Thursday, May 30, 2013

Continuing Education

In Vulnerability

I am back on my back porch sitting, as usual, in awe and gratitude for the blessings of my life. Yesterday I returned from a visit to Kentucky with Audrey, Miranda and Miranda’s mom, Linda. It was a blessed time and I continue to reflect on it all.

We started the initial planning of the “Connor – Cook” wedding next year. Audrey and I had put together this trip based on wanting to see a “Moth Event” together in Louisville. What we did not realize was that it ended up being exactly a year before the wedding. Which meant I got to see the proposed site of the wedding – Linda’s home which is up on a hill in the farmland of Kentucky. They had selected a large oak tree that they want to be married in front of.

Then Audrey and I went to the lodge in the state park where we will all be staying and we looked at and completed the booking for a room to have the reception in. It is just fun to talk about possibilities and plan for this event. Audrey has been to three weddings of her sisters and I imagine she wondered – certainly I wondered – if we would ever have a wedding for her. And here it is.

I kept having these moment that I will call “awareness of vulnerability.”

It started with the drive down. I drove alone the almost 6 hours to Glasgow – through Cincinnati, through Louisville, mostly on interstates. 60-70 MPH. And for some reason I just kept thinking about what I would do if the car broke down. Far away from home.

Tuesday morning Linda told me that she had heard the news in the middle of the night of the killing of a Kentucky policeman. On the job just looking to check out debris on the highway. And she thinks of her daughter who is a police officer– and now I have this greater awareness of Miranda and the constant risk of her life as a young woman who is patrolling the Parkway in her car alone.

And, then there is wedding arrangements. I go in as the MOB – the mother of the bride and proudly tell Beth, travel planner at the lodge that we are planning a wedding. And then when she asks the name of the bride and the groom there is a distinct pause, a glance between Audrey and I, and the two female names are spoken. It seems to go well and Beth seems happy to work with us.It is only later that Miranda shares that within the last 10 years she knows of a gay man who was beaten to death at this very park.

And I continue to remember and learn that this world is not always a safe place. That we have only so much control over other people’s reactions. We are always vulnerable. Easy to write and to say - but sometimes I am more aware.

But, of course, I write this as a woman of faith. At the same time living in this graced awareness of blessing and serendipity of so many events of my life. And trusting always, in the presence of God who enables us to survive whatever happens in this earthly life.

We plan for the future and pray for traveling mercies for everyone, protection at work for Miranda, and a celebration of the marriage of two beautiful young women next year.

God is good, life is good and we have much to celebrate!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sitting on the Back Porch

What a blessing - sitting on the back porch,
on my old flowered couch, drinking coffee, reading Richard Rohr, writing a little, and just being here.

As the day begins.

Richard writes about St. Francis (from the book "Hope Against Darkness") "Francis taught us...that the antidote to confusion and paralysis is always a return to simplicity."

And as I sit here I know this is true.

In a simple of act sitting and seeing I remember that I am blessed beyond all desering.

I sit in wonder at that which is always present - but I see it and hear it today.

I see the beauty of leaves waving in the wind,
the robin that skips from branch to branch
the squirrel scrambling up the tree

I hear the sounds of birds near and far as I sit and take it all in.

How did it happen that my greatest moments now come to be times of stillness, watching, listening
and doing.....nothing
but seeing life and beauty and God

Yes, the day - the work day - is beinging with RESPONSIBILITIES to consider

but this momrnt prepares me as I sit in wonder at creation.
It costs nothing
only requires eyes to see, ears to hear and the decision to just BE

I remember Jesus said - "Come and See."


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Awaiting Pentecost

Pentecost is coming - we celebrate it every year. The third great holiday - HOLY DAY - of the church. And many people do not realize how important it is. Or can be.

Pentecost is the "birthday of the church" and it is the remembrance of the gift of the Holy Spirit that came upon the people like "tongues of fire". Peter preached that day and 3000 people were baptized.

I find personally that the Holy spirit becomes more real to me every year. It is God within me and God around me. And it is like wind and fire giving energy and power and sometimes, even, scary when it comes upon us. But not too often because I think we mostly block it.

Today I am doing the opening worship at a meeting and using this litany which was written by Joyce Rupp. Before I share it, I will have us sing "Spirit of the Living God" and hear not only some of the passage from Acts but also what Jesus says in Luke 11
Reading Luke 11: 9-13
So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

The spirit like everything with God is a gift but we also can ask for it. Here is the Litany

The Energies of the Spirit of God (from May I Have This Dance? J. Rupp)

When we come face to face with the challenge of self giving, when we are asked to go the extra mile, to take the risk of reaching out to another, to offer forgiveness to the heart that rejects us…….

Spirit of God, fill us with the energy of your love.

When our world seems bleak, when we walk with sadness written on our soul, when we have days in which everything goes wrong….

Spirit of God, stir the energy of your joy within us.

When anxiety and concern take over our spirit, when restlessness or boredom holds sway over us, when our world cries out in distress and turmoil…..

Spirit of God, deepen in us the energy of your peace.

On those days when we hurry too much, during those times when our anger flares because our agendas aren’t me, when we stop giving people our understanding and acceptance…

. Spirit of God, draw us toward the energy of your patience

When someone needs a simple gesture of thoughtfulness, when a look of love is all another asks from us, when a good word could take the sting out of the gossip of foes….

Spirit of God, create in us the energy of your kindness.

As we face the shadow of our inner world or peer into the darkness of our outer world, as we struggle to believe in our own gifts and blessings…

Spirit of God, strengthen in us the energy of your goodness.

In those difficult times when fear threatens to drown our trust in you, during those experiences of growth when we are tempted to doubt all the ways we have known you….

Spirit of God, renew in us the energy of trusting in you.

When harshness or abruptness dominates our moods, when we feel challenged by the power of another, when we use the things of this good earth…..

Spirit of God, bless us with the energy of your gentleness.

As we walk the edges of life and death, as we struggle with the disciplines of spiritual growth, as we yearn to be faithful amid the many changes of inner and outer growth…

. Spirit of God, fill us with the energy of your love.

My prayer is that we continue to ask God and receive the energy of his love - his Holy, life giving Spirit.
May we experience Pentecost! YES!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Valiant Women

Last Friday I went to a luncheon in which Erma, from our church, was recognized as a Valiant Woman. What a great title - Valiant. She is that.
Erma is in her 80's and has devoted herself to service to others. She is all of those things that I admire - a willing worker, a humble servant, a dedicated disciple of Christ.

At our church, Erma works hard in the kitchen and is the one who buys supplies, organizes and cleans the kitchen. She has had some health problms in the last year and it was really evident what she does around here when she wasn't around here to do it. She is really a behind the scenes worker - here for hours during the week and just taking care of so much. Valiant.

The next day I walked the cap city quarter marathon - 6.5 miles and my daughter and thousands of others ran the half - 13.1 miles. I have been aware of the training that comes into doing a marathon and a half marathon mostly because of Marnie. Getting up early to run - blocking off time to prepare. Running, running, running. The girls did it - together - sisters running and I am just so proud of them. They are Valiant women.

Thuesday morning I went to the Bible study that we are now doing at the Resotration Plaza for senios. This week we had about a half dozen participants plus me and Kim.
Whenever I am with these women and hear parts of their stories - about children who have died, or are incarcerated, or heart attacks or strokes I think - these two are Valiant women. One woman has said that this is the happiest (maybe after a marriage to a difficult husband?) and she seems to take care of everyone. They enjoy coming together and doing Bible study and sharing life. Valiant.

It is interesting that the qualities of women I admire have nothing to do with their looks or fashion sense or homemaking skills. No, it is about humility, perseverence, strength, compassion, humor, and the courage to learn and grow no matter how old they are!

Prayers for my grandgirls - Rachel, Alyse, Reagan and Addie - that they may grow up to become valiant women.