Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Don't know about tomorrow

Tomorrow, in the early morning I will head south and spend some time with my mother. Since she does not have a computer, there is also no wireless connection in her house. I don't know if I will write the blog for the next few days. I know I will miss it if I can't. So, I'll probably write and publish a slew of things at once. There is a sweetness to being without the technology. I often let the technology take the time that I used to take with people face to face. At one time, I would put pen to paper everyday. Now, not so much. It's often easier to work at my computer, but it does not always bring me closer to where God is leading. So, I go off with some trepidation, and with some joyful anticipation. I have been striving so hard to find a new chapter, that I may not have been listening too well. Where my mother lives, there's plenty to listen to, and plenty of quiet. The ocean thunders and whispers at the same time.

So, I put the next few tomorrows in God's hands. I have tried to do what I know to do. Now, I let go. I go home, and walk to the beach to watch and listen. I stop striving and start taking in what there is around me. I pray that my heart and mind can slow down enough to let in the sound and light of God's mysterious leading. I pray that I can sense the enveloping quiet as comfort and not as loss. I pray that I can fall into the arms of God, as I let go for just a while.

For all of us who have been striving so hard, I pray we can all let go. I plan to pray for friends and strangers alike who are struggling to face the uncertain days ahead. I will pray for a quiet sweet song, a new anthem, one that we can all sing. For a new tune is rising on the wind and I plan to hear it. A new path is being formed by fierce winds, and I plan to follow. A new life is being shaped in each of us. Let us abide in this shaping time, feeling God's arms encircling us all.

Dancing Petals

Sometimes the world is ridiculously beautiful. The wind rose up yesterday afternoon, the sun came out and all the flowering trees dropped dancing petals, making a carpet of color and contrast. Occasionally, we fail to notice, but the world is still constantly producing flowers and petals, dancing moments with wild decorations. All set for a part which most of us are too busy to see.

This season has been a time for me to notice, since I am on a sabbatical not of my own timing. I have spent a great deal of time wishing I were busy with the things I do well. Wishing that my previously busy life would return. And yet, when the sun comes out and the wind rises I have time to notice and to capture that beauty. Often, in the past, I would have slammed by it on the way to a meeting. Now, they are my meeting.
For today, I am inviting myself to God's creation as the very important calendar moments to which God has called me. Not just background light and shadow, like a backdrop on a movie set, but the real encounter, the real event. God has put me here for a purpose, and although I understand very little about what the big picture is right now, I have the time to notice the small scale wonders of this universe. I do believe that in noticing the small gifts, the rest will come into focus. May all of us who are struggling to forge the way ahead, take time to notice the minor events - God's great beauty paving the way forward.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I have spread my dreams under your feet, tread softly because you tread on my dreams. W.B. Yeats

It is a chilly, damp, Irish type morning. No mist, but low hanging clouds, the type that lead to wonder and dreams. The weather that is unsettled and challenging, that reminds me of the liminal space between wake and dreaming, between night and day, between mystery and reality. Most of us, me included, want to be firmly planted in reality, with clear direction forward and a clear sense of what we are doing. Some days it's not possible and today could be one of those days.

We have been given dreams, each of us, tender as new blossoms, fragile and easily crushed by the world's reality or others laughter. We each have dreams and hopes that we keep silent and hidden, fearing embarrassment or worse failure, if they were exposed or we were to aim at them and fall short. We have been given today, that place between mystery and harsh reality, a day with some soft edges to linger a while in the dreams we have been given. These dreams might just be a gift from God. These dreams, might just be a chalk road map, need clearer, darker defined lines - but they may be the start. So just for today, I am going to try to let the dreams be gifts -holding them tenderly but believing in their possibility. If God is the giver, then God will make them possible. God will tread lightly, will breath life and give the growth and us the strength to face ridicule and failure. Go ahead, dream, for God's love is evident in the process of creation, of imaging justice and life for all.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My mother doesn't want to worry me

She called to say don't worry, but "I've been dizzy and the doctor thinks it's the medications but he wants me to take it easy". My mom is 85 and pretty tough and pretty fragile- as are we all. And I wish I could tell her that I won't worry but I do, she's my mom and I love her, so I can't help but be concerned. We all live in the fragile balance and no one can number their days. She is active and healthy for 85, but that could change at any time.

What do we do with the worry we have about the people we love? As if worry can change anything? "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."1Thes 5:16

Easier said than done, but for me, there is nothing my worrying can do to change the illness, the age or the circumstances. I do know that prayer does change things, even if I don't know how, and even if at times, it is not in my timing. So particularly on days when there is lots of cause to worry, I find it a call to pray. Every time the worry rises up, I try to offer prayer. There is much in this world that is changing, there is much that makes me sad for the lack of justice. There is much to offer in prayer - God is the author of healing and justice, the font of restoration for those who are broken and worrying.

So just for today, I am going to try to pray without ceasing, even if God hears it as whining or complaining. And I will accept today the answers to prayer that I get. And the answers that I don't have yet - trusting that the God of justice, love, healing and restoration is active even when I don't experience activity. For I know from the example of my mother, my father and all the saints that we prayer, anything is possible.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Confessions of a younger sister

It is my brother's birthday today. When we were kids I thought he was pretty cool. He's three and a half years older than I am, and I tried to be strong and athletic like he was. He was the only boy among four girls, so he had lots of supporters and critics simultaneously. My brother has struggled in his life, with addiction and relationships. He seems to be doing well now, having made some peace with his own demons and his family. As young siblings, we fought and tussled, as adults, we struggle with our relations sometimes. We love each other and are easily hurt by one another, wishing our closeness was guaranteed. And in all of it, I know that God put us in families for a purpose.

It is in our brothers and sisters we are known best. We are teased by them, criticized by them, defended by them. I once brought a metal lunch box down on the head of a schoolmate because he was making fun of my brother for something I don't even remember. My lunch box was forever imprinted with his head. And we, are forever imprinted and bound by the siblings God has given us. God teaches us about the constancy of God in the turmoil and the returning of our relationships with our siblings.

May we all be grateful today for the families that God has placed us in. Large or small, we learn to trust through these very complex and close creatures. We are so alike and so different. The true complexity of the image of God in one another. May we rejoice in our siblings, our families, our loved ones - for no matter how they struggle, no matter how they strain us - they are the face of God in our lives.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Prayer for Saturday

Dear God,
You created the winds and the waves and on the breeze we can smell the ocean, salt and sand which you formed as life and safe harbor.
You know the ache in everyone's heart, you feel our trembling as we hope and pray for peace and restoration. Some of us have not known much safe harbor, but you have promised to be our calm in the midst of our storms. You wrestled with Jacob and blessed him in the morning, and Your son Jesus commanded the wind and waves to cease in order to save his fearful friends.

Dear God, on this Saturday, like many before, there are so many who need rest and refreshment but instead are anxious with worry. Many do not know how to go forward, how to look for your blessing in the morning. Help us to know you in the midst of the storm and the wrestling we face today. Help us to rejoice in the light and the darkness knowing that your love is active in both. Help us to wake in safe harbor and on gentle seas. Help us to know you in every breath and with every breeze. We can do nothing without you. Remind us Lord today of your presence with us, and we will find rest. Amen

Friday, April 25, 2008

Waiting on the World to Change

Waiting on the World to Change

Lots of folks I know have had some setbacks recently, or are in the midst of transitions, either personal or professional, that have left them in a quandary as to what to while things are being sorted out. Most of these folks are not the chief decision makers, they're hard working faithful people. There is no wrong doing on their part that causes these changes and transitions, they are just caught, faithful and waiting. They are waiting on their world to change.
Sometimes when I am in transitions like these, I have the tendency to scramble around, trying to fix what I did not break, trying to find a way to make things better - for everyone. It takes me some time to realize that waiting is a spiritual gift also. I will admit that I am not good at the waiting - it is my hardest growing edge. And yet, like the seeds I planted yesterday, it will take time for them to germinate, and then even more time for them to sprout, flower and grow into full plants. Change and growth take time, take gestations and hovering, waiting, brooding. My growing edge of faithfulness is in my continuing to be faithful and expectant of God, rather than relying on my own machinations. God as Creator, like the sun and rain and warmth that broods over us all, is active in our favor, despite our machinations and anxiety. So, when transitions bear down, and I don't know how to get through the day, I look to the psalms. The ancient songs of anxious times of poets and artists and musicians waiting for the world to change.

"Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourse in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears, reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves." Psalm 126:4-6

May we all, who face transition and tumult, remember that God is in the midst of the tumult, changing the world, wiping away all tears and filling our arms with grain and abundance. May today, I gain the patience I need to wait on God.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Full Voiced and Fearless

Last week, when it looked as if my invitation to Lambeth had been withdrawn, I was overwhelmed with sadness. Was my voice to be lost, was my witness to be excluded? I have lived a life of trying to be a voice for the silenced, for those without a voice, for the children and for those who are trapped in the cycle of abuse and enforced silence. As a child, I was a truth teller, and wanted to live fiercely and fully. I was fearless. And even at this age, as a mother, wife and bishop, I am more concerned for justice than for getting in the club. Maybe that has worked against me, but any group of church leaders that would make up rules to keep others out, seems like a club rather than a church.

I rejoiced when I finally was informed that I could indeed go to Lambeth. But I will not go and be silent. I will not go and be anything less than who God called me to be. A mother, a wife and a bishop. Today, our second oldest, Ariel Morgan, turns 25. She is a beautiful loving human being who has blessed us in so many ways. She was challenged growing up with severe learning disabilities but she has overcome them, and graduated college and works with young adults at risk. Her life and laughter are a constant delight. I go to Lambeth, fearless and full-voiced for Ariel. I go to Lambeth for my other two daughters, Emily and Phoebe, who need models of women who are not ashamed of the truth. I go to Lambeth carrying with me the stories of my ancestors, of my parents, and of all those who cannot be heard. I go for those who can't, and I take them with me.

Today, I hope to be the child-adult who God created me to be. Fierce and unwilling to fit into a mold or a role. Cherokee and Christian, mother, wife, bishop, disciple of Christ. I pray that we can each regain a measure of our full-voiced creation. That we might live into the fullness of who God created us to be. I pray that we never let anyone, any church, and structure, take that away from us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the Beauty of the Earth -

That old hymn rolls around in my brain. Today is a spectacular spring day, mild and bright, with every plant trying to flower and bring forth fruit, and every person dressed brightly, in step with the rhythm of the season. Spring is here and delight is tangible.

I spent part of yesterday putting plants in the ground and in hanging baskets. I love having my hands in the dirt and turning over stiff, dry earth to help it come alive. I am also aware of how much watering and care a garden really takes. Everyone likes to look and awe at gardens and flowers, but few love to weed and water. It's not glamorous, it's what necessary. Some days the water falls from the sky, but that only encourages the weeds, that can choke out abundant life. Behind great beauty is great work, a great commitment to constant relationship and care. God cares for us like a tender, constant gardener.We often neglect one another and let weeds and words choke off relationship and love before it is fully grown, before there is any fruit.

Today, I pray to be reminded of the need to care and water daily. My faith work is to grow and care for the relationships I have been given, as tenderly and with the same enthusiasm I dig in the garden. All of us need to be fed and mulched and watered with forgiveness when we droop and wilt. I pray that I can be a good gardener of the love and lives that God has shared with me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Strong Women

I had the opportunity, while in Alaska, to witness the ministry of many men and women, who work side by side in service of the Gospel. I was especially impressed by the women I met, who, in a very male dominated world, and in the midst of the expectations on women in Native traditions, strive to offer their unique gifts to the Church and their communities. Life is not easy for many of them. They are not verbally strident but instead, they take the steady role of firm but gentle leader. They persist, even in the face of adversity. They work hard and complain little. They see themselves as strong witnesses, and do their work with great joy and laughter. In an atmosphere of long darkness and long light, of great cold and great beauty, and of challenges too great to mention, they carry on with energy and humility. And I believe God delights in the work they do, and blesses their ministries.

Today, I want to be a little more like the strong women of Alaska. Honest about the challenges but fearless in the face of it all. I want to go through the day with a faith that is so firm, nothing can shake it. And I want to be challenged to carry my light, and the Gospel light, despite all of the daily extremes, with great joy and laughter. May we all be strengthened and encouraged by their witness. May we blossom where we are planted. And may love grow because we have been fearless and have offered the gifts that we have been given.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Arriving Home

I have spent the last hours traveling overnight to be home. Every time a I arrive home, I see my surroundings in a new light. After having seen the Tanana and the Yukon, to see the Hudson again, was a thrill, a sharp intake of breath - a reminder of the beauty that surrounds us everywhere. I left Alaska with much snow on the ground and came home to the world in bloom. The trees, flowers and shrubs were all celebrating spring in their finest of colors. Awed by the great north, I am now awed by my busy and paved world - that can still be awesomely beautiful when it is the sight of coming home.

The words of Revelations spin in my head. "See, the home of God is among mortals, God will dwell with them; they will be God's people and God will be with them." Even here among the asphalt and industrial, I recognize the touch, the imprint of the Creator, who loves us so much that God glories and is present with us, making a home with us. Where loves dwells, there is God. I felt at home in Alaska, and felt God's presence among the people .And here now, home, and I experience with awe the welcome of home and God with us.

May we all recognize God's dwelling and presence with us in our homes and in the world around us. How can we not when the earth is blossoming and exploding with life?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

In My Father's House

"In my father's house are many mansions..."
Last night I traveled with several women from the Diocese of Alaska to the village of Nenana, about an hours drive south of Fairbanks, to do a service in St. Mark's Church. This mission was founded around 1905, and the log structure was moved to its present site 50 some years ago from several miles up river. The Tanana River is just several hundred feet from the front door of St. Mark's, and the upcoming Nenana Ice Classic draws people from all over to watch the ice break up on the river. The ice is still about 48 inches thick.

The church's altar is hand carved - done years ago by students at the mission school. The altar hangings are moose hide beaded in a traditional floral pattern in pink and green. This simple church is as elegant as any cathedral, as holy and sacred as any shrine, and a mansion of God's loving presence.

I am so glad to have been invited to the village and to this mission. God showed me the most glorious of places, the warmest of dwellings when I was with them. The world strives for bigger and better but Nenana was warm and full of God's love. An abundance, a mansion, unmatched. May all of us find God's place for us, warm and abundant -no matter where we are. May we find that our place is a glorious, holy and loving gift - a mansion that is warm and full.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Yesterday was full of stories of the joys and struggles of those who minister in Alaska - the remote villages and the cities. I am again overwhelmed by the way in which people care for one another. We feasted on salmon and moose soup, moose meat and fresh berries along with homemade sweets. Theirs is the care for body and soul. With limited finances they treat their guests and family alike- with abundance and generosity.

In their sharing, I am reminded of the generosity of God. Who does not wait to pour out abundance on us but showers us with the fierce love of family. God is actively seeking out ways for us to receive the abundance. Often times, we miss it, because we aren't able to share what we have with others, and we cut ourselves off from the laughter and joy in fellowship.

May we be abundant people today, sharing the resources of this magnificent earth. Sharing the abundance and beauty of God. If we do, I know we will hear the laughter and feel the full joy of God in our midst.

Friday, April 18, 2008


I have been overwhelmed by warmth and light in the midst of the cold. There is still snow and cold here in April and yet the sun is up early and sets late. And people are generous and welcoming and making room for visitors with incredible warmth. They have shared their lives with me and I am so grateful for their witness.

Yesterday, I was privileged to meet the mother of one of the Interior Deanery clergy. I had been here when he was ordained in 2000, and now I was able to meet with his Mom, Hannah, and bring her communion. She is hard of hearing and going blind, but at 99 her spirit is unflagging. Her son, the priest, is the eldest of fourteen. She told me the story of giving birth, how her mother had cared for her and tied the cord off with the lace of her moccasin. Her life was full, full of challenges and hard work.Her sons now care for her, as she cared for them.

"Love one another, as I have loved you" takes on a rich meaning in the presence of Hannah, Mardu and the others who have welcomed me here. Love demands a labor, a commitment, a willing heart ready to put a shoulder in to the work, the care, the providing for others. And yet, they so freely and willingly offer that kind of love and welcome.

May we today, offer that kind of welcome to the stranger, to those who journey in our midst. I pray I have the strength to lend a hand, to offer what I have where ever I am. For that is God's love made visible in our lives. Hearts willing to break open in welcome, hands willing to offer what we have, and bodies ready to go to the aid of others.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Papal Visits and Loving Welcomes

I arrived in Fairbanks late Tuesday and had an opportunity yesterday morning to walk the streets of downtown and get a sense of the community. I met with clergy and church leadership in the afternoon and evening. While I've been here, I've also caught glimpses of the Pope's visit on TV- at the White House, at National Stadium - and the splendor of the settings and the beautiful spring weather is glorious. A top notch welcome for the Prince of the Church -all ceremony and folks on their best behavior.

In my brief stay here, I have shared food and stories with folks who are serving their communities and serving God with all their beings. They each have led so many funerals and have faced enormous challenges such as suicides and family violence in their communities. And yet, they are gracious and welcoming, thankful to God for their call to serve, able to have love in Christ that grows each day. Incredible Christian leaders who welcomed me in their midst as part of the family.

I am touched by their witness and their work and especially grateful for their sharing of their lives and challenges. I felt, when listening to them, that I was hearing the heart of God, the compassion of our Savior, the living lives of saints who daily offer their all for the reign of God. There is no ceremony that would replace this welcome of being part of such a loving and caring community. With limited finances they do spectacular things.

May we all be welcomed into the family of God today, not as princes or guests or strangers, but as a family member, ready to pitch in and help carry the load. May we all have the strength to set ceremony aside and look on each other as the face of Christ, present among us, calling us to labor in the fields.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blue Skies

"Nothing but blue skies from now on"

My youngest and I have been exchanging emails about her lost cell phone. It is amazing how reliant we are on these little communication devises, and how undone we can become when they get lost. And just how bureaucratic phone companies can be to replace an insured phone. In our frantic tries to rectify this situation, I was overwhelmed by the desire to promise I will make it all better - forever. It's a mom thing, a parent thing, a love thing. For those who have our hearts, we would give everything to give them a life without troubles, without rain or storm, without suffering or pain. We would do anything and everything. I am particularly challenged right now since I am in Alaska and she is at college in upstate New York.

I am reminded though, that God, who made us, made the love within us not unlike the love that God has for each of us. God's living compassion for each of us, is actively working like a loving parent to fix the broken, hold us tenderly and make the world new. "God loved the world so much that he gave his only son to the end that all the world should be saved." I am reminded, in this strange place, on this new adventure, and in the midst of bureaucracy that God's gift is as real today as it was nearly 2000 years ago. It is not retracted because of who we are, how we vote, or how well we believe. Like a loving parent, the activity of God is always for resolution, hope, healing and restoration. May we have the courage today to be agents of that hope and healing in a world without enough loving parents and with many broken hearts.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A New Journey

It is late by eastern time standards, but there's still daylight in Fairbanks, Alaska. I am here, providing services as a Bishop to a Diocese that is presently without one. The last time I was here was in 2000, and I came for their Diocesan Convention. That was early fall, and this is spring -a very different sense to spring that back at home. There is snow on the roofs, the wind is chilly and the thermometer read 20 degrees when I arrived. Lots of people are walking around in shirt sleeves. And so, it a new journey, a time of discovery. What does it mean to live in work in this particular place. How can I offer what I know and who I am to these people?

I am weary from traveling but excited in the discovery. Of renewing relationships, of making new ones, and discovering in a very different place, the constancy and familiarity of God. We are all on a journey, never far from being stranded or delayed. None of us, even within the secure walls of our homes is beyond the reach of change and newness, of challenge and discovery. Some hard days have come my way, but I hope that this journey time, helps me to open my heart and mind in new ways. I want to be a willing participant, a student, and a teacher. I want to take in as much or more than I can offer. None of us has an easy road. I pray this night we might be reminded that we are all on the road together, strangers and travelers, hoping for God to be revealed in those around us, where ever we may find ourselves.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Losing my Voice

Over the past few weeks I have been fighting a bad cold which has been accompanied by a wicked cough. Sometimes during the day, I find that I can barely squeak out the words I have to say. Sometimes, it's better not to try to talk because I start coughing all over again. My doctor has given me several things and I am on the road to recovery. But not before I have had the chance to experience losing my voice, and reflecting on what really losing my voice might be like.

There is a good possibility, I learned Friday, that I will not be included in the Lambeth Conference. I was notified that because I do not have a full-time job, and because I am not called an Assistant Bishop somewhere, I am disqualified from participating in Lambeth. The circumstances that led me to this situation and this place are complicated, but suffice it to say I have been writing a book full time for the church and have been actively participating as a bishop, as well as actively seeking employment as a bishop. Lambeth meets every ten years, so if I do not go this year, I will have to wait until 2018. My voice, squeaky though it may be, might be lost from Lambeth. The rest of the bishops of the Anglican Communion might not want to hear from the only Indigenous female bishop, but I do know that the other women bishops, and the other voices around the communion do not want to be silenced.

Well, I may lose my voice at Lambeth, but I refuse to be silenced on behalf of those who have been given no voice. I will never be silent on the issues of full inclusion. There are wonderful people who are gifts to the church and the world who have been silenced because they do not fit in to some rigid understanding of faithfulness. I will never stop listening and fighting on their behalf. This process of losing my voice, may also become the process of finding my voice. I could just walk away right now, but in fact, the possibility of loss has ignited my heart and solidified my resolve. My personal hurt is real, but even more is the pain suffered daily by those who have been excluded and shunned, those who have been victimized by a church that fears their insights and difference. May God give us all the resolve in these days to tell the truth and keep speaking, even in the face of closed doors.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sheep and Shepherds

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is from John's Gospel. Jesus tells the disciples that he is the gate and he is the good shepherd. Shepherds and sheep figure prominently in bible stories and the church has adopted the crosier or shepherds crook as a symbol for the office of bishop. Throughout the history of the Church, before and after reformation
times, all the art work depicting bishops, cardinals and the like,
includes a shepherds crook, sometimes ornate, sometimes very simple. I am reminded today that only Jesus is the true good shepherd, and all of us who has a crosier as a symbol of our office, must carry it with humility and always with the way Christ carries it. Jesus Christ, the good shepherd, lays down his life for the sheep. We are rarely willing to do that, but we are always ready to parade in our finery and hoists the symbols of our office with great pride.

Today, I am reminded that all of us who have been called to be in charge of others has the opportunity to be a good, or a careless shepherd. We can be watchful or careless, present or distant, focused on ourselves or on the flock. We can follow as Christ did, offering who we are and or very life for others - or we can be very self-protective and let the flock be lost. The church is in one of those struggles today. Will we protect ourselves, our pride and control, or will we get out in the field offering our lives for the flock? My heart breaks over and over when I think about the many wonderful people in our church who have become sacrificial lambs for the saving of tradition. I think of the many that have been lost so that the church can save face and control.

My prayer today is that we can all hear where God is calling us, and know who we are responsible for. Dignity can not be the excuse for our failure to reach out. Difference can no longer be the reason to exclude. All of the flock is loved by God and called by name. We who are caretakers are invited to learn those names, and seek those who are lost, rescue those stuck in the brambles, revive those who have been sacrificed for purity - for this is the Christ work we are all called to together.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Prayers for Tax preparers

Today, we are spending time completing our taxes. In the past, we have gotten someone else to complete them, but we felt we wanted to do them ourselves, and save some money in the process. For some, their relationships can come apart over this process. Others, get their taxes filed and out of the way, not allowing themselves to procrastinate or get anxious and undone. But many of us are anxious and undone in these last days before the U.S. taxes are due on April 15th. Two things people say are certain, death and taxes. None of us, but a rare few, deal with either very well. So here are a few prayers for these days when we have little skill and lots of anxiety.

Dear God,
the panic in the pit of my stomach is frightening,
and I would that you end the world now,
instead of making me face this pile,
this panic, this disorder, and my failings.
My humanity is so clear to me,
my shortcomings so visceral and present.
Oh God, be present in the paperwork and in the numbers,
as you are present in the wind, rain and snow.
Be present to me, who feels without enough tools or hel0p,
be my helper as the hours pass and the dark settles in.
Help me to know your presence, that I am never alone.
Help me to call on you in every moment and give me
you strength to survive this mess that I have made.

and the shorter one,

Dear God,
the calculator is broken and the computer is acting up,
I do not want to lose my family or my mind in the process.
Help me God, for I am stuck in a limbo, a panic state.
You are the God of peace and presence,
help me to know that loving presence now. Amen

May God's peace reign today.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Consider the Daffodils

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" Matthew 6:25

All of the sudden, with no effort from me, the world around me is blossoming in color and life. What was just a few weeks ago, dark hard soil, has now erupted with green and yellows and the promises of more hues that I can imagine. Whether it is raining or the sun is shining, life is breaking forth everywhere. In fact, life is absorbing the rain and the light as well as the darkness and using it for food and strength.

Over the past months, I have been worrying a great deal about my life, my future and where God is calling me. I want to be useful, I want the gifts that God has given me to be offered to the greater good of others. And I want to be able to provide for my family. The possibility of not being able to provide for them scares me. And I worry. My experience is that when someone says, "Don't worry!", I think to myself, they have no idea! I want to have the kind of faith that is able to trust God for everything, all the time, night and day, in plenty and in want. And yet, I am completely human, and times of transition and change trigger my automatic worry reflect. It is then easy to think I am not faithful enough, and add that lack of faith to a growing list of my human shortcomings.

Today, I would like to believe that Jesus didn't preach this sermon to chastise anyone, including me. But as a constant reminder, when we do get fearful and full of worry, that God is acting in our favor, God is working constantly for our care and restoration. The focus of this teaching is not about us, but about God. A God, who like a loving parent, is constantly feeding, clothing, providing for us. I may be a person of little faith on the hardest days, but God is never failing, even when my capacity to fall short is overwhelming me. We are not asked to be God, instead Christ asks us to let God be God.

So just for today I am going to let God be God and rejoice in the things I have no control over. The daffodils and forsythia, the rain and the sun. And I will do what I can do, offer what I can offer, be who God made me be, and trust God in all things. Just for today, I will let off worrying and let God.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It's a girl!

It's a girl!
We're not even sure what her name is yet, but since our dog is named Petey (also a girl), we're thinking about going with a little rascals theme and calling her Darla, or Alfalfa, or Buckwheat...
What is it about us humans that we crave the companionship of other animals, inviting their mess and upheaval with such joy and terror simultaneously? The two animals greeted each other with hissing terror and they are also wondering what we humans are up to. By introducing another animal into this household, the familiar balance has been completely upset. One can not predict on this first day, just how long it will take to settle into a new routine. But the invitation, welcome and transition are all part of life for us, as is the terror, anger and self-protection that come along with introducing a new character into our long running play.

I've been think a great deal about transitions, and home endemic they are to human existence and how we resist them mightily with all the force we can muster. One Easter, when we were first married, we visited my parents for Easter arriving on Saturday. We were horrified to realize that my mother, in her Easter basket preparations has failed to get Peeps. It was after dinner when this realization hit, and we spent several mad hours driving from store to store, just to find some Peeps. We had always had them for Easter. As ridiculous as that caper was, and we did enjoy the adventure, it also stands as an illustration for me about transitions and change. We are constantly in flux, and yet we crave routine and constancy. The world spins and rotates and yet we wish it to stop. We want control and constancy in a life that is anything but.

The only response to transitions that has ever worked for me, is to ratchet up the tenderness, and invite new life. Hanging on, and trying to ride the broken down metaphors and idols, just won't work. Trying to control and fix it has never worked for me either. Wrapping my arms around this little new life, and letting her remake me, tenderly remake us together, has been the only way I know to walk through the changes and transitions in life. We are here, we say to each other, not where we were before. You're scared, and I'm scared. Let's hold each other and watch the world change us, and around us. Somehow we will make it if we realize we are not alone.

May we all this day, be reminded that we are engaged in transitions today, both major and minor. Try tenderness and relationship when the fear rises up in your throat and threatens to choke off the goodness in life. God dwells in relationship and kindness, in the shared journey of people spinning with this planet. God is in the dark of night with us, along with the gentle, tender breezes of the day. Welcome the transition and know that God and new life is there in the midst of it with you. You are never alone.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Weary find rest

"Come unto me, all ye that labor, come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and ye shall find rest, unto your soul." Matthew 11:28

This verse from Matthew, actually this famous verse set to music in Handel's Messiah, has come to mind over and over in the past few days. Rest is something we don't often think about as being a sign of plenty, a sign of security and abundance. But in my life, being able to rest in comfort, not losing sleep fearing for tomorrow, has been a pretty constant theme. I have been on the road a good bit lately and I don't sleep well in strange places. I don't sleep well if I am thinking about what I need to say or present to an unfamiliar audience. We are a generation of people, the doctors tell us, who don't get enough sleep and it can reek havoc on our health and our relationships. But few leaders in this world are honored for their ability to take time to rest and get a good nights sleep. We only find sleeping a positive attribute in babies. Their rest is essential to the well being of the entire family. And so it is for all of us - but we rarely honor rest, until we are chronically without and then we seek drug therapy.

I have a vision for our times and our church that we can be restful people. People who care for the health of souls and relationships by providing a level of comfort, more than the absence of fear, but a safe place where all people can recharge their bodies and souls. I hear lots of people congratulating each other for how little sleep they can get by on. Those same people are often in maddening whirlwinds of their own making - or at least, of their own ignoring. What if the mark of a great leader was that they could sing a great lullaby? Or that the could bring comfort and calm to a room of anxiety ridden financial analysts? Or even closer to home, a bishop who is able to provide space for all, rather than drawing lines in the sand on every issue? We serve a God who measures the wealth of our lives by the rest and comfort we are offered and receive. May we each have the strength to embrace that rest, take a nap, and gain a new love for the world.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Theological Reflection and Discernemnt

Over the past few days I have been spending time in a seminary. I have been in conversation with seminarians and faculty and am fascinated with others concepts of theology and call. I was recalling yesterday about a time in my life when we as a young family were in a dizzying transition. My husband had been hired to be a part of the founding company of a theater in Denver and we moved with our first child, Emily, then a toddler, to Colorado. After the first season, many of our friends lost their jobs and moved back east. We were a long way from any of our family and I was terribly distressed by losing my few friends. Emily, then maybe two and a half, saw my distress, patted my hand and told me, "don't worry Mommy, Jesus is right here with us."

That was a long time before I was a priest, bishop or any sort of religious leader. But I recognize now that my own theological reflection and sense of call is completed rooted in familial relationships. Both are so central a part of my being, my daily walk in faith, and my leadership, that I don't often talk or write about theological reflection or call separate from my family and the intimate relationships around me. Jesus is so central to my existence, to the core of who I am, so completely and intimately connected to my daily life that I assume this the case for others, particularly other church leaders. What I am learning in these days of discernment and reflection is the need for me to be clear about my own theology, my grounding in scripture, and my relationship with God. Assuming that others walk in faith is similar to mine is dangerous.

Years ago, when our second oldest daughter was struggling with spelling, we devised as series of tricks for her to remember. Ariel's favorite was the trick for the word assume - assume makes an ass out of u and me. In fact, I learned again today how right that is for my assumptions. I cannot possibly expect others to share my experience or understand where I have been. My call is to tell the story - the Jesus story - as I know it. To embedded my life and story in the transforming acts of God's love for us -a love so rich and encompassing that he would offer a child for the salvation of the world. "I love to tell the story, because I know 'tis true, it satisfies my longings, as nothing else can do."

I learned in a whole new way that I need to tell the story. People are needing to be reminded and drawn into an intimacy with God. That route is often through the transforming power of the Gospel story intersecting with our lives. May each of us this day proclaim to others, near and far, the redemptive work of God in our lives. So often, I assume (oh, there's that word again) that people have heard the story. But in truth, we all need to hear the story over and over again. Darkness can encompass us at any minute. Some time our hearts and minds are not receptive. May today we each have the courage to hold our light so that others can see, tell our story so others can hear, and open our hearts to where God is calling each of us today.

Monday, April 7, 2008

On the Road

Before I left for this journey, I was talking with a dear priest friend about the gospel. I have always struggled to find illustrations for the road to Emmaus story. We live in a time where we do not walk on our journeys and we do not necessarily converse with folks while we are traveling. We are guarded and avoid strangers. When do we have that kind of public space where we can urge a stranger to stay and eat with us?

Yesterday I rode the train from Newark to Washington. I took a seat on a rather crowded train, facing one man over a table and sitting next to a older woman. There was quiet among us at first. As the man got up to get something from the cafe car, he asked us if we too would like something. While he was gone my companion and I talked and then when he arrived we had a lively conversation throughout our time. Such rich lives they have and so many wonderful ideas and stories to share. I felt transformed and buoyed up throughout my travels yesterday because of them. And I realized I had an answer to my question. I also realized I am being challenged not to turn away from others to my own thoughts and preparation. I am being invited to risk control and quiet for growing and blessing.

We are all travelers on the road. We are all going somewhere whether we acknowledge it or not. God invites us to engage others and to engage the world we travel through. We have a choice to draw others close or distance ourselves. I had that choice yesterday - but by taking a risk, my whole day was transformed, and I will never be the same because of what I learned from those folks. I was blessed by them. May we today have the courage to go on the road with others, seeking the face of God in the strangers and expecting that God will transform us as we go.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mountaintop Experiences

Six years ago today I was consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church. It was a wonderful celebration, held at St. Paul's College in Virginia and I was overwhelmed by the kindness of supporters, well wishers and family. It was a perfectly beautiful spring day in Virginia. I have always been grateful to God and the people of Southern Virginia for being called as their Suffragan Bishop. My love for them has not diminished in the least. I had to make choices for my family and for my integrity that would lead me away from that place. I had to step away so that healing and transformation could occur and it was hard. But I will never forget, regret or be anything but completely grateful for that day and those wonderful people.

I particularly remember several young female students from St. Paul's who wanted my autograph. They told me that as a Indigenous woman, I was a symbol for them that they too could take a leading role in the life of the church. These women are my mountain top experiences -and are the ones who I recall when the days are bleak. These past weeks and months, as doors have closed, I have felt bleak at times. But those beautiful young faces always come to mind. My daughters always come to mind. What I do, I do for ones such as these and not for myself alone.

I pray on this day we can all remember those places, times and especially people who have been mountain top experiences for us. God gives us their presence, their visitations, so that we can make it through times such as these. God visits us with angels and humans who hold up a vision reflected through the eyes of God. A place where all people have a seat at the table. A place where our hearts can burn with the love of God and one another. A place where Christ walks the road with us, shares our simple meals and offers us truth and integrity, despite the world's greed. May we all keep our eyes on that vision - a vision where all of creation reflects the beautiful and generous welcome of God.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Cherokee is not a vehicle

My heart broke when I heard it. "When did you know you were native?" My heart broke again when my sister was assaulted and blamed for the ignorant of some one else. We are Cherokee or Tsa-la-gi and we are fiercely proud of who we are and of our people. We have dedicated our lives and livelihoods to the uplifting of Indigenous people and the social ills that befall us more than any other minority in this country. We are both matriarchal and matrilineal as a tribe, we are proud daughters of a fiercely proud Cherokee mother and ignorance is no excuse for making assumptions about anyone. My family has suffered from all the social and physical afflictions that have plagued our people. And we have committed ourselves to be strong advocates. It is most appalling when ignorance rears its head among the educated and the warriors for social justice. But it is never surprising - it happens all the time.

I learned a long time ago that there were many things and people I would never understand. The world is too vast and cultures and situations too complex. But I also learned, when faced with my own ignorance, that I could ask someone to explain something to me, acknowledging my own ignorance, and offering to let them correct me and help me. My Cherokee mother taught me humility and it has helped me to be a good student of others. I am grateful to her for many things, especially her patient training and rock solid faith.

I write this today to remind myself and others that we live in a very complicated day and time. People who are of mixed race are not half anything - they are whole human beings, raised in the culture, language and manner of their people. Their names and cultures aren't to be stripped of them by people who would have us be museum pieces and nothing more. God created this diversity and blessed us with so many rich cultures and tradition. I pray that today, I can remember the many gifts, and ignore the hurt that so often comes our way. The Creator is the giver of all good gifts, and I am called to share those gifts, even with ignorant and hurtful people. I pray for the strength, and pray for all those today who are judged and misunderstood by others - and whose heartbreak is a routine occurrence.

Friday, April 4, 2008

One Misty Moisty Morning

"I have called you and you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you." Isaiah 43

Some mornings the birds sing early, welcoming the dawn. Today, the rain and mist were thick and heavy and everything and everyone was subdued. Songs and hearts seemed clouded over, fogged in and lost in the mist. Water in all its forms, is a most powerful force on earth and has the potential for both bringing forth life and waging devastation. Facing another gray, wet dawn can be overwhelming for some, even with the promise of new life and spring. Even when the clouds seem to be parting, facing another gray day, another geography of overwhelming waters can be too much for some.

So, it is days exactly like this where I seek the words of God. Ancient and modern, 'thus says the Lord", evokes for me a way forward, a promise to overcome both the small and great oceans in my life. "I have redeemed you, I have called you by name and you are mine...and I will be with you." Some days, when it seems like I cannot face another misty morning on my own steam, I remember that I am never facing daybreak or the dark of night alone. I am no stranger to God, and neither are you. Where ever you go today, where ever I go, God goes with me and goes with us, calling through the thick fog and the massing flood, holding hands and wading through the deep with us to the other side. God wades with us, stumbles with us, and has already gotten us to the other side.

May this misty morning you hear the bird song through the dim light. May you see the clouds parting and the promise of spring. And may we all recall that what we need most, God has already done.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dead Batteries

When I arrived here, my sister in law picked me up from the airport and brought me to my hotel. While I was checking in, she went to move the car, and found out that her car had died. We called for a tow and waited for the truck to come get her car, and her husband to pick us up for a dinner together. It was frustrating, but folks came to our rescue with little waiting and little damage done to our plans. Yesterday, John and Andrea came to collect me, and after lunch, John dropped us off at the mechanic to pick up the repaired car. Then Andrea and I headed out to the botanical gardens -which are stunning- to have a look around, enjoy the spring air and the warm sunshine. I brought my camera along so I could take pictures as there was much beauty to record. When I tried to take pictures, nothing happened and I realized my wonderful new camera battery had run out of charge. I was frustrated that I couldn't capture that wonderful place and our experience together. We took it all in, the colors and displays covering a range of dramatic effects from elegant to whimsical. And we talked a lot together.

We got back in the car to drive the short distance into the old town square. As we pulled into the square the car died again. We went through the whole routine again. Again the tow came and we were collected without too awful or long of a wait. But the frustration had definitely mounted, especially with the mechanic who had done the repair. We eventually recovered from that and enjoyed a lovely dinner together. But there were a lot of dead batteries .

For a brief moment I wondered if my presence had some how changed the magnetic field in their lives (and mine). Was I somehow the cause of it? And now, I have begun to ponder the spiritual implications of my dead camera battery, and all the dead batteries that occur in life. I wanted to capture a moment on film, but the time together was no less wonderful without my lame attempt to be artistic. The car, which in its failing kept us from hitting all the tour spots we had planned out, did not detract from our conversation. In fact, maybe we were more real and compassionate with one another. All of us understands the frustration of a failed car, a broken plan, the absolute loathing of being stuck. We were stuck together, and I can't help but think that there was a blessing in being stuck together. We had no plan but to help each other through.

So for today, I am going to try to be grateful to God for seeing me through, for sticking me together with fine people, and helping me to take my eyes of the distance and focus on the close up - the here and the now. It is what we have - each other where ever we have been planted. And I can let the batteries of the world make me angry and frustrated, or I can plop down on a bench, get a drink of water, and take in the people and the world around me. The recharging of the batteries - my batteries - is as much about sitting down in the sunshine with someone I love and enjoying their presence, knowing it is fleeting and a gift. I pray that God can give me the strength to plug in and recharge and be grateful for all the breakdowns and failures in my life. They are moments of recharge, of restoring, of seeing the immediate and leaving go the distant.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Restoring the broken

I have spent the evening with folks who care for crime victims in their communities. These are people who are on the front lines when there is physical abuse, suicide, murder and sexual abuse. They help reconstruct the lives of families and their communities. We ate in the home of the director of this program and heard so many stories of healing and hope, despite the enormous challenges. We were all tribal people, from across the continent and Alaska, but the stories of the historical destruction of communities and individuals was eerily similar. And yet, despite overwhelming challenges in some places, people are ready to open their lives, their homes, their heart in the ache for restoration and healing. Those whose lives have been broken, ready to respond and reach out to those who are suffering.

I am reminded today how easy it is to look at the broken pieces in my life and be discouraged. I can turn away from others to protect those places in me that need mending. We are all human and when we face traumas, we tend to withdraw, pull back, and set up protective walls to keep others out. Last night I was surrounded by heroes, quiet heroes, who, despite their own traumas and challenges, were opening their lives and arms to their communities, and to some of the most broken and terrified people, want to be an active participant in the mending of the hoop. And I realized that each of our mendings, our healings, our restorations are dependent and interwoven with the healing and restoration of others, and the whole community. May we each today, use the gifts we have, however broken we are to set in motion, with God's help the restoration of the world.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Worrying about trolls

Today, I am making a presentation for people I have never met but with whom I have had much conversation. I am in Albuquerque, 5000 feet up, asking my body and particularly my lungs to adjust to the altitude and the arid air. This is not familiar territory for me, and I am always surprised at how awkward and anxious I can be in new surroundings. I am a people person, used to speaking in crowds and teaching students, but here I am, in a new environment, and I can regress to a much younger self.

When out children we young we used spend spring and summer afternoons in a park that had several streams with little wooden bridges spanning the water. The water was never wide or deep, and we would hide under the bridge and be the trolls to their three billy goats - or whatever fairy and troll story they were reading at the time. They loved the mock fear of the game, the anxiety of getting caught, the play worry of not getting over, and worst of all getting eaten up. Screams of fake terror and joy filled the afternoons. And like those little girls of long ago, I too, like the challenge of crossing bridges where there might be trolls, where escape and success are not certain. But that also leads to some anxious moments, and real fear at times - and the desire to run back to somewhere safe and secure.

For today, I am reminded that the best in life often comes when I cross the bridges I so worried about. The trolls and failures were much more familiar and manageable than I anticipated, and I remember I am never really alone. All of us have to face some pretty threatening trolls - some familiar and some totally new. Sometimes it feels as if our life is at stake and no one told us how to answer correctly. So for today, I am going to try to imagine that those trolls are as scary as the trolls we pretended to be for our children. That every bridge I cross, no matter how terrifying, is still a bridge surrounded by family and laughter - even though I cannot see them right now.

Dear God,
help me to cross this bridge today,
with steady feet and a trusting heart.
I am not secure in my steps,
nor am I sure of the path ahead,
and darkness obscures the way forward.
Today I feel unsteady on my feet
tongue tied with no good answers,
and fully alone in each step I take.
Give me a trusting heart today
and let me see your face in the strangers
and even in the trolls who ask tough questions
and threaten my life.
Give me your strength today
and I will cross to the other side
head high and laughter on my lips
knowing I am never alone in you. Amen