Monday, April 30, 2012

Garden Blessings: A Rogation Day Liturgy

On Saturday we blessed our church community garden as we celebrated Rogation Day:
Rogation Day celebrations have their roots in church of fifth-century France. Special prayers were offered just before the Feast of the Ascension with hope of preventing earthquakes and the desire for healthy harvests. The early Roman church celebrated Rogation Days with a Christian procession around the fields on the Feast of St. Mark (April 25) to transferring the tradition of honoring the ancient pagan roman celebrations to the god "Mildew" and the goddess "Rust".

Here are some photos and excerpts from the liturgy:

Leader:            Blessed be the source of all creation, the One Holy and Living God.
People:            We give thanks to God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Giver of Life.
Leader:            Let us pray.
Gracious God, our Creator, You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16.11). Open our hearts that we with gratitude we may be thankful for your loving providence; use our hands for the good of your creation; use our spirit to further your desire of compassion and grace, that we may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ your love poured out in creation, and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. 
People             Amen.

Second Procession Move around the garden toward the north, golf course, praying
  The Litany for Rogation Days
Leader             For the end of droughts throughout the earth
That all may know favorable weather, temperate rains and fruitful seasons,
We ask your blessing upon all the waters, may we do our part to keep them clean.
For sufficient clean water, that there may drink for plants, animals, and people.
let us pray to God, our creator 
People             God hear our prayer.

Leader             For the end of famine and starvation in every city, town, and nation
That no one will go hungry, and all will have enough healthy food.
We ask your blessing upon the lands and those who tend to the gardens.
                        For sufficient food that there may be sustenance for all creatures.
let us pray to our God. 
People             God hear our prayer.

Leader             For the end of air pollution and its impact on the health of creation
that all may breathe fresh air and live with healthy bodies
We ask your blessing upon the air, may we do our part to keep it clean
let us pray to our God. 
People             God hear our prayer.

Leader             Let us turn to the NORTH, the place of the cold winds and waiting,
that we may learn patience, stamina, and grace
to face the challenges of life
Bless our efforts that we, like newly fallen snow, may refresh the earth.
Use us to be your hand and heart, may we be a blessing in this world, may we be like a breath of fresh air.

Priest              God bless this garden
Rich and teeming with life
                        God bless our labor
                        As we dig, turn, and plant this soil
God bless these plants           
May they flourish like hope, transforming
                        God bless the rains
                        That water these plants and nourish our work
                        God bless the harvest
                        From the grace of God, grows our generosity,
                        God bless this garden
                        As you bless all creation with your love
 People                        Amen

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Wisdom is
sweeter than honey,
brings more joy
than wine,
more than the sun,
is more precious
than jewels.
She causes
the ears to hear
and the heart to comprehend.

I love her
like a mother,
and she embraces me
as her own child.
I will follow
her footprints
and she will not cast me away.

Makeda, Queen of Sheba ca. 1000 BCE, from Women in Praise of the Sacred, edited by Jane Hirshfield.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Touched in Love

Love flows from God into us,
Like a bird
who rivers the air
without moving her wings.
Thus we move in God's world,
One in body and soul,
though outwardly separate in form.
As the Source strikes the note,
humanity sings -
The Holy Spirit is our harpist,
and all strings
which are touched in love
must sound.

(Mechtild of Magdeburg, in Women in Praise of the Sacred, HarperPerinniel, 1994, Joan Hirshfield, editor)

I am on retreat today, with clergy from the diocese. The center is lovely and comfortable. Challenges continue, but a bit of a respite, for prayer.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Don't let me fall
As a stone falls upon the hard ground.
And don't le my hands become dry
as the twigs of a tree
when the wind beats down the last leaves.
And when the storm raises dust from the earth
with anger and howling,
Don't let me become the last fly
Trembling terrified on a windowpane.
Don't let me fall.
I have asked for so much,
But as a blade of your grass in a distant wild field
Lets drop a seed in the lap of the earth
And dies away,
Sow in me your living breath,
As you sow a seed in the earth.

(this is a very difficult day for me. I carry a heavy heart, the cause of which I cannot say here. The only response I can offer up for the saddness is prayer. Still, I have much good to be thankful for, my health, my husband and daughter, my work and congregation, my friends).

The poem above was written by Kadya Molodowsky, an Ashkenazic Jew. It is a type of prose prayer for women known as tkhines, compoese in Yiddish. The recitation of these prayers might accompany such ceremonial household tasks as making candles or sabbath bread...they might also be offered as a more spontaneous speech of the heart seeking guidance and comfort. I found this poem prayer in "Women in Praise of the Sacred" edited by Jane Hirshfield, HaperPerennial 1994. I am using this book as part of my morning prayer.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bearing Fruit

We were enclosed,
O eternal God,
within the garden of your breast.
You drew us out of your holy mind
like a flower
petaled with our soul's three powers,
and into each power
you put the whole plant,
so that they might bear fruit in your garden,
might come back to you
with the fruit you gave them.
And you would come back to the soul,
to fill er with your blessedness.
There the soul dwells -
like the fish in the sea
and the sea in the fish.

By Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), born the twenty-fourth child out of twenty five, Catherine was the daughter of a cloth dyer in Siena. She devoted her life to God and became a novice in 1363 and a Dominican nun four years later. Catherine cared all her life for the poor and the ill, as a director of nuns and as a spiritual advisor to many people. She was a social activist, involved in the religious politics of her day (schism in the Roman Church, the Pope moving to Avignon). Translated by Suzanne Noffke, O.P. printed in Women in Praise of the Sacred, edited by Jane Hirshfield: HarperPerinnial, 1994.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Five: Internet Connections

Jan, over at the RevGals offers this Friday Five:
I have vaguely been hearing about the coming trend of people using mobile internet devices rather than desktop computers. Having four adult children, I see them using cell phones, laptops, tablets, ipods/iphones/ipads instead of the desktop computer, which I am using right now. So I am asking you to answer the following questions about whatever device you most often use these days, first by telling us what you have:
1. Do you use social connections, like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in or whatever else there is? Describe how you use it/these.  I use Facebook all the time. It is the primary way I stay connected to many friends and some family members. I enjoy the opportunity to see photos from others and to post my own photos. I like the links to news articles, which I might not otherwise see.
I used Twitter for a short time, but after awhile I disabled most of my twitter connects. I didn't like the one way communication - someone tweets a random thought about what they are doing, the tweets read it, but then what? are we to comment? Or just accept it as a random thought? And, OH my, the tweets would come 24/7...I know I can set the time of receipt and shut the thing up, but eventually it just became annoying. So I stopped. I may start tweeting again, this time for the church, if enough people in the congregation want to tweet.
I ended up with two Linked-in accounts because I could not remember my login and password for the first one. Now I don't remember either one. So I never use it. I'm not even sure how to go back and delete the accounts and restart them. So, I have two random, unused, old accounts that haven't been updated in about three years.
Clearly I am a somewhat socially networked inept. And, I'm okay with that.

2. Do you text on your cell phone? Work, friends, family? Yes. all. I once spent a great deal of time texting with a parishioner who had a loved one in the hospital. This person joked, who would have thought that pastoral care would come in the form of texting? But it seemed to work for that particular situation. My husband, my kids, my brothers - we all text. And I text with a few of my friends and other parishioners.

3. Do you play any games? Which ones? No. I don't play Farmville or any other of the Facebook games. I play a great deal of computer scrabble, but not an online version. I do however respond to a couple of requests from a small group of friends who send me stuff for Farmville. I am okay helping them out. I just don't feel like playing...I have enough distractions, I guess.

4. How do you predominantly use the various electronic devices you possess? Oh, geeze. Totally addicted. I use them first thing in the morning by checking the couple of tweets I still allow from the RevGals and my bank. Then I check email and Facebook on my iPad. Later I may write something on my blog via my laptop. At the church I work on the parish website on my desktop. All day long I do a lot of emailing, iPad, laptop, iPhone, and desktop - all of them are used for emails. In the evening, lately, I loose myself for hours playing Scrabble. Before Scrabble it was Angry Birds, and before that it was Solitaire. Scrabble is usually the last thing I do before turning off the light and going to sleep. It's ridiculous.

5. How do you feel about blogging? Are you as involved in blogging as when you first started? What facilitates your blogging? I am not quite as involved in blogging as I was when I first started, but I have maintained a fairly high level of blogging for years, and reading other bloggers, too. I miss my friends who have stopped blogging or rarely blog.

Bonus: Anything you want to add. You might like to discuss what helps you most in your vocation with internet connections... Learning to work on the parish website is a huge learning curve. It really isn't much different from blogging, once one learns how it works. The website we use is intended to be easy, user friendly - which it mostly is, once I have learned how to add content, move content, and delete. But it is also very limited in what I can do - I can't change the template, I can't change the core elements. I can only add or delete within the highly defined categories. Still I find that keeping the content fresh is worthwhile - people do check out the website and it communicates a great deal about who we are.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Laugh, Grace in Paradox

I am thinking about the phrase, "Practicing Resurrection" during this Easter season. I love that it may have come first from this Wendell Berry poem:

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage, by Wendell Berry,  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1973

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Praise rejoicing

As a starved little bird, who sees and hears
his mother's wings fluttering round about him
to bring him food, whose heart is filled with love
both for her and the food, who then, rejoicing
- though in the nest he pines and is consumed
with eagerness to follow her and fly -
will thank her by his singing, far beyond
his usual power of song, with tongues set free,
So, I whenever the warm rays
of the divine Sun, nourishing my heart,
will shine on me with unaccustomed brightness,
take up my pen, impelled by inner love;
without quite knowing what it is I say,
as best I can, I write God's praises down.

By Vittoria Colonna (1492-1547) translated by Laura Anna Stortoni and Mary Prentice Lillie, in Women in Praise of the Sacred, edited by Jane Hirshfield: HarperPerennial 1994

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sweet Comfort Grace

I look
at gold and world
and see
children's trinkets and sand.
Heaven-joy carries me
far beyond myself.

If only my breath
were a wind
through-sweetened with praise,
to carry Love's flames
starwards, toward You.

If only I,
out of Love,
could be the Phoenix kindled,
could perish entirely out of bliss,
into my one desire.

Let me in thankfulness
be Your mirror,
Then Your own rays
might be returned to You,
in grace-words, in equal light.

from On the Sweet Comfort Brought by Grace by Catharina Regina Von Greiffenberg translated by Jane Hirshfield with Samuel Michael Halevi printed in Women in Praise of the Sacred HarperPerennial 1994

Monday, April 16, 2012


Thank God for coffee. I wake up every morning gratefully anticipating a cup of coffee. I like my coffee bold with real half and half and a teaspoon of honey.

Thank God for spring. Today is a blustery day, threatening rain. My allergies are acting up, in response to the blooming trees and flowers. I'm okay with that. This year we are experiencing a long spring - arriving as it has about six weeks early - and lingering. Typically we have a short, cold, rainy spring followed by instant summer. Not this year - temps have typically been warmer than average, but still in the 60's during the day and 40's at night. I'm grateful for the rain, we've needed it.

Thank God for gardens. We planted our spring garden last week - brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce. We put little wire cages around everything except the lettuce - concerned that the predicted strong storms would harm the fragile plants. The lettuce is planted in between the other plants which should help to protect them.

Thank God for days off. I have a day off today. I'm not sure what I am going to do with it. I'm thinking about exercising and then going out to do something. Given the weather I will need to do indoor activities, so perhaps a museum?

But first, I am enjoying a cup of coffee. Thank God for coffee.

Thank God for all the blessings in my life. I have much to be grateful for.

For what are you grateful for this day?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

...and the Plot Unfolds

A reflection on the readings for Easter 2B: Acts 4:32-35

Well, I took the bait. In early February I started watching the new television series, “Smash.” I am not typically one to jump on the bandwagon of a new television show. I tend to be skeptical and un-persuaded by the advertisement. But I think my desire to watch something that was not about violence, crime, hospitals, or some bad reality, caught my attention. I hoped for a good program that offered entertainment and interesting characters.

If you haven’t seen Smash it is a fictionalized story about the creation of a Broadway musical, based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. The plot has the musical being written by the fictionalized successful songwriting duo of Tom and Julia. Julia recently began the process of adopting a child with her husband Frank of many years, but her focus is torn when she has the opportunity to write another Broadway hit. A rivalry soon forms for the lead role between a youthful, inexperienced Midwestern beauty Karen - who is trying to find fame in the big city against all odds - and stage veteran Ivy Bell, who's determined to leave the chorus line and finally get her big break. A tenacious producer Eileen discovers the "Marilyn" project and jumps on board with a brilliant director, Derek - whose talent is matched by his cunning and egocentric amorality. (from the Smash website)

The actors are well known – Debra Messing who starred in Will and Grace, Anjelica Huston, Academy award winner for Prizzis Honor in 1985, and Katharine McPhee who was in the top ten for American Idol in 2002 – to name a few. From the first episode it has held my attention. While I have some issues with the direction of the character development, I have for the most part enjoyed and appreciated how the plot has thickened and the characters have grown. It takes a few episodes of a new show for the characters to become multi-dimensional, for us to see their strengths and their weaknesses, their gifts and their challenges as characters in the story. Overall I’m enjoying the show and hope it continues to develop in an interesting and engaging way.

During the Season of Easter we will hear readings from the Book of Acts.  In a similar way that the plot of Smash has grown and the characters have developed, so does the early church grow and develop. The climax of the story of what God is doing in the life of Jesus occurs in Holy Week – the crucifixion seems to be the ultimate dramatic ending. But true to God’s unexpected ways, the end, is not the end. The story continues in the resurrection on Easter Day.  

The Book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke are companion books, written by the same community. Luke describes the story of Jesus’ life, from his birth to his resurrection. Acts describes the formation of the early church in its life after the crucifixion and resurrection. The story is told by a disciple named Luke who, as best we can understand, travelled with Paul. It appears that the author of Luke/Acts was a Gentile, possibly from Syrian who converted to Judaism and then to Christianity

According to Raymond Brown, a foremost authority on the New Testament: The Luke/Acts series was written between 80 and 100 CE. Like most books of the era, Luke/Acts is not a clear chronological historical account of the events. However they tell a fairly accurate story of what transpired through the life of Jesus and the communities of faith that grew up in response. The purpose of the Book of Acts seems to be one of telling the story of how Jesus was crucified by Roman officials and yet -  that was not the end of the story. Amazingly, the teachings of Jesus moved through the region, even into Rome, where churches were established and lives were transformed.

Bruce Epperly, a noted Spiritual Director and author, says this about our reading this morning (it) “describes a community of prophetic hospitality in which justice and compassion characterize social relatedness”…thus forming relationships focused on radical hospitality, justice, and compassion.

The Book of Acts is filled with stories and characters who struggle to live into the reality of Jesus’ teachings – to love God, love self, and love others. They struggled with how expansive this hospitality, love, justice, and compassion was intended to be. In particular the struggle was to determine who could be a member of the community, of the church, and who could not. This struggle manifested in the relationship of a dominant Jewish community and its Gentile sisters and brothers. These Gentiles were raised in radically different ways than the Jewish followers of Jesus, they did not practice or follow the teaching of the Jewish faith. They did not look right, they did not eat the right things prepared in the correct manner. These Gentiles had much to learn about Jesus and Jewish prayer and practice. The early church fought over the details of what was important and what was not important in order to become a faithful follower of Jesus. One of the earliest arguments, one that nearly fractured the church in Jerusalem, was about circumcision. Circumcision was a requirement for Jews, unheard of for Gentiles. James addresses this argument and settles it with gracious hospitality…James provides a model for moderating all conflicts in the church. In the end two primary practices prevailed – baptism and Holy Communion.

The season of Easter is a season focused on Baptism. Baptism is the rite that makes us Christian and defines, in the baptismal covenant, how we are to live as Christians by sharing, teaching, and treating others with dignity and respect. Easter is also a season when, in the ancient church, those newly baptized receive Holy Communion for the first time. Now, full members of the community, the newly baptize enter completely the Christian story by sharing the sacred meal of bread and wine. Baptism and Communion define us as Christians, and are lifted up in the Season of Easter. Thus the baptismal font is filled with water, and blessed, as a reminder of our baptism and the promises we have made. The Paschal Candle is lit and reminds us of the light of Christ shining in the world, shining in and through us. The communion bread and wine are light and sweet, a celebration of the love God made known in the person of Jesus. And the confession is eliminated for the season of Easter, reminding us that we spent the season of Lent considering the ways we are broken, the ways we contribute to the brokenness in the world, and what we can do to mend the brokenness. Now in the season of Easter our focus is on being made whole and our efforts, by the grace of God, to bring wholeness into the world. This is our story as a people of God  - who through the grace of God -  are called to bring wholeness into the world through radical hospitality, gracious love, and acts of justice and compassion.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

RevGal Friday FIve: Missionary Trip edition

Karla, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

I am in mission trip mode right now, as I get ready to take a group of youth to DC to do service work around hunger and homelessness issues. So, in that spirit, our FF is Mission Style! So here are your questions:

1) Have you ever been on a mission trip, as a participant or adult chaperon? What was it like?
No, never. I grew up in a church that placed a significant emphasis on missionary work in order to proselytize and convert others...which left me with a conflicted sense of missionary work. But I do think that trips that enable people to learn about others, trips that are more about the formation and learning of the missionaries, are well worth while. 
2) What is the worst thing that happened to you/your group on a mission trip (or retreat, or camp, or Habitat for Humanity experience, or something like that--hey, this is YOUR Friday Five, so you get to play it how you would like.)

I use to go to a special place for silent retreats, back when I lived in another state. It was an old place, very simple, but profoundly spiritual. On one retreat I was sitting on the floor, preparing to do some yoga. All of a sudden a ginormous spider charged me! I dropped my computer (which held the yoga dvd) right on top of the spider, smashing it....

poor wolf spider - never knew what hit it...but for the rest of the retreat I was on the look out for spiders...and, thankfully the computer was ok...

3) If money were no object, where would you want to go to help and serve? What would you do? Honestly, there is plenty of need and work to be done right here in my need to go far. I realize that people all over the world need assistance. And, I realize that we learn so much about the world, humanity, and our selves, when we interface with other people and cultures. But sometimes I think we give people the impression that we are going to HELP them because they can't help themselves. First of all, I struggle with the concept of "helping others" in that it runs the risk of arrogance. Truth is, those helping are often the most profoundly impacted through a deeper self awareness. And, then there is the bias that those who need help are people in poor countries, places in Africa or South America, etc. And while that can be true, it is also true that many of the problems people are facing in the developing countries are the result of how we live - the food we grow and export, the way our lifestyle has impacted the environment, the way we marginalize indigenous cultures as if our culture is better. On the other hand, some of what we have to offer (mosquito nets, medicine) is most useful! In other words, it's about learning to share and grow from one another. And, frankly, there is plenty of need right here in my "backyard" - poverty, hunger, gender violence, abuse, unemployment...

SO - I think it's great that you are taking a relatively local mission trip and that all of you will learn a great deal about yourselves and those you are working with.

In terms of any place in the world I'd like to go and learn: communities around the Inca ruins, communities around the Egyptian pyramids, communities around the ancient Celts and Iona, communities near the Arctic....

4) What would be your advice to someone who will be sleeping in a gym with 20 other people for a week? Sound reducing headphones - with some soothing music, for the time when you simply need a break. A good mat for under your sleeping bag, or a support mat if you are on a cot. And, a secret stash of tea and dark chocolate - or a ton of it to share.

5) Any parting thoughts, stories, or questions you have around the whole theme of Mission Trips?  Oh...I think I've said enough....sigh. Have a really good time, I hope your group learns and grows a lot. I suspect it will be life transforming for each of you. At least that is always the hope!

Monday, April 09, 2012

When It Was Monday, The First Day..

So, now it is that Monday. The Monday after Easter...I am tired, but not as exhausted as I thought I would be. Truth be told, this Holy Week and Easter were exhilarating...a reflection on this wonderful parish community I am blessed to serve.

Now Jan has gifted me with an "award"...

And in response I am to share seven things about me.

1. In 1974 I left home for college. I was an Agriculture major. My intention was to have a self-sufficient farm. I lasted for a year in that major...but the emphasis was on big business farming..not exactly my intention.

2. So after some consideration, consultation, and career skills tests, I settled on a dance major.

3. With that major in mind I enrolled in a smaller arts college and moved back to the big city (Chicago). I graduated with a BA in Dance and worked in the dance world for six years.

4. In 1983 I left dance and went to work for Eddie Bauer selling hiking boots. It will always be one of my favorite jobs. I loved the skill one needed to properly fit boots. I sold a lot. I loved it! But, more importantly I met my husband at Eddie Bauer. He worked in store security...and has always had a careful, observant eye.(Which has proven worth while in our parish ministry work, we are after all a team, he and I).

5. I spent a few years working in Interior Design. (I hated it. I was just a peon worker-bee, not a "designer" since only the BIG guy did that...still, I learned a lot - but working for the very, very, very, wealthy was a bizarre experience of how people perceive what it means to be "entitled"..yikes).

6. Last summer, for the first time in ages, I had a garden (see answer #1)...and I loved it. I look forward to having a garden this year. I already have, just waiting to be planted, starter plants - brussel sprouts, broccoli, and lettuce (spring crops). And, I have almost consumed all of the produce I froze last summer - tomatoes and green peppers, in particular - but even my frozen basil and oregano held great flavor (if not great texture) when used in sauce for pasta.

7. I love fresh cut flowers. I'd love to have fresh cut flowers in my home, and in my office, all the time. I put together this arrangement for my dinner table for Easter: I guess I have to pick others for this meme...Hotcup, RevNancy - and one more: Purple

Saturday, April 07, 2012


Although the house resided on a busy four lane street, it had a wood deck off the back, that over looked 2-1/2 acres of grassy yard and a narrow strip of woods. After we moved in we realized that under the deck various animals had built dens: woodchuck, possum, rabbits.

One year we were startled to discover that a red fox had moved in under our deck. Actually it was a couple, a male and a female red fox. By late winter, the baby foxes made an appearance.

As spring unfolded we were delighted to see the fox family, usually late at night, out in the yard, playing. Papa fox would place himself way out on the perimeter of the yard to act as watch guard – his eyes intent, surveying the area, protecting his brood. Meanwhile momma fox brought one or two babies out of the den and taught them to follow, and play, and become fox. Although we only saw one or two at a time, as they grew in size, we saw more and more, a total of 8 baby fox. For the next few months the fox family and the Pilarski family learned to live side by side. Even our dogs would watch quietly through the sliding glass door as the fox babies played and learned about life.

Easter came early that year. I remember celebrating at church and then with family. It was late when we finally headed home. I anticipated a quiet cup of tea. But no sooner had we arrived home than we discovered that something was amiss. Our animals knew it first – the dogs were pacing and grumbling, the cats positioning themselves in one window, then another, exuding a low yowl. Dan and I began to investigate the situation. We discovered that one of the baby fox had fallen down a window well. Three feet below the surface of the ground, the baby was stuck at the basement level of our house. It appears that in their nocturnal playing the baby had wandered off and fell into this open chasm. The momma fox was beside her self, trying to look out for the other seven babies and call her fallen baby back to her. But the baby was unable to climb up a three foot drop lined in sheet metal. The pitiful cries of the momma and the frightened mewing of the baby fox set my dogs and cats on edge.

Dan and I called the wildlife rescue company, but they would not intervene. . We knew better than to try and fish the baby out with our hands, and we didn’t have a long net. Nor could we open the window from the basement and grab it. We knew we had to find a way to get the baby out, if for no other reason than the crying of the baby fox was upsetting everyone. There would be no sleep until something was resolved. Finally Dan decided to build a ladder to put into the well and hope the baby could and would climb out.

And so we did. Using a 1 x 6 board as the base, we nailed wooden strips across the board creating a solid platform with steps. As we built the ladder, the crying escalated. The dogs got more anxious, the cats yowled louder, and it took more effort to keep our kids calm. Then, as if the chaos wasn’t bad enough and the anxiety high enough, and our fatigue great enough, we realized that a second baby fox had fallen into another well, and so we now had to build two ladders. The screech from sawing wood and the pounding clamor of hammering nails added to the cacophony.

But at last the ladders were built. Uncertain what the momma fox would do, we cautiously went outside. Hearts thumping we wondered if her protective instincts would prevent her from letting us help? I kept a careful eye on momma fox, while Dan slowly placed a ladder in each of the wells. The momma watched intently, never moved. She seemed to trust us, to understand that we were trying to help. Silence filled the air, sharp with anticipation, and, hope...

Back inside the house, we turned off all the lights. In the dark we watched as the momma fox gently called the babies. To our amazement, one baby figured out how to climb the ladder. As the baby came to the surface of the ground the momma caught her by the scruff of its neck and hauled it to the safety of the den. And, then the second baby climbed out. And the momma grabbed it too and brought it to the den. Within thirty minutes of placing the ladders in the wells the babies were safe. And our house was quiet.

Its morning and Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb where Jesus is buried. She’s traumatized from the brutality of the day before. Weeping, distressed, wild sounds escape from her lungs. Then someone calls her name, and like the baby fox climbing from the depths of the well, Mary’s awareness rises, and a new clarity emerges. She recognizes the voice. It is Jesus, Rabbouni, the teacher, it is the resurrection. It is new life.

The resurrection is the great mystery of the Christian faith.  We call the resurrection the “Paschal Mystery.” It means God’s love poured out anew in the light of Christ, symbolized by lighting the tall Paschal candle. For Christians, Jesus is the fullest expression of God’s love. Jesus manifests God’s love through acts of compassion and justice. God uses human hands and hearts to manifest God’s love, through Jesus, and through us. We help build new homes after the destruction of a tornado or hurricane. We give food or money. We sit and listen. We hold a hand. We share in laughter. We wipe tears. We gather as a community of faith; we light a candle, sing some hymns, say a prayer, and share the cup of wine and the bread. 

Lent and Holy Week call us to pay attention, to be mindful of the needs of the world, and to invest our lives in healing the brokenness in and through our lives, in and through the world. Lent, Holy Week and Easter are liturgical reminders that healing is a process, it takes time to fine wholeness once again. Easter embraces the healing process.

As my friend Janine wrote in her reflection  for Easter: “Easter is not a time when we are required to be happy because everything is fixed and figured out. It is a time when even the most wounded of us can assert that Jesus is not in the tomb even as we face that our loved ones will not come back (and we will still struggle and suffer from the circumstances of life). Jesus has transcended death. We don't know all of what that means; we don't have to. We can be trembling and astonished, but fear is not the point. We can still meet Jesus and be with him without trying to be stronger or happier or wiser than we are. We can be afraid, confused, and grieving, even as we believe that the Lord is risen indeed.”

Easter reminds us that the deep truth of the Paschal Mystery emerges in and through all of life. In times of sorrow, tragedy and chaos God tends to us. God’s compassion is like a ladder, offering us a way up from the well of despair.  Jesus called to Mary, and in response, she rose from the well of despair with a new awareness, a new sense of reality, hope. It’s Easter. Nothing has changed, and yet, everything is different.
In the resurrection Jesus assures us,
God, is with us.

Happy, or not, it's Easter, there's hope!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Monday Monday

The Momma's and the Papa's "Monday Monday"

I slept like one exhausted. A solid hard sleep which doesn't always leave one refreshed. Once I hit a certain age, I rarely experience solid state of sleep. But early this morning I was dreaming, and that's a sign of good sleep. My dreams were fleeting images, like the people flying through the tornado in the Wizard of Oz. It's a whirlwind week, no doubt.

On this Monday, we live on the precipice of Jesus's grand entrance into Jerusalem, his last supper, and his death. It will be a week filled with images, prayers, emotion.

On this Monday we are left behind. Jesus has gone on ahead of us. We will tell the story in a liturgy of scripture, song, images, bread and wine, foot-washing, nails, hammer, and a crown of thorns. We will tell the story in a stations of the cross created by images of brokenness in our world today, that point to Christ suffering with us.

My earworm this morning does not, exactly, correlate to the week - but it hints of the emotion of being left. Of a Monday where one can't do anything, because it's Monday. The week will take care of it's self, it will unfold as it will.

But on Monday all I can do is sit with the images of what is to come.

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 ...