Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A New Mantra

I write this quickly today as I am leaving in 10 minutes to do a funeral.  I got the call when I was in New Mexico and knew I would be home in time to meet with the family which I did yesterday.

The family was the daughter of an 80 year old man who died of COPD from a lifetime of smoking.  He was - like all of us - ordinary - a  man who drove a truck and cared about his home, his family, his pets. And he was - like all of us - a man with opportunities for goodness that will be remembered well beyond his lifetime.  He and his wife were unable to conceive a child and adopted his daughter when she was five years old.  He then became - in her words - "the best daddy in the world."  She is grieving mightily and at the same time exhausted from caring for him physically and emotionally.
This is the way it is.

So, I spent a little time praying this morning for all who are grieving - and I can think of many.  I opened my Richard Rohr book and happened upon an underlining that really speaks to me.  I think it is a good mantra for today - and maybe forever


I am blessed to be able at times to be part of the celebration of a person's life. What I keep learning is that whatever we see in the moment is partial - but it helps me to know that God is always at work.
I can trust in God's goodness and that there is always more to see and experience in this life that I have been given.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Soar we now .....

That is the beginning of the 4th verse of "Jesus Christ is risen today" and I stood in a church sanctuary this morning next to my granddaughter and sang these words -

Soar We Now Where Christ Has Led....Alleluia

Today is Easter afternoon and I sit here at my computer and reflect on how the words - "soar we now" really speak to me today.

Yesterday I returned from an amazing family trip to Bluff Utah.  The occasion was our celebration of the 70th birthday of my brother Wayne.  Chuck and I joined Wayne and Gail, my brother Geoff and his wife Vicky and Wayne's daughters Elyssa and Hannah and their families for a wonderful week in the American southwest.

There were twelve of us who ranged in age from 4 to 81 and we ate together, talked, played games, celebrated the birthday, hiked, took pictures, and rafted together.  I had no idea what the week would bring, but it was just an opportunity to "soar" together in learning about native American rock art, see vistas of canyons, bluffs, ridges, mountains and boulders that were almost transcendent and experience a magnificent river rafting experience that was unforgettable.

 We first saw examples of "Rock Art" Monday morning guided by a gentle and wise  man named Joe who has spent a life discovering and documenting these primitive drawings that gave us a glimpse into life for native americans thousands of years ago.  .  Later when we went on our rafting trip we saw more panels that were simply fascinating.

On Tuesday we did a lot of exploring the area and seeing the natural vistas and the canyons. I knew as I was taking pictures that they would not be able to capture the wonder and the grandeur of it all but here are a few.

Wednesday was our rafting trip that was a gift to us from my brother Wayne.  It was peaceful at times and thrilling at other times.  Not only were we awed by seeing the canyons up close but also the wildlife - sheep, burros, ravens, an egret.   Often when we were driving or walking or on the river the song "How Great Thou Art" welled up in me as my soul soared and sang at the beauty of this land.

I am  home again and after church spent some time at Innis Woods metro park with Marnie and her family.  And again - in the beauty of the flowers and the trees and the blue skies and my grandchildren - my spirit soars.

It is Easter Day and the tomb is empty and Christ is Risen.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Not your own doing

I have not written for a couple of days because I have found myself pretty busy with a whole variety of activity - facilitating  boundary training for the region, leading a murder mystery birthday party for a friend, preaching in Sidney Ohio, and entertaining Lisa, Chuck's daughter from Toledo.  Maybe it doesn't sound like much but I have sort of lost my morning routine in which writing in the blog happens.

But here I am this morning and back at it.  Caught as I look at the day's scripture by this line from Ephesians 2

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God– not the result of works, 

The grace of God and the ongoing flow of creative love in my life and in this world  is   - to use an overworked word - awesome.  As I look back on these last few days I see it, I taste, I love it.  The grace that enables me to be present, to see beneath the surface, to savor the moment.  Which all sounds lovely.

This morning I read an interesting quote by Julian of Norwich:
"Only in the falling apart of your own foundation can you experience God as your total foundation and your real foundation." 

And what I have learned over time is that when what I think is a "foundation" starts to crumble is when I really do find God is there in the chaos and the crisis and the cleanup.  That is when it is really clear that grace is "not my doing."  

I have a meeting this morning as a regional elder in which I imagine we will talk about the future of the region in the light of the sudden resignation of our regional pastor.  There is a sense with many people that things are changing and almost crumbling in the church.  My faith that reminds me that there is a foundation beneath what we think is foundational is always foundational!  I certainly don't have answers here - any more than I have answers nationally as I worry about the leadership of our country.  However, I trust that God is at work even though it sure looks on the surface like we are falling apart.

My Mantra for today - TTRUST IN THE GIFT OF GRACE

I will include this Psalm that always speaks to me in times of change.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

And their eyes were opened

The text for today is about Jesus healing a blind man and then a deaf man.  Matthew 9: 27-34. But before he healing there was this exchange:

When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
They said to him, “Yes, Lord.”
Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.

At the end of these miraculous works of God the pharisees response was this:

But the Pharisees said, “By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.”

So, all of this makes me ponder the whole notion of spiritual blindness.  And how helpful it is to believe in the healing power of God.

In the Columbus Dispatch this morning there is an article on the front page with this headline: "Clergy plays stronger role in opiod fight"  It was an article about faith based programs for detox and recovery that had had some success.  They quote a man who was addicted who said: "I felt that voice say, "I'm more powerful than all those drugs; I'm what you're searching for." 

I know that there are people who will read this and not buy into it.  We had AA at my church meeting daily and it works for some and not for all.  And that has also been true of my experience as a Reiki Practitioner. Some people have immediate "results" and for others it is "Meh." There  are never formulas that guarantee healing.  And I imagine all of us have heard people say that others "did not have enough faith" and that is why they were not healed. On the other hand, like  the pharisees we  get int trouble when we are critical and suspicious of "healers" according to our own beliefs and experiences. 

What I know to be true is that there are moments of real  awakening, illumination and healing.  Yesterday at my dream group I shared about my time serving in Zanesville as an Associate minister.  Fresh out of seminary, my first full time position and newly divorced - looking back I wonder how I did it?  But looking back I also am aware of a congregation that prayed for me and that really helped more than I knew at the time but I know now. I keep learning that it is in looking back we see the healings, the transformations, and the miracles of our lives.  The practice of reflection is truly eye opening.


Here is a prayer by Saint Benedict

O gracious and holy Father
Give us wisdom to perceive you,
Intelligence to understand you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to see you,
a heart to meditate on you,
and a life to proclaim you,
through the power of the spirit of Jesus Christ
our Lord