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 *