September 21, 2020

In these days of social distancing, I’ve had to help a number of those grieving deaths of loved ones, by conducting graveside services, since we are not yet able safely to conduct services indoors.  In each case, I know we’ve all made the best of it, knowing we have each other. 

My friend and clergy colleague, Brian McGurk, rector of St Christopher’s, Chatham, recently shared the following quote, from Henri Nouwen, that reminded me we take those whom we love in life inside us in some way, as part of our inner community, all through life:     

“Those you have deeply loved become part of you. The longer you live, there will always be more people to be loved by you and to become part of your inner community. The wider your inner community becomes, the more easily you will recognize your own brothers and sisters in the strangers around you. . . . The wider the community of your heart, the wider the community around you.”

I always thank God for you.

Father Chip+

 

September 18, 2020

It is a Moral Universe

This from Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

“It is a moral universe.  We can trust that it is a moral universe because history bears out this assertion.  Yes, each generation has its share of dictators and despots, but each generation also sees the demise of tyrants and the overthrow of autocratic governments that seemed invincible.  We may not see the outcome of the struggles for justice and peace in our lifetime.  The crisis in Darfur, the dictatorship in Burma, and the excesses of the Taliban may continue to be a part of our human story for years to come.  But they will not continue forever.  After all, who would have predicted the end of the Soviet Union, the birth of Namibia, peace in Northern Ireland, or the dawn of democracy in South Africa?  These are changes that have occurred in living memory.  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observed, “The arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.“

(from made for goodness, and why this makes all the difference, Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu (2010))        

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+

 

September 17, 2020

“Buddhism is clear that anger (even when it’s justified) is a poison. It tears us apart from the inside and does little to solve the problem at hand.

“For me, Buddhism has been a saving grace in this regard.  It’s been the practice that has nourished me, sustained me, and protected my mental health in the face of one racist incident after another. It has done this by showing me that the true cause of racism is the illusion of a separate self, which comes from ignorance.  So, as long as ignorance exists in the world, racism will also exist.”

By Alex Kakuyo, author of Perfectly Ordinary: Buddhist Teachings for Everyday Life

Alex is a Buddhist teacher and Breathwork facilitator.  A former Marine, he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan before finding Buddhism through a series of happy accidents.

Peacefully,

Palmer Marrin

 

September 16, 2020

CHAOS…..CLARITY…..HOPE

     When I was a child learning how to swim, my elder sister, Rhonda, instructed me to be aware of my physical environment, find a place in the ocean that was calm and practice swimming until I knew my own strength/capacity.  When I became stronger, better able to read the currents, then I could venture out farther and swim in choppier conditions.  She also told me the sea is a metaphor.  With skills and respect in our relationship with the ocean, we can navigate the many experiences we encounter in life. If we fight, or enter ill-prepared, the opportunity for tragedy increases tremendously.

     Thinking about our current condition: protests, racial conflict, vigilantism, COVID 19, economic concerns, wildfires, major flooding and a presidential campaign that’s reaching an all-time low, the image of my sister and the lessons she taught me about the sea came to mind.  Her calm instruction to look at the sky, pay attention to the waves, check the tides, watch the current and when I’m ready…and the ocean has become my friend, I’ll know what to do, how far to swim, when to defer to the strength and might of the currents. The most important thing she taught me is the ocean is my friend and will show me how to safely return to shore.

     Several times now I found myself “over my head” in the ocean and life.  I made poor choices and physically swam out of my depth.  In retrospect, I know I did not pay attention to the sky or sea, overestimated my ability or simply ignored my environment for immediate gratification or belief I had about my own power or lack of.  In retrospect, I remember experiencing spirit in every traumatic circumstance and not allowing myself to know God’s presence.  In one particularly grueling instance, spirit gave me a warning that something terrible was going to happen.  I was in such fear I wanted to hurry home and missed the message to change my route.  As I left my school bus to hurry home I was assaulted by a group of boys.  Yes, it was awful and the experience has affected me most of my life.  Many years later, when I was able to let go of the pain and tears, see the incident from the beginning, I could see that God was with me and was guiding me to move in a different direction.  In my 10-year-old mind, I couldn’t get past the ominous feeling I was experiencing to truly hear the guidance.  Perhaps if I had remembered my sister’s advice, ocean as metaphor, Annie, there’s nothing to be afraid of.  If you pay attention to the sky and ocean, you will be safe, I would have heard the guidance I received to take another route.  Instead, I allowed myself to be engulfed in fear and had a hurtful experience.

     Collectively, I think we’re in the ocean; much like my childhood experience, the waves are raging and the current is changing faster than anything imaginable.  We are living the chaos and now we have to find our way out. We don’t have the luxury of time.  We have to respond.  Below are lessons I learned from my sister Rhonda and life.  Hopefully, they’ll help you gain enough clarity to confidently move ahead.

1) Stay calm; in stress and fear you are much more likely to make the wrong decision and miss God’s presence and guidance.

2) Friend the experience, God’s creation is love. Allow yourself to know his love and see opportunity.

3) Know you are safe in God. Hear and allow spirit to guide.  Remember, you may receive guidance in a moment, to do, or not do something.  Sometimes, we have to pivot, to get back on course.

4) Always, follow spirit without hesitation.

     Let’s friend the chaos of 2020, hear spirit, find the openings, and respectfully let go of what needs to be left behind.  Sometimes we may find we need to move ahead with a steady forward stroke, on other occasions it may be best to go underwater, swim with the fish, and bypass surface disruption.  Other times, we may need to float…allow the current to move/inform us.  Or, we may need to pace ourselves in our use of energy with more gentle side or backstrokes.  Whatever the moment calls for, we can do this!  God is love and life and life is our gift.  Emmanuel.

JOB 9:8 NKJV

He alone spreads out the heavens, And treads on the waves of the sea.

In truth and love always, Andrea Bolling

 

September 15, 2020

The other weekend, my sister asked me to join her long distance for a virtual concert by the Avett Brothers, singer/songwriters that we both love. I was slightly skeptical that it would compare to seeing them live, or be much different than listening to them whenever I wanted, but I joined in any way. Am I ever glad that I did.  Their songs were a balm I didn’t realize my soul needed. 

 

It would be easy to remember and mourn what we are missing, i.e. being able to actually see my sister and just HUG her, and go to a concert in person, but instead I chose to focus on how very lucky we are. How incredible that we could connect and share in this way, that I could stream a live concert safely from my home , and even rewind and watch a certain performance over and over again if I so desire. How blessed I am to have a big sister that thought of me and wanted to share something she knew I would love.  Silver linings. 

 

My family has not seen each other since this all began. We are spread miles apart and some are more at risk than others. A while back, we started weekly zoom calls. It has been such a blessing, I think I speak for all of us that we feel even closer now than before, when we were able to gather in person more frequently.  Indeed, the past 6 months have been a challenge, but I can’t deny that certain blessings have come out of the struggle.

 

Another blessing in my life from this time is the Sacred Ground Race & Faith dialogue group. I fervently prayed for God’s help in showing me the way after George Floyd’s death. I realized that despite all my best intentions, I was clearly missing something, as a white person in this broken world, and I didn’t know what to do or where to begin. God soon answered my prayers. It has been a profound experience so far, to say the least.  I am learning, and it feels like we (the group and myself) are at least moving in the right direction. One of the final songs played by the Avett Brothers the other weekend really spoke to me, and I thought I would share the lyrics here. 

 

I grew up with reverence for the red white and blue
Spoke of God and liberty reciting the Pledge of allegiance
Learned love of country from my own family
Some shivered and prayed approaching the beaches of Normandy
The flag waves high and that’s how it should be
So many lives given and taken in the name of freedom
But the story’s complicated and hard to read
Pages of the book obscured or torn out completely

 

I am a son of Uncle Sam
And I struggle to understand
The good and evil
But I’m doing the best I can
In a place built on stolen land
With stolen people

 

Blood in the soil with the cotton and tobacco
Blood in the soil with the cotton and tobacco
Blood in the soil with the cotton and tobacco

 

A misnamed people and a kidnapped race
Laws may change but we can’t erase the scares of a nation
Of children devalued and disavowed
Displaced by greed and the arrogance of manifest destiny
Short-sighted to say it was a long time ago
Not even two life times have passed since the days of Lincoln
The sins of Andrew Jackson, the shame of Jim Crow
And time moves slow when the tragedies are beyond description

 

I am a son of Uncle Sam
And I struggle to understand
The good and evil
But I’m doing the best I can
In a place built on stolen land
With stolen people

 

We are more than the sum of our parts
All these broken homes and broken hearts
God, will you keep us wherever we go?
Will you forgive us for where we’ve been?
We Americans

 

Blood on the table with the coffee and the sugar
Blood on the table with the coffee and the sugar
Blood on the table with the coffee and the sugar, mm

 

I’ve been to every state and seen shore to shore
The still open wounds of the Civil War
Watched blind hatred bounce back and forth
Seen vile prejudice both in the south and the north
And accountability is hard to impose
On ghosts of ancestors haunting the halls of our conscience
But the path of grace and good will is still here
For those of us who may be considered among the living

 

I am a son of God and man
And I may never understand
The good and evil
But I dearly love this land
Because of and in spite
Of we the people

 

We are more than the sum of our parts
All these broken bones and broken hearts
God, will you keep us wherever we go?
Can you forgive us for where we’ve been?
We Americans
Mm
We Americans

 

Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory
Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory
Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory
Love
Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory
Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory
Love in our hearts with the pain and the memory

 

 

Blessings and peace to you all,

Sara Barrington

 

 

September 14, 2020

A Thought Toward the End of Summer 

 

I woke up in the middle of the night last Monday night, as I frequently do on Mondays (as I seem to try to think of everything in the universe at the outset of every workweek), and tried to remember a line I’d seen before, when folks have quoted Mary Oliver, the popular poet, a line I’d seen quoted many times before, one that holds so much meaning for me.  (Now mind me, I’m not all that much a fan of poetry, and even though I enjoy Mary Oliver’s words when others bring them to my attention, I really haven’t read all that many of her poems.)

 

I have, however, purchased one volume of my own, some years ago, when I was at Edgartown Book, and spied her book, The Truro Bear and Other Adventures (2008), and in a moment of weakness and desire, laid out for it.  (And unfortunately, like too many shiny shells, this neat little book ended up on my shelf, without having received anywhere near its due.) 

 

I had not remembered my mid-night thinking the next morning, when I looked to my bookshelf to find something to share in our weekday meditations, but there it was.  Mary Oliver.  And so I picked it up.

 

In just a few seconds, after looking at two or three other poems, I found one entitled, “The Summer Day.”  A perfect treat to share with others, as our Summer Days are sifting slowly through the hourglass, and autumn approaches.  And so I read.

 

And then there, at the very end of the poem, was the line I was thinking of.  Feel me:  I never knew it was there, and I never knew which poem the thought belonged to.  I was having a moment.  Sacred, somehow, but hard to put into words.  Ineffable.

 

A subtle, gentle breeze whispered outside my office window, over the Memorial Garden here, at church, spattered in green and gold by the summer sunlight making its  way through the verdant green leaves of my giant friends, these trees.

 

How could this be so?

 

                +                             +                             +

 

                                The Summer Day  

 

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean—

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?    

 

Submitted by Father Chip+   

 

 

 

September 11, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector for 9/11

 

In her fine book, Broken We Kneel:  Reflections on Faith and Citizenship (2004), popular religion author and Episcopalian Diana Butler Bass offered a “set of spiritual reflections, a kind of love-letter / lament on 9/11.”  In one of her reflections, she noted that at countless funerals and services in the weeks and months following the attacks, two hymns were being sung most frequently:  God Bless America, and Amazing Grace.  She wrote that “although I shy away from the idea of a national hymn—after all, what hymn can truly express the faith of an entire nation?—the idea of a hymn that sums up the theology of our uncertain era intrigues me because singing is such a powerful practice of community and wholeness.  If I were to pick such a hymn, my choice would be the much less widely known “All My Hope on God is Founded” [Hymnal 1982, #665]:

 

All my hope on God is founded;

He doth still my trust renew,

Me through change and chance he guideth,

Only good and only true.

God unknown, he alone,

Calls my heart to be his own.

 

Mortal pride and earthly glory,

Sword and crown betray our trust;

Though with care and toil we build them,

Tower and temple turn to dust.

But God’s power, hour by hour,

Is my temple and my tower.

 

God’s great goodness e’endureth,

Deep his wisdom passing thought:

Splendor, light, and life attend him,

Beauty springeth out of nought.

Evermore, from his store,

Newborn worlds rise and adore.

 

Still from earth to God eternal

Sacrifice of praise be done,

High above all praises praising

For the gift of Christ, his Son.

Christ doth call one and all:

Ye who follow shall not fall.

 

Bass continued:  “When I sang “All My Hope” in a church service on September 14, I could barely choke out the line ‘Tower and temple turn to dust.’   Here, I thought through my tears, is a hymn that gives voice to the Christian vision of a post-September world.  It expresses both personal and communal humility.  And it recognizes the fundamental nature of being at war with terrorists—everything is chaotic.  “Sword and crown” cannot, no matter how much we hope, save us.  In a capricious universe, God alone is hope and refuge.  And yet in the middle of destruction and human anguish, God still gifts the world with the beauty of new creation.  This hymn holds out the larger hope for a realm of love and justice on earth—and the strength for God’s people to follow the way to that kingdom.”

 

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+     

 

September 10, 2020

Fear Is How We Got Here

“Terrorism is time-released fear. The ultimate goal of both global and domestic terrorism is to conduct strikes that embed fear so deeply in the heart of a community that fear becomes a way of life. This unconscious way of living then fuels so much anger and blame that people start to turn on one another.

“In a hardwired way, the initial trauma and devastation of violence unites human beings for a relatively short period of time.   If during that initial period of unity we’re allowed to talk openly about our collective grief and fear—if we turn to one another in a vulnerable and loving way, while at the same time seeking justice and accountability—–it can be the start to a very long healing process. If, however, what unites us is a combination of shared hatred and stifled fear that’s eventually expressed as blame, we’re in trouble. If leaders race too quickly to serve up an ideological enemy that we can rally against rather than methodically identifying the actual perpetrator, what we experience is an emotional diversion away from the unraveling that’s really happening in our homes and communities.”

From: Braving the Wilderness The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone  By Brene Brown

 

Let’s keep the conversation open in a vulnerable and loving way.

 

Respectably,

Palmer Marrin

 

September 9, 2020

Job 12:3 NKJV

4ut I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you.

  I’ve been thinking about “The Talk” – the conversation so many parents have with their black and bi-racial children, warning them to be aware of disparate treatment in a world that views black people as suspect, incompetent and of questionable morality.  Mostly, “The Talk” I hear referenced to in pop culture is the talk black parents have with their sons. Conveying to them, through no fault of their own, they will probably be pulled over by police, stopped for suspicion of stealing in a store and accused of aggressive/frightening behavior because they are black and male. Most parents support their sons by giving them instruction on how to de-escalate racial exchanges. What some of you may not be aware of is that there is another conversation black parents have with their daughters.

     In our family, “The Talk” started around age 3. We were daughters of integration and conversations about race were geared toward preparing us for life in predominately white environments.  Most of the preparation was to help us live in a world that would sexualize, workhorse or invisible us. Below, are some of the words of wisdom they shared, and aspects of racial inequality they tried to address.

1) People aren’t always fair, white people are taught at a very young age they are better because of their race. (internalized superiority)

2) Don’t be hurt if you say hello to a white person and they don’t respond or ignore you. (black invisibility)

3) If a white person cuts in front of you in line, say excuse me sir or ma’am, I was here before you. (white privilege)

4) If you are waiting at a counter and the clerk serves white patrons before you, clear your throat, force them to make eye contact and let them know you are being ignored. (white privilege)

5) No matter how hard you work, how smart you are (white supremacy)

    – you will be overlooked

    – your skills and knowledge will be used and attributed to someone else

    – you will be paid less

    – someone will make sexual comments about you and advances toward you.

    – you may be assigned the least desirable work, and have to “prove” yourself worthy for more responsible tasks.

    – you may be asked to work longer hours than white colleagues.

     In addition to the above, they taught us about the danger of exceptionalization.  It’s a form of tokenism, which would have us believe we are the only people in our race that have the competency/ability to do something well.  Our family, like many other black families, tried to prepare us for life on an unlevel playing field.  To live in a world where we would be confronted with racism and sexism. 

     In 2020, as young people cry out for holism, inclusion and peace, it’s so important we don’t ignore the nuances of difference that white supremacy conveniently overlooks.  No race is monolithic; black women live with the impacts of sexism and racism.  Members of the black LGBTQ community carry the burdens of homophobia and racism. Proportionately, black people with disabilities are more likely to experience extreme poverty and become homeless than white counterparts. To healthfully respond to our current race and health crises, it is incumbent upon us to understand intersectionality/nuances within race so we can join in, and respond to, the outcry.  The young and fatigued who are speaking up about injustice now know they are more than the sum total of any racial construct.

     So, how relevant is “The Talk” in 2020?  Recently, a news station interviewed black players from an NFL team and asked members if they were ever stopped by police without cause.  Every player on the team responded that yes, they had; some of them at least once every 1 to 2 years.  Most of them said they expect it; their parents prepared them for the experience.  Last month, waiting in line at the post office, a white man walked in before me. I said to myself, ok, he’s just checking his box, NBD (no big deal). He came outside looked around, eyes glazed, and went into what I call the white privilege zone and stood in front of me. I quickly told him there was a line. We made eye contact, he knew and I knew it wasn’t a mistake or oversight. He put on his cloak of privilege that invisibles the people and condition around him.  Internalized inferiority and superiority are states of being we learn in youth. Institutions and social systems support our learned concepts of human worth. I believe both the man at the post office and I benefited from the opportunity to unravel racism/sexism. Our eyes met long enough that we both knew it wasn’t OK.  A small step, with big impact. I finally understand why my mother said, “I see I may need the patience of Job,” when she was working with a group of mostly white college students in the 60”s.  They were polite, but underneath, she knew they believed she was inferior.  My mother was black, did not have a college degree, had twelve children, and lived in an economically declining neighborhood.

     Is there someone, a group you’re choosing not to “see” because of something you were taught, beliefs or fear?  If so, and you want to break the shackle that man built, acknowledge where you are, what you believe, and ask Spirit for guidance.  Any request in earnest will be answered.  It’s God’s promise!

     Thank you, God, for loving us enough to show us the way.

In love and truth, Andrea Bolling

September 8, 2020

When I was growing up, inspirational posters were a popular wall decor choice.  They come in many varieties, but most consist of a slogan and a photo and many are so familiar they may blend in to the background of modern life.  An athlete slam dunking a basketball and a slogan written boldly above his head “Just Do It ”. Or the lyrics to a song like John Lennon’s “Imagine” in bold text in a field of flowers.  These are just two examples that come to mind.  For me there are two “motivational posters” that continue to inspire and shape my world view. 

 

One is a poster of Murphy’s Law written out in two descending columns like Moses’ 10 commandments. This poster was our bathroom reading material and where I learned to read as a child. In the poster was a picture of an old car stuck in the mud, missing a tire, and the words: “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” and “If everything seems to be going well you have obviously overlooked something.” Among other pearls of wisdom from this poster I learned that life is a series of lessons in what human-kind can expect just when you make plans and expect everything to go “according to them.” Over the past 6 months God has responded to our plans with a resounding, “Not so fast!”

 

The other inspirational poster from my childhood was one that I even took with me to college, much to my roommate’s disbelief. As I hung it on our wall she asked, “Are you seriously putting that up in our room?” This poster is of a rainbow glowing over the ocean and below the rainbow are the words, “God is my rainbow in the storms of life”.  I answered, “Yes, I’m serious.” And I still have the poster.

 

From these two inspirational fonts of truth, I know that no matter what Murphy’s Law (s) can throw at us, God always gives us symbols of hope, no matter what the struggle.  As a wise friend recently shared, “Don’t give up before the miracle.” These are exact the things I want to teach my kids and provide to families on the Island as we begin St. Andrew’s Family Ministry this week.

 

Below you will see the link and information to sign up for St. Andrew’s Family Ministry take-home Sunday school bags which will include a monthly themed activity kit with stories to inspire, a song to sing, supplies for a craft and an invitation to share photos of the crafts or the stories you create from the take home bag.  Our first theme is based on my motivational rainbow poster, because what better message for our children is there than to know God is our rainbow?  It is our hope that no matter where we are, together we can reflect God’s light and share sweet signs of hope with our community. 

Sign up for a bag here:

 

http://tiny.cc/familyministry20-21 

 

The faith based activity bags are free and available for delivery or pick up at St. Andrew’s Parish House porch on the second Friday of every month from 9-2 pm.

 

We look forward to sharing this faith journey with you and little ones you care for or know in the community. Contact us today to get an activity kit for your child!

 

We look forward to sharing this faith journey with you and little ones you care for or know in the community.  Contact us today to get an activity kit for your child!

 

Blessings,

Laura Noonan

 

Virtual Sunday School Coordinator, MV Museum Oral History Assistant and Mom to two precious children

 

 

September 7, 2020

Three Prayers for Labor Day, or Every Morning 

 

Happy Labor Day to you all!  Take a moment and be thankful…

 

  • O gracious Father, you open your hand and fill all things living with plenteousness: 

Bless the lands and waters, and multiply the harvests of the world;

Let your Spirit go forth, that it may renew the face of the earth;

Show your loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase;

and save us from selfish use of what you give to us, that men and women everywhere may give you thanks…   

 

  • Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: 

Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature,

that no one may suffer from our abuse of them,

and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty…

 

  • O God our Heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: 

Increase our reverence before the mystery of life;

and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race,

and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will.

 

All this we pray, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Amen.   

(Adapted from our beloved Book of Common Prayer by Father Chip+)

 

September 4, 2020

A Prayer for the Weekend

 

                          for equilibrium

 

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,

May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

 

As the wind loves to call things to dance,

May your gravity be lightened by grace.

 

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,

May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

 

As water takes whatever shape it is in,

So free may you be about who you become.

 

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,

May your sense of irony bring perspective.

 

As time remains free of all that it frames,

May your mind stay clear of all it names.

 

May your prayer of listening deepen enough,

To hear in the depths the laughter of God.

 

(from Benedictus:  A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue, 2007, p 142)  

 

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+     

 

September 3, 2020

Jesus says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law of the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12

When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22: 37-40

Rules to live by.

Respectfully,

Palmer Marrin

 

September 2, 2020

Praying for God’s Help (For Wednesday Sept 2)

Many by now are familiar, perhaps even to the point of viewing the event on television, of the shooting of a young, Black father of four, Jacob Blake—point blank, in the back—by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

As Christians, we are called to work for healing. 

For those of us acquainted with what that means, however, we know that ‘taking up our crosses and following’ Jesus is rarely a ‘straight shot,’ or linear.  It’s hard, it’s challenging, it requires real commitment, patience, but persistence.  We must give, and forgive, as they say, ‘until it hurts.’

And always we must look for God, and allow ourselves to be reminded of our own calling.  And always, to pray. 

Pray. 

I will leave you with two quotes about that. 

 

                +                             +                             +

 

 

”The victim’s family deserves justice.  His mother, Julia Jackson, calls for something else, too.  Two days after the shooting, with her son fighting for his life, she begins her public remarks softly, almost inaudibly, but her own words seem to give her growing strength, and finally a profound resonance.  She says that her son would not be happy with the damage to his community.  “As I have prayed for my son’s healing, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I have also been praying, even before this, for the healing of our country,” Jackson says.  And she goes on:  “We are the United States.  Have we been united?  Do you understand what’s going to happen when we fall?  Because a house that is against each other cannot stand.  To all the police officers, I’m praying for you and your families.  To all the citizens, my Black and brown sisters and brothers, I’m praying for you.  I believe that you are an intelligent being just like the rest of us. Everybody, let’s use our hearts, our love, and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other.  America is great when we behave greatly.”     (from an article in The Atlantic by George Packer, August 28, 2020)    

 

                +                             +                             +

 

Heavenly Father, whose heart is selfless love,

take pity on our divided world;

and grant that we may follow in the steps of your Son

In giving ourselves to the service of others

And reaching out to the marginalized and the despised,

That peace and justice may triumph

And your kingdom come on earth.

In Christ’s name we pray.

Amen.

(from Hear My Cry:  Words for When There Are No Words, The British and Foreign Bible Society, 2014, p 33)

Submitted by Father Chip+   

 

September 1, 2020

The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools,

but gentle touches of air and

water working at their leisure

with a liberal allowance of time.

 

Henry David Thoreau

 

Submitted by Mardi Moran

 

August 31, 2020

Working Through Struggles to find Grace and Peace

Maybe the best thing about my faith is that it gives me a blueprint to follow in order to experience God’s grace, love, and holy peace, in spite of all the awful things, the things that gnaw at you and sometimes make you wonder if the idea of hope is just an idea.

His Name is Jesus.  And he invites us into work—real work—to get to that holy place. 

Sometimes it’s too hard to even begin.  But I’ve found, time and time again, that at some point in the struggle, the heavy heart gets a little lighter, and I even sense a light growing inside, carrying me on, just carrying me.

Take this new program many of us on the island have recently begun together, a program styled as “A Film-Based Dialogue Series on Race and Faith,” called Sacred Ground.

What can one middle-aged white guy like me do to bring about reconciliation, restoration, and racial justice in this world?

And I read, for the first Session of the program, an excerpt from an essay by The Rev Dr Rebecca Ann Parker entitled “Not Somewhere Else, But Here,” that gives me the answer.  It’s really good, and worth some time and reflection.  I invite you to read it, too:

“This is my country.  Love calls me beyond denial and disassociation.  It is not enough to think of racism as a problem of “human relations,” to be cured by me and others like me treating everyone fairly, with respect and without prejudice.  Racism is more:  It is a problem of segregated knowledge, mystification of facts, anesthetization of feeling, exploitation of people, and violence against the communion/community of our humanity.

“My commitment to racial justice is both on behalf of the other—my neighbor, whose well-being I desire—and for myself, to whom the gift of life has been given but not yet fully claimed.  I struggle neither as a benevolent act of social concern nor as a repentant act of shame and guilt, but as an act of desire for life, of passion for life, of insistence on life—fueled by both love for life and anger in the face of the violence that divides human flesh.

“The habit of living somewhere else rather than here, in a constructed “reality” that minimizes my country’s history of both violence and beauty and ignores the present facts, keeps me from effectively engaging in the actual world.  I have the sensation of being a disembodied spectator as structures of racism are recreated right before my eyes.  But involvement in the steps of conversion—theological reflection, remedial education, soul work, and engaged action—moves me from enclosure to openness.

“I step out of an insular shell and come into immediate contact with the full texture of our present reality.  I feel the rain on my face and breathe the fresh air.  I wade in the waters that spirit has troubled and stirred.  The water drenching me baptizes me into a new life.  I become a citizen not of somewhere else, but of here.

“The struggle for racial justice in America calls those of us who are white to make this journey.  Our presence is needed.  We have been absent too long.”

There it is:  My “involvement in the steps of conversion—theological reflection, remedial education, soul work, and engaged action—moves me from enclosure to openness.”

Thank you, Jesus.

 

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+           

 

August 28, 2020

A Meditation form the Rector and Sunday’s Sermon Teaser!

As I write this, I have absolutely no idea what Sunday’s sermon will be about!  Indeed, I won’t be preaching it—The Very Reverend Canon Amy McCreath, Dean of the Cathedral Church of St Paul in Boston, will be filling that bill.  (I hope you tune in on YouTube to enjoy it!)

Still, the Scripture texts are compelling.  Last week, we heard the story of Moses’ birth and how he was set out onto a river in a basket, left to the fates.  What a difference a week makes!  This week, our Hebrew Scriptures lesson has him connecting with God, speaking to him out of a burning bush.  And no, they didn’t chat about the weather.  God was telling Moses what he must do.  He was to lead his oppressed people out of slavery.  Into freedom. 

What does God call YOU to do? 

Here’s another bite at that apple:  in our Gospel lesson for this Sunday, Jesus tells his clueless disciples about having to confront things, having to suffer, and then die, only to be given new life.  This is the pattern for us, for living real life.  Living abundantly.  With grace and love to share.  And so he tells them:

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?”

So, again:  What does  God call YOU to do?

At the risk of making this meditation/sermon teaser too long, it occurs to me the answer key is written right in the Epistle letter for this Sunday, from Paul’s masterpiece, his letter to the church in Rome.  As usual, it’s the image of who we shall become if we listen to Jesus, and take the steps we need to in order truly to answer his gentle yet insistent call.  HOW we get there is all about our own discipline, and understanding this is not a “self-help” program, but a lifelong journey in which we never, ever, give up on God.  A journey where we practice love until it becomes habit.  Even in those times, and for those people, when it might seem too hard—or even the completely wrong thing to do. Paul writes:

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’  No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Blessings in your journey, with us.

Yours in Christ,

Father Chip+           

 

August 27, 2020

 

Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep; the Lord himself watches over you; the Lord is our shade at your right hand.

Psalm 121:4-5

 

So, this is from Forward Day by Day, William Porcher DuBose, 8/18/20

I will quote it directly because it is so good, and it is where I am right now!

 

“Attention: Beloved Sheep

From Israel

Re: Self care

Fellows of The Flock,

   I’m wrestling with something. Turns out it’s me.

   I don’t always take care of myself the way I should.

Maybe it’s old wiring. These parts are cut and spliced by experience, so I have quite a mess on my hands!

   My system was overloaded for years. I shorted out often. I let my tank run dry more than once. I put oil in my washer fluid reservoir for years before realizing what I was doing.

   I am overhauling my system. I’m learning I don’t have to make decisions or take action as quickly as I once thought I did. I’m learning to give space for God to provide. I have been taking more naps.

   How are you?”

 

It is funny how things pop up in your readings that are so poignant!

Always grateful,

Palmer Marrin

 

August 26, 2020

1 PETER 3:9 NKJV

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.  On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

With the gift of conscience, God has given us the ability to know when we’ve transgressed.

Very early in childhood, I understood the impact of violence.  My Mom taught us violence begets violence. If we’re trying to be heard or show someone another way, that we lose moral ground if our message is clouded in assault. We learned words could feel as hurtful as a push or a punch.  Our response to acts of aggression was to apologize, for doing or saying something that was offensive. It was an invitation for the aggressor to find the true source of their pain and for us to know where we transgressed.  It created an opportunity for dialogue.

My younger sister grew up during escalating violence in our country.  She didn’t have the training my older siblings and I experienced.  Fighting, as a means of resolving conflict in our neighborhood, in movies and on television, was the new normal. Our home was no exception.  Although my sister was younger, she was much taller and when she was angry, she would lash out physically.  I hated fighting, so I would just “take it” or burst into tears.  I wasn’t a victim, I chose not to defend myself physically; I knew fighting wasn’t the right response, my sister couldn’t help lashing out…..she didn’t know another way. One day, my anger got the best of me, I decided I didn’t care anymore and I fought back, I “won” our fight, watched my younger sister “give in” and burst into tears.  Immediately, I started grieving, I knew when I hurt my sister, I lost a part of myself.  My older sister thought I was “a baby” for crying about a fight that I won but I knew there was something greater at stake.

For anyone who thinks violence is contained to a single event, please reflect on the first time you allowed your emotions to take precedent over a weaker being.  Kicking a dog, hurting a cat, or another human being. In the anatomy of the event, I am sure you’ll find some part of yourself you gave up for a sense of power or control.  Not the power of God or the Holy Spirit.  The false power that makes you feel greater/better than something or someone. If you are like me, as I assess the trajectory of my event, the lines between right and wrong became less clear. I couldn’t count on myself not to “fight” back. I can now see the ripple effect from that one event.  I lost respect for myself and belief in a dream that we don’t have to assault one another to be heard or valued.  You see, my sister was physically stronger but I had knowledge and spiritual strength.  I believe she was counting on me not to hurt her.

Accepting violence as a social norm is a slippery slope; it opens doors to all kinds of assaults from name calling and other forms of micro-aggressions to the destruction of personal property and harming of human beings.  When we experience joy in someone else’s demise, we’re on the slope. When we call people names that are intended to assault their character and sense of self, we’re on the slope.

I still haven’t completely forgiven myself for hurting my sister; I still weep when I think about our experience and see the image of her face. Violence hurts everyone.  As the race for President of the US continues, let’s not feed violent discourse.  Let’s say no to unnecessary character assaults and focus on the content, the candidates’ perspective and policy.  Let’s support compassionate listening and truth.  No matter how hardened a candidate may be, they still feel the punches.  And even if they don’t, I guarantee you their families do.  I know, I come from a political family that was both loved and reviled on paper and in person.

I welcome your participation and prayers in “de-violencing” life.  When we choose not to laugh at someone’s embarrassment or find glee in another’s hardship or punishment we are “de-violencing”. The choice to take violence out, allows us to know compassion and see from a different perspective.  Our conclusions may not change but we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing we didn’t destroy someone to get there.

One is not called noble who harms living beings.  By not harming living beings one is called noble. BUDDHA

In peace and love, Andrea Bolling

 

August 25, 2020

The Morning Paper

      Mary Oliver

 

Read one newspaper daily (the morning edition

      Is the best   

 For by evening you know that you at least

       Have lived through another day)

And let the disasters, the unbelievable

        Yet approved decisions,

Soak in.

 

I don’t need to name the countries,

          Ours among them.

 

What keeps us from falling down, our faces

           To the ground; ashamed, ashamed?

Submitted by Mardi Moran

 

August 24, 2020

I may have mentioned in a previous meditation that, when I was ordained priest in 2005, I was required to sign, immediately prior to the service of ordination, a Declaration that stated the following:

“I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Unites States of America.”

Give that one some thought.  Would YOU sign that? 

I did, and I most certainly would again today.  In a heartbeat.

In the next number of weeks, we will begin to invite all our members to participate in some of the initiatives our stellar reVision Pillar Group teams came up with following months of prayer, discernment, sharing, and planning.

One of them is a Bible Study (and actually, I’m considering forming two of them), which, of course in these times, we will begin to offer via Zoom meetings. 

Would you join us?  I ask you to pray on that and look out for announcements coming your way very soon.

One of the things Bible Study groups often don’t spend much time talking about, I’ve found, is what the Bible IS in the first place.  Or how we might understand its role, or use, in our personal growth and spiritual formation.

And one of the things I believe (as the author Rob Bell, in his book, What is the Bible? sets forth), is that the Bible is NOT “a book about going to heaven.”  Instead, he writes:

“The action is here.

“The life is here.

“The point is here.

“It’s a library of books about the healing and restoring and reconciling and renewing of this world.

“Our home.

“The only home we’ve ever had.”

Indeed, I’ve always believed Holy Scriptures comprise our stories about God, rather than being God’s stories about us.  

So who’s up for reading among the library of books about the healing and restoring and reconciling and renewing of THIS world?

Count me in. 

I’m ALL in.

Faithfully,

Chip+

 

 

August 21, 2020

DEFINITION OF HUMILITY (Wikipedia): Being unselved, a liberation of consciousness that is neither having pride nor indulging in self-deprecation.

     Father Chip’s sermon last Sunday about the Canaanite woman that Jesus first rebuked and then blessed was so impactful I found myself thinking about all the times I’ve closed ranks and spirit forced me to reconsider, to expand my thinking about who I hold in my circle of care.  At one point during the service I started to feel a little unsettled.  As if, there were variables that may be overlooked or minimized. I think it has something to do with listening, being open to the unexpected and humility. As I continued to grapple with the sermon, an experience came to mind, an experience with Thelma.  Thelma is my mother, now deceased, much loved and missed.

    As I’ve mentioned previously, I come from a family of 14.  Twelve children, two parents.  I am the 11th child and was raised amidst tremendous social and political upheaval in the 60s and 70s.  I continue to mention my childhood because events in 2020 are informing the beliefs and behavior of younger people much like what you and I experienced and I think it’s important to remember what it felt like when the world seemed out of control. Back to my Mom. In the 60s, I watched my mother’s social position in the community transition from someone who was respected to a woman whose example was considered to be outdated. You know the story, the old woman who lived in the shoe.  A few years earlier, her reputation for being fair, ability to see the beauty in people from different walks of life and spiritual discernment were appreciated.  What was important, valued, in our community and the country changed. The community decided women like my Mom should not be involved in helping to lead future generations.  Younger people took over ministries and projects she and her peers were intimately involved with.

     Within a few years of the “takeover”, some leaders who had derided my mom returned and asked for advice.  Initially, she chose not to assist.  I remember seeing the hurt on her face when they came to our home.  I imagine she was wondering if their requests were a cover for another motive, whether there would be another barrage of degrading vitriol, whether they would take her ideas and attribute them to someone else.  In time, when she was more certain the requests for assistance were sincere, and realized how much difficulty they were in, she shared her knowledge and used her contacts to assist.

     So, what does this have to do with Jesus and the Canaanite woman? The woman from Canaan acknowledged so much in her response, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs from their master’s table.” NKJV.  I believe she humbled herself by accepting his reproach. She knew scraps from his table were pearls of wisdom whose import was greater than a nation. Perhaps Jesus needed to hear contrition as an element of Faith.  Listening with true spiritual discernment assists us in knowing when it’s time to be present in love. I watched my mother put her “persecution“ aside and respond to a heartfelt request for assistance.  Even as an adult, I am humbled by what I witnessed.

     I believe most of us play the role of the woman from Canaan, the humble or contrite, and the sage Master Teacher at some point in our lives.  We may not know how to instantaneously heal the body but we may have the compassion, advice, resource or ability to forgive that could save someone’s life. It only takes our willingness to listen, discern, act and expand our circle of care.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” T.S. Eliot

With love, Andrea Bolling

 

August 20, 2020

“We are what we think.  All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves”

Buddha

Thoughtfully,

Palmer Marrin

 

August 19, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector Wed 8-19-20

“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to the senses.”  (C.S. Lewis)

During these days, when we can’t gather regularly for Holy Communion, many of us may be realizing how much we miss gathering to share the body of Christ.  I know I do.

But I also know, during this time of “social distancing,” and, perhaps all too frequently, some unwelcome isolation, that so many of us are also realizing the holiness of being together, and the sacredness of relation.

In my office, I have an artistic rendering of the following (anonymous) quotation, given to me by a close clergy colleague on the occasion of my ordination to the priesthood:

“Rich is not how much you have…

Or where you are going…

Or even what you are.

Rich is who you have beside you.”

Behold this truth.  It is the abundance of life Jesus taught us about, showed us how to nurture and tend, and for which he imbued us with his Holy Spirit, in order to increase, and to magnify, and to enjoy.

“Rich” is who you have beside you.

In faith,

Father Chip+  

 

August 17, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector–and a Welcome!  to a new Treasurer, Warden, and Vestry Member!

In a previous email notice, I’d announced Wesley Brown’s retirement after a long and very productive term as Treasurer.  Now, another special and capable individual has stepped up to take the reins as our Treasurer, and that has lead to even more good things:

Mardi Moran, already now a Vestry person for one year, and then one of our two Wardens for another year, has offered to serve as our Treasurer.  Thank you, Mardi! 

That means, of course, that we needed to fill her Warden spot, and so we turned to another Vestry member, Barbara Rush, who almost immediately said “YES!”  And we were blessed once again.  Thank you, Barb!

THEN:  we needed to have someone fill Barb’s spot on the Vestry, a term that ends at the January meeting in 2022.  And so we turned to Palmer Marrin, who’d come forward as a ministry leader in our reVision process, has grown more deeply engaged since joining St Andrew’s some years ago with her husband David, and currently writes our Daily Meditations on Thursdays.   Thank you, Palmer!

At our Vestry meeting this past Tuesday night, all three were duly appointed.  My comment was (and always has been):  God continues to bless St Andrew’s by bringing forth good and strong, faithful and capable, hearts.  It is the truth!

In these days of changing societal perspectives about religion, I came across the following quote, from the “Vestry Resource Guide” (the fine manual we give to all new Vestry members), which I think speaks well about where our focus now needs to be in leading and governing Christ’s church:

 “In this time in the life of the Church, when laity and clergy are recognizing the benefits of shared leadership, your call [to vestry service] means working collaboratively with fellow vestry members and the rector to create a vision and plan of action that reflects God’s dream for the congregation.  It means cultivating congregation-wide conversations about where God is calling your faith community.  It means balancing your role in discerning God’s mission and vision with sound stewardship of its property and resources.”

To me, living with balanced tension and ambiguity is the hallmark of life lived in the Spirit, and life lived will within the parameters of what it means to be an Anglican/Episcopalian, our small part in the greatest movement in this world:  The Jesus Movement.  The movement of Love.  Beloved Community.

Thank you, Mardi, Barb, and Palmer, and to our Vestry Members past, present, and future, for keeping our lights shining!

In faith,

Father Chip+  

 

August 14, 2020

I have always been fascinated by how children grow, and how (and to what extent) their personalities may be formed.

But having worked with 4 and 5 year-olds (literally performing Bible stories as part of their Church Preschool curriculum in Florida), I am convinced of one simple—but incredibly important—thing:

Somewhere along the way, and maybe it’s about the time we move into our elementary school years, we risk losing our sense of WONDER.  Wonder about nature, creation, love, and the amazing intricacies of life.  And the interior universes inside every one of us.

In my experience, embracing my faith has meant giving myself permission to reclaim my life of wonder, and to give myself over to the Great Mystery. 

When I do that, I’m reminded that we all share a great and broad capacity to love, and that life is a process of learning to love.

As Richard Rohr points out (in his meditation for this day): 

“You don’t have to be religious in order to open to wonder.  You only have to reclaim a sliver of what you once knew as a child.  If you remember how to wonder, then you already have what you need to learn how to love.”

 

In faith,

Father Chip+  

 

August 13, 2020

As often as I said, “My foot has slipped,” your love, O Lord, upheld me.

Psalm 94:18

One week ago, yesterday, my daughter arrived with her husband and two girls, ages 1 and 3 years old.

Fast track forward, up at 6:30 with the puppy, Sherlock, 6 months old. Feeding him, then the girls, then walking with some or all of them. Oh, wait, the little one and Sherlock go down for their morning nap, because breakfast and a walk are so exhausting. Keeping the dog separated from their toys and shoes and keeping the baby and dog from going upstairs. The dog respects the gate, the baby simply opens it and goes through then carefully closes it behind her. We put up a wooden gate that hooks and she simply crawled up to it and went right under it with no hesitation.

Lunch, more naps except for the 3-year-old, so no rest for the weary.

Why am I going on and on?  Because we are fortunate to have many hands to help. There are many who are single parenting without help or a job, at home with no diversions or extended family.

How can we make a difference? Through small acts of kindness. Taking a moment to help someone with a package or opening a door, or just asking, “Do you need help?”

During this Virus, we are all tired of waiting in lines, at the post office and the grocery store, but we can do things safely with compassion.

“If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”

James Baldwin

Always grateful,

Palmer Marrin

 

August 12, 2020

Proverbs 19:8

He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good. KJV.

     As a child in the sixties I had the pleasure of meeting Nikki Giovanni, African American poet, writer and griot.  Amidst tremendous upheaval, when I felt pressure to “grow up” quickly, Ms. Giovanni made it okay for me to be a child.  She taught me rhymes and created stories and poems from conversations with me and my friends.  Somehow, she seemed to know I was only 6 years old and the world was becoming much too complicated.  Riots, the fear of nuclear bombing, the generation gap were all weighing heavily on my soul.  I could barely understand what a cold war was no matter how many times my father explained.

     This Little Light of Mine was one of the first hymns I learned and I loved the idea that each of us have a light, spirit, we could share with the world.  As the decade progressed, it became more and more difficult to feel the lyrics and believe in the power of the holy spirit. One day, Nikki reiterated something my mother told me, “If you start to not feel good about yourself, take your light, and bring it inside.”  She added, “To love yourself is to love Christ.”  Her comforting words affirmed my mother’s wisdom and I remember thinking, maybe there is a way to manage, to be okay in a changing world. Nikki seemed to know that loving who we are physically and spiritually was important.  It was a way of reclaiming our relationship with God and the beauty he bestows.  She taught us not to be afraid, that self-love leads to greater love, agape. 

       Below is one of Ms. Giovanni’s poems.  For me, it’s aspirational, and provides a snapshot of the short but important time she was in my life. By the way, I forgot Nikki and my mom’s advice; I think I may have let my “light “ hang out there a little too long.  Now, I know it’s time to bring it in, heal, and realign.

 

POEM

this morning

i looked in the mirror

and for the first time

i didn’t see

my mistakes,

i didn’t see my circumstances,

i didn’t see

the shame i carried

on my shoulders,

i didn’t see the

the fear that once chained me

instead i saw

the most beautiful smile,

i saw a brave heart

and a face full of

inexpressible joy,

and i saw

a soul worth pursuing

a dream worth chasing

a heart worth loving.       -g.c.

 

Thank you, Nikki, for knowing what I need exactly when I need it.  This time, with God’s grace, I’ll understand and remember.

Peace, Andrea Bolling

 

August 11, 2020

O Holy One, I ran through the fields and gathered flowers of a

thousand colors-

And now I pour them out at Your feet.

Their beauty and their brightness shout for joy in Your Presence.

You created the flowers of the fields and made each one far more

          lovely

than all the skill of man could design.

Accept my joy along with theirs,

This field of blossoms at Your feet.

Holy One

As the wind blows through these flowers

till they dance in the ecstasy of creation,

send Your Spirit to blow through my being

till I too bloom and dance with the fulness of Your life.

Ishpriya R.S.C.J

Submitted by Mardi Moran

 

August 10, 2020

“Our task is enormous…To look at all that has gone before us, and to recognize that each one of us, however small, has a unique task in co-creation—a unique contribution to make in the world and to humanity.”  (Edwina Gateley)

I always thank God for you—and am thankful we are working out our unique tasks, as co-creators in God’s amazing world, together.

Love and peace be with you always…

Father Chip+   

 

August 7, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector & Teaser for this Sunday’s Sermon!

OK!  Time to play, “Name the individual who said the following quotes” (answers below) :

(a)  “Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you believe.” 

(b)  “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Now:  What do the ideas have in common?

 Prayers to all of you for the riches of simple blessings and the peace of realized holiness—and in thanksgiving for our brilliant summer joys,

Father Chip+

 

  • John Lewis, in his essay, “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of a Nation,” published July 30, 2020 
  • Jesus of Nazareth, in Luke (9:23)

 

 August 6, 2020

First Happenings

 A morning-glory morning with its usual glory,

dawn particularly startling with citrons and

mauves, petunias in the garden flashing their

tender signals of gratitude. The sunflowers

creak in their grass-colored dresses. Cosmos,

the four o’clocks, the sweet alyssum nod to

the roses who so very politely nod back.

 

And now it is time to go back to work. At my desk

I look out over the fluttering petals, little

fires. Each one fresh and almost but not quite

replicable.

 

Consider wearing such a satisfying body!

Consider being, with your entire self, such

A quiet prayer.

 

Mary Oliver

 

Submitted by Mardi Moran

 

August 5, 2020

PSALM 34:22 NKJV

The Lord redeems the soul of his servants, and none of those who trust in him shall be condemned.

For years, I’ve been thinking about the role of the soul in faith formation. Briefly, what I’ve gleaned from eastern and new age study is the soul is an essence each of us embodies where the purpose of our lives and spirit connect. The soul guides us to engage specific life experiences for individual and human evolution. In Christianity, the soul is described most frequently as an individual’s life purpose or calling. It requires following spirit and is often described as a source of fulfillment. I was taught that when we engage our soul’s purpose, we are living God’s plan. From what I can see, implicit in Eastern, New Age and Christian descriptions of a soul journey is a presumption that the opportunity for individual expression of purpose is available to all.

For Black people, our collective identity often dictates what our individual experience will be. Soul aligned or not. Frequently, white people see our group identity and all the narratives about who we are and what we’re capable of are in play consciously and unconsciously. We have to navigate, find the safe spaces to show ourselves individually. Perhaps, the reason we haven’t made tremendous progress in alleviating racism is we haven’t connected soul to soul. To share how real the possibility is, I have a friend of 35+ years and she and I have never talked about how race affects our lives and relationship. I raised the subject, my friend seemed reluctant to go further and I quickly conceded, afraid of losing the relationship. She is still my friend but, on a soul level, we hit a wall; we can go no further until we tackle the elephant before us which is racism. We speak less often, our relationship has less depth and honesty. What I’ve learned: there’s always a consequence in avoiding the elephant. To truly connect on a soul level is to operate in freedom and truth, authentically. To see and be seen. To hear and be heard.

In contemplation and journaling, I’ve asked myself: does the soul become larger than life in the face of oppression? I believe it does. I see BLM moving beyond its original scope of addressing biased policing and mass incarceration to a movement that’s unmasking oppression and furthering dialogue about intersectionality with other dimensions of diversity. I believe the BLM movement is revealing the experience of our collective soul. The elephant in the room has turned into a herd waiting for humankind to take notice. To stop, go no further, until we undo the unholy.

For many of us the Soul is where freedom and truth reside. It’s the place where a deeper knowledge of our divinity lies even in the ABSENCE of validating physical experience. It’s where we experience God’s eternal love. What gives us strength to speak when no one wants to listen. Soul music, Hip Hop, Blues, Jazz, expressions like, “you’re not feelin me” or, “I got this” or “I got you” are all ways we connect to what is real and true. Yes, I believe many of us resonate with Eastern and Christian descriptions of the function and beauty of the soul and we also know the ability to have a fulfilling soul experience is impacted by our collective race experience.

What does this have to do with redemption? I know when I surrender/seek redemption, it’s not only from what I’ve done and left undone. What’s related to individual sin, it’s deliverance from my collective experience as a Black female. For me, to be redeemed is also receiving God’s grace in making the crooked places straight. Racism and sexism are crooked.

What does connection with soul as an integral part of faith formation have to do with our future as a church? If you truly want to “connect” with Black congregants and other people of color than you need to be aware of individual and collective identities, what’s informing your beliefs and behavior in any given moment. We need to know; being aware of individual and collective identities and experiences are an integral part of exercising spiritual discernment in relating across race.

Is there a friend, a colleague, family member you avoid having discussion about racism with? The conversation you may be afraid of  may be the very conversation they’ve been waiting for.

 PSALM 130:5 NKJV

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in his word I do Hope.

In love and peace, Andrea Bolling

 

August 4, 2020

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, from his novel “Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship”

Grateful,

Palmer Marrin

 

August 3, 2020

“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” a quote from Mohandas Gandhi, has been getting a lot of play in the last number of years.

What is it you want to see in the world most?

Is it possible, as Gandhi suggests, that we can effect change by BEING that change?

Contemporary theologian John Dear, a devoted student of Gandhi’s, had the following things to say about the spiritual practice of nonviolence (as quoted in Richard Rohr’s meditation of July 28):

“In his search for God and truth, Mohandas Gandhi (1869—1948) concluded that he could never hurt or kill anyone, much less remain passive in the face of injustice, imperialism, and war.  Instead, Gandhi dedicated himself to the practice and promotion of nonviolence.  He concluded that nonviolence is not only the most powerful force there is; it is the spiritual practice most neglected and most needed throughout the world.

“’Nonviolence means avoiding injury to anything on earth, in thought, word, or deed,’ Gandhi told an interviewer in 1935 .  But for him, nonviolence meant not just refraining from physical violence interpersonally and nationally, but refraining from the inner violence of the heart as well.  It meant the practice of active love toward one’s oppressors and enemies in the pursuit of justice, truth, and peace.

“’Nonviolence cannot be preached,’ he insisted.  ‘It has to be practiced.’ 

“For fifty years, Gandhi sought to practice nonviolence at every level of his life, in his own heart, among his family and friends, and publicly in his struggle for equality in South Africa and freedom for India.  It was the means by which he sought the ends of truth; in fact, he later concluded that the ends were in the means, or perhaps they were even the same. 

“In other words, the practice of nonviolence is not just the way to peace; it is the way to God.”

“’Nonviolence assumes entire reliance upon God,’ Gandhi taught.  When the practice of nonviolence becomes universal, God will reign on earth as God reigns in heaven.’

“After years of studying the various religions, Gandhi concluded too that nonviolence is at the heart of every religion.

“’Nonviolence is the greatest and most active force in the world,’ Gandhi wrote.  ‘My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to develop nonviolence.  The more you develop it in your own being, the more infectious it becomes till it overwhelms your surroundings and by and by might oversweep the world.”   

And so I reflect:  What did Jesus do?         

 Let’s be the change we want to see in the world.

In Christ,

Father Chip+

 

July 30, 2020

To make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from….

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

 

To new beginnings,

Palmer Marrin

 

July 29, 2020

Perhaps the thing that fires me up most is listening to others’ stories about their spiritual conversions, and hearing their personal witness about our living God. 

Recently I came across a good one from Diana Butler Bass in her book, Grounded:  Finding God in the World—A Spiritual Revolution:

“Where is God?”

“I have had three conversions in my life, each time seeking a deeper awareness of God.  The first was in the summer of 1975, when I left my childhood faith, which I had inherited from my parents, and embraced evangelical Protestantism, a form of faith that seemed empowering and meaningful.  The second was in the early 1990s, when I left evangelicalism (which proved more constraining than I thought) and embraced liberal Christianity as embodied in the Episcopal Church.

“The third conversion began on September 12, 2001, when the radio was playing “What a Wonderful World and I realized that I did not think the world was wonderful.  Indeed, I thought the world was frightening, a place to be endured.  Although it took me some time to understand, I had largely wanted church to protect me from the world, a community offering the comforting arms of a benevolent Father in Heaven, familiar rituals, a strengthening meal, and that promised eternal reward for being good.  I had experienced both conservative and liberal forms of this church, but came to realize that they were different forms of a very similar thing, two versions of faith in the same vertical God.

“My third conversion was not about rejecting church (as the living expression of Jesus in the world), Christianity, or faith.  Rather, my third conversion was about leaving behind the vertical God and elevator church.  The third conversion is a turning toward God-with-us and a hope for faith community that risks stepping off the elevator.  This conversion loves the world, seeks God with the world in all its beauty and pain.  It is a quest to find others who have experienced the same—and a dream that together we can build a spiritual architecture of loving God and neighbor, the God who dwells with us in grace.”   

Father Chip+

 

July 28, 2020

My nephew, Brian Aromando, was killed recently in a motorcycle accident, when a motorist veered into his traffic lane. He leaves behind a wife, Whitney and two teen aged daughters, Daisy and Mallory. Whitney had lost her father a few weeks prior. Our family was devastated because of this senseless act.

I couldn’t attend the funeral because of number restrictions and couldn’t be there to help in any substantive way.

Brian was a surfer who lived in Ogunquit, Maine. His friends got together and planned a memorial, where they brought orchids and leis sent from Hawaii. Over one hundred surfers paddled out and boaters came together. They brought his empty surfboard onto which they placed flowers and leis. They mourned together, they comforted the family and each other. They emailed me drone photos so that I could feel a part of it as well.

Yesterday, as I listened to Cynthia’s sermon about the Community of God, I understood what she was saying. I was so grateful because I felt the pain recede somewhat when I could sense this caring sweep over those in the water, Ogunquit Beach, the Marginal Way and envelop my family. Life can be so cruel and yet there is God’s love that envelopes us, then exudes through living creatures, allowing us to take it in and begin the healing process.

Mardi Moran

 

July 27, 2020

Remember the opening song from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood?  (Go ahead, sing it out loud with me!):

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor.

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.

I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.”

I wonder:  is it possible to run those two last lines through my mind over and over during my waking hours? 

So that I see every person I encounter as my neighbor, and likewise invited to be mine?

Might I find inner peace much more readily if I at least tried that?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…

In Christ,

Father Chip+  

 

 

July 24, 2020

Our gospel reading for this coming Sunday, July 26, comes from Matthew, in which Jesus is talking about what the “Kingdom of Heaven” is like.  To be honest, it seems a little strange!  One of the few examples he gives is this:  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Strange, because Jesus DOESN’T describe what might seem to us to be some sort of “space,” like a room, or a “kingdom,” like England, but something completely different.

Instead, it’s more like something that happens to us, and makes us live and see things, and want things, in an entirely differently way than if we had never been hit—like a ton of bricks, and right between the eyes—by the grace of our faith.

Perhaps, when we decide we really want to live IN that kingdom (whether those moments are sporadic, intermittent,  or almost continuous),  we’ll realize we’ve been given the most valuable thing, something to have and to hold within us, that we might ever conceive: 

The freedom of love and life in the Spirit.

The Spirit of God.   

Father Chip+  

 

 

July 23, 2020

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.. “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9, 20-21

With love and compassion,

Palmer Marrin

 

July 22, 2020

REPARATION:

The making of amends for a wrong one has done by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.

     I applaud Asheville, NC for acknowledging Black Lives Matter with their reparations program.  The City of Asheville will provide funding for home ownership and businesses for Black residents to address the State’s participation in slavery and discrimination against Black people.

     Apologies and incentives to address repeated injustice go a long way in bridging the divide between Black and White America. It helps alleviate the craziness denying wrongdoing generates and truly gives us the opportunity to heal and breathe.  I don’t know about you, but I have difficulty functioning in healthy ways when important issues are avoided. In my experience, we spend more time and energy sidestepping what is clearly calling for attention than dealing with the issue at hand. For Asheville, there’s no longer a need to debate the pain created by racism and exploitation of Black people; the elephant in the room is named and all are humanized by the acknowledgement.  Asheville’s reparations program and commitment to provide non-discriminatory policing not only impacts their community but other parts of our country as we seek ways to create a nation where all citizens are treated equitably.

     We often think the need for reparations only pertain to groups.  When we understand reparation is a gesture to correct a transgression, there’s an opportunity to address micro-aggressions against individuals, families, places of worship and communities.  I believe they are equally as important and can help us see how our behavior contributes to larger forms of systemic oppression.

     So, when are reparations appropriate?  In a sermon a few years ago Father Chip, said  reparations are warranted whenever we act in ways that suppress another human being’s ability to benefit from the true fruits of his/her contributions.   I believe he read Ecclesiastes 5:18-19; It is good and fitting for one to eat, drink, and to enjoy the good of all his(her) labor in which he(she) toils under the sun all the days of his(her) life which God gives him(her); for it is his(her) heritage…. to rejoice in his(her) labor-this is the gift of God.” Thank you Asheville, for letting God lead.

     Is there someone you’ve treated unjustly, that would benefit from some reparative act/acknowledgement?  An act that will help restore dignity, position, sense of well-being?   It’s never too late.  Every week we ask for God’s forgiveness of sins, what we’ve done and left undone.   I invite you not to leave an opportunity for healing “undone”.  Be courageous, ask God for guidance, right a wrong,… repair.

With faith in peace, Andrea Bolling

 

July 21, 2020

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by Thy side

The works that I have in my hand

I will finish afterwards.

 

Away from the sight of Thy face

My heart knows no rest or respite,

And my work becomes an endless toil

In the shoreless sea of toil.

 

Today the summer has come to my window

With its sighs and murmurs,

And the bees are plying their minstrelsy

At the court of the flowering grove.

 

Now is the time to sit quiet

Face to face with Thee.

And to sing dedication of life

In this silent and overwhelming leisure.

 

Rabindranath Tagore

 

Submitted by Mardi Moran

 

 

July 20, 2020

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”  (Maya Angelou)

 

Off and on I think about the idea that God made us and eventually we return to God.  Being one of the few Great Mysteries there are, I’m not really sure how I feel about that idea. 

But here’s one thing I DO know:

When I come into church, whether with fellow saints or simply those now part of the great cloud of witnesses,

I feel like I am home.    

Your brother in Christ,

Father Chip+   

 

July 17, 2020

Sunday Service Teaser:

Most of us have heard the story of Jacob, son of Abraham and Sarah, and twin brother of Esau, who had a dream about a ladder reaching all the way up to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it.

Waking up and remembering that strange dream, somehow Jacob sensed that he would never be alone, never be without God.    

Indeed, he became aware that he was part of something greater going on, and a member of an all-encompassing, interrelated, community.  

Believing I have time and again shared Jacob’s dream, I am convinced that we are the physical manifestation of God’s dream.   

Hope to “see you” (on YouTube) this Sunday!

Prayers for bountiful love and countless summer joys…

Father Chip+   

 

July 16, 2020

 Who is, or has been, a great influence in your life? Throughout all of our lives, we have always had someone that has made a difference, a teacher, grandparent, parent, friend, or God? That someone who has made you feel special, takes an interest, pushes you to do better and gives you a sense of self-worth. Small words and deeds that boost us up. Such simple acts that don’t require money, but an interest in a person. Being able to lean in, to believe in someone, to see who that person really is, or needs, or has the potential to be.

When Mother Teresa, then Agnes, was eight years old, her father died.  She became very close to her mother, who was a devout Catholic, who instilled a sense of compassion and deep commitment to charity in her daughter. They were not wealthy but her mother, Dranafile Bojaxhiu, extended an open invitation to the city’s destitute to dine with her family. “My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others,” she counseled her daughter. When Agnes asked who the people eating with them were, her mother responded, “Some of them are our relations, but all of them are our people.”

Clearly her mother started Agnes on her journey of compassionate caring for people.

The greatest influence on my life was my mother. She had a strong sense of God in her life. That God would take care of us, whether it was worries or sickness. She was always stopping in to see someone, a friend or someone in a rest home, and taking us with her. She never gossiped, saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say it!” And she believed we could do or be anything we wanted to in life.

She instilled that in all five of her children.

So, as we move through these times, and always, let us remember who has made a difference in our lives and seek to do the same for others.

With gratitude,

Palmer Marrin

 

July 15, 2020

Meditation

7-15-20

Deuteronomy: 31:6 NKJV

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes with you.  He will not leave you, nor forsake you.

“Be strong and of good courage”… In my heart of hearts, I know, through Moses, God is petitioning us to have the kind of faith that generates God’s strength.  No false bravado!  We’re being encouraged to believe, be aware and confidently move through the matrices of life.

I remember a sermon when Priest Associate, Cynthia Hubbard, read the excerpt above and asked us, “Who does the “them” represent in our lives?”  That was three or four years ago and immigration was the pressing issue of the time.  I think it would be helpful to ask ourselves again: Who are the “them” in our lives?  The enemy, boogeyman, whoever/whatever challenges our sense of self.   We may feel the need to “fight” them or it: protesters, COVID 19, the government, police, aging, undocumented immigrants, etc.  I know, from training and experience, what I fear and resist most grows stronger and occupies more space and time in my life.  In effect, with fear, I block my ability to see and think clearly.  When I read Deuteronomy; 31:6, it reminds me to have faith, become the observer, turn to the power within, partner with God and unveil the boogeyman.

So, my current boogeyman is COVID 19.  My health is compromised, I am in chronic pain and I am a little frightened.  This week, I went for a walk, mask on, made eye contact and said hello to the people I passed.  I was happy to realize masks and social distancing didn’t feel like such a big thing to me anymore.  As people responded to my greeting, I looked at them a little longer than usual and for the first time since wearing a mask, I could see them smile with their eyes.  Whether it was the joy of making a deeper connection or shifting awareness from my physical discomfort, I felt something changed.  I returned home, contemplated what I experienced, and rediscovered something I learned many year ago.  Attitude, the way we engage the boogeyman, is everything.

There are Masters, mostly from the East, who said they didn’t experience illness because their bodies moved at a higher frequency than disease.  Disease couldn’t adhere.  Perhaps that’s how Jesus healed the sick.  He helped people, with faith, move above the consciousness (thinking), energy (attitude) and condition (physical dimension) of their illness.  Most of us have not achieved the level of mastery of Jesus and other ascended Masters but, confidently engaging faith and knowing “he will not leave or forsake us”, we can practice spiritual discernment.  We’ll know what’s safe for us to do and not do.  In this knowledge I find solace.

To continue the journey Cynthia started, please ask yourself, “Who or what am I avoiding, not allowing in my heart, or giving power to?”  I hope this selection of scripture, Deuteronomy; 31:6 helps you face your fear as it is helping me.  An aside:  In contemplation I acknowledged I am not only afraid of contracting the disease but, also, what life will be like once the virus has run its course.  Spirit is telling me “normal” can’t be found in the past.  We have a pretty blank canvas for this next chapter of human experience and we can lovingly help create mid-millennium life or we can overlay the past.  Let’s glean our lessons, apply our wisdom and move on.  Life is precious.

 

In love and gratitude, Andrea Bolling 

 

 

July 14, 2020

On Gathering Artists

Alberto Rios

 

Art is often doing the work

Nobody else knew

Needed to be done.

 

We are the cobblers of the song

And barkers of the carnival world,

We are tailors of the light

And framers of the earth.

We fish among the elements

And hunt among the elusive green in gray and blue.

We drink forbidden waters

And eat invisible food.

 

In this time of email and phone conversations

We send us our voice

The painting, the poem, the photograph

Whose electricity is made of pencils and brushes,

Whose song is sung in the colors of the yet unnamed

Drawn from the solitary etudes of the soul

And given up in tender to the world.

 

How easy to spend a day writing a poem,

How hard to spend a life writing a thousand,

A poem, a painting, a photograph,

Dancers, sculptures, bowls —-

The warp and the weave and waft of iron

And paper and light and salt:

We labor for a lifetime

But take every day off.

Who knows what to make of us?

 

We are not the ribcage, but the legs;

We are not the steering wheel, but the headlamps.

We gather happily, if not often. We can’t

Sit still. We hurry off. Good-bye to us,

Hello to us, a tip of the hat

To us, as we go about

The drumming of our stars.

 

Sent in tribute to all who delight our senses, force us to think new thoughts, and bring new beauty into our lives.

 

Love and Peace, Mardi Moran

 

 

July 13, 2020

In the course of some reading this past week I encountered the following quotation from the 20th century theologian, Paul Tillich:

“We must abandon the external height images in which the theistic God has historically been perceived and replace them with internal depth images of a deity who is not apart from us, but who is the very core and ground of all that is.”

I agree with that wholeheartedly.

To that I might add a phrase from one of Paul’s letters:  “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Maybe whomever said we ‘need to learn to get out of our own way’ was right.

On a cosmic scale.

In Christ,

Chip+    

 

July 10, 2020

 

Thomas Merton’s prayer is frequently used for the interim time, but it seems particularly appropriate for us now as we live through another time of transition.

 

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 

Thomas Merton

 

Blessings,

Cynthia

 

July 9, 2020

“Where there is love there is life.”

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

“The future depends on what we do in the present.”

Quotes by Mahatma Gandhi

_____________________

In this time, let us not lose our passion to do the right thing, for our neighbors, the world, and God.

Let us be one.

We are in this together.

 

In peace,

Palmer Marrin

 

July 8, 2020

Meditation

Psalm 120: 6-7 NKJV

My soul has dwelt too long with the one who hates peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

CONFLICTED; adj. having & showing confused and mutually inconsistent feelings

     As I look at the image a relative sent on Facebook, a photo of 2 solemn Black children holding signs that said No Justice, No Peace, I felt burdened.  I know my cousin wanted me to feel encouraged…the next generation continuing the struggle and all I wanted to do was pull my hair and shout “Not another generation!”

     Everyday I listen to controversy regarding monuments, memorials, sports teams and I feel conflicted.  Sure, there are some clear cut cases, like the removal of the confederate flag from the Miss. State House, but others are not as clear for me.  Thirty years ago, I would have said, take the statues down, they were slave owners, the worst kind of supremacist!  Now, I find myself searching for the wisdom of the middle path, the grey area.  So, why have I changed? I’m older and wiser and understand what we’re dealing with are fundamental flaws in our human experience.  Namely, assigning human worth for power and profit which has taken a tremendous toll on humankind.  It’s an age old phenomena and can only be stopped at its’ root.  Christ, our Master Teacher, The Great Leveler, taught us that.  The other condition informing my perspective is my reconnection with God and Christ.  I put my trust in God, and have compassion for myself and fellow humans. I have less need or desire to idolize important figures, past or present. When we do, we set people up who have done extraordinary things to be cast aside when we learn of their fallibility.  Idolization also prevents us from seeing clearly and acting responsibly.

     Yes, I still feel conflicted, but now that I’ve named it, and am allowing spirit to guide me, Christ, to make the crooked places straight, and God, to reveal my ignorance, it feels more like a journey.  I can laugh and have compassion for myself and others.  Here are some steps I’m taking to reduce confusion.  If you’re feeling conflicted, frustrated or bored with our current political and social scene, you may find them helpful as well.

HOW TO STOP FEELING CONFLICTED USING THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED (God’s Path):

1) Put your faith in God and Trust in Christ

2) Surrender the question or conflict to God, ask for guidance

3) Be open and available to receiving responses; nature, a newspaper article, movie, conversation may provide the key to resolving the conflict or, seeing it from a different perspective.

4) Scan the body.  How does the resolution or new perspective make you feel.  Does it feel good and true?  Can you breathe deeply?  Do you need more time to engage what you’ve learned?  If you do, engage it joyfully!  Be grateful and thank God.

5) Share epiphanies, resolutions, discoveries! Tell a family member, friend, stranger what you learned or are contemplating.  Sharing will deepen the depth of discovery and change.

6) Share what you’ve discovered with Christ, God and the Holy Spirit.  Allow them to be part of your life unfolding.  

 7) Be still, and know God.

In Faith & Love, Andrea Bolling

PS.  It really works!

 

July 7, 2020

 

O Holy One, I ran through the fields and gathered flowers of a thousand colors –

And now I pour them out at Your feet.

Their beauty and their brightness shout for joy in Your Presence

You created the flowers of the fields and made each one far more

lovely

than all the skill of man could design.

Accept my joy along with theirs,

This field of blossoms at Your feet

Holy One

As the wind blows through these flowers

Till they dance in the ecstasy of creation,

Send Your Spirit to blow through my being

Till I too bloom and dance with the fullness of Your life.

ISHPRIYA R.S.C.J

With grace and peace, Mardi Moran

 

July 6, 2020

One of my many clergy friends in the Episcopal Church who shares my high regard for the thinking of Richard Rohr and, among other writers, Henri Nouwen, The Rev Brian McGurk at St Christopher’s, Chatham, recently shared Henri Nouwen’s prayer, below, with his Centering Prayer group.  I like it for many reasons, not the least of them, because it picks up on a theme I’ve recently talked about in my last two “Sunday” sermons:  the idea of faith as being a relationship of TRUST with our God.

 

I recommend it highly as a prayer one might commit to saying each day when one wakes in the morning.  Why not try it every day during July?        

 

A Prayer (Henri Nouwen)

 

“O Lord, who else or what else can I desire but you? You are my Lord, Lord of my heart, mind, and soul. You know me through and through. In and through you everything that is finds its origin and goal. You embrace all that exists and care for it with divine love and compassion. Why, then, do I keep expecting happiness and satisfaction outside of you? Why do I keep relating to you as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all other ones are grounded? Why do I keep looking for popularity, respect from others, success, acclaim, and sensual pleasures? Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make you the only one? Why do I keep hesitating to surrender myself totally to you?

 

“Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let me die to the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires. Let me be reborn in you and see through you the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, and thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you.

 

“I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self to a new life in and for you. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom.

 

“Lord, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend.  Amen.”

 

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Chip+

 

July 3, 2020

My first morning back on the island, I was awakened by a very loud towhee with its cheerful song, “Drink-your- tea-ee-ee-ee”. Rolling over to look at the clock, I realized it was 4:45! I was not amused. Yes, I certainly will drink my tea-ee-ee-ee, but I wasn’t planning on doing it for at least 3 hours. I’m still getting over jet lag.  So, crazy bird, please let me sleep! In all fairness to the towhee, sun rise was in about half an hour. Towhees are wonderful and all that, and I do love their song. They are quite rare outside of the Vineyard and, interestingly, the Miles Standish State Forest near us in Plymouth, but still…..

As I lay there, however, listening to my instructions for the morning, it occurred to me that my perspective was all wrong Here I was, in a beautiful place where I’m awakened by bird song rather than a whole host of less than desirable noises. How can I possibly complain?

Perspective is so important. Not only is it the glass half full or glass half empty scenario, but what we see and focus on, becomes our reality. Author Wayne Dyer once said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Today we have an opportunity to change our perspective in so many ways — to become more aware of how we are looking at things, to share our truths as we see them, honestly and openly without being afraid of being wrong. To waken to our particular blind spots and to be open to seeing things differently. Andrea’s reflections have certainly helped me see things I could never have dreamed, because her experience as a person of color is not the same as mine. In fact we can never know what it is like to be in someone’s shoes, hence the critical importance to share our vision with others, as many “others” as we can, and in that way dream a shared vision of truth. We all have a little piece of the truth. Are we not called to share our piece to build a beautiful mosaic, the mosaic of the beloved community where we listen with respect and see with compassion.

There are many references to seeing, and hearing, in the Bible.

Proverbs 20:12 reads, “Ears to hear and eyes to see—

both are gifts from the LORD.”

 

That exuberant towhee called me to change my perspective. What other opportunities to see differently might I be missing?

 

I am praying for new perspective and clear vision,

Cynthia

 

July 2, 2020

But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.  It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends.  The type of love that I stress here is not eros, a sort of esthetic or romantic love; not philia, a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends; but it is agape which is understanding goodwill for all men.  It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return.  It is the love of God working in the lives of men. This is the love that may well be the salvation of our civilization.   ––The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peace,

Palmer Marrin

 

July 1, 2020

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.

     In last Wednesday’s meditation I invited people to join me in chanting “In Justice there’s Peace & In Peace there’s Power”. Through conversation, and comments about slogans and what they evoke from people who read the meditation, I realized that a description to understand the process for eliminating bias may be helpful.  Using slogans, the following is a cursory take of what the process for unraveling racism looks like. 

Phase One: After reading last Wednesday’s invitation my sister asked, is there a place for “No Justice, No Peace” protests?  Without hesitation I said, absolutely! It is the voice of outrage when there is a blatant violation.  Biblically, it reminds me of the time Jesus overturned carts in front of the temple. The slogan and protests are a clear exclamation that our priorities are out of order and we are in fact offending God. It is the precursor to legislative and social change.  Many demonstrators, millennials, gen Z and younger feel the injustice and need to take action.  Caution: If too much attention is given to remedial responses, deep rooted causes are not addressed. 

Phase Two: “In Justice there’s Peace”.  Implicit in this call to action is an acceptance of the existence of systemic racism, an invitation for a deeper examination of root causes, an understanding of intersectionality.  The places where race, poverty, health, intertwine to maintain this thing called institutional racism.  People in this phase want substantive change they can see & feel. Caution: Without a vision and skill at recognizing and addressing systemic racism, people in phase two of the process can feel overwhelmed by the complexity and pervasiveness of bias, make inappropriate concessions or, give up. Middle-aged and Senior justice advocates may identify closely with this phase.

Phase Three: “In God’s Justice there’s Peace”, our charge is to “love thy neighbor as thyself”.  There’s recognition and acceptance we all maintain current conditions and must all change to create different outcomes.  In this phase, there’s no denial of structural inequalities, man-made constructs for maintaining wealth and power.  The vision for the future is driven by spirit, collaboration is the most utilized construct for decision making, the way out of the present is in truth and, decisions for the common good are paramount.  John 5:30 best describes the leading consciousness of phase 3. “I can of myself do nothing.  As I hear; I judge, and My judgement is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of God who sent me.”

      Phases with slogans, which are truly calls to action, are simplistic but hopefully they address some of the angst people are experiencing, provide guidance for understanding what we’re seeing, and help us identify what we need to do to move on. Remember, in the eighties and nineties, the existence of systemic racism was vehemently debated.  Now, there’s less conversation about whether racism exists and more acknowledgement that it does.  With acceptance of truth, fundamental change is possible.  In my book, that’s progress!

        A friend once told me Dr. King’s dream was fulfilled with the elimination of segregation.  Well, I’m weighing in and I don’t believe we’ve lived the “Dream”.  Certainly we’ve made inroads in a Phase one kind of way with a little Phase two sprinkled in but, the spirit of his “Dream” the spirit of creating a more perfect Union as commended by our constitution, has yet to be realized.  At the risk of repetition, let’s dream the dream.  

      Another invitation: Each day, cultivate an image of yourself judging people by the content of their character, not their color, race, perceived wealth, sexual orientation, gender, physical or cognitive ability.  Now, set the image aside, engage even loftier thoughts of yourself as an agent of change, a disciple of Christ until there’s no picture, no image.  Welcome spirit, let the unformed guide you.  Walk, think, be, in Christ. Welcome to the next phase of your journey.  New territory, a new experience.

In love and peace, Andrea Bolling  

 

 

June 30, 2020

Guide Me into an Unclenched Moment

Ted Loder – Guerrillas of Grace

 

Gentle me,

Holy One,

into an unclenched moment,

          a deep breath,

                   a letting go

                             of heavy expectations,

                                      of shriveling anxieties,

                                                of dead certainties,

that, softened by the silence,

          surrounded by the light,

                   and open to the mystery,

I am be found by wholeness,

          upheld by the unfathomable,

                   entranced by the simple,

                             and filled with the joy

                                      that is you.

 

 

Mardi Moran

 

June 29, 2020

One of the great mysteries of our faith is posed by the age-old question, “Why does God permit us to suffer?”  Given there seems to be no obvious answer, then perhaps a corollary question, also a mystery, arises:  “How can we still hope?”

 

I have always found the simple practice of contemplation helps me when I need to try to get my head around life’s challenges and existential suffering.  Recently I read an excellent, pithy excerpt from Richard Rohr’s little book, “Just This,” concerning “hope and suffering,” which I find conveys much helpful wisdom:

 

“The virtue of hope, with great irony, is the fruit of a learned capacity to suffer wisely, calmly, and generously.  The ego demands successes to survive; the soul needs only meaning to thrive.  Somehow hope provides its own kind of meaning, in a most mysterious way.

 

“The Gospel gives our suffering both personal and cosmic meaning by connecting our pain to the pain of others and, finally, by connecting us to the very pain of God.  Did you ever think of God as suffering?  Most people don’t—but Jesus came to change all of that.

 

“Any form of contemplation is a gradual sinking into this divine fullness where hope lives.  Contemplation is living in a unified field that produces in people a deep, largely non-rational, and yet calmly certain hope, which is always a surprise.

 

“A life of inner union, a contemplative life, is practicing for heaven now.  God allows us to bring “on earth what is in heaven” (see Matthew 6:10) every time we can allow, receive, and forgive the conflicts of the moment and can sit in some degree of contentment—despite all the warring evidence.

 

“God alone, it seems to me, can hold together all the seeming opposites and contradictions of life.  In and with God, we can actually do the same.  But we are not the Doer.”      

 

 

 

 

June 26, 2020

“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24

What a difference a few short months can make! 100 days, plus or minus, and our world has been turned upside down and inside out. So much has changed; so much has been revealed. And yet, as I have written on several occasions, so much opportunity lurks in these changes, no matter how painful and scary they may be. So many wonderful opportunities to get it right when so many things have been so wrong for so long: things like justice, equality, a health system that works for everyone, kindness, compassion, a sense of community, an end to the division and strife that tear us apart. The list goes on and on.

Jesus understood that sometimes things have to die before they can be born again and he demonstrated that truth with his own life through the crucifixion. Similarly, I’ll never forget my high school biology teacher say, “Death makes possible the redistribution of life.”  Are we in a moment of death in this country and the world? I think so, and I hope that we don’t “return to normal” but give birth to a whole new way of living together on this “fragile earth our island home”.

Once again, I turn to my friend Cameron Trimble who wrote this week,

“These are days of reckoning, of Sacred Pain, where we look at one another through all of the “isms” that divided us and finally see, “The pain in me sees the pain in you.” The heartbreak in me sees the heartbreak in you. The fear in me sees the fear in you. The loneliness in me sees the loneliness in you. The dreamer in me sees the dreamer in you.”

And, I would add, the love and compassion in me sees the love and compassion in you. The hope and prayer for new birth and new life sees the hope and prayer for new birth and new life in you.

Blessings,

Cynthia

June 25, 2020

“Do we,  settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world it should be?”

Michelle Obama

I hope we are all up for the work, in Ourselves, our Church, and the World.

Grateful,

Palmer Marrin

 

June 24, 2020

Looking out the window, I watched protesters march on Seaview Avenue toward Ocean Park.  I jumped out of my seat, scurried to put on shoes and hat to join them.  They were chanting, “No justice, No peace”.  I stopped in my tracks as memories of the seventies flashed before me and I found myself praying, “Please God, I don’t want to repeat the past, I don’t want to see this experience through the lens of pain and disappointment.”  Quickly I scanned my body and mind beseeching God to help me find a way to make this different.  I started chanting, “In Justice there’s Peace” over and over until my body relaxed.  Why was it different?  My experience of how we sought justice in the past is based on engagement mass to mass.  There is a blatant violation and we look for a solution that directly responds to that particular act.  It is never enough and, inevitably, the violation is repeated.  “In Justice there’s Peace” I feel an ephemeral presence, as if I’m extending an invitation…an opportunity to create a different outcome.  I knew in the few moments after chanting, what I am really seeking is God’s justice and God’s peace.  Not the vengeance of an angry God like the God we know from the Old Testament, more like the clarity and compassion of God expressed through his son Jesus the Christ.  It’s God’s justice that will help us turn this corner and create different outcomes.

Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is called the Prince of Peace.  As Cynthia Hubbard shared with us in sermon and writing, Jesus was a radical for his time and he is for our time as well. He challenged Judaic law and social norms with the living truth.  Perhaps, the peace that we all seek is to live in truth. To know we are the creators of belief systems that support socio-economic positions and preferences.  Beliefs that, unlike God, are malleable and should change as we move closer to him/her.  Maybe justice is allowing the benefits of true knowledge to take root and guide us in every activity of life.  Yes, police need re-training, but so does everyone else in America.  They are the most recent reflection of ourselves. 

Recently I heard a news reporter say, “peace is passivity”.  I know the peace I seek and the person who modeled it (Jesus) isn’t passive.  There is a difference in being the observer (in it, but not of it) and inaction.  The observer uses spiritual discernment and sometimes that means holding the consciousness for more enlightened outcomes. We often get caught in the emotional cycles of action and response.  True peace requires spiritual discernment and honesty, even when it’s not well received.  It can seem risky, but in Christ, there’s no other way.

If you have memories of past protests and events swirling around in your memory or feel hopeless from the repetition of the ugliness of racism, please join me, if the spirit moves you, in re-vitalizing hope and engaging this 2020 experience differently.  The next time you join a rally, witness one at home or need to realign your thinking about events, chant: “In Justice there’s Peace”……  “In Peace there’s Power”.  Hopefully, it will bring you closer to Christ and assist with exercising spiritual discernment.  At the very least, it may help you see new possibilities in this very familiar experience.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

For over twenty years, my sister Charlene and I have shared our faith journeys.  In our discussions we often talk about the path of Christ, being the observer, peace and justice.  Whatever I know, or think I know, today is strongly influenced by our conversations. Thank you, dear Charlene, for being my sister, friend and spiritual buddy. Peace to you always.

In love and faith, Andrea Bolling

 

 

June 23, 2020

          All things bright and beautiful,

               All creatures great and small,

          All things wise and wonderful,

               The Lord God made them all.

G. F. Alexander, 1848

 

The words of the beloved Anglican hymn, which James Herriot mined for the titles of four of his books (1972-81) about his experiences as a Yorkshire veterinarian, resonate during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Every pet owner knows firsthand the truth of recent news reports that our pets have enjoyed our months of social-isolation. Cats, dogs—all kinds of domestic animals—have thrived on the added attention, as much as we have been distracted, entertained, and comforted by their presence. During pandemic lockdown, people report too a fresh appreciation of observing backyard wildlife—songbirds, crows, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks (even skunks, with their amusingly eager little adolescents in tow!) who regularly visit our birdfeeders and compost piles.

 

The American naturalist, writer, and reformer Henry Thoreau—famous for his own experiment with solitude for more than two years at Walden Pond (1845-47)—marveled at the sometimes electric connection between humans and other species: “Wonderful, wonderful is our life and that of our companions! That there should be such a thing as a brute animal, not human! and that it should attain to a sort of society with our race!”

 

More famous for his interest in “wild” creatures, Thoreau surprisingly was what we would call “a cat person.” He reflected: “What bond is it relates us to any animal we keep in the house but the bond of affection. In a degree we grow to love one another.” Bioethicist Jessica Pierce calls dogs the “emotional support” for their people in this time of isolation. But she asks, What do dog owners owe their dogs? After the coronavirus passes, how, she wonders, will people treat their loyal pets, who will feel loneliness after we have returned to normal?

 

Does Christianity offer guidance in answering these and so many other questions about our ethical relation to other species? Saint Francis, the patron of animals, led a life of exemplary kindness and compassion to all creatures, which inspired the annual tradition in many churches of blessing the animals on or near October 4.

 

But Christianity has labored for centuries, according to Anglican clergyman Andrew Linzey, under the legacy of Augustine and Aquinas, whose emphasis on spirituality disparaged “materiality and in particular . . . the worth of non-human animals.” (Hence the often pejorative use of the word animal.) A prolific author of books on animal rights, Linzey is director of the Centre for Animal Ethics at the University of Oxford in the UK (his daughter, Clair, is deputy director). Christianity, he writes, teaches that God is incarnate (that is, took earthly form): “Material substance, that is, flesh and blood, which is what humans share in particular with much of the animal kingdom, is the pivot of God’s redeeming purposes.” Our ties to other animals, he concludes, are tangibly and profoundly moral and divine.

 

Mainline Christian theologians, however, typically have little to say about our ethical responsibilities to animals, and most balk at the very question of whether animals might even have souls. Indeed, even basic concerns about human souls and a literal afterlife for our species have become subordinate to other topics and issues in contemporary Christianity. Andrew Linzey helpfully proposes that debating the question of souls is ultimately both futile and irrelevant, and that our ethical obligation to animals is best measured and judged by our “sense of moral community” with the animal kingdom.

 

Still, there is intriguing biblical and linguistic evidence linking animals with souls. The account of the Creation in Genesis 2:7 proclaims that God “breathed into [man’s] nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Although man is said to have “dominion . . . over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28), those other creatures too are flesh and blood “animated” by “the breath of life”—which may imply that they also have souls. In fact, the very word animal derives from the Latin anima, which is sometimes translated as the vital life force, or even as soul.

 

Of course God’s plan for his Creation is shrouded in mystery and is understood only dimly in the realm of faith. Until the final “scales fall from our eyes,” though, animal lovers know one thing with certainty:  that to look into the eyes of our companion animals reveals a full range of emotion— fear, contentment, playfulness, embarrassment, love. They are sentient creatures, as are we, but with different ways of knowing—ways sometimes strikingly superior to ours. Enough for now, perhaps, that we end, as does G. F. Alexander’s hymn, with praise and thanks for “all creatures great and small”:

 

          [God] gave us eyes to see them,

               And lips that we might tell

          How great is God Almighty,

               Who has made all things well.

 

–Wes Mott

 

 

June 22, 2020

One of the many things I do enjoy, being an American citizen, is the chance to make my opinions known, and to take action, political or otherwise, which is given much protection in our constitutional democracy.  And, of course, in my role as rector of our beloved congregation, I frequently need to walk a fine line between “going off” and spouting about my own personal opinions about politics and government and justice and all those things, and making sure that I respect those who come to pray, and worship, and experience God, together—allowing them to draw their own conclusions from Scripture, and my well-intentioned ramblings about them, in the context of that day and in our times, which our Jewish rabbis refer to as “teachings.” 

 

The problem with that approach of course (although I’m not saying there really is some sort of problem about it, at least today), is that my approach may not satisfy everyone.  Indeed, I am constantly aware (as my friend and sometimes mentor, retired clergyperson and beloved parishioner Dick Fenn told me), that you often have to choose one position or another, or you risk ticking-off not only one side or another, but EVERYONE!

 

In an article by Wes Granberg-Michaelson titled, “From Mysticism to Politics,” the author takes aim at something he believes has infiltrated our way of doing things in our institutional way of worshiping God.

“Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics,” he wrote, quoting Charles Peguy (1873—1914), “a French poet and writer who lived in solidarity with workers and peasants and became deeply influenced by Catholic faith in the last years of his life.”

 

According to the author, “this provocative quote identifies the foundational starting point for how faith and politics should relate.” But he then states, “usually, however, we get it backward.  Our temptation is to begin with politics and then try to figure out how religion can fit in.  We start with the accepted parameters of political debate and, whether we find ourselves on the left or the right, we use religion to justify and bolster our existing commitments.”

 

But he says, “what if we make [our] inward journey our starting point?  What if we recognize that our engagement in politics should be rooted in our participation in the Trinitarian flow of God’s love? Then everything changes….we are invited to participate in the transforming power of this love.  There we discover the ground of our being, centering all our life and action.”

 

When I read these words, I realized I am instinctively adopting this approach in the way I go about my inner and outer prayer life, my contemplation AND action, my ‘faith’ and my ‘works’. 

 

And, as it turns out, perhaps even unconsciously, in my teachings (my sermons and homilies).

 

Our lives are not earned.  They are given us. 

 

Can we connect the divine within us with all, and everyone, else?  Can we learn to live ‘non-dualistically’?

 

Perhaps living into that holy way of life, that eternal space, without time, we will find our true selves, real and enduring life, and learn to become love.    

 

Yours in faith,

Father Chip+

 

June 19, 2020

Somehow, in the course of our work with the reVision program, sponsored by the UCC organization called Convergence, I got on the mailing list for reflections that come out a couple of times per week from the Rev. Cameron Trimble, one of the authors of Liberating Hope. That book, if you recall, was the catalyst for our work together through the reVision. program. Her reflections have really spoken to me. In fact I have quoted some of her thoughts, poems and prayers already in these meditations, duly referenced of course. The most recent reflection contained the following story which somehow brought a bit of levity, but still sage truth, into the very serious situation we now find ourselves living into. The story goes as follows:

One day there was a knight riding on a forest path, decked out in shining armor and astride a mighty steed. He was all ready to right the wrong, save ladies in distress and slay dragons. Along the way he saw a small sparrow, lying on its back in the middle of the path, with its tiny legs sticking upright. He slowed down and spoke to it:

“O sparrow, why are you lying on your back in the middle of the path?”

The sparrow replied: “Good Sir knight, I was told that the heavens would fall today.”

The knight gave a good laugh, saying: “And you mean to hold the heavens up with your spindly little legs?”

But the sparrow just let a deep sigh: “One does what one can, Sir knight, one does what one can.”

Indeed, one can feel overwhelmed by what is happening and totally at a loss as to what to do or where even to begin. While I am not comparing the events of today to the heavens falling —in fact, I hope it is all going to be a good platform for positive change— the words of the sparrow are well spoken. We do what we can, whether small or large, however we can, in whatever ways we can. We can’t change the entire world by ourselves, but we can effect change at least in our immediate environment and our relationships —our families, our friends and our neighbors  The important thing is to trust that God will use whatever we can for good and that whatever we do, however big or small, it will be a start.

Faithfully,

Cynthia

 

 

June 18, 2020

So, where are we. A week and a half after our pillar groups have stopped meeting.

 

I feel disconnected, cut off, unplugged. Who knew that weekly meetings of our group would make us feel like we were together in our own holy spaces, but together as a community or mini communities doing our work, St. Andrew’s work, God’s work.

 

As the days grow slowly warmer and folks are yearning to get outside, we see a wave of summer residents arriving to their own safe havens. The Oak Bluffs harbor was full, as if it was summer as usual.

 

In reading The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams:

 

I learned Desmond Tutu’s outlook on optimism versus hope. ” Hope,” the Archbishop said, “is quite different from optimism, which is more superficial and liable to become pessimism when the circumstances change. Hope is much deeper. We feel optimistic or we feel pessimistic. Now, hope is different in that it is based not on the ephemerality of feelings but on the firm ground of conviction. I believe with a steadfast faith that there can never be a situation that is utterly, totally hopeless. Hope is deeper and very, very close to unshakable.

 

Hope is also nurtured by relationship, by community, whether that community is a literal one or one fashioned from the long memory of human striving whose membership includes Gandhi, King, Mandela, and countless others. Despair turns us inward. Hope sends us into the arms of others.”

 

So I am hopeful that our time apart as a parish has brought us closer together, closer to God.

I Hope that our work in our groups will not end, that we will follow through and create more community and groups to reach out among us and the community and the world, in a peaceful loving way.

 

Hopeful,

 

Palmer Marrin

 

 

June 17, 2020

One of the seemingly myriad hoops I had to jump through in order to become an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church was to submit to psychiatric testing and counseling, which took place over a course of days.  (Honestly, I found it sort of ironic, since everyone knows that those of us who discern a calling, a true vocation, are a little ‘different’ than everyone else!)

Anyway, I remember toward the end, during one of my personal sessions with the psychiatrist, he asked a question that completely surprised me.  “What is your deepest aim?,” he asked.  “And what do you believe is the deepest aim of humanity?”  (Talk about good questions for a philosophy major living in the world that bridges philosophy and faith!)

And I distinctly remember I had, after only a moment or two of reflection, a ready answer, one I think I might have said again this very day, more than twenty years later, were I asked:  “Freedom,” I said.  “I think it’s most important that we all find our freedom, and know what it is to be free.”

I thought of that response again yesterday, when I was reading one of Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations (you, too, can read them daily, or whenever you like, by clicking on https://cac.org/#gsc.tab=0 ), and he was quoting James Finley, who had studied with Thomas Merton.  “Our deepest freedom rests not in our freedom to do what we want to do but rather in our freedom to become who God wills us to be.  This person, this ultimate self God wills us to be, is not a predetermined, static mold to which we must conform.  Rather, it is an infinite possibility of growth.  It is our true self: that is, a secret self hidden in and one with the divine freedom.  In obeying God, in turning to do God’s will, we find God willing us to be free.  God created us for freedom; that is to say, God created us for God’s self.”

This is what I truly believe about us.  I believe we all share, at our deepest level, an infinite possibility of growth.

Now look at this:  this is what our Episcopal “Answer Key” (our Catechism, on page 845 of the Prayer Book) holds for us as to this question, of what it means to be human:

Q:      What are we by nature?

A:      We are part of God’s creation, made in the image of God.

Q:      What does it mean to be created in the image of God?

A:      It means that we are free to make choices:  to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God.

Q:      Why then do we live apart from God and out of harmony with creation?

A:      From the beginning, human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices.

Q:      Why do we not use our freedom as we should?

A:      Because we rebel against God, and we put ourselves in the place of God.

Q:      What help is there for us?

A:      Our help is in God.

Indeed, we ARE free.

In order to enjoy it, there is only one place to look:

In a real relationship, with our God, one in three persons.

Help us, O Lord, to become one with our divine freedom.

Yours in faith,

Father Chip+

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

June 16, 2020

 

Grandfather,

Look at our brokenness.

We know that in all creation

Only the human family

Has strayed from the Sacred Way.

We know that we are the ones

Who are divided

And we are the ones

Who must come back together

To walk in the Sacred Way.

Grandfather,

Sacred One,

Teach us love, compassion, and honor

That we may heal the earth

And heal each other.

Ojibway Prayer

(Submitted by Mardi Moran)

 

June 15, 2020

For about three months now, ever since the virus “hit,” I’ve been pre-recording worship, in an empty church.  Since I’ve been of the opinion that “shorter” is better, when it comes to the length of the service, I’ve tried to keep the time to about half an hour.  To do that, I usually decide which of the readings should be omitted.  Almost always, it’s been the Psalm and the Epistle lesson, which is a real loss in my book, but overall helpful to the cause.

This past Sunday involved an especially difficult decision to omit the passage from Romans that talks about being justified by faith, and not our works.  And the reason I felt a little sad that we did not include it has to do with the following quote:

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.  But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”

That is:  God so loved the world…well, you know the rest.  The depth of love shown to us, given to us, by the Christ, is so deep, so powerful, so…otherworldly, it’s almost impossible to fathom.

We are loved anyway.  And it is that love—unmerited, perhaps in our own eyes, knowing how often and how deeply we fall short—that loves us back into being.

Many who know me well know that my deepest personal hope and desire is for something called “The Beloved Community”—when the most segregated hour in America (or anywhere, for that matter) is NOT Sunday morning worship time.  It is for a time of worship when everyone wants to worship together because BEING TOGETHER is what it’s all about.  Hearing the Word, experiencing the Word, and breaking bread together as the integral and distinct, yet beautiful and valuable, parts of the greater whole:  the Body of Christ in the world.  Love and acceptance, telling our stories and listening, confessing and forgiving mark that enlightened and illuminated kingdom, that City on a Hill.

Recently, I came across a quote from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I particularly like.  I found it in the materials I’ve been working through while deciding whether we may offer here at St Andrew’s a program called, “Sacred Ground,” which is an important part of The Episcopal Church’s initiative, under Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, called “Becoming Beloved Community.”  (You might take a moment or two and find it on The Episcopal Church’s website.)  To me, the quote pinpoints exactly the sort of love Christ is asking of all of us that Paul was referring to in Romans.  It is incredible:

“But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.  It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into        friends.  The type of love that I stress here is not eros, a sort of esthetic or romantic love; not philia, a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends; but it is agape which is understanding goodwill for all men.  It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return.  It is the love of          God working in the lives of men.  This is the love that well may be the salvation of our civilization.”

June 12, 2020

Very early on in this process, I remember thinking, and saying, once this pandemic is over, let’s hope we emerge a kinder, gentler, more just world. It’s one thing to hope it, another to see the parts being broken and rebuilt in a way that benefits all of us instead of just a few very lucky ones. In my inbox this morning was the following poem by Leslie Dwight, which I would share with you, as I think it describes the situation we are living through right now better than I can.

What if 2020 isn’t canceled?
What if 2020 is the year we have been waiting for?
A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw –
that it finally forces us to grow.
A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us
from our ignorant slumber.
A year we finally accept the need for change.
Declare change. Work for change. Become the change.
A year we finally band together, instead of
pushing each other further apart.

2020 isn’t canceled, but rather
it’s the most important year of them all.

Praying to “become the change.”

Cynthia

June 11, 2020

St Andrew’s Business List

 

BCP, Page 824

Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Serving Our Neighbors and Our World Pillar Group are concerned about the businesses that have been disrupted because of the pandemic. We invited any parishioner who owns, manages, or is employed by a business to let us know so that we can put your business on our list. Our hope is that when any of us are looking for a business to hire or utilize, we will consider these companies:

Faith and Lew Laskaris

fastimson@aol.com

Home: 508-693-7948

Cell: 617-697-0519

Year round airBNB, VRBO, Superhosts

Mathew Tombers

Edgartown Books

44 Main Street

P O Box 5189

Edgartown, MA 02539

mtombers@edgartownbooks.com

Store: 508-627-8841

Cell: 917-880-2469

Bill Fielding, Building Contractor

All construction, start to finish, new and renovation, houses, garages, decks, door and window installation, finish carpentry.

Contact information:

William Fielding, III

508-939-1793

kidsplusfive@yahoo.com

PO Box 55

Vineyard Haven, MA 02568

Business Insurance: yes

References: yes

Licensed: yes

Year Round

We will add to this list as we continue to receive information from others.

Email mardi.moran@gmail.com with your information.

Mardi Moran

June 10, 2020

Ecclesiastes 3:1,6,7,8

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.

It’s Time!

Outrage, hurt, fatigue, grateful, encouraged are the sequence of emotions I experienced these past few weeks.

The voice of younger generations marching in protest echo my outrage and hurt. Many of them know the pain and history of racism.  Fatigue, well I’m still in it.  I could share thoughts of why fatigue amongst Black People and activists is so pervasive but instead, I want to explore something Father Chip mentioned in Sunday’s sermon.  On Sunday, I watched my Rector, who usually bubbles with optimism, say, pretty clearly, he is cautiously optimistic whether this movement will affect meaningful change.

When I heard him I thought, “Oh no, don’t give up.”  You see, for me giving up is tantamount to dying.  If I can’t call on God’s grace, live and walk in Christ, then what I’m left with is an oppressive human experience, with no way out.

So, I want to share why I’m grateful and won’t give up.

I’m grateful white people are taking a stand.  A few days after George Floyd was killed a young white woman held a sign on Circuit Ave. that read in bold letters, WHITE SILENCE IS COMPLICIT WITH RACISM.  You see, I’m tired.  I’m grateful white people are taking responsibility and doing it in numbers which include major corporations, small businesses, networks and police departments across the country.  The Times published a joint letter from police chiefs from every town on MV condemning the use of deadly force and their commitment to unbiased policing literally, within days of Mr. Floyd’s death.  Yes, I’m grateful, and won’t give up.

I’m grateful for my parents and siblings, everything I’ve learned, witnessed, and studied, for it allows me to be both participant and observer in this world that’s unfolding.  All have informed my perspective. I know I am not subject to the human pendulum, the world of opposites.  There is a middle path.  It is not a path of mediocrity or indecision.  It is good.  It is the path that allows for the return of the prodigal, it is deep in faith and understanding.  Accepting of diversity and at its core, acknowledges learning, healing and growing are integral components of change, true enlightenment.  I believe it’s the way of Christ, a path to God, and I won’t give up.

I’m grateful, that I’m alive.  As we all know, what happened to George Floyd is not an anomaly.  My former husband and I were violently stopped and searched by police on our way to a wedding in Chicago.  He was pulled out of the vehicle, frisked, I was grabbed by the arm, searched while two of six officers had guns drawn.  They checked our licenses with headquarters, brusquely said, “We thought you were someone else.”  They returned to unmarked vehicles and sped away.  I felt violated and vulnerable.  The incident occurred 30 years ago and I still fear police, even when I’m asking for assistance.

I’m grateful I have a Rector that would know not to ask the oppressed to love the oppressor.  Our journey is different.  More about reconciliation, having grace with ourselves and each other, and yes, forgiving.  I believe it leads to love when we are healed and can FREELY love ourselves.  When we can speak truth without punishment and break social contracts that maintain inequality.

Why I’m encouraged: I see people rejecting the legacy of racism. Simply and clearly stating, it is not acceptable.

Most likely, more incidents will surface from the past and present.  It’s part of the purging needed before we can healthfully accept and engage the problem of racism in America.  Please stay open, listen.  It’s the abused, myself included, telling their stories.  We have been in denial.  Much of White America because they don’t want to face institutional racism, the inhumane treatment of black people.  For us, Black America, not wanting to feel the pain underneath the rage, unsure whether we’ll be able to return from the abyss.  Don’t give up on youth….it’s their lead now.  No matter how bleak or repetitious it all seems, this is a new day and we have wisdom to share.  It’s time to dream the dream.  See and know the image of life in a world free of racism.  Take one aspect of that vision and BE IT.  Have Faith.  Please, don’t give up.  From the ashes, the phoenix rises, new, transformed, whole and beautiful.

In Faith, Andrea Bolling

June 9, 2020

For an End to Racial Prejudice:

On God, in Three Persons, creator of one human species, in many hues:

All who pray to you are descendants of Adam and Eve, all members of one race called “human”.

Forgive the blindness that causes our eyes to notice and magnify those things we regard as different from ourselves in others. Teach us to see clearly, that we, your children, are far more alike than different. Help us to put aside the racial prejudices imbedded within us, to see within every person the Child of God you created, our sister or brother, destined for Glory. In the name of One who died for all persons, of all colors, Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Justice in the criminal system:

 

Lord, you suffered at human hands the pain of false arrest, torture, and unjust punishment, and you commanded us to comfort those in prison. Build a fire in your people, Lord, that we may never learn patience with prejudice or make peace with oppression, but that we may burn with zeal for justice, proportion, and equal protections under law for all people. In the name of him who died condemned. Amen.

West Virginia Episcopal Diocese

Mardi Moran

June 8, 2020

It may have been three or four years ago now, when I first learned of an excellent Sunday School program developed by Colette Potts, the wife of a clergy colleague of mine, Matthew Potts, over at St Barnabas in Falmouth.  I was at a “Ministry Fair”- type event at the Diocesan Cathedral in Boston (together with at least two or three other lay ministers from St Andrew’s Church), and was going from table to table to check out the various ministries being offered.  The Sunday School program I’m referring to is called, “Love First,”  and from what I can tell it’s really, really good—perhaps something our own congregation may want to consider using in the near future.

Much like many of the exhibitors at that Ministry Fair, Colette had some “bling” (or trinkets, really), for us to bring home, to remember them by.  Hers was a lovely bookmark, with the full name of the program on it, “Love First:  A Children’s Ministry for the Whole Church,” and on the back of it, a sweet poem I’d never read by someone named L.R. Knost.

I think the poem is perfect for these days—and every day:

“Do not be dismayed

by the brokenness of the world.

All things break.

And all things

can be mended.  

Not with time,

As they say,

but with intention.

So go. 

Love intentionally,

extravagantly,

unconditionally.

The broken world

waits in darkness

for the light that is you.”

In His light,

Father Chip+

June 5, 2020

One of the things we love to do as grandparents is read to our grandchildren, and suffice it to say we have had a lot of time to do that over the past two months! Our grandson, Hugh, turned six and lost his first two teeth during the lockdown. Pretty exciting! I have just finished reading him a book called Volcano of Fire, which is one in a series about a mouse called Geronimo Stilton. In this particular adventure, Geronimo has to defeat a “shape shifter” monster that in the end, turns out to be nothing more than mud. But when he asks other people about the appearance of the monster, they all have a different answer. It turns out the monster assumes the appearance of each person’s greatest fear. Once Geronimo realizes this and names his own fear, he is able to get the monster into the River of Oblivion where he dissolves.  While the spiritual and metaphorical implications of this may be somewhat missed on a six-year-old, I haven’t been able to get this story out of my mind.  How true it is, that what we most fear can loom very large and very scary in our perspective and frame of reference. Whatever we most fear, it can take on a life of its own.

Right now we are surrounded by so many things to be fearful of— as I write this, the very future of our country may be at stake, as people cry out to be heard and those in power need to stand up and listen.

Jesus talked a lot about fear, generally as an admonishment not to be afraid. Fear not, we hear many times in the gospel stories. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry about tomorrow, Jesus said, but let the day’s own troubles be sufficient for the day. I admit I am struggling with what he might say to us today, when the nation is justifiably screaming for justice and the day’s own troubles loom extraordinarily large and scary.

The opposite of fear, as we all know, is love, and that is what Jesus taught over and over again. Love one another as I have loved you. Be known by your love for one another. Do not be afraid, but love. Love slays any monster that we encounter.

Right now that may not feel easy, but let us trust that love can make a difference!

Blessings in this difficult time,

Cynthia

June 4, 2020

Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

 “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

 “The time is always right to do what is right.”

 “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

 “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”

 “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

 “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Palmer Marrin

June 3, 2020

To my brothers and sisters in Christ:

In the last number of days following the televised murder of George Floyd, there has been a great deal of rhetoric and attention paid to the distinction between those moving their feet in a nonviolent way to signal their intention to effect change, and those who rob, loot, plunder, and rage in acts of violent behavior. This moment gives us an excellent opportunity to consider how we, as Christians, might heed the Word of God within our hearts.

In his excellent book, The Nonviolent Life, John Dear, over and over, paints an extraordinary picture of what a life might look like if one were to cultivate the habits of practicing peace—which is, in my view, spot on, the way of Christ.

Quoting Gandhi, he writes, “For a nonviolent person, the whole world is one family.  He will thus fear no one, nor will others fear him.”  Dear continued:  “For Gandhi, to be a person of nonviolence is to be fearless.  You cannot practice nonviolence and be afraid.  You have to overcome your fears; then you can go forward in love and confidence into the culture of violence…with the message and work of justice.”

“Gandhi taught that the presence of violence within us or the use of violence by us reveals our fear.  It’s much braver, more courageous, to live without fear and wage the struggle for justice without violence.  This is a harder, more noble, more fruitful way of life.

“How do we get beyond fear?  Gandhi spent one hour in silent prayer every morning, and one hour in silent prayer every evening, communing with the God of peace.  That prayer made the difference for him.  If we root our day to day lives in our relationship with our loving God, if we continue to claim our core identity as a son or daughter of the God of love and peace, miracles will happen.  We will find our fears slowly evaporating, and our confidence, love and joy slowly increasing.  We will learn not to fear anyone, nor even to fear sickness and death, because we have come to know the God of peace and learned to trust God.  We will know in the depths of our being that our survival is already guaranteed.  God will take care of us, provide for us, and protect us.

“What is there to be afraid of?  We can go forth in a fearless spirit of nonviolent love toward every human being on the planet, and do our part to welcome God’s reign of peace, justice and nonviolence.

“Fearlessness is [one] key ingredient in the nonviolent life.”

Faithfully yours,

Father Chip+

June 2, 2020

TODAY

TODAY – Mend a quarrel. Search out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a love letter. Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in a. word or deed.

TODAY – Keep a promise. Find the time. Forego a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Listen. Apologize if you were wrong. Try to understand. Flout envy. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Appreciate, be kind, be gentle. Laugh a little more.

TODAY – Deserve confidence. Take up arms against malice. Decry complacency. Express your gratitude. Worship your God. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.

Speak it again.

Speak it still again.

Speak it still again.

Speak it still once again.

Anonymous

Mardi Moran

June 1, 2020

A Meditation from the Rector

Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ordained Lutheran minister who has become quite popular through her writings and all sorts of other media.  Youngish, edgy, at times irreverent, she came to the ordained ministry in an unusual way.  From the book jacket on her bestselling book, “Pastrix,”:  “Heavily tattooed and loud-mouthed, Nadia, a former stand-up comic, sure as hell didn’t consider herself to be religious leader material—until the day she ended up leading a friends’ funeral in a smoky downtown comedy club.  Surrounded by fellow alcoholics, depressives, and cynics, she realized:  These were her people.  Maybe she was meant to be their pastor.”  Nadia was recently featured in Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s podcast, episode 2 of season 3, “The Way of Love,” which may be found on The Episcopal Church website.

Recently, Nadia published the following prayer, which has circulated a great deal, and which I found helpful and relevant in these days of virus and coping:

“I do not know when we can gather together again in worship, Lord.

So, for now I just ask that:

When I sing along in my kitchen to each song on Stevie Wonder’s Songs in The Key of Life Album, that it be counted as praise. (Happy 70th Birthday, SW!)

And that when I read the news and my heart tightens in my chest, may it be counted as a Kyrie.

And that when my eyes brighten in a smile behind my mask as I thank the cashier may it be counted as passing the peace.

And that when I water my plants and wash my dishes and take a shower may it be counted as remembering my baptism.

And that when the tears come and my shoulders shake and my breathing falters, may it be counted as prayer.

And that when I stumble upon a Tabitha Brown video and hear her grace and love of you may it be counted as a hearing a homily.

And that as I sit at that table in my apartment, and eat one more homemade meal, slowly, joyfully, with nothing else demanding my time or attention, may it be counted as communion.

Amen.”

Look for the helpers, I say—and look for the unspeakable moments of rich and deep blessing, which come upon us in our ordinary works, moment by moment, often without introduction, and always by surprise.

In this new season of Pentecost, the season of the Spirit, may we learn to live our resurrection lives of love and grace knowing that our God is working out her purposes in this world, through us.

Together.

Faithfully yours,

Chip+

Friday May 29, 2020 Meditation

The Quickening

Psalm 119:93 I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.

My favorite references to the experience of “quickening” are in psalm 119 in the KJV of the bible.  When I read it, I’m grateful. The psalm reminds me we have tools, God’s word and the holy spirit, to help weather any storm.

My first exposure to a “quickening” was an Easter season when my eldest brother went through what my 5-year-old eyes saw as a strange transformation.  I remember running to my father, tears in my eyes, and asking him a series of questions.  “Why doesn’t Royal want to hug me?  Why does he have such a harsh look on his face?  Why are Mummy and Mama praying for him?  Did he do something bad, is he being punished?”

He looked at me, responded, “Andrea, your brother needs his space, he’s going through a “quickening”.  If he surrenders and allows God to guide, it can be a blessing.  If he fights, or becomes too afraid, he may misunderstand his guidance or move in the wrong direction.  That’s why your Mother, grandmother and I are praying for him.”

He hugged me and said, “That’s what the season of Easter is about.  We cocoon in Christ and emerge anew in Pentecost.  Hopefully, strengthened in faith, joy and direction.”  Not completely relieved, I asked the question that was really on my mind, “Will he still love us?”  He replied, “He will not be the same but yes, I think he’ll still love us.”

For the past month I have been trying to find the language to describe my sense of what’s going on in the world.  I sense, on some level, the world is experiencing a grand “quickening”.   I’ve searched scripture, contemplated, trolled life experiences, to get a better understanding of what it truly means to be quickened.  One thing I’m certain of, “quickening” fundamentally changes how we see ourselves, others, the world. For every person who engages the holy spirit for guidance, as many have, then, a “quickening” this is, and there are blessings to be found.

News anchors compare this time to the Great Depression for its socioeconomic impact; for believers of God in Christ, this may be known as the “Great Quickening or Awakening” if not in words, in the description of the experience.  Acts of kindness and demonstrations of faith far outweigh reports of selfishness and cruelty.  Amongst fear and uncertainty, people are choosing patience and compassion.

I’ve been thinking, perhaps, the guidance for responding to a “quickening” my father gave me as a child can guide us in reconciling our experience of this crises before the beginning of Pentecost. Like the phoenix rising from ashes, we’re emerging from COVID 19.  Thank you, God, for allowing us to live this season of Easter 2020 in this year of our Lord.  Thank you for deepening our faith, giving us greater knowledge, a firmer foundation and clearer direction.  May we embrace Pentecost strengthened in faith, in joy and purpose.

In Faith and Peace, Andrea Bolling

May 28, 2020

My cousin gave me a book called “Presence” The Art of Peace and Happiness, Vol. 1, By Rupert Spira

This is from the section Happiness is Inherent in our Being:

“Happiness is not a state of the mind or body although it is often mistaken for such.

Happiness, like peace, is inherent in our self. It is our self.

And just as our self is ever-present, quietly observing all the changing appearances of the mind, body and world, and yet intimately one with them, so the happiness that is inherent in it, is also ever-present—-although sometimes seemingly veiled—-at the heart of all experience, waiting to be recognized.

The reason that we so often fail to notice it is that we turn away from the current experience and try to replace it with a better one. We seek happiness in a future object or situation, whereas it is, in fact, sitting quietly at the heart of all experience now, no matter what the particular characteristics of that experience.  It is only our turning away, our rejection of the current situation, that makes it seem as if happiness is not present now and, therefore, to be founded in the future.”

I think this pandemic has made me more present, appreciating the smaller things in our lives.  Happiness is not things, it is relationships, people and small graces.

Grateful,

Palmer Marrin

May 27, 2020

Cynthia Hubbard forwarded this reflection by the Reverend Colette Bachand, who has become noteworthy for making worship friendly and accessible to those experiencing dementia.  It points up not only how we all are facing our Coronavirus challenges from differing perspectives and needs, but even moreso, the distinct difficulties those of us with age and dementia issues must grapple with. 

 Having read and thought about this reflection, I’m aware how blind I am to so much silent suffering and need.  

COVID from the Elderly Point of View

By The Reverend Colette Bachand  

They say it’s the same storm we are in

just different boats  …

this storm pandemic, COVID-19

They say … self-isolate, but my world was already so lonely.

They say … just read a good book or watch a movie, but my eyes don’t work anymore, I’ve not been able to read in years or see the TV right either.

They say … go for walks in nature, it will refresh your soul, but it’s hard to roll a walker over tree stumps and rocks

They say … write cards to people you love, but my arthritic fingers can’t hold a pen.

They say … this is teaching us to slow down … really? Haven’t seen fast in decades.

They say … just be grateful you can talk to grandchildren on your computer or phone, but I can’t figure out my phone and have never had a computer

They say  … wear a mask,

but I can’t wear a mask and my hearing aids at the same time,

so now I can’t hear …

and now I can’t breathe,

and the steam from my breath fills my glasses

and now I can’t see where I am going and am afraid to fall,

so I don’t  …

go…

anywhere. 

They say … just enjoy the quiet time, but in the silence the ghosts have found me again and I am afraid.

They say … just give it time … but mine is running out.

Same storm, different boats … sure.

But others can mend their boats,

or swim to shore or wait out the storm.

My boat is disappearing over the horizon

and there is no one to see me off

May our God of love bless us in this time of sickness, death and healing, by helping us to see each other with the eyes of our hearts.

 

Yours in Christ,

Chip+

May 26, 2020

Leonard Cohen – If It Be Your Will (live 1985)

https://youtu.be/wHAHt2Hv_DI

This hymn seems to be particularly helpful in our world today.

Mardi Moran

IF IT BE YOUR WILL

Leonard Cohen

 

If it be your will

That I speak no more

And my voice be still

As it was before

I will speak no more

I shall abide until

I am spoken for

If it be your will

If it be your will

That a voice be true

From this broken hill

I will sing to you

From this broken hill

All your praises they shall

ring

If it be your will

To let me sing

From this broken hill

All your praises they shall

Ring

If it be your will

To let me sing

 

If it be your will

If there is a choice

Let the rivers fill

Let the hills rejoice

Let your mercy spill

On all these burning hearts

In hell

If it be your will

To make us well

 

And draw us near

And bind us tight

All your children here

In their rags of light

In our rags of light

All dressed to kill

And end this night

If it be your will

 

May 25, 2020

In the face of so much upheaval and change, even in this season of new life, Easter, and the coming season of Pentecost (which to me impart hope and the promise of eternal life and love), there is one thing in particular that persists in nagging at my soul.

It’s the apparent murder of the young, 26-year old Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia, the case I’m sure so many of you know about:  a person of color out jogging, when two white guys show up in a truck with guns, track him down for God knows what reason, and they end up shooting him dead.

And when I hear these things, I now always think:  I just can’t take it anymore.

Now I know I’m not in control of that particular scenario, or even the whole existing fabric of racism that runs through our national identity, but I know this:  I must do my part.  As Martin Luther King Jr wrote (in his 1963 masterpiece Letter from Birmingham Jail), injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  I’ve even taken the point of view of Ibram Kendi, who asserted in a recent (fine) book, “How to Be an Antiracist,” that we all are in either of two categories:  either a racist, or an antiracist.  There is no gray area, nothing in between.

Where do I see myself?

In God’s realm, the age to come, here on earth, where God dwells with us and in us, in the life of the world to come, racism no longer exists, in any form.  It does not take up any space in our human thoughts, expressions, ideas, and actions.  It is not even a forgotten memory of a distant past.  Instead, people are loved always, just because we value them for who they are.  Every one of us is equally loved by God, and we will have learned to love everyone just like we love ourselves.  Freedom is not just another word.  It is Shalom, a place of security and freedom from fear.  God’s peace.  And not a pipe dream.

We all know that true Freedom requires true Responsibility.  Racism is learned somewhere.  God don’t make no junk.

A few weeks ago, I was reading an article by a college professor in Memphis named Earl Johnson.  He was talking about the stoning of Stephen, legendary first martyr of our Christian faith.

He painted the image of Paul there, before his conversion, watching the whole thing, holding the coats of the people stoning Stephen, who was standing up for love, for truth, for justice, for faith in a God who loves us into being and continues to do so even while we don’t know it.  Forever.

And that is all Paul did.  He held the coats.

What am I doing?

What are we all doing?

Grace and peace,

Chip+

May 22, 2020

Jesus said to Simon Peter, very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.“ John 21:18

This has always been one of my most favorite verses from the Gospels. I always saw it in terms of the spiritual journey, that as we grow spiritually and become literally older, we find ourselves less and less in control and more and more guided and governed by the ground of our being, or God, which is a good thing.

Today, in the midst of this pandemic, I think these words take on an added dimension.  Most people like to feel that they are in control, and we all have different amounts of control freakism dwelling within us! After all, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone else did just exactly what we think we think they should.  We know what’s best and certainly everyone else should see it our way as well. At the same time, we don’t like it much when people try to control us.

I am wondering if perhaps some of the angst and fear and in some places, extreme, borderline violent, push back surrounding the pandemic isn’t due to the fact that we have all encountered something which we clearly have no control over? Jesus certainly understood this human need/desire to be in control/in charge. In fact, I am often amazed by how well Jesus understood human nature. Someone else will tie a belt around you and lead you where you do not wish to go. Aren’t we in the midst of that right now? And who knows where we are being invited, or even commanded, to go? We just have to trust that whoever is tying that belt around us is leading us toward greater wholeness,greater freedom and to a place of greater meaning in our lives. God is in control and we just need to trust that, willingly extending our hands and letting God tie a belt around us to lead us to wherever God may be calling us all to go.

May we all be blessed with open minds and open hearts for this journey.

Blessings, Cynthia

May 21, 2020

My daughter, and two other amazing women, started an organization called Hive Family Collective back in November. They decided to present the community with programs to provide resources to families in transition (either expecting their first child or expanding their family) by addressing issues for mothers and fathers with children up to the age of five through their peer-to-peer support groups and education-based talks. The first meeting there was a blinding snowstorm, but people fought their way to get there. Hive Family Collective is providing a resource where before there was none, and so many questions and fear around the unknown.

These are a couple of posts that were posted on their Instagram account. They seem pertinent in these searching times.

And be sure to keep your light bright and shining – you never know just how many people you may be a lighthouse for. You never know how many people find their way home, in even the wildest storms, because you are there. (Cleo Wade)

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. (Suzy Kassem)

TODAY

I want you to think about all that you are instead of all that you are not.

So perhaps we are all hives keeping each other supported in different ways, through these uncertain and trying times.

______________________

Palmer Marrin

May 20, 2020

Questions

Jesus Said:

As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there should be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 19:15-16 KJV

For a few months now I’ve been upset by the number of poor and people of color who have been impacted by the virus. One article stated black people are 4x more likely to be infected and die from COVID 19 than white. As Palmer mentioned in a previous contemplation, the virus doesn’t discriminate but, pre-existing socio-economic conditions have created disproportionate fatalities.

Watching the news, I saw food lines in Queens, NY, people waiting to fill bags in the height of the virus. The majority of people appeared to be Black and Latino. In March, when I needed to use the Island Food Pantry, I looked around, most of the recipients were Brazilian, Caribbean or African American. Some people had PPE, most didn’t. We weren’t practicing the recommended 6 feet for social distancing and chairs were spaced in pre-pandemic arrangements. I remember thinking, I have to get out of here! When I watched the Queens food lines, people standing way too closely, I thought about the last time I visited the Food Pantry. I wondered if people who had financial stability truly understood why these people were standing in line during a pandemic. If those people were like me, and receive monthly food assistance, then their food allotment certainly wouldn’t allow for stockpiling. There wouldn’t be additional money for gloves, masks, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer. If they were like me, they may have been afraid. In mind and spirit they may have weighed going outside into a crowded area at the risk of getting infected against staying at home and running out of food. What I saw and experienced is one of the ways that people receiving “charity” know their position in society, the way social hierarchy is maintained. Distributing assistance in a group setting during a pandemic puts recipients at risk and creates the opportunity for disparate viral impact. People with means can order online or choose when to enter a store. Poor and marginalized people do not have the same option. The care and consciousness we use to support people in need reflects how we hold them in our hearts and mind. Do we truly see those in need as part of our “fold”? Do we assist Christ in caring for his flock?

If we do experience a second wave of COVID, there are things we can do to help reduce disparate impact. We can donate PPE resources to ensure everyone has the protection they need, make a contribution to the Rector’s Fund or social service agency for “Just In Time” assistance for congregants and islanders in need. Ask neighbors, family members and parishioners what they need to feel and be safe. Deliver food and PPE products directly to residences whenever possible. In the US, cases are decreasing. In Africa, India and parts of Asia and Latin America, cases and deaths are rising. Some of the most destitute nations in the world may experience the most casualties. They are nations of brown, black, beige people some, from different faith traditions. Do we look the other way, hoard or, find ways to support? Can and will we spiritually embrace people economics and racism have deemed less important? I know I can’t trust myself, I’m in this human drama. It is only in Christ, the great equalizer, that I truly know I am my Brother’s Keeper. Perhaps, in the months and years to come, we should let Jesus lead us mind, body and spirit. He will never mislead, hurt or forsake. Thank you God for our Shepherd, our Redeemer.

In faith and love, Andrea Bolling

May 19, 2020

When despair for the world grows in me

And I awake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

Waiting for their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

(Submitted by Mardi Moran)

May 18, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in faith,

One of my clergy colleagues, The Rev Libby Gibson over at St Mary’s, Barnstable, shared the link below, “Praise Song for the Pandemic,” by Christine Valters Paintner.

I think it’s definitely worth four minutes of your time.  Stop what you’re doing, and enter in…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCYoikGaI6U

We are surrounded on all sides by Love.

Whenever we have plenty to share, there are plenty who need it.  And that Love just keeps on giving.

For Love never ends.

Faithfully yours,

Chip+

May 15, 2020

This from the 22 year old United States’ inaugural youth poet laureate. Inspiring words from the generation whose lives will be forever shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Miracle of Morning

I thought I’d awaken to a world in mourning. / Heavy clouds crowding, a society storming / But there’s something different on this golden morning. / Something magical in the sunlight, / wide and warming.

While we might feel small, separate, and all alone, / Our people have never been more closely tethered. / The question isn’t if we will weather this unknown, / But how we will weather this unknown together.

We ignite not in the light, but in lack thereof, / For it is in loss that we truly learn to love. / In this chaos, we will discover clarity. / In suffering, we must find solidarity

Don’t ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it. / Know that this distance will make our hearts grow fonder. / From a wave of woes our world will emerge stronger.

Amanda Gorman

May 14, 2020

Are we really listening?

Have we all made up our minds about: How dangerous is the Corona virus? Are we ready to loosen up restrictions? Are our leaders making the right decisions?

So many questions and so much information and so much conflict, but are we listening?

In Brene Brown’s Braving The Wilderness she talks about conflict transformation instead of conflict resolution.  There is no winner or loser, but what might be better?

The most essential and courageous is to stay open minded with a desire to learn more about another person’s perspective. She says when we want to slam the door, lean in and say, “Tell me more. Help me understand why this is so important to you.” “And then we have to listen. Really listen. Listen to understand, not about agreeing or disagreeing. We have to listen to understand in the same way we want to be understood.”

The plans of the mind belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:1

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. V:24

So, we must be gracious in our delivery of our opinions, always.

In peace,

Palmer Marrin

May 13, 2020

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Are there lessons from Amity?

I was reading the “MV Times,” watching the news and started to experience a sense of deja’vu.  That I’d been here, seen this before.  I read a “NYT” article and it said, three white house staff tested positive for the virus.   I found myself feeling anxious, perhaps selfishly I thought; Great! The last thing we need is for the President and Vice-President of the United States to become ill with COVID 19. Now, I know Boris Johnson, (PM of the UK), made it through but, I believe he  was prompted by the Queen and Parliament to take it seriously and seek hospitalization. Is it me? Doesn’t this virus warrant great caution?

James 3:17 ESV

The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

As I continue to sift through conflicting and confusing COVID messages, I keep thinking about something Father Chip said to me when I joined St. Andrew’s.  Paraphrasing, he stated, more than anything, we need to give people the tools to spiritually navigate this changing landscape called life.  The key, is supporting people in using spiritual discernment in everything they do.

To reinforce a request made in a previous contemplation, now, more than ever we need to pray for our politicians, business owners, everyone who is confronted with making decisions about physical re-engagement.  Pray they are blessed with discernment, are guided by spirit, and follow their guidance without hesitation.

We, everyday people, in our everyday decisions must also use spiritual discernment, if it doesn’t look or feel safe don’t do it, don’t go in!  Like Jesus, we must live compassionately.  If someone moves away in fear, or gets too close, choose to be kind.  Say hello, make eye contact, create a little space.  Our mouths and noses are covered, but our hearts and ears still receive.  We do have impact.

The more rooted in Christ, the calmer we are, the easier it is to follow spirit and create the environment we need to healthfully weather this storm.

In “The MV Times” in early March, a writer warned we were dangerously close to becoming Amity, our fictitious Shark Island with the infamous battle between public safety & political and business communities.  I think the déjà vu I mentioned earlier was an awareness that some of the management of “COVID 19”on the world stage, is similar to the way Amity managed information when a great white shark was feasting on humans in “JAWS”.  I don’t want us to live the movie.  I’d rather glean lessons and move on.  Every day I pray to “Walk in Christ”, to allow the humanism exhibited by so many first responders to become the model I emulate.  I pray the world finds faith in God, and on this beautiful Island I love so much, we let spirit guide us in creating other revenue streams to support us in what may be our newer normal.

Romans 8:28 KJV

And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.

In Faith and Service, Andrea Bolling

May 12, 2020

Dear Friends,

I have come across a lovely book called The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy.

Of course, it needs animals to catch my eye, but these are very wise.  In the intro the author says…

“I hope this book encourages you, perhaps, to live courageously with more kindness for yourself and for others.  And to ask for help when you need it – which is always a brave thing to do”.

There are gentle illustrations throughout, and each page is a perfect mindfulness moment.

The boy,  “Do you have a favorite saying?”

“Yes” says the mole.

“What is it?”

“If at first you don’t’ succeed, have some cake.”

“I see.  Does it work?”

“Every time.”

The boy,  “What do you think is the biggest waste of time?”

“Comparing yourself to others”, said the mole.

Boy,  “I wonder if there is a school of unlearning”.

The boy,   “The fox never really speaks” he whispers.

“No. But it’s lovely he is with us”, said the horse.

“To be honest, I often feel I have nothing interesting to say,” said the fox.

“Being honest is always interesting,” said the horse.

“Sometimes”,  said the horse.

“Sometimes what?”  asked the boy.

“Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent.”

I just felt like sharing a lighter, gentler side to compassion.  Can’t wait till we can come together again – hug to hug – and be!

Virtual hugs to you,

Cheryl DeWitt

May 11, 2020

May 8, 2020

The poet Robert Frost, in his poem Mending Wall, writes, “something there is that doesn’t love a wall.“ or, as his neighbor keeps reminding him,  “good fences make good neighbors….

Why, (he wonders) Here there are no cows Before I build a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out And to whom I was like to give offense”.

I find myself thinking about Frost’s poem often these days. Apart from the fact that many of us may feel we are getting close to “hitting the wall“, there is a sense in which our social distancing is a deliberate attempt to put walls or fences between us. It runs counter to everything we have always been taught: hugs are healthy, conversation is beneficial, especially face-to-face, and we don’t really want to distance ourselves from one another, but find ways to overcome our differences and distances to find common, human ground. That was all true four months ago.

Today, however, that is not the case. We want distance between us and actually it is a sign of love and respect. People who go out in public without a mask are really saying that other people don’t matter. Are masks comfortable and fun to wear? No, of course not! But it is the best way we have right now to keep ourselves and others healthy and virus free. We also have the fence of distance, which may sound like an oxymoron, but again it is the fence that hopefully soon will allow us to spend time together even if not in the close proximity we would like. I heard New York Governor Cuomo state this so eloquently he might just as well have been quoting from the New Testament giving instructions how to love your neighbor as yourself.

The mask, the distance, they both say, I care about my fellow human beings and I respect their desire to keep healthy as much as I care about myself and my own, similar desire. So yes, Frost, you are absolutely right, although no doubt today for very different reasons. Back when you wrote that poem, I think it was much more about a New England belief that maintaining those boundaries meant healthy neighborly relations. In any event, good fences do make good neighbors, so let’s pay attention to that.

And thank you Robert Frost!

Blessings of health-full boundaries to you all, Cynthia

May 7, 2020

How do we keep on God’s path when there is so much fear, anger, mistrust, and the need blame someone for all of it?

In a quote from Nelson Mandela’s book Notes to the Future:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  I felt fear more times than I can remember, but I hid it behind a mask of boldness.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Archbishop Tutu said something very similar when he was working on God Has a Dream.  He said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act despite it.”  The English word courage comes from the French world Coeur, or heart; courage is indeed the triumph of our heart’s love and commitment over our mind’s reasonable murmurings to keep us safe.

Continuing on the French theme, on one of my many walks in the maze of dirt roads, there are plaques on the African American Heritage Trail. I found a new one in front of the Tankard house with a quote by Simone de Beauvoir.

“One’s life has value as long as one attributes value to the lives of others by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.”

When we live by the Spirit, we’ll find it easier to avoid unnecessary conflict on nonessential matters. Our shared sense of purpose can be greater than our differences.  And with God’s help, each of us can grow in grace and unity as we keep our hearts in tune with Him. (from our Daily Bread May 15th Cindy Hess Kasper)

Blessings,

Palmer Marrin

May 6, 2020

Out of Ashes The Phoenix Rises

I come from a family of fourteen.  As you can imagine, it was quite difficult for my parents to take care of us financially and sometimes, we experienced what I would now call, “electric or oil insecurity”.  Conservation ruled the day and sometimes we experienced laps in service for days or weeks.

During those times, we thought of creative ways to stay encouraged and weather the storm.  Even at a very tender age, I felt the embarrassment of having to conserve or being unable to pay our energy bills.  How we came together as a family in response to our condition, was critical in helping me ride the waves of shame, worry and fear.

Something we did during those times was read together.  We usually started with a prayer, everyone at the kitchen table, by lamp and candlelight.  Covered in blankets.  We read excerpts from the Bible, Austen, Baum, Dickens, Grimm, Zora Hurston, W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes and more.  There were always words we didn’t understand, that are no longer part of modern conversation so, we often had a dictionary or two, a thesaurus and a book of word origins within reach.

So, why am I sharing my family’s experience?  There are a couple of reasons.  In many ways, all of us are experiencing some form of “insecurity”.  It may be food, financial, relationship, housing or, ”I can’t do what I want”. We aren’t unable to go about our lives in familiar ways.  Some of us have to move through the emotional roller coaster of having to ask for help.  I want you to know, during our times of insecurity, it happened more than once, being together as a family, reading a book or poem, over hot chocolate, tea or lemonade is one of my most treasured memories of family life.  In our forced togetherness, I learned to love words, my family, and developed resiliency.  Even my Father, clearly showing the signs of worry, relaxed during our family gathering.  For a few hours, we let go of stress, received hugs and kisses from each other and went to bed enriched from being together and learning something new.  Perhaps, those of you who are quarantining in groups or use tech to connect, may want to read a book together….share an event that is greater than the condition we’re in.  If you do don’t forget, the hugs and comforting beverage, virtual or in person, are an important part of the experience.

The second reason I’m sharing, I was reading a psalm and came across the word lovingkindness.  I’ve read the word many times before but this time I remembered my Great Aunt thanking my Mother for her lovingkindness.  I realized, I didn’t know what it “truly” meant so, I googled.  This is what I learned.  Lovingkindness appears over 300 times from Genesis to Revelation.  It’s Hebraic meaning is to incline or humble oneself.  The English and American understanding of the word is to invoke God’s love and couple it with acts of goodness, kindness.

So, is there someone in your life, a family member, friend, perhaps someone who’s experiencing “insecurity” who needs a little lovingkindness?  Remember, we are all in this together.

Peace and Blessings, Andrea Bolling

May 5, 2020

I was feeling lost about what I could offer as a meditation but in my search, I came across this suggestion. It intrigues me so I am putting it out to you with the hopes that we may have an opportunity for greater self-understanding.

Examen – Each evening, take time to engage in the practice of the Examen to help listen to your inner self and to learn to recognize or discern emotional movements within you. In this recognition, your concern is not with the good or bad actions or feelings – rather your concern is how the Holy Spirit is moving you deep within. We become more discerning when we listen to what seems right and brings us inner peace. The Examen can help us to be more open to our life experiences and be more aware of where we feel consolation and desolation in our lives. The use of Examen becomes a way of listening to God and for recognizing and responding to the Holy Spirit. The Examen is a lingering over two questions like the following:

For what moment today are we most grateful?

For what moment today are we least grateful? or

When did I give and receive the most love today?

When did I give and receive the least love today? or

When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, God and the universe?

When did I have the least sense of belonging? Or

When was I happiest today?

When was I saddest today? Or

What was today’s high point?

What was today’s low point?

If you wish to record the responses to these questions, review them periodically to notice patterns, reflections and opportunities for growth.

 Gratefully, Mardi Moran

May 4, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in faith,

One of our beloved parishioners, Pamela Craven, wrote in that she’s really enjoying our daily meditations, and thought she’d share something she recently she found meaningful.  When she was participating in a virtual live Metropolitan Opera Gala a week or so ago, one of her favorite singers, the Welsh baritone Bryn Tyrfel, chose to sing the following piece, “If I Can Help Somebody,” instead of an aria.  The lyrics are below; you can also listen to the music by clicking on the following link:

https://youtu.be/2RSIbZvGeyA

Thank you, Pamela! 

If I can help somebody, as I pass along
If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song
If I can show somebody, that he’s travelling wrong
Then my living shall not be in vain

Chorus:
My living shall not be in vain
Then my living shall not be in vain
If I can help somebody, as I pass along
Then my living shall not be in vain

If I can do my duty, as a good man ought
If I can bring back beauty, to a world up wrought
If I can spread love’s message, as the Master taught
Then my living shall not be in vain

May God keep you in health, and peace, and fill you with Easter wonder and joy…

Father Chip+

May 1, 2020

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Romans 8: 35; 37-39

These words of Paul to the young church in Rome, I would consider among those that take on new meaning during this COVID-19 pandemic. For myself, I think I can safely say that whenever I read them before, they struck me as a wonderful affirmation in times of personal trial. Today however, they take on an added depth of meeting, and I must admit whatever translation this is that came up on Bible Gateway, I like the slightly different words from the ones I am accustomed to. Does it mean God no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, persecution or even destitution? No, nothing can ever separate us from God‘s love. Not even the threat of death, our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow.

Powerful words when we seem to be besieged on all sides with fear, worry, hunger, calamity, and even death. If Paul could reaffirm the small, struggling church in Rome where they faced persecution, then how can his words not reaffirm us! Indeed, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thanks be to God!

Cynthia Hubbard

April 30, 2020

So, what drew me to St. Andrew’s?

I can’t say the lovely building didn’t sway me, given its warm and cozy atmosphere. Imploring me to belong to something special, as I am a very visual person.  But Father Chip sealed the deal with his infectious enthusiasm and his ability to follow through on tasks he was so passionate about. Then of course there were the parishioners of whom only a few I knew, but wow, what a journey.

As I have gotten to know more and more of the parish, I realize what a deep spiritually rich community we have. Each person in their own quiet way adding to our community of St. Andrew’s.

Perhaps during this pandemic, we are all acutely aware of small things that actually matter.

Belonging, listening, in a non-judgmental way, letting go of those things we have no control over.

Being the people God wants us to be.

So, I must end with my favorite blessing.

Life is short, and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So, be swift to love, make haste to be kind and the blessing of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.

Most gratefully,

Palmer Marrin

April 29, 2020

THE CLOUD

I’ve been thinking about what I miss most about Sunday Service in our physical church.  Our instruction to “Keep the Peace” and the benediction to go forth and “Walk In Christ” are the  two aspects of our liturgical experience that I miss.  When I’m asked to keep the peace, I feel very adult-like…I believe God is entrusting me to live in a very specific state of grace.  Every time Father Chip or Cynthia encourages us to go forth and “Walk in Christ”, I feel a little giddy,….a little joyous, like I’ve been given permission to enter “The Cloud” to know God.  To walk in love, compassion, true knowledge and possibility.

Since COVID 19, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect, ask myself….In this contained environment, how can I “walk in Christ”….live heaven on earth?  I’m now realizing most of keeping the peace and walking in Christ for me has been centered around my interactions with the outside.  How I engaged and thought of people or places I physically came in contact with.  I’d leave church in my “cloud cover” excited about what I was seeing.  What I’m now aware of is I didn’t extend “the cloud”, or my field of care and concern, to myself, my current condition.   Now that I realize I truly NEED Christ’s embrace, I am feeling more worthy of God’s love.  I’m surrendering to spirit.  The result, more recently I’ve been experiencing waves of gratitude for unexpected support.  Support I may have overlooked in the past.  I’m being more honest and open about my feelings.  I’m allowing myself to know vulnerability not in a disabling way, but in a way that’s creating an opportunity to heal.  For the moment, my walk with Christ has a more internal dimension than I allowed it to have before.  And you know what?   “The cloud” is here.  In this very humble home, in the spirit of this being, Andrea.   Where I am God is.  Thank you God.

Peace be with you.  Andrea Bolling

April 28, 2020

Dear God,

Please help us as we attempt to navigate this new reality where fear and frustration seem to rule the day. We live in a world that feels upside down, through a land of uncertain outcomes. We all want the same things; we want our loved ones and us to be well, physically and emotionally, and we desire financial stability. Yet somehow, we have become so divided that we cannot work together for that common good. Please God, help us to be united in this effort.

Help us to put aside past anger and to access your love so that we can care for each other, learn from this terrible lesson and recall the gifts that you make available. We may have forgotten them because of our scurrying after those things that do not bring us joy and peace. Take judgment from us and replace it with empathy. Help us to live in your truth, not the truth we prefer. You show yourself magnificently when we are able to give to each other and exchange your love.

Help us to revel in birds’ song, the beauty of our earth, the majesty of our oceans, the bursting buds that surround us, the glory of a sunset, the satisfaction of a good meal, the ability to make good decisions, the concern of a friend, the touch of a loved one, always remembering it is your gracious love that makes it all possible.

We know that you are with us but we forget when fear overtakes us. Fill us, God, with faith, hope and charity so that anxiety and boredom no longer command the day.

“Take me, O take me as I am; summon out what I shall be; set your seal upon my heart and live in me.” Lyrics by John Bell

Amen

Mardi Moran

April 27, 2020

In these days, I pray.  I pray for the little boys and girls just finding their way, wondering if this is what life’s all about, and for their mommies and daddies, who may be wondering that, too.  I pray for our earth, the soil, the substrate of our life.

For everyone, everywhere: Those who are sick and dying, those who have jobs but can’t do them, those who are hungry, those who are afraid.  All around the world.

Sometimes it almost seems to be too much to bear, even for those, like me, who are so privileged, so fortunate, so blessed.  Can a heart be so full it bursts?

In a way, it seems we need to be open and ready to be there for everyone, and really, in a different way than we thought we were, before.  More like an open mind and a broken heart which can bleed for everyone, wherever they are, whatever they may need.  Almost like a nerve ending, but with a heart and a mind.  An attuned spirit.  Only when the focus is on others can the undercurrent of anxiety be calmed.  A proper balance struck.  Glimpses of the holy and heaven.

After slogging day after day with longing in my heart, I read the last line in a poem that reminds me of what I perhaps long for most, in these days:

“Grant, Eternal Love, that we emerge from this time of crisis a more loving people who are committed to the welfare of all and the earth that sustains us.” *

And I remember in this season of resurrection amid the despair and loss, that it is this longing which, from the very beginning, has pulled me, thrilled me, and captured me.

The means to pick ourselves, and each other, up, in order to get there, has been given to us.

This great hope is indeed our very destiny.

And our lives will indeed, like Christ’s, be crying joy.

*from “A Prayer for Our Time,” the Rev. Frederick J. Streets, in Reflections, Yale Divinity School magazine of theological and ethical inquiry, Spring 2020, p. 7.

Fondly and faithfully,

Chip+”

April 24, 2020

Fear, by Khalil Gibran 

It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.

Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.

The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean, but of becoming the ocean.

I came across this poem in a reflection by the Rev. Cameron Trimble. As we now begin to at least think about an emergence of a new post pandemic world, it seems a good reminder, in Rev. Trimble’s words, “we (now) have the chance to ponder together, ‘what kind of world do we wish to see on the other side of resurrection?’ I hope our newly resurrected world holds one deep truth at its core: We are all in this together.”

Blessings and peace, Cynthia

April 23, 2020

As I read from many sources, it is often hard to find the right passage or inspiration for these strange and uncertain times.

In reading, Our Daily Bread, the May 4th passage seemed to jump out to me.

God’s ultimate desire and purpose was-and is-to make all things right. Even when the people were taken into exile, God promised to one day bring a remnant back to Jerusalem and “repair its broken walls and restore its ruins” (Amos 9:11)

Even when life is at its darkest, like Israel, we can find comfort in knowing God is at work to bring light and hope back-to all people (ACTS 15:14-18).

In a recent talk, for supporting families, by Laurie Brooks, this is what she posted on her refrigerator.

DAILY QUARANTINE QUESTIONS:

  1. What am I GRATEFUL for today?
  2. Who am I CHECKING IN ON or CONNECTING WITH today?
  3. What expectations of “normal” am I LETTING GO OF today?
  4. How am I GETTING OUTSIDE today?
  5. How am I MOVING MY BODY today?
  6. What BEAUTY am I either creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?

Always grateful,

Palmer Marrin

April 22, 2020

In a recent contemplation from our devotional, Forward Day By Day, a writer describes her journey with Christ as a journey of reconciliation.  The love, grace and compassion she experiences in her walk with Christ helps her take responsibility for her shadows and gives her strength to carry her cross.  She uses the image of a hammer to describe her newly found ability to “pull herself up” and “anchor” when needed.  At the end of the contemplation, the writer asks, “Which end of the hammer do you use most often? How will you practice becoming more proficient with the other end?”

Wow, I thought: Isn’t proficiency in anchoring and letting go what we’re being called to do during this very crucial time in our lives?  Skill with the flat end, or nose of a hammer, allows us to know when to seek refuge in Christ and the Holy Spirit.  When to take care of ourselves, reach out to loved ones, first responders, church and community responsibly.  It anchors us in the knowledge that God will direct us.  The other side of the hammer, the claw, allows us to unhook, frees us from hopelessness.  How important it is to know when to let go.  Every time we “shake it off” and refuse to succumb to thoughts, feelings, conditions that diminish our connection with Spirit, we’re using the claw to extricate ourselves.

Last week, I shared my faith was deepened by my experience in Lent and Holy Week.  I now feel more “anchored in God” and can “let go” of some of my worry and pain.  Like the author of the contemplation, I too am on a journey and know, through faith I am developing skills to help me weather this storm, and prepare me for what’s next.  (By the way, in my meditation last week, I mentioned I hadn’t heard from my sister in several weeks.  I didn’t say it but, my fear was she may have contracted the virus.  Since then she’s been in contact – she’s having difficulty, but said she will stay in touch.  A prayer answered!)

Whatever image/metaphor best supports you, riding a wave, navigating a channel, surfing the web or using a spiritual hammer, may you be blessed with true proficiency, spiritual discernment and mastery.

Peace and Love,

Andrea Bolling

April 21, 2020

A suggestion for your prayer time:

Let God know five things that make you grateful to him.

I am grateful for the gift of laughter.

CHILDREN’S ANSWERS TO CHURCH SCHOOL QUESTIONS – from the Church of England

Noah’s wife was called Joan of Arc of Wolsey that he made him a cardigan

The fifth commandment is “Humour thy father and mother”

Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.

Salome was a woman who danced naked in front of Harrod’s.

Holy acrimony is another name for matrimony.

The pope lives in a vacuum.

The patron saint of travelers is Francis of the sea sick.

Abraham begat Isaac and Isaac begat Jacob and Jacob begot twelve partridges.

The natives of Macedonia did not believe, so Paul got stoned.

The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.

It is sometimes difficult to hear what is being said in church because the agnostics are so terrible.

The epistles were the wives of the apostles.

St Paul cavorted to Christianity.

Smiles and blessings,

Mardi Moran

 

April 20, 2020

A Reflection from Father Chip:

Dear brothers and sisters in faith,

One of the great joys about being in my role as your servant and rector, is receiving from you all sorts of things to read and think about, which you have found inspiring, insightful, and meaningful.  Last week, I shared with you an outstanding piece of a cappela music, the hymn, “It is Well With My Soul,” performed by some mighty fine singers in Nashville, which blew me away—and I received so many positive responses from you.

Since then, I received this translation of the Lord’s Prayer, in the dialect of Hebrew Jesus would have used, from another of our beloved parish family members, Jo-Ann Taylor, which I think is also wonderful and thought-provoking.  I invite you to take a few moments now, or soon, to take a few deep breaths, and say it out loud, slowly, and then go back and think about how it differs from the way we usually recite it.

Our God is a great god, and a great King above all gods…

In his hand are the caverns of the earth,

And the heights of the hills are his also…

May you find holy peace and Easter joys this day and always.

Father Chip+

THE LORDS PRAYER FROM ORIGINAL ARAMAIC

(Martin Trench)

Beloved Father, who fills all realms

May You be honoured in me.

Let your divine rule come now

Let Your will come true in all the universe,

in the heavens, and on earth.

Give us all that we need for each day, and

Untangle the knots of unforgiveness that bind us within,

As we also let go of the guilt of others

Let us not be lost in superficial things,

But let us be free from that what keeps us from our true purpose

From You comes all rule, the strength to act, and the song that beautifies

all

From Age to Age.

Amen.

April 17, 2020

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)

One of the things that I have particularly noticed during this COVID-19 time is how many biblical verses strike me in an all together new way. Many verses that I completely took for granted in one sense now take on an all together new meaning. One example I think are these very well-known words from the beginning of the gospel of John. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. We certainly do feel as if we are living through a time of darkness right now. Whatever that darkness may be for you at the moment—loneliness, anxiety, fear, doubt, food uncertainty, depression — we have to remember that the light does indeed shine in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. So often I have associated these words from John with incarnation, Jesus coming into the world as the God made flesh dwelling among us, Emmanuel. Living into these 50 days of Easter, this particular year, I wonder if perhaps these words speak just as much, if not more, to resurrected life and light. I am always impressed and filled with joy by the many examples I see and hear about of people going above and beyond to help other people during this difficult time. These are flickers of light and life and I hope they will continue to grow so that when we return to “normal”, whatever normal may be,  these examples of light and life will take center stage and make the entire world a more life and light- filled place for people to live, especially those who up until now have largely been on the margins or have been falling through the cracks.

Let us all be bearers of light and life to one another during this Easter season and beyond.

Cynthia

April 16, 2020

“There is a saying in Tibetan,

‘Tragedy should be utilized as

a source of strength.’

No matter what sort of

difficulties, how painful experience is,

if we lose our hope,

that is our real disaster.”

-The Dalai Lama-

As we all come out of our Lenten reflections

to celebrate Easter, it gives us all hope.

Stay strong, stay safe, and keep your faith.

Blessings,

Palmer Marrin

April 15, 2020

SCRIPTURE

In nothing be anxious: but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be known by God.  And the peace of god, which passes all understanding, shall lead your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil; 4:6-7

PEOPLE: Father, may we have permission to cry?

GOD: Permission given, out of darkness comes the light.

Dutifully I participated in every internet service during holy Week.  I journaled, read scripture, meditations from Forward Day by Day and Our daily Bread.  I was determined, this virus and isolation was not going to get the BEST of me!

Easter Sunday I walked on the beach smiling underneath my mask, you know the kind of smile we force when we think we should be happy and we’re not.  Inside I was sad, a lingering melancholy I couldn’t shake.  I scanned my mind and body, asked spirit to reveal what was wrong.  Was it the church bells? Where are the sounds that let us know we can rejoice.  As I was walking, I found myself worrying about what I was going to write for Wednesday’s meditation.  Feeling like a fraud, I thought of asking Father Chip or Palmer to stand in for me this week.  I wasn’t feeling inspired, I was sad, grieving.  It took awhile but I realized the sense of loss was not my usual Holy Week experience, I always get teary when I revisit Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion. This time, I’m feeling the loss of family members, friends some of whom transitioned decades ago.  In addition to loss I feel fear, I….. and other family members haven’t heard from one of my sister’s in over 2 weeks. Not unheard of before COVID but, unsettling during a pandemic.  How could I lay this state of being on St. Andrew’s?

It’s Monday, I listened to the hymn Father Chip sent, “It is Well With My Soul”.  I listened, and allowed myself to cry…allowed myself to feel, let myself breath.  I have permission to cry.  I don’t have to pretend that I don’t worry about my sister or that the death toll from this virus is overwhelming and is dovetailing with every loss I’ve experienced in my lifetime.

A few hours ago, mask and gloves on, I went to the OB Post Office for packages and started listening to the music from the radio in the background.  “More Than A Feeling” by Boston was playing.  I smiled, this time for real.  I swayed to the music with true joy…gratitude.  Although the song is about a spiritual relationship between a man and woman, my association with “More Than A Feeling” is with Christ.  At first I thought it was the love I feel for Christ, Our Redeemer and Way Shower, but now, I think it’s faith in an enlightened path, the Christos,.…in God.  Today, I can honestly say, Happy Easter!  I can exhale, in addition to love, I have faith.  I pray that it sustains me.

Thank you Father Chip for loving us…providing music to heal the soul.  Thank you OB Post Office for sharing your radio and allowing me to hear the right song at the right time.  Thank you St. Andrew’s for allowing me to share a story from my life.  I invite you to click the link below, and dance, in celebration of faith.  In celebration of life.   Andrea Bolling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOPyKsxqgA0

April 14, 2020

It would be easier to pray if I were clear

Author unknown

O Eternal One,

It would be easier for me if I were clear

and of a single mind and a pure heart;

if I could be done hiding from myself and from you,

even in my prayers.

But, I am who I am,

mixture of motive and excuses, blur of memories,

quiver of hopes, knot of fear, tangle of confusion,

and restless with love, for Love.

I wander somewhere between gratitude and grievance,

wonder and routine, high resolve and undone dreams,

generous impulses and unpaid bills.

Come find me, Lord.

Be with me exactly as I am.

Make of me small enough to snuggle,

young enough to question, simple enough to giggle,

old enough to forget, foolish enough to act for peace,

skeptical enough to doubt the sufficiency of anything but you,

and attentive enough to listen as You call me out of the tomb of my timidity

into the chancy glory of my possibilities and the power of your Presence.

This seemed so appropriate as we struggle with so many different feelings.

Mardi Moran

April 13, 2020

My dear family and friends in Christ,

One of our parishioners, Betsey Hughes, sent a link to this fantastic hymn, “It is Well With My Soul,” for me to listen to.

What a great gift!  It was so wonderful, it almost brought me to tears.

I wholeheartedly recommend you take five minutes, and click on the link below, to hear what she sent, an Easter gift I’d like to give every one of you.

Our Lord is a great god, and a great King above all gods!

May your Easter season be filled with joy and more brightly rekindle your soul in the light of the resurrection.

In His Name,

Father Chip+

PS:  I always thank God for you…

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

“It Is Well With My Soul” is a hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss.

April 10, 2020

Today we mark what is considered one of the holiest days of the Christian year. We call it Good Friday, but from all outward appearances, it is anything but good. For Jesus it was a day filled with anguish, torture and passion. A 24-hour day of doubt, fear, pain and sorrow, for himself and certainly for the world. When we look at the suffering Jesus endured on Good Friday, we often try to justify it by saying that Jesus went through all this suffering for us, or simply, Jesus died for our sins. Personally, I’ve always had a bit of a hard time with that thinking, although I don’t begrudge anyone who may have been taught to feel this way. I was as well.

Over the years however, I have come to see Good Friday more in terms of what God, in human form in the person of Jesus, did with us. If Jesus is really Emmanuel, or God with us, then it is God who is suffering on the cross. A God who is willing to suffer WITH us, not so much FOR us. When God took on human form, he experienced the fullness of the human experience: suffering, anguish, passion, doubt, fear and even death. That means that nothing life throws at us, even a once in several centuries life-changing, earth uprooting pandemic, there is nothing that God has not experienced already.  Wow! What kind of awesome God is that! One who knows our suffering and is willing to suffer with us whatever may befall. I hope you are able to take a few minutes on this Good Friday and reflect on how the suffering of God impacts your life, right now. Hopefully it will bring some comfort and peace in the midst of all the anguish.

Remember that we are all in this boat together, and God is at the helm, no matter what.

Cynthia Hubbard

April 9, 2020

During our first pillar groups I read a book by Brene Brown, called “Braving the Wilderness”

Here are a few lines I find meaningful at the moment.

“Across the years, the men and women who could most fully lean in to joy were those who practiced gratitude.”

“The wilderness is where all the creatives and prophets and system-buckers and risk-takers have always lived, and it is stunningly vibrant. The walk out there is hard, but the authenticity out there is life.”

” Social interaction makes us live longer, healthier lives. By a lot.”

So as I find myself in the wilderness with time to reflect. I read, practice gratitude  for all the small things, and write, call, facetime or Zoom to stay connected.

With gratitude,

Palmer Marrin

April 8, 2020

Every morning I read a prayer for ministration to the sick from the Book of Common Prayer.  Chronic pain has plagued me for longer than I care to remember.

In this, our new age I realize it’s not just our physical maladies, pain, viruses etc.; but the heartache of separation, media overload, and the anxiety that’s present in most of our social discourse.

Reciting the morning prayer is not only helping me prepare my body physically for another day…it’s helping me align to Christ in attitude and spirit.  I’ve taken some liberties, changing some of the words in the prayer to bring it “closer to home”, I hope you don’t mind, but you also find strength and solace in this gentle prayer.

BCP pg. 461

This is another day, O Lord.  I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.  If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.  If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it with grace.  Make these words more than words, and give me the spirit of Christ.  Amen

May you know Christ this day in body, mind and spirit.

Until next week, Andrea Bolling

April 7, 2020

North Country

By Mary Oliver

In the north country now it is spring and there

is a certain celebration. The thrush

has come home. He is shy and likes the

evening best, also the hour just before

morning; in that blue and gritty light he

climbs to his branch, or smoothly

sails there. It is okay to know only

one song if it is this one. Hear it

rise and fall; the very elements of your soul

shiver nicely. What would spring be

without it? Mostly frogs. But don’t worry, he

arrives, year after year, humble and obedient

and gorgeous. You listen and you know

you could live a better life than you do, be

softer, kinder. And maybe this year you will

be able to do it. Hear how his voice

rises and falls. There is no way to be

sufficiently grateful for the gifts we are

given, no way to speak the Lord’s name

often enough, though we try, and

especially now, as that dappled breast

breathes in the pines and heaven’s

windows in the north country, now spring has come,

are opened wide.

Faithfully submitted, Mardi Moran

April 6, 2020

A Holy Week Reflection

Each year when Palm Sunday comes, marking the beginning of the most holy season in our Christian calendar, I remember that I must, in some way, walk the walk that Jesus did on his way to the cross, in order to fully realize, and feel, the joy that inevitably comes to me on Easter Day.  It’s not about pain for pain’s sake, but something much bigger.

It’s all about remembering

who I am,

what I am,

who we all are as a people…

And who God is,

and what God is doing.

Love began all this, and love always sees us through.

Always there is a morning again, and always there is new life that comes out of death.

Nothing can stop love.

Nothing.

Father Chip+

April 3, 2020

April 2, 2020

As we all struggle through these strange times I came across a passage in “Our Daily Bread” from Ecclesiastes 5:10

Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied.

This virus we are all experiencing is a great leveler. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or who you know.

People who are mindful of themselves and others seem to do better.

Small acts of kindness are what brings us all together.

Praying and believing that God is Love, levels the playing field.

Let us all remember that we are all God’s children.

Be kind and safe,

Palmer Marrin

April 1, 2020

Desiderata

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

By Max Ehrmann © 1927

The common myth is that the Desiderata poem was found in a Baltimore church in 1692 and is centuries old, of unknown origin. Desiderata was in fact written around 1920 (although some say as early as 1906), and certainly copyrighted in 1927, by lawyer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) based in Terre Haute, Indiana.

These words never fail to calm me.

With love and faith, Heather Anne Slayton

March 31, 2020

Creation Walk

Take time in your day or in your week to walk outside for an intentional walk in creation. Notice one small thing (a branch on a tree, a bird in a bush, a cloud in the sky). The world is truly a lofty beautiful place, with God in every crack and crevice; if we pay attention, we can fall into a still, humble and prayerful space. This is a practice of going out into the world and savoring everything that comes across our path, opening our senses to what is, taking a walk in the cathedral of the world.

90 Days of Spiritual Practices

Mardi Moran

March 30, 2020

Like many of the Great Challenges that our country faces from time to time, our struggles to ward off and eventually defeat the novel coronavirus has been termed a ‘War Effort.’  Certainly, this is a battle, and a life and death struggle for us—and many will die as a result of the disease of the unseen enemy. If we are fortunate, we may avoid the illness, along with those close to us.  Yet I’m sure we will all need to grieve, in some way.

I’ve been reading the small booklet of Lenten Meditations published by Episcopal Relief and Development, which, this year, focuses on the “spiritual lives of children and how children inspire the spiritual lives of adults.”  One entry, for March 16, comes under a heading that is a line from our baptismal liturgy, indeed, from our “Baptismal Covenant,” in which we promise to God and to each other that we will “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.”  Sarah Irwin, a priest and young mother, wrote of driving her three-year old son to preschool each day, having to pass by a war memorial that boasted a very large cannon.  “What is it?  the boy asked.  “Does it still shoot cannonballs?  Is it dangerous?”  And then finally, one day, he asked, “Do wars still happen?”

Imagine.  Being young enough to still be able to ask that question, trusting enough that there is still hope that such things as military wars no longer exist.  And yet old enough to think they still might.

If the season of Lent reminds us all of one thing, it’s that we are not God, and that inevitably, we will indeed die, and return home to be with God.  But that is far from the end of the story, and those of us who’ve been careful and attentive enough in our focus, listening to the persistent stirring of our hearts, know that God always brings life out of death.   The fact that a three-year old knows the moral outrage of war—for whatever reason—should be reason enough for all of us to know how we are called to live in God’s world, THIS world.  And indeed, give us hope.

The good news, of course, is that we’ve been given the means for our salvation.  The victory has already been won.

Chip+

Friday, March 27, 2020

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has become clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live. 

Poem called Pandemic*

by Lynn Ungar as shared by our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry

Thursday, March, 26, 2020

I have been doing a lot of Lenten reading and have found so many wonderful inspirational thoughts.

This reading from Galatians 5:26 was a favorite.

“We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

I found it while reading a book from Melanie Shankle, “Every Day Holy”, Finding a Big God in the Little Moments

I also want to share one of my favorite blessings from our previous minister in Litchfield, CT.

“Life is short, and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So, be swift to love, make haste to be kind, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always, Amen.”

Gratefully,

Palmer Marrin

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Every morning I read a prayer for ministration to the sick from the Book of Common Prayer.  Chronic pain has plagued me for longer than I care to remember.

In this, our new age I realize it’s not just our physical maladies, pain, viruses etc.; but the heartache of separation, media overload, and the anxiety that’s present in most of our social discourse.

Reciting the morning prayer is not only helping me prepare my body physically for another day…it’s helping me align to Christ in attitude and spirit.  I’ve taken some liberties, changing some of the words in the prayer to bring it “closer to home”, I hope you don’t mind, but you also find strength and solace in this gentle prayer.

BCP pg. 461

This is another day, O Lord.  I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.  If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.  If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it with grace.  Make these words more than words, and give me the spirit of Christ.  Amen

May you know Christ this day in body, mind and spirit.

Until next week, Andrea Bolling

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

At this time when we feel so fearful and vulnerable, it seems like an important time to reach out to God for help and hope. We trust that by sharing our concepts of God and how we best connect with him, we can help each other through this crisis. We invite your participation by letting us know your thoughts and experiences which may help us learn a richer spiritual life. Write, email, text. We would appreciate your help.

I was received into the Episcopal Church because I heard the overwhelming message that God is loving and not the judge that I had grown up to fear. I wanted to be a part of that culture. The Book of Common prayer was so beautifully written and the prayers held words that I felt but couldn’t formulate. It has been a rewarding experience.

While reading the Bible with a small group, I came across a passage that has become my favorite. It occurs just after God confronts Adam and Eve. They have acted with free will, but by eating that apple, have probably made the most consequential decision by introducing evil into the world.

God makes his judgment. One can only imagine what he felt, from disappointment to fury. Yet his next thought seems to be one where he wants to help make the transition somewhat easier.

It is Genesis Chapter3, verse 21:

For the man and his wife, the Lord God made leather garments, with which he clothed them.

Adam and Eve had covered themselves with fig leaves, clearly unsuitable. While God can foresee the terrible consequences of their actions, he shows love and compassion to them by making substantial clothing to make their lives somewhat easier.

My take away lesson is that while God will hold us accountable for our actions, the overriding principle is that he loves us enough to forgive our transgressions and to help us overcome obstacles we confront. Even when we really mess up, God is there for us.

I pray that God will show his abundant love to all of us in a manner that individually, we can absorb and fully experience.

Blessings,

Mardi Moran *