Tuesday, June 30, 2009
"Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; the also blindfolded him and asked;'prophesy! Who is it that struck you?'" Luke 22: 63-64
I am covered in mosquito bites. After visiting my mother this weekend and doing the Sunday services at St. Peter's by the Sea in Cape May Point, we enjoyed an afternoon of cool water and warm sand. It was restful, well, restful until the bugs got bad. Now my mother claims that she never gets bitten. She says she has some kind of Indian skin that is distasteful to the mosquitoes. I, on the other hand, seem to be prime feasting meat for the hungry predators. The want my blood, it seems like the most tempting, desirable meal for them. We cover ourselves in bug spray as we go outside, and still, I get eaten alive. Something about Tuesday, the itch really gets to me by this time. I want to scratch those pesky bites even though I know better.
Jesus is pestered and beaten within inches of his like by predatory men, people trained to torture and abuse. They wanted to shame and mock him, the one who brought love and healing to so many. They wanted blood, and nothing else would satisfy them.
Today, while I ponder ways to satisfy the itch without really scratching or breaking skin, I want to remember all those people around me who are doing their best to live the gospel and are set upon by all sorts of predators. The little mosquitoes of mine are really nothing. Their suffering is very real. May we remember all those who are risking their lives to bring love and healing to a fractured world in the most broken places. And may we offer the little bit of solace and support we might have to their health and support. In all times there are those who are out for blood. May we be those who share Christ's blood for the renewal and healing of the world.
Monday, June 29, 2009
The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul
"But he denied it saying, 'woman, I do not know him.'"
We are all sometimes Peter and Paul
preaching and teaching in God's name
and afraid at the same time.
We, like them have lofty thoughts and visions
wake hoping to change the world through love
and stall out on the highway of despair.
We are often Peter and Paul
with crowds pressed around and women adoring
we sing our songs and dance for the Lord
and run like mad when the terrors come.
Paul stoned believers and put them to death
made blind he finally could see.
Peter loved Jesus fiercely, was first to his aid
and first to denial when the testing came.
We are like them is small ways
big ways too.
We are humans frail and mighty
full of love
and fear and self loathing at times.
And Jesus comes for all of us
the preachers and the liars
the singers and the deniers,
the ones who shine all the time for God
and the ones who dent even the door of faith.
Jesus found them and finds us in dark sad
moments when we long to be finished
when we wish and pray for agony to cease
and to be loved again and forgiven.
Like Peter and Paul we already are
forgiven, broken and made whole.
Lives for the world, frail and mighty, God's gift
reminding us of mighty love.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes I will be healed.’” Mark 5:27-28
Our first house in Baltimore was an end of row, two story row house. We had two small daughters and bought the house at a very inexpensive price because it had some challenges. The previous owners had decorated the house in the same colors and tiling as their Chinese restaurant. The walls were turquoise and the whole downstairs and steps were covered in red and white linoleum tile. We spent weeks and weeks ripping up the tile only to uncover a beautiful hardwood floor, which needed some repair but which was for us a treasure. The walls were another thing entirely. We painted over the turquoise in a nice off white, only to have it the turquoise bleed through, layer after layer. I went from store to store asking for advice and trying all the tricks people recommended. Nothing worked. I was so frustrated and the place looked horrible. Streaky and scary. I was desperate to find a solution. A theater friend suggested I paint over the walls with silver as an undercoat and then try the off white again. It worked! I was beside myself with happiness. Elation beyond reason and all over a nasty paint problem. I felt finally my suffering has ceased.
This woman comes to find Jesus and she is truly desperate. Everyone has given up on her. She has become a nuisance to her family, her doctors, even to herself. She has spent all the money she had. She is in constant pain, torn apart and spent. She has used up all her chances of happiness and her life is only suffering. Into the worst circumstances, Jesus comes and offers her healing and an end to suffering. Once she was completely bound by pain and now she is free.
Today, I want to remember to reach out to Jesus for all of the needs in my life. I spend a great deal of time trying to find solutions to pains and problems – often all on my own. Today, I want to live reaching out to Jesus for everything, not trying to be self sufficient but rather completely dependent. I pray that my dependency might bring an end to suffering for others.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Lately I have been falling asleep as soon as I hit the pillows. I am exhausted after long days of lifting, toting, packing and unpacking. My body and brain feel spent. I lose things more easily than normal and home is a new place where patterns haven’t been established. There is a desperate need for sleep, a need for rest brought on by exhilaration and sorrow – the normal emotions of all moves and transitions. The physical work is hard but the psychic work is harder. All of us need routine and when normal routines are disrupted we can easily come unglued.
“When he rose from prayer and went back to his disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.” Luke 22:45
The disciples were trying to live with the fact that their world was about to be rent asunder. Jesus had tried to warn them of impending threats, and the trial and cross he was to face. They did not want what was to happen and they were broken by sorrow and fear. As Jesus prayed, he too wrestled with the coming agony and trials. No human wants to face the end of life and tremendous pain. Their whole world was about to be torn apart and there was nothing they could do about it.
Today I pray for perspective. For an understanding of the challenges I face today as being opportunities for growth and learning. These small obstacles that come with moving have no threat of destruction and offer community, relationship and growth. I ask that I can move through these days, finding God in the midst of the changes and confusion. I want to trust that Jesus is with me through all of these days. And I ask God to provide love and support for all pilgrims, strength for all of us on a journey of faith and love.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I have watched the movie Saved twice in the past week. It never fails to make me laugh hard, and it never fails to reveal something new to me about people of faith. Good Christian people are as human as the next, and the more we try to pretend otherwise, the greater our folly and our faithlessness. In one scene, a particular favorite of mine, the group of righteous girls try to perform an exorcism on Mary, who is pregnant but hiding it. They get very angry with her lack of cooperation and one girl throws a bible at her. It is all very funny, and all too true. When people are in trouble and hurting, we often turn our backs on them and throw the good book at them. We leave then high and dry when they need us the most. We are afraid we might be human and broken too if we get too close or reach out a hand.
"I tell you Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me." Luke 22:34
Peter is so like us all. He promises to go to his death for Jesus and within hours refuses to even know him. When things get tough and our backs are against the wall, we panic and grab for any way out. And we can deny the love we have been given and forsake our friends and loved ones. The good news for today is that Jesus says to Peter -" Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Jesus stands with us in our darkest hour, knowing the failing of our faith and our ability to turn away in fear. And he prays for us now as he prays for Peter then.
Today, in the midst of overwhelming transitions, scattered possessions and relationships, I want to trust that Jesus is standing with me in these challenging times. The pressure is high, and Jesus is closer than ever, even when we are being tested and tried by ebb and flow of life. So today, I want to be completely human like Peter and completely trusting that Jesus walks with me, even on the most challenging days. And I ask for the courage to strengthen others when the tide has turned and I feel the weight of these times fade away.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
"But I am among you as one who serves." Luke 22:26
My hands and body have been caked in dust and grime. Dirt is everywhere. I perspire with the effort of moving so that everything dirty clings to me. These are our belongings and I can't figure how they got so dirty. I can't imagine carrying other people's things, as our movers did, only to be covered in sweat and dirt. I get out the bucket and scrub everything that we have brought into our new home. I thought I had cleaned up pretty well before I left, but I am being proven wrong by every object. People are very messy and I can't imagine spending my life cleaning up after people on a daily basis. I would have to live with shock and horror every day.
Jesus overhears his disciples arguing about the greatest among them. Jesus suggested that rulers and kings lord their power over others and make them do their dirty work. But in God's reign, the greatest among us are those who serve. Those who clean up after other people on a daily basis, and who care for the least with tender mercy. Well, I think I am good at the tender mercy part but after these past few days, I have to consider again what it means to be a servant. Cleaning up other people's messes. I have spent days being repulsed by my own mess, and now God is speaking to my heart telling me to be a servant to all.
Today, I want to acknowledge that it is very hard to be challenged by the scripture. In the midst of the joy and hopefulness of this move, it is the grim reality that serving God requires a lot of clean up - clean up done with joy and not protest. Loving God and serving our neighbors is dirty work. And yet is was the work that Jesus was called to do, and the work he has given to all of us. Our ministries are defined by our willingness to deal lovingly with the messy details of others lives. We are called to be servants, following the instruction of Jesus. So today, I want to be happy in whatever mess I uncover. I want to know that Jesus is with me in the lowest of places and not just the lofty ones. And I ask for courage to face the messes before me with joy, counting on Christ to go with me all the way.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
"Because of the tender mercy of our God by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." Luke 1:78-79
The Movers delivered all our furniture yesterday and the rectory is piled high with boxes and the assorted things of our lives. It is stunning and frightening to see one's earthly possessions laid out and scattered across a space, waiting to be placed and put in some order. We have days and days ahead with which to unpack all the boxes and to sort things out. This morning I woke and was glad to be on the far side of this move, and to be home. Despite the clutter of boxes and scattered possessions, we are home and it feels good.
I imagine Zechariah's song comes from the place in his life where silence and isolation are behind him and he has a new life in the child John who becomes the herald for Jesus. At an advanced age, Zechariah is a father for the first time, amazed at what God is going and what God has done. A life of struggles and disappointments erased at the coming of a new son. The long awaited resolution to much ache and pain.
Today, in our new surroundings, I want to sing like Zechariah, a song of thanksgiving for what God has done for us. Brought us to a new place and brought us home. We have a community of folks who have become friends, who have fed and cared for us generously as we move in. We have been humbled and amazed at the love that has been showered upon us. I can't help but singing. May we all find a song in our hearts today, as we remember all the love God has showered us with, and the people in our lives who have made that love real.
Monday, June 22, 2009
"Even so, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near." Luke 21:31
We are embarking on a journey and we have much to do today and tomorrow. All I know to do in times like these is to pray. So here's a prayer for moving day and for all those on a journey.
you formed us in your image and we know your love in our lives,
give us hearts to know your presence today.
Our belongings are scattered and boxed up, but you will not hide from us,
all the day ahead is scary with uncertainty but you are our solid rock.
We face storms and you will calm them.
We face confusion and you will bring peace.
We face our fears and you will comfort us,
hold us like children when lightening strikes.
We have no where to go but to you,
no direction but your guidance,
no love but that which you shower down upon us,
Come loving Creator and be close today, stay with us as we tremble
keep us from all harm to day, since we are nestled in your hands.
In the name of Christ who came for us all
the movers and the travelers, the stay in one place people
and those constantly on the move,
Sunday, June 21, 2009
"A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped." Mark 4:37
It has persisted for too many days. We have had too much rain and it is making people surly. I spent a few days at my Mom's house this week. She lives less than a block from the ocean and I was awake one night because of a terrible storm. The rain battered the windows, the wind howled through the old house, everything shook and the waves crashed like roaring thunder all night long. People out on boats were not safe and I felt the terror of those who fear drowning. Even on land, after so many days of rain, it is a drowning feeling when the storm begins again. I have felt worn down but all of the rain and the darkness, the wind and the storms. There is no where that feels safe and everything is slippery with mold and mildew. We have gone through gallons of bleach to make surfaces safe to walk on, and yet the rain persists. We might get one day of broken sunlight and then it begins again. People who have faced storm after storm get weary, and some of us are weary.
Jesus was on a boat with men who lived on the water. They were not the sort to easily panic. Their entire lives had been reflected in water and on boats. Their livelihoods were tied to the wind and the weather and they were wise about it all from years of practice. And yet, they were worn down. They had spent all of their coping skills and found themselves at wit's end. They were tired and wanted to sleep, but they feared for their lives. They had nothing left and the one who could save then seemed unconcerned as he slept comfortably as their world came to an end. Sometimes even the most skilled and the most faithful can lose heart after being worn down, day after day. They woke Jesus up and insisted that he save them. They didn't know how, but they knew they could not save themselves.
I cannot save myself, either from the challenges and conflicts that arise in my life, or from the days when my energy and spirit are spent. None of us can. But the good news is that Jesus is right there all along and we need to ask him for help. We need to know our limits and call on God in prayer. We are not ignored but tended, God in Jesus Christ in in the room, on the boat with us and in the center of all our storms. No matter the mold and the drear, God is with us. I want to remember to cry out and ask for help. I want to remember that this faith is a gift and that love is also given freely by God. To open my heart to receive and end to the storm, I need but cry out in prayer. May we all take courage when we are completely worn out and not able to sleep with worry and fear that God is with us. Jesus answered the disciples when they asked for help. May we have courage this day to act like disciples and ask for the help we need in the midst of all our storms.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The past weeks have been full of packing and sorting. There is a mountain of change on the horizon for us this year of which the move is only part. The first of our daughters is to be married - our second oldest, Ariel. Tomorrow we travel to
Allentown to attend their engagement party. Signs and wonders are all around us and it is joyous and easy to be overwhelmed. When changes come across personal and professional landscapes, it is common to experience a sense of anxiety and anticipation of the coming events, no matter how wonderful and positive they promise to be. In new situations we all want to be liked. Never having been a mother of the bride, nor a mother-in-law, I want to do those things well. And I want to have the new relationships in this wonderful community of faith be positive and empowering for us all. Being human, we are all challenged by change. There is a swirling mixture of leaving and arriving, a heady mix of grief and joy.
"When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Luke 21:28
I am encouraged by these words of Jesus. Sometimes I forget to look up. Sometimes, with all the tasks and schedules swirling about, I can forget that God is in our midst and our redemption is near. It is normal to want to bury one's head in the sand. And yet, it is just these times which Jesus calls the sign of our redemption,
the coming of the Savior in a new may in our lives. So today, I want to stand up and lift my head, looking beyond the mess and the anxiety of the present to God's promise on the near horizon. Today, I want to stand and see love coming my way. May we all stand and rejoice in the love which is at hand, the love which makes all things new and brings us from dark valleys into the banquet halls. May we rejoice in the midst of clamor and pain for the God of love is at hand.
Friday, June 19, 2009
"All people will hate you because if me. But not a hair on your head will perish." Luke 21:18
The other day I was driving through Jersey City, delivering my husband back and forth from the several campuses at his school. The Newport Campus of Stevens School is very close to the ferry landing on the Hudson. There were geese everywhere, many with brand new baby geese. Young geese are scrawny, humped shouldered wonders, with awkward walks and halting movements. And they are sweet, nestling in their scrawny wings, trying to stay safe from the traffic. As we were returning to Hoboken, we had to come to a complete stop as two adults navigated their young across several lanes of traffic. One guardian goose was in front, the other in back, closely guiding the little ones, squawking orders from time to time, moving as one across the pavement. I thought at the time that they knew their parenting job better than most humans do. Their number one task was the protection of their young.
Jesus was talking with his about the end times, and from their questions, they were very afraid. Understanding their normal human anxiety, he comforting them, telling them that despite anger and hatred, they would be protected, God's love would surround them like good parents protecting their children from the many threats of traffic and danger in the world.
Today, as we look at the last few days of packing, headlong into this transition and move, I know I have an ache to be protected, guided and cared for as we face all that is new ahead of us. The challenges seems overwhelming, they always do. But today, I will carry the image of those smart geese with me, as a sign of God's love and protection in these times. All of us can feel overwhelmed. God knows that and provides protection for the big and little challenges ahead. May we delight in the tender care we receive, and share that care as we are able.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
"All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." Luke 21:4
Every year, on the Fourth of July, my mother's house becomes a spectacle of color and confusion. Her little town has a bicycle parade, with nearly 500 participants annually and all these people, and the spectators end up on my mother's front lawn where she gives them punch, cookies and other treats. She has been doing this for years, and she and my Dad did it for years before he died. They never had much money but they donate all of the supplies and the labor. Many times they have been approached by companies who have offered to sponsor the event, but she always refuses. Giving to others without expectation of return is how she lives her life and quietly demonstrates her faith. She gives her all for others, not worrying about how she will get by. Somehow God always provides for her. Somehow neighbors are moved and find ways to donate and help, all quietly, all from the heart.
I have been blessed with an upbringing that taught me how to give and how to live for others. I worry sometimes that my mother might give herself away too much. And somehow God provides and she seems to be happy and satisfied. At 86, that all you can ask for. And so, remembering my mother and all the widows I have known who give their all, I want to live this day in honor of them. I want to give to others where ever I find myself. I want to live, following in their footsteps, knowing the blessing of giving my all.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
"They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection." Luke 20:36
As I have been packing, I have come across some remarkable images of my family, including pictures of my children that I hadn't seen in years. These capture one brief moment in their lives, and hold, in that small image, the possibility and potential of who they have become. All three are grown now and still display the characteristics and personality traits that we saw in them from day one. And the possibilities and capacities that we only once glimpsed, are now reality. They each care for others in the most loving and stupendous ways. All three can create such laughter and joy, and compassion shines through each of them, in their own unique way. They have become the fierce warrior women I knew early on - they are warriors for love and creative expression.
Testing Jesus, the religious leaders try to trap him in a marriage question and who belongs to whom. But Jesus knows who they belong to - they belong to God and are children of the resurrection. Their fate is sealed, wrapped in the loving arms of God, protected for all time from the damages of insult, hurt and abuse. The religious leaders want to get it right and Jesus offers them the way to know God - though loving others.
I want to make loving others a priority today. As the boxes mount up and the day looms near, it is too easy to worry about getting things right. Instead I want to get to know God more today by loving the people around me. Some don't make it easy. And tasks, when completed, present at least a sense of accomplishment. So today, I want the right tasks to be secondary and the right relationships to be primary. May we all see God today as we look at one another. And may we be known to God as we love beyond ourselves.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
"Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Luke 20:25
These days of packing for a move find me spending a great deal of my time sorting things out. Lots of questions come to mind all the time. Does this go with us? Throw it out or give it away? Who does this belong to? What was I thinking when I brought this home with us? It is a painstakingly long process which allows for time to reflect and wonder. It also is a time of natural mourning. Letting go of treasures now long unwanted and damaged by time. Letting go of things that were weights tie around someone, at some time. All of my days demand a certain amount of sorting. Moving, whether long or short distances invites us to pack carefully and take along the precious things and the required necessities.
Jesus is being tested by the religious leaders. The test is over a coin and who it belongs to. Jesus does not get caught up in the argument but sees the heart. The image of Caesar is stamped on the coin. The image of God is stamped on our beings. No matter where we move or where we flee to, the image of God goes with us and we belong to God. Our spiritual sorting requires us to know that we belong to God. It is the sorting of our hearts, offering to the Creator a small measure of what we have been given, and offering fruits from our labors for the care of the world.
Today as the sorting continues, I invite us all to remember to whom we belong. We belong to God, and as God's people, no one can toss us away, sell us or throw us out. Not even our worst behavior and our senseless hoarding makes us any less creatures of the Loving Creator. May we live today, not clinging to temporary and temporal things, but instead, cling to the love Gos has showered upon us, sharing that love with the images of God, where ever we go.
Monday, June 15, 2009
"The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone." Luke 20:17
When we traveled to England last month, I was struck time and time again how history shows that the ones who are rejected,slaughtered even, in their own time become crucial to both history and present times. Walking through Canterbury Cathedral we happened upon a guide who told us many stories. He was and expert on many things and reveled in telling stories of Beckett. Beckett was killed in the Cathedral (and they point to the spot on a regular basis)by agents of the king. Although Beckett and the King had been very close, because Beckett would not carry out the leadership of the church by politics, popularity and corruption,he paid the ultimate price. He became revered and miracles quickly became attributed to him. His sainthood came quickly and people tell his story, much more than they do King Henry's story. Craving fame, wealth and power are common stories. Being faithful in the face of crushing, selfish, and unjust authority - well, that's a story for the ages.
Jesus is being put to the test by the religious leaders of the time. He is being grilled about authority and responds with the parable of the tenants - the greedy people who tend the vineyard in the absence of the owner and who ultimately kill the owners son. All of us are tenants in this fragile earth, caretakers for God's tender creation and yet we often exploit that which is not ours and abuse those who would be unpopular by telling us we aren't in charge - God is. The religious leadership of his day bristle at what they are hearing. It sounds like Jesus is condemning them. Their own guilt and their awareness of their own selfishness and greed condemns them. History condemns them and will hold us all accountable for our selfishness and need for power.
Today, I want to live as a faithful steward, remembering that everything and everyone I encounter today is a gift from God. Not mine to own, control or abuse. I want to walk in faith, trusting God to honor and uphold the vineyard, knowing my place as a field worker. This glorious gift we have been given, this fragile and abundant garden and the love that grows in our midst, is a great treasure to be held lightly since the Creation belongs to the Creator. May we walk gently today, thanking God for the love and splendor we have been blessed to share in.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
"Night and day, whether a person sleeps or gets up,the seed sprouts and grows, although we do not know how." Mark 4:27
I am an irrational gardener. I have no discipline and plant what I like, often in conditions that are not best suited to the plants. I like getting my hands dirty in the soil, watching seeds take root, watching a backyard explode in color. I rarely remember the names of half of the things I planted, and don't read extensively about caring for plants. I just like being in the garden - the smell of the earth and the colors of green all around me. I have loved it since I can remember. My Grandpa WalkingStick had turned a quarter of our back yard into an amazing garden. He was a true master gardener, and would tell me stories of the vegetables and the flowers, saving special seeds he had cultivated for the next year. His stories often included some big disaster or miracle that he might have witnessed. I love everything about it and yet I have to admit I understand gardening now less than I did when I was a child. I paid close attention but it is still pretty much a miracle to me when anything grows.
And so it is for all of us - we think we are in control of the gardens we tend. No matter how carefully and rigorously, or carelessly and nonchalantly we attend to our gardens, God is still the master gardener. Our gardens, no matter how big our stories become, are still completely reliant on the grace of God. We are totally dependent on the wind, rain and the sun - and the timing of it all. We think we are in charge, but in fact, we are limited in capacity and control. God, on the other hand, makes miracles every day. Miracles in the eyes of the people around, hearts changed in a moment, potential demonstrated where once there was none.
This Sunday I want to rejoice in my total dependence on God and my complete interdependence on God's creatures around me. We sow and wait on the Lord. We reap when the fields are ripe and not before - all in God's time. And we delight in the sun's return and the gentle rain in the morning, neither which we have control over. Thanks be to God that I need the Creator and am necessary in God's Creation. May we spend this day rejoicing in the daily miracle of life and love unbounded.
"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:12-13
As we have been preparing to move, there has been lots of opportunity for discovery. Crusty old letters folded in books, pictures sent from far away, and funny pictures that somebody probably hoped had been destroyed. Images and sentiments across so many years testify to love across states and commonwealths and family ties which are deeper than the ocean. It is a remarkable thing to rediscover oneself, a younger, more frightened or more carefree self in all this packing.
One of the most treasured finds, written in a weathered, marble school lined notebook, was a set of poems I wrote in the months before our wedding in 1975. At the time I was an undergraduate at Antioch College in Baltimore, studying writing and communications. I had a weekly tutorial with Grace Cavalieri, my writing professor, and the notebook is scared with her rewrites and suggestions. She taught me how to be bold when I was cautious, honest when pretentious and at all times transparent and visible. She believe good art and writing were invitations to view an others soul. She was a hard task master, and I am forever grateful to her for it.
So today, I want to share with you one of those found treasures - one of those poems. Love is a precious gift from God and no matter how romantic movies depict love, love's essence is the heart of God - patient, kind, lacking jealousy, pride and rudeness, not self-seeking nor angry nor counting mistakes and failings, always trusting and protecting the most vulnerable. Today I want to give thanks for the love that has lasted all these years and which has taught me so much about the heart of God.
Everybody I know has letters from lovers lost
but I keep finding you in my arms.
I read a few lines yesterday
from you and didn't laugh
all you said is still very true.
I can't make up my mind
if I should save your letters
I woke up today to you
and don't think I'm
going to change my mind.
I saved anothers letters
until you cam my way
and then I burned them.
Friday, June 12, 2009
"It is written, my house will be a house of prayer." Luke 19:46
Today is the feast day of Emmegahbowh, the first Native person to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. During trying times, he was faithful, praying constantly for the people in his care. He was imprisoned and faced the harshest of times, but never lost his zeal or joy. Today I want to share his story with all of you, that you might find courage and faith from his quiet but constant leadership. May God grant us all the strength to face the dark times and the challenges we have, knowing through prayer all things are possible.
Enmegahbowh (ca. 1807 – June 12, 1902; from Enami'egaabaw, meaning "He that prays [for his people while] standing"; also known as John Johnson) was the first Native American to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
Enmegahbowh was an Odawa from Canada who converted to Christianity from Midewiwin. In 1851, James Lloyd Breck began a mission among the Ojibwa of Minnesota. Enmegahbowh was a catechumen there and was baptized by Breck.
Enmegahbowh became a deacon and went to Crow Wing, Minnesota to assist in a new mission there in 1858.
The Mille Lacs Chief Fine-Day was an early member of Enmegahbowh's church in 1859.
He took over the mission in 1861. With the Dakota War of 1862, the near-by Gull Lake Band of Mississippi Chippewa rose to attack a near-by Fort Ripley. Enmegahbowh prevented some other bands from joining the Gull Lake Band; he, though, was made a prisoner, but succeeded in escaping. He made his way to Fort Ripley with timely information of the impending attack, and helped prevent The Gull Lake Band, along with other Ojibwa were subsequently removed to the environs of the Leech Lake Indian Reservation and then eventually to the White Earth Indian Reservation. Enmegahbowh followed his people there.
In March 1880, Enmegahbowh and Chief Fine-Day traveled across the eastern United States for three months in order to raise money for a new St. Columba Episcopal Church at White Earth. While in Ohio, the governor was so impressed with their speech that he had them address the Ohio state legislature. They raised $6000 for the project. After Chief Fine-Day died in 1883, Enmegahbowh referred to Fine-Day as "our noblest chief" and recomended that a stained glass window in the church be dedicated to him.
Enmegahbowh died at the White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota on June 12, 1902 at the age of 95. He is commemorated on June 12 on the Episcopal calendar of saints.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Today is the feast day of Saint Barnabas. Barnabas took the newly converted Saul under his protection when the rest of the faithful were hateful towards him. They either wanted him dead or at least rejected. He had been their tormentor and no one believed that his heart had changed, except for Barnabas. Barnabas was a caregiver, a pastor with a sensitive and loving heart. He wasn't a politician. He just wanted to follow Jesus and offer God's love where ever he went. It was because of Barnabas that the "church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace." (Acts 9:31) Too many of the church's leaders were swayed by politics, then and now, but Barnabas set an example for us all. He didn't try to be a hero, a politician or a martyr. He loved others with a pastors heart and gave from himself for the benefit of others.
"But Barnabas took Saul and brought him to the apostles." Acts 9:27
I am reminded that it is often too easy for us who proclaim our faith in Christ to quickly move to politics. We can hide behind creeds of justice while we overlook the very people in need around us. We can try to be good politicians and superheroes for justice and neglect our own families. Barnabas reminds me that standing with the unpopular, with the rejected and outcast is where we are called. Lovingly including the unpopular, those with shady histories - well, that is the work of the saints of the early church ans the work of the church today.
May God grant us all the strength to serve as Barnabas did, not winning arguments but living compassion and inclusion. I ask God to help me see who is truly excluded and the strength to reach out in love today.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The floors and surfaces are covered in small stuff. Little gifts and cards, a lifetime worth of remembrances. This process of packing demands that I not only discover the minutia that has been tucked away, but insists that I do something with it all. Throw it all away? Keep it all and deal with it later? Neither solution is right and there is no blanket law for the entire contents of this house. We have to go through it and find proper places for it all. Business gurus are fond of saying something like, "don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff." The fact of the matter is that I want to be faithful in the small stuff as well as the big stuff - it just gets overwhelming some days.
"'Well done, my good servant. Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, you will be given much to take in your charge.'"Luke 19:17
Jesus tells his followers about the reign of God through storytelling or parables. The stories illustrate and point to the truth but are not in themselves the truth. He wants them to understand that each of us has been given gifts and we are expected to use them. We are not useful to God or other humans if we bury our gifts. If we cower in fear of ridicule, discipline or the culture around us, we deny who we are and how God has made us. Some days, every human being wishes they were someone else, with different gifts and with different or no piles of small stuff to sort through and employ. Through God's grace we have been given a myriad of gifts and we are asked to use what we have been given for the good of all.
Today, I want to rejoice in the small stuff. These are symbols of blessings and relationships. They are signs of a loving past and a future wrapped in God's presence. I want to be tender with these memories and the people who have given me the small things, remembering how great their love and care has been for me. And I want to go forward today, knowing that this process of sorting tells a story of God's continuing faithfulness and constancy despite my own moments of fear or reluctance. May God give us all the strength today to face all the tasks ahead with joy, knowing that we have been given much. And believing that God continues to bless us as we use our gifts for the care and sustenance of all the world.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
"So he climbed up a sycamore tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way." Luke 19:4
I am small and of no consequence
not a glamorous politician, not a religious celebrity
I am reviled since I do the work no one wants to do, am put aside
since they think I am less than them, not worthy.
They call me names, means names, although honest
and I have done nothing but what they do, I do my job.
I wasn't born with wealth or power, I have to work
my family needs me to be faithful and feed them all.
When I go to pray they turn away hiding
murderous looks shielding their children
I remind them of their sin and greed and
they have to hate me for it.
I am up in this tree, peering through green
softly furry leaves, hanging on to hope
since the crowd was so thick and brutal
unwilling to let me stand in front near their wives.
I hear the roar of the people below me the air electric
with anticipation and then there is total silence.
My heart flutters, I start to lose my balance
the eyes of the world are on me and Jesus calls my name.
He stops and looks at me, here in the branches asking me
to come down to let him in to my home.
I fling the doors of my heart open, the whole of my life open
and he leads me home since I cannot see for the tears.
On my darkest day he calls my name, he isn't afraid,
nor repulsed but interested, kind and laughing
like an old friend who loves me best.
I know I have held back because of my hurt and rejection,
like pounding rain unrelenting and so unkind.
The rejection in the religious community and in the press
made me shut my heart and turn away.
The man from Nazareth stopped as I was clinging to life
he paused and took me home when I was blinded by tears and hurt.
My heart is broken open and love burst in and God is my home forever.
Monday, June 8, 2009
There are now some rooms in my house where it is impossible to see the furniture or the walls because of the boxes and the things that are pulled out awaiting packing or pick up. I am expecting Salvation Army to come and take away some things and it is amazing how dependent I have become on their schedule. I spent good portions of every day making calls to change addresses, accounts and various other functions that need to be changed for our move. I find myself talking out loud to myself more than usual. I find myself calling out to God in prayer, in petition and in desperation.
Jesus was on his way to Jericho and a blind man along the road called out to him, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" The man had been a beggar all of his life, never able to earn a wage due to his disability. His only livelihood was begging. When he calls out to Jesus and Jesus replies by asking the man what he wants, he tells Jesus he wants to see. As poor as he is, and in need of money, shelter, food, clothes - with all of that, he asks to see. He wants to be made whole so that he can participate in life. He has many needs and yet Jesus, the great compassionate teacher, lets him asks for what he truly needs. Jesus lets him ask for it, not because he doesn't understand the beggars lack, but because he knows the man's need for dignity and compassion. The beggar has been told where to go and how to live all of his life. Jesus gives him sight and the dignity to live his own life.
"Lord, I want to see." Luke 18:40
Today, as I move through the many tasks ahead of me, I want to be aware of God's presence with me as we walk this road. I ask to remember the wonderful opportunities and possibilities ahead of me. I ask God to help me to see beyond the present clutter to the joy that awaits. Each of us has clutter, tasks and hurdles to face today. May we remember that Jesus is always walking close by and asking, "what do you want me to do for you?" It is a question, not only for the beggar of so long ago, but for us, right here in the midst of the monumental stuff that we face. Today and always, we are never alone in our trails, but we have a companion who walks the way with us.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The rain had finally stopped and the skies cleared yesterday. Despite all the packing and preparation we have yet to do, we felt it important to go out into the sunshine, out into the world. It's that season - when the strawberries are ripe - a short, sweet time of the year. Not quite summer and long past winter. It is the season when the relationships on earth are in full bloom, when color and light is everywhere. And one can only pack so many boxes and clean so many cupboards before one get stir crazy. So out we went, into the still damp fields, baskets in hand. There weren't so many out in this field that we couldn't enjoy the quiet and the bird song. The light and the breeze did their best to delight us too. There are just certain days and certain places on this earth that make me glad I am alive and make me feel the breath and touch of God. The Creator feels very close, out in the fields, and I wonder how anyone can doubt God's goodness and delight while their fingers are stained with the precious sweet nectar of there early summer fruits.
" For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17
Today is Trinity Sunday, the day when we celebrate God as three-in-one. God in relationship, God manifest in three persons all together one. I think concepts are hard to teach and even harder to learn. But God as known in relationship is not hard for me to understand. The wind and the water and the sun all conspire to grow these luscious berries, we picked so recently. God as reaching through the world through a child, a son and through the power of spirit - all conspiring to make us know of God's love for us - well that just makes sense. My children have shown me what love is all about. Love is never understood, known or tasted without the reflection, reaction and intersection with others. God as parts in harmony, complete and yet faceted, well that is how life is best known - in relationship and in community.
A Prayer For Trinity Sunday
thank you for the strawberries and all of the others sweet touches in our lives.
May we know your love as we share your blessings with others.
May we taste the sweetness of your tender care as we care for others.
May we find your face in the face of those we meet today.
May our hands be instruments of your peace and may our voices be whispers of your delights.
Help us to be companions to those in need. May we need one another and You
so that love might be complete in our homes.
We ask this all in the name of Jesus who came to save us all. Amen
Saturday, June 6, 2009
The packing has begun in earnest and we have gotten to the critical point where there really is no turning back. There is no desire within me to turn back and yet I have considered just running away. Belongings are everywhere. We are trying to sort through, throw out and pack up. Things are stacked awaiting boxes. Boxes are open, half filled, with flaps a-go-go, as if they were hungry forest creatures screaming to be fed. Chaos has the upper hand right now. There is the stuff of our lives everywhere, confusion reigns,and nothing, nothing is normal right now. Staying on the path and following where God is leading us seems harder today then some. Although everything is familiar, it is undone and now totally foreign. I find myself wondering on a regular basis, when gazing at an object awaiting a pack or toss decision, "what was I thinking?" and "where did all this stuff come from?"
" 'I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come, eternal life.'" Luke 18:29
Jesus has just challenged his disciples with the knowledge that the reign of God is not for the wealthy, proud or educated. He has just told one man he must be born again and his disciples are terrified that they can't measure up to what seems like God's completely irrational and chaotic scheme. Jesus comforts them by reassuring them that they have given up much, and God is and will bless them forever. I am sure they weren't terribly comforted. I am sure that the chaos they experienced seemed too challenging sometimes. I am sure their lives seemed harder not easier, sometimes.
Today, in the midst of all this chaos, I want to remember whether the path is familiar or strange, whether the cost is high and small, whatever God is asking of me - I can go because God goes with me, leading me and taking me by the hand. The way forward is often unfamiliar, or frighteningly familiar, but all the same, God is in the midst of it all. In the midst of the boxes and the sorting, in the midst of the profound chaos, God is there. God, breathing spirit, love and life into the midst of an uncertain way ahead. May we all take a deep breath in the midst of where ever we find ourselves and know for certain - God is right here with us. Incarnate in the middle of the chaos and blessings us now and always.
Friday, June 5, 2009
In the past few days I have been packing boxes at a pretty steady rate. As I put things away and pull furniture from the walls, remarkable discoveries happen. Some moments it seems as if a science project gone bad was hidden behind a dresser or bed, and then dust and time did their best to create life. The are real monsters under our beds, mostly made of dust and things that didn't have a proper home. It is very revealing when one begins to pack up a household. I thought I was pretty organized and tidy. But now, there is compounding evidence to the contrary. The final straw happened when our aged dining room table broke flinging all the piles of mail to be sorted across our known universe. It is truly humbling to have one's belongings tossed across the floor. Humanity revealed, humility restored.
"For every one who exalts themselves will be humbled, and the one who humbles themselves will be exalted." Luke 18:14
Pride comes easily when things are going well and the universe (or at least one's home) is ordered and functioning well. It is easy to look at other people's visible messes and thank God it isn't us. We all love to slow down and gape at accidents and drive on with ourselves intact. Most of life is messy though, and even the most wealthy, organized, brilliant and pious people cannot protect themselves from being human. We are all vulnerable and soft, no matter how hard and perfect our outer shell might be. "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner." The simple prayer that the tax collector prayed, echoes down through the centuries. A mystic on a pilgrimage called it the Jesus prayer. It is the prayer of the humbled, the prayer of all humanity. Our faithfulness to God, the author of love and life, is not based on what we can do, but how honest and vulnerable we can be to God, and to one another.
May this day, be a day when our hearts are open to honest humility. I want to not be ashamed of my humanity, nor pretend that everything is perfect. I want to be open before God and my fellow human beings. It is so hard to do, and yet this moving process is surely helping me see myself as I truly am. And it is teaching me to ask for help and take the support and care others are offering with a grateful, humble heart. May today be a day when our humility becomes a radiant light for those who suffer in shame and self judgment. May we spread love as we offer our genuine selves to God and to the people in our lives.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
It had rained yesterday, early in the morning, just before dawn. When the rain let up, I took a walk down to the beach, to watch the waves and see the day begin. I cannot count the number of times I have walked on this beach. I have known it since I was born, and it has known me as long. Every time I walk, I remember the many people I have walked and played with there. As a young child it was building sand castles, fishing and learning to swim with my family. As a teenager, my friends and I brought our guitars and sang, built bonfires and were terribly brilliant and earnest. As young parents we built castles and swam with our children, and now that they are grown we still walk this way together from time to time. The light struggled to break up the clouds, and the waves beat upon the sand trying to turn and draw back. One fisherman, way out on the rocks, tried his hand at gathering fish. The gulls and surf were singing and all else was silent. This place persists despite time and tide and tempers of people. The creatures that live and dwell in this place persist, struggling with the changing tides to fill their bellies and raise their young. This beach persists, despite the fragility of nature's balance. Where ever I go, I take a piece of it with me.
"And will not God bring about justice for God's beloved who cry day and night? Will God keep putting them off? I tell you, God will see they get justice and quickly." Luke 18:6-8
Jesus talks about the Creator as one who, unlike the corrupt judge, is constantly faithful, persistent in love and justice. No matter how the tides of popularity turn, God listens and responds to the needs of the people. God does not wait to be worn down, but is active at all times in responding and bringing justice. God is always ready to break through the darkness and the clouds and bring a new day. God will turn the loss and mourning into new days and new paths of justice. Love and compassion are the Creator's attributes and when we ask, in the midst of our dark terrors, God responds with love that makes all things new.
It rained through the night, sometimes loudly and insistent. But morning came, persistent with promise and healing. Today, despite the enormous tasks ahead, I want to remember to ask for God's help, knowing that God is more ready to respond than I am to ask. When humans fail, God stays faithful to us and is persistent with us until love resolves the pain. I want to remember whatever the task and the challenge, we are never alone. May God strengthen each of us today, to go forward, knowing God is hanging with us, bringing justice and love with every breath we take.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I woke up and had breakfast with my mother and youngest daughter. It is a marvelous and wonderful thing to watch three generations together. It is also a bit humbling and frightening. Although we are so different generationally, and despite the fact we have had such different experiences, hunched over cereal bowls, watching each of us dissect a banana, listening to the laughter – all of that- we are so very much alike. We are embedded in one another, despite the fact that we are such individuals with such strong personalities. I like to tell people that we Cherokees are matriarchal and matrilineal, so I come from a long line of bossy, warrior women. We are fiercely loyal and fiercely protective of our families.
“ ‘The kingdom of God is within you.’” Luke 17:21
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were arguing about the right way to know God – that had lots of rules they believed assured God’s love and affirmation. We too, have religious leaders in our day, even within our denomination, and on both sides of the theological spectrum, that know the rules that ensures God’s in a person or group. Jesus must have shaken his head. They don’t get it and we often don’t either. The reign of God is within us and in our midst. If there is love and compassion, God is there. If there is violence and oppression God is there weeping for us. And if there is anyone willing to delight and affirm another human being, God delights and affirms along with them. God’s reign is the continuation of love and life, not our judgment of other’s failures and ways of living. God is in the midst of us, within us around us, not within a set of codes or rules. God is in the lovely complexity of relationships, the silent tenderness among generations.
Today, I want to live giving thanks for the family and life I have been called to, and live as the creature the Creator fashioned. One of many generations of fierce, bossy, warrior women, who delight in their families and have compassion and care for neighbors and strangers alike. I want to walk today as a carrier of the reign of God, within and beyond me in the relationships and people before me today.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I didn’t get to make my bed until midday today. Phoebe and I had an early start, to move her out of the place she was staying and into my Mom’s house for the summer. Some things are just hard and some times we have to be strong together. By the time she got off to work, my mother was ready with some chores for me. There are just some days when you don’t know how you can get through. Some days and tasks are just really tough, and although we all want to be grown ups and strong people, well, some things and some relationships are just complicated and hard. And I am convinced that the only way through is through – God acts on our behalf as we engage what ever is in front of us.
“As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us.’ When he saw them he said, ‘go show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed.” Luke 17:12-14
I think of those poor men suffering with leprosy, outcast and alone, having only each other for companionship. They see Jesus and ask to be healed and he sends them on their way. I think I would be reluctant to go, but in their going they were made whole. They were no longer outcasts, no longer without a family and community, and reviled no more. And it was their going, their motion, the one step forward at a time that brought about the healing presence and transformation of God.
Today, with so much on my plate, and so much desire to take care of so many, I want to remember that all the steps ahead are in God’s hands. I only need to take one step at a time, resting possibly in between, and God will be in the midst of the work and activity. God will be along side and within, as I step out in faith. May this day be a day when we all step out in faith, not trusting ourselves, nor grieving our limitations, but knowing God to provide the healing, the direction and the strength to get all the way home.
Monday, June 1, 2009
"God has brought down rulers from their thrones and lifted up the humble. God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty." Luke 1:52-53
Today dawned cool and beautiful. Today we celebrate the feast of the Visitation. We seem to be visited by a bountiful, beautiful spirit today, one that provides cool, warmth and growth for us all. A new work week, a new month, the beginning of some drastic changes in our lives. As I do most mornings, I drove Mark to the train, and watched as he climbed the rickety wooden steps up to the train platform. Once he is there, and a train is loading, I usually open the car's sun roof and wave to him until he is on the train. Probably some people think that is way over the top. But for me, every day is a journey and we never know how many days we have. I want him to know that he is supported and cared for from the beginning to the end of the journey. When my children were in school and they would let me drop them off, I would do much the same thing. They were so embarrassed, I know, and yet they never needed to question my love for them. When loves around I can help but wave and sing out.
We find Mary as she is beginning a journey that changes everything - for her and the world. God's spirit visited her, she had been chosen to carry the God child, the Creator's offspring, the Holy One. She runs to Elizabeth because she is probably the one person who understand this crazy and impossible journey Mary is on. She runs to Elizabeth, her cousin, aged and pregnant. Elizabeth, radiant with her impossible pregnancy say, 'blessed is she who believes what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.' And Mary can't help herself, she cries and waves and sings. Elizabeth acknowledges her profound journey and she just can't help it if love spills out. Mary sings of God, God's justice and care for the lowliest of lowly. Being inhabited by God, she must sing of the goodness and mercy of God who chooses her, a nobody, to carry Christ into the world. God chooses the most unlikely to be inhabited by God.
I pray that today, I can recognize God's love inhabiting the most unlikely. It is easy to be won by wealth and beauty. Harder to see in the poor and the unwashed. And yet Mary's song is our song. We have God's love and we know we are not the victorious people, the beautiful people, the charming princes and princess of the world. And yet, God inhabits us, and all the humble who are willing to know love. And God promises to dwell with us, growing us so that folks around us might see the love of God inhabiting our lives. May we be blessed today to shine our lights. May we be radiant with God's love, no matter how meek or challenging our circumstances. May God inhabit us so today that we can't help but sing.