Tuesday, August 27, 2013

30 day retreat in September

Yesterday I started a 7 day "retreat" with Joan Chittister on the Psalms. And I like it. Every day I get mailed a reading to reflect on and there is a message from Joan. there are about 30 or 40 people in this week long retreat and we sometimes have posted a few lines about what this means to us. I like it

for that reason I thought I would try to offer one to anyone who is interested in my church (or actually anyone!)
So, beginning September 1st I am going to do 30 days of "Retreat" with the nameless author of the Cloud of Unknowing. I got a book about it (actually it was in a storage unit!!) and will send out daily messages t to whoever wants to join me on this particular journey. There is something about sharing a spiritual experience with others that is really appealing to me.

Here is the message I just sent out on email and face book.

An Invitation to Contemplation with The Cloud of Unknowing

“God is calling you to something more” - the Cloud of Unknowing
The Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymous work on contemplative prayer written in the 14th century. It is written as a guidebook by a nameless older monk to a young seeker who wanted to live closer to God.
His writing continues to teach those of us who seek a closer relationship with God. It makes accessible the spiritual experience and wisdom from ancient holy ones who came before us.
During the month of September I am going to “retreat” for 30 days with writings from this spiritual guide. I am inviting anyone who would like to join me in this journey into becoming more contemplative.
There are three parts to this daily retreat – beginning the day in prayer, a mantra to carry with us during the day, and a prayer for evening. I will send these out to anyone who wants to be part of this spiritual experience every day via email. What this means for us is that we will be setting time aside for prayer and reflection both in the morning and evening. I would also encourage everyone to journal as we journey together.
We also have the opportunity to respond to one another via email as we are companions through this retreat time.
If you are interested in participating in this spiritual discipline, please send me an email by September 1st and I will include you in the daily reflection. (ogram842@yahoo.com)
At the end of the month – on Friday September 27th – we will have an afternoon retreat. Details will follow about that.

Anyway, this is an experiment to see if there is anyone out there who wants to join me in a daily discipline for 30 days. I will send out the emails every morning. And hopefully will pray, journal, reflect, walk, and pray again in the evening.

And then - opening ourselves to God in this very intentional way - we will see what God does with us.

Interested? email me. ogram842@yahoo.com

Friday, August 16, 2013

At Camp

I write this from the breezeway at Camp Christian. It is freetime at Advance conference on a Friday afternoon. There are many young people - including Audrey - at the pool having fun. The torch is burning to my right and beyond that is the lake.
It is a beautiful day and the my time here is almost over.

The theme this week has been balance and every one of the keynotes have been about balance. Audrey started by talking about the sacred and secular. Roger McKinney about how volunteerism brings balance to our lives and the world. I was next and talked about finding balance within our famlies. Jim Bane followed with talking about balance in romantic love and today Allen's message was about loving yourself. Every one of these keynotes were well done, thoughtful and really made us think.

I spent last week at Chautauqua which had its own "balance" for me - the balance between the intellectual (lectures and sermons and front porch discussion) and family and friends (time with Alyse, Reagan, Audrey, Chuck and Jim and Holly, Mary Wood and others) But this week also has its own rhythems and balance. Every day is full: with breakfast, faculty meeting, then Bible study, keynote, small groups, lunch, committees, free time, dinner, vespers and recreation. I love it here.

Now as others are resting and "recreating" I am starting that process of preparation to go home and thinking about my sermon for Sunday. And wondering where I am going with it - but trusting - as always - that it will come.

I am preaching from Hebrews about running "with perseverance" the race that is set before us. And today as I sit here in this familiar place with so many memories I know that we really do run the race a step at a time and so often do not know what is next.

I first came to camp in 1983 as a Chi Rho Counselor and since then I have spent one to two weeks at camp almost every year. Many, many years of chi rho counseling and being an assistant director and now working with young adults in Advance Conference for at least 15 years. And then when we add Grandparents camp and retreats - it is a lot of time. And the time has brought me spiritual growth as well as wonderful opportunities for ministry.

It has been a place that has provided balance for me. Time to be outside, time to be with colleagues who became friends, time to be away from the dailiness of my life in Bowling Green and Columbus, time to be with God.

I am grateful - as always - for the vision of those men and women 60+ years ago who bought and built this place and all the "cloud of witnesses" who have served in so many ways. As I write this Jim and Roger at probably en route back to camp from Howard Ratcliffe's memorial service. Remembering his leadership and his faithfulness. He truly did keep the faith and was a model to so many of us.

So, back to my sermon prep and as always blessed to be here.
At Camp Christian - The Beloved Community!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Being with Children

I have received a real gift in the past weeks - I have spent more time with children than I usually do.

We just finished our Vacation Bible School and I was able to do my favorite part of the VBS - lead the kids in games. Glenn was my partner in this and I have to say that it really takes me back to the beginning of my ministry and really why I came into work in the church.

When I was in my 20's and a young woman with three children I felt so gratified that the church would allow me to do youth ministry. Little did I know at the time how grateful churches are for people who really enjoy working with youth. I went to seminary in 1982 thinking I was going to work with children and youth primarily. And once I became a solo pastor in 1990 my youth work became more and more infrequent until now when I rarely get to be with kids.

Anyway, leading games at vacation Bible school is something that I really loved last week. It is so much fun to watch kids having fun. And we did some very funny games - like a relay race carrying teddy bears on a towel (like a stretcher) that had me laughing nonstop. And the kids at times were not only laughing but squealing. It was crazy and what I need. I actually for the most part was able to tie these silly games into Bible story truths - but really, who cares? There is a lot to be said for pure fun.

Chuck and I took Addie and Jackson to Cincinnati this week for a little mini vacation. We went to the children's museum there and I got to watch them running, playing, laughing, whispering, and dreaming together. Later we went to a hotel in Covington Kentucky (Jackson's favorite state - Kentucky) where they had an indoor swimming pool that we had to ourselves. And again watching them play together and being with them is a joy that is beyond expression.

In our spiritual walk we are to come like chidren and somehow I remember what that means when I am with children. It is not about innocence exactly - but a state of wonder and playfulness that it is easy for us to lose as we become "adults".

It is the blessing of my life to have work and family that brings me into contact with children. I think I need more of this.

God is good, all the time.