It was so icy that Sophie couldn’t get footing outside to do her job! The schools were closed for days. Businesses couldn’t get their parking lots cleared. Churches canceled services, (except for Catholic churches, which assume the regulars will do everything they can to get there.)
With snow and ice conditions limiting our time to prepare a service together for today, our on-line worship for DisciplesNet was patched together. But isn’t that the beauty of technology? And it was very good, with a gentle, casual and friendly tone, (though I had nothing at all to do with it.)
For my personal worship and reflection today, after peaking in at DisciplesNet.org, I mulled over Richard Rohr’s devotion about the eternal Christ. He talks about the eternal divine blueprint becoming flesh as the person Jesus, so that we could engage with him human to human because the material presence had to be there in order for us to establish a spiritual connection.. Rohr calls Jesus the “divine synthesis brought to earth.” That is a truly rich statement.
Take a look at the beginning of the Gospel of John, plus Colossians 1:15-20. Ephesians 1:3-12, and 1 John:1-3. What would the world be like if we expanded our spiritual vision to see Christ in all things and all things in Christ?Leave a Comment | Permalink
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
From psalm 40
The shootings in Tucson on January 8 were so terribly upsetting. We will all carry images from that day, memories of heroic bystanders, as well as the gut-wrenching sadness of the several murdered souls whose personalities were fleshed out in the days of mourning.
Many of us are challenged by this season of the year, when there is less light, when dawn comes later and evening sooner. The condition called SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, causes those of us who experience it, to feel lethargic, down in the dumps, and generally a bit grumpy, if not actually depressed. It doesn’t take much to be dragged down further, with losses of close friends, family members, or pets, or even when wintry weather keeps us stuck in the “cabin.”
When a colleague wrote on her Facebook page about her recent bout of depression, I suggested she watch a particular dance routine in the old Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film called Swingtime, where they do “Pick Yourself Up.” Watching comedy sitcoms or films can help rather than keeping 24/7 cycle newscasts on constantly, which tend to emphasize the bad news.
Making a short list of some things to do, including things that may be fun like a little “retail therapy”, and then doing something on the list, not everything, will make us feel we’ve done something meaningful. Sometimes it may be just doing a load of wash and folding it!
Making social plans, having coffee with a friend, anything to engage us with others can lift us out of our darkness. Doing something for somebody can lift our spirits immensely. I may feel tired when I drive to the school where I tutor, but I am really charged up afterwards.
Do any of you find it exhilarating to clean out closets and get rid of “stuff” that you’re not using?
Probably my main activity for moving forward in the midst of sadness, whether environmentally based or because of a personal situation, is physical activity, even when I resort to the tread mill.
Epiphany time provides a space in the church year for us to encounter light from the Holy One who is trying to break into our lives. Let’s pray for all who are challenged by SAD, for all who struggle with very serious illnesses, for all who are trying to cope with caring for their families with few available resources. God bless all the “little ones” all over the world. May all of us try to have hope and continue seek the healing and grace.
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We were two queens and a prince out for a hike on Epiphany Sunday. Off to the “wilderness” of Fishers at 9 degrees, the queens were warm, me in my hideous long goose down coat and Sophie au natural. The prince, as usual, wore a decently warm jacket and both humans wore hiking boots as we traversed the woods and forest without the camels.
For gold we had the wealth of being together, old-marrieds devoted to each other; for frankincense we inhaled the crisp morning air; and for myrrh, we continued to carry with us the suffering of a gifted Congresswoman and the many others wounded or killed in Tucson yesterday, reminding us that time is short and our best work is in giving and sharing love with others.
Our olivewood nativity pieces from Bethlehem are visible in all seasons in our house. They remind us of the wonder and the mystery of life in perpetual incarnation, where, the paradox of joy and suffering reside. The gifts of the magi to the Christ child and to us manifested that long ago. What we can do is follow the “star” that urges forward to bring forth our gifts of greater love and reconciliation.Leave a Comment | Permalink
I must admit that I was baffled by Rep. John Boehner’s weeping this past week and that I am concerned about his emotional stability. After all, if he is elected Speaker of the House, as we expect, should the unspeakable occur, he becomes number three in the chain of succession to the office of President of the United States.
Through his tears, Mr. Boehner told the interviewer that he couldn’t bear going into schools and seeing little children, worried that they won’t grow up to enjoy the American dream. This, too, worries me, for he doesn’t seem to support legislation that would fund the very services that would empower children to get beyond poverty and illiteracy and grow up to take their places as the next generation of leaders.
Mr. Boehner, through volunteering in a city school, my eyes have been opened to a reality that I first experienced forty years ago, when I taught in an inner city school. I tutor reading in an Indianapolis school where it’s so cold, that the other day when a child saw me shiver, she showed me how she keeps reasonably warm by wearing three layers of clothing. Then there’s a matter of supplies and hygiene. Apparently soap and paper towels in rest rooms there are luxuries.
Congressman Boehner, your weeping is no substitute for assuring our children and their parents that you care enough to make sure they have what they need for their well being. If only your tears could turn into actions that would influence your colleagues to move past partisan politics and work for the benefit of all people. What are your priorities for the wholeness of America?Leave a Comment | Permalink
This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday in Advent. Over the years, churches have developed rituals for this season and one of them is lighting the candles on the Advent wreath. Each week has come to have a theme. The first two are Hope and Peace. The third week is Joy, when the candle that is lit is a shade of rose rather than purple. I am busy helping with worship for two congregations at this time and am enjoying the feeling of anticipation as we offer our praise and thanksgiving in words and music, and as we listen to the familiar biblical passages of Advent. These can become refreshingly new again as we travel with them and our companions towards Christmas.
The idea of joy is one I relate to very strongly now, and I have a strong need to celebrate that joy. Today, I am particularly joyful because I received good news about my health. To celebrate, I stopped for lunch at one of my favorite Indianapolis restaurants, Sawasdee, which offers delicious Thai cuisine. Receiving such good news from my doc earlier, (I’m still in remission), I wanted to celebrate, not minding at all that I was alone for Sawasdee holds special joyful memories. When I was ordained several years ago, we held my wonderful celebration dinner there on a Sunday night when friends and family took over the entire place. All the details were taken care of with a great deal of consideration and delight.
I have no shortage of joys right now! Each year, exactly two weeks before Christmas, deep in Advent, I celebrate my birthday. This year I will turn 65 on December 11th, definitely a milestone. While I am optimistic by nature, I had no guarantee that I would be alive and healthy on this special birthday. And we have plans to visit our kids in Toronto, go with them to the Caribbean (yes, I can scuba dive again), visit Mike’s brother and our sister-in-law in Hungary, go to Munich and Vienna, then wind up in Jerusalem to have a joyous reunion with our daughter and family in April around Easter and Passover. The seasons of faith are bookends for these particular joys of health and family.
Advent’s four popular themes of hope, peace, joy and love are beautiful concepts for ordering our lives to live well with each other in this world that is unfortunately so full of conflict. I hope you are experiencing in many ways (and I could go on naming my many joys, which are my many blessings) joys in your life that make you feel whole and holy.
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I must admit to my readers that I’m among those who have been so turned-off by the recent political scene that my voting in the 2010 election comes out of a strong sense of responsibility that I must vote. It’s my duty. But I fear that an element in our fearful electorate misunderstands the intent of very wealthy people and corporations, which is to hold on to “theirs” and keep those without much —without much.
Lobbyists appear to have a great deal of power. Why have we had the pushback against decent healthcare for everyone? Would the representatives and senators prefer slogging it out with reluctant insurance companies like the rest of us? Would our representatives in Congress give up their wonderful coverage? Does the health industry lobby and the companies it represents stand to make money if the bill is overturned?
Would those involved in the fraudulent mortgage schemes have helped the less fortunate? Haven’t many homebuyers lost their way after losing their homes? What politicians have helped them?
And we’ve allowed “bipartisan pandering to the gun lobby,” as reported in a recent editorial, though safety is really a big issue. Do we feel safer that citizens afre free to possess guns in parks?
A major media corporation finally owned up to throwing money into defeating a taxation proposition in California, saying it would harm businesses. Guess what? No one likes taxes, but we must let go of our fears and make sure we have reasonable funding for the most important things, especially education that will ultimately help our citizens become more productive. Who is going to take on the folks who want to keep the average people down?2 Comments | Permalink
We’ve enjoyed our travels to Barcelona, Spain, Jerusalem, Israel, and New York City. We were abroad during much of August and took on the Big Apple at the end of September. Barcelona and New York were purely for fun and enrichment, while in Jerusalem we reconnected with our daughter and her family, greeting a new baby girl.
While we did lots of sightseeing in beautiful Barcelona, a major highlight for me was taking a ride in a glider plane in Megiddo, north of Jerusalem. A tow plane pulls the glider and then lets the tow rope go so the glider can glide in the thermal like a large bird. It was so wonderful. The pilot let me have a few seconds at the controls!
We had a superb stay in New York, returning to the hotel in the theatre district we used to stay at. While its name has changed and they’ve updated the rooms, it’s still comfortable and affordable like we remembered. We saw four musicals: Memphis, Brief Encounter, In the Heights, and A Little Night Music, all very strong and delightful. We also participated in a taping of the David Letterman show. We were walking by the theatre and the chirpy assistants invited us to sign up for tix, which they pull in a lottery. We were chosen and it was lots of fun.
On a serious note, as soon as we checked in to our hotel, we made a visit to Ground Zero our first priority. The area is fenced off and resembles a normal construction site. First we viewed a moving display at the temporary memorial museum across the street and then we located the proposed location of the Cordoba Center at 51 Park Place.
As for the controversy surrounding the Muslim-sponsored building, there is no way anyone visiting the Ground Zero site will be able to see the Muslim cultural building from there. Two very long blocks and many tall buildings prevent any likelihood of visual connection. However, the center will be quite noticeable for its striking architectural look, as it will contrast greatly with the older styles of the surrounding structures. It will replace a decrepit building and enhance the local community both for its beauty and intent.
I hope we can be led by the facts rather than by emotions that can be terribly destructive. The Cordoba Center should become an asset to the area as it takes its place in the neighborhood alongside the many churches on adjacent streets to the site of the 9-11 tragedy.
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Hello Friends and Family!
I’m back from a rather long hiatus from writing on my blog. Many of my readers know that I was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer last summer and had extensive surgery, radiation and chemo during the past year. The good news from my doctor last week is that I’m in remission. Wonderful news, wouldn’t you agree? I know you join me in hoping it goes on for a long time!
I completed my last interim ministry at the end of January 2010, and I’m really looking forward to serving again. Though I’m not running half-marathons now, Mike and I are signed up to walk one in early November and we go out with Sophie, our enthusiastic poodle, usually every morning for a few miles. We’re also doing aerobic swimming, which is a really good all around workout.
We’ve been traveling—to Toronto to visit our kids who moved there, to North Carolina, to family there, and to Barcelona and finally Israel, where we welcomed our daughter’s new baby. We now have seven grands! For me, an exciting highlight was riding on a glide plane near Meggiddo. When the tow plane lets go you’re sailing in the thermals with the birds. Fabulous experience!
Next week we’re heading to New York, where I was born, hmm, a while ago. We’ll see shows, visit Ground Zero, Ellis Island, take the Circle Line (if it’s still called that) around Manhattan, and visit a few cousins.
I’ll try to write more consistently on our return. Not only on my blog, but also completing follow up book, and maybe some new songs for kids.
Peace and blessings to all.
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A few nights ago we watched a documentary on public TV about food manufacturing—that’s right, manufacturing, not farming. I was so upset by the presentation that I decided to enter into one of my infrequent vegetarian periods. Most of us don’t think about cruelty to animals that are raised for us to so we can be sustained by their flesh. Even some five-year-olds make the connection between animals that are raised for food and become unhappy to the point of disavowing McDonalds for a few days.
What I saw in the film was deeply traumatizing, even to one who has considered tender, rare steak just about the tastiest thing to eat for dinner. Suddenly it mattered to me that chickens are raised without seeing the sun, packed into containers, force-fed until they can’t stand up, never mind move around. I mattered to me that cattle are like wise abused—yes, I think it’s abuse.
Agribusiness is just that. Unless we’re purchases our food from farmers, real farmers, who care about the integrity of their crops and animals, we are complicit in another corporate takeover, where fewer than a half dozen producers supply most of our food. My mother-in-law has never eaten lamb since I’ve known her. She suggested the other day that the way the animals are treated is part of her issue with eating lamb, specifically.
“There’s something about lamb, because of its connection with biblical history, ” she said, “that’s holy.” Lamb is especially popular in the middle east, and often appears as a sacrifice, It is treated in the Bible with respect. Recall, too, the beautiful metaphors of sheep following Jesus: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me (JN 10:27). On this Earth Day weekend, can we listen for direction? What is asked of us in our treatment of all God’s creatures? Brutality? Excessive violence? Complete lack of consideration for the care of creatures?
I’ll probably get over my abrupt decision to be a vegetarian, but I think I’ll look into locally-produced food. Do you have suggestions for my readers?1 Comment | Permalink
If you know anything about the Constitution of the United States of America, you might be appalled to hear Sarah Palin say the founding fathers never meant for Church and State to be separated.(See Greg Sargent’s article in The Plum Line.) Considering how a letter writer to the Star was wailing about the separation of religion from the public education system as three Catholic schools become secular charter schools in Indianapolis, I suppose it would be fine with her if they continued to share their previous Catholic identity.
The schools can’t continue to finance themselves as parish schools, but fortunately the teachers will continue in their positions. Religious education will not be part of the regular school day. That was the sacrifice the administrators were forced to make.
And then there’s the other news that mingles the Constitution and flawed perceptions. Now our citizens are flaunting guns in national parks because they can. It’s legal. Am I supposed to feel more comfortable knowing some extremists are packing heat in places where I should be able to have fun and feel secure romping in the outdoors?
Oh my, I really must use this as motivation to write another book before more madness takes over. I wrote Preaching Prophetically When the News Disturbs: Interpreting the Media for my clergy colleagues (Chalice Press, 2009), but I think all of us who breathe need to be able to sift the truth from all the spoken and written words that bombard us. Encourage me. We’ll all learn a lot.1 Comment | Permalink