Sunday, November 3, 2013

Squirrels Running into my Life

Recently I almost ran over two squirrels between my home and work,a distance of only a mile.

One ran under the car and luckily my wheels did not hit the squirrel as I drove over it.

Then, in the next block by the church, another squirrel ran up to the car, turned, and went back to the side of the road. So close, but I had missed that squirrel, too.

I gave thanks for not hitting either one of them, but it shook me up a little. I went into the church feeling anxious.

That morning, during an online class on Franciscan Spirituality, Fr.Richard Rohr taught us to look at any part of creation that day –such as an animal, flower, rock, or twig – and give thanks for its uniqueness and beauty. I began to think of the two squirrels that almost perished by my driving earlier in the day. I centered my thoughts and meditated on each one of them.

Sadly, while backing up into the street to go to an appointment, I noticed a dead squirrel in the road. It was right where I almost hitthat second squirrel. A sense of sadness came over me. I wondered,“What should I do? Should I get out of the car and go over to the squirrel, and move it from the road and say a prayer? Should I leave and let the lifeless creature remain in the road and continue to be hit by other cars?”

Since I was late for an appointment, I drove off.

In my gut, I wanted to go back and give thanks to God for the life of that squirrel, but I did not.

Instead, while driving away and looking at the squirrel in my rear view mirror, I gave thanks to the Almighty for creation and forbreathing life into that small creature. I said a prayer and continuedwith my day.

Later that evening, after presiding at the Eucharist, I told a parishioner about this experience. She said, "I invite you to look up what it means to notice or experience squirrels and see what you find out."

I thought, "Why not?" and in the middle of a restless night I searched.

This is what I found:

The Squirrel Totem

Chatter, scold, creature bold,
Warning all by your call.
Discovery, change,
bring within my range.
Warnings as free, send to me.

Gathering, Activity, Preparedness

The gathering power of Squirrel is a great gift. 
It teaches us balance within the circle of gathering and giving out. 
They remind us that in our quest for our goals,
it is vital to make time for play and socializing.
Squirrel teaches us to conserve our energy for times of need. 
If your totem is Squirrel or Squirrel has recently entered your life,
lighten your load of things that are unnecessary –
things that you have gathered in the past and may be cluttering your life –
thoughts, worries, and stresses.
Squirrel is also the totem of action. 
Ask yourself are you too active, not active enough, afraid of enough,
hung up on accumulating and collecting. 
Squirrel people tend to be a little erratic – trying to do many things at once. 
Take the time to stop and listen to your inner self – and don’t forget to play!

After reading the description, I sat in awe.

I think I am a Squirrel Person.

I offer gratitude for the awareness shown to me by three, bushy-tailed rodents, a parishioner, and wise sages who have been attentive to creation.

Now it is time for me to be attentive:  to stop, run, gather, and play!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Explaining God on the Feast of the Trinity

Robert Capon says that when human beings try to describe God we are like a bunch of oysters trying to describe a ballerina. We simply do not have the equipment to understand something so utterly beyond us, but that has never stopped us from trying. 

So, I tried an experiment as I prepared for my sermon on the Feast of the Holy Trinity - I asked my friends on Facebook if they could share with me some ways they have experienced God this past week.  Perhaps the most faithful sermon on the Trinity is one that sniffs around the edges of the mystery, hunting for something closer to an experience than an understanding. I find these responses to be very powerful:

Jane: Viewing a sunset from the outer banks of NC with all my kids and grands

Michael: Finding someone's cash back at a self check out lane and turning it in to customer service.

Michael: Seeing an old man's face light up when I accepted the flowers he offered me.

Charlie: I have several friends who are going through such hard times lately. The way they keep going in the face of adversity inspires me. To me, that is God in action.

Jory: When I look back at my life's path and see how things really did work out for the better despite the twits and turns.

Charlie: A really trying event about six years ago really shook me up and affected me for a long time. I'm finally starting to realize that it might very well have been one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Becky: Learning that the great grand baby of some dear friends is cancer-free!! She was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2 months, has been at Johns Hopkins since then, and her bone marrow test from this week shows no evidence of disease! She is home now, thanks be to God!

Lynne: Seeing both of my sons alive and well after both of them went through life threatening events within the last year.

Mary Beth:  Knowing that God is always with me as I am now in chronic pain; and able to seeGod in others along my way in this journey. Experiencing the generous love in others, and the Grace to keep getting up each morning. Simple graces, more simple as I am blessed to age and see them that way. 

Jason: Singing hymns for two plus hours, was a vocalization of the Spirit, the mountains were definitely the work of God, and the offering being over 1000 bucks for that church that burned down, that none of us had ever been to was the body of Christ at work.

Felipe: We are in Armstrong Woods...just like being in a natural cathedral framed in ancient redwoods. They are so inspiring!

Lee: Working with a team of committed people as we prepare a CREDO conference for the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti. It was inspiring to see how it all came together.

Fletcher: In the joyful faces of the young bride and groom who were just married here an hour ago; in the majestic sounds of pipe organ and bagpipes; in the humid warmth of a springtime afternoon in the South...

Darin: In simple encouraging loving words from friends.

Kristin: Laughter

Kathie: God has been guiding my husband and I through some difficult times lately and always provides for us. His grace and mercy surround us. Opening ourselves up to the beauty of His grace has made us more understanding and forgiving of each other and of other people.

Sue: occasional, soft, gentle rain up in the Trinity Alps

Marcelo: Knowing God always love you and even though you don't understand why something happens now, it will all make perfect sense in the future.

Amy: On a pastoral visit, I was the one ministered to, in a very gentle and intentional way by my parishioner.

Butch: I will be leaving the middle east soon. 

Joe:  The promise of everlasting beauty and abundance. Even this morning, when I went to tend my garden, I marveled at the return of the hops plants in their very infancy ... I had thought the plant had died and not made it through winter. Surprise, Spring comes along and the leaves poked out of the dirt. How can I not see God in that? The return of plants, flowers, the changing of the seasons, the promise of perpetuity ...

Sarah: I wrote asking the owner of the Grand Hotel if I could get a discount on a room for 4th of July with my mom and nieces. He wrote back saying he wants us to be his.guests for the whole weekend something I could never afford!

Elizabeth: I'm experiencing God right now, as I re-enter my church life by attending a wedding a week after a breakup knowing that there are people holding me in prayer.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Long Road to Damascus

Big change-a-roo for my sermon this morning- I am sharing a letter I had written to Bishop Clarence Pope, my former Rector when I was a teenager: 

“Dear Bishop Pope, We miss you so much as being our Rector but we are glad you are now a bishop (Ft Worth) in the Church. I want to share some of my concerns. Nowadays, I am almost frightened to enter into another Episcopal Church because hardly any of them are like St Luke’s Church. Many have folk masses, hardly any of the members reverence the Blessed Sacrament, too many clergy don’t wear clergy collars, and the church is just too liberal, especially ordaining women and gays. Will the church ever go back to what it was? I am criticized by many adults and people my age about my conservative beliefs.....” 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hearing a Growl During Morning Prayer

On Wednesday, while I was officiating Morning Prayer, I heard a growl during the long silence after a reading from the Book of Acts. I had no idea where the noise was coming from. I then looked to my right and saw the small head of a Teacup Chihuahua come out of the sweater of a member of the church. Bella was not a happy dog! Laughter erupted and the joy of God's creation was felt by all.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Beamer and the Start of Lent

I begin a new journey in writing on the day we celebrate the first day of Lent. It is a day of great sadness for me since my beloved animal companion Beamer seems like he is getting closer to his death. Many emotions stir inside of me since I love him so deeply. For the past thirteen years I have taken great care of him and he has taken great care of me, especially during important times in my life: When my mother and father were so sick and during and after their deaths, through Hurricane Katrina, through three important love relationships,  and through four moves - the biggest being a move to sunny California for a wonderful calling to St Aidan’s where he has been able to come to work with me everyday. 

My heart is sad but I give God thanks for allowing him to be a part of my life. The ashes I receive today on Ash Wednesday remind me that all physical life comes to an end but our love and our Spirit’s energy continues long after we are all dust. I pray for strength when the time comes for him to pass. I will always have Beamer and his brother Frankie in my heart and dreams. 

“All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” 

May this Lent and this journey be one of enlightenment, love and peace.