Posts

Advent Dreams

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  I have come to understand and accept that a disturbing dream or vision might actually be constructive...like criticism?! So when I found myself on the edge of a precipice looking out on a not Grand Canyon like chasm but a dark and jagged and foreboding one, I tried in a sleepy state to remain there and lift my gaze. That is where the struggle was felt. Similar to being unable to move when being chased in a nightmare, I was unable to lift my gaze, from whence cometh my help! Then I woke up! So processing began and I realized a possible interpretation: We are on the verge of Advent which this year feels a bit like a frightening precipice. And the journey upon which we are called to embark is a dark and murky one. Uncertainty has eclipsed “normalcy” and disease (dis-ease) has infected any sense of peace.  So I am indeed disturbed! In my waking as well as my sleeping! Yet unlike my dream I am somehow able now that I am awake to lift my gaze! I am able to avert my preoccupation with the e

Remembering Home

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  It seems to me that Thanksgiving is always a time to consider thoughts of “home”. Returning, remembering and rejoicing, perhaps. This year as most of us gather differently, finding ways to embrace a physical scattering with signs of love and affection, “home” instead of house seems to provide the means of entry. This year we might find our true homes still welcome us and protect us when we think differently about returning, remembering and rejoicing. We might “return” not to a physical, familiar house but to a space within our hearts of security and love, of nurture and comfort. We carry that with us.  We might “remember” in order to return. We might remember fires and meals and conversations which might become so vast and numerous as to diminish the memories of strife and turmoil.  We then might still “rejoice” when the returning and the remembering have contributed to a new present reality, albeit reconstructed, which reminds us that love never fails. In my own practice this week I

Say My Name

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  Respect the dignity of every human being. It begins with their name. It honors who they are. It speaks their name lovingly. Say My Name by Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi ( A Torres Strait Islander and Tongan storyletter. They descend from the Zagareb and Dauareb tribes. ) My name was my name before I walked among the living before I could breathe before I had lungs to fill before my great grandmother passed and everyone was left to grieve My name was birthed from a dream A whisper from gods to a king A shout into the stars that produced another that shone as bright They held me without being burnt, humming lullabies in pidgin My name was passed down from my ancestors They acknowledged my roots grew in two places So, they ripped my name from the ocean and mixed it into the bloodlines of my totems My name has survived the destruction of worlds and the genocidal rebirthing of so-called ones It’s escaped the overwhelmed jaw of the death bringer Many a time It has survived the conflicts that resul

Hilda Of Whitby and One

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  I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6 As you know by now I have been obsessed lately with the concept of “Oneing”, often appearing in passages about unity, sanctification, reconciliation and community.   Yesterday, was the feast day of Hilda of Whitby and when I read the passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians appointed and appearing above, I was caught up short! One body, One spirit, One hope, One Lord, One faith, One baptism are statements of principles which ground our faith. But what caught me up short was “one another”...bearing wi

Oneing and I-I

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  “Oneing” is an old English word that was used by Lady Julian of Norwich (1342–1416) to describe the encounter between God and the soul. The Center for Action and Contemplation proudly borrows the word to express the divine unity that stands behind all of the divisions, dichotomies, and dualisms in the world. We pray and publish with Jesus’ words, “that all may be one” (John 17:21) Center for Contemplation and Action I awoke this morning after a strange yet hopeful and “constructive” dream. It wasn’t until I read the quote above in the frontispiece to the publication Oneing that some meaning and consolation came to me.   I had been talking about the Martin Buber concept of I-Thou with my therapist, when we began to explore I-I, one’s relationship with one’s self. It is an often overlooked relationship! And one which is often dismissed as navel gazing. Nevertheless it sprang from the story about Zusya and living into one’s true self instead of what others might think is the goal or wha

To Be Oneself

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  I was reminded of one of my favorite stories from Tales of Hassidim and continue to be haunted by it. I am paying attention to that haunting quality and seeking meaning in its persistence. What might I need to learn? A rabbi named Zusya died and went to stand before the judgment seat of God. As he waited for God to appear, he grew nervous thinking about his life and how little he had done. He began to imagine that God was going to ask him, "Why weren't you Moses or why weren't you Solomon or why weren't you David?" But when God appeared, the rabbi was surprised. God simply asked, "Why weren't you Zusya?" We spend so much time trying to be others for complicated and myriad reasons, only to discover the futility and anxiety associated with that task. As Gregory of Nyssa pointed out (and I paraphrase):  a soul seeking to be other than its own authentic self is like climbing a huge mountain of sand, expending inordinate energy to slip backwards again a

We Asked for Wonder

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  As is my routine on Sunday mornings I open the church and then go down to my office to spend some time gathering thoughts and prayers and making final preparations for the service. As is her routine our organist Sherry arrives, I hear her get her vestments, and then the initial tones of the organ waft. I find great peace as I listen to her practice and true confession that in the closed office I sing very very loud! It feels so liberating! Well, this meditation is about another ordinary Sunday morning which turned extraordinary as I listened closely. Sherry has been adapting some hymns in her prelude and postlude and playing others in the middle of the service for our meditation as we are not allowed to sing in these Covid times. She began with Hear I Am Lord which I love but was not in the program. I thought perhaps she is practicing for next week (when it is also not in the program). I love the hymn and allowed a tear to fall. Then I realized she was moving right into the noted hym

Talent and Joy

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  Blessed be God who animates our lives and offers us enough always. To realize this grace is our deep joy. AMEN Today’s Gospel is about the challenge of being faithful. Not to a master who has profited by using others but to a God of grace and abundant life! I would like us to focus not so much this morning on all the characters of another confusing parable but to focus on the third slave or servant, the one who hides his talent in a hole. For I believe this is the servant we are being called to identify with and learn from.   I would also like us to keep in mind the context of this passage from Matthew. It is one of three parables which draw Jesus’ teaching time on earth to a close before he enters Jerusalem and journeys toward the cross, the tomb and Resurrection. As such, even in its confusion like last week’s bridesmaids, it deserves our attention and perhaps the context itself offers clues for interpretation.   I cannot believe that Jesus is endorsing the coveting of material wea

Love Wants To Know How

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  This poem makes the liminality of the turning season almost visible or sayable. The Sabbath for which we prepare is also a liminal space, not just a day to cease work but a hyphen to the sacramental.   I invite you to “Go now,/quickly and with great force,/toward what burns in your dreams/at the dying of the year.” “Love Wants to Know How” author unknown Autumn comes with its riot of death, its clarion bells of color, drives the living green to ground even as it thins the veil between worlds. The visible and invisible walk now together with arms outstretched over fields where workers hasten to the harvest none may divide against itself. So: where are you in this? How long do you loiter between the said and unsaid, the done and undone, between the half and true rhyme of a life answering a life? Geese mark the sky with dark wedges, call with harsh tongues to what thrives at the margins of all we so reluctantly receive. Go now, quickly and with great force, toward what burns in your dre

Seasons and The Eternal Fadings and Showings

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  Today my poetry group is offering poems of the seasons, personal, earthly, cosmic, tidal and liturgical. In trying to decide what to offer, it occurred to me that I wanted to find something timeless which might reveal a wisdom applicable to the notion of all eternal cyclical changing. These universal seasons have certain things in common whether pulled or pushed by sun, moon or God. The commonality on which I focused was that there is an imperceptible fading like sunset which inevitably merges into dawning no matter what the seasonal change. There is a continuum of the eternal which holds these cycles. To appreciate and comprehend these thresholds and accompanying liminality requires our full attention.   So First Snow by Mary Oliver is on the one hand about the season of Winter. On the other hand it is about all seasons and one might write poetically about a manifestation of spring with buds and color similarly. Moreover, it is about seasons of love or dying or birth as I imagine a