A Charge for the New Tasks & New Year at Hand

Yesterday I had the privilege of offering the benediction at the conclusion of the Council of the District of Columbia swearing in ceremony. I offered these words as a charge for the new tasks & new year at hand:

 

Mayor Bowser, Council Members, Commissioners, honored guests, & all of you here:

 

If you are able, I invite you to take the hand of the person next to you or touch their shoulder.

 

-May the human bond between us guide you as you make decisions that will impact DC residents & beyond.

-May the Inner Light guide you as you seek to better the world by bettering DC.

-May the Inner Light empower you to lead faithfully & make wise decisions based on justice, mercy, & love above personal convenience.

-May you promote an agenda of peacebuilding & cooperation, especially with people you don’t like.

-May you tend to your holistic wellness- mind, body, & spirit- as intently as you tend to your civic & professional responsibilities.

-May we the people, all people, come together in harmony to form a more perfect union.

-May God bless you & keep you. May God’s face shine upon you. May God be gracious to you & give you peace.

 

Shalom, Salaam, Peace to all.

 

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Make Basil Great Again

While in seminary I had a pet basil named Basil the Great. I picked him up at the local farmer’s market one Saturday and repotted him on the wrap around porch of my cottage. He thrived and became quite large with very little attention which worked well for my very minimal gardening knowledge. I harvested him multiple times to make bowls of pesto and top homemade pizzas with fresh basil leaves. The sacrifice brought delight to my table. Eventually Basil the Great died during freezing weather.

 

I think back to those days with nostalgia. I have even attempted to recreate another Basil the Great here in Maryland on the patio of my basement apartment with the same strategy and plan- minimal intervention, sunlight, natural rain, etc. I have successfully killed at least 5 different basil plants in the past year. What worked well previously does not necessarily work well now. My home and climate are significantly different. I continue to experiment with different soils and amounts of water, sunlight, etc.

 

I continue to experiment with the hopes of having a stable and thriving basil plant again. The only way this will be possible is by trying new things. 

 

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” [Ecclesiastes 3:1]

 

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Disorienting Wonder

Working my way down

The long, long dark corridor

Hoping, praying, dreaming

 

Knocking on tall doors

Short doors

Antique, modern doors

Mirrored doors

Moated doors

 

Gentle knocks?

Forceful knockers

Running starts

Failed picked locks

 

Down, down

The corridor

When finally

A squat door of Mary’s cerulean

Opens with persuasion

Darkness deeper than the corridor

But the door opened

 

The only way in

Kneeling

Sliding on knees

Sliding, sliding

Falling, falling

 

Like Alice into fearful wonder

Slightly unhinged

Thud landing

Disoriented wonder

 

Standing up for once

On steady cobblestone

A new, long, colorful corridor

Single door at the end

Cracked open

Shining, glowing, calling

 

I open the door

Mezuzah intact

Entering into Twilight Space

Crossing over

Through the threshold

A whole new world

 

From black and white

To blinding Technicolor

From Pleasantville

To a truer reality

 

There you are

Queen of my Heart

Welcoming me to The Table,

Inviting  me to taste and see

 

Calling me

Closer, closer

Breast of milk

Breath of honey

 

“Welcome, beloved

Come

Stay

Sit

A while”

 

Releasing coat and baggage

Into your care

Wearing new hats

 

We sit

 

We exhale

 

Together

 

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Grief Unspeakable: Mary Did You Know?

Grief Unspeakable: Mary Did You Know?

 

Mary, were you angry

At the crowd of healed people

Who shouted with severe amnesia?

 

Mary, were you silent

As Jesus cried out

Or did you cry out too?

 

Mary, did you think

That you lost your son

Like that fateful youth Temple day?

 

Mary, did you know

That Jesus was always found

And in God’s care even during death?

 

Mary, did you know

That grief and silence could be holy

Even then, even now?

 

Mary, did you know

That your little Lamb

Would become a Savior-Man?

 

Mary, did you keep

Sabbath that silent Saturday

Or did you busy your hands nervously?

 

Mary, were you proud of your son

Or were you shamed

As He died a criminal’s death?

 

Mary, were you alone

With people all around

Yet no one who understood?

 

Mary, do you remember

Jesus’ limp arms and legs

Pale skin and dried blood brow?

 

Mary, do you remember

When and how they laid Jesus’ body

In the dark, isolated tomb?

 

Mary, did you sleep

From traumatic exhaustion

Or did you pace the floor praying for sunrise?

 

Mary, were you confused

When you arrived at the tomb

Stone rolled away,

Something new to say,

Starting a new day?

 

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Sophia & Pax

I rise before the sun rises

under a full moon

the verdant forest

with layers of green & brown

rain like grace

so that the forest sighs in relief

 

Two owls in the near distance

distinct hooooo patterns

calling to me and the messy forest

insistently getting louder

a love-love tennis match

calling to one another

 

Sophia says be strong

protect yourself, be strong

 

Pax says be strong

protect yourself, be strong

 

Sophia says you’re so close

you’ve come this far, be careful

 

Pax says you’re so close

you’ve come this far, be careful

 

Sophia says wait! listen!

it gets better, be patient

 

Pax says wait! listen!

make it better, be patient

 

Sophia says watch your step

the end is near, be quiet

 

Pax says watch your step

the end is near, be honest

 

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Grieving Summer: A Havdalah

For many people, summer is a type of Sabbath- a slower pace, vacation, more interaction with neighbors as the warm weather invites people outside, a deliberate pause between academic years. Even people whose lives do not operate solely on an academic semester calendar sense the changes that summer brought and the changes that fall brings as fewer children play outside, the probability of getting a school zone speeding ticket increases [oops!], teary eyed parents send kids off to college, changes in church programs, and a remarkable increase in clothing and lunchbox sales.

 

With every change there is grief.

 

Some changes are smaller with less pronounced grief. Some changes are larger with more pronounced grief. Some people, whether children or adults, may feel excited while others may feel overwhelmed and anxious about upcoming changes that a new season and a new school year brings. Giving spiritual attention to this important annual transition will help make the experience more centered and meaningful.

 

St. Ignatius of Loyola writes on examen prayer in The Spiritual Exercises, a time of spiritually reflective prayer characterized by considering pairs of opposing questions. Examen is typically used at the end of a certain time period such as at the end of a day or week. This examen process is an invitation to reflection and processing with a particular focus on how one experiences God and the spiritual life in daily life. Here are some helpful questions during the summer to fall transition for adults and children:

 

When did I most experience God this summer?

When did I least experience God this summer?

 

When did I feel most connected to [myself, mom, dad, God, church, etc.]?

When did I feel least connected to [myself, mom, dad, God, church, etc.]?

 

For what am I most thankful for this summer?

For what am I least thankful for this summer?

 

Select 1 pair of questions for consideration. Take a few moments for quiet and unhurried reflection between each question. Some people find journaling a response, or looking through pictures as a reminder for what all happened during the given time period of reflection, or even hearing the questions then responding to them later to be helpful. After considering a pair of questions and responding to them, ask for God’s continued presence, grace, and guidance throughout the next time period- whether day, week, semester, etc.

 

Havdalah is a prayer to conclude Sabbath, the particular period of ceasing from work and focusing on restfulness each week in Jewish tradition. The liturgy of Sabbath begins with Kiddush, a blessing, on Friday night, continues with time shared with loved ones, and concludes with prayers. The wisdom behind havdalah is that even transitions can be remembered as sacred time.

 

A havdalah to conclude summer Sabbath:

Blessed are You, Lord, Creator of all and giver of every good gift.

Lord, thank You for changing seasons and new opportunities.

 

May I/we always be thankful to learn new ideas.

May I/we always be thankful to lead in new ways.

 

May the water of the water fountain remind me/us of fun summer swimming.

May the traveling to and from school remind me/us of summer travels.

 

May seeing apples at school remind me/us to taste and see that You are good.

May packed lunches and sandwiches remind me/us of Your Communion.

 

May the colorful faces of students and teachers remind me/us of Your love for all people.

May the weight of backpacks remind me/us that You share heavy loads with me/us.

 

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For more on Sabbath practices check out Every Person’s Guide to Shabbat by Ronald Isaacs, and Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. For more on prayer and examen with children check out Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by Dennis Linn.

 

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Want Ad

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

 

Want Ad

Wanted- a church that says it is welcoming

And actually is

 

Wanted- a church not color blind

But kaleidoscope embracing

 

Wanted- a church that is humbly proud of itself

And has reason to be

 

Wanted- a church not elitist

But makes space for every income & education

 

Wanted- a church that takes in the community as brothers and sisters

And not a colony to be conquered

 

Wanted- a church more interested in being kind than right

 

Wanted- a church with love to show

Not something to prove

 

Wanted-a church not worshipping patriarchal idols

But welcoming all as equals

 

Wanted- a church affirming

Not just tolerating

 

Wanted- a church that absorbs confusion

Offering gentle guidance and ready ear

 

Wanted- a church not exclusive

But radically inclusive

 

Needed- a church as welcoming as Jesus was, and is, and ever will be

Amen.

 

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