Monday, June 30, 2008


Today I am traveling but I want to take the beauty that I have seen with me. I want to reflect the beauty of creation, God's beauty in every conversation, every encounter and every thing I do. I feel uneasy but I know God is with me, despite how I feel. So I offer this prayer for the travelers who are uneasy, queasy or tired of standing still.

Dear God,
let me talk with beauty,
let me walk with beauty,
let me laugh with beauty,
let me reflect your beauty.

Some days I am a vessel completely filled
but today I feel empty and echoing,
and every movement reminds me of the emptiness in me.

Let me be filled,
let me be an instrument,
let me ring with joy.

For you are the great painter and I am your canvas
the creative designer and I am clay
you are the author and I will be your words this day.

Let me reflect your beauty this day
and I will offer your love where ever I go.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

To the Rescue

To the Rescue

Yesterday was a warm day and after helping my mother with several chores and errands I went to the beach with my daughter and her boyfriend. It was very warm and we got in the water right away, although it was very chilly. The temperature was hovering in the mid-eighties but the water was struggling to be sixty. We got chilled to the bone and then watched as the lifeguard trainees were put through their paces. After warming up again, I went out into the water to do some body surfing. I’ve been riding waves as long as I can remember and there is hardly nothing more satisfying than a good ride at high tide. Body surfing requires letting go and letting the waves be in charge. It also requires one to relax, and take the wave for its full power all the way into shore.

I was taking some good waves. One particular shot me almost out of the water. I remained lying at the water’s edge while I made sure my bathing suit was covering the bits it should have been. When I looked up, a young eager life guard was standing over me, asking if I was alright. Could he help me? Did I need help? I am sure he was wondering whether he really had to rescue me and privately hoped he did not. I told him I was fine, thank you, and I was quite capable of getting up and getting back in the water. At first I was a bit mortified. Did I look like I needed rescue? Am I so old and un-athletic looking that this child would think I was feeble and broken and in need?

And then I realized how lovely it is to be watched over and cared for. Maybe I didn’t need his help, but I am really glad to know he was paying attention. I was really glad to know that my family and I were care for. And I found myself grateful for God’s constant watch care. God’s willingness to come to my rescue, even when I don’t want to be cared for, even when I think I am so completely self-sufficient that I need nothing or no one.

I am enormously grateful for love and care – the care of my family and God’s love that is watching tenderly with an eye for my need, my vulnerability, my feeble attempts at being strong. I pray for the courage to accept and be grateful for every measure of love and watching over me I receive, knowing that it comes from the heart of God.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Getting in the Boat

There are many times in my life that I am reluctant to embark on a journey or to walk into something new. It is not from being shy as much as from not wanting to fail, not wanting to be a fool, not wanting to bring shame. This is a time in my life when much of what I am doing is traveling on uncharted waters, sailing on previously unvisited seas and traveling with folks who don't share a language or customs. It is many parts scary and many parts exciting. It is tempting just to stay home, to stay in control. But, I have the opportunity, as we all do, to know the reality of God being in loving control of our every breath. So here is a prayer for all of those who are reluctant travelers, those who are quaking as you step in the boat and as you sail into new territory.

you breathed on the waters and calmed them
you brought light in the darkness
you are intimate with every foreign geography
and you love and guide each creature on this island home.

Today, I ask for courage which has escaped me,
for renewed strength since mine has been spent
and for a comfortable bed of soft leaves to lie down on,
where ever you lead me.

Give me courage to embark,
give me strength to set sail
give me comfort in your presence
knowing that you are present in the water and wind
present in my going and my coming,
present on strange seas and
home wherever I go.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Light and Shadows

When our girls were little we had to find all sorts of creative ways to entertain them, especially on long car rides. We didn't have on board entertainment systems, just voices and imaginations. We did a great deal of story telling in the car on long trips, as well as a great deal of singing. Small children tend to like the same songs sung over and over again. One of the things we created as a distraction was the Tinkerbell game. Tinkerbell could only happen in strong sunlight and was a dancing reflectional of light from a watch or bracelet. Our girls would at first try to see where Tinkerbell was and then would grab for her as she danced and hopped across the surfaces of the car. It kept us all busy for a time, but was useless at night.

This time of year, the light is very intense, as are the shadows. The summer can be glorious, providing us with outdoor days of joy, and can quickly become dangerous, when the heat and humidity threaten tempers and lives. We have to be careful with both heat and light, enjoying them can be fun, too much can be deadly. We have to also embrace the shadows, and in the hottest part of the day walk on the shaded parts of the street. We must seek out the darkened places during the strongest light.

Today, I want to remember the gift of the shadows, the dark places and the shade. Light is reflected in a different way in shadowy places, and we learn a great deal about ourselves in the shaded world of afternoon rest. I want to embrace those dark places that are a gift from God, the cool respites that allow the imagination and forgiveness to thrive. Those places where memory and dreams collide. Where we can repair and cool from the dazzling heat while we chase reflections and hope across the surfaces of our lives.

Today may we all find shade from the heat. May we know God in the dark shadows. May we know God, the one who makes us,remakes us and rekindles our hope in the shadows and darkness of this day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Prayer For Calm

Creator God,

The waters I travel on are disturbed
the trails are rocky and uneven
night surrounds me even during daylight
the rustling in the underbrush
threatens my life and
there is trouble lurking all around me.

You have made me in your image
but toady my heart is anxious and afraid
my limbs are aching and unwilling.

Creator, you are the source of all,
our relationships and gifts
our strength and our weakness,
daylight and star shine
the broken and the whole are nestled in your hands.

God, give me your breath in my lungs today
give me the strentgh to go forth in peace,
let my heart leap with hope again
let my hands not tremble and my steps sure.

It is you who is the source of all calm,
you who gives love without question, without cost
you who brings calm and forgiveness
in the midst of this radical brokenness.

Help me today to rest in your calm still strength.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Assessing the Damage

Yesterday was one of those days. Maybe it was because it was Monday, but lots of things got dropped, got lost or were spilled.I completely forgot a phone appointment. Couldn't find my shoes. Banged my head on the stationary tub when I was doing the laundry.Made a huge mess when I was cooking dinner. It was one of those days and I am grateful to have survived to see a new day.

We all have days when the world seems off center and everything is sliding down hill. Humans, even the most organized and regimented, are subject to changes in others and the accidents that just happen. One of the wonderful gifts of days like yesterday is that at the end of the day, having survived, I am grateful for that alone. And that small measure of gratefulness opens my eyes to see the blessings that surround me. On the days when everything snaps into place, I will congratulate myself. On days when everything is a mess, I thank God for getting me through. As if, I am capable of making incredible things happen and God's only job is to protect me from myself.

Today, I want to practice being grateful for all of it. The bumps and spills and the accomplishments. And for humanity and the gracious and forgiving friends who overlook the mistakes, and are happy to share in my humanity. Grateful to others for laughter and love and companionship on this bumpy journey.And grateful to God for letting me believe I can control things and forgiving me when I forget to be grateful for God's ever present love, care, protection and breath in my life.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sleepy in New Jersey

It is a dull Monday morning, with a good chance of rain. The air is heavy with moisture and the sky is gun metal gray. Everything looks a little weary around the edges as if it is too much effort to wake up and feel alert. Even the flowers in my yard are drooping, and yet they have been watered and tended well. The outside and my inside seem to be in a state of total harmony. Exterior and interior mirror one another well and are in perfect lethargic sympathy. There is no cure for this state but a good rain, a good nap, and a cooperative cold front from the west.

When my children were small we read and reread a wonderful book called, 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". It was the story of the town of Chew and Swallow and how it had stopped raining water and started raining food. It was quite a mess, as you can imagine with large food bits draped all over houses and people. We all loved laughing about the silly pretend danger that the flooding of pancake syrup might cause. But indeed, many places have been inundated with real flood waters, and their homes and lives have been destroyed. For every scene of devastation, there are also scenes of neighbors and strangers lifting sand bags, rescuing animals - reaching out in love and concern.

Today, on this dull morning, potent with storms, I want to remember those who are facing radical crisis in their lives. They have no chance to be sleepy, they need to keep awake to keep alive. I realize how blessed I am this morning to simply struggle with the small tasks of life. And I want to raise up in prayer all of those who are truly battling for their lives.

Dear God,

Thank you for the safety in which I live today,
open my eyes to those who have no safety.

Thank you for your rains that tenderly water the tender plants,
preserve this day those tender ones who are vulnerable
and have no protection.

Thank you for my noisy friends and family,
help me to be a friend to those who hear
only their own voice.

God, you have brought me safely to this day,
give me your strength to share your blessings
with the anxious and aching world around.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wireless and Disconnected

I had expected to write my blog both days when I was visiting with my Mom. It turned out, I could find no place to make a wireless connection. We drove around town for a bit trying to find an open network and were unsuccessful. All of my friends at the Point who have a connection were not around. I came to the realization that my world has truly changed and I consider those of you who I communicate with via this blog as a network of beloved friends, whether I know you or not. You are in my prayers and thoughts as we reach out across the miles seeking God's inspiration together. So tonight, I want to give thanks for all of you dear ones who seek out inspiration and support. God places us in proximity that we might find a way through together. None of us are alone and God goes before us to make a way. I am here to remind myself and all who read this blog and others that we are an intentional community of love and support as I pray for you each day - sight unseen - knowing that God sees, and loves each of us beyond all human measure.

Come Saturday Morning

Come Saturday Morning

written June 21

The usual quiet morning, normally augmented only with birdsong and the distant roar of the ocean, is broken today by runners and cheering crowds. Small though this town is, the annual five and ten mile run draws a crowd, the loudest and most stunning of which are the coast guard recruits who run together in formation, chanting all the way through the town. You can chart their progress by sound alone, as they circumnavigate the Point.

I woke up early this morning in another world. I am in my mother’s house but realize that this place in its quiet invites breathing, singing, and painting on big canvasses. There is room to dream here. So many of us, in the busyness of life, lose the ability to dream, to breathe expansively, and to re-imagine the small planters we inhabit. God constantly invites us, whispers to us, sings to us on the wind in the still of the night –dream new dreams of a people and a place where love thrives.

I want to enjoy this whole day, tasting and seeing it as a gift, an invitation from God. May this day be for you a day of breathing, dreaming and taking a few moments to draw on bigger canvases. Summer Saturdays naturally invites us to take off our shoes and run in the grass – even if there is no grass or sand to run barefoot in. God’s heart is a big expansive place, a place where aging children can start to dream again. May you hear, in the noise of your world the song on the wind, the invitation to dance in the imagination of God.

Friday, June 20, 2008


"Not seven times but seventy times seven."

Yesterday, while doing a routine chore, an incident came to mind when I had been really hurt by someone I really trusted. I have forgiven them long ago but I could feel myself prickling with anger, heating up over the injustice and outrage, as if it was brand new. I thought I had forgiven them, but some part of me enjoys reveling in the anger and the scenes of injustice. How quickly we move from mercy and forgiveness to anger and judgment. I am amazed at how often I need to be forgiven for the multitude of careless and hurtful things I do on a daily basis. I am also amazed at how hard it is to truly forgive others, to set the anger and outrage free to sail on the ocean and never return.

The disciple Peter wants limits to how many times he must forgive someone. I'm in his camp. Forgiving others is some of the hardest work we do. But Jesus answers him with a story of forgiveness, a story of God's constant mercy and our human need to limit and control mercy. Seventy times seven -until the hurt has sailed away on the sea. We are to forgive others because it releases in us the forgiveness we so desperately need in ourselves. Mercy and forgiveness flow from God like a deep powerful ocean and we would dam it up or keep it for ourselves.

Today I want to acknowledge my constant need of forgiveness and how difficult it is to truly forgive others, particularly those who hurt us and whom we love. Today, I want to invite God to teach me a new depth of forgiveness, a new way to let go of those hurts and slights so that mercy can truly flow in my life. May we all have the courage today to forgive others, to truly leave the hurt on the water and let it sail away to the heart of God. May we all know that God is actively seeking healing and restoration for those damaged and broken places, that our forgiving others will open each of us to receive new mercies, every morning.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Being among the lost

"It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost." Matthew 18:14

I've been thinking about loss and losing over the past few days. Whenever I am going somewhere new or doing a new thing I have of sense of being lost. Even with a good map and written directions it is easy for me to go astray. One missed sign or turn and I am in foreign territory.

I am also well known for losing things -keys especially. I have devised many methods over the years to keep track of the things I need every day. I have special routine places that I put the things I need on a regular basis, so I would not have to go searching in a last minute panic. I have been late in my life many times just on account of a lost set of keys, shoes, hairbrush and the like. When my girls were little we lost hairbrushes so often that I drilled a hole in the handle of one, tied a long string on it and secured it to a knob in the bathroom. Lost things can be frustrating. Lost people are heart breaking and not God's desire.

The pain of not going to Lambeth, being among the lost has been troubling my heart of late. The loss of a role in the church has been painful too. The loss of a friend breaks my heart as well. The ache is deep and I only know that living through loss for me requires acknowledging the grief as real. Jesus tells a parable about a lost sheep, how the shepherd leaves the flock and rescues the one. The lost are sought out by God. The grieving and exiles are whom God's heart aches to find and restore.

In these days of acknowledging loss, and feeling among the lost, I am taking great comfort in the seeking shepherd. The lighthouse beacon sending guidance to the lost. God as the one who loves the lost as much as the safe, the losers as much as the winners. If you are feeling among the lost today, remember that God's desire is to find you, scoop you up and return you to the fold. God's activity is in healing, restoration and redemption. Finding us, when we feel beyond all the borders and gates and in unfamilair, foreign pastures. May we have the courage today to trust the one who is seeking out the lost. May we have the courage to be found and peace while we trust in the coming restoration of God.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Teaching Tradition

I just starting teaching at Drew Seminary, a summer class on Native Spirituality and Traditions. I have given the students a lot to read, but I always wonder whether I am really sharing the tradition in a way that is helpful to them.

Two years ago, when at an Indigenous women's retreat, we had a wonderful presentation of music and traditions from a group of aunties who sang to us and told stories. It was the same day of the earthquake and we were without electricity, phones and water. Everything stopped for a while. They came and were with us and gave us everything they had.

So today I want to offer a prayer for teachers and those who share what they have so we might all grow and learn. Jesus was first and foremost a teacher and gave us his all - his life and the heart of God.

Dear God,
help those who teach to open their hearts to their students,
give them vision to see what you see,
give them hearts to feel what you feel,
and give them clear voices to tell the stories and sing their faith.

Give us all the strength to open our hearts to your teaching,
open our eyes to see the need in our midst,
open our hearts that we might grow in compassion,
open our minds to hear the songs and stories as gift from you.

Oh, good teacher, loving friend and constant companion,
give us your wisdom so that we might better love others, today.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Then the Children Are Free

I remember clearly to this day, seeing the image of our youngest child, sixteen weeks in utero, kicking like a trained swimmer. The situation was anything but joyous, as I had a very bad test result and the doctors presumed that several things were wrong with her. I watched her kick, on the finest equipment the Harvard medical folks had, and I saw a glimpse of the child that was emerging, the person who was already fully formed and fragile beyond imaging. It took five weeks to get the results of that amneo, and I was frightened and wrestling with God throughout. I was in my second year of seminary, wanting to be completely formed myself, longing to be the best mother and priest possible. And this child was a special gift in that formative time. The nurse called to tell me she was fine and perfect and we didn't need to worry. I cried storms of tears - joy, release and awe for the fragile beings we all are.

I know that each of us is formed in the image of God and that no one can say otherwise. We are perfectly made in God's eyes, and we are free to emerge and become the fully complete wonders that God has made each of us to be. Many times, as I sat in the stands watching my youngest child swim, first at lessons and then on swim teams through high school, I remember clearly that day, and her kicking. She kicks exactly the same way she did when she was ever so small and completely unseen.

Jesus encounters concern about the Temple tax and declares to his disciples that the children are free. He then sends Peter fishing for a coin to be extracted from a fish to pay the temple tax -in order not to offend. We live in a world that would restrict children and tax the joy out of love and worship. We struggle within human institutions that prize tradition over the creativity which springs from God. We are free, all the children of God are free, and the bars, barriers and restrictions are made by the hands of humans. Humans who are afraid and need to control rather than delight in God's creations.

May today be a day of delight. May you be free and may the children be free. To squeal and sleep, to dance and to dream. God has hidden a school full of coins in fishes around the globe so as not to offend. Our job is to rejoice in freedom we have and delight in God's presence and blessing in our midst.

Strawberry Fields Forever

There we were in the strawberry fields, rows and rows of ripe berries, joyful summer music dancing in my head as the sweat rolled down my face. It was sweet labor, dripping with memory and silence but for the others in the field occasionally calling to each other, a rumble of thunder and the random scream of delight from a small child. Wonder and awe mixed with sweat, dirt and straw. A familiar, unique, seasonal event that stirred up memories, possibilities and some sorrow. So much fruit to pick, with a melancholy realization that there are few to share this with. Something about this time in June triggers both great joy and some deep sadness. Sadness for all the fruit seemingly rotting on the vine, that I could not reach, could not rescue, could not use in my life for the betterment of myself, my family and others.

"For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to the mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:21

Jesus scolded his disciples for their lack of faith and promised them if they have faith they can do the impossible. Today, in this season of ripe fruit and full blown frustration, I ache for the disciples. They wanted to do all the right things, ached to cure the child, needed desperately to believe and yet they still fell short. I like them, has the real desire for a greater faith, so the mountains of exclusion and ignorance can be moved, so that those who have been run out and left out can truly be welcomed in our church. I sometimes feel like I am pushing a rock up hill, or yelling into silence. And then feel shamed because I lack faith.

For this day, I will remember that faith is a gift from God, not a skill I can learn on my own. There is no gym for faith, but only the moment by moment, breath by breath, regular trusting of God for everything will build up my faith. Using the faith I have, giving thanks for the gift that faith is, this is the way faith grows - along with sharing it with others. Faith is best when it is given away. So today, when I slip into the melancholy places of aching for what could have been, I plan to rejoice in the faith I have been given, celebrating the gifts I do have, dancing with the blessings and the fruit of love that surround me. I may not move mountains today, but I can bake a pie with all the abundance I have been given, and share that rich and sweet desert with all those I come in contact with today. May we all share the faith we have been given, knowing that it it not ours but God's gift and God will supply the increase and the abundance.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day


I have been thinking about my Dad alot lately. He was a really good man and lots of people still remember him and talk about how he changed their lives and did great things for them. When my Dad passed away at 76 in 1994, he was still driving, in control of his faculties and keeping busy with church and family life. He was strict when we were growing up and made us all work hard but he also enjoyed life and enjoyed his children completely. We never for a minute doubted that he loved us. I am grateful every day for him because he was courageous and faithful and taught me many things. I miss him and often feel he's watching out for me and laughing. He had a great sense of humor.

I want today to give special thanks for the father of my daughters. Mark is a remarkable father and was from the day we brought Emily (our eldest) home. He spent hours reading to the girls, explaining the smallest things and teaching them to value the small wonders of the world. Mark has a remarkable capacity to be completely present with another human being, no matter how small or complicated that person is. Because of their father, our girls never wanted for anything, although we have never had great incomes. They have been back stage in some remarkable places. They have met incredible musicians and performers and have been bounced on many an actor's knees. They have danced in the Nutcracker, and heard great music and babysat for stars. He took them every where he could and shared with them everything he knows, even when he knew they were not listening. They never felt awkward or lonely around their Dad. And they always had a ready dance partner.

So, Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there. And blessings to all of you who have had the experience of a loving father. May we who have been blessed remember especially everyone who has not had a loving human father, or who suffered from the neglect or abuse of a parent. May we reach out in love, and pray for those individuals, who deserve love in abundance. Who deserve to have God's love demonstrated in human hands. May we have the courage to be to them a reminder and an embodiment of God's unconditional, constant and transforming love today.

A Saturday Adventure

Some Saturdays are just made for exploration. This is one of them. When our kids were young we would pile them in the car and say we were going on an adventure. Sometimes they would groan but we often found something to do that they would brag to their friends about later. We have always liked to go fruit and vegetable picking together. We all have stories to tell on each other. One time outside of Philadelphia, after picking strawberries, we found a diner that was built in the shape of a cup. We had a meal there and teased each other about the seat of our pants. Several of us had, by accident, sat down on some ripe berries - quite a sight. And then there is the sensation of the ripe warm fruit tasted in the field, bright juice running down face and fingers. A rich sweet nectar that can not be compared.

We will also go search out the sheep farm thats sells cheeses and other items they make. Someone asked us why we continued to do these things, now that our kids are grown. I guess grown ups are supposed to go to vineyards for wine tasting. My answer to that is there is nothing more wonderful in the world than fresh fruits and vegetables, and our trips with our children were as much for me as for them. The delight of seeing fruits in season is unmatchable, as far as I'm concerned. And the delight of exploring and discovery is something I will never pass up, no matter how old I get.

So here's to Saturday adventures. May you find a way today to celebrate the world God has given us. May your heart leap for the abundance in your world. May you discover something that delights you and makes you smile - even in your own back yard.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Scolded. I was scolded by my oldest daughter Emily for not calling her enough. It made me so very happy. Not to be scolded, exactly, but that our bond is so close and deep that she needs me almost as much as I need her. I have tried to give my daughters space to grow and despite my need to hover, I have tried to back off. What a joy to be in trouble for backing off.

When we talk, she often asks me "where did that comes from?" to indicate some quirky trait that she blames me or her dad for. I am thrilled to take the blame. I am thrilled that my children want to talk with me, and care what I am doing, and how things are going for us. I talk with all our girls regularly, and I secretly wish I could own a complex of buildings, so we could all live in proximity and talk in person every day. I know there are many parents and children who are not able to speak to one another - who live without the indications of a love so deep it is embedded in the soul. I am blessed that we can talk and share. I daily ache for their noise and laughter, the arguing and tussling, the battling for control of remotes and meals. And I am grateful for every moment we have together, whether in the same space or not.

I imagine God, as a parent, a parent who daily longs for their children. Grown children, who are not to be controlled but enjoyed. A God who delights in the noise and the tussles, the tears and the laughter. To me, the heart of God is the joyous ache of an eternal, deep love which wants us to be happy and to know we are loved. Even when I don't call, this parent is constantly thinking and praying for her daughters. How much more so is a loving God, concerned and hovering over the children of this world. Brand new and grown and everyone in between.

Today, I want to rejoice in a God whose perfect love is demonstrated in very human and imperfect parents and children. I want to love a little bit like that, love like a hovering mama bear who is vigilant, nurturing and who loves fiercely, even when separated by caverns and time. "Where did that come from, Emily?". That kind of love can only come from God. I pray that today, I can have the courage to love family and strangers with a small measure of that perfect love which casts our fear, distance and all the broken pieces that try keep us apart.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Raising Saints

Today is the feast day of Enmegahbowh, whose name means the one who stands before his people. An Odawa or Ottawa, he is the first recognized Native American priest (1867) in the Episcopal Church. He was raised both as a Christian and with a complete knowledge of his traditional healing ways. His ministry is marked by an ability to encourage the interweaving of traditional culture and Christianity. He with others founded St. Columba's mission at Gull Lake in 1852 and traveled across Minnesota training many Native Christian leaders. He helped develop mission strategies and policy across the Episcopal Church. Enmegahbowh was most of all a man of peace.

Today is also the birthday of Barbara Harris, a saint among us. She has offered herself to the whole church as one who also stands before the people, fighting for justice and inclusion across all boundaries in the Church and beyond. She is a warrior for justice, love and inclusion and she is constantly using her humor and compassion for the good of the Gospel and the people. When I was in my final year in seminary, I was blessed to attend her consecration as an usher. We seminarians were pressed into service (happily) and came early to help with the set up and preparations for an historic day. I watched and listened and saw a woman, filled with the Holy Spirit, willing to put her life on the line and take rejection for a whole host of people she could not even imagine. She stood for her people.

I want to give thanks today for Enmegahbowh and Barbara, and for all of those who stand for and with the people. I want to give thanks for those who were first, who went forward alone, not for glory but for others. I want to serve God today like Enmegahbowh and Barbara. Fully, fiercely, with enormous compassion and as a person of peace. God is calling for us to stand with the people today and has given us great examples. May we have the courage to follow in their footsteps today.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Last night it stormed briefly and violently. Lightening and thunder and hard pelting rain. The winds roared stirring everything up and lots of trees were uprooted and broken. This morning which is dry, cool and beautiful, I saw a great deal of damage while driving back from the train station. We personally escaped without damage or loss of power save a few branches down over the car and yard. Others are not so fortunate. Hidden in plain sight is the damage of a few minutes which will take weeks to repair. Many of our lives have damage that has come from personal momentary storms which take years to repair.

Today is the feast day of St. Barnabas, or "the son of encouragement" as he was named by the disciples. He took Paul to the other disciples after they had rejected him. They all knew too well what a jerk Saul (Paul) had been. One of the hardest things to live with is others not recognizing the positive changes in you. Others not accepting apologies and changes of heart. These can seem like the post storm destruction that will never be cleaned away. These can seem like the most discouraging situations in our lives.

St. Barnabas' ministry was profoundly about encouragement. He had the capacity to see others with the loving eyes of God. He took Paul into the circle where he had been rejected and helped him move from excluded to a missionary sent by others. Barnabas took the edge and brought it in and helped the disciples see the goodness in their midst in very dark times. He could see what God saw, but did not judge others as the world did.

I want today to live a measure of that ministry, I want to have the strength to be an encouragement to others. I know we all need encouragement and want to be seen with the eyes of God who loves us. God who sees and blesses our potential, who overlooks our failings, knowing that there is more good to come. My prayers today are for sight to see the possibility in others and not their past. To be living encouragement to those who have been shut out. May we all be given the grace today to see the beauty breaking forth in others, particularly those who have been ugly to us. May God grant us forgiveness so others may know it too. And may we together encourage those who have been rejected based on their obvious flaws and foolish pasts. May we be Barnabas today for someone.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Healthy Competition

We are people who are divided on many issues. Our church is particularly struggling with the issues concerning human sexuality and gender equality. I have witnessed what people call "healthy competition" in the church, which looks an awful lot like an all out war to me. The posture and politics are anything by conciliatory.

Then Jesus told his disciples, ' If anyone wants to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." Matt.24-25

For very good reasons, many take stands, make huge political statements and dare others to knock them down. With all the shouting and posturing, it is hard to hear what God would have us do. It is hard to hear the children, and harder still to know compassion.

Today, I am going to try instead to practice healthy compassion. To vigorously work at seeking God's intention, and carefully listening to others with my whole being. I don't expect to be very good at it, but I surely want to try. Let us all pray today for the ability to engage in healthy and life-giving compassion. That internal, spiritual urge that gives us the grace to see others as a child of God, and forces our hands and hearts to reach out in love. Healthy compassion hears the others with the loving ears of a good parent. I pray this day we might all be broken open with compassion - for the world is desperately in need today.

Monday, June 9, 2008

St. Columba Day

In February last year, my husband and I traveled to Ireland and stayed in Donegal, due a friend' s kind generosity where she had offered us her home for the stay. While there we visited St. Columba's well. It is a pilgrimage that many make -usually in the summer. It was a dark, wet day and there had been a little bit of snow. The landscape was stark and the footing on the climb was rough. Somehow, as we were returning to the car, I slipped and fell down a good portion of the remaining terrain. I have a track record of falling, but this was a doosie, and I was covered from head to toe in cold mud. I had a few unkind things to say about St. Columba at the time. Fortunately we were alone save for two German tourists who were a long way off. With nothing but a sore knee and damaged pride, we headed back for a change of clothes, a cup of tea, and a good laugh.

Reflecting on that landscape, and the times in which he lived, I am amazed at Columba's willingness to face all the physical challenges of spreading the Gospel. Life offered no comforts, and the rough, rocky earth provided only challenge. But, all these generations later, his offering and zeal still has the power to transform the lives of many people.

I pray that today, I can take a little courage from Columba. The challenges are there, but so is God. In the midst crisis and challenge - physical and political - he kept a clear focus on mission and caring for others. I pray that I too, can keep a clear focus on mission, on the compassionate ministry of Christ, which calls us all to reach beyond every boundary, every physical challenge, every personal obstacle in order to bring love to the world. God give us grace this day to be a little like Columba, fierce and faithful despite the challenges.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Stranded above the high tide line, this ancient marvel, the horse shoe crab will die. Folks unfamiliar with them will kick and poke at them, thinking that are a danger. In fact, they are harmless, unless you step on a tail when it is sticking up - but it is a very, very, rare occurrence.

Today, I want to remind myself about all of the folks who get stranded and isolated above the high tide line, who cannot, on their own steam return to the safety of the buoyant and life giving ocean. They are every where. With the cost of gas and everything else sky rocketing, there are people every where who are stranded and in danger. There are also plenty of people who have gotten stranded and isolated from their families, their communities, their source of healing and life.

In the reading from Matthew today, Jesus eats with his new disciple Matthew and other "tax collectors and sinners."He is terribly criticized by the religious leaders for this. The story moved on to a place where he heals a child from death and a woman from years of bleeding. All of these people are those who the rest of the world would toss to the margins, poking and kicking at them, thinking that somehow they were a danger to us.

May my heart be broken open today. May Christ's compassion and vision see those who are stranded and isolated, and see them as beautiful, ancient creatures, made by the hands of God. May I have the courage today to go to them and act in love. I ask you to pray with me, that we might all see the stranded and outcasts as our neighbors, family and friends. May we see the stranded and outcasts that are among our families, neighbors and friends. May Christ give us the courage to reach out, so that others might know the buoyant and life giving love of God.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Life Lines

The weather folks are predicting that it is going to be very hot in this part of the country for the the next few days. I don't thrive well in the heat, unless I am in the ocean - or some other body of water. When the temperature goes up, I always think about escaping to the beach.

I think that is true for many of us. When the temperature, whether in measurable degrees or in stress and relationship factors rises to a critical height, we want to escape to a cooler, more responsive place. We want out of the heat and pressure - it's only natural. And although there are folks who thrive under extreme pressure, they are few and far between. I'm not one of those folks.

In the beginning of chapter 15 in Matthew, the heat is on. The Pharisees and scribes, the institutional religious leaders of the day, were challenging Jesus. They were applying the heat, big time. His disciples weren't going by the traditional rules concerning food and the authorities were very angry. Jesus reminded them that " what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart and this is what defiles." The heat was on but Jesus reminded them that their life was connected to him through the heart - through their willingness to love God and do justice, serving the poor, the outcast and bringing hope to the dark, excluded corners of the world.

Our lifeline is the knowledge that in Christ we have been redeemed and given the charge of carrying God's love in action to the world. Our work and faithfulness might draw some heat at times. Others might choose to make judgments about our Christian orthodoxy. But our lifeline is the heart of Christ, moving through us, calling us to serve those who the world has rejected, judged, and turned away. Our lifeline is Christ, and the knowledge that if we are serving Christ, with pure hearts, the heat, no anything else can destroy us.

May we pray today for those who have no shelter from the extremes of heat and government. Pray for those who faithfully reach out to the excluded. They too are our lifeline to God.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Lion's Backside

One of the most embarrassing moments of my life happened when I was in fifth grade. Awkward and growing too fast, I fell down all the steps of the New York City Public Library in front on my entire class. My own children still tease me about it. I have preached about it several times. It was one of those life-shaping incidents. Embarrassment and being singled out. Yesterday, after a meeting with my editor, I wandered over to the library, and those memorable steps.

I was reminded that every human being at every age can be hurt and embarrassed by the results of accidents and timing. Whether it is public or private, things happen which we take to heart, and feel like we will never recover from these moments.

Today, the reading is about the feeding of the five thousand from Matthew. We have only five loaves and two fish, the disciples say. The timing and circumstances precluded them from having enough for the crowd. They wanted to send them away - they were embarrassed for their lack. Maybe they were afraid to be scolded by Jesus for poor planning or bad hospitality skills. Maybe they knew if they fed the people, they themselves would starve there after. It was just this type of embarrassed inadequacy that led to a great miracle. It is just our embarrassed inadequacies that lead to miracles in our own day.
Abundance from God comes not by great institutional planning, but by compassion and presence - and offering what we have.

For today, I want to give thanks for the back side of the great Lions. They were there when I was falling and they are a tremendous reminder to me, even now, that one small blunder, one moment of awkward timing, one small accident is not the end of life. In fact, for me , the embarrassed inadequacies have, over and over again, providing openings for God's love and abundance in my life. May we together pray for the capacity to offer what we have, our compassion and presence, knowing that God in Christ will provide the abundance.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Walking Together

"The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding." Romans 14:18-19

I have been blessed to be asked to assist Bishop Michael Smith in the Diocese of North Dakota. I will walk with them as they listen to God and one another concerning some very critical issues facing the Church. We will walk and pray and talk from some very different places, and yet, in this model of sharing together, I hope that we be the agents of peacemaking and the building of faithful people everywhere.

I am reminded that small steps begin a long journey. The incarnate, indwelling God, takes these small steps with us so that through our witness the world might be transformed. We are never alone or without resources, if we are willing to work for Christ and to walk with one another. I invite you today to pray for the Diocese of North Dakota, the people of the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion and all who are faithfully struggling to follow Christ. We do not know where this walking together will lead, we can only trust that God knows.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Behind the Yellow Line

I am often astounded what fear does to otherwise faithful people. Yesterday, riding the train into New York for a meeting, I was reminded how tightly we humans defend ourselves in crowds -the burying a nose in a paper, listening to an Ipod, turning eyes away from everyone, pushing past, not acknowledging anyone -all the results of self protection and safety. Basically we are afraid. When we are afraid as an individual, we do all we can to seem powerful and impenetrable. So too, institutions like the church, when feeling threatened, do all possible to appear strong and impermeable. The problem with that is that the church is an institution which has been instructed to give itself away. Christ has called us to pour out for others, not protect ourselves against others. The church has drawn a yellow line for safety, out of fear and self-protection, and asks us all to stand behind it.

"But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us...For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh." 2 Cor 4:7,11

I feel called to live on the edge of the line, pushing the church to act the inclusion they proclaim. I feel called this day, to protect the children, and the new believers and not the institution which has no value without the love and welcome of Christ Jesus. I feel the call to challenge my brothers and sisters to stand back from the line of fear and invite them to dance on the edge of grace. May we have the courage today to not be governed by fear, knowing that in Christ Jesus we are filled with God's power, and that we are visible broken reminders of God's love flowing through an imperfect world. May we be brave and authentic today, wholly welcomed by the God who created us, wholly redeemed by the savior who offered his life as ransom for us all.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Some of the women in my life

Yesterday, I got to spend part of the day with my sister Betsy. She was back from a trip to Istanbul for work and so had a few days catch up time. We had lunch, went shoe shopping and then to our favorite produce -international foods market. We laughed about becoming like our Mom and talked seriously about our vocational struggles and dreams for the future. She is my youngest sister, and we are the two youngest of five children. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the air was warm and we laughed and listened to one another.

During the day, my youngest daughter called and before dinner my oldest called. I called my mother in the morning and had a tender, tearful exchange with her. We talk a great deal, all of us, about hope and dreams, about our potential and the gifts we have to share. And we laugh a great deal too, like all Indian women, teasing and kidding, to keep ourselves and each other humble. We connect, too, in silence, knowing that we need one another. We connect in prayer, for the spirit is as strong a connection as blood for us.

In the most challenging of times, I have been blessed with sisters, mothers, daughters - related by blood and not, who have been my companions and strongholds during rocky times. They have always brought laughter and listening as their greatest gifts. May we all be blessed today with sisters and brothers who can share with us God's tender gifts of listening and laughter.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Daily Watering

Every morning, unless it is raining, I go out to my yard and water the plants. It is a wonderful time to pray and to listen. The traffic noise can be overwhelming where we live, but while I am watering, the sound and motion of the water blocks everything else out. A little water every morning and plants thrive. Without it, they become parched, brittle and shriveled and they cannot make fruit or flower. They bend over and die, without water.

How too, our hearts can become dry and brittle without prayer and a community of faith. We can be from the hardiest stock, but without water, we can do no flowering or bearing fruit. When I water, I pray and listen. To the water, and to God. The water of baptism that claims me as a beloved child of God, the water of washing that cleans away the grime, and the mighty oceans and rivers that provide energy, power, food and life. God hovering over all, listening to the hearts of the people. As I water the garden, that water reminds me of God's presence, hovering, brooding, restoring and healing. As I water, I am daily reminded of the care and tenderness with which God in Christ enables me to flourish, even in rough terrain and hard city soil.

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in the field, which someone found and hid; then in joy goes and sells everything and buys that field." Matthew 13:44 God provides us treasures here on earth, and they are often hidden in plain sight, in plain, everyday activities and routines. God's treasures - peace, joy, love and justice - hover around us, and we can recognize the treasures we have, care tenderly for those treasures, or go seeking fame and fortune in the glitz of the world. In my very humble back yard, while I am watering my few plants, I am reminded of the great treasures in my own midst. Pearls of great price. I hear God respond to my prayers by demonstrating the love that is in my life - in family and community. In the constant faithfulness of friends who lift me up in prayer and who work for justice and inclusion, not by words, but in action. And in every breath I am reminded of the treasures of family and tribe - of loving, valiant, faithful people who never give up and who see the bigger picture.

May we today, as we go about our daily watering, our daily routines, be reminded of God's tender hovering in the midst of our daily work. We are treasures of great price to God, who is constantly present, watering us daily, offering healing, growth and strength, even in the driest of soils, even in the hardest of climates.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

From These Shores

Just over 400 years ago, the first settlers celebrated the Eucharist on the shores of the James River. As part of the first settlement at Jamestown, came the first thrust of overseas mission to the "savages, living in darkness, without the light of the Gospel". Last November, the Indigenous People of the Episcopal Church from many nations, along with many other people gathered at that spot to celebrate history and to re-imagine the future - without racism, greed, removal and misogyny, and most important, with strong Indigenous leaders from many tribes.

Next month, in July, many Bishops will go from these shores to carry the good news of Mission and Inclusion from the Episcopal Church. They will talk about how we listen to difference and welcome everyone. They will argue for the rights of the marginalized. It seems I will not be going with them. My creative efforts to find ways to offer my gifts and to take my rightful place in the councils of the church have been shot down. The joy this weekend of being with my brother and sister bishops has been tainted by silent rejection. Native people have listened as others in power have defined them and their place in the world. We are to be silent decoration, reminding folks of romantic, by-gone days. But we are still here. And we will witness to God's love and faithfulness in our lives, no matter who tries to shut us out.

From these shores we will pray, with Jesus at the center of the sacred circle, for God's welcome to be truly manifest in our Church, on these shores and all others. We will pray for this inclusion, not for ourselves alone, but for all people, and for the children yet unborn to the seventh generation. Join as we pray for Christ's radical and radiant inclusion to pour abundantly down on our whole church, soaking like warm rain on our parched hearts and lands.