Thursday, June 3, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
Family and friends have been much on my mind lately. Mother and Daddy were notified a few weeks ago that an apartment in a senior citizen complex here in Laramie had opened up and would be available the first of May. Even though we have talked about it for several years, when the opportunity to move actually came, it was a whole new level of seriousness. Born and raised in the same town, living in the house Daddy built for 48 years, (which is not more than a half mile from their own childhood homes), it is a scary proposition for them to contemplate moving. One day it was "we've moving;" the next, it was, "we're staying." At times it seemed like my sister, Joanie, and I were tag teaming as we tried to help them lay out the pro's and con's. We want this to be their decision and agree that whatever way they choose we can support them and help them to have the best possible living situation. And so, it is that they are moving to Laramie in late May and will try it out until August when leases must be renewed for a year. I am very excited to have them closer and look forward to sharing some fun times and meals with them. We will all make some changes and that may well be the most invigorating and life-giving part of the move for them.
Friends have been much on my mind, too. A couple of weeks ago I met, Mel, one of my ol' college roommates and sorority sisters for lunch in her town. We lingered over coffee for several hours until the restaurant manager asked us to leave, so they could clean up and close. It is good to have someone to share the ups and downs of aging parents, troubled kids, the importance of a bible study. Laughter, tears, empathy and understanding that go back more than 40 years. Another long weekend my friend, Laurie, was here. She is the very active friend who is always ready for a hike or in this case, a half-day snowshoeing in the Snowies. The Libby Creek trail always seems to be up hill going out and up hill coming back. But it was a glorious day--so warm we didn't need gloves, hats or jackets. She and I also spent a good bit of time watching movies, basketball games, and arranging some new pictures from my sabbatical. Laurie always encourages me to stay in shape, set goals, play hard and work hard. Then a newer friend was here last weekend. Abby in quite a lot younger than I, so she introduces me to new music, new technology and new comediennes. Always lots of fun mixed with some serious talk about jobs, vocations, relationships.
Friends--cherished old ones who have been with me through the thick and thin places, and in the moment new ones I'm just getting to know--are so very important to living in healthy, whole and holy ways. Some have earned the right to offer advice and criticism because they are worthy of trust. Even at my most unlovable they still love me and desire good for me and from me. And then there is the most amazing thing of all--Jesus says to his disciples (and so to us), "I do not call you servants any longer...but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father." Just think of that, friends with Jesus, friends with God. When I am down on myself I am encouraged by this promise and then I am able to step back and consider what it means to also be a friend to my self.
Eleanor Roosevelt put it like this, "Friendship with oneself is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world." And in a more contemporary way, Anne Lamott says a similar thing, writing, "Awareness is learning to keep yourself company. and then learn to be more compassionate company, as if you were somebody you are fond of and wish to encourage."
And so on this my sabbath day, I will befriend myself with a walk up the street to see the foxes at dusk, a great dinner, a good glass of wine and a good night's rest. And to you, gentle reader, wherever you are, remember that real friendship transcends time, place and regularity. Consider our friendship worthy of a God who dares to call each one of us, "friends."
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
One of the unexpected surprises of Lent/Holy Week/Easter was praying the Rosary; sometimes with others and sometimes alone. At one of the first Wednesday evening Lenten Soup Suppers, we had the opportunity to make our own rosary. It was a wonderful inter-generational event and those of us with bifocular eyesight were very appreciative of the youngsters who could thread the needles for us to begin. On the following Wednesdays we prayed the rosary as a group, using different prayers.
One week we used the familiar "And all will be well, and all will be well and all manner of thing shall be well" from Julian of Norwich as the "week beads." In each week of the beads we meditated on a person, event, place, relationship that we really desired wholeness and wellness. Many found this a helpful discipline through the rest of Lent. The following Wednesday was St. Patrick's day, so the "week beads" were from his Lorica. We meditated on Christ's presence all around us in people and places. The final week we used the seven last words of Christ on the Cross for the "weak beads." Because of their familiarity and the different places they called me to be in prayer, I particularly liked this and used it throughout Holy Week.
Well, that is until we got to Easter. Our facilitator/mentor/bead master/friend (Barbara Kissack) had also prepared special prayers for the days following Easter. Using a sequence hymn written by Adam of St. Victor (canon in the Abbey of St. Victor in Paris in the 12th Century), I was so moved by his powerful images. I think that his ideas parallel those of Gerard Manley Hopkins who wrote of "Eastering" as I blogged about last time. Adam of St. Victor's words follow:
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I will have to say that when I walked with Fargo and Rebel this morning, I was awestruck by the beauty of it all. The snow lay heavy on branches and even wire fences held 2-3 inches of snow. When I finished shoveling the driveway, I gave strong consideration to making a snow bunny as it was the perfect snow for snowballs. But finishing up the last of the sermons for the Triduum seemed more pressing. Each year at St. Matt's we are better able to identify and utilize the varied gifts of more members. We have some new water and towel haulers for Maundy Thursday footwashing, new readers and pray-ers for the Ecumenical Good Friday service; new story tellers for the Great Vigil. Newness seems to a good word for Easter.
I came across a portion of a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, "The Wreck of the Deutschland" with the amazing line, "Let him Easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us." When Christ Easters in us there really is the possibility of new life right now. So much of Lent we have dedicated ourselves to identifying places where our hearts have grown hard, cold, rigid; now I think we are ready for the new life.
As the Psalmist writes, "He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfroast like ashes. He scatters hail like bread crumbs; who can stand against his cold? He sends forth his word and melts them; he blows with his wind, and the waters flow. " (Ps 147:17-19)
This spring snow will soon melt and then we will be blessed with new growth on the now blanketed trees; the spring flowers will bloom (probably by June!!). But even in this cold, God's Spirit blows through us and the living waters flow. And soon we will shout, "Alleluia, the Lord is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!" And he will Easter in us again, day by day, rain or shine, snow or sun. Alleluia!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
During Lent at every service with the Penitential Order we have had the whole congregation hold stones to their hearts as we've considered the Decalogue. Then we process to the rear of the Nave to symbolically rid ourselves of our hard-heartedness and sinful ways, then to turn back to Christ for the words of Absolution. The crash of those stones as they are tossed into the galvanized tub initially made a hideous, clanking sound. As the stones have accumulated the sound is dull, but nevertheless unnerving. During the ensuing week, folks take a stone home with them to help them through the week to recollect other areas which are in need of change.
As a "gift" to the Electing Convention last week, we gave all the delegates, alternates and clergy a stone to assist them in prayerfully offering up any area where hurts, betrayals, frustrations, aggravations with any previous bishop might hinder their openness to the Holy Spirit's guidance. For some it meant dealing honestly with our own hard-heartedness; for harboring grudges; for lack of support for those in positions of authority. The tub grew noticeably fuller before the opening Eucharist began.
On Good Friday we will have one last opportunity to prepare our hearts for new life, Easter life, when we place additional stones in the tub. Following each of the Solemn Collects we will have a very short meditation dealing with how we have inflicted hurt or been hurt by the subject of that Collect. For example in praying for the Church, we consider how the church, its ministers and members have let us down and then how we, too, have let the Church down by our failings in keeping the vows we made (Baptismal, Marriage, Ordination). We will place our representative stones in the tub placed at the foot of the cross.
By Easter the stones will have been well washed (with the waters of Baptism?) and will be displayed in a very large, glass container (like an aquarium) as a reminder of the new life we can embrace through Christ's passion, crucifixion and resurrection.
In my preparation then for Holy Week, I am thinking it is like the time when a potential transplant patient is hoping she will live long enough for the pager to go off, summoning her to the hospital for the surgery. And then because we know the rest of the story, we know that someone has died, that the needed heart has been made available and that Christ's life awaits us.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
The weekend of the Super Bowl was spent with the Vestry at our retreat. Using some of the early data gathered at our annual meeting, it was no surprise that the areas we see as working well or take delight in (and give us a niche place in the market) are worship/liturgy, outreach and music. Communication on every level (within the congregation and beyond) calls for special efforts.
Using a tool for Role Renegotiation presented by Dick and Mary Naumann, we spent much of our time listening to one another and thinking together what we at St. Matthew's need to do or be to enhance our relationship with Diocesan leadership. In the next couple of months we have a wonderful opportunity to consider anew our hopes and expectations for ourselves, for our next bishop and his/her staff. There are also the issues revolving around the considerable amount of property we have for our stewardship. l
There are moments when I see these looming issues as opportunities; and other moments as chances to rely on God's power and mind and on the gifts of those with vision, discernment and wisdom. I sense we really need to seek God's mind on all this as it often seems so far beyond where my skills or interest lie.
Following the Vestry retreat (and the Super Bowl), I headed to Moab, Utah, home of Arches and Canyon Lands National Parks. These are places where the creative power of God in nature is evidenced in the arches, canyons, needles and fins. For four days Laurie and I hiked on trails, long and short, up and down, in mud, snow and dust. Through the years and along many miles, she has taught me to hike quietly in order to hear and see more by talking less. As the Psalmist writes, "Be still and know that I am God."
In the vast stillness, one can hear and feel the light breeze stirring the sage, greasewood and junipers; the song of a scavenging titmouse or the call of a soaring eagle; the squeaky scrunch of fresh, dry snow. The myriad snow crystals (see below) gave me a sense of abundance; the arches and other massive formations gave me a sense of eternity, stretching back and forward in time; and the petroglyphs, the hope for that day when every tribe, people and nation will be gathered together in unity to the praise of God's glory.
Just as the first nation people welcomed the Olympians who gathered in Vancouver this weekend, I long to be among those who welcome others just as I have been welcomed by Christ through baptism and the vocation given to all as ministers of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5.17f)
Friday, January 29, 2010
When I awoke this morning a heavy blanket of fog drove me back to my own blankets for another cup of coffee and a few chapters in the book I'm reading. A half hour later I was delighted to see that the fog had lifted or rather scattered to the edges of the horizon in all directions. The glittering of the full moon gave a magical, mystical glow to the trees and shrubs which were coated in frost.