Tuesday, June 26, 2012


In the morning, I read the day's psalm.  Sometimes, there is written "selah" at the end of the verse, as in:

Psalm 4:4-5
When you are disturbed, do not sin; 
   ponder it on your beds, and be
             silent.                      Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
   and put your trust in the Lord.

My New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV), the commentary indicates:
"selah - a Hebrew term, of unknown meaning, appearing in only the psalms (and psalmic Hab 3).  Often separates subunits of psalms, and is mot likely a musicological technical term."

In one person's blog, I read that this word is used, "...to denote pausing in order to reflect,...It is in those places of “selah” that we get perspective of all that is going on around us. Perspective is like being in the eye of a storm – the place of peace and stillness where we can get clarity."

It seems appropriate that I have encountered this word so often recently.  I recognize that my life is in a "pause" space.  That's not necessarily bad or good - it just is.  As I reflect, take perspective, and pray, it seems that selah has something to teach me.  In this moment, it is "of an unknown meaning" for sure and seems to indicate a separation of subunits - between stories, between ministries, between times. 

I'm showing up, in this moment, to selah.  Sounds like a breath.  Breathing in. Breathing out.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I visited a new-to-me church this last week.  It's something that every member of every church needs to do at least once a year.

The church I visited is an historic church in the historic city of this historic region.  If I remember my Episcopal Church History, it was one of the first churches planted here on this continent.  This church has welcomed people through it's hallowed doors for hundreds of years. The historic courtyard was before me, with the historic parish hall and chapel across the way.  The map of the campus indicated that I was in front of the main sanctuary.  Okay, I was in the right place.

I arrived early, since I was unfamiliar with the space.  I stood at the covered patio area, near what I could figure was the entrance to the sanctuary.  I saw two doors, one going into a room to the north, and one just caddy-corner.  Neither door had a sign on it and the few women milling about were talking amongst themselves about picking up their packet of mustard seeds.  I simply stood there for a few minutes to get the lay of the land.

Soon, an "usher" (his name tag) emerged from the caddy-corner door.  Usher distractedly looked at a tourist with his camera in hand who was asking questions and distracting the mustard seed women.  As Usher stepped out, I leaned in, "May I go in, now?" He seemed to suddenly see me and replied, "Oh, yes, please come on in."  I was unsure what I might find.  When I saw the beautiful historic sanctuary with box pews and a few other people praying silently while waiting for the service to begin, I quickly realized this was my chance to ask, "May I have a bulletin?"  He seemed surprised that I asked, and replied, "Oh yes, here you go."

Inside, I found a box pew with a silver plaque, which said that this pew (historically) was for "Churchmen and strangers."  I felt like a stranger, so I chose this one box pew.  I'm pretty sure that Jesus would have been in this pew, too.   

It occurred to me that during the whole service, I felt like a stranger.  Oh, I knew the liturgy and belted out the hymns and spoken prayers with joy.  However.... not one person asked me my name or why I was there or seemed interested in visiting with me.  Don't get me wrong.  To me, the church/parish seemed to be an active parish,offering a lot of outreach and education activities. I liked the expansive language used for the Divine and felt inspired by the two women presiding and preaching. 

I wonder, how will this church remain vibrant, if strangers are not made into friends?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why I Wake Early

This is the juicy time of day. Early morning.

Even in this transition-place between "Commencement" and commencing, between "Ordination" and serving as one ordained, between potential and actuality, I rise early.  It's not just because the cat leaps on my belly ("ooomph!"), or because the dogs in the upstairs apartment clomp around the hardwood floor, or because over-hydrating all day means I have to pee.  I'm not sure, exactly, why I rise early. But I do.

But when I do, I am rewarded with delicious silence, to sit with God. Pray. Read. Breath in, breath out. 

I think Mary Oliver has it sorted out....

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety--

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light--
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Why do you wake early?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Remember the poor

I took a deep breath at the supermarket counter.

The woman in front of me was using her WIC check to purchase groceries.  Her little boy, tucked into the shopping cart, was wiggling about and happily chewing on a toy (like he'd been here before).  The new-ish cashier asked her colleague several times how to code the groceries and how to account properly for them.  

Over her shoulder, I glanced the WIC image (not looking too closely, hoping to preserve at least some modicum of dignity for the woman shopper). I saw that the check outlines the "approved" groceries, in the "approved" quantities.  The trouble was, the container-quantities listed on the check did not match the quantities in which the item was sold in the store.  The WIC check said something like "20 oz of corn flakes" but the store only sold boxes of corn flakes in 10 oz sizes.  This created havoc for the new clerk - "Do I change the quantity sold or change the per-item price?"

I realized how being poor, using WIC funds to eat, means giving up your time, your dignity, your sense of privacy.  The shopper (and the rest of us in line) had to wait while the store figured out how to "deal" with this situation.  The loud discussion back and forth between cashiers meant that her purchases and her situation became public knowledge.  Several people at the end of the line quickly went to other queues.

I took a deep breath and chose to stand there, with the woman.  Although I did not speak her language, we exchanged looks that translated something like empathy for the situation, the time it was taking, the embarrassment of it all.

I don't know.  It just made me think and to remember people who are poor in my prayers.
How am I poor today?

Mark 10.21:

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Read the sign

The parking lot attendant took our time-stamped ticket.

He examined how many minutes we had been inside the market, saw that it was under 30 minutes, and raised the gate.  As he did so, he mumbled under his breath, and shook his head. "People are so stupid. Why doesn't she just read the sign!  It says right there," and then yelled at the poor woman who was approaching him, saying "What?"

"I said, the hours are posted right there!! Read the sign!" Apparently the woman wanted to know how long the parking lot was open.  The hours were posted on a sign just at the entry way to the underground garage.

His anger fueled in me both an angry response ("don't be so mad at her, she probably just couldn't see the sign and Lord knows, I would have done exactly the same thing") and an empathetic response ("poor guy probably gets that question about a dozen times a day; he must be so tired of people asking).  Sometimes when I am at the end of my patience rope, I snap at people for their actions which are innocently performed.  My spiritual practice, however, is to try to remember (with God's help) that I, too, have been in their shoes and usually without much prompting can understand their silly actions.  I've begun to say to myself, "People are so funny!" instead of critiquing.

Which got me thinking.  I wonder how often God puts out a sign for me. 

DO THIS!! BE THAT!! reads the sign.  But I don't see it.  I'm distracted by the car behind me, honking it's horn.  Or by the cute little girl in her glittery outfit with silly wings on it.  Or by ... well, any number of bazillion things.  I don't see the sign. 

Thankfully, because God is God, God never yells at me for being stupid.  I imagine God just takes a big deep breath and says, well, I'll show her that sign in another place. 

thanks, God!

Enjoy this poem about God's acceptance of my silliness.  

God Says Yes to Me

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Now. Now. Now.

My blog is called "Showing Up To The Moment" because so often I struggle to do so.

Sometimes, I'm not "here." I regret not being "there" or look forward to being "somewhere else."  This spiritual practice of blogging calls me back here. Now.  What is in this moment that speaks to me? That repulses me? That infuses me? What is happening now?

In preparing for my ordination, I reflected on my sister's blessing, offered at a phone call's end.  One of us says, "well, I need to go now" and the other offers, "Okay, be free!"  It's a paradox that we enjoy chatting on the phone but feel drawn to be somewhere else. That is how ordination feels - I want to be here, in conversation, now, and also want to be moving, on a journey, following Jesus. 

This hymn from the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 captured, for me, this powerful paradox of being in the moment and also being on a journey.  The hymn, called "Now the silence," was written by Jaroslav J. Vajda.  In descriptive hymn's bio with the tune playing in the background, Vajda summarizes how we, sel­dom come with a buck­et large enough to catch all the show­er of grace that comes to us in that set­ting. Here is a link to a YouTube video of a parish choir singing the hymn in a soft jazz setting.

333. Now the silence Now the peace

Now the silence
Now the peace
Now the empty hands uplifted
Now the kneeling
Now the plea
Now the Fathers' arms in welcome
Now the hearing
Now the power
Now the vessel brimmed for pouring
Now the Body
Now the Blood
Now the joyful celebration
Now the wedding
Now the songs
Now the heart forgiven leaping
Now the Spirit's visitation
Now the Son's epiphany
Now the Father's blessing

I'm showing up, in this moment, now now now, with God's help.

Welcome to the journey.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I bind unto myself today

I memorized the opening verse, that's all that would stick.

I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in one and one in Three.

"Sing it loud and sing it from your heart," the Bishop advised me...

And so, with a lightness of breath seeking to hold the moment still, I sang the hymn "St. Patrick's Breastplate" from my heart of hearts.  By the time I reached my place in the front pew, the sixth verse (with it's alternate tune and rhythm) prayed me into being present in that moment:

Christ be with me, Christ within me, 
Christ behind me, Christ before me, 
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I'm taken by the sense of mutuality - my vowing to bind unto myself God's strong name of the Trinity.  Just trying to write this causes me to tremble and I recall the last line of the sermon, "Can you begin to believe the confidence God has in us?"