Thursday, August 20, 2015

Stellaluna the bat needs a big sky to fly in...

Image found at Wild Life Command Center

It was a warm and dark Wednesday night.

A friend from home stopped into town to visit me and to see the churches that I'm serving in the Ken-Ton neighborhood. She was excited to see my name on the sign and take in the worship space.
So we stopped in to one of the buildings for a tour.
As I showed her around the altar area I told her about how amazing it is to be able to serve communion now. In my excitement I laid my flash-light app engaged cell phone down, held my hands in the air to represent my imaginary "bread" and started to say the words on institution.
"On the night Jesus was betrayed, he took the bread broke it and said, "This is my body broken for you..."
In my friend's delight she shouted, "Oh do that again I want to take a photo!"
I obliged and as I held my hands up I felt a "WOOSH!" of air by my arms and head.
Was it a gust of wind?
Was it a moth?


It was a bat.

I'd like to say that I didn't duck -
But I did.

My friend and I were left with a dilemma.
If we left the bat to flit around in a panic - she would probably injure herself or die.
We were open to the idea of trying to help it out of the church, but could not figure out the best approach. But as we stood talking and trying to find a solution, the bat seemed to follow our voices wherever we walked.

Duck again!

So off went the sanctuary lights and on with the foyer lights.
We closed off all other doors except the entrances to the sanctuary and the front doors of the church.
We flashed our lights, called out to the bat, and kept hoping the bat would follow.
To our amazement, the bat moved out of the sanctuary and into the foyer.
As it circled the new space, it closed in its range and came closer and closer to the doors outside.
We moved outside and kept hooting and calling to the bat.
"Come on Stellaluna, you need to come outside!"
In a few minutes, the trapped bat must have caught wind of the outdoor air and SWOOP!
She finally came flying out into the open night sky.
She circled close to the building for a few moments and then disappeared into the darkness.
Stellaluna was free.

This experience was quite surreal for my friend Kimberly and I. We had entered the church at night for a tour and by the end of our bat adventure we felt like we had shared in something sacred.
In some traditions, bats are not seen as scary creatures. Bats are held in high esteem - they in fact are cherished by the Native American culture: 

"The Native American people recognized that the bat was highly sensitive to their surroundings and so therefore was considered a symbol of intuition, dreaming and vision. This made the bat a powerful symbol for Native American shamans and medicine people. Often the spirit of the bat would be invoked when special energy was needed, like "night-sight" which is the ability to see through illusion or ambiguity and dive straight to the truth of matters."
(For more info on animal symbolism visit here)

After our bat adventure, we pondered the importance of this shared moment. We shared excitement, teamwork and the thrill of succeeding in what we thought was an impossible task. We were thankful that we could go to bed knowing that Stellaluna was free - with our help.
She was no longer stuck in a space that limited her flight. She was free to fly in a sky that had no limitations.

Stellaluna reminded me that we all have spaces that we like to stay in because they feel comfortable. Sometimes the voices that call us to new rooms or environments sound strange and impossible. But sometimes, the voices that call us out of our comfort zones are like the prophet Isaiah...

"A voice cries out: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain."

Stellaluna the sanctuary bat taught me a few things...
Bats don't like to be trapped in small rooms.
Teamwork and creative efforts can yield amazing results.
Friends are needed to help us in unsure times.
We all need larger skies to fly in.
We all need to stretch our wings when we get the chance.
Thanks, Stellaluna for the lessons.

You taught us a great deal about flying in bigger skies.

Grace and Peace,
Vicar Tara

PS. Stellaluna is the name of the bat in one of my favorite children's books. To learn more about this book go to: Stellaluna Online

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Friend for the journey - For Jenn

Carpooling, chaos and hard-headed spark.
Friends that are family, is us from the start.
Meals and museums and pages from old books,
these are just a few steps that we already took. 


Goliaths we've wrestled and they've made their mark, but this way that we walk-wobble-walk encompasses our whole human heart. 

Many cups of dark coffee and sharing a tune have been our mantra, our method our rune. The melody that greets us is one I can't hear too soon.

Gospel and grace give us hope for the days set before us. Laughter and space call us to stay close.

For this piece in the road  and the life that you've given - what a treasure, my friend, you are and always have been.

For Jenn Swift

Copyright 2015 T.L.Eastman

Monday, August 17, 2015

Three things you need to know about me

There are a few things you should probably know about me.

1. It is necessary for me to be creative.
2. Relationships born and fostered in community are my life-blood.
3. Serving God in the Church is my long-standing vocation.

Image found at:

1. Creativity

"31 he (God) has filled him with divine spirit,[a] with skill, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft," Exodus 35:31

Perhaps it's because I grew up in a rural community in North Western Pennsylvania where I had time and space to play or the fact that my family valued music, art and reading; but I love to create. While some folks may designate a specific hobby or art medium they prefer to work with; I love to choose from a varied array of subjects to engage in creative process. From cooking to painting or singing to writing; creating beautiful things to taste, touch and view is a hobby and focus that gives my life, well, life. Part of what I feel God has called me to is using my creative abilities to encourage others to use their gifts too!

2. Community Relationships:

 "Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;[a] do not claim to be wiser than you are." Romans 12:16

My children and husband would be the first to tell you that going grocery shopping at home is not just about filling the fridge back up. For me, going to the grocery store is a social event. Having lived in Chautauqua County for over twenty years as well as working in various ministries within the community has a way of helping a person get to know a community and the people that live there. While all of the visiting can make getting groceries rather time consuming, it is a joy to see and speak with people that I share life with. Some I've worked with, worshiped with or just know from shopping at the store; but sharing life and relationships is important to me. Community relationships and family relationships have a way of reminding me that life is not just about me. Life is about who we are as community - together. Living together in any community group is not easy, but God has called us to serve each other in the communities we have be placed. We are called to "Grow where we are planted" and with God's help community spirit and healthy relationships can take root and grow strong.

3. Church: 

" For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function,  so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of  another." Romans 12:4-5

Over the last 20+ years I have served the Church in three different denominations (Salvation Army. The Presbyterian Church of the USA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). Much of my background is in youth and family ministry, but in the last ten years of so I've gain more and more experience in Pastoral ministry and seminary education - and this is the point this journey has brought me to serve as Vicar at the Lutheran Parish of the Tonawanda's.

If it's possible, I usually can find a way to combine my three favorite "C's". To be honest, I feel that when creativity and community are combined with the church - that is where faith, life and hope can be found. As Romans 12:4-5 points to the unique gifts each person holds, I challenge you to consider what your own gifts might be? We all have gifts to share.

What would you like to share?
What is important to you?
What are your three "C's"?

In God's Grace,

Vicar Tara