Saturday, April 20, 2013

A prayer for times of violence and despair

Holy and mysterious God,
 be present with us in these times of distress.   
Comfort us.   

Walk with us through the tragedy of the violence. 
Help us see our role in the violence of this world.
 Let us not be agents of injustice,
 not be spectators to tragedy,
 but help us be part of the healing. 

Tenderly hold our grief, fear, and disappointment
 in your loving arms.

 Help us to see your hand
 at work in the world around us,
 restoring the broken places of
 our lives and world
 to the wholeness you desire. 

Show us how we can be
 your hands in the world.

 Direct us to recognize how we can help.

 Enable us,
 through your Holy Spirit 
to mend the tattered shards of despair
 into a cloth of comfort and hope. 

Guide our hearts and minds
 that our anger 
can become compassion,
 our fear
 turn into acts of grace. 

May our despair 
 acts of loving resurrection and reconciliation. 
Be known to us, O God,
 in the random acts of kindness. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Remembering: some random thoughts on spring and a Billy Collins poem

You are the bread and the knife,
 the crystal goblet and the wine.
 You are the dew on the morning grass
 and the burning wheel of the sun.
 You are the white apron of the baker,
 and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

 However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
 the plums on the counter,
 or the house of cards.
 And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
 There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

 It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
 maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
 but you are not even close
 to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

 And a quick look in the mirror will show
 that you are neither the boots in the corner
 nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

 It might interest you to know,
 speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
 that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

 I also happen to be the shooting star,
 the evening paper blowing down an alley
 and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

 I am also the moon in the trees
 and the blind woman's tea cup.
 But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
 You are still the bread and the knife.
 You will always be the bread and the knife,
 not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.
(Billy Collins)

I remember listening to Billy Collins recite this poem. I can still hear his
voice as I read it. We were in a conference room at the University of Arizona in Tucson. One of my fondest memories of Arizona, that and my visits to the Grand Canyon. His voice and presence made me think of Kevin Spacey....

I remember one Easter morning as a little girl attending services at Temple Square and listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir lead the singing. All the women and girls were in dresses with hats and gloves. I must have been three.

I remember spring flowers from years past, the result of planting bulbs from the flowers of previous Easter's. Every year the garden grew larger as more and more bulbs were added. 

Here in the Midwest spring is usually short lived. We have a lot of dreary rainand a little sun, and fluctuating temperatures that are never quite warm enough.

And then one day it's hot and summer has arrived and the leaves on the trees have unfurled. It always seems as if this happens instantly.

But for now, today, it's still just a hint of spring. A few crocuses and some
sun peeking through the clouds. More rain is predicted. All week, rain.

I'm off to clergy conference soon. Then I return for the weekend before heading off for eight days at CREDO. I'm going to Mississippi where spring is in full bloom. 

Happy Spring! May you find plentiful imagery in the world! May it not all be rain.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Five: It's Back....

 RevKarla over at the RevGals offers this delightfully random Friday Five:

Can you believe it is April 12????  Have you finished your taxes?  Here in Boston, the city is abuzz with Boston Marathon anticipation.  We are finally hearing birds chirp in the morning, and even though it was in the low thirties last night, many of us are bravely sporting open-toed sandals.   None of this has anything to do Friday Five, except randomness.   So, in that spirit.......

1.  How are you doing?  What's going on in your life? Well. My life is full. My daughter has recently moved and I helped her pack. This required driving to Chicago on Easter Monday. It was good to be there and help her. I was, however, exhausted. I have celebrated the 75th wedding anniversary of a couple in the parish. I am preparing to go to clergy conference next week and then a few days later to CREDO. And, I am tending to details following the death of my younger brother. I have power of attorney, so I am working on the details. We'll have services for him later, June and July, which includes a trip to Salt Lake City - which as it turns out I was going to go anyway for a TENS conference.

I am hoping life will become a little quieter. I'm looking forward to summer and gardening....

2.  Have you ever resigned from a position?  What was the good-bye like? Yes, I have left parishes four times in the last twenty some odd years. The good-byes for three of them included celebration and lifting up ministry. In one - well it was horribly painful and I couldn't get out of there fast enough and yet, still had to do the good-byeing well.

3. So, we are still resurrecting...still getting used to New Life!!  What is a source of new life for you? New life for me, I hope, comes from the clergy conference next week and eight days at CREDO next week.

4.  My friend is running the marathon on Friday, because it is on her bucket list.  What is something on your bucket list? I have always dreamed of going to Paris. It is however THAT dream, the one where you keep missing the plane, or can't find your way off the plane, or can't find your luggage...and why I am always going to Paris when I have THAT dream? I have no idea. So, maybe one day I will actually go to Paris.

5.  Tell us about one precious thing (tangible) you keep around your house, your altar, your pocket, and what is its story? I always carry a tube of Burt's Bees chapstick. I like pomegranate or honey flavors. Ever since I had the abscessed tooth which cause an infection in the jaw bone that followed the nerve pathway, I have had numbness and tingling in my lips. For some reason applying chapstick, preferably Burt's Bees (or a bees wax variety) seems to help settle the nerve when it acts up. Usually this only happens when I have been talking alot, like on Sunday mornings or Lenten programs, and so forth. It's probably more psychological at this point, but maybe it is actually a real response to settling down the ongoing firing of a damaged nerve? Anyway. That's my story. 

Monday, April 08, 2013

In Loving Memory, a little tribute to my brother

I was barely four years old but I remember the day my brother was born. Although we always called him David, he was formally named Richard David after uncles on both sides. On the day David was born my brother Ron  and I were at our maternal grandparents house. I remember trying to take a nap, at least that is what we were supposed to be doing. But instead the house was filled with anxious excitement as we awaited news of the birth.

 His life was never easy. Before he was two, David and I were living with my paternal grandparents while my mother and Ron lived with a friend. My parents were getting a divorce. My mother, at the young age of 22, with three kids under the age of 5, was determined to build a better life for her and her kids.

That better life never really transpired. 

David was the third child in our family, preceded by me, the oldest, and Ron who was born 14 months after me. Our youngest brother, Don, was born five years after David, a second marriage for my mother. Paul, the second husband, eventually adopted Ron, David, and me. So along with Don, we were a family of four kids.

A household with an unstable mother and an alcoholic father. Ron, Don, and I have had to some hard work to be healthy, high functioning human beings. David took a different path.

Despite the trauma of our lives,  due to the instability of our parents, as kids we kids made the best of it. David was always my sweet little brother. Cheerful, playful, unassuming. I helped him with homework. We climbed trees, played football in the yard, and rode bikes. David lived with me for a long while when I was a young adult. David had dark brown hair and brown eyes, features that ran on both sides of the family, but made him distinctive looking among the four of us children, the other three of us being blue-eyed with blond or red hair.

David spent a lifetime struggling with addiction. Well, let me rephrase that. He did not struggle - he loved to drink. He embraced it whole-heartedly and loved every minute of life. His favorite memories include spending time listening to music at the Town Hall Pub, whose motto is "Helping Chicago Get Drunk Since 1969..." (sigh). David also loved nature. He loved to sit near the lake or a river with, as he would say, a case of beer, and relax - watching the water flow.

Always one to crack a joke or remember something funny, David was good humored. He spent his life as an iron worker, welding metal. He was an artist who helped create at least one of the old Chicago cow sculptures that lined the streets in 1999. I am not sure which one he worked on....

David lived "off the grid" working in Michigan City and Chicago for various welders, artists, and construction companies.

But eventually his life of drinking and smoking took a toll on him. He had a stroke which left him debilitated. He got cancer of the tongue and underwent surgery, chemo, and radiation. During much of that time I went with him to appointments, brought him to my home for holidays, and became his power of attorney. (Not that he had any assets, but at least the nursing home knew who to call for questions or emergencies).  He spent the last 5 years of his life in a medicaid nursing home. He was unable to eat solid food, unable to walk well, and unable to speak well. He took anti-psychotic medication. My brothers and I supplied him with many books, a television and many movie DVD's, and  a cell phone. He loved to read and really loved to text on his cell phone - finally a way to communicate!

Last summer I was delighted to spend a few hours with two of my brothers, Don and Dave. We took David out for ice cream - one of his favorite outings. This is also the day we got him his first cell phone. He was crabby that day and wouldn't let us teach him how to text - but eventually he figured it out.

Yesterday morning Don went to see David. He brought him some personal items. Don said that David was having issues breathing, but didn't seem to be too bad. Certainly Don did not think David was suffering or near death. Nonetheless something happened a few hours later. An episode of some sort which caused the nursing home to call the paramedics. Unfortunately David was not to be revived.

The phone call from the nursing home stunned me. Certainly I anticipated this death. But some how one is never really ready when it comes.

I am grateful that Don visited David earlier that day. Grateful that one of David's final hours was spent with family, someone who loves him.

David was not a religious person, so nothing church related will happen. Instead we will hold two celebrations of life later this summer - one in Chicago and one in Utah.  My brother's and I and our cousin Stacey will help create these celebrations. I think we will plan to scatter his ashes in or near bodies of water...perhaps Lake Michigan and a mountain river that runs through our Dad's property in Utah. David would like that, to flow on in the places that brought him the most joy and peace.

Rest in peace sweet David. Celebrate well in your new, unencumbered life!

In loving memory of Richard David (Kenney) Cole born May 27, 1961 and born into his next life April 7, 2013.

Friday, April 05, 2013

RevGals Friday Five: Kicking Back edition (LOL)

RevPat over at RevGals offers this Friday Five

....we have all just finished the liturgical equivalent of the Boston Marathon. 26 or so long miles of steady push, followed by a sprint here, a wall there. Only difference is, at a successful conclusion, everybody wins! Which, in my humble opinion, is one of the points of Easter.

But I digress. As I write this I am sitting in a cafe about 400 miles from my church sipping a most excellent latte, waiting to have breakfast with my daughter. This afternoon I fly to see family. After that, several days of study leave..... how about you?

This Friday Five is pretty simple:

1. What, if anything, are you doing to take your Easter season sabbath? Family? Vacation? Study Leave? Some combination of all three? Lucky me...on Monday I drove to Chicago...

.... to help my daughter pack up her house in preparation for a move across the town on Saturday. I returned home yesterday in heavy traffic due to a highway accident. In between, two busy, exhausting days of packing and cleaning. Now I am ready for some

2. What is your favorite Easter season sabbath of all time? Well, this year on Sunday afternoon my husband, son, and I joined two other local clergy women and the remaining remnants of their family's for Easter dinner. That was lovely. A few years ago my daughter and her significant other came here for dinner - that was lovely too.

3. If you're not taking an Easter season sabbath, what is drawing your attention as the Revised Common Lectionary bids us bide awhile with Thomas and gang? Is there a Holy Hilarity service in your future? Later this month I will attend our diocesan clergy conference with Rob Voyle and then at the end of the month I get to go to CREDO for eight days. I will be at the Duncan Gray retreat center outside Jackson, Mississippi. So, I will have lots of time for respite this month. I also have a guest preacher this Sunday so I do not have a sermon to prepare! YAY!!! That said, I do like to preach on Thomas, or the upper room, on doubt - which I think is a potent aspect of one's faith life.

4. What would be your ideal Easter season sabbath? If you could go anywhere, do anything, with anybody? I would love to go to the mountains and rest my eyes on the beautiful landscape...or the ocean. Or, I am even content just staying home to clean and read.

5. Tell the truth now: Any Easter candy left? We only had a little bit - some jelly beans (my favorite).

 I have not checked the Easter basket since I returned last no idea.

How to know what I don't know that I don't know....

What are the things that I don't know that I don't know? This is the primary question that Faithwalking asks each person to consid...