Thursday, July 31, 2008

Artist and Engineer

This morning, as early as I could, I went out and transplanted the flower plants I got yesterday. About this time every year, I like to put more flowers in my garden, and I usually get what I can, without any expectations. Most of the plants are very inexpensive because they are the left-overs, the left-behinds and not the exotic, sought after varieties that the structured, prepared gardeners purchased in the spring. I purchase what I can on a limited budget and go with what's available. I dig with what few tools I have, get dirt everywhere, don't wear gloves, and enjoy the elbow-deep experience of what God is doing in my midst - despite or in spite of my feeble efforts. It's not well thought out but thoroughly enjoyed. I learned to garden from my mother and grandfather, who are both artists in their own right, and eclectic, successful gardeners. I don't garden in the Martha Stewart way, with plans and calendars and schedules. I go with what I can afford, when it's a good day, and don't look forward or back - just enjoy them right here and now. I take an artist's approach, seeking what is revealed in the process of planting.

I am reminded that we tend, as an institutional Church, and as the Anglican communion, to take an engineer's approach to the process of planting and growing. We measure and make specks and write. Then we talk and argue and go over things again and worry furiously, not wanting to have to make mistakes and yank things up. All the while, nothing has been planted, nothing has the chance to grow. No one gets too messy either, in good Anglican fashion. Well, except for those people and missions who are set aside waiting for a resolution - a plan. And those set aside can whither and die, while we chat each other up and express ourselves endlessly. I would like to argue for an artist's approach, knowing that our great Creator, fashioned us in a process of getting in the dirt, breathing on the wind and moving ribs and other things around. God got busy with the tools and used the available gifts in creation. I would like us, for a change, to get out there and get dirty, to get elbow deep and realize we might fail, and might have to do some replanting, reworking, re -hydrating in order to be a community acting for the love of Christ. The older I get the more I know that there is no one blue print for us all but that we each, as people, families, communities, dioceses, provinces and churches must work out our call through digging in, getting dirty and letting God bring the increase. We are called to marvel and enjoy the artistry, complexity and diversity of God's kingdom.

"In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:2-3

I want this day to be able to marvel in God's artistry and diversity. We humans want plans desperately, but the God I understand, moving through us and in creation, wants love and beauty for us. Desires for us to be instruments, canvasses, gardens, and artists in expressing God's love and desire for the world - and in so doing inviting all the world to our Father's House.
May we bishops, may we Anglicans, may we Christians have the courage to love the world, to plant and pray, expecting God's harvest, in the midst of God's spectacular creation.

Morning Prayer
Wondrous Creator,
you fashioned us in marvelous artistry and you alone have brought us to this day. Take the people you have fashioned and replant us in vibrant, life-giving soil. Let our roots grow deep in compassion, let our leaves reach out in love. Let us be an example for the world that we are your creation, your people and gifts in this world. Give us the strength to get dirty, to welcome the diversity and the mess that we are, that we might see you face to face in one another. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Evening Prayer

Heavenly Father,
you have built us a home where everyone can live and see expressions of their art and lives in your many rooms. Help us to find rest and comfort in the diversity of your love. Help us to be renewed this night in your complex and complete compassion for the world. Help us to look not for a final plan but for a complete companion in You and in one another. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Constancy vs Covenant

We have a cat named Darla (the dog's name is Petey) who has just turned six months. She is still a kitten in some senses but she is approaching that age when she will be considered fully grown. The dog and the cat (both girls) love to play together, fighting without hurting and chasing each other around then flopping down and sleeping side by side. They are constant in their companionship. And every morning, Darla, without fail, will scratch on our bedroom door for admittance, and find her favorite spot on the bed, rubbing her nose against who ever might be closest by. Constancy in relationship. She is persistent and soft, willing at all times to be cuddled and scratched. Petey likewise follows me around, sits in the office with me and want to go for rides in the car, especially to the train station when Mark is commuting home. Constancy and faithfulness. Yes, they respond to us because we feed them and care for them, but there is something more. The bond is deeper.

The conversation at Lambeth has been focused on Covenant. I am concerned that covenant is how we legislate when we don't have the desire for constancy and faithfulness. We have decided that prescribing a written remedy is better than finding a way to be constant in our love and care for one another. We maybe haven't fed each other enough, we haven't depended upon each other enough, we haven't wanted the companionship enough to evoke constancy and faithfulness. Have we spent enough time listening to each other, both in demands and in purring, in light and in darkness? Have we held each other close as the world closed in around us? Constancy and faithfulness don't need a covenant, they need a loving desire for the presence of others. I want this day to be imbued with the desire for the companionship of others - no matter how we disagree. I pray that God will infuse me with love so deep that I want to follow other bishops and Anglicans around, sit in their office and enjoy their presence in my life. I pray that we all might have a persistent, insistent love for one another, so that we might move beyond legislation to community. Beyond contract to family. Jesus reminds us that love -constancy and faithfulness- are the signs of our discipleship, not a covenant. Just love. "I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
(John 13:34-35) May love take hold where contract cannot.

Morning Prayer
Divine Creator,
you breathed and the world came into being, put your breath in our beings today. Renew us with your constant love, that we might be so full that we desire to follow you. And in following you, may we know a constant and faithful love of our companions in the faith. Help us rebuild the Church in your love. Help the Bishops move beyond contract to community, and bless us all with such compassion for one another that we might be known to the world as your disciples. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Evening Prayer,
Precious Lord Jesus,
you walked the earth as we do, in the heat of the day and the dust on the road. Give us your love that our journey might begin and end with the love we have for one another. As we sleep, stretch us and mend us, so that all the broken hearts might be filled to overflowing with your love. Take away any shadow of fear, remove any doubt of our need for you or one another. In Him who loved his companions so that he was willing to offer his life for all, Amen.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

There's no Place Like Home

I have been thinking a great deal lately about the "Wizard of Oz." The 1939 movie, starring Judy Garland was a seminal part of my growing up and we would gather around the TV set (or go to a neighbor's who had a color TV) and watch it when it came on once a year. I did not see it on the big screen until our oldest daughter was four and we took Emily to see it at the Walters Art Gallery. The special effects were amazing for their time and on the big screen the flying monkeys and the melting witch scared us all. I have been thinking of that story a lot because it is the tale of a girl going on what starts as an accidental journey where she learns many lessons about love, life and home. In the process, she finds friends and helps them discover their gifts, she finds her own gifts and power and lets go of some pretty unreal expectations for her life. Growing up and moving on means letting go of old presumptions, letting them die and discovering new gifts and powers that have been hiding inside all along. It is the release of the old expectations that makes room for new possibilities. "There's no place like home" only becomes possible when we have new eyes for our home.

When ever I think about the Wizard of Oz, I realize it is triggering in me the need to let go, let some presumptions die and make room for new possibilities. It is time to let go of the things that are broken and old, that no longer can contain who and what I am becoming. It is the same for institutions like our Church. Our Anglican Communion as it was presumed to be, is no longer what it used to be, no longer what was possible then. We can't learn what it can become until we are able to let go of the presumptions and broken vessels and let God reveal the new power and gifts in our midst. I ask God's strength this day to be able to let go of all that is clogging and congesting the move forward for me personally, for all of us and especially for the Bishops as they gather in Lambeth. We are not what we were before, we don't fit in the mold anymore, but it was a presumptive mold, and must be broken open for the spirit of God to remake it. May we all have the strength to delight in God's stretching us in new ways, and our willingness to put down what is not longer functioning, whether myth, icon or structure. May our emptiness be filled with God's gifts. May our brokenness be a sign of God's healing.

Morning Prayer
Gracious Creator,
you put the sun in the sky and shielded us with trees and vines. You have brought us to a new day, with new possibilities and new challenges. Help us to let go of our rigid expectations. Help us to inhabit new dreams in new languages. Help us to be fearless in our pursuit of your love in our midst. We ask this all in Christ's name, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Wondrous God,
your dazzling stars remind us of your constancy. Your brilliant moon reminds us of your willingness to encircle our lives and be with us in our darkest hours. Be with all who pray this night for new vision, new revelation. May your love be revealed in the people around us. May your encircling promises be incarnate in our lives. May we be agents of your love in this world which so needs your presence and tenderness. In the name of Christ, the tender shepherd of all wandering flocks, Amen.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Slow Progress

Waiting for one's body to heal after an accident is like waiting for corn to ripen or for water to boil. As the Witch if the West says, " all in good time, my pretty, all in good time." Every repair and ripening has its own time, which is understandable to no one but the Creator some times. What I have learned from slow progress of late is that I do not have to understand the whys and wherefores of my situation. I need to do what I can today, and be present to those who are in my world today. I need to focus on the fore ground and let the rest go. The big picture is God's anyway, my picture is what I can accomplish today. I can love those who are part of my life today. I can be kind to strangers. I can greet others in the name of our Lord and thank them for all the things they have done. I can be grateful and can celebrate God's radiance in others. I can be thankful to be alive and almost completely whole after a life altering accident. In our history wars have broken out because of the desire to control the present and future. Wars and schism don't happen when we are trying our best to celebrate God's radiance in others.

May I have the courage today, with all my slow progress surrounding me, to be grateful and celebrate that which is around me. May I articulate the blessings, welcome the stranger and feed those who are hungry with what I have. May our bishops gathered at Lambeth remember that their task is first to be grateful and to celebrate. May we all have the strength from God this day to live today with thanksgiving and celebration in our hearts.

Morning Prayer
Holy One,
we wake after a Sabbath's rest and notice the weariness in our flesh. Help us this day to notice the blessings that surround us. The bishops have the opportunity to join with those across the world who seek to bring Christ's love where ever they go. Help them to be grateful for their brothers and sisters. Help them to cherish their diversity and complexities as gifts from a loving Creator. Help us all to be joyous this day in the ripening and healing that is happening at your pace in our lives. We pray this all in Christ's name, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Loving God,
you brought us through a day of struggle and challenge. You gave us everything we needed today. We are grateful. We are thankful that we met people who rubbed us the wrong way because they too are beloved of you. We are thankful for all the complex and irritating conversations we participated in today, for you were in the midst of them. Teach us about love this night. Expand our capacities as we rest, so that tomorrow we might love and celebrate you more completely in one another, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Finding Ripe Berries

Yesterday was warm, but slightly overcast with a soft breeze. Picking blackberries in July can be a challenge as the largest volume of ripe blackberries usually happens in early August in this part of the world. Picking fruit, especially blackberries, raspberries and beach plums has been one of my favorite activities all of my life. I love growing things, so even when we haven't had space for a garden, I make sure we pick things fresh. My mother is a renown jelly maker, and so I have spent a good deal of my life picking fruit for her, with much delight. Yesterday, we were picking blackberries just for the joy of it and the opportunity to be out of the city and on the farm. We were alone in the berry patch. It was a gentle and tender moment, looking closely at the fruit filled vines, marveling at the abundance of God's creation and realizing the joy of finding ripe berries among those not quite ready to be picked.

Many of us spend our lives aching for ripe berries out of season. We wish our lives were different and abundant in times of drought and waiting. Human beings often wrestle with God when the fruit they see is few and far between. I know I do. And yet, yesterday, although the picking was more painstaking, and only a little was ripe, there was still an abundance of fruit for the right now. There was plenty enough. It is often easier to see the enormous amount that we lack rather than seeing what is available to us right now. Plenty enough for today. God always provides enough for today, if we are willing to look and seek what is hiding under the leaves and hanging in the shadows.

Today, I want to have the courage to see God's abundance and provision in my life, even when there seems to be a long drought. I pray that all of us can rejoice in the fruit that is in our lives, the love, the relationships we do have. It is often easy to see what we lack, may we all have the vision to celebrate the bounty and love that surrounds each of us. And may our Bishops, gathered at Lambeth, rejoice in the abundance of faith and love, rather than sorrow in the divisions and lack of agreement.

Morning Prayer
Gracious Creator,
you bring us safely into a new day. Grant us new visions and help us to see possibilities where we saw only lack. Give us ears to hear beautiful, tender music where there was only discord. Give us new hearts to be broken open with love for our brothers and sisters, here and around the world. We ask this in Christ's name, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Loving God,
Our hearts are full to overflowing. We have seen beauty and challenge today. We have succeeded in some things and failed miserably at others. This night we lay all of our work at your feet. Transform all that we do that our small offerings might bring your loving fruitfulness to all the world. In Christ's abundant love, we pray, Amen.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Casting Shadows

This Saturday, on the other side of the ocean, the Bishops gathered at Lambeth will have their pictures taken together, as will the spouses and the female bishops. Today, I was to lead the Evening Prayer Service and sing with the Bishops and Spouses Choir. Today, more than any other, I miss being with my brothers and sisters. I know I was excluded because I didn't have a full time job, not for any other reason. And, despite the distance, I feel I have kept up with the work and prayer of the Lambeth Conference. I would like to believe that even unseen, each of us cast a shadow, not only of our shape but of our love. People who have been touched by God's love in our life, still carry that presence, still abide in that shadow - and so we are present in spirit even when we cannot be in the flesh.

So today, I want to remember all of those folks who are at a distance from those they love. Whether because of geography, war, employment or dysfunction, may they know today that their shadow is present even when they cannot be. God love, shining through them, is part of the gathered clan, even when they feel so far away - so lonesome for their loved ones. And the reverse is also true, love is not bound by geography. They shadow of love is cast from those far away to those far away. Love binds us together when we are apart, as viscerally as when we are together. May all those suffering from the separation of distance be comforted today. And may we who know their discomfort reach out in love.

Morning Prayer
Dear God,
This morning the light comes early and we know from our weary bones that we are still tired. Give us your compassion today to speak from love and not from weariness. Help our brittle bodies be supple with compassion. Empower those who are worn done to be renewed by your spirit. Give us all an extra measure of you laughter and joy today, so that our struggles might be bound up completely in your love, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Precious Savior,
as we rest our weary heads this night, let us remember those who are far away from loved ones, those who are lonely, and those who have no where to rest their weary bones. Give us refreshment that we might be strengthened to care for the unloved, the lonely and those who can never go home. May we remember that we are at home in you, in your name, we pray, Amen.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Delicious Irony

"The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace." James 3:17-18

I was at the beach the other day, watching the sea gulls take off and land in a high wind. They seem to practice that which they are born to do. They work at flying, even though flying comes as naturally as eating. Last night, a comic was saying how it was a "delicious irony" that the Anglican Church, which began in a effort to get away from centralized authority, now at Lambeth some are begging for central, autocratic authority for the Archbishop of Canterbury so that he can punish the American Church. Watching the gulls practice, and watching us bishops try to practice our faith, I am convinced that the gulls are more faithful at this point.

I was not born into the Episcopal Church, but found a home here because the church could embrace such a wide range of theologies and liturgical expressions. To see some in the Church desire an autocratic leadership seems against everything I know to be true about this body. We are a broken and diverse body, not a perfectly ordered, symmetrical, identical being. The beauty of the Anglican Communion is the complex diversity that highlights light and shadows with a fearless faith. We now seem to be moving to a unity based on strict adherence to rules and order. Each of our expressions of faith have been welcomed into the umbrella of the Anglican Communion. My foot print is very different- as a woman, mother, Cherokee -from the next bishop but our lives and faithfulness in their diversity have been welcomed. Are we really willing to risk our true wise identity for some short lived agreement which is done by force?

I am reminded of the words from James. "And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace." My job is to be making peace. Our job as a church is to be making peace demonstrated by our gentleness, mercy and kindness. I ask God today to give me the strength to move away from arrogance of theology to a heart that is always ready to yield. A heart ready at all times to bring peace and make peace. I pray that we can all be peacemakers, especially the bishops gathered at Lambeth. May our hearts and minds be ready to celebrate the diverse expressions of God's love breaking forth in the world and may we be fearless in our desire for peace and inclusion.

Morning Prayer
O Gracious Redeemer,
you came to this world for all of us and all of creation. Your love is expressed from all corners of this earth. Let us rise with a new commitment to ambassadors of your embrace. May we have the courage to welcome and include all who come our way today. May the bishops seek your authority and not their own. and may we all remember that you are with us to the end of the age, in Christ's name, Amen.

Evening Prayer
O Blessed Savior,
you hung on the cross that all the world might be set free from the slavery of sin. Set our hearts free this night from the burdens we bear. Let us bury our fears in your loving arms. Let each bishop know of your love for them, and for every creature in this world. Weep with those who weep. Be with them in their hidden heartbreak. Give them rest and mend their hearts for new mornings. Make us all mindful that our freedom is your love manifest in each life, through Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Body's Aching

"But God has so arranged the body, giving greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it." Corinthians 12"24-26

Although it is now several days after the accident, I am overwhelmed by how much my body can ache in strange places that I could never imagine would be effected by the impact. It is as if the members of my body are taking random and surprise turns at identifying themselves to me and acknowledging that they too have felt the trauma. Some moments it hurts to breathe and to stand up. I am told it is part of one's reaction to an accident, that muscles that were jostled will tense and have pain as a normal reaction. Body parts acting out might be a normal reaction to trauma, and yet it is not an easy thing to live with, and not an easy time to reconcile one to another. The best one can hope for is a little rest, a little patience and a great deal of gratitude for life and survival. The healing will happen, but it can take time and a gentle approach is best when living past trauma.

This aching body of mine reminds me of the words from Corinthians 12. And it reminds me of our Anglican Communion. Trauma and collisions have happened, and we are surviving the aftermath of the impact. No matter what one of us does, it has an effect on many others. And aching and acting out is part of the normal reaction to trauma. We all hurt from the collisions one of us has suffered. The good news for me in all of this is that we are ONE body. We ache together and are bound together for God's greater purpose. The Creator did not design or suggest amputation as a repair for trauma. God acknowledges our suffering and our inability to constantly cooperate and get along. And yet, God gives us the compassion in Jesus' suffering, to know it is possible to be one body broken and yet whole. Wholly needed by God and one another. Completed only in compassionate cooperation. Love active and functioning despite the aches and pains that trauma has brought to us all. Today, as I am aware of all the aches I have, I want to remember all of the aches that are manifests in the body of our church, and ask God to bring healing to us all. God's love for us is so great that God desires healing and reconciliation, not fissure. God put us together so that we may thrive. May we all have the strength today to recommit to the care and feeding of this wondrous body, so in need of care, so in need of healing.

Morning Prayer
Gracious Creator,
we arise today, knowing we are a small part of your body on earth. We arise knowing we are tiny portions of your wondrous creation. Give us and the bishops gathered a new sense of wonder and awe in the midst of your divine art work. Give us the strength to reach across the divides and conquer our fears. Give us the courage to see the elemental need we have of one another. Give us the sight to see the incredible possibilities for mission in a body undivided. Give us love today, that we might love in Christ's name, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Wondrous God,
you have made us of the same cloth and fibers. Help us to rest this night, knowing we are surrounded by witnesses to your presence and care among us. Give us the strength to release the tensions we have held all day, knowing that you will mend us in the night. Knit us together as one family. Weave the bishops together in one glorious tapestry, so the world might know your love in our diversity. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Love Actually

There is something tender and mysterious about spending time with my mother in her later years. I am learning a lot about love from her, without her saying a thing. There were many days in my life that I desperately desired for her to praise me, to say something that would encourage me, to love me more than others for a moment – one brief moment. She was never miserly with her praise, nor was she withholding of her love. What I am learning about love is about the recipient, the one who is the object of that love. If the one who is loved is unwilling or unable to receive love or hear its proclamation that they are cherished, it does not diminish the love in the least. Love actually is un-diminishable, irreducible and a solid constant in a very temporal world. The signal and the message are strong even when there is no one tuned in, listening or even interested. We can fail to see, hear or receive – but when one is loved, there is no denying that love. When all else fails, sight, body, mind – love continues.

God’s love for us, like a parent’s love is constant but unlike human parents is never subject to human distractions and failings. The other kids, the stress of the world, the challenges of money, employment and status never intercept or redirect God’s love. These are sound and fury with no significance to the Creator. “God is love and those that worship God must worship in spirit and in truth.” What I am learning this week is a lesson for all of us in the church. We bishops think we are the source of ideas and generators of love for the people we serve, but in fact, we are the recipients of a perfect love that ‘casts out fear’. When our rational capabilities fail, God’s love is there. When we exclude others and delude ourselves, God’s love is there. When we tune out for all the right reasons, still God’s love is there, nudging at the edges of our consciousness, encouraging us to receive love. For it is in receiving love from God that we can truly love. We all need to remember the source, which is certainly not us. We are the object of God’s love but surely not the terminus. It doesn’t end with any single one of us, nor do we have any ability to control which persons or groups the Creator has chosen to love. And the last time I looked, “God so loved the world”, the whole world, all of creation, every being in creation, and every simple and complex human that has walked this earth.

May we have courage today to accept was has been given to us and the joy to share it with others. Not just with those we chose, but with those who God has put us in relationship with – strangers, bus passengers, shop workers, bosses, employees and…other bishops. May we be blessed in our receiving and may we learn about God’s love in the giving.

Morning Prayer
Dear God,
We promise to follow you and yet we stray. You are constant and we vacillate, flop about and try to be in charge over others. You love us all. Help us this day as we take each breath to give thanks for your love, and for those you love, even those we disagree with and who we struggle to acknowledge. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Gracious Creator,
We rise with hope and lie down exhausted from the struggles of the day. Help us to shed the hurts, forgive the unforgivable, turn away from anger and face again your radiant love. Shine upon us like stars in the night. Flow through us like gentle deep streams. Give us your peace and rest, so that we might rise tomorrow to love the world in your name, Amen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Solid Ground

Returning last night from the ocean, I was reminded of the old hymn, "On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand." There is a real difference between solid ground and shifting sand. I love the ocean. My parents brought us up by the ocean and I learned to swim as a child of two in the sea. It is as familiar to me as anything, and yet it can be dangerous and treacherous, many hidden dangers amidst the pleasures of warm summer sands. Jesus tells a story about a man who builds his house on the sand and one who builds his house on the rock. One lasts, one doesn't. Shifting, sinking and blown sand can be hot in the summer, frozen in the winter and gone with one strong gale. I have been pondering these last days the things that last and the things that perish, and how important it is to cling to and plant on solid ground.

I am thinking today of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference, who will continue to struggle with where God is leading them and the Church. The reports come back about who is in and who is out. But I know that no one can shut another out of the love of God. The solid Rock of Christ, unchangeable and firm, is solid ground of love and inclusion. Christ is not a shifting ground of some in, some out, a season of inclusion and dismissal. May we all be planted on solid ground, building on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, who went to the cross that everyone might be embedded in the rock solid love of God.

Morning Prayer
Dear God,
This day give us all a sense of you solid and unchanging love for all. Help the Bishops remember that the loving God who created them, created those who they shun and fear. Help us all to remember that human traditions can be washed away in one gale but that you are ever constant, ever loving and firm in your faithfulness to all of us. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Blessed Redeemer,
We rest our heads because we can take our rest in you. Whatever has happened today, you will redeem and whatever is broken this day you will mend. Help us not to be agents of the undoing of others. Help our Bishops cling to your solid rock, Jesus Christ, who is solidly for each and every one. In his precious Name we pray, Amen.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rough Seas

There is a tropical storm hugging the coast, bringing rough and choppy seas, higher than usual tides and dangerous rip currents. Not a hurricane, and yet with potential to do damage and make life challenging, bringing rain and wind in its wake. As I wake this morning, the storm is evident in the skies. The clouds are thickening, the air is damp and the breeze is picking up. Having lived my life by the ocean, I can sense a change in weather and the challenge that change can hold.

The past few days for me have been times of prayerfully looking at the events in my life and asking for God’s direction. Yesterday, in the morning after church, we attended a memorial service for our next door neighbor on one side of my mother. A good neighbor, Carl, a lifelong fisherman, was remembered for his love for his family and the sea. In the evening we went to our other neighbors’ house to attend a baby shower for dear family friends. We have known each other much of our lives. We were suspended between death and life, loss and hope, and had the opportunity in both to celebrate life abundant. In both situations, there was much laughter, hugging and delight in seeing old friends.

This is a time in my life to seek God’s guidance in all things – small and large. Yesterday, I had the gift of living fully in the tangible and visceral evidence of the constancy of God’s love. Today, I hope to continue to live in that love, believing that God’s love and protection surround me and that my every step is guided by a loving and caring Creator. Love is in charge and I want to be a disciple of God’s love. Today, as the bishops continue to gather at Lambeth, I pray that they too will be disciples of God’s love, expectant and tender in their waiting on the Creator’s guidance. After the events of the past weekend, I can do nothing else but follow God’s lead. I pray that their hearts and minds have been shook up and set free so that they too may follow God’s lead. There is a change in the weather in me, and I pray for a change in the weather and climate for them. May we all have the courage to face the changes in our lives, face the strong winds and storms of life, with the surety of knowing the loving God is in charge of even the stormiest seas and changes of life. May we all have the strength today to trust and follow the Creator’s loving lead.

Morning Prayer
Loving Creator,
Storms are brewing around us and in our hearts. Help the leaders of your church find solace in your word, find strength in your spirit and your love in the hearts of their companions. May the storms we face today be transformed by you into new opportunities to serve Christ and the world. May we all have the courage to cling to you and one another this day, as we pray for your guidance and direction, in the name of your son, our savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Dear God,
Rest has come at last. May the struggles of the day fall away, may we let go of our failings, and may we be made new in our night’s sleep. The bishops gathered at Lambeth need an extra measure of rest and healing this day. We pray for their bodies and their spirits, that they might be renewed by you in the depths of the night. May trust win out over suspicion. May your love dominate and conquer all their fears as they turn toward you. And may those of us, who watch and wait, turn our hearts to you this night and forever. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Things that go Bump in the Night

Last evening, my mother was having trouble with swelling in her arm. After consulting with a neighbor who is a doctor, we decided that it would be prudent to take her to the hospital to have her examined to make sure everything was all right. It was a beautiful, cool evening and we set out for the 15 mile drive with the bright moon watching over us. We were about 10 minutes into our trip when two deer ran across the highway in front of us. The impact was instantaneous, airbags deployed and somehow I was able to steer the car to the shoulder. It was all so sudden and so terrorizing. My only concern was for my mother. She was shook up, we both were but she was alert and aware as we waiting for emergency response folks to arrive. We rode the last few miles to the hospital in an ambulance, after they had made sure she was stable and showing no major injury. We were both checked out thoroughly and sent home with medicine to help my mother’s arm and our bruised bodies. Today is a day of recovery, trying to rest and heal from the shock and trauma.

The first thing that comes to mind is how much worse it could have been. I had a sense last night, even more clear today, that we were watched and cared for – saved from the worst. Despite the bruising I feel grateful to God to be alive, and especially grateful that my Mom is ok. I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility last night, overwhelmed to care for the one who spent so much of her life caring for me. I have no idea what this moment in our lives means, I only know that my sense of God’s hand on my life is stronger than ever. I also know that I never want to have this experience again.

I usually write this blog every day. Today, I am writing for today and tomorrow. I need time to pray through this overwhelming moment in my life. Many of us have lived through like experiences. Many of us know people who have not survived harrowing accidents. May we remember all of them – all of the people who, because of accident, ill-health and other circumstances, have totally lost a sense of control and safety in their lives. May I have the courage to seek God in this overwhelming moment, as it is often so natural to blame God and to wonder why this is happening to me. May I wrap myself in the knowledge and sweetness of the Creator’s watching over me. May I have the courage to accept the care and nurture of others. God’s hand is in the middle of us, in the midst of our relationships and our neediness. May we find ways to rejoice in the care that is showered upon us – even when we only want to be in control and care for ourselves alone.

Remember to pray for the Bishops at Lambeth (both Saturday and Sunday)

Morning Prayer
Loving Creator,
May we rise with your joy in our hearts when we have gone to bed with anxiety and regret. May we find creative ways to seek your sweetness in the broken places in our lives. May the Bishops who gather this day find your countenance in their midst. May the breeze and sunlight be gentle and may they recognize these both as your tender care. May they have the courage to give control over to you, so that their words and actions might bring forth the reign of your justice. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen

Evening Prayer
Dearest Savior,
As the day ends, with shadows are lengthening and the heat of the day a fading memory, may we turn our hearts and mind to you. May love wash over all of the dark and broken places. May Christ’s restoring light shine through all the intense and shattered moments, providing illumination and forgiveness for all. May the Bishops, and all of us, rest secure this night in your loving arms. May we let go the day and forgive, as we are forgiven. In the name of the one who gave his life that we might live forgiven, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, July 18, 2008

One Moon, One Ocean

The moon rose full over the Atlantic last night, beautifully round, the smiling, watching orb sharing light in the darkness. As the moon rose its light reflected and skipped across the water, dancing on the waves as they crashed to the shore. I looked up and marveled at the beauty, the night sky and the gifts we have in creation. How God, in creation, reminds us of the ties we have across oceans and continents, cultures and theologies. I am humbled to think that in the same night, there might be millions of others who are looking up and marveling, stopping their strife and agony for a brief moment of wonder.

I thought last night of my brother and sister bishops tucked in their beds, those who might have looked up and seen the full moon rising as I did. On the other side of the Atlantic, in very different circumstances, with hearts full and anxious, and yet, we could be one in that moment of wonder and delight. I prayed for them in that moment, knowing their loneliness and their anxiety, their hopes and dreams, and the overwhelming pressure to be faithful to the people and places they comes from. And yet, they are still just children, gazing up at the night sky, with wonder and awe, wondering what God is doing in the midst of them. Some will ask God for righteousness and some will ask for humility and understanding. Some will not have looked up as their hearts are on the ground with isolation and anxiety, so far from home.

Today, I want, in my prayers and in my work to remember their weight that each bishop is carrying today. Each is trying to be faithful, each is asking for God’s guidance. Each is looking up when they are able. Each is more complex and capable than they are ever able to show and each is more needy and anxious than they ever would admit. Like those of us at home, with a mixture of hope and dread, we move through our day asking God to guide our steps. May our compassion be great today for those nearby and those who are far away. May we have compassion for those we love and those who we find hard to love. God give each of us the strength and courage to see the beauty and need that surrounds us, right where we are, and the constancy to pray for those who we cannot see today.

Morning Prayer
Dear God,
Rising up gets harder every day, and the burdens seem more than some can bear. Bring refreshment and light to those with heavy hearts. Bring laughter to those who are tight with fear. Bring a friend to those who are racked with loneliness. Your love is made manifest in the midst of your people, and your love and healing is needed especially today. We ask for the sake of you people everywhere, through Jesus Christ, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Wondrous Creator,
Help those who gather in Lambeth to marvel at you creation. Help them to delight in one another, and to rejoice that they are a family together. Help them to see the signs and marks of their similarities rather than be warned away by differences. Help them to offer their prayers with rejoicing as they learn new ways of praising God together. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Small Things

Over the past few days my husband has been suffering with a very painful back and has been unable to enjoy this vacation time. It began on Sunday morning and has gotten worse, although with two visits to the chiropractor and some medication, he is showing signs of progress. He had wanted to take long bike rides and explore places we had not yet been. He had wanted to do some surf fishing which we enjoy doing every year even though we rarely catch anything. The joy is in casting a line and watching and waiting. And he wanted to do some serious body surfing and beach reading while hanging out with old friends. He had no major goals, just simple pleasures. He has been able to do little else but ice his back and rest.

I am reminded in times like these that small things make all the difference in the world. Both daughters who have been around have been very attentive, willing to sit with their Dad, tell stories and joke around. The small things in life, a touch, a conversation, and laughter become incredibly important. The goals of full capacity set aside, the facets of the jewels that are our lives can be seen. So often, I am crushed when my big plans fall apart. And just as often, the little treasures discovered in those moments have become great lessons of love for me. For all of us faced with a change of plans, and redirection due to circumstances beyond our control, I pray today that we can see God’s enormous blessings in the small things. That we can see the hidden treasures, the deep set jewels in a very different day than we might have hoped for. Healing takes time, and I know that God will find a way to redeem even the lost hopes and dreams of one man who just wanted a vacation. And in the mean time, I plan to help make the small things as enjoyable as possible, knowing God’s delight is in the midst of us, even and especially in the small things.

Pray for the Bishops of the Anglican Communion as they begin their retreat –

Morning Prayer
Dear God,
The work has begun. Help us all to remember the work is yours, and as you have fashioned us, so too will you form and reform the hearts and minds of the gathered bishops. Give them courage to be silent, strength to tell the truth, and compassion to hear others. May they be broken open for love. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Dear God,
Following you has always been a rocky road. Help the bishops to delight in the pebbles in their shoes. Help them to rejoice in their discomfort, knowing you are doing a new thing in their lives. Help them to sleep and to dream a new world and a new church, remade with your love and justice at the center. We ask this in the name of your son, who suffered the worst discomfort for the redemption of the world, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Library Card

I remember the very first time I got a library card. I was six or seven and went to the library in town with my friend who lived right around the corner. She lived so close to the library that we could walk by ourselves and we felt very important. We gave the lady at the desk our addresses and home phone numbers and she called our homes to talk to our mothers to make sure we had permission to get a library card. We felt so proud and so grown up. It was the first of many library cards, and a treasured memory forever.

Yesterday, while visiting at my mother’s, my husband and I went into the local library to get a card. Since we are here on a regular basis, access to newspapers, books and computers is a great thing. We both love the library, and my husband is particularly fond of books and libraries – the printed word. We have had library cards here in the past, so we felt it was a good thing to do. The women at the desk were very friendly and helpful, and after we gave them our names and information, along with our local address and phone number, one of them picked up the phone and called my Mom. 45 years later and they are still calling my Mom to verify who I am. When she answered the phone and they told her that her daughter was at the library getting a card, she asked, “which one?” She is still a comedian at 85.

There is something wonderful and humbling about being in a place where folks can call your mom to verify who you are. And there is something magnificent about the simplicity and constancy of libraries. A place where everybody has access to expand their minds, learn new things and discover new world. I have forgotten many of the significant places in the towns where we have lived, but I remember all the libraries. They have made us a welcome and a home in many strange cities and have provided us with learning and navigational tools wherever we have been. They are true welcome and hospitality when still a stranger in a new home.

Today, the Bishops of the Anglican Communion will gather for the Lambeth conference. I pray that their experience of welcome will be to them like the libraries I have known. I hope it is a sacred moment of access for everyone and an invitation to navigate and discover new worlds. As one excluded from the event, I know how powerful full access can be, and the cost of being excluded and excluding others. The full range of voices and world to discover can be lost. May we today, be agents of true welcome and hospitality wherever we are. May God give us the courage to offer the knowledge and insights we have to others, knowing that they will receive and use the gifts in ways we cannot predict. And may we remember those who are denied access and a voice for they are singing new songs in wildernesses and telling stories of world that we need to hear.

Morning Prayer

Great Creator God, be present with these your people as they rise and may their hearts be moved by the ocean of your love. Gentle Spirit, touch them with gentle morning light to soothe their fearful minds, and gently guide the wayward and the willful alike that they might be fed together and find rest. May each be surprised by love and generosity, may each be generous and loving to others. May the soft constant winds of growing times blow through their midst, so that each might find discovery and delight in your presence and in one another. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Evening Prayer

Dear God, at the end of the day, may they rest in your loving arms. None are infants and yet all need your security, your reassurance, your rest. Help them release the failures of the day as pollen to the wind. Help them turn again to you as the earth turns from the sun for another nights rest. Guide them as they seek wisdom and as they look up to you may illumination be as bright as the moon and the stars in the sky. May their evening conversations be filled with laughter and delight, as gentle as birdsong, as light as bird feathers. And may they rest completely in the knowledge of your love that completely covers and surrounds them in every breath they take. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stepping on the Path

Stepping on the Path

Any journey begins with one step. Forward or backward, and no matter how prepared or not, the journey begins with one small step. More follow, and as each part of the journey unfolds, discoveries are made, insights and challenges are encountered and new ways of thinking and being emerge. Once engaged in a journey we stop counting the steps even when the first one was painfully hard to take. Simply getting out the door and saying goodbye to loved ones can be a major first step, fraught with tears and challenges. I remember when my children were small how hard it was to go out the door and leave them, even for a few hours, even when we were desperate for some time alone. Going always implies not coming back the same.

Today, many of my brother and sister bishops will begin a journey to the Lambeth Conference. While others are already there, for a majority today is the first step. Anxiety is running high due to all the contentious issues that are before us as a Church. This journey for many is a tangle of fear and hope, a journey of challenge and excitement. In the coming days, as I promised, since I cannot be with them, I will be praying for them with the rising and setting of the sun. I ask you to join me in the coming days in prayer, where ever and when ever possible, for the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, brothers and sisters, saints and sinners all. May their fears be transformed on this journey and may their hearts be broken open in love.

Morning Prayer

Great Creator God, be present with these your people as they rise. Loving God, may their hearts be moved by the ocean of your love. Gentle Spirit, touch them with gentle morning light to soothe their fearful minds. Tender Shepherd, gently guide the wayward and the willful alike that they might be fed together and find rest. May each be surprised by love and generosity, may each be generous and loving to others. May the soft constant winds of growing times blow through their midst, so that each might find discovery and delight in your presence and in one another. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Evening Prayer
Dear God, at the end of the day, may they rest in your loving arms. None are infants and yet all need your security, your reassurance, your rest. Help them release the failures of the day as pollen to the wind. Help them turn again to you as the earth turns from the sun for another nights rest. Guide them as they seek wisdom and as they look up to you may illumination be as bright as the moon and the stars in the sky. May their evening conversations be filled with laughter and delight, as gentle as birdsong, as light as bird feathers. And may they rest completely in the knowledge of your love that completely covers and surrounds them in every breath they take. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Phoebe Effect

Today is our daughter Phoebe’s 20th birthday. She was born during the summer between my middler (second) and senior year in seminary, the youngest of three girls and the joy of a whole community. At the church where I served as a seminarian, she went with me to meetings, and as a student, she often went with me to class. She has been dragged around to many places since, and has witnessed the best and worst of what the church can do by going with her mom to so many places. After she came home from the hospital, we were out walking and ran in to my Greek professor. He asked her name and when I told him her name he said, “Radiance!” in a loud triumphant voice. She is radiant. Despite all we have inflicted on this child, she remains bubbly and positive with a creative imagination and a wicked sense of humor. She has that effect on people, that despite the circumstances she can fins ways to laugh, imagine and to dream.

I know I have been blessed by our daughters. They are all wonderful and caring human beings who laugh and sing despite what life dishes out. My older two daughters got to grow up as young children at least, before their Mom was a priest and bishop. They had some private life – afterwards they had little. Phoebe has had to be a little girl growing up with a mother as a bishop, with a mom who was sometimes far away. Throughout it all she has remained radiant. Recently a local paper had her photo from a graduation party. Her name under the photo was listed not as Phoebe Gallagher but as Phoebe Rules, a name which has become her trademark around town. The Phoebe effect – a beautiful, caring person whose radiance can’t help but draw others to her, and to bring light and laughter in their lives.

May she have a wonderful day today, and may all of us give thanks for all the children and folks in our lives who bring light into darkness and laughter amidst anxiety. I have been especially blessed with this wonderful child. But we each can know God’s love and blessings in our lives through the people that are gifts around us. May our lives be made radiant today – the Phoebe effect.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

When I look up at night I see a massive amount of stars and when the day is ending the red and pinks of the sun’s dying embers. Both the light’s fading and the light’s absence have incredible beauty to bestow. Not just in the changing of shadows and colors but in the ability of unseen things to shine and dazzle. The Creator’s limitless and gorgeous creation, animate and changing, if I will but open my eyes and look up.

For many us the end of day will find us so burdened or exhausted that we can do very little. For others, the end of day is a great release from all the work world has laid upon us. Very few of us look up at the end of the day because our hearts and minds are burdened with where we have been and where we have to go.

On this Sunday, the Sabbath, I invite us all to look up and seek Sabbath rest. Resting your head can invite new dreams. Staring up at the clouds can restore your imagination and gazing up at the stars can invite possibilities never before imagined, more wonder and surprise than has been welcomed in days. For all of us who have experienced a sense of loss or rejection it is easy to bow our heads, but sometimes hard to look up. Look up and see the face of love, the face of a loving God in the world around. God is seeking our faces today, the Creator who loves us is seeking our hearts. God wants us to be restored, refreshed and fully aware in all the cells of our bodies that we are loved, created and adored.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Making Tamales

I was pretty young when my Mom taught me to make tamales. Actually, I learned by watching rather than attending some organized session. My Mom is a good teacher but she often teaches by having you participate, by putting you to work. I learned many useful skills this way. She’s 85 and although she has slowed down some, she still likes to cook and still is in charge. My mother learned to make tamales as a child in Oklahoma from an old Cherokee woman, probably considerably younger than my Mom is now. But she learned well and on special occasions growing up she would make a “mess of tamales” and share them with a crowd. Our family was large enough to be a crowd.

Yesterday, my eldest daughter learned to make tamales from my mother. Although I have made them many times, she was ready to watch the master. We had soaked the dried corn husks overnight and my Mom had cooked the meat while we went swimming. I can home and made the masa dough–the corn flour and lard mixture that surrounds the meat. We cleared the table in the late afternoon and set to work. Making tamales is not so exacting as time consuming and social. You need to have time to sit down and get messy, patting out the dough, spooning in the filling and rolling the whole thing in the corn husks. We talked a lot. My Mom told us a little more about her childhood. Emily’s boyfriend Max was helping and we laughed and joked about the wrapping and folding process and how some tamales were shaped better than others. It took an hour, but the time sped by fast and the laughter and chatter never ceased. Then we steamed them in an ancient enamel pot I have seen all of my life. They need to be steamed for two hours, so we had a leisurely evening before dinner. Needless to say, they were wonderful and we ate our fill with great delight.

There are moments in my life, like last night, that I am fully aware that the greatest gifts are have are my family and the best times are when we can fully enjoy simple pleasures. How often do we miss these moments because we are too busy to take time to sit with others, get messy and wait on a meal? Most of us do drive by living, and miss actual encounter. I know I have been guilty of this too much.

Today, I want to be able to enjoy each moment and each person I have been given. From the animals (dog and cat) play wrestling on the carpet to the interactions of grandmother and granddaughters and all the lessons we learn from one another by participating in life together. May you have an opportunity this Saturday to take time to get messy and laugh out loud with others. May God bless us all with a small measure of the pleasure of enjoying to the fullest the gifts of beauty that surround us –our families, neighbors, friends and communities. There is so much to learn from proximity and the willingness to stop and put your hands into the dough.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Listening to near silence, becomes an invitation to hear the voice of God. As I awoke early this morning, in my mother’s house, the world was nearly silent, save a few birds and the rumble of the surf on shore. An occasional dog bark is about all that interjects itself into this symphony of morning silence. Here, in this morning quiet moment, is the capacity to listen to the voice of God, the Creator in the voice of creation.

In the past, I have sometimes mistaken quiet and silence for the absence of God’s voice responding to my needs. I might have reacted as a neglected and angry child at times. This morning, as the birds sing their morning praises and I listen in the quiet, I am overwhelmed with what I hear. Too often, I have hidden myself in the safe cacophony of noise so as not to encounter the gentle and constant voice of the Creator. I have much to listen to, and now must learn a language that I have little capacity for due to my own lack of training my ear to the near silence. There is a symphony in the near silence and I want to learn this music.

God gives each of us an opportunity in our own time, to listen, to hear and to be swallowed up by the soft but tender love found in creation. The voice print of the Creator is majestic in its magnificent whisper and tenderness. It is not in the loudest prophetic screamer but in the giggle of the smallest child. I want today to have the patience to listen in the silence, live in the near silence and bask in the sweetness of the constancy of the Creator. It has been here all along and I ask for the strength to recognize it more deeply every day.

During so much of my life I have been surrounded and overwhelmed by noise. Many of us are surrounded by such overwhelming noise, so many warring voices, so many conflicting signs and loud demands that the voice of the loving Creator can be missed in the mess. I pray that we can each have a moment of breathing, inhaling and exhaling the love of God, who invites and bids, constantly whispering our names on the air and the wind and in the birdsong. God is reaching out in the world, may we in the world listen for the comfort of a quiet Creator who capacity to love and forgive is boundless and offered every day in the midst of all the dissonance that surrounds us.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Women in Purple

A few days ago the Church of England has decided to welcome women into the role of Bishop. Personally, I am thrilled for this step forward and also anxious for those who first take on these roles. People will tell them who they are, rather than get to know them, and treat them as a symbol rather than a friend. Folks will attack and criticize from one side of the theological spectrum and project and fantasize from the other. Very few people will reach out to very human women and encourage them to be fully themselves in their role. They will want them to be just like the men or criticize them for being like the men. Some will be considered weak for being feminine. It is the challenge we women bishops have faced in our recent history. Barbara Harris was consecrated in 1989 and although the church has made great strides, there is still a lot of explaining to do.

So today, as many of the women bishops are en route to England for a conference on women in the Episcopate (which I was to participate in) I want to remember them particularly in prayer. Many have carried a great weight. Many have had to walk a fine line as they are under great scrutiny at all times. All of them are genuinely loving, wonderful people with incredible talents, gifts, skills, enormous strength and courage. For those very few of us women bishops of color (3 in the American church - one retired) it has been particualrly challenging and often wonderful too. We have had the privilege of inspiring young women (and men) who never thought someone like them might be a bishop. At my consecration at St. Paul's College in Lawrence, Virginia, I was brought to tears by the outpouring of love from the young women students. They know the challenges.

So may we pray for all those who are misunderstood, projected upon, and trying to bring about positive change for the church and the world. The coming days in England and at Lambeth will be a mix of challenge and blessings. For that very, very small group of women who will be present (less than 3% of the gathered group of bishops), let us pray that God's joy and love may shine to them and through them. May God's light and love shine through us today as we face the challenges and blessings that will come our way.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Brood under her Wings

The most human response to troubling times is the desire to gather, to hide, to protect the children, and to withdraw from the conflict. I serve in a church that is so conflicted that it has recently withdrawn from the mercy, inclusion and justice we are called to, in favor of safety and control. It is a normal human response, but today, it's not enough for me. Maybe, because, today I realize I have nothing to lose if I err on the side of justice and inclusion. I am a bishop who is not allowed at Lambeth because I don't have a full time job, even though I am assisting in North Dakota. It's a funny thing to be called by God and the people only to have the institution decide that I am outside the circle.

Jesus challenged the temple rules and warned people of setting limits because of fearful human reactions. Their world was changing and in conflict so they withdrew, tightened their circles and making demons of those who were outside. The problem is, we can all put God outside if we are not careful. When our hearts break open in love, it is then that God is present with us. So, today, I share a poem I wrote some time ago at a House of Bishop's meeting. May it remind me to reach out in love, gather up in love, and never respond with fear, self-protection or exclusion.

The life given for the world
moving out, pouring forth
doesn't function with judgement
it beats with need beyond itself.

Broken for the sake of others
not hidden away but visible
light pouring through
transparent scars
gaping holes of welcome.

Relationships of tears and hope
of mending and wandering lost
living in time suspended
before possibility.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Practicing justice, mercy and faith

As we were preparing our family cookout on the Fourth of July, having set ahead all that we could, I busied myself with taking pictures while the crowd slowly gathered from all over. I delight in capturing normal things and situations in new ways. I found, to my delight, that the picnic silverware reflected the table umbrellas exactly. As I was busy taking pictures, one of my siblings teased me about indulging in being an artist. "What are you trying to do, be an artist?" I was on my best behavior, so I laughed and kept doing what I was doing. I had wanted to say, "I am being faithful to what wonders God is showing me." Then everyone would have teased me for being pompous. But in fact, seeking beauty in the every day and in every person is faithfulness to me. Celebrating the moments of love revealed is an essential part of my faithful walk with God.

"For you tithe mint, dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law; justice mercy and faith." Jesus was chastising the Pharisees, calling them blind guides - they worried about the inconsequential details of temple life and neglected the needs of others and what God was revealing to them - the gifts of love and love right in front of them. It is easy for us as humans to get caught up in the details of the work, setting the table, preparing the meal etc, while we forget the incredible beauty and need that are surrounding us in every situation.

Today I ask God to help me be a sighted guide, to live a life full of justice, mercy and faith. I want to have the sight today to see the beauty in others, ears to hear their needs, and hands and heart with which to respond. I want to follow God by responding to what God reveals to me. I pray that I will have the strength and ability to respond. Today, I pray that we can all follow God by walking and living a path of justice, mercy and faith. A path of seeing God's invitation in every face, every situation and every moment. A path where we can all rejoice in the incredible gifts that God has given us right where we are.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Kidding Around

I am often accused (by my daughters)of being more like a twelve year old boy than the grown up woman(with many titles before and after my name)I am. I am particularly prone to walking barefoot, not worrying about mirrors, impulsively jumping in bodies of water and skipping stones at random times. I live all the trappings necessary of a grown up - I raised three competent and lovely daughters and they were clothed, fed and well educated - but I am pleased to be silly and playful whenever possible. And so really are they and their daddy.

Jesus welcomed the little ones, who had messy hands and little control of their voices or limbs. He wrapped his arms around the out of control, the skipping, the frolicking, the chaos that is children. And he wraps his arms around us, who for all of our adult trappings - language, fashion, sophistication, church politics, opinions and responsible jobs - still ache to be held, comforted and sheltered from the harshness of the world. We want to play and God invites us to do so, but we hold back. In Jesus, we find God reaching out to that kid in each of us. The child who is authentic, vulnerable, playful, scared, misunderstood and often defined by others. God reaches out to those who have fallen and gotten scraped up, those who are chosen last for the team, those who ache to be included and those who never do well on tests or in competitions. God reaches out to the little ones, and invites us to do likewise for ourselves and others.

My prayer today is for God to show me that child, in me and in others, and for me to rejoice in all the wonderful things that child can show me. The courage to make mistakes, the courage to play and the fearlessness to forget mirrors and opinion polls and go barefoot in the rain. May we all remember today that there are children everywhere who are vulnerable and aching to be loved. They might be just kids or the adult sitting next to you on the train or standing in the grocery store check out line. May God give us the eyes to see their beautiful child amidst the control of the adult world, and hands to reach out in love and acceptance.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

When the Day is Done*

*This was written at the end of a day, at the end of a long weekend with family and without internet connections... God bless you all this day!

When the day is done

At the end of the day I ask
Myself and God and anyone
Who will listen
Have I done today enough for those
I love and am near to?
Have I let someone else’s frame control
Me let reactive angry hearts shame
me have I taken time to sing and draw a line
between hearts and lives or did I draw lines
in the sand?

As the sun dips into the oceans dark
Bucket sinks below my eyesight beyond
Our imagining can the score be finally
Settled and peace make a home?

We rush to win and measure or leisure by the activity
Meter and wonder why hearts explode and people
Are alone and broken.
I want to spend each day poor of time and things
And rich in laughter around a table with the round
Sun dancing downward one more night when grace was the usher
And love was the show.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Fourth

Freedom - that's what we celebrate on the Fourth of July. We will leave in a few minutes to go to my mom's house. Every Fourth there is a bicycle parade that ends at her house. People decorate bicycles in red, white and blue and then line up behind the fire engines and parade through town. At the little Episcopal Church, St. Peter's by the Sea, someone will ring the bell the whole time the parade goes by. There are no floats, just a bunch of kids and adults on bikes. And then they end at our house for cool aid, cookies and water ice. It is a brief wonderful moment where people, both neighbors and strangers celebrate together that special gift of what it means to be an American - freedom. As quickly and wonderfully as it comes together it just as quickly disperses, as people go about celebrating with their families and friends. We are all blessed, and this gift of being free is pretty wonderful.

Freedom is easily corrupted though, and some would like to be free themselves while holding others hostage. We are truly not free until we are all free. My prayer this Fourth is that we can each, in our own towns and villages, make room and space so that our neighbors and strangers can be free. Free to worship and celebrate and be the people God created them to be. Free to not live in shame or in hiding - free to wake up every morning and not fear terror, abuse or the threats of war.

I give thanks to God for the day and for the people of this land. And I ask God to give me the strength to be an advocate for others - for their freedom and their thriving. I will only feel free when I know I can be of service to others.

Changing Light

I had some time the other night to take some photographs at twilight. I stopped several places - the duck pond, the beach, the little church- and was amazed at how different things look as the light changes and what things I notice that I wouldn't during the day. As the sun sets, the sky changes, pinks and reds dominate at the horizon. The clouds reflect the changes and everything slowly softens into night. The boundaries between objects blurs slightly and what was once vivid is now muted. At the end of a day, and end of an era - during any transition I notices these things.

The gift of changing light is that we can experience the softer side of our world, immediate and distant. The challenge is the overwhelming fear that can creep in as the light changes. Will I be able to navigate in the dark? Can I find my way from here and will I be confused by the shadows? As breathtaking as a sunset is there can be real sadness at the end of a beautiful day. This is when I look to God in gratitude and in hopefulness. I personally want crystal clear daylight clarity in my life and get anxious when things change and there are shadows only. We all struggle with the transitions in our life. I know I do. This is when I know that I must let go to God, knowing the one who created such beauty, such generosity, such overflowing abundance is in charge whether I can see clearly or not. God is moving in the dark places in my life as well as in the light.

My prayer for this day is to remember how to enjoy the sunset, the changing light and the transitions in my life. Today, I will see things in softer, rounder ways because of the changing light and the changing life. Today, I want to know the pinks and shadows as well as the brilliant sunshine, knowing that God is active in the changing light. May we all embrace the changing light, knowing that God is revealing hidden beauty and gentle, understanding compassion in these moments of changing light.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I have had the great joy to be teaching for these past three weeks at Drew Theological School. Most of the students I have are pastors and the rest are in the ordination process. They come from several denominations and locations but work together like long established colleagues. I asked the class to present on an aspect of tribal culture (I am teaching a course on Native Spirituality and Christian Ministry). Delana (who is Cherokee and married to a Creek) and Carol paired up to talk about stewardship and giving. They used a talking circle, laying down the blanket, and a give away to talk about the value of generosity and giving among Indigenous people. When they demonstrated the blanket (often folks will collect for a person who needs money for surgery, a special need, family crisis etc.) they asked the rest of the class to make a contribution for the Native youth in the Diocese of North Dakota. They gave me the money which I only looked at much later. In five minutes they had collected 200 dollars.

Giving is an essential attribute among Indigenous people. We live our lives with a generosity of spirit and with a willingness to share what ever we have with others. I was touched beyond words by my students. We, as Native Christians, walk a very fine line between culture and church, tradition and faith and many struggle to find an authentic identity within the multiplicity of expectations. But for that moment, I realized that the only identity that is important to me is generosity. Giving, from the heart, no matter where I am and no matter how challenged I feel.

May we today be generous in every thing we do, since God has been and continues to be the source of all generosity and love.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Calm Surface

There is always more going on than meets the eye. Calm surfaces can hide cold deep streams and quaking sand near the point of eruption. People and nature alike can be breathtakingly wonderful one minute and frighteningly horrid the next. We are all capable of great love and great hurt. The earth is subject to calming winds and terrible destructive hurricanes. We live in the tension between what is and what is possible.

For me the good news of today is that God is constant, calm at the core, neither distant nor aloof but with us in every moment, no matter how the winds blow. God is seeking out each one of us, extending love and mercy in every breath, offering healing in every day and every season. Some days, when I am calm and think I am in control, it is enough to know God is near. On days like today, I cling desperately to God who is present, real and my advocate, my friend. On the calm days, I can walk alone and not worry. Today, I am thankful for each step, grateful for any hand along the journey. Today, I am grateful for each breath and each companion on the way. On days like today, I remember what it means to walk in faith - fully trusting this erratic and twisted life to the one who is constant and faithful, abundant in mercy, healing and kindness.

May we all remember that when we feel like every corner is a danger and every encounter is threatening - God is with us, incarnate, living and bearing us up in arms of constant strength and compassion.