Monday, April 24, 2017
It was a well-organized event, with the usual mix of workshops and plenary sessions, keynote presentations and even a bit of music. But what makes these gatherings relatively unique is the silence, for several times over the course of the gathering we were called into intentional times of silence, intentional times of making space for the Holy.
One of the workshop leaders distributed copies of a poem by May Sarton titled "Beyond Questions." It is a lovely extended metaphor, drawing a comparison between a nesting bird and the practice of silence (or at least that's how I read it!) Despite it's title, one stanza asks a powerful question:
Can I weave a nest for silence
Weave it of listening
Listening layer upon layer?
I bring many things home from my Canadian sojourn, many leanings, but perhaps the most important thing I carried back across the border is a reminder of the role silence can and does play in my work as a pastor, in my work as as a spiritual director, and beyond that, in my very life.
Monday, April 17, 2017
Now make no mistake, I don't have some sort of a messiah complex. I realize it was my blood, not the blood of Christ that I left behind at the blood bank. But still, in a strange sort of way, it was Christ's blood--after all, the church is called the body of Christ.
Bear with me, here, and let me play this out a bit. What better way for us to mark the holiest days of the year than by giving of ourselves in such a potentially life-saving fashion? That pint of A positive blood, may go to someone who is undergoing surgery, or chronically in need of transfusions, or something else altogether. But whatever, it may indeed help save a life.
I'm not trying to be the hero of my own story here. All I did was spend twenty minutes or so giving some blood. I even go a free t-shirt out of it. (Bright red, by the way. It has a watermark of the flag, and it says, "All American Donor." I guess that's what's meant by being a red-blooded American.)
But seriously--this is something I can do every Good Friday if I'm medically able to do so. And it is something you can do as well.
Don't know where to go? Just click on www.redcrossblood.org and find a donation center near you!
In the name of Christ. In service to unknown strangers. How much more holy does it get than that!
Monday, April 3, 2017
Monday, March 20, 2017
Rights and responsibility are not mutually exclusive! So how can we craft a system that makes quality healthcare accessible to all, and yet which encourages, fosters, personal responsibility? The answer to that question, I suspect, is the answer to our dilemma.
Monday, March 13, 2017
It all happened because one day in doing some research for a sermon I came across an exquisite poem, which really prompted me to stop and think about its meaning--and ultimately about meaning in general. I realized, as much as a love poetry (I have quite a few volumes of it), as much as I enjoy writing poetry (I've even had a poem or two published), I just don't read enough of it. So I vowed to begin. I'd always wanted to read some more Collins--so I went out and purchased one of his books, and began to read through it. A poem a day.
I suspect we would all do well to read a poem a day. I know, some people just don't like poetry. And others feel they never "get it". But I'm not sure most poets want you to "get it". I suspect most poets want you to simply experience their poems. Live into them, so to speak. After all, good poems invite the reader to engage with the words, the ideas, even the implied silences. Good poems invite you to pause . . . to think . . . to feel . . . to be.
Here's the wonderful irony of it all for me at the moment. I am co-teaching a course which includes a look at Emily Dickinson. And I just discovered Collins has a poem called "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes." It is something of an inside joke--while at the same time, offering some wonderful images. And when Collins writes, "What I can tell you is/it was terribly quiet in Amherst/that Sabbath afternoon . . ." you can hear a pin drop! A hair pin that is.