#Lenten Madness

Okay. For those of you who are starting to go just a bit crazy from your Lenten discipline, Father Tim has put together a tournament of Lenten Madness for us. Lenten Madness pits your favorite Saints against each other in daily match-ups. You vote to see who proceeds to the next round.

Yes, there is a tournament bracket to help you keep track of the action!

Find out what possessed Father Tim to take up such a burden – does this REALLY count as a Lenten discipline?! Get the scope here.

Go to Fr. Tim’s Blog and vote today (and tomorrow …)! See who wins the Golden Halo this year. Enjoy!

Homes: A Week of Travel and Being Home

Midland, TX - Near the Airport

I have been thinking more about the idea of space-time from my last post, particularly the space (place) part of it. I live in Dallas now. A place that I dearly love, partly because both of my kids live here, but also because of the trees and beautiful, colorful plants that are a part of life in this place. My house is surrounded by them. Stepping out onto my deck, I often pause for prayer and to take in the beauty of my surroundings. I feel blessed by such beauty and often sense God’s presence in my Dallas garden.

This week I was scheduled for several meetings in West Texas and SE New Mexico. For those unfamiliar with this place, I believe the best description might be ‘absolutely nothing like Dallas’. This is an area that I am very familiar with because before Dallas, I lived in West Texas for 27 years.

Stepping out of the air terminal in Midland, an immediate feeling of being home settled over me. I was a little taken aback by the strength of the pull this place still has on my heart. As you can see from my picture, on the surface this space doesn’t have much to recommend it. Barren. Dusty. Unchanging – you can drive for miles (and miles!) and the view doesn’t change.  But in spite of first impressions, the West Texas terrain for me, as one who has lived it, is a place of beauty. The first thing you notice is the sky (no pesky trees, hills, tall buildings, etc to block your view). It is blue and expansive. The spaces out here are uncluttered and wide open.

While in the area, I had the pleasure of a quick (our schedules weren’t cooperating!) visit with a dear friend who has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer for the last few months. Walking into her den and giving her a big hug, I was once again overcome by an incredible sense of being home in her home. Knowing our visit was to be short, I was particularly keen to soak in every moment of our time together. We did not waste a moment of that visit!

I hit the road for SE New Mexico and a remote gas processing plant. The plant is so remote that for the last 15 miles of the drive the GPS showed me driving in the middle of a field! My cell phone works very sporadically in this area and not at all in the vicinity of the plant. In spite of the remoteness, a group of 15 of us slowly began to arrive from all directions. Once assembled, the meeting began. Here again, I was struck with an incredible sense of being home. Over the years, I have spent so much time in many similar locations. I  am very comfortable in sparse the settings of the oil & gas industry. The group of us was crammed around a fold out table, sitting on folding chairs in a small trailer which is the office/workspace for the plant. I was, of course, the only female in the meeting which is the norm for me. There were several new young engineers in the mix, and the rest were folks I have been working projects with for the last 20 plus years. It was amazing how at home I felt in this environment. It felt like a holy time and holy space.

God has been tugging on my heart strings this week – the lesson for the week is HOME. I have always thought of my self as a bit of a nomad – a person without a real home. When people ask, “where did you grow up?” or “where are you from?” I don’t have an easy answer. My father was in the Air Force, so my growing up was split between the mid-west, Texas and even Europe. I never really knew how to answer the question properly. Sometimes because of my Irish roots (Donavan), I would just claim Ireland as my home – even though I have never actually been there! The importance of place is so strongly a part of Celtic culture, it just seemed right somehow. This week I have come to realize that I am not a person of no home, but a person of many homes.

My Backyard Garden - Dallas

What my homes have in common is that they are places where I have put down roots, places that welcome me and places that I feel ‘kick-off my shoes’ comfortable in.  Safe places with family, friends, or colleagues who are glad to see me when I show up! These are the holy landscapes of my life – sacramental spaces & times where I encounter the Holy Creator of the universe.

And this week, I remembered to give myself the gift of pausing to take it all in. It was a balm for my soul during an incredibly busy week.

And yes, landing at Love Field and heading up the Dallas North Tollway. I was home again, but then I never really left home, did I?

Facebook – Yes!!

This response was written to a blog post on the ELCA women site. Original post Don’t Find Me Facebook by Emily Hansen on Jan 7th 2010:

I must respectfully disagree – what you describe is not the experience that I have had since I joined fb on my b-day this past year. I try to challenge myself every year to try something new, and this past year it was fb. I am so glad I did!

I am single, live in a big city and travel for work. I have found fb to be a great way for me to keep up with friends during the work week. (BTW – I don’t do fb at work. Work is for work.) I am friends mostly with my family, folks from my church, and other friends local and remote. I don’t ‘friend’ people I don’t know and my friends are the same way – so what we post is only being seen by those we select to see it. In addition, you can send a private message directly to a specific person or group of people.

Below are some positive benefits (partial list!):

1) I am once again connected with some friends who moved and am able to interact with them more easily using this medium. I find that when we get together, I feel closer to them b/c while I may not have seen them for a while, we have been keeping up with each other in the interim.

2) I am friends w/my sister-in-law & nieces on fb. I like keeping up with them on more of the small stuff of life. We only see each other 2 times a year, and I had always regretted that I wasn’t more in tune with their daily lives. When my niece graduated this past May, they put a few pics up w/in a couple of hours! It meant so much to me to feel more connected to the celebration in real time.

3) My son is on staff at a church and has informed the church office of 2 deaths in church members families b/c he is connected to the families via fb.

4) I lead a small group and have set up a group w/in fb so that I can send messages that go only amongst the group. We can continue our discussion with each other throughout the week by posting comments on our studies. We are able to continue to function as a small group throughout the week!

5) I have seen an outpouring of love to people who have lost loved ones on fb.

I believe that fb provides a unique way to be community. As Christians, when we participate, then it becomes Christian community. As the church, I think that we need to be open to the fact that our society is no longer one in which all communication happens homogeneously. No, we live in an age where the means of communication are myriad. As the church, I believe we honor others when, instead to telling them how we will communicate with them, we ask them how they prefer to be communicated with and then communicate with them in their preferred manner. For some this will be via traditional methods: phone calls, newletters and the like. For many others it will be via text message, Facebook or Twitter. This is certainly an exciting time!

Emily why don’t you at least try Facebook and then write another post based on your actual experience? I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

Social Media Pastor

I have been amazed at the way Christian community expands and develops through the use of social media, i.e. facebook, tweeter, … Here is an interesting article on the subject: Does your Church have a Social Media Pastor?

For All the Saints

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before for us. (Heb 12:1, NRSV)

I am grateful to be a member of a liturgical church, with its’ liturgical calendar that marks the seasons and feasts of the church. Today we remember the saints, those glorious giants of the faith in our lives who have gone on to their heavenly home. Individuals whose lives provided glimpses of God and God’s grace in our lives. Today I especially remember those who have been instrumental in my faith growth, and my heart fills with a special gratitude when I remember the gifts that they bestowed upon me.

Linda who walked through the dark days of my divorce with me, who carried my hope in trust for me, who always reminded me that I was God’s beloved, who encouraged me to hang in there and trust that it would get easier, who was only as far away as a phone call and who listened, really listened and cared, really cared. Linda – God with skin and bones on. Linda who had walked my path and was willing to serve as a guide on my painful journey. Linda who chose to share her deep, beautiful faith with me. Linda who claimed to be sharing only what she had first been given and whose only request of me was that I do the same once I was able.

Marshall who walked with me as I struggled with my sense of call. Marshall who was willing to listen as I moved from denial (surely not me, Lord, I must be getting my signals mixed up somehow here). Marshall who was willing to listen as I moved to allowing myself to be slightly open to the possibility of a call (okay, I’ll pray about it and I’ll try to be open – while secretly hoping that I was not being called). Marshall who listened as I slowly came to see that I was being called and the awesome wonder that flooded my heart at this revelation. Marshall who was able to trust the process and allow me to move at my pace (very, very slow!), thereby enabling me to begin to trust the process and to continue to stumble along the path set before me. Marshall who offered only gentle encouragement with nary an ‘I told you so’ when I veered off of the path and like Jonah headed headlong for Tarshish and the belly of the whale. Marshall who was willing to share honestly his call and his resulting journey. Marshall a gentle, giant of the faith.

Blessings Linda, my spiritual mother! Blessings Marshall, my spiritual father! Thank you both for standing with me in the midst of the storms of my life and holding my hand. Thanks for showing me God’s love and allowing me to see myself in your eyes as the beloved of God.

Oh, how I miss your physical presence in this world – your smiles, your hugs, your laughter. Oh, how I remember you both as we kneel at the communion rail this morning and join together in the communion of all the saints! Greetings!

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you, and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (BCP, pg 245)