Blog Break

I will be away from the blogging habit for a while.  I hope to fill in posts during the next year with a monthly rant at a minimum.  I’ll be writing a lot of non-public writing as part of the residency in clinical pastoral education.  And between my other classes, a new peer group, and church work, I won’t be able to give you access to my scattered ramblings on the blog.

I did have other hopes.  But my limits are clear.

Take care until later, blog of mine.

A Prayer For All Our School Starts

O God, you know “our ends from our beginnings” as my elders used to say.  You know our downsittings and our uprisings.  Our futures belong to you.  Our futures are with you.

Look ahead into this year and bless us with all the growth that would make you look good and make us look more like who we really are.

You know that this year will have shifts for us, changes to our schedules, and that we’ll need you, it seems, more than before.  We submit to you and how you’ll work through the long pulling that will come.

Call us and speak to us and journey with us.  Live in and through us so that we might bring light into darkness.

Give us grace that we might be full of love.  May our days begin and end with you and be punctuated by love and grace.

Where we will learn to write this year, give us ready pens and appointed words.  May the strokes coming from our fingers spell words that cause ourselves and others to flourish.

Where we will learn to count this year, make us ready to notice things, to add things to our lives what you bring and to patiently suffer through any subtraction for the loss it will be.

When we learn to work with others, make us prepared and mature enough to reconcile, to be humble, to practice silence even if it’s only holding that last word or that convincing, if sharp, retort.

When we listen, slow us down and open us to be so generous that what things people say and write and live become gifts which we cherish and steward and protect.

And finally, may you grant us these particulars:

That Bryce may have a fun year, one full of learning leaps like last time, loving his teachers and developing friendships with his classmates and collecting all those good words we say about him as a brilliant, beautiful, beloved boy.

May you grant Dawn the repeated remarkable brilliance of all her previous courses, giving her the steady help she needs as she prepares and sits for her comprehensive exam.

May you go with me daily into the learning rooms of the seminaries, into the peer work and ministry in the hospital, and into the regular course of growth that is my church ministry.

May we labor for you and with you and may we be marked with memorable moments we’ll never forget.  Will you change us for the better, sweetening me, preserving the best natures of my wife and son, and turning us continually toward you as a family.

For us all, give us an abiding sense of your presence, reminders of your unfailing nature, comments and signposts along each path that you are active, boldly bringing about healing for people, growth in us, and justice for the world.

Amen.

Creating a Rule of Life, pt 8

There’s one more post next week on this, where I’ll try to offer a grid to pull things together.  The final category that Debra Farrington teaches we should include in the Rule of Life is hospitality.  It comes after prayer, service, self care and so on.  Hospitality builds upon these previous traits, these earlier acts.  Centering our efforts in these other places, as hospitable people, we show who we are and how we’ve become and how we are becoming.

When I think of hospitality, I think of my mother’s regular, unmentioned, almost unseen way of opening our home to several people when I was a child.  I think of how our table on Sundays was the church’s table, our house turning inside out as people came and ate at her hand.

I think of Grammie and how she takes us in each winter for a week in the upstairs of her home, with a water pitcher on the nightstand, how she considers our time, how we make meals together, and how we have our long liberal conversations which cover beginning to end of the current things that matter.

I think of my sister friend, Maggie, and how she naturally exerts herself into the hearts of people by preparing meals, cooking simple and elaborate options, listening and making me listen, and talking about so many things I’d never notice.

I think of the earlier Bishop and Mrs. Trotter from my boyhood who granted me an essential hospitality, taking me into their home and allowing it to literally become my home.  Each memory was somehow sweet behind those trees on Hopkins place and like these other powerful events have shaped me into someone attempting hospitality when people come around.

Hospitality is a peopled act.  It’s not between me and God.  It’s defined by the interaction between people.  It doesn’t always involve food and housing, but hosting is that plain way we take or accept or invite or keep people in our presence.  It’s about how well we notice and sustain contact between us and another.

I don’t do hospitality well when I’m tired because of my natural bent toward interiority.  I know I need to retreat regularly in order to be like Mama or Maggie or Grammie or the Trotters of my childhood.  What seemed easy for them is good work for me.

And that’s where the Rule comes in.  The Rule of Life asks us to be intentional about those times when we’ll turn toward others, not for service, but for humanity.  We need others.  We don’t need to do things for others, but we do, simply, need people.  Like food and water, our lives only make sense in relationship with others.

There is an essential rightness to friendship, a wrongness too when it’s real, but the rightness signals how we just require people.  The same with marriage or long-term working relationship and so forth.  We need those peopled affairs because those affairs compose or lives.

Where will you stretch in this area over the next months?  Where will you extend yourself and thereby become your self?  Where will you intentionally place people in your day or week so you can be hosted and so you can host?

 

A Recent Journey With A Friend

The initial question.

The reasons we participated.

The preparation for an interruption which wasn’t really.

The long ride, trading sentences and looking out and catching up.

The nervousness of being surrounded by people so different and so similar.

The mumbling that became words which turned into songs.

The string of cameras and the open streets.

The rhythmic stamping of our feet.

The commitment to stay.

The commitment to stay together.

The rumbles of thunder.

The hard-won meal in a hurry.

The symbols of darkness and light.

The gas masks, water bottles, and signs.

The jumping and chanting and watching and waiting.

The circles of prayer, the clusters of pain.

The playful way we wondered what in the world we were the doing.

The amplified voice of that one man commanding them, not us, to leave.

The joking.  The questions.  The long silence.  The disgust-filled prayers.

The heavyset, sweating leader we stood with and for.

The shock to our bodies from the weight of the evening.

The words of that one sister, the missionary, who checked us all.

The stark contrasting pictures of justice.

The greetings and the welcome words.

The shaking of our heads and the wringing of our hearts.

The long, aching journey home.

The stars, bright like flashes, overhead in the darkness.

Lessons From One Night In Ferguson

Michael:

David captures things well from our prayerful walking and witnessing. Keep praying, people, and discerning other steps we might take in our country.

Originally posted on signs of life:

Last night Michael and I joined a group of clergy to pray and petition for justice on behalf of Michael Brown. We were already in the St. Louis area with our families for a few days of vacation and when word came about the clergy march the timing and location seemed too providential to ignore. I won’t go into the play-by-play of our evening, but the experience was unlike any I’ve had.

Ferguson

This morning I woke up thinking about some of the lessons I’m walking away with from our short time in Ferguson. My perspective is incredibly limited: I’m an outsider who spent a few hours in a place where others have lived their entire lives. Even so, I want to hold onto some of my experiences, despite how incomplete they are.

The Anger Is Real

It seemed that many of the protestors, like us, where from places other than Ferguson…

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