road; a moving car or a trash can for the next four days.
 Its 2 pm when we start out but we have less than five miles to go to reach tonight’s shelter. However our first 2.5 miles climbs 2000 feet to the summit of Bald Knob. That is the same as climbing 3000 stair steps. This is a steep climb and we take it slow and easy. About five hundred feet from the summit we are over taken by a thunderstorm. We pull our rain gear from our packs and hunker down before the heavy rain hits. We are already soaked with sweat but the purpose of the raingear is to keep us warm and to try to keep our boots dry. Within minutes the trail in front of us becomes a raging stream a foot wide. We are certain our wives are terribly worried about us as the lightning and thunder breaks right over us. We learn later that our wives are west of the storm, see no rain and are delighted to be photographing the rainbow created by our thunder storm.
After an hour the storm has past and we continue our journey up the mountain in a light rain. The summit of Bald Knob is no longer bald and offers no views. We arrive at Cow Camp Shelter (Named for the fact that as late as the 70’s cows were grazed on upper pastures here in the summer.) at about 6 pm.
A typical shelter camp includes a shelter, which is a three sided building with a bare floor that sleeps about a dozen people and then numerous tent sites scattered around the shelter. There is also usually a picnic table, a water source and a privy. (Outhouse) This camp had both a stream and a spring.
Cow Camp Shelter is the most populated camp we will stay at. There was a couple on their honey moon. They were married in March and immediately after their wedding started hiking south from Maine on the Appalachian Trail. He reported that his pack weighed 175 pounds. We estimated he weighed about 150. She said her pack weighed 80 pounds and we guessed she might have weighed 125. Those are crazy weights for packs. Our full packs weigh in at 25 to 30 pounds and many distance hikers get their packs down to less than 20 pounds.  These two had a rather well set up camp site and were taking a break from hiking. The only explanation for his overweight pack that he gave was that he had been a marine and in training he could spend all day carrying that weight in the hot sun so he did not see any reason he could not do it on the Appalachian Trail. The two other hikers in camp that night were both guys who were about thirty. One was a golf course designer between contracts and the other was a laid off plastic extruder. The golf course designer had done the first third of the Appalachian Trail, Maine to Pennsylvania, last year and was doing about a thousand miles this year, having started in where he left off last year.
The out come of the rain is that our boots are fairly damp and my cell phone won't work so we will be without any communication for the rest of the hike.

Dinner at Cow Camp Shelter


Monday, April 18, 2011

South River Falls Trail/ Lily's Big Hike

"Come on Bo Let's Go"
April 15. Bo, Lily and I went for a day in Shenandoah National Park. We entered the park at Swift Run Gap west of Stanardsville and went north to the South River Falls picnic area to park. While Lily went around leaving messages Bo and I put on our hiking boots and organized our day packs, mainly filled with water. About a hundred yards in from the picnic area, we found the Appalachian Trail and headed north. This part of the hike was about 3 miles with two climbs. We met two trail volunteers who were hand sawing through a foot and a half tree that had fallen across the trail. To use a chainsaw in the park you have to have various certifications including CPR so they do all their work with hand tools.  They estimate to keep the trail clear requires about 15 hours of volunteer time a year for each mile of the trail. Lily thinks Bo spent too long talking to the trail volunteers and she made some comment about, “Doesn’t he have any friends in Richmond.” I told her not to be rude. This leg of our hike ends at Pocosin cabin. This is a very rustic cabin, complete with an outhouse some 100 feet from the front porch, that you can rent from the national park service. Lily lead the way for the most part only going on leash when we met the trail volunteers and when we met two backpackers heading south.
These hills were considerable more climbing than our usual hikes and she was glad we took a break at the cabin.

Upper Pocosin Rectory?
Upper Pocosin Mission
The cabin was the farthest north part of our hike today and here we turn south east on the Pocosin fire road. This has a nice gentle grade and is a very pleasant walk for about a mile. Bo and I have always hiked in August before and usually I end up desperate for water. Today there are springs everywhere. One spring pops up out of the ground gushes along for about 50 feet and then disappears back under ground.
This leg of our trip ends at the ruins of the Upper Pocosin Episcopal Mission church. The ruins consist of the stone foundations of a fairly good size chapel and a poorly constructed shack that is on its last legs. All I can find out about this sight is that it dates to 1904, was established as outreach to the mountain people and that there is a graveyard nearby that we didn’t see. The shack appears to me to be closer to mid 20th century but that is just my guess.

South River Falls
Lily and I usually take, there and back hikes, and she is a little confused by this circuit hike and keeps asking if it is not time to head back, I tell her wait and see. I think she has started to figure out that we are now heading in the direction of our car. From here we take the Pocosin Trail south toward south river falls till we hit the south River Fire road ant turn more westward. This will take us briefly out of the park and through the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area. We have seen absolutely no wildlife except birds. At the higher elevations the trees show little sign of spring. The lower altitudes are budding and some shrubs are even leafing.
We leave the fire road and go on the South Falls trail. This has an average level of climbing. There are a couple of places as we get near the falls where water is just dripping out of boulders that just glisten black with the water and are alive with brilliantly green moss. With all the abundant water on this hike Lily will only drink the water we put in her bowl. She is a city girl at heart.
We choose the trail to the falls overlook instead of the trail to the base of the falls. South river falls is the third highest falls in the park at 83ft and today it is roaring down It is beautiful. The rocks here are warm from the sun and we lay down for a rest. Lily reluctantly stretches out on the rocks. She is quite clear about the fact that she usually has a pillow or cushion of some kind for naps. We probably spend about 20 minutes here just enjoying the sound of the falls and the beautiful day.
We can see the base of the fall and the journey down is a major hike and nothing compared to what the  hike back up would be so we decide to skip it. The hike from the falls back to the parking area is about 2 miles and is a steep uphill climb almost all the way. Overall I think we did about 8 miles. It was Lily’s longest hike ever. We said good bye to Bo at the parking area. Lilly climbed into the back seat and stretched out. I stopped at the Dairy Queen in Stanardsville and got myself a soda and Lily a vanilla Ice cream. I gave it to her slowly so she wouldn’t get a brain freeze. She said, “Today was better than Christmas.”

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Water

I am in North Eastern Pennsylvania for the weekend. I am staying in a cabin at the Boyds Mills conference center and from its front porch I can hear the roar of a stream as the water makes its journey downhill. Oddly in the collection of books in my cabin is a classic entitled Water, The Next Great Resource Battle, by Laurence Pringle written in 1982. In this book he raises the water issues facing America. He says the east is water rich, yet wasteful practices and growing populations will eventual lead to a shortage of clean water. The west is already water challenged and seeking ways to address the interests of agriculture, business, miningand growing urban centers. Though we have these issues we in are in many ways one of the water rich countries and our water resources are for the most part contained wihtin our country.

What the future will hold for us and for the rest of the world is highly unpredictable. The instability of weather means that familiar seasonal patterns may no longer be so predictable. Droughts may last longer and rainy seasons may be shorter. Or the opposite may be true. Both can disrupt agriculture and food supply. We know the glaciers in the world are shrinking which means less water and different rates of water flow. Many nations of the world share their water resoources with others, being dependent on nations upstream and responsible to others downstream. Currently one of the countries upstream from Egypt is planning a new damn on the Nile bringing objections and threats from Egypt.

While in the past there have been skirmishes over water it seems almost certain that as oil now is an underlying cause of war we are not far from the time when water will be a cause of war.

Not to be to naive nor simplistic but at some point we need to realize we are all in this together and we need to learn to share.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Didn’t Know But Now I Care

One Sunday when I was about six I got special permission to miss Sunday school. The permission was important because I didn’t want it to ruin my year of perfect attendance. By the way that was the one and only year when I got perfect attendance. On this particular Sunday my whole family was going to the Port of Galveston to tour the Savannah, a newly commissioned, nuclear powered cargo-passenger ship. I remember very little about the ship tour except looking through large glass windows somewhere in the ship and being told that what we were looking at was the nuclear reactor.
Way back then nuclear energy promised a glorious clean future. People, my parents and grandparents ages had clear memories of the dirty years of the industrial revolution and even of smoke and cinder spewing steam engines. Nuclear energy promised to be the clean and almost eternal energy of the future. Yes, nuclear power was dangerous but science promised that it could be controlled and back then we believed in the power of regulators to regulate.  
Now forty years later I still want to believe in Nuclear Energy. I want to believe it is one of the ways we can produce clean energy and free ourselves from a dependence on foreign resources but I find that harder and harder to believe. We now can see how fortunate we were that the accident at Three Mile Island was contained. The people of the Ukraine were not as fortunate. The accident at Chernobyl involved the breakdown of one reactor but finally required the creation of a 448 sq. km exclusion zone around the plant. And now we watch the disaster at Fukushima continue to develop. What will the final result before the breached reactors and the spent fuel rods? What will happen to the radioactive water? What about sea life? Is a 12 mile evacuation zone enough? Is a 19 mile evacuation zone enough? There are, will continue to be many more questions and I am afraid more bad news.
I am left with a very uncertain belief about the viability of nuclear energy. A quick search shows that there may be as many as 6 nuclear power plants within 100 to 150 miles of where I live, two in Virginia, two in Maryland and two in Pennsylvania. I didn’t even know and before now I had not even cared, but now I do.
Stuart 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Life giving, Life renewing, Life saving Water

When I was a child growing up in Texas we didn’t have access to a neighborhood swimming pool. Back then counties didn’t build places like Splashdown or Signal Hill waterpark. There was a pool at the Elks Club but we weren’t members and there was a large public pool the next town over but we would only go over there on rare occasions.
These were the days when the ‘Slip and Slide’ and the ‘Water Wiggle’ were invented. But even those were a little upscale for our neighborhood. Our favorite way to cool down was to play in the sprinkler. At some point we would decide we had had enough heat and everyone would run home, put on their swim suit and return for the water play. In contrast to the day the water was cool, refreshing and renewing our bodies and refreshing our spirits.
Today in Japan they work vigorously to pump enough water to cool the reactors and prevent a further meltdown. This disaster that was brought on by the tsunami, a giant wave of water, will continue to grow in magnitude unless more water can be pumped in to cool the reactors and keep the radioactive rods submerged.  
Life giving, life renewing, life saving water.
 Stuart

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Remember the Event More Clearly Than I Remember the Lesson


The summer when I was seven was a great summer. That summer we went to the beach two or three times a week. Late in the afternoon my mother would load my brothers and I in the car and we would drive the thirty minutes to the beaches in Galveston. At five when he got off work my father would join us. I am not sure why that summer, but it was a great summer.
One day on our way to the beach we stop at the five and dime. We stayed in the car while my oldest brother went in to make a mysterious purchase. It was only two days before my birthday and I was sure this was all about a present for me.  I was right and unfortunately for my brother the present he was buying was displayed in the window we could see from the parking lot. In those days stores had windows. My brother was buying me a swim mask.
All the way to the beach I argued that I should be allowed to have my present early after all I knew what it was. I would not hear the suggestion that the swim mask was really for the pool and not the ocean. In fact nothing short of them giving in would satisfy me, and eventually they did.
Within minutes of wading into the ocean I was tumbled by a wave that knocked the mask off my face and took it away. I was devastated. I argued and cried that I might be given another mask after all it was not my fault. My birthday and the summer came and went with no new swim mask. I am sure my Mother offered thoughts on several lessons I might learn from this experience. Unfortunately I remember the event more clearly than I remember the lessons.
Yesterday giant waves tumbled inland in Japan taking away everything in their wake. This is an event that will be remembered for generations to come. From it we might learn some things about predicting disasters, improving buildings codes and developing disaster plans but maybe the most important thing we might learn is that; “Life is short and we do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel  the way with us.”
Some day the tide will come and some day the tide will take it all away.
Water

Stuart

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Rain is Water

All Day Wednesday the weather forecast foretold an oncoming 24 hours of rain with at least 3 - 4 inches expected. Thankfully it would start late Wednesday Night and not interrupt our Ash Wednesday Devotions. As I went in for evening worship the sky was threatening but still no rain.
The service reminds us of the limits of our mortality and frees us from the burden of our sins so that we might live into our lives enjoying the fullness of God’s mercy and grace.
As I exited the building the rain had gently begin to fall as if to complete the washing away of sin and to cleanse my forehead of the sign of my redemption.
Water

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Living Into Water

For lent I suggested people take a word and hold it up before themselves throughout the season.  A word that might challenge, confront and ultimately transform them. When I suggested this at church I had no idea what my word might be. At adult forum I invited people to suggest words for themselves and others. We talked about Lent being a time we are asked to look inward and yet our inward looking word might have outward manifestations. A thankful heart might lead to a thank you note. Our list had over 40 words by the time we were done. Words like diligence and vigilance, introspection, meditation, truth and honesty. I still didn’t hear my word. I suggested people still looking for their word might pray and listen.
That night I woke about 12:30 am. A wind storm raged outside our house. I could see the trees swaying with each gust of wind and occasionally the side of the house would shake from a blast of wind. I opened my Nook and read for about two hours. I finished my book. I rolled over to try and sleep. But still I really wasn’t feeling the sleep. The wind was still raging outside my window.  I thought I should pray for my word now. I listened. I thought maybe my word is written on the wind. I listened.
Water.  My word is water?
That is the wrong type of word. How can I live into water?  I listened more. Still, water.
How can water be my word? How can I spend Lent living into water? How can water transform me? Oh yeah it can. Water transforms people all the time. So this Lent among my other disciplines I am living into water. It was 4:30am the last time I looked at the clock.  
 Stuart

Monday, February 14, 2011

Generosity Abounds


Our God is a generous, pouring out love on us through out our lives. How sadly we often live unaware of this bounty but once our eyes are opened we see it everywhere. And we too begin to live in a spirit of generosity.

Two months ago a member of Trinity asked if we would be interested in partnering with Manassas schools in a program to provide weekend meals for children on the breakfast and lunch assistance program at a Manassas elementary school. I said yes. When I shared this idea at the Trinity Church annual meeting the people applauded. Over the next month details of this pilot program were worked out. We would provide food for 20 children for 12 weeks.

Just two weeks ago we started collecting food and donations. And in those two weeks we have fully funded and supplied the program. Thank you everyone for your generous hearts. Your gifts are gifts of love that will carry God’ love with them out into the world.  I have every hope and expectation that this program can be expanded next year to feed every child in the Manassas City schools who is in need.

Our God is a generous, pouring out love on us through out our lives. How sadly we often live unaware of this bounty but once our eyes are opened we see it everywhere. And we too begin to live in a spirit of generosity.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bless This Home

O Gracious God Bless This Home
The tradition of house blessings is tied to the New Year and especially to the Feast of the Epiphany because Matthew tells us, "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."
You may want to say this prayer gathering together all who live in the house or you may want to say it silently in your heart.
A House Blessing

Bless this house, o' Lord we pray
make it safe by night and day                               
Bless these walls, so firm and strong
keep out trouble and want
Bless
the door that it may prove
ever open to joy and love
Bless the
windows shining bright
letting in God’s heavenly
light
Bless those who dwell here in
Fill them with your presence deep within
That we may know your love
And your guiding hand from above. Amen


While very few people have incense, gold and myrrh to spare the three fold gifts to take to a house warming or house blessing have changed over the years. (You may remember these from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.)

“Bread, so the house will never know hunger.
Salt so that life will always have flavor.
And wine so there will always be joy.”