Friday, April 19, 2013

For a day like this

Wendell Berry,

The Peace of wild things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Thursday, April 04, 2013


Yesterday's gift came in the form of an organ recital during the noon hour, with one 37-minute piece on the program.  The experience was musically wonderful, but the surprise was rising from my seat feeling as though I had just been on a short retreat. 

After the recital, two of us stopped for a cup of soup.  When I asked God's blessing upon our meal, I started by giving thanks for hands: hands that played the organ, hands that built the organ, hands that made the soup, our hands that would eat and then return to do the work we have been given to do.

Out on a walk today, I looked at my own hands.  My fists were clenched -- both of them.  It's no surprise that this week is full of stress, for too many reasons to name here.  I had thought I was managing better till I saw my fists.  Sometime during the night, I awoke to find one fist clenched -- even in sleep.

All will be well; the next five days just need to be over soon.  So if you are reading this and happen to be someone that I see in person, it would be okay to remind me to breathe, to check my hands, or both.

Monday, April 01, 2013


In our household, we talk about a favorite kind of exercise: jumping to conclusions.  Who among us doesn't slip into this very human habit?  During Easter weekend, I heard a few of these "jumps" in the form of criticism. It was a big weekend with 452 in attendance for the Great Vigil and Easter morning, and our services went splendidly -- so blessedly well that focusing on small bloopers doesn't appeal to me.   Were the liturgies perfect?  No.  We're humans.

Jumping example: 
HC (Habitual Critic): "The lectors don't know what they are doing.  Someone needs to train them."
RS (Real Story): Today's lector DID in fact attend a recent lector training, but he messed up in a minor way last time, and was therefore nervous to be scheduled again on Easter morning -- when he made the same small mistake.  It's not the case that we don't train, and it's not true that he and others don't care about reading well. 

Second example:
HC: The acolytes don't care about serving anymore.
RS:  Acolytes sometimes serve because a parent forces them to do so, and this seems to me a direct path to helping a young person hate church.  When I see this, I encourage the parent to let the young person take a break -- or even stop serving.  Many of the younger members would love to be at the earlier, more informal service now, alongside their peers.

On the other hand, a few acolytes just love to serve, and one of them served at yesterday's baptism. After talking through the choreography with everyone, I said to E, the acolyte: "When it's time for me to take the baby from her mom, I'm going to hand you my prayer book.  Please keep the book opened when I hand it to you."

E takes this all in, and then says: "What if you hand me the baby instead of the prayer book?" Another priest chimes in: "Then you don't drop the baby!"

The baptism proceeds; I hand E my book and take the wide-awake baby.  When it's time for me to speak the prayer which immediately follows, I see that E has kept the prayer book opened as I had asked, but she holds it exactly as I gave it to her -- now upside down to my eyes.  She gently turns it around and holds it up when asked, and we welcome this marvelous child into the household of God.

Later, I am with E's dad when E says proudly, "Guess what -- I had to hold Raisin's prayer book!"  Her job means something to her.  Joking in the sacristy does not mean that she's not taking church seriously.  Some acolytes do care about what they're doing.  Yes, sometimes they mess up.  Get over it, people!