Friday, March 30, 2012

Between Bend and IAH

I took a pre-Holy Week trip to see my son and his wonderful family in Bend, Oregon.  Being with them is always bliss, and I got a lot of very good grandma time with Austin Jack.

While I was there, I gave my son, Jacob, his star from the Sixty Star Project.  Giving Jacob his star was for far more than the gift of having him as my son.  Jacob's life has been full of blessings as well as blessings in disguise, and I am in awe of the kind of man, father, and husband he has grown up to be.

As I watched him be an extraordinary father to his son, I was reminded of all that I have learned by observing him being a son. Our family had become inactive in church when I became pregnant with Jacob.  Because I didn't want to be the kind of family that only shows up on a baptismal Sunday and is never seen before of after, it was in anticipation of his baptism that we returned to church.  It was in returning to church to be a good parent for Jacob that I heard my own adult call to serve God as a leader in Christ's church.

I am also very mindful of all that I learned about my own relationship with God, our Heavenly Parent (more than a Mother and more than a Father; there are no words big enough to name God) by watching Jacob and his father interact.

I can see Jacob in his Oshkosh B'gosh overalls waiting expectantly for his dad to come home from work.  I can picture Jacob running with great joy and delight when he heard the door open and his father come in.  I especially recall that when his father came home, Jacob doggedly followed his dad everywhere he went and never let him out of his sight.  Like any little boy, whatever his dad did, Jacob wanted to do, too.

Isn't that what we can offer God, our Parent in Heaven?
To wait expectantly for God at all times?
To greet God with wild love and excitement when we encounter God?
To never let God out of our sight?
To model our own actions as a reflection of what we have seen God do, particularly as revealed through Jesus?

As we walk this Holy Week, may we never let God, our Parent in Heaven, out of view.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fourth week of Lent ponderings

"Leaving his tent to explore......he lost his bearings.  In the absence of trees or landmarks, he was compelled to relearn how to navigate in this new place with different rules. "

                                                               From exhibit notes at Telfair Museum, Savannah, on installation of  Leo Villareal, "Desert of the Real".        

"God is, paradoxically, to be found in the places where God seems the most absent.  In precisely these places, God is at work in unexpected and surprising ways, bringing life and hope from death."
                                                                                  Scott Kershner, Lutheran pastor, quoted in The Christian Century 2/22/12

"To deny oneself is to place Jesus' priorities, purposes, and path ahead of our own;
to take up the cross is to be willing to suffer the consequences of faithful living;
to follow him is to travel to unknown destinations that promise to be both dangerous and life-giving."

                                                              Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, Preaching the Gospel of Mark

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A purple pilgrim path

Before I was a priest, my favorite color was purple.  I loved Laura Ashley clothes and had quite a beautiful variety in all shades of mauve and cerise and lavender and purple.  However, once I was ordained priest, I had to put aside all my lovely purple clothes.  You see, in the Episcopal Church, only bishops wear purple, and I discovered very early days that if I wore something purple, I'd get ribbed about aspiring to be a bishop. So I gave away all of my purple clothes.

Of course there was Lent every year.  During Lent, purple became fair game for everyone.  I still chose not to wear purple outside of worship because little remarks would be made.  Priests never want anyone to think they are "running" for bishop.

Three years ago, however, dioceses started contacting me about being in bishop election processes.  I had served delightedly in my home parish of St. Mary's for over ten years, and truth be told, I had no desire to serve in any other parish.  Truth be told, yet again, people had been approaching me for about five years about considering being a bishop, and so this time I said, "Why not?" and entered into those processes with some fear and trembling.  Truth be told, yet again, in the most private piece of my heart, I had a sense of call, of yes, being called to serve Christ's Church as a bishop.  Or at least being willing to serve Christ's Church as a bishop.

I was a candidate in one diocese and a very near candidate in another and figured I was done.  When my own diocese called for the election of a bishop suffragan, I pretty much paid it no mind--I didn't want to put my parish through another episcopal search process and, anyway, my diocese already had a woman suffragan--what likelihood was there that they would elect a second?

But then people started approaching again.  People who I respected alot and people who certainly saw me in a way I didn't see myself.  I threw up obstacle after obstacle to God for over six months, but finally knew in my heart of hearts that if I were to be obedient to God, I had to allow my name to be put forth as a candidate.

So part of what I'm doing on this Lenten retreat in Tybee is spending time in prayer and reflection and writing answers to the questions posed for the diocesan search process. When I get back home, I'll tell the parish that once again, to be obedient to God, I have to walk this purple pilgrim path.  It's  not a career move.  It's not something that I aspire to do.  It's simply a yes to God.