Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Journey Home

On Tuesday I fly to Tucson where I will pick up my car and drive it back to the Midwest.

Why am I doing this, you ask? Some four months ago my car, a 2004 Passat wagon with a turbo engine, had an engine failure. The day before Christmas. We learned, after the fact, that VW Passats, made between 2001 and 2004 have a problem, they are inclined toward a "sludge build up" in the engine. Of course VW claims that if you change your oil regularly this will not happen. Or, it will. But better save all your receipts for every oil change and if you do, maybe VW will help pay for a new engine. And Turbo. Or maybe they won't. And, if not, if you're lucky maybe they will reduce the cost of the new engine or help pay for the new engine and/or eliminate the $600.00 diagnostic fee it cost to figure out the problem in the first place.

Anyway, after 4 months of haggling the car will now be fixed, and almost like new. Imagine, it only cost me 75% of the new engine expense - with VW and the dealership paying for some of it.

Actually, the dealership has been fabulous, very helpful and proactive on our behalf.

So, that's the background, why I'm flying out and driving back.

The point is, this trip has been anticipated since we left Tucson a few months ago to move back to the Midwest.

Ok, I hear're wondering why we didn't just stay there until the car was ready? Well, that's another story. (And, I've already told it).

Suffice it to say it just had to be. So, I am now making this anticipated trip to a place I once called home. (It was home, if only for a mere 2 years.) The photo in the header was taken from my backyard.....when it was my backyard, when I lived there.

While there to get the car I intend to: see my Spiritual Director; take care of some business with our insurance agent; see my acupuncturist and the dentist (the crown on my tooth broke yesterday. I wonder if they keep crowns in stock, since I'll only be in town 24 hours?). I'll also see some friends. It will be hard being there I suspect. I have some very painful memories of living there, still raw on a certain level.

The next day (yes, I hope to only be there 24 hours) I will drive north to pick up our son. He and I will continue north into Utah, toward the Grand Staircase. My father has a house there and we'll stop in for a visit. Then we'll head north again to Salt Lake City to visit more family. I was born in Salt Lake, so this too is a place I call home. Even though I haven't been back since my mother's funeral in 2005.

Finally, a week from today (or tomorrow) we, my son and I, will head east. We'll drive through Wyoming, Nebraska, and Iowa and finally arrive back in Illinois in time for me to go with my brother for a biopsy on Wed. May 5. Illinois, where I lived for 38 years before I moved to Arizona, and where I now live again, is also a place I call home.


Is home where you live? The place where your furniture is and you sleep at night and shower in the morning. The place where you eat meals and watch TV, read, laugh cry and love.

Or, is home where your heart is? Maybe that is an actual place, but maybe it's something/somewhere you yearn to be. Perhaps its a place you have visited or the kind of place you enjoy visiting like the ocean or the mountains. For a long while I thought my home was in the mountains. But, now, I don't know....I don't think so. Not just because I no longer live in or near mountains, but because I'm not sure where I live is actually a place. In fact - despite where I live or where my heart is - I'm not sure I actually have a home at this point in time.

Now, there's something to ponder. What is it like to be homeless even when one has a roof over one's head, a place to sleep, eat, shower, and love? Where is home, after all? And, don't suggest that home is where we go after this life. That home, that permanent home is not what I am talking about.

I mean, I think that God wants us to have a home here on earth. A place where we value life and appreciate this gift of life that God has given us with every breath we take. Where is THAT home? The heart-home, the God-home, the "This is where I am supposed to be" home?

I don't know where it is for me, but I do know that it's a journey and I'm on the road.


Friday, April 23, 2010

RevGals Friday Five: Smiling Edition

Jan, over at RevGals posts this Friday Five Meme:

1. When were you smiling lately? I smiled when the redbuds burst into bloom. I smile every time we go to the dog park and my dogs run free, so much joy in their running. I smiled when I learned that my car will be ready soon - but I'm frowning at the thought of yet another (my fourth in 10 months) driving trip to and/or from Arizona. Yep, that's what I'm doing next week...I smiled when my acupuncturist called me from Arizona and confirmed that I can have an appointment with her while I'm there and I'm smiling because I get to see my Spiritual Director while I'm there. I'm smiling over a lot of little things these days, but at least I'm smiling.

2. What happened unexpectedly to you this past week? This week, no unexpected turn of events, which is good, actually.

3. How was a catastrophe averted (or not)? So far this week, no catastrophes no celebrations. Just life as it is.

4. What was the most delicious thing you ate? I made a delicious pork tenderloin with sauteed mushroom, basil and a hint of sour cream sauce. We also had some really good Chinese take out, something we missed during our two years in Arizona.

5. Did you see any good movies or read any books or articles? We watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on cable TV (again). I'm slowly making my way through Barbara Kingsolver's "Lacuna" - it's not a book that has taken hold of me...and I bought a new book by Geraldine Brooks - actually it's an old one by her, just new to me. I've also spent a lot of time at the gym working out. Not a very exciting week for me...but that's how it goes sometimes...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hospitality: A Christian Practice

The RevGals theme today for the Monday Meet and Greet is Hospitality. It's in honor of their retreat which begins today on that same theme. Here is my contribution:

In her book, Christianity for the Rest of Us, Diana Butler Bass describes several small mainline Christian churches from different denominations that are experiencing growth because they have engaged, in deep and transformational ways, with ancient Christian practices.

Christian practices are those acts of discipline that a faith community engages in which shape, form, and transform the community into deeper faith. These practices include prayer, testimony, beauty, and hospitality, among others. These practices tend to rise up naturally, organically within a community. But the churches in her book took the time to discern the practices already at work in their community and develop them intentionally into stronger, deeper practices. At a recent conference with Diana Butler Bass she said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice for one to "master" a discipline. But she also said that faith communities doing the practice together build on those 10,000 hours forming not just individuals but all who participate, now and in the future. So for example, some old churches may have a long history of some Christian practice like prayer, and that discipline has shaped the community today.

Hospitality as a Christian practice, a discipline, is Biblical. Hospitality shows up in the story of Abraham and Sarah and the three strangers whom they host under the Oaks of Mamre. It's depicted in this Icon by Rubelev.

The three strangers show up at Abraham and Sarah's tent in the middle of the desert. They offer them respite under the trees, give them food and water, and treat these strangers like members of the family. In Rubelev's icon the three strangers are depicted as God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

In other words, be attentive, strangers appearing in your presence just might be God.

The Bible has other stories about hospitality, many of them include Jesus and his teachings on love, kindness, and care for others. Although Hospitality has deep roots in Christian faith and practice it is something many communities struggle with.

True, every church will tell you they are open and welcoming. Every church thinks of itself as friendly. But many times that open, welcome, and friendly behavior is limited to those who are already members of the community. It is not an actual practice of the community, not something that every member does intentionally, by actively reaching out to the visitor, the newcomer, the marginalized, and those who live on the fringes of the community around the congregation. And yet Christian hospitality is intended to be lived in this radical inclusive way.

When in your life have you experienced this kind of radical, welcoming hospitality? Was it with a faith community or a person or some other way/place?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Night Traveler

For the last few years I have suffered from periodic bouts of insomnia. This poem speaks about that experience:

Passing by, he could be anybody:
A thief, a tradesman, a doctor
On his way to a worried house.
But when he stops at your gate,
Under the room where you lie half-asleep,
You know it is not just anyone -
It is the Night Traveler.

You lean your arms on the sill
And stare down. But all you can see
Are bits of wilderness attached to him -
Twigs, loam, and leaves,
Vines and blossoms. Among these
You feel his eyes, and his hands
Lifting something in the air.

He has a gift for you, but it has no name.
It is windy and wooly.
He holds it in the moonlight, and it sings
Like a newborn beast,
Like a child at Christmas,
Like your own heart as it tumbles
In love's green bed.
You take it, and he is gone.

All night - and all your life, if you are willing -
It will nuzzle your face, cold nosed,
Like a small white wolf;
It will curl in your palm
Like a hard blue stone;
It will liquify into a cold pool
Which when you dive into it
Will hold you like a mossy jaw.
A bath of light. An answer.

Well, except that I continue to await an answer....

Friday, April 16, 2010

RevGals Friday Five: Pack Your Bags

As some folks prepare for a big event Songbird, over at RevGals, offers this Friday Five:

1) Some fold, some roll and some simply fling into the bag. What's your technique for packing clothes? I use a combination of rolling and folding when I head off FOR my trip. When coming home I also have some pieces of clothing that I just bundle in a special spot to remind me that this is my "laundry."

2) The tight regulations about carrying liquids on planes makes packing complicated. What might we find in your quart-size bag? Ever lose a liquid that was too big? I am pretty good at fitting a lot of small 3oz products in that one zip lock bag. I have had to give up bottled water and once, a long time ago, a pair of tiny scissors, back when even those were a no-no.

3) What's something you can't imagine leaving at home? In the past I have forgotten to bring a toothbrush, extra underwear, pajamas, socks, a hairbrush. As long as I am near a place to purchase what I've forgotten I can manage. I also bring small packets of laundry detergent which I had to use recently when the airlines lost my CARRY ON bag when they made me check it because there were too many carry-ons.

4) Do you have a bag with wheels? Yes, in several sizes: small, smaller and ginormous.

5) What's your favorite reading material for a non-driving trip (plane, train, bus, ship)? I always bring a book or two and my knitting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Here. and. Here.

When I moved to Chicago my daughter took me to her Fitness Club ("the gym") to check it out. I haven't joined a club, or a gym, in years, not since my kids were little. Not since I never went to the one I did join. Instead, as you may know from reading this blog, I work out on my own. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of staying in shape. Well, except for the weight I've gained.

Since joining this gym I've found it very easy to go and work out. I head out most mornings around 9:30 or 10. Several days a week I take a "class." I alternate these classes between yoga, pilates, strength, and fitness (one a day four days a week). The classes are all 60 minutes except the fitness class (alternating cardio with weights and core) which is a vigorous 45 minutes. I also often add 20 minutes on the elliptical machine, a 10 minute swim and 5 minutes in the hot tub. Then most afternoons I take my dogs for 30 minute walk.

That means that suddenly I am getting about 2 hours of exercise most days of the week.

It's no wonder that I hurt. Hurt where every muscle connects to a tendon or a ligament or a bone.


It's all good though.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Reflection for Easter 2

“When it was evening that day, the first day of the week the doors of the house where the disciples met were locked for fear...”a reflection on the Gospel for Easter 2: John 20:19-31

As this gospel reading begins we are in the evening of Easter Day. Jesus first appears to the disciples that very night. And he finds them hiding in fear. Their fear is justified, of course. Any of us would do the same thing if we had lived through the same three days as these disciples. If our friend had been killed, if we had abandoned that friend in her hour of need, if we had learned that somehow that friend was now alive – or something – because the body was missing. We’d be traumatized and afraid of what was coming next. Whenever we experience a series of bad events coming at us quickly, events that leave us suffering and confused we tend to shut down and hide in fear. It’s natural.

Several years ago Joan Chittister spoke on the subject of suffering at a conference at Chautauqua in New York State. Her presentation “Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope, the 9 Gifts of Suffering” has now been printed in a book by the same title.

The premise is that all people suffer. Each of us has this one common denominator in life, times of suffering. They come she says, just when we think life is perfect. Wham. Everything changes. Someone dies. Someone get sick. Depression hits. A job is lost. The list could continue on. We all suffer when life changes dramatically for unexpected reasons when we least expect it. These struggles are not just some mere inconvenience. These struggles are irreparable change. Life will never be the same again.

And the point is, how do we go about living through these times of great suffering with out giving up the soul?

She lists 9 struggles and the gift that comes from the struggle. By gift she means what we learn about ourselves, our lives, our faith, by living through the struggle.

The first struggle is change. Struggle brings unwanted change. The disciples have faced an unbelievable change: Jesus has been crucified. From this place of profound change comes the gift of conversion, we learn to recreate ourselves. For the disciples this struggle began with them running away but led to the resurrection. Throughout the Easter season, for the next seven weeks, we will hear resurrection stories in our Gospel. On Pentecost we learn that these stories led to a conversion of strength and courage in the disciples. It was the disciples new found strength, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, that built the Church. And from the early church came a legacy of human transformation that has lived over 2000 years.

The second is isolation. The struggle leaves us feeling alone, and in deep pain. The disciples are hiding in the room with the doors locked. They are hiding in fear. From isolation comes the gift of independence. Actively working to move through our suffering days leads us to a place where we can become independent from our pain, we learn to insist on living despite the pain. Anyone who has lived with a chronic illness or suffered for a long time knows this reality. Buddhists call this “mindfulness” having an observing eye, able to look with some detachment at the circumstances of one’s life even as one lives and feels life fully.

The third is darkness and its gift is faith. In the darkness of losing everything we come to believe in a life beyond the life we know, something greater than we are is acting in the world. On our darkest days it’s that something that gets us up in the morning. God stays with us in these dark moments. We are not abandoned. Jesus returns to the disciples, finds them in their darkest moment, in this room, and assures them that they are not alone. He is with them always. “My peace I give to you. My peace I leave with you.” His resurrected body bears the marks of his tragic death , resurrection did not remove the marks. Those marks of suffering remain and become part of his new life.

Forth is fear. In our struggle we face things we do not understand and cannot name. We are paralyzed by our unknowing, but in moving through the fear we come to know the gift of courage. Every tiny act of courage: getting out of bed in the morning. Going to work each day. Seeking help. Each step we take to move through the fear produces in us a little bit of courage. Each little step puts us back in control of our lives, even if on a small scale.

Fifth is powerlessness and its gift of surrender. It is not defensive. And it is not a giving over of the self. It is not an absence of self. However, it is the realization that we are not in control of everything. This surrender is trusting that someone greater than we are is there to hold us up and keep us going. For Christians this is clearly the message of God’s love poured out in Christ. We sing, Christ beneath us, Christ above us, Christ behind us, Christ before us…where ever we go Christ is there.

Sixth is vulnerability and its gift of self acceptance. In moving through the struggle we come to a place where we have to admit that we are wounded. We need to accept our own weaknesses. Especially the way we hurt others. It is from their vulnerability that the disciples finally changed. Their weakness becomes their strength. Like the disciples when we are able to accept ourselves for being who are we acquire a position of humility and grace. We come to know that God loves us in our brokenness, just as we are. Being loved like this by a gracious God enables us to love others just as they are.

Seventh is exhaustion – moving through struggle wears us out. But the gift of moving through struggle, of living though the exhaustion, the gift is endurance. We learn that life begins again. Endurance brings us hope.

Eighth is scarring. We cannot move through struggle without becoming scarred. Our woundedness leaves marks on us. These marks can make us bitter. Or they can make us better. We can become better people through our struggles. The very process of moving through the struggle, of becoming scarred, is the same process that makes us better people. Our woundedness, our scars, become the source of our compassion, our hope, our faith, our strength. We wear our scars gracefully when we are gentle with ourselves and others, when we live with compassion.

Jesus is marked. He appears in the room and shows these marks to the disciples. It is a sign to them that he is who he is. He is their friend. He is Jesus. He loves them just as they are. He has come to help them move through their deepest struggle. He has come again to help them be more fully who they are meant to be. The gift of scarring is hope.

Like Jesus our scars, our wounds, can be the source of transformation in to new life. We all know people who do not move through struggles with grace and hope, people who become angry and bitter. That is one way our struggles can change us. But Jesus offers us another way. Jesus, though scarred is now even more, a fuller expression of the love of God poured out for all humanity. This love is now able to be fully present to all of the disciples, and all of us, all the time. In the resurrection Jesus becomes the bridge for us between the divine world of God’s love and the human world of suffering. Jesus offers us a way, a path, a means, for moving through the struggles of life into new life. The process, the struggle, the transformation, is the peace of Christ.

“Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.'"

Friday, April 09, 2010

A RevGals Friday Five: Travel Edition

Over at RevGals Sophia offers this Friday Five Meme:

1. When was your last, or will be your next, out of town travel? The end of February and the beginning of March included two trips for me. One was a cross-country drive, some 1800 miles over 3 days and 3 nights. The other involved airplanes, rainy windy weather, lost luggage but an otherwise delightful trip to Maine.

2. Long car trips: love or loathe? I have taken a lot of long car trips over the last five years or so. I've driven from Chicago to South Carolina, from Chicago to North Carolina, from Chicago to Salt Lake City, and then from Chicago to Arizona and back four times. The trips are more fun if I have a good book on CD to listen too alternating with good music.

3. Do you prefer to be driver or passenger? I like sharing the drive - it's nice to drive some of the time and then take a break.

4. If passenger, would you rather pass the time with handwork, conversing, reading, listening to music, or ??? all of the above, except I can't read in the car....makes me so sick...

5. Are you going, or have you ever gone, on a RevGals BE? Happiest memories of the former, and/or most anticipated pleasures of the latter? Yes, I went to the RevGals BE last year, the BE 2.0. It was a lot of fun, even though it was in April and my allergies were awful. But it included a post trip to the Grand Canyon, which was awesome...if I do say so myself.

6. Bonus: a favorite piece of road trip music. When my kids and I were taking road trips some years back the only music we could all listen too and like was a CD of the best of the "Red Hot Chili Peppers." To this day every time I listen to that CD or hear a piece of music from I think of our road trip.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Unexpected!

Yesterday morning, for a number of reasons, including my husband working on Easter (tough to be the low guy on the staff) and my daughter having commitments, I thought I was going to spend Easter at home. Then my daughter's schedule changed, last minute, and we headed off for church. We decided to go to the church where my two year old Goddaughters go, thinking it would be fun to spend Easter morning at, as they say, "Chuuch" with them.

This small church is very innovative and fun, I've gone a few times over the years, including the day the PB baptized the babies, two years back. (She was in town for the consecration of the new Diocesan Bishop). When my daughter and I walked in the priest's face lit up and his arms opened wide. We were almost late, the choir was already lined up to process....but the priest spontaneously asked me if I wanted to do something in the worship? I said, sure, whatever you want! He said, how about processing and proclaiming the Gospel. WOW! No small thing, IMHO.

So, I dropped my purse in a pew (no formal vesting, no time, no prep) and processed in with the choir and the altar party. A few minutes later I proclaimed the Gospel, tears welling in my eyes. Tears of joy, for the grace of the moment. Tears of love, what a gift this call from God is. Tears of gratitude for this simple act of grace and hospitality, so unexpected.

It's been a challenging Holy Week, not having a church to call my home. I was grateful to have a place to offer the meditation for Maundy Thursday, a place that is almost home, I've spent many years with the folks at that church. But otherwise I thought I was spending the rest of the week at home, knitting and drinking tea.

So Easter morning was a surprise and a great delight. And a reminder of how much I love what God has called me to do.

Easter came for me in that moment, in that worship. Easter, unexpected.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

From Darkness to Light

I've been thinking lately about darkness and light, "inspired" in part by some sleepless nights. For most of my life I have been a very sound sleeper, out almost as soon as my head hits the pillow and gone until I wake in the morning. But over the last few years, as is typical it seems with age, I find myself with occasional bouts of late night insomnia. I still usually fall asleep, but then "something" will wake me, a vague noise of some sort, and then before I know it I am wide awake.

When this happens I make vain efforts to fall back asleep. I clamp my eyes shut and try to block out all thoughts, sounds, and light. Usually this fails completely and after an hour or so of useless effort I get up and wander into the living room. I turn on one low light, make a cup of tea, and start up my computer, and write. Usually after about two hours of writing or reading I can go back to bed and go to sleep.

Recently I had two sleepless nights in a row. Oddly these were both followed by really wonderful days. Days in which it actually felt like Spring in the Midwest. Sunny, warm, gentle breeze. Dog park, iced coffee or iced tea kind of days. Days when life feels calm and peace-filled and near perfect.

Such a contrast, these days and nights. But in a so appropriate for a Holy Week week - a week of contrasts of light and dark, of day and night, of despair and hope, of Maundy Thursday feasting to Good Friday fasting, of rain and, then, sun. A week that began with bare trees and ends with leaves budding and beginning to unfold, of grass turning from brown to green, of flowers popping up and blooming, of winter ending and spring coming, of death turning into new life, of Holy Saturday becoming Easter Day.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen. By the grace of God, Easter comes, again.

Coming Around Easter

Friday, April 02, 2010

A Good Friday RevGals Friday Five Reflection

Sally over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:It seems almost irreverent to post a Friday Five on Good Friday, so I will try to treat it with some respect. I am still mulling over the darkness of last nights Tenebrae Service, the silence as we left was profound, and although I travelled home with others we did not speak, there was a holiness about it.....and yet we know that holiness was born of horror!

So as we enter into this darkest of days I offer you this Friday Five:

1. Of all the gospel accounts of the crucifixion, which one stands out for you, and why? For most of my life I had a high Christology - until one Good Friday I heard the Passion in Matthew, the one where Jesus is suffering and cries out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And wondered why? Why had I never "heard tht before?" Why was I more in the vein of John where Jesus does not suffer? I remember asking my priest about this, incredulous as I was. I think he said simply, Jesus suffered because he was human, he suffered like we do.

This was many years ago. Since then I have found great comfort in Celtic Spirituality and the notion of Jesus suffering as we do, suffering with us. I still love much of the Gospel of John, but the Passion, not so much. For the Passion I prefer Matthew.

2.Do you identify with any people in this account, how does that challenge you? At one point or another I have been, or felt like, each of these. Although I have never literally stolen anything, there are ways in which I can identify with the thieves on the cross. There I times I identify with Peter, deny him and turning the other way. But mostly I think I identify with the women, kneeling at the foot of the cross, never leaving his side, no matter how bad things get.

3. Hymns or silence? some hymns are particularly potent on this day. I like a few well selected pieces interspersed with a lot of silence.

4. Post a poem or a quote that sums up Good Friday for you?

When Death Comes
Mary Oliver
From New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press, 25 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108-2892, ISBN 0 870 6819 5).

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

5.Is there a tradition you could not be without, a tradition that makes Good Friday, Good Friday? I prefer Good Friday when it is part of the Triduum and not a stand alone service. I like it when it is the middle section of a three day worship service that begins with Maundy Thursday - the footwashing, last supper, and striping of the altar followed by an all night prayer vigil at an altar of repose followed by the Good Friday service in a barren worship space, followed the next night by the Great Vigil an the arrival of Easter. So, yes, Good Friday with the other two services seems sad to me.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

For the Love of Jesus, A Maundy Thursday Reflection

About ten days ago we gathered here in this space and reflected on the woman, Mary, who had the audacity to enter a room full of diners and anoint Jesus’ feet with a pound of very expensive ointment called “nard.” As she anointed his feet she wept, tears tumbling off her face and onto his feet. Tenderly she dried those tears and his feet with her hair. Mary’s love for Jesus was deep and generous.

Now tonight we gather here and reflect on another story about feet. This time it is Jesus who is washing feet, all the feet of his friends who have come for supper, and then drying them with a towel. Another tender act of deep and generous love.

A stranger to the Christian faith might wonder about all this talk about feet. Might think we are little odd, perhaps?

I know plenty of people who dislike feet, find them dirty or gross. People who don’t even like their own feet. I’ve never felt that way. I happen to like feet, even my own. They are odd, my feet, very narrow heels, wide balls and toes, and high arches. Shoes have often been a problem, pinching my toes or slipping off my heels and leaving blisters. Perhaps that is one reason I like to go barefoot.

As a child I ran around barefoot all summer long. It was the custom in the west, maybe it was here in the Midwest too, back some 40 years ago. I climbed trees and ran through grass and played red-light green light with the neighbor kids, all of us in our barefeet. Later I studied modern dance and danced barefoot. And then even later, I learned a thing or two about foot reflexology.

Foot reflexology believes that every organ of the body has a corresponding “point” in the foot. For example the toes are the “point” for our eyes and sinuses. The ball of the foot is the lung – right foot/right lung, left foot/left lung. The arch of each foot contains the points for our spine – the neck is at the joint of the big toe, the back runs through the arch and the lumbar area is the heel. There are points for the kidneys and liver and intestines. A reflexologist moves his or her thumbs across the feet feeling for lumps and bumps that indicate a build up of energy in the corresponding organ and then works the bump in an effort to release the energy and bring restoration to that organ and overall health.

Whether or not you have had a reflexology treatment or believe in such treatments, feet are really amazing. They hold us up and connect us to the earth. And on this night our feet reach through the ages right into the hands of Jesus. As each one of us took a turn at washing and being washed we became Jesus for one another. Jesus who tenderly took the feet of the ones he loved most, poured warm water over them, washed them, and dried them.

Tonight we have remembered through our feet. The water that washes our feet reminds us of our own baptism. Baptism is the moment in time when we become “Christian” when we receive the Holy Spirit and enter into the Body of Christ, the Church, the Christian family. Tonight we have remembered through our feet – remembered, like the energy that connects the foot to the organs of the body in reflexology, our feet, being washed connect us to the body, to one another, to Jesus, to the Church through out these last 200o years of Christian faith. But this foot washing, is only part of us, part of living our faith…just like baptism is the first step, the first part of our life as a Christian. Baptism initiates us into a lifetime of living as the hands and heart of Christ – of offering love and compassion to all – in the same generous way that Mary offered it to Jesus when she anointed his feet, in the same compassionate way that Jesus offered it when he washed the feet of his friends – we are called by baptism, and reminded by the Maundy Thursday footwashing, of our call to live and love generously.

Homily for the Festive Eucharist at the closing of the Episcopal Women's Caucus

The readings that we chose for the service tonight were all picked specifically for this service because they lift up the role of women ...