Friday, January 27, 2017

Epiphany in Taos: Not so Stray Hearts

I woke up in the middle night and had some pondering time. I was pondering the companions I have found traveling to New Mexico each year.  Most, if not all, though people of faith, hope, and love, have no formal connection to a faith community. I'm not certain if any would say they follow Christ. Yet being with them, I find my own faith growing and being deeply enriched. They are always accepting of my faith journey and our conversations are rich.

Having begun the 24 Project here, I gave to organizations that might not have been on my own list yet each organization furthered God's good work.

Project #4 was to Stray Hearts Animal Shelter. I'll be honest. I love animals, but for me, caring for animals is always second to providing for the needs of people.  Yet I know that among God's first words to us in Scripture was a charge to care for all of creation. As I drove the streets of wintery Taos, handmade signs had been placed beside the road reminding folks to bring their animals in for nights that were sub-freezing temperatures.

I gave to Stray Hearts in honor of Pablo and Lydia, owners of The Coffee Apothecary.  Pablo and Lydia opened our new favorite coffee place in Taos only five weeks ago. Not only do they brew the most delicious coffee in town (and some other places, too), what makes this our new favorite is the amazing hospitality.  Smiles and warm personal greetings abound, and after your first visit, they
remember your beverage of choice. We've come at least once each day of our stay.

My heart was moved to tell them about the 24 Project, and a request to give in their honor.  What followed was an beautiful conversation the joy of giving.

Today is my last day in Taos. As we prepare to leave town, we stopped for coffee at the Apothecary. We were greeted by name, and Pablo and Lydia were so hoping to see us before we leave town. They
gifted us with our final cappuccino and latte until the Epiphany trip next year.

For we've discovered a new rhythm.  The quiet of January in Taos fits our travel style far better than the bustle of Advent. It's been a slow and good rest, with time for creativity, friends, and much laughter.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Twenty Four Project: A beginning

As part of my celebration of twenty four years of ordained priestly ministry, I decided to ask some folks who had been important on my journey during this Epiphany visit in Taos who I could support in thanksgiving for them. 

Number 2 of the Twenty Four Project was to Environment New Mexico.

I went to visit Bonnie, a massage therapist, with a gift for healing.   Every year when my very best traveling friend and I come to Taos, her husband graciously pays for the gift of a massage. Bonnie has blessed me each year through her healing hands. 

Environment New Mexico was the nonprofit Bonnie wanted me to support in her honor. This group works for clean water, clean air, and open spaces in New Mexico. As someone who has savored the blue skies and wide vistas of this beautiful state, I am delighted to be part of insuring this for future generations. 

Number Three of the project was to the University of New Mexico's Education Program through the Harwood Museum.  This program inspires Taos area youth to think creatively, particularly underserved children in a population that is 56% Hispanic or Latino and 8% Native American. As someone who is passionate about arts in education and providing excellent educational opportunities for those with less financial resources, I am very pleased to do this.

I gave to the Harwood's Education Program in honor of my friend, Abby.   Abby  is a local artist whose pottery holds the food I eat most everyday. After the flood, I would particularly select pieces of her pottery for my meals as a tangible sign of love and support.  Abby personally knows the great value of arts education, and it is important to her that those opportunities be available for all children and youth. In a time when arts education is too often viewed as an add-on rather than an essential part of a core curriculum, I am grateful to share my abundance to insure funding for children and the arts. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Twenty Four Project

This is one of those days when I can walk through the hours and know exactly where I was twenty four years ago today.

It was an unseasonably cold day in Houston, and I was surrounded by many of the people I loved. I was preparing to be ordained priest in Christ's one holy catholic apostolic Church.

I have received so much more than I could begin to give since I've been ordained. As I went to sleep last night, like an opening montage at the Academy Awards, images of the richness of my experiences these past twenty four years and the people who have invited me to walk with them on their spiritual journies danced through my prayers.

To celebrate those twenty four years of blessings I'm going to create the Twenty Four Project. I've set aside $2400 from my discretionary fund to use as needed to give to twenty four organizations and ministries as the Spirit leads.

To begin my day, I made a commitment to knit prayer shawls for Native American elders.   Joy Moody, at Lupine Fiber Arts in Maine,  started this project after learning that Native elders were literally freezing to death during the winter on our American reservations because of insufficient heat, indoor plumbing, or adequate shelter.

One of the practices my very best traveling friend and I have is to support local outreach ministries in the places we visit. From The Isle of Iona to Tybee Island, Georgia, we've found great joy, and yes, fun, thinking of creative ways to share our abundance.

I can think of no better way to dance and sing my Epiphany in New Mexico.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Epiphany in New Mexico

My annual Advent rest in New Mexico has become an Epiphany journey to New Mexico this year.  One thing and another has made this the season to come for my annual trip.   It is part of discovering new rhythms on my life pilgrimage.

I'm finding myself deeply pondering and needing more time for contemplation than usual as I search to find words for where my heart is.  As I move towards the twenty-fifth anniversary of my ordination and two decades serving as Rector of St. Mary's, I am full of thought.

Last night, my very best traveling friend and I went to see Hidden Figures, an outstanding film about courageous women of color who made a significant difference by addressing issues of racism, education, and human rights through their everyday jobs.

I was particularly mindful as I watched of  those cultural practices portrayed in Hidden Figures  that are now unacceptable yet were all too common in the 1960's. People bravely stood up and said, one by one, in small and not so small ways, that issues of basic justice were at stake.

What issues of justice and peace am I called to say, enough?  On my heart are the many ways that we do not respect the dignity of every living person particularly through the words we choose to use and through the availability of health care, education, and food.  How do I share the abundance I have received?

In Hidden Figures, the women were nourished by their faith communities (and lots of "thank you Jesus-es"), shared meals, laughter, music, and dancing. I'm reminded of a Zimbabwe saying:

If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing. 

As I rest and sing and dance in snowy Taos, I expect I'll return home with clearer discernment.