Other lands – an Independence Day reflection

160512_WeThePeopleHappy 4th of July – Independence Day. Today I am thinking about freedom. And yes, I am one of those people who vehemently dislikes patriotic songs at church. *shudders* The Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic – absolute no. America the Beautiful – maybe.  If there is to be singing on or around a national holiday, I will always go with Finlandia, also known as (among other things) “This is My Song.”

Ironically, the song was written in a burst of Finnish nationalism by composer Jean Sebelius in the late 1800’s in response to the encroachment of the Russians. Here we are in 2017, with our bursts of nationalism somehow fused with the encroachment of the Russians, but I digress, and that’s another post for another day.

In any case, the words sung to Continue reading

Retreating

Breathe_YouAreOnlineNo – I’m not retreating in the sense that I’m going away. It just seems that way because I have not had much to say out here. Anyway, as you know, I’ve been busy in my garden and doing other things. The weather is crazy and politics are crazy and everything seems crazy – but my garden, that’s another story.

It seems to me that in the face of the rapid fire bad news – for example, on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 approximately 30 people were shot in the United States – that we might all do well to not be as fully immersed in the torrent that is social media. And I say that as someone often on social media.

As I was pondering this, I came across this information from my friend Jane Redmont, and I thought that I would share it with you all. Imagine if we got on our computers NOT to be on social media, but to take a class or an online retreat? Jane has some summer offerings that I am considering, and that I would urge you to consider as well.

DorothyDayIconNine Days with Dorothy Day is an online retreat that begins this Friday, June 16. You log on daily at your convenience, total time would be about 20 minutes a day. That is 20 minutes not on Facebook or Twitter, and not seething over the news. That is 20 minutes a day spent with someone who dedicated their life to peace and justice. You can find out more and sign up at this link: Nine Days with Dorothy Day

bonhoefferJane is also starting up an excellent online class – especially made for these times. Bonhoeffer in His Times and Ours will begin on Monday, June 19. This is a 5 week online class with a retreat option. Many of us have read, reread, and spent time with Bonhoeffer of late, and this is an exceptional opportunity to dive in deep. Once again, your sign on time is your own to manage. Details about what your time commitment will be and more can be found at this link: Bonhoeffer in His Times and Ours

Later in June and July there will be some new offerings focusing on:

*William Stringfellow
*Howard Thurman
*Ada María Isasi-Díaz
*Dorothee Sölle

Visit Jane’s site to get information on these online retreats, plus others about social media and slowing down. You can contact her with questions, and to explore financial options.

Going away does not always mean travel, sometimes it might mean quiet time on your deck or in a coffee shop during a busy day. Give yourself a gift or two by signing up. May we all turn inward, so that we might shine outward, being a light for the world.

Blessed among women – by Susan Grunder

(Another guest post today, from Susan Grunder. We actually celebrated the Visitation yesterday, not today, but I did not get to post this on time. Late? This message is always. timely, and we are grateful for the way Susan has shared it with us.)

Mary_Ely_Cathedral

Mary, Ely Cathedral photo credit Susan Grunder

Today we celebrated the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  How I love to hear the Magnificat proclaimed!  As a grown woman, Mary’s song of liberation, empowerment and grace never fails to move me.  I don’t recall ever hearing it as a child.  The Magnificat is not part of the Rosary or the Angelus.   It is a part of the liturgy of the hours, which pretty much guaranteed me not hearing it as a child.   And that, I think, is ok.  I think I needed more maturity to be able to connect with the power of this prayer of thanksgiving and liberation.   I came to appreciate the Magnificat in graduate school, both as part of prayer and as part of study.  Today, I heard it proclaimed at the 9:00 Mass.

And it was beautiful.  And powerful.  And challenging.

Today I also attended the funeral of an amazing woman who was a mentor to me in many ways.  She was an empowered lay woman in the church, a long time DRE and Spiritual Director, who shared freely the graces she was given and who had an amazing gift for storytelling and listening.  Mary Lou was able to share the workings of God’s grace in her own life and help others identify grace in their own.  She held so firmly to the belief that her ministry in Faith Formation stemmed from her baptism that she kept a framed copy of her Baptismal Certificate on her office wall rather than a copy of her diploma for her MA in Religious Education.  I came to know her by being invited to participate a regular meeting of fellow faith formation professionals who were older and wiser than me.  Those Continue reading

Praying with an old letter – by Linda Berkery

(This is a guest post written by Linda Berkery and based on an experience of her father’s in WWII, and an experience of Linda’s in the present moment. It is quite moving and powerful, I am honored that she would allow me to share this on the blog.  A slightly different version of this ran in The Evangelist. )

Original scan at 300 Dad facing outMemorial Day arrives between the last Sunday of Easter and Pentecost this year. But when I reflect on Memorial Day, I must go all the way back to Lent. A priest friend suggested that I look for surprises and trust that God would show me something new. I followed his advice, and the Lord led me on a journey of the heart to Denmark.

envelope at 300My father, Bill Styles, died in March 1975, and every March I sort through his papers. This year I found a fragile envelope tucked away at the back of his journal.
Four photos fell out. Photos dated 1943. My heart jumped when I saw my father wearing torn clothing, leaning on a boat rail, strong waves pounding in the background. These were photos from the rescue.

“I remember you very well.” Those five words from a stranger flew Continue reading

Memorial Day

timthumbI was not going to post today because Monday holidays are not big blog days, but I am going to offer a few words about Memorial Day.

Born in the late 50’s, I was very aware of the Vietnam War as a kid. My parents shouted things like “Give ’em hell!” or “Beat those Commies!” or “America, love it or leave it!” They were no fans of peace protestors because WAR meant defending AMERICA. Now in fairness to my parents, both now of blessed memory, they came of age at other times, and they also truly appropriated the fear and hatred of communism that we associate with that time. I am by no means suggesting Continue reading

Going up, not taking sides

lamottA short Ascension post featuring the words of Anne Lamott. Apparently her priest friend said them to her, but since they were in her book, they kind of became hers. It doesn’t matter, it is simply true – no matter which “side” you are on. Having said that, diving deeply into God by letting go of our own images, symbols, desires, transference, projection, and more, at least to the best of our ability, is pretty key in this.

Simply put, it is pretty dangerous to assume that God takes sides. Especially when they all end up being yours.

hectorWhen Jesus ascended he reminded everyone that the Spirit would come. When Jesus ascended he was pretty clear that he would always be with us in that way. When Jesus ascended he said nothing about whose side he was on because there is only one side in this – God’s side. If you think that is about preserving your own life, it might be a good time to go back and revisit how we got to the Ascension in the first place, that whole cross and dying thing. I know I need to review it pretty regularly, because no matter what I might write or how I might sound out here, I know almost nothing other than that each day I simply must start anew.giotto_ascension