Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Twenty Four Project: Labyrinth Walk

One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to find and walk labyrinths.  There is a great website that helps you locate labyrinths near you.  I'm still hoping that one day (soon!) we'll build a labyrinth at St. Mary's, and I'm always curious about how communities create labyrinths--there is a world of materials and designs.

On my trip to North Carolina, I found five labyrinths to walk in two days:
  • Outdoors beside the Stations of the Cross at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
  • Outdoors at the Cancer Hospital of University of North Carolina Health Care (where I prayed for those fighting cancer, their health providers, and those who love and support them)
  • Outdoors at another Episcopal Church in Chapel Hill that had been built as a scout project ten years before and not maintained; I could only walk to it, not on it because the path was no longer visible due to lack of care (I know, there's a sermon there)
  • Outdoors at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham
  • Indoors at Calvary Methodist Church

Each labyrinth had it's own gift of prayer, but the one at Calvary was added as a recipient of the 24 Project,  the 24@ $100 giving mission I began in January in response to twenty four years of priesthood. The project will be coming to a close later this month in anticipation of my next project in celebration of twenty five years of ordination to the [transitional] diaconate.

Calvary Methodist is one of those precious churches that seems to have fallen on harder financial times and is faithfully seeking its mission amidst change.  Their labyrinth was in the basement of what appeared to be the parish hall.  It had been created in the floor itself by linoleum square tiles placed in a rectangular pattern in the Chartres design.  (I wondered:  Why didn't we do that at St. Mary's when we replaced the tiles in our upstairs gathering space?).  What I loved about the labyrinth was all of the events that happened on top of the labyrinth--with most folks, I imagined, not even knowing about the prayer foundation upon which they stood.

When I had called about walking the labyrinth, the administrative assistant told me that there were chairs arranged on it, and the room was set up for food distribution and medical and social services that afternoon. Could I wait until after that event, and their volunteers would move the chairs so that I could walk the labyrinth?  How many layers of ministry can you count here?

But there was more:  When I went to do my prayer walk the next day, the administrator told me that on Sunday afternoon that space was used for two different worshipping communities.  What holy stewardship!

So I gave $100 from the 24 Project to this faith-filled community--followers of Christ who have taken what they have been given as abundance and used it to cast wide a net of God's love.   The labyrinth at Calvary United Methodist may not be the very most beautiful by outward appearances, but it is definitely one of the very most exquisite by God's reflection through it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

God's Good Traveling Mercies

After an hour wait on the tarmac in Houston before taking off,  I finally arrived in North Carolina. My friend was waiting to pick me up so that we could do the three hour drive to our concert. 

We stopped about halfway to get some bug spray for the outdoor venue.   Afterwards, my friend met me at the car with the question, "Could you stay another day for a concert?"  

Turns out that the concert we'd both traveled many miles to attend had been cancelled due to bad weather.  It was rescheduled on Wednesday night, a few hours after my flight home. 

Remembering I'd put this trip in God's good hands at four that morning, we peacefully grabbed a bite at the local burger place and pondered what to do next.  On a whim, I called United once again. Yes, they were happy to change my flight to the morning after the concert, and since I'd already been inconvenienced by a cancelled flight, they'd wave all fees. 

Now I'm coming back on the early flight Thursday, home in plenty of time for my Thursday appointments. 

It was lovely after a day of travel having a quiet evening chatting and laughing at the hotel. Today I am on slow time in Durham.  I have a conference call in a few minutes, but I'll do it outside drinking coffee at a favorite place of one of my clergy friends. 

Then I'll see what the day has in store.  God is the best travel agent ever.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Unexpected Road Trip

The news you never want to wake up to at 3.30 in the morning for your 7.30 AM flight:    CANCELLED. The good news was that I'd been rebooked on the flight arriving at 10.30 tonight except the purpose of my visit was to attend an Indigo Girls--Joan Baez--Mary Chaplin Carpenter concert that would have been done by then. Sigh.

A very helpful United agent helped me find alternate flights that would get me there in time. So I'm going to Raleigh via Charlotte, and my friend waiting for me in Durham is driving over to pick me up so we can make it to the concert. Road trip with a bonus of a first class upgrade!

And when it looked like at 4 this morning that I was going to miss the concert I did remember to pray--for God to get me where I needed to be today.

Thanks, God. Traveling Mary is on her way to a concert in North Carolina.