Friday, August 8, 2014

It's just random.

I wish I could blog about all of the random things that happened today, and it's only 7:00 p.m. There's more time for more random things to happen. It's all pretty much unbloggable, but some of it is funny, including the wanderer who entered the building first thing this morning and proceeded to scope out the place (we found some electronic equipment "fingered")but not before he stopped to use the bathroom. Really? I went to a colleague's farewell reception today, only to discover that I was slated to speak at the formal program prior. Didn't have a clue, and arrived in more casual clothes (but not jeans). Seriously. Had a whole bunch of random encounters today, including someone who was looking for a house, not a workplace, asked if I was "Charlotte" and then showed me a piece of paper with a name and address that was not far away, but not near, however the person's name was not Charlotte. Okay..... Had two cell phone missed calls this afternoon; one was from Jamaica, and while I was trying to reverse lookup the other number, my landline rang and it was my son, calling from that number. He thinks he sprained his ankle because half (???) of the power is off in his apartment and he tripped and rolled his ankle. I'm not sure why he called, because he was already elevating and icing it. I could add no further wisdom, except anti-inflammatories. Sigh.... Two long distance requests for recipes needed soon, strange paraphernalia in the yard, a dog with a drippy eye, and all of the usual spinning and symptoms and complaints at the manse. Now I'm sitting at the church waiting for the terrific Properties elder to come and see about the text he received from another church employee that there's a leak in the hydraulic room for the elevator. It sounds like an intermittent version of the Rainforest Café. This day isn't over. Random count: easily a dozen random things. I have no pithy way to connect this to Jesus or the Church or anything. It's just random. Enough of that. flikr photo by MTSOfan
Here's a review I wrote from a July installment of the Englewood Review of Books.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Long time, no see

I have not blogged here in over a year. Today feels like a good day to begin again, as with so many things. I'm a big fan of Jennifer Boykin, whose work with women and resilience really speaks to my heart. I'm hard at work at getting unstuck: thinking about and being intentional about taking better care of myself so that I can be strong and creative and thoughtful in every area of my life. I think Facebook took up the time that I used to spend reading others' blogs and blogging occasionally myself. Facebook is great, but as one friend wrote, "it's like passing notes in the hallway at school." (Thanks for that image, Katherine Willis Pershey.) I think I'm at a time in my life where I need a little more conversation....a cup of coffee and some musing about books and art and joy. Maybe writing here will help with that. I hardly remember how to add links and photos. Time to try. Time to get back on this reflective horse. Flickr photo by Andy Allan.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Happy anniversary of ordination week!

My friend, Katherine Willis Pershey moderates the Women in Ministry Series. Come and visit! I'm the guest blogger this week! (Whew. I need to return to this blog. I hardly remember how to navigate!!)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mom Thoughts

I love Timothy Egan's writing. His book, The Worst Hard Time, is a remarkable portrayal of the Dust Bowl. This piece from the NY Times tugged at me. My maternal grandmother was born on May 11, 1906. She was a feisty person who loved baseball, politics and good food. My mother did, too. New Yorkers both, my mother and grandmother were passionate women with twinkly eyes and no shortage of opinions on a variety of topics. I was raised by both women and most days, I am the better for having been the recipient of so much love and spunk and wisdom. If apples don't fall far from trees, I am an apple. I am their kin. I am my grandmother and my mother. It has been thirty five years since I've lived in New York. I've been very influenced by the decade I lived in North Carolina and the nearly two decades that I've lived in the Midwest. I still talk fast and walk quickly, but I am a softer version of my New York matriarchs. Over the years, people important to me who did not know my family of origin have called me "fiercely loyal" and "intellectually honest." I treasure those labels because I value what they stand for and they link me with my foremothers, because they were, too. I like that. Timothy Eagan writes that our mothers are the "scrapbooks of our enthusiasms." I like that, too. And I am grateful that, though it has been thirty years since my grandmother's death and only four since my mom's, I am the scrapbook of theirs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Crafting a Rule of Life: A review

Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-Ordered Way
Stephen A. Macchia
InterVarsity Press, 2012
Reviewed for the Englewood Review of Books

I am devouring books on Benedictine practices like they're ice cream flavors at my local store. As one who has explored oblate programs affiliated with Benedictine orders, I am enthusiastic about every opportunity to learn more about the Rule of St. Benedict and the myriad options to put into daily practice the simple, beautiful, practical guidance the Rule offers for the living of our days. Crafting a Rule of Life provides wisdom, guidance, resources galore and beautiful thoughts about living one's faith with integrity, but only provides one of those tiny, pink sample spoon tastes of Benedictine thought.

Crafting a Rule of Life is a very orderly work. Divided into twelve session for groups or individuals, the cover proclaims it to be a "contemporary approach to St. Benedict's Rule." Indeed, there are wonderful suggestions for crafting a rule for a communal way of life, but the bulk of the book is geared toward the personal and only makes passing reference to St. Benedict as it seeks to offer signposts to spiritual reflection and invites some deeper diving into what it means to live one's faith.

Part one, which composes the first five sessions for study, invites us to frame our personal rule of life. Wonderful questions about primary relationships, gifts and talents, desires, longings and core values, a sense of vision and mission are all strong chapters with thoughtful framing questions that would work well in a group or individual study session. One of the strengths of Macchia's book is his ability to weave in a wide array of quotations and references from classic to contemporary theologians, providing a fascinating assortment of conversation starters, sermon illustrations or simply offering food for thought that is nourishing and satisfying.

Part two is entitled "Forming Your Personal Rule of Life." These next five chapters offer clear and practical ways to prioritize one's sense of personal time, trust, temple (meaning physical), financial (treasure), and missional (talent) strategies. Again, while there are only fleeting tastes of commentary about Benedictine thought, there's not shortage of reflection offered from others. Most especially, each lesson has a strong bible study which might prove to be the most effective and interesting part of either a group or individual study. Macchia's style is not overly formal, but it is thorough and detailed. Any middle of the road to conservative theologian would find much food for thought and guidance in these lessons.

Part three is a two chapter section called "Fulfilling Your Personal Rule of Life" and invited the reader or student to commit oneself (or recommit) to a local congregation. Macchia approaches this section with sensitivity and thoughtfulness, gently reminding the reader of the vitality of faith that springs from being connected to and active within a local congregation. So many studies appeal to the reader's individualism and personal journey, but Macchia is thoughtful and consistent in balancing the ten sessions on crafting a personal rule with strong presentations on community life and spiritual practice within the body of Christ.

The final section of the book offers four examples of individuals who have crafted personal rules of life. They're interesting to read, but I imagine that it would be even more interesting to take up this study with a group of friends and acquaintances, with the resulting deepened relationships providing the whipped cream on the sundae.

Macchia's book will be very helpful to individuals and groups who are looking for a study that accomplishes several things in a very balanced way. In Crafting a Rule of Life, students will find probing questions, solid biblical reflection, a really good guide to reformed church history, and a few sprinkles of Benedictine thought. It's easy to imagine Crafting a Rule of Life serving as a wonderful study for those new to the Christian faith or for those who would like to know their own Christian faith more intimately. Easy to read, clearly organized and perfectly adaptable to a variety of settings, Crafting a Rule of Life would be an effective adult education study, seasonal endeavor, or personal exercise in pausing to organize one's thoughts and feelings around a central calling from God. While it provides a taste of Benedictine thought, the Rule of St. Benedict is not the featured flavor of the month. Instead, it is a quiet, historic partner in the background and is accompanied by other classic and traditional flavors meant to provide accompaniment for a modern person of faith's journey.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sally at Eternal Echoes offers this Friday Five:
OK I'll admit it, right now I am exhausted, there is so much going on and so much to do that I fell like I am running around in small circles, add to that the fact that there is so much that I'd like to do ....

What I need to do is give myself permission (make myself) to stop and to refocus, to breath the air and smell the roses to get perspective and to rest in God's presence, and sometimes that can be hard to achieve but I know that the harder it gets, the more essential it becomes. Somewhere deep inside I hear the Spirit whispering to my soul:

Live in me, make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself, but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined to me... (John 15: 4)

So I want to ask you

1. How do you intentionally make a vital daily connection with God? What roots you and gives you life?
I use the Book of Common Worship and pray the lectionary. It's been my practice for the past nine years. I find it fruitful. I also take a daily walk, not always at the same time or in the same place. I find this fruitful, too.

2. Do you have a favourite space/ place that you go to?
For sedentary praying, I can be found in my office. For the walking prayer, I'm all over the neighborhood.
3. Is there a particular passage, phrase or prayer that brings you immediately into God's presence?
Psalm 46:10.
4. Music- essential ingredient or distraction- discuss
Sometimes essential, if that makes sense. I often pray with music in the background, but sometimes appreciate silence.
5. Silence and solitude or engagement with like minded others?
Yes, and yes. I guess I'm an eclectic connector.
Bonus, a poem, piece of inspirational prose or music that speaks to you of that vital connection...
Wendell Berry's sabbath poems.