Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pie lessons

Pieces of pie - lemon meringue.
Coffee in cups piping hot for a damp day.
Shadows of sorrow put out to the warmth,
of clinking spoons, children's laughter, and smiles adorned.

Bowls of chowder.
People fed.
This lesson was worthy of rolling out of a Saturday bed.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Blinking lessons

One of my favorite villains from Dr. Who are called the Weeping Angels. They are an alien force that takes the form of statues. When you are looking at them they can't move, but once you look away they can move with great speed and strength. If they do touch you they shift you to a different time and space. All that was once normal is all gone. You start over where you are placed in a new space and time. The best defense against the attack of a weeping angel is this, "Don't blink".

How can it be that this imaginary character from a science fiction program could have anything to do with real life, well it does, but it's more about the way time passes like a blink of an eye.

On the morning of September 11, 2001 we all recall where we were due to the tragedy of this day historically, This day for that reason is one, due to the great loss of loved ones and life, that many wish they could blink over and make disappear. But blinking in reality does not work that way. When I think of this day fourteen years ago I recall my son starting his first day of preschool, my daughter in primary school and going for a run after getting them off to class for the day. My husband was off to the office early, but I was going to take advantage of the crisp fall morning. The sun was shining and the breeze was brisk - and then in a blink the whole day shifted into chaos and despair for so many people.

Blink again and fourteen years later my youngest has just started college, my oldest has a two year old of her own and my husband and I are grandparents.

In a blink everything can change.
This is something that especially on September 11th we all can agree on.
Don't blink.
Live today.
It's only here for a moment.
Don't blink.
Image found at: Doctor Who

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Singing lessons

I've recently met a gentleman that loves to sing. His enthusiasm and energy is contagious. Now I've been singing for almost my whole life. I recall memorizing all the songs from a TV program on PBS called, The Song Bag, with host Tony Saletan.

I'd sing in the house, the car (which my older brother loved, not!) and I'd even sing as I played on my swing set as a child. I'd imagine that if I sung loud enough, then the people in the village might be able to hear me - and answer back with their own tune.

For the life of me, I don't recall a major time in my life where I was not singing. I sang to my kids when they were babies, I sang in various bands, and even today I sing in church each Sunday.

Somewhere along the way though I think my start of singing for the fun of it might have become a little fuzzy or perhaps the fact that my work did not have space for music had me set it on the back burner for a while.

But music is not meant for the back burner.
Music lifts my heart and I hope helps to lift the hearts of those within earshot of my singing.

Several years ago I painted the words to this hymn around the walls of my living room...

My life flows on in endless song; above earth's lamentation,
I hear a sweet, tho' far-off hymn that hails a new creation;
Thro' all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul - 
How can I keep from singing?

The truth is, no matter what might try to silence it, I cannot keep from singing. My new friend that was estranged from music for many years tells me every week...
"Keep singing your songs and telling you stories and you'll do just fine."
Music is a powerful force, but one that does more mending than can be measured.

No matter where you go, your car, your house and out in your yard; keep on singing.                                 

 If I hear your tune, I'll sing one right back and hope it is fine for you to hear too.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Poetry lessons

Mrs. H was an old fashioned teacher who wore her hair in a tight bun and a blouse that buttoned up high that was always finished off by a sparkly, but not too sparkly, brooch.

When I met her the first day of fourth grade I was afraid of her sternness and her long homework assignments.

We were given an assignment to write a poem about our favorite color and to my great relief the writing came to me quickly. The next morning, I was so excited to share my poem with her.

When I handed it in, her reply was curt.
"You did NOT write this."

I was aghast. No matter what I said, she would not believe that my poem about the color red was mine!

I don't know where my moment of bravery came from, but before I knew it I said, "Give me another word to write about and I'll write a poem about it right now."
She agreed.
So, I wrote.

Thankfully, the words came. The poem was written and she knew that writing was something I had a natural knack for. I somehow, was a poet.

There are a million other lessons that Mrs. H taught me that school year. In fact she became one of my favorite teachers of all time. She gave her time, her encouragement and her energy like not other teacher had before or probably since. My writing was really rough around the edges, but she could see that somewhere deep down, that I had a love for words and for communication.

Years later I learned that there was a distinct reason Mrs. H was so serious about poetry.
It turns out that she was a poet herself.
She loved words and wanted her students to sincerely love them too.

Thank you Mrs. H for helping me to learn to love, respect, and wrestle with words - no matter what the grade turns out to be. Thank you for helping me to discover too, that like you , I'm a poet too.

I'm a poet, and thanks to Mrs. H the poet - I know it.

Image found at janeaustinworld

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Vocation lessons

On Sunday morning I shared one of my favorite quotes in my sermon. The quote comes from a book written by Parker Palmer called, Let your life speak.

I've written about this book and even this specific quote many times before, as this phrase came into my own life at a time I was wrestling with my own calling or vocational purpose. When I'm in the midst of confusion and worry over the course of where my vocational process may or may not be heading, I find myself returning to this well loved phrase in order to help find a center space where I cans see progress and hope in the process that is vocational discernment

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

(Note: This quote was not originate with Mr. Palmer, but he uses the statement that originates with Fredrick Buechner's little book Wishful thinking: A Seeker's ABC's as a means of telling his own story concerning vocational wrestling.)

Both Palmer's and Buecher's book have been great clarifying companions in the midst of my own heady ongoing process of clarifying vocational direction. These books - and authors - have been faithful to helping me live into the vocational labyrinth that so many of us think we are only wandering in. But the truth borrow from another famous quote from Tolkien...not all who wander are lost
Image found at: Not on the high street

We wander.
We all hope we have made the right choice in regards to the work we have chosen.
Sometimes what we work at does the job of putting bread on the table and a roof over our heads.
Sometimes the work is a vocation that seems to choose us - and we find more than bread and head covering in what we do.

But from the September 6th excerpt of  Simple Abundance states...
"No matter what form our job takes, the content is the same as everyone else's; we are here to minister to human hearts. If we talk to anyone, the we have an opportunity to bring more love into the universe. From a waitress to the head of a movie studio, from an elevator operator to the president of a nation, there is no one whose job is unimportant to God", and so Sarah Ban Breathnach continues..."no matter what our present circumstances, is to discover the work we would love to do. But until we do, we need to learn to love the work we're presently doing."

Once again the world's deep need and our deep joy meet and call us to pay attention. Vocation and work can be a joy. For those longing to experience this vocational joy, I pray you have the time and space to find it. For those in a bad work environment, I pray for strength and a way out as well as the ability to hold on knowing God thinks what you already doing is important.

Your work is important.
Your work matters.
Your work will someday be the deep vocational joy that meets the world's deep need... one eight hour shift at a time.

Peace laborers - it's time to take a break.
You've done and honest day's work.
Until tomorrow here are some more borrowed words to give you hope...

Vicar Tara

Monday, September 07, 2015

Tenderness lessons

Tenderness is something much needed in the world today.
We think we need to be tougher, stronger, and more independent.
But the truth is...
we need each other.
Yes we might make each other crazy at times, we won't often agree, and we all need moments alone to recharge.
But, as a norm - people need to be with other people.
I'd like to even suggest, that people need to be with other people to practice the art of relationship building and relationship I think relationship building requires tenderness.

My grandson Owen asked to hold his brand new baby cousin Atticus at our Labor Day Picnic today. His mamma (my daughter) helped him hold him carefully and as he stared at this tiny one month old infant, he was overcome with tenderness for him and kissed him.

We all gasped.We teared up. This loving display, "got us in the feels".
 We were proud of this busy two-year old Owen showing such gentle intention and care for little Atticus. We all saw how, in the midst of all our differences and challenges, a little bit of tenderness goes a long way.

A little tenderness goes a really long way.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Car Wash Lessons

Original Painting by T. L. Eastman
Car Wash Welcome…
A few days ago I was driving down Sheridan Drive when I saw a free car wash taking place. There were tons of children and teenagers waving their arms, cheering and calling to invite the drivers to pull off the road and get their free car wash. I have to say that I was impressed with the energy and the enthusiasm of the car washers. They did not care what kind of car you drove or even how dirty it was. They just wanted to say hello, wash your car and brighten your day. The free car wash was not for the purpose of just washing cars, but its purpose was to help to connect people and build a sense of community.
Being a part of a caring, inclusive community is something that is important to most everyone. We all have a desire to connect with others, know that they know us and that our presence in that community makes a difference.
Both of the healing stories in today’s gospel draw my mind into the concept of “community living”.  The woman seeking healing for her daughter was a gentile – and as Jesus initial response shows – was not part of the Jewish community.  The second account of healing also takes place in a Greek community that would have been overseen by Roman rule. The man is a gentile in a gentile community, but his inability to hear or speak clearly would have isolated him from others in that community. The gentile woman, her daughter and the deaf man from Decapolis were well aware of what it was like to live as outsiders or strangers in a community that did not embrace them.
“In Mark’s gospel, we witness a remarkable turning point in Jesus ministry. While Jesus believed that God’s reign would eventually extend to all people, the primary focus of his ministry has thus far been to people of Israel. But an encounter with a nameless Gentile woman changes things, and eventually turns into now!” (Jennifer Lord, Sunday and Seasons)
Even though the woman and the man in these healing stories were not part of the community of Jesus, they persisted in seeking out Jesus for help and healing. The woman persisted in seeking healing for the benefit of her daughter – and her daughter is healed – but she also helps Jesus to grow in his own understanding of whom he was called to serve. Jesus gains insight with the help of this unnamed woman who helps turn on the fullness of God’s message for the whole world. With the help of this woman, Jesus has a light bulb moment!
" Jesus suddenly realizes in a very practical way that he is not only called to minister to people from his own race and background - but to all people from all backgrounds."
This lesson shows me - that all us, including Jesus, need light bulb moments to refocus our vision for mission with and to all people.
This morning as we sang our hymn of praise, we joined together as a community of faith singing these words… 
Come, all you people,
come and praise the Most High; 
Come now and worship the Lord.
Imagine for a moment if this morning we had set up a loud speaker to proclaim this invitation outside the walls of our church and down the west and east ends of Sheridan Drive. Even better, imagine if we stood out on the sidewalk this morning singing and waving to the people passing by.
Come, all you people,
come and praise the Most High;
Come now and worship the Lord.
How might it feel to sharing Christ’s good news in such a bold and public way? Would it be scary? Might it be fun? While I realize there are differences between inviting people to a car wash and inviting them to worship, I think there is something to be learned from the energy and enthusiasm I witnessed seeing the car wash on Sheridan Drive. My own light bulb was lit by the calling to share God’s message of good news with ALL people.
There are many people in the world who feel like they don’t belong or are not a part of a family or community group. We have a God that invites ALL PEOPLE to belong – to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
As the body of Christ, we sometimes become comfortable knowing that we already are a part of the community. We already identify ourselves as the “people of God”. The fact that we are here together today is a wonderful gift. But for those who are not yet a part of a community of faith, what do you think hearing this invitation to “Come now and worship the Lord” might feel like? God’s enthusiastic welcome to all people is wonderful, amazing and much needed good news.

So then… how might we go about sharing God’s good news with ALL PEOPLE?

One way to consider how to share God’s good news requires us to think about the unique gifts God has given each one of us. Parker Palmer once wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Where do you see deep hunger? What is your great joy?
Consider how it is possible that you are called to use your gifts to share God’s message of good news. Your joy light bulb is needed out there in the world's deep need.

Sunday's text for September 6, 2015
Mark 7:24-37New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre.[a] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir,[b] even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Jesus Cures a Deaf Man
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus[c] ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”