Finding God in Creation

We’ve spent good time opening ourselves to God’s presence in Creation this week. In my photography, that usually takes the form of awareness of the divine in the beauty of this earth, but we’ve gone beyond that these past days, seeking to experience ourselves as one with all that is.

To know yourself as part of something larger: a profoundly spiritual experience, whether God is mentioned or not. Also the beginning of compassion, which I’ll be preaching on when I return. Continue reading

If you would change the world, look to yourself first

Butterfly: Emblem of transformation. Douglas V. Steere, the Quaker sage, wrote that that only “saints” can change the world, that all social transformation must begin with personal transformation, that resistance to evil must “begin from within.” Certainly the cause was urgent enough; he was writing in the spring of 1943. Friends, we had better get busy.

Everyday miracle at Marriottsville, MD

From our morning meditation:

Rejoice in the glorious and sacred Giver of Life,
clothe yourself with joy!
Feel your heart expand in gratitude,
and learn from the earth of humility.

(from Psalm 119 in Psalms for Praying, Nan C. Merrill)

Turning point

Today is the anniversary of one of those odd little events that feel nearly inconsequential at the time, but in retrospect seem to have changed everything. On this date in 2007, I clicked to submit an online form enrolling in a course titled “Reconciliation & Restorative Justice” at a school I’d never heard of until shortly before I signed up to attend.

I’d been an MA student in theology at a small college in New Jersey, but a large cohort had graduated out of the program at the end of the previous semester, and for those few who remained, just one course was being offered. I believe it was called “The Mystery of Christ.” In those days I was most interested in Christian ethics, and it didn’t much appeal to me (sorry, J.) so I looked around for something else, and this was what I found. I went ahead and submitted the form, and I think it it was just a few minutes later that I received an email from Jim Murphy welcoming me to the General Theological Seminary. Continue reading

Instructed Eucharist

OPENING REMARKS

We’re going to do something a little different this morning. Instead of having the usual kind of sermon, we’re going to do what’s called an Instructed Eucharist, where we’ll stop at several points during the service and briefly explain what’s happening. I hope each one of us will hear something new in this – or be reminded of something we haven’t thought about lately – and I hope that might open us to a deeper experience of worship, today and going forward.

Let’s start by giving the thing its proper name. Our principal service of worship in the Episcopal Church is called Holy Eucharist in the Book of Common Prayer. We sometimes use other names, including Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, and in some Episcopal Churches you’ll even hear it called the Mass, which comes from the Latin for the words of dismissal: Ite, missa est, or Go, the dismissal is made. Because what we do here doesn’t end at the door. It continues with our being sent forth from church into the world to live what we’ve just experienced.

Eucharist comes from the Greek word meaning thanksgiving. The entire service is an expression of gratitude, and it’s not something the priest does while the people just watch – it’s something we all do together. That’s the idea behind the prayers that are said by the whole assembly, the hymns we sing, and all the standing, sitting, and kneeling we do. Continue reading

First-Day Thoughts

Of course we did some church touring on our vacation.

In calm and cool and silence, once again
I find my old accustomed place among
My brethren …
There, syllabled by silence, let me hear
The still small voice which reached the prophet’s ear.

“First-Day Thoughts,” John Greenleaf Whittier

Third Haven Friends Meeting, Easton, MD

 

Bucket list

This sign inspired an interesting dinner conversation. He said, do something to help another person every day. I said, make sure people know how much I love them. I’m living some of my dreams now, and I’m grateful; what’s left? I do look forward to having a conversation with my baby granddaughter, and I’d love to see the Northern Lights …You?

Safe haven

The very best place in the world to be is in his arms, or hers. Dad is the most amusing fellow, full of funny tricks; Mom is the ultimate source of love and sustenance. From this vantage point she’ll work at catching the eye of everyone she passes; she doesn’t doubt that they’d be pleased to receive her smile and return it. I’m so grateful to have raised my children in a time and place of peace and plenty; grateful, too, that my granddaughter can view the world as a fundamentally safe place. But I cry for all the children whose world isn’t safe: the children of Mosul and all the war-torn places of the world; the children of South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen who don’t have enough to eat; the children who don’t have access to education or health care; the children whose parents fear gun violence, overdose, and all the other threats. So pray for the children, but remember too that these are all things we can change if we have the will to do so.