Sunday, August 11, 2019

Apologies!




I just realized, after a week, that I hadn’t been posting here.  I post the same items on Facebook, and just forgot to come over here!  I hope you’ve been aware of your gratitude without me.

Today I’m grateful for our new car, donated by my friend Mark, and for all the people who helped to get it here from California.
I’m grateful for a wonderful meeting, for time with Lauren, for my spiritual direction ministry.

For what are you grateful today?

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Gratitude is the Key




Hi everyone,

We had a great conversation the other night about the Second Love in our Community Covenant, love of creation.  Each "love" has a general statement followed by some specific commitments we aim at to give flesh to the love.  The second love begins with cultivating gratitude, and only then moves toward the various forms of caring for the created world.

As we talked, I got how inspired that order is.  I need to start from gratitude for what I have if I am to accept that I have enough.  I need to notice how much I have, how my needs are met, in order to make room to make choices that cost more in time and money.  So gratitude is really the key to sustained action.

Without gratitude, commitments like buying organic or composting or not buying certain things can just sound like deprivation.  The old Christian messages of renunciation are waiting to beat myself up with, or to flee.  But gratitude gives me a different starting place, so I can choose with confidence and freedom.

I make a gratitude list every day.  It doesn't take long, but it's a good way to start the day.  So for this month, I'm going to try to share with you each day some of the things I'm grateful for.  I'd love to hear your gratitudes in response.  If I'm away some days, please feel free to fill in the gap!

Today I'm grateful for Shadow, our cat, running across the lawn and up a tree in play.
I'm grateful for the breeze blowing through the warm day.
I'm grateful for my ministry of spiritual direction, and for my directees.
I'm grateful for all of you who read and respond and pray and minister where you are.

That's a start.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Breakthrough




Wow.  Where do I start?

The last few months have felt like a bit of breakdown, but I believed that they were the signs of transition to a new place.  There's never a breakthrough without a breakdown, and most breakthroughs feel like breakdowns at first.  And so it is proving.

I had been a bit more lethargic and distracted than usual, less organized around Companions' business.  You may have noticed I was writing less.  I felt called to deepen my own prayer and study, but the cost felt like letting down my community (including those who read us online).

Last week we had the annual Companions retreat, and I saw the breakthrough.  My letting go is allowing newer members to contribute, to take their place in the center and use their gifts.  My job is to trust them without abandoning the vision and charism that have been given to us.  But I no longer need to hoard this like an anxious mother.  Needing to grow in my own way has made me open to letting others grow, for their benefit and that of the whole community.

So what am I supposed to do, if I'm not managing all sorts of things I once did?  They were quite clear.  I'm supposed to pray, to listen to people and help them pray, to speak and write as I feel called. That still stuns me - especially the prayer part.  Do people actually value my prayer - not only my intercessory prayer, but simply the time I spend with God?  Apparently yes.  That is humbling and challenging.

I don't know what difference this will make for you who read this.  Over time the website will improve, our media presence will improve.  Other changes may not be visible to you.  But I want you to know: something is happening here.  God is at work.

And I want you to trust.  If you are in a period of breakdown, there's a new land waiting to open up to you.  Just like Mary at the tomb, it will look strange and scary for a while.  Then it will carry you to proclaim the news of new life.  You can't rush this.  But trust; and pray.  You can always ask me to pray for you!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Lonely turkeys



I am haunted by a turkey.

We have a flock of wild turkeys that lives in the woods around the Companionary.  During the spring mating season I counted 29 of them one day.  Soon after, one lone tom separated from the flock.  He's been hanging around our place, and the surrounding woods, gobbling day after day for weeks.

At first I laughed, delighted that this turkey was here.  But now I'm haunted.  This poor turkey is gobbling to find a mate, or a flock.  This turkey is lonely.  This turkey needs community.

I asked myself, why does this touch me so?  This turkey's call for community reminds me of our need for community as well.  I get to meet a lot of people who want to share their lives, their passion for God, their love with others, but either don't feel called to monastic life or just don't dare or just can't find a place where they fit.  And they haunt me too.  We all need companions, we all need to be part of a flock - even a virtual one.

Sometimes Jesus calls us his sheep.  Sometimes he compares himself to a mother hen sheltering her flock.  Sometimes, as today at Eucharist, he talks about being the vine.  These are all different ways of expressing this truth - we belong together, rooted in and guided by the voice of love.  Turkeys, people (and who among us hasn't been a turkey sometimes?) - we need to belong.

I have been a lonely turkey for long stretches of my life.  I give thanks every day for this community, for all the communities that I now belong to.  My song is no longer the gobble of the lost and alone, but the crow of the delighted proclaimer.  But on any given day, I might be gobbling again.  I need all of you.

My prayer for you today is that you know you belong in Jesus' flock, in God's flock, even if you don't have face-to-face community.  I pray that you know the love that surrounds you, and find your way to a flock that reflects that love and lets you love in return.  God bless you and fill you with peace.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Hail Mary




Last weekend I led a retreat on Mother Mary.  I had been reading, praying, preparing for nine months.  (Isn't that an interesting number!)  The day came, the weekend flew, and I was left exhausted and a bit overwhelmed.  The stories that people told were amazing: stories of times Mary had healed them or others, stories of their own pain and grief, stories of faith and trust.  As much as I had prepared, I wasn't prepared for the reality of Mary in the lives of these people.  They taught me how much further I have to go, want to go, to know this woman.

I realized that, as much as I've spent my life in feminist studies, and then in a convent, and then devoted to Mary Magdalene, there are still depths of feminine energy that I have not accessed.  This shouldn't be news to me; there are depths to God, to Jesus, to the Holy Spirit that I haven't approached.  But it really landed for me that there is so much more to Mary than I have let in.  I'm still shaped by my Protestant, left-brain heritage.  But I want to let go more, and I think Mary will show me the way.

So I'm continuing to pray the rosary, and to spend time with icons of Mary, and maybe I'll keep reading.  But the deep work will come from the prayer, from music and art and dance.  I will lead the retreat again in the fall of 2020, but I don't need to prepare to lead as much as I need to learn from her what she means.

Hail Mary, full of grace.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Thank you for showing yourself to so many, and for giving me a glimpse of you.  Help me know you more in the coming days.  And yes, please pray for me, for those most ignored and rejected, for us all.  Amen.





Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Again? Still?



I keep thinking about this series of appearances that Jesus makes.  This coming Sunday we will have another; I'll get to that one on Sunday.  But it's kept me thinking about the earlier ones.  As I pray with Jesus I get a fuller, less orthodox picture of his response.

First he sends the women.  The men don't believe them.  OK.  Nothing shocking about that; even if we leave out patriarchy, I might find it hard to believe.  But then Jesus appears to the gathered disciples (who likely included women).  Now many of them, probably more than a dozen, have seen and talked with him.  But Thomas won't believe them.  So Jesus comes again.  And here's where it gets tricky.

The written text doesn't give us mood or tone.  All we have are the words, so we are free to project our own feelings and hopes and fears onto the text.  How do you imagine Jesus answering?

I've usually seen him as patient and loving.  I hate the move to scapegoat Thomas, so I want Jesus to save him from us.  But yesterday, sitting with Jesus in the chapel, I saw another scene.  I saw Jesus frustrated and impatient.  "OK, you won't believe your companions?  Fine.  Just stick your finger there, buddy.  How do you like them apples?"
"Go ahead.  How many times do I have to go through this?  I need you to believe, to tell others.  I didn't just rise from the dead for my health.  I am trying to save the world here, trying to show you something.  So get with the program!"

Who is to say that this version isn't faithful to the original?  We know Jesus got frustrated and upset sometimes.  The Jesus I know isn't always serene.  Sometimes he's in the Temple of my heart, overturning all the tables.  Sometimes he's crying over the ways I hurt and endanger myself and others.  And sometimes he laughs at me, with me.

Spend some time with Jesus this week, with this Gospel passage (John 20:24-29).  What is he saying to you this Easter season?  How is he saying it?

Have fun!