Sunday, February 19, 2012

Home Again

I returned yesterday from our annual cruise to the Caribbean. And as it always is - it was a time of rest and relaxation. A wonderful gift for me and Chuck to be together, with friends in beautiful surroundings.

What was different this year for me was that the cruise was preceded by a clergy conference on social justice issues. i was there as part of our BREAD organization here in Columbus. I blogged a bit about it and it really inspired me and prepared me for further involvement personally with Bread and a greater openness to the ways in which God always calls the church to be a voice for the voiceless and to work for justice for all people. Our church - like most churches - is really good with "mercy" - which is to say - compassionate care for individuals. We know how to be the Good Samaritan (caring for people in the moment of need) but God also wants us to "do something about the Jericho Road" which is a dangerous place. And that we cannot do by ourselves and the solutions take time. So, a challenge - a real challenge for all of us. Anyway, it was interesting this year to have these ideas as preliminary to the luxury of a cruise.

I also read some really interesting books in the past two weeks - "Season of Wonder" and "Bel Canto" by Anne Patchett (novels) and "The Blue Sweater" by Jacqueline Novogratz. (memoir) They were set in third world countries and all dealt with the complexity of this world - our racism, classism, injustice, etc. So, this week as my body was being well fed! - so too was my mind and soul.

Which brings me to this Sunday morning and as I prepare for this day and this week. We begin Lent on Wednesday with our Ash Wednesday service and I pray that this season will be a time of deepening spirituality for the whole church and real growth.
One of the gifts of a week away, was time for reading, writing and contemplation.
This morning in prayer I sat in the "both and" of this Christian walk.

Richard Rohr has written that "contemplation is the most radical form of self-abandonment that I can imagine. It is most difficult if there is not a profound truth that there is Someone to whom I can be abandoned! Such self forgetfullness paradoxically leads one to a firm and somewhat fearless sense of responsibility, Now i can risk resp[responsibility precisely because I know the buck does not stop here. There is co-creation going on, a life giving synergism that is found somewhere between surrender and personal responsibility. God is fully "cooperating with those who love God."

This is part of my prayer this morning.

"Lord, what I know is that I want peace and comfort.
I also want to serve you and have a life of meaning and purpose.
And these two desires are in tension with one another.\

Serving you means being willing to walk with others through the valley of the shadow of death.
Serving you means being awake and aware of the suffering of others
Serving you means recognizing my own gifts and call
Serving you means being willing to stand against injustice and evil

And so I sit here in prayer because i need you and I need to experience your love, your forgiveness and your healing

And I sit here because I need your call upon my life that moves me out of comfort
Into service and humility and discomfort and love
May I serve you today

Thursday, February 9, 2012

notes from the DART conference

I write this from Orlando Florida where I am attending a clergy conference which is titled "who is our master?". The major message is that we cannot serve two masters or two God 's. Who are we going to serve- the god of the 'market or our the God of Abraham?

It has truly been a thought provoking message for me. I am here with thenBREAD organization but one of about 80 clergy fro around the country who are involved in social justice organizations like BREAD.

What I am understanding is the organization and working together is the key to any kind of success in this is not enough to just preach about it or even study it....we need to have people within our church who are willing to work with other churches and religious organizations in order to speak to the "powers that be" with any kind of power ourselves.

This conference for me is a time of learning and inspiration, I am about to go into a small group breakout session on education so that I can learn and grow and then respond.

More later

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Am

This is the title of a documentary I watched Saturday evening. I had first heard about this watching Oprah - a documentary by a successful and very rich movie director, Tom Shadyac. He had an accident and had post concussive symptoms that were truly life changing - making him face his own death. He found himself asking the big questions: what is wrong with the world and what can we do to change it?

The title of the documentary - quotes GK Chesterton whose answer to "what's wrong with the world was "I am." And that is certainly what I cam away with grappling with. He says that this is a documentary about mental illness and eventually what is revealed is the mental illness of our culture - that says we need more than we do. I am not going to go into the documentaries many ideas except to recommend it.

What was particularly interesting to me on Saturday was that I was watching it after I had spent time at the mall - something I rarely do - but I had a Macy's gift card and I wanted to buy myself some tops to wear for the upcoming conference and cruise. Shopping for me is often anything but fun. I have described shopping as a lot of ways to be wrong. Which means that I often feel almost disoriented when I find myself in a department store. i don't know what department to shop in - I know I am not a junior, am I a woman, do I want sportswear, casual clothes, name brand.
I have bought clothes and been told they were too old for me and others that were too young?

Another problem I have - and it is a big one - is that styles do change I just don;t know what works for me. So, I am always looking to buy something that looks like something I already have. In fact, when I returned home with my purchases Chuck said - "they look like you" guilty as charged

I also don't get a thrill from buying things - in fact, I can go into "buyer's remorse" as I am writing the check (yes, I still write checks!) at the cash register.

So then I go home from this chore of shopping and watch a documentary that reminds me that this is nothing that feeds my soul. And it only brings out my insecurities and makes me a little crazy.

What is wrong with the world - I am - when I am accumulating beyond my needs. Give me a good book, give me a walk in the woods, give me words with friends

But no more shopping. For a while.

This is not exactly a spiritual offering today - but confession is good for the soul.
Lord, have mercy on me.