Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lenten Retreat: A cold winter day

I can forget that it's still winter, when my air conditioner has been running occasionally since January with Houston's too frequent eighty degree days. With a wind chill below thirty degrees here on Tybee Island this morning, it was a good day to be inside.

A lolling day was just what I needed.  I didn't get up until nearly eight, and I spent the first hours of the morning reading and praying.

I had one project to work on while I am here.  Women Touched by Grace is a program for women clergy of which I have been part--first as a participant, and then twice as a facilitator.  Originated by a small group of women clergy in conjunction with the women religious of Our Lady of Grace Monastery, this ministry is a unique opportunity for women clergy to be in community and conversation with the sisters of the monastery.

The first three groups were funded through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment.  For the past two years, I have been part of a group of women who have been working to secure long term funding for the ministry.  We have received ongoing financial pledges from all sixty-eight clergy women who have been part of Women Touched by Grace; we WTBG-ers, in turn, are inviting others to be part of a longterm financial effort called Circle of Grace.   Earlier this year, the Lilly Endowment invited us to apply for a grant that would assist us in securing additional generous funding.

This morning was the time I'd set aside to write my part of the grant. I am passionate about supporting clergy, particularly women clergy, and it was a fine way to spend a part of my Lenten retreat.

The high winds ceased late this afternoon, and bundled up, a beach walk was finally possible.  I've walked the beach on Tybee hundreds of times.  It's not a spectacular beach, but it's a perfect place for a Lenten retreat.

I've loved the slow day.  When my friend and I went to the local IGA after our walk for groceries, we saw that the local food bank is having a large distribution next week; we'll be going back to buy nonperishables to donate.

Tonight I funded number #8 of the 24 Project, my thank you gift for my twenty-four years of ordained ministry which I'm  celebrating by giving twenty-four $100 gifts to ministries chosen by  twenty-four folks who have joined me on my journey.

This time I gave in thanksgiving for my spiritual director, Sarah, a remarkable woman who has walked with me in both joyful and sorrowful times and has helped me stay on God's path.   She asked that I give to Life Houston, an organization that provides food for infants.  $100 feeds an infant for one month.

Full from a delicious dinner of local fish and chips, a pint of ice cream ready for me to enjoy, I am sobered by the local statistics on the Life Houston website:   26 percent of children in Harris County are food insecure, and Houston is second in the nation for food insecurity in children.   God of enough, what would you have us do?

The sun is going down over the marsh.  A freeze is expected tonight.  I am once again aware of what a woman of great privilege I am.  I am surrounded by beauty.  I have a warm, safe place to sleep.  I have more food than I need and an abundance of clean water.  I have a suitcase full of clothes.  I have people who love me and who pray for me and are there to offer support whenever I need it.

How does God call me to share God's warmth that pours from my heart?

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