Readings

Because I am spending more time in a smaller circumference on this vacation, rather than travels hither and yon, I am having time to read.

I started my third book yesterday (!) while waiting for my friend to finish her massage.

On this trip I’ve read:

And now I’m a few chapters into

I love that I can check out ebooks from the library and download them to my iPad. It’s a light weight way to carry a library of possibilities when I travel.

I’m also having more time during quiet mornings to read the myriad of devotions I receive via email and apps each day. All via iPhone.

A daily email, though not one that would be classified as a devotional, almost always gives me deep spiritual pondering. Its from Seth Godin, and this morning’s gave me pause:

Politics is organized sparring about power, without much regard for efficacy or right or wrong.

Governance is the serious business of taking responsibility for leadership.

When we have a chance to speak up for governance we strike a blow against politics.

Dedication, resilience, and concerted effort have saved us before and they can save us again. Except once again, it’s up to us to speak up and do something about it.

These words had me write a letter to myself in my head. I am one of those leaders after all.

If our country was indeed founded in the belief of the unalienable right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,

Do the decisions I make forward life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Not only for me. But most particularly for others?

Am I, a woman of great privilege, willing to give up some of my privilege for others? Or at least share? Or at least work to break down the walls and open the doors that keep those privileges selfishly close?

And it’s so easy for me to see how someone with many guns might harm other’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, what choices do I make that harm someone else’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What about me?

(From the Harwood Museum: Judy Chicago: The Birth Project)

Priority Traveling

When my best friend and I were deciding in July whether or not we could make our trip back to Iceland and the Faroes, part of what we did was imagine all the steps (metaphorically and literally) we’d have to take. We finally allowed reality to meet romance, and we realized that although it was possible for us to go the Faroe Islands, they would be enjoyed more father down her healing road.

And that’s how we came to decide to do a “pilot” trip instead. New Mexico was an easy flight from Georgia and Texas, and we had a wonderful and familiar place to stay.

And that’s how we came to learn about priority travel–the way we can travel when one person has less mobility than she’d like.

There’s priority parking.

Priority chairs on wheels a friend can push when walking a museum is not possible.

Priority gardens out the back door when the circumference of miles usually journeyed becomes feet.

Priority hiking of 70 steps out the front door to see our neighbors, the llamas.

Priority body care including hair cuts, facials, and today, massages.

A day short of a week into our trip, we still have half a tank of gas, most of that used driving from the Albuquerque airport to Taos.

Priority travel has been about listening. Slowing. Asking for assistance. Receiving help. Nearly unceasing prayer. And lots of laughter.

From Agnes Martin’s gallery at the High Museum:

Friendship. Perfect Day.

Sacred spaces

Today I had the gift of starting the day early (time zone difference!) doing FaceTime Live prayers. Usually I’m rushing into the office for prayers. Today I walked out to the casa garden to pray.

It’s a gift to gather with friends across the miles and hold those we love in prayer. Today the bells rang from a church down the street as we began our prayers.

Yesterday, on the way home from an outing, we passed by one of those tiny Roman Catholic churches that are so frequent in New Mexico. Another find only a few blocks from the casa. We stopped, hoping to go inside to pray. Sadly, as is so often the custom, the door was locked.

Sunday on the way to worship at St. James, a man in a tie dyed shirt had approached us as we were getting in our car. He asked us if this was where the overflow parking was for the Hanuman ashram.

Well. No it wasn’t, but it got us curious. After church, we googled “ashram near me,” and discovered there was a Hindu temple one block away. All the years we’ve come here, and I never knew.

We decided to make a stop at the ashram after the pause at the chapel of San Antonio de Padua. I was a bit uncomfortable going into such a strange place. How would people respond to us? What were the rules?

We drove through the gates and parked. It was quiet and peaceful. Yes, taking a breath. It’s more or like monasteries I’ve visited so very often. Of course I can go in.

Remembering to take off my shoes, we walked in. A woman was kneeling before Hanuman-ji chanting a prayer in a language I do not know accompanied by an instrument I did not recognize.

It is a holy place. After our own prayers, we went outside to watch a peahen and a peacock. Other members of the community joined us to watch delightedly with us. One was wafting incense before her. We were greeted with smiles.

As we left, a man was entering to pray. He removed his shoes, rang a bell hanging above the entrance, knelt to touch the threshold, and then reached to touch the transom.

I was thoughtful of the outward spiritual practices that are clearly stated as unequivocal.

Washing before entering the sacred space. Shoes off. Body postures. A meal offered everyday at noon to which all are welcome.

As I walked the path around the temple, two sticks had fallen on the path. In the position of a cross.

What holy, sacred thing is Christ speaking to me here?

Worships on the first day of the week

A gift when traveling on a Sunday is watching for opportunities to worship. For me, even as an introvert, worship always has to have a community piece.

That said, as someone who, even as a nonparochial priest, a Sunday without responsibilities is a rare gift.

So I had a slow morning. Coffee, cinnamon toast, and quiet time in front of the sunflower fireplace. Then off to Coffee Apothecary for public coffee. Okay. And second breakfast.

We met the owners of Coffee Apothecary right when the store first opened. They became among the first of those who received a gift to the charity of their choice for my 24 project—24 gifts of $100 in thankfulness of 24 years of ordained ministry. In talking to them about this gift, I had come out of the closet as a priest. From their response, I’m pretty sure they aren’t part of any worshipping community.

I pray for them every morning I am here (and others times, too). They have a true spiritual gift of hospitality and do such good work serving those who come into their shop.

I’m usually pretty open about saying some word of faith with folks I meet. Something, and I do believe it was the Spirit, gently held me back from telling them I’d prayed for them today. Too churchy. In not a good way. The faith part of our relationship is mainly with actions.

They remind me of so many good and fine people for whom Christianity is not particularly palatable.

We Christians have done this to ourselves.

I’ve been thinking about how much courage it takes to walk into a church for the first time. I’ve been thinking about how insider most churches are. I’ve been thinking about how the only way most folks who don’t have a church will ever have the courage to walk into a church is if someone they trust invites them to accompany them.

It’s why we must seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as Christ loves us.

It’s why we are going to have to reimagine how we are Church and how we do church.

After our visit with our coffee friends, my best friend and I went home to pray some more in our garden at the casa. An invitation had gone out from the Episcopal Church to ring a bell for 5 minutes at 3 PM EDT in remembrance of the arrival of the first slaves in what would become our country 400 years ago today. I knew my friends at St. Mary’s we’re doing so at 2 CDT, and so we joined them in silence (no bell to ring) at 1 MDT after praying prayers for midday.

At 5, we joined our neighbors at the local Episcopal Church for a Healing Service in the style of Taize.

I must say. Yes, I worship in unfamiliar places often, and yet I am always a bit anxious when I go to a new place. Yes. It even takes courage for me to go worship in a place for the first time.

Thankfully parking was clear. The music was lovely, and all the ends and outs of worship were clearly rubriced in the worship booklet. It was a gentle service.

I wondered. Would our coffee shop friends felt welcome? Comfortable? The beauty of the space and the carefully planned liturgy I think would have been holy for them. Still. How would they have even known to be there? It would have taken more relationship than we have for a trusted invite.

I’m wondering.

Oh. This is why people love summer.

For the past twenty five years or so, New Mexico has been a winter destination. Luminarias. Piñon fires. Watching snowflakes dance from the sky. Walks on crunchy snow paths. Cappacinos in front of the fireplace.

I’d forgotten how beautiful New Mexico is in the summer.

Instead of a fire, sunflowers.

A morning spent at the Farmer’s Market loving the sights, conversations, and buying food fresh from farms and bakeries for meals later.

A pleasant walk to visit our neighbors, the llamas.

Meals eaten, inside or outside? Outside, please.

Doors and windows. Open.

And flowers. Ah, the flowers! Everywhere.

A slow trip

The plan had been: a nearly two week return trip to Iceland and the Faroe Islands. In January, sitting at the Coffee Apothecary in Taos, my best friend and I had booked rooms and imagined our itinerary.

Today, when our plan had been to be hiking in west Iceland, my friend and I are sitting once again in the Coffee Apothecary drinking our morning coffee on our way to the Taos Farmer’s Market.

In May, on her way home from a church meeting, my friend’s car was slammed into by a drunk driver. Her car was totaled, and a week later she was unable to walk.

We held on to the trip back to the Faroes as a harbinger of hope. She slowly progressed through the labyrinth of the medical system, and with great courage and persistence, began to move beyond her couch home. A wheelchair. A walker. Then her hiking stick used as a cane.

At the end of July, it became clear that a long trip was not feasible at this time. She and I decided to try an easier trip to a familiar place, back to Taos.

A slow trip. For healing.

On the Wednesday before I left, during the Eucharist at the Diocesan Center, we offered the Sacrament of Healing, I was anointed and prayed for. Not as seriously injured as my best friend, I knew the trip would be a healing trip for both us.

In one of the most beautiful places in the world.

……..Every day I walk out into the world
to be dazzled, then to be reflective.
It suffices, it is all comfort –
along with human love…..

( from Long Afternoon at the Edge of Little Sister Pond by Mary Oliver)

A person who is also a priest

This is my first Holy Week to not be leading a parish in over twenty five years.

It is another new walk as a person who happens to be a priest.

Holy Week began for me on this past Friday. The Mission Amplification Team does an outreach project once a quarter, and on Friday we served lunch at The Beacon, a ministry of the Diocese of Texas with the people who live on the streets of downtown Houston.

We helped finish the preparations for the lunch which was certainly restaurant worthy, and then filled trays as the men and women walked through the line.  I was the last person in the serving line, and the choices I offered were tomatoes, croutons, thousand island dressing, and ranch dressing.  

I had been reminded in my  morning time of prayer that all we meet we treat as Christ, and so I was intentional as I greeted each person– to look them in the eye and smile.  Sometimes we even had time for a brief conversation.

It was Holy Communion.

This morning I went to Palm Sunday worship at my local church.  In the familiarity of the liturgy, there were portions that were different from my last twenty or so years of Palm Sunday liturgy.

I am in new unfamiliar familiar territory.

I am having lunch with friends today, an event I scheduled because I wasn’t responsible for worship.

I’m planning to end the day with Evensong at another local church.

Not in charge, I am walking with Jesus.

This will be a Holy Week.

Making

I’ve been on vacation in Oregon with my family. It’s their Spring Break and so I went to play with the grandboys while their parents worked.

We started the week by making lists of what we most wanted to do this week. We called our week “anything can happen,” and we knew there would be good surprises in store.

Here’s the list written by the grandboys, a third grader and kindergartener. Number ones had been accomplished before I could copy the list:

Anything can happen wEEK

2.Tell story

3.Cook a lots’o stuff

4.GET NEW 🐱

5.DECORATE EASTER EGGGGGGGGGS

6.SEE DUMBO 🐘

Vanilla cake 🎂 💸

SFPILS

COOKING STUFF

2. 1 INGREDIENT BANNA ICE CREAM🍌🍦

3. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE🍓🎂

4.WAKCY CAKE🤪🎂

5.EVERYDAY PANCAKES🥞

6.MASTER RECIPE FOR BISCUITS AND SCONES

7.CAKE IN A SHOEBOX 🎂👞📦

We’d already made cookies,

slime,

and seen a movie

before I’d had time to make a copy of our list (Austin loved removing items as we checked them off).

The boys not being in a church that observes Lent, we also engaged in some Easter preparations.

Egg dying,

card making,

and decorating.

Later in the week Austin had added “spills” to the week. We had lots of laughter and laundry with our unending clumsiness.

Nighttime was spent sharing a bed. Once again I was a grandma sandwich. This time we had the addition of a new cat, Alley Cat, who enjoyed sleeping on my head and giving love bites and licks throughout the night.

Before sleep, the reading aloud was now done by the boys, both good readers. I made up stories, and we always ended with prayers–an adapted Ignatian Examen followed by Compline. When I asked Austin when he’d felt closest to God, he’d reply, “I always feel close to God.”

Before I left today, Jonas and I were looking at our photos of our anything can happen week, and he titled each of the photos. Most of them he named, “Making.” Yes, we did a lot of making this week, and the best making of all was the relationship kind of making:

Memories and connections with one another that are one of God’s very best gifts to us.

I am so very grateful to have a job with vacation days and the financial resources to see my very far away family at least once a season.

I do not take it for granted.