Epiphany

There comes a time
When we know inside
That the wheel of life has turned
And the seasons have carried us, perhaps gently, perhaps roughly,
To this new moment.

This is the time
To take off our shoes
Even in snow and ice,
To stand on the earth
On holy ground.

Darkness can seduce us.
We wish to stay under the covers, to stay asleep,
To refuse to answer the knock on the door of our soul.
It is so completely understandable.
Turning away from the cold, maybe harsh, dawn.

Yet light is waiting.
And time flows on like a glacier.
We long for rest but know that spring is already on the way.
The present moment is all that can hold us.
It always asks our consent.

With awe and hope and always love,
May we open our eyes to the light that shines.
May we allow ourselves to know this moment just as it is.
We are enveloped in grace.
May our hearts say Yes.

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Oh Holy Night

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Wishing you light and peace and love this night and, always, grace. The grace that surrounds us and that lives within us…apparent grace.

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Lift your hands…and your hearts

20131130-175150.jpgThe back story is this…this picture was taken by the Reverend Hannah Atkins, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston.  We were sitting in the pews in the midst of the Thanksgiving service at Trinity for Lord of the Streets (LOTS) Episcopal Church.  My husband is the vicar at LOTS, a congregation of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas that serves Houston’s homeless population.  LOTS has a weekly Eucharist at 7:00 am each Sunday that is attended by almost 300 homeless men and women.  Trinity Church hosts the Sunday Eucharist each week.  This service was a special observance of Thanksgiving last Wednesday morning.

So, my husband and Bishop Andy Doyle and Fr. Michael Roeske were vested and at the altar.  Hannah and I sat in the pews among the congregation.  At the offertory, the soloist was singing “Give Thanks” by Don Moen…”and now, let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich…”  A few of the participants in the pews began to raise their arms and wave them.  We sat in the very midst of God’s daughters and sons, those who had slept in shelters and on sidewalks the night before, those who carried all they owned in plastic or paper bags.  We sat in the midst of those who were sick, those who were frightened, those who were faithful.  “Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One…”

And then the soloist proclaimed “Raise your hand if you are thankful” and my arm shot up.  Hannah’s arm shot up.  All around us, arms shot up.  All the people in the pews, all the people serving.  A church full of arms in the air.

And what was left, except to say thank you.  Thank you for life, thank you for health, thank you for food, thank you for our beautiful earth, thank you for love, thank you for calling us all to care for each other.

May we lift our hands and our hearts today.  Advent begins now.  We wait for the light.  Grace is all around us…may we wait in peace and in joy, with thankful hearts.

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Rest and Play

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My birthday was earlier this month. It was lovely, with friends and family around me. And not one, but two birthday cakes. In the wake of another birthday, I am slowly and surely coming to acknowledge the earth-shaking importance of two practices: rest and play.

Of course, I have always known that sleep was important (even though regretfully in all too short supply). And much of the joy I have known has come from occasions related to leisure…from vacations and holidays and concerts and other special events that lit up my life.

But now I am coming to see and know that not all rest is sleep. Sometimes rest is hanging out on the couch, with a book or a magazine or a movie or the dog or maybe just hanging out doing nothing at all. Rest can be walking around the neighborhood or even the mall, just looking around. Rest is time that calls for nothing except breathing.

Not all play is recreational sport or holiday party. Sometimes play is taking pictures with my phone…of the ground or a fence or a leaf. Sometimes play is writing a poem or singing along or even watching TV. Play can be almost anything that isn’t work, and even work can be play if chosen freely.

Rest and play are often dismissed in our adult lives. Once upon a time, they were required activities. I am finding that I miss them now.

Last month I was on retreat, on the Hudson River about an hour north of Manhattan. The autumn leaves were beautiful. It was Fall there, with an upper case “F.” The retreat was led by Jennifer Louden and Marianne Elliott and Tracey Clark. There were invitations to writing, to photography, to yoga, to dancing, to silence and breathing. Resting and playing. New friends. And in the spaces between all these invitations, between rest and play, between such beauty in each leaf…grace abounded. Peace and mercy and compassion and grace. The whispers of God.

Very soon Advent will begin and the holiday season will arrive. Next week is Thanksgiving in the United States. Harvest time. A time to consider rest and play, to notice and reflect grace all around us.

May we know this apparent grace in the moments of today, and all the moments of our lives.

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Adds and Drops

When I was in college, “adds and drops” day came a few weeks after each semester started. I sometimes would sign up for a fuller class load in the beginning so that I could have the option of “dropping” the class I liked least. It was always kind of exciting to consider the choice and experience the joy of new empty space in my schedule. Of course I couldn’t drop just any course, as some were required. But the universe seemed much more fluid then and I remember deciding that I would drop a required course, try it again in a later semester, and perhaps add an elective that someone said was fun or exciting (and then scramble to catch up). I loved the sense of flexibility and choice. There were always new favorite faculty and even new favorite trees to sit under. Once “adds and drops” passed, I would settle into the semester and into the season, autumn or winter.

This season of summer passing into fall always reminds me of these college days. I have a yearning to once again consider what I could drop and what I might add…at work, at home, in my learning and creating, and in my soul. The challenge is that these days there is more than a fifteen credit hours schedule to arrange. The actual challenge is that life feels like a river flowing over me and lately, sometimes like white water rapids. So who could add or drop anything intentionally? Much of the time I find myself trying to just breathe, stay in the raft, and not swallow too much water.

And yet. I saw a full rainbow on my commute home yesterday. I have been surprised in the past few weeks with amazing invitations that stopped me in my tracks. I have tiptoed up to witness heartbreaking sadness in this world that we love. So, I remember once again that in each moment I can choose to attend to the invitations that arrive, to the sadness that falls like twilight, to the joy that waits behind each “yes.” I can be present to the Grace that is all around us…and take the time to find a new favorite tree to sit under, in a park or in my heart.

May we experience again the fluidity of choice and of delighting in the world around us and may we offer a simple “yes” to the Grace that holds us all.

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The Feast Day of Saints Next and Now

Today I decided to observe the Feast Day of Saints Next and Now.

In my practice I honored Saint Now by bowing to my to do list
And glorified Saint Next by dreaming of all the better times that surely lie ahead.

But I think I had it backwards.

Saint Next is only what may or may not happen
Tomorrow or the next day or the day after that.

Saint Now is this very holy moment.
This bright blue sky, these white clouds.
This sausage and potato soup, this butterscotch candy.
This heart beating in this very body.
All of these sunflowers in this afternoon field.

Saint Next is another long commute home.
Saint Now is the liturgy of my each and every breath.

May we know the Holy
Again tomorrow,
But always and most fiercely, today.

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A Summer’s End Night Dream

photo (5)As summer ends, the seasons begin to shift and turn again.  Although our climate in Texas does not feel autumnal, in the landscape of the soul there are whispers of fall’s inflection.  These are transition times when dreams might announce a message, a new thought, or simply an idea.

I had such a dream a few nights ago. In this dream, I was sitting at a table with a priest from my church and with a friend from college who died over twenty years ago.  In dreams, of course, all are welcome.  I was holding an empty bowl woven from fibers.  I was telling these two friends, from now and long ago, that I wove this bowl from strands of yarn from old sweaters, ribbons from old gifts, and hair from friends, family, and beloved animals.  We continued to talk about how we weave our loves into our lives.  I was touched by the connection in my heart across the years, and my waking thought was that yes, community endures.

Praying with this dream, I considered the woven empty bowl as perhaps reflecting an empty nest…my empty nest.  We took our daughter to college a couple of weeks ago and are continuing to shift and adjust in our now quieter and seems-much-larger home.  And then I wondered, what if the empty nest is only a holy space for what comes next? As I weave the bowl from love in my dream, could I be also preparing for the waiting grace that lies ahead? Knowing that love never ends, and that community endures, this coming season brings wonder and thankfulness…not only for what has been given but for what is to come.

photo (7)So here’s to the autumn soon to be ours, to community and friends old and new, and to the beautiful nests we weave together.  May we know the grace that calls us always toward the Holy One, toward life, toward Love itself.

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