Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dog Blogging

Hi. I'm Xena, Warrior Princess. My mom is revLois. This is her blog. Maybe she'll let me set up my own blog someday but for now she doesn't even know I've figured out how to type and how to post. This is my picture. I'm quite beautiful, don't you think?

I have more pictures but because I'm all one color my humans haven't quite got the knack of capturing my essence every time.

I have to go now before She Who Must be Obeyed (leave it! drop it! let's go! kennel up!) returns and finds me here. I will try to post again.

By the way, I hear there are dog bishops out there in blog land. I would love to hear from you. Perhaps you could give me spiritual direction.

Uh oh, I hear HER coming. Bye!

Pet Peeve of the Day

When someone has an appointment with me, I meet them in the parlor at the church instead of my office, so I can't hear the phone ring. When someone comes into my office unscheduled, which is often and which is wonderful, when the phone rings I ignore it. The telephone is not allowed to interrupt people's time with me or mine with them.

So what's with the perpetual presence of the phone in the ear? Some of my fellow clergy, and I'm sorry if some of you are reading this but not sorry about what I'm about to write, some of my fellow clergy are never without that tiny phone hanging from their ear. The mere presence of it tells me that while having a conversation with them, I could be interrupted at any time in mid sentence by the much more important call coming into their ear.

Why is that call so much more important than the person in front of us?

I'm out of touch, I know. And I don't care if I'm marching to a different drummer. If you are talking with me, you will have my full attention, to the best of my ability to give it to you. If you are phoning me while I'm in the middle of having a conversation with someone who is in front of me, it is true that you will have to wait. In this day of instantaneous response, and lack of ability to delay gratification, this sounds harsh. When I do not answer the phone, then, imagine you are the person in front of me.

And may the Peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the love of God and of the Child of God, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday Treat

For a treat, I present a really good Indie (independent artist), Kirsten Thien. Enjoy. Unfortunately I don't know how to imbed full tracks. Sorry. But what you do get is worth the time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thought for the Day: Sorrow

I've been reading the book of Lamentations in the Bible, alongside a book by Eugene Peterson called Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work. The first four chapters of Lamentations are acrostics - each verse starts with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The fifth is not an acrostic but it has only as many verses as the letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Whatever we might learn from the text of Lamentations, according to the wisdom of Peterson we can learn this from the format the writer chose: It is right to grieve, to give time to sorrow. It is also right to look for the end of that grief, that sorrow. Once you start a chapter in Lamentations, you know that the grief will last only until the last letter of the alphabet. There will be an end.

This has been my practice for a long time. I remember the practice about 80% of the time. When I am angry, and it threatens to take over my life, I set a time limit. I give it five minutes of all out anger, having declared to my anger that at the end of five minutes its time is up. I do the same for sorrow, and situational depression. It works for me. In fact, the anger/sorrow/fear/whatever seldom lasts the entire time I have given it to have free reign. I honor myself by honoring my feelings. I also honor myself by setting boundaries around the feelings that tend to derail my day or my life and my joy.

There is a time to cry; there is also a time to stop crying, to give yourself a rest. Peterson goes a step further: In times of great grief (i.e. the Babylonian captivity type of grief and loss), when the grief will be with us a long time, he advises making a regular date with yourself to grieve - i.e. today I will honor my sorrow for a time and I promise next week at the same time I will give my sorrow the honor of another visit.

When my father died, leaving us kids adult orphans and me the head of the family, my grief was so great that when I returned to seminary after the week of the funeral, I found my ability to function in classes and studies getting harder and harder. By day five, I shared with my friends that it felt like my brain was getting slower and slower. I just couldn't get it to function. They told me to take time off classes, write my instructors, delay papers, and just take a full seven days off. I did. I made a seven day appointment with my grief, and even when it felt like I could function again before the seven days were up, I still continued the full seven days. I spent a lot of time crying in the shower. I also spent time public. I laid a blanket out on the lawn of the garth at Seabury-Western in Evanston, Illinois (it was spring, but still chilly!) and a friend checked out about twenty murder mystery novels for me from the library, and before God and everyone I vacated for seven full days.

My grief at the death of my father continued, but having truly honored it for a season, it no longer derailed my life. Whenever it came back, I stopped and gave it my time.

I am not a therapist. I'm a priest, a theologian, an artist/poet, a scholar. I have only the scriptures and my own experience from which to draw. When a person asks me, I share my experience of setting limits. I'm also not shy about referring people to a therapist. You should have a choice.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

All Shall be Well?

Here's a post you might find interesting, helpful, challenging, angering...
It's from Tom Brackett at Church Planting Central.
I find it to be a relief and a "stirring up".

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Anniversary thoughts

On Thursday, the 21st of January, I celebrated the 11th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church, centered in the U.S.A.

As I look back I see a trend: curate for children's ministries at a cathedral and chaplain to the children of poor neighborhood in which that cathedral is located. The cathedral grew through ministry with the poor, which resulted in financial near-ruin.

Rector focusing on ministry with children. The congregation could not afford a full time rector. I helped them make a decision to go with a part time priest, and I got out of the way.

Interim assistant to an interim rector, supporting children's ministries and pastoral care. This church also is in financial difficulty.

Priest in charge for a church for one year, focusing on children and their families. At the end of the year the church closed.

Priest in charge for a church deciding whether or not to close. Most of the few children that were there have left during my time.

Scripture passage that called me into ministry:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

No one even knew about my anniversary this week. Even I forgot. But Life Partner remembered. We went out to dinner. Lovely.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Last week a horrendous earthquake hit Haiti. The outpouring of attempted aid and support has been wonderful.

This morning, an "aftershock", almost as strong as the original quake, struck. At least we're not at risk of having the story become boring to the news media, but is there no end to the terror?

On Sunday we took up a collection for Haiti. I was very proud of the people for their outpouring. This Sunday, at the request of the family whose baby will be baptized, another collection will be taken up so the family and friends of the child can participate.

Last Thursday evening I opened the church for prayers for Haiti.

This Saturday there will be another service - the monthly Healing Service will be dedicated to the people of Haiti. Information on donating through Episcopal Relief and Development will be available for those who wish it.

More important, however, is the Episcopalian belief that a person can receive the sacrament of Laying on of Hands for Healing on behalf of another. Please, if you are reading this, and you live near Norwalk, Connecticut (U.S.A.) come to this service. Pray for Haiti. Ask for healing for her people through the sacrament of healing.

The service will be held at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, January 23 at Grace Episcopal Church, 1 Union Park (the corner of Mott Avenue and Union Park), Norwalk, Connecticut. 203-866-5454 for any questions.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Prayer Request

Grace Episcopal Church in Norwalk, Connecticut is home to a Haitian Baptist Church who have been worshipping and meeting and making church at Grace for at least fourteen years.

There is also an Episcopalian congregation, Eglise Epiphanie in Stamford, whose retired pastor worships with Grace, and for one of whose services I was privileged to read the Gospel in French.

These are people we know, with families and friends in Haiti. For us this is not a news story; it is reality.

Please pray for the people of Haiti, and pray for our brothers and sisters of the Haitian Baptist Church at Grace and Eglise Epiphanie in Stamford as they and other Haitian congregations in our area try to figure out how best to respond. May God bless and keep them and theirs, make his face to shine upon them and be gracious to them at this horrific time and lift up the light of his countenance upon them who have suffered more than enough darkness for many lifetimes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thought for the Day

In the United States, 10:00 Sunday morning is still the most segregated time of the week. But not at Grace Episcopal Church, Norwalk, Connecticut. Grace is diverse in economic status, background, race, culture, language and age.

Grace is now on the edge of an opportunity, in its conversations with a Latino/Hispanic Episcopalian mission, Iglesia Betania, to live even more fully into Grace Church's calling to reflect the kingdom of God more fully.

Opportunities, however, like the opportunity for racial equality for which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked so hard, come with a cost. So does the Gospel. To live for the kingdom of God, to live into making the dream of the kingdom real here on earth, is fraught with challenge, change, and fear of the unknown. Are we up to it? With God's help.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Xena Update

Xena Warrior Princess has now been with us for more than five weeks and she is settling in just fine. For those of you who don't know about Xena, we rescued her on Saturday, November 28. She's a one year old black lab mix. There's a picture below at this link (if it works).

She still shies from small things, like my turning the page in a book, but we have no idea what the first year of her life was like, having been rescued from life as a stray in South Carolina.

Her coat is now glossy, her eyes bright. She's had her physical and gotten high marks - only an ear infection to deal with and that's gone now.

We go to classes every Tuesday to learn how to teach her the things she didn't get to learn as a pup and she's doing great. However, what is this thing with the shoes?

She's not chewing them. She just collects them, and she knows it's wrong because she's sneaky about it. And she does it when we're in the house with her.

Overall, however, she's doing well and we can't believe we waited so long after the death of Miss Kate to rescue another dog companion. Miss Kate and the late great Black Bart can't believe it, either.

She has not started blogging yet, but she wrote her own thank you note to "Aunt Barbara" for her Christmas present, so I guess it won't be long. There she is, looking over my shoulder, watching my every move, as I post this. Very interesting...

Maybe she'll be a more faithful blogger than I've been!