as hope floats, unity rises

I’ve always been one who frets a bit. It’s in my DNA. But, somewhere underneath all the worrying, I’ve also been a person who believed in the fantasy of Disney Land. You know, that everything is controlled and safe and happy and nothing really bad is going to happen. The juxtaposition of dread and hope has woven a blanket of cautious security in which to hide. As long as I kept worrying about what could happen, nothing bad would happen. Sounds crazy, huh. However, I bet some who read this can relate. I think another way of expressing it would be I lived under the illusion of control. And, worry was the lever.

And then came Harvey. And, with it my neatly constructed illusion has been torn to shreds.

We worried in Corpus Christi about Harvey. We boarded up. We evacuated. And, we watched from afar as our sparkling city by the bay was spared the brunt of the storm while our neighboring communities took the full impact. Communities knocked to the ground with nothing left but the fierce will of resilience and the compassion of strangers to sustain them during these early days of aftermath.

And then Harvey moved on up the coast and struck Houston in a way that the fourth largest city in this country had not seen in years. Houston had prepared for the fierceness of this storm. But there was no preparing for what turned out to be so much worse than the winds and rains of nature.

What hurt the city the most was the human made decision (no doubt a difficult one) to release water from overloaded reservoirs in an effort to prevent them from breaking and causing catastrophic flooding. Why do we humans keep thinking we can somehow control nature instead of, at best, respecting and partnering with it. The nation watched in horror as homes that had stayed dry through the initial storm succumbed to the rising waters of release. Waters that became rising waves of terror and even today remain in control of many areas and homes.

My sister and her husband were spared water in their home, yet had to be evacuated by boat as their once lazy street became a restless river. The home that had been in my husband’s family for forty-five years, the home we had loved and lived in for thirteen years and sold last year to a precious young family eager to make new memories, was flooded and may still be today. Whole neighborhoods of families doing their best to make their lives purposeful and productive lost everything. It will take years to recover and it will impact us all whether we realize that or not.

To make things worse, as the waters recede the reports rise that perhaps the worst of this could have been prevented if the powers that be had heeded the warnings and recommendations made some twenty plus years ago. If they had planned more, if they had gone to the time, effort and expense for safety rather than for development, maybe….we wouldn’t be seeing the devastation we are seeing today. And it doesn’t take a genius to know that in the wake of these reports there will be division and blame as all continue to wade through the responsibility of recovery. As if our country needed something else to divide over.

It’s not fair that people living in these areas had no idea of the real danger they were in. For years! Yes, no one expected a flood of this proportion. No one ever does. Even when there are warnings we don’t believe that the worst will really happen. Until it does.

I’m not one who says that all things happen for a reason. Or, that God did this. I don’t believe God orchestrates things like some elaborate puppet show. I do believe God’s love and power are present and available in and through all things, even the flood waters, and if we are open to it there are gifts among the ruins. There are threads of grace in all the muck and mire. And there can be peace in the storm. Life that comes in the midst of loss. Joy can rise in the midst of pain. This is the nature of Christ. This is the peace that passes all understanding.

Along with the images of destruction I also watched (from my admittedly “dry privilege”) the visions of compassion as stranger reached out to stranger in the deepest of waters. This storm was no respecter of person and the rescue was not either. From what I could see no one cared about creed or color. It was one human being carrying another. It was unity of purpose that transcended any of the differences we usually impose upon one another. It was a thing of beauty to see, and these testimonies have provided lifelines of grace in the face of so much pain.

Somewhere, in the midst of all the differences and uncertainties in the world, in these storm torn areas there came a rising swell of unity as relationships were forged, not on like mindedness but rather a mutual awareness, respect, and compassion for shared humanity. Something in the words I read and hear and see in the faces on the many news reports convinces me these storm survivors and helpers now know something I don’t. This experience has changed them. It has deepened them.

The illusion that life is safe and predictable is gone for them. An innocence has died.They are now on the journey of grief. What’s left behind and what they take with them will be for each to decide. For some this loss of illusion will be replaced with anger and bitterness. For others it will be replaced with gratitude and wisdom, and yes, joy for what truly matters. The difference will be determined by their capacity for forgiveness. Forgiveness towards God, nature, government, neighbor, self. Forgiveness in the midst of their pain and frustration. Forgiveness is the lifeline through grief and the bridge to recovery. I’d like to think if I were in their place I would choose the latter, the wisdom, gratitude, and joy. If I’m truly honest, the best I can hope for is a mixture of both.

Even as I finish this, I am getting notifications about Hurricane Irma and the impending danger for its target. I brace myself for the pain I will see (again and this time at least, from afar) and ready myself for the beauty I will see in its wake. People loving God in loving their neighbor.

Something to chew on…


Posted in current events, Lessons Learned, people, Uncategorized, unconditional love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

owning up

I started this blog as a place to process life through the lens of faith and to, hopefully, engage a community into doing so with me.  But it’s been hard lately to be open about what I am trying to process without fearing I might offend someone.  Because a lot of what I’m trying to process is what I see going on in our country and my feelings range from anger and frustration to fear, despair, and shame, with, thankfully, the stubborn seed of hope refusing to give up mixed in.  And, I have seen when things are posted regarding what’s going on in our country there can be some pretty volatile reactions and in some cases I’ve even witnessed breaks in communication and friendship.

I don’t want to offend anyone. Sometimes I worry too much about that.  I’m not the conservative I used to think I was, and I may not be quite as liberal as I think I am. I don’t know. I’m stuck somewhere out in the margins, not even certain where that is.  I suspect there are many of us wandering nomads out here in the field of uncertainty, feeling more like we’re in the Twilight Zone than reality after our nation’s last election.

The one thing I know in my heart and bones is there is no justification, or even acceptable explanation, for hatred and white supremacy, bigotry, or violence that we witnessed as a country last weekend.  None. Nada. My dad fought bravely in a war that engulfed the world, risking life and limb to ensure that the kind of hatred brought about by the Nazis would never be able to rise up and thrive again. And yet, here it is in all it’s ugliness before us now.

For years I kept telling myself that kind of hatred happened a long time ago. Somewhere else far away.  I remember being awakened to an even deeper awareness of the evil of the Holocaust when I went to Budapest ten years ago and learned more people of Jewish faith were killed there in a shorter amount of time than anywhere else. And, much of it was done with the official Christian church turning a blind eye. It was a humbling and painful realization.

I’ve been stunningly reminded recently that hate is hate and the hate of the Nazis is the same hate of organizations like the KKK, which I also thought was part of a long ago history but not in the now.  Tragically, it is a hate that is alive and kicking, a hate based on white supremacy. And that hate is what was in action in the violence last weekend. Having a permit to gather does not justify this hate.

What is really hard for me to admit, much less accept, is that white supremacy, which is the breeding ground of this terrible kind of hate, is in my DNA, my history, my story.  Simply because, I am white. I don’t feel, experience, or participate in this hate, but I cannot escape that I share its basis of privilege because of the color of my skin.

My ancestors were confederate soldiers and proud of it.  They believed they were on the right side of history. My ancestors were church going, God fearing, family and friend loving people. Yet they ignorantly, and no doubt stubbornly, believed they were somehow superior as human beings because of the color of their skin.  And, I’m fairly certain they clung to their interpretation of certain Bible verses to justify this attitude.

I’ve written in a past post about going to see my grandparents in South Carolina and seeing the three bathroom doors at their gas station/convenience store…Men, Women, Colored. As a little girl I didn’t know or understand what that was all about. I only know the feeling it gave me was fear.

My grandfather had the only gas station and store in town and he was friendly to the African Americans who frequented his store. There was a cordial rapport between them all. Yet, even as a child I sensed the steel whisper of disparity of power within this rapport. My grandfather was the boss man.  Even with these people who were actually his customers. There is no justification for that kind of power deferential.

Thankfully I woke up years ago to the ignorance behind this sort of passive aggressive prejudice world view.  It’s not because I’m any better than my ancestors. Rather it is the gift of those who have gone before me to uncover truth about this history we share as a country.  And an expanding awareness that Scripture was never meant to be used as a weapon to give one power over another but rather as a promise and confirmation that we are all equally loved and created in God’s image.

I shamefully admit, when I first heard the name of my high school was being changed from Robert E. Lee I scoffed.  It wasn’t that I cared about the name of the school. I just never really attached the name of the school to anything other than the three years I was there and all the fond memories of being there with equally awkward adolescents. I’m so thankful someone else was more enlightened than me and saw the wisdom and necessity of this change.  No, we as youngsters didn’t really want the south to rise again when we sang our school fight song Dixie.  We were just kids cheering our team.

And, yet, as I sit here and write I wonder how many people felt oppressed by all of this.  You see, this was fairly early in the days of integration and I have to wonder how awful it must have felt for the young African American student being subjected to this song.  Even the ones being celebrated on the football team. What an odd and uncomfortable thing to experience.

I heard someone say the other day that we can’t erase history by taking down these statues like the one around which there was so much violence this weekend. And, that may be.  And, I don’t for one second think that everyone who is sad to see these statues go have prejudice in their hearts.

No, we can erase history. Yet, we can be honest about the truth and nature of the complexities of our history and we can be honest in our need to repent of, in any way, glorifying a time when one group of people in this land of freedom and democracy actually made a practice of owning another. It may have been out of a misguided ignorance but there is no justification for the displacement and pain it manifested for so many, the echo of which is still evident in prejudice today. The glorification of this history dehumanizes all of us. The thoughtful and thorough dismantling of these concrete reminders of this past glorification is one tangible thing we can do to show our repentance and intention toward a better future for all of us together. Especially in light of the fact that many of these statues were erected many years after the Civil War and during a time of overt prejudice and discrimination toward so many of our brothers and sisters. I’m not sure how much that gets lifted up and it’s an important part of the puzzle.

Just as I was closing this post I saw our President’s latest press conference. I’m heartsick. I need to go to God in prayer now.  I need to still my mind and open my heart so that I can continue to seek God’s wisdom in the areas in which I need to repent and forgive. And in thankfulness, encourage others and show more love. From what I’ve heard, it sounds like Heather Heyer, who was run down by the embodiment of white supremacist  hatred on Saturday, showed love in all she did. How tragic her life was cut so short because of such hate. Such a waste. I know she is held in Love now. I still believe, I have to, that Love wins over any hate.

I can’t fix this. I know that. And, I can’t wait for someone else to. All I can do is learn to love more. Learn to love all more.

Something to chew on…


Posted in Christianity, country, current events, Lessons Learned, life purpose, Uncategorized, unconditional love | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

my new neighbors

So, I’m back at the pink chapel. It’s blazing hot outside and I’m grateful for the cool quiet of this space.

I am thinking about the man who told me about finding the Holy Spirit in this place. Or rather, the Holy Spirit finding him. His name is Sam. He came here one day and said a wonderful peaceful feeling came over him here. Better than any high he’d ever been on. I’m wondering if Sam is someplace cool this afternoon.

Sam doesn’t have a home. He does, however, have a bed, more like a cot, in a residence ministry. A ministry that works with those who are experiencing poverty and homelessness.

I’ve recently started doing some volunteer chaplaincy with this ministry. I lead a book/scripture study one night a week. It is similar to the one I host in my home. Only different. Because I go to their home…which is not really a home but a transitional space. It’s clean, cold, and temporary. Home or no home, we’re all seeking connection.

Recently I read them the parable of the Good Samaritan. You might remember it. Jesus told it in response to someone trying to justify his goodness and entitlement to heaven.

The story Jesus told goes something like this…a man was beaten and robbed and left to die on the street. A priest comes by and, in those days, a good religious person was not supposed to get anywhere near someone’s blood. So, like the good religious person he was, he crossed the street and walked away. Similar thing happened with the next religious person. And then, someone who was from the wrong religion, someone who was considered unclean just by being who he was, stopped and took care of the man. And, when I say take care I mean he really did all he could for this man. Took him to shelter, got medical care for him, and even paid for future care for him. After telling the story, Jesus asked the self righteous religious guy which one had loved his neighbor. It must have been difficult for the man to answer because Jesus was pointing a mirror to his heart. His stone cold heart. Jesus was clear, when it comes to showing God’s love there is no justification for exclusion. Or self-righteousness. Both tough mirrors to see.

After reading the story through twice I asked them if they had heard anything in this reading they hadn’t noticed before. I was interested in how people who are forced to live daily with their vulnerability exposed to the world would experience this story. One guy spoke up that he hadn’t realized the guy laying on the street had been beaten so badly. I wondered to myself if he has at some point recently suffered such a beating and thus found this connection to it.

I then asked if they identified with someone in the story and, if so, who. The same man who spoke before said he was the one who walked on by. He said he was raised to mind his own business and not get involved. And, from observing him I could tell he was trying to stay out of trouble in this place as well.

The man next to me, a weathered man with wild hair, few teeth, and a tired smell blurted out he was the robber, the one who beat and left the guy for dead. I was startled, and yet weirdly encouraged, by his honesty. He continued that until recently he would rob people to get money to feed his drug addiction. He said this was before “he saw the light”.

About this time another young man, someone you would look at and think what a nice young man, spoke up and said he had done the same and had taken money from people who loved him. That he had hurt those he should have trusted. I asked him if he has forgiven himself and he paused before saying he was working on it.

The discussion led into whether or not to give people money on the street when asked. I could not help but consider the irony of this conversation. Had any of them felt the need earlier this day to ask for money on the street?

The thing that struck me the most was, as they shared their differing opinions, some saying it’s always a con and you should never give out money and others saying you should just do the right thing and give whenever asked, this could have been any group of people of any economic status discussing this over a dinner table in any home. This was a conversation that transcended the present circumstances and this perhaps gets to the core of the struggle to be human.

Are we connected to each other or not? Does our survival depend on one another or not? Is it more loving to give when asked or to hold one accountable for their own survival? Should we decide who is deserving and who is not? What is empowering and what is enabling? So many questions race even now through my head. Lots of questions and absolutely no firm answers.

I looked across the table at Sam, the man who told me about the pink chapel. He told us he senses and depends on discernment from God when it comes to giving.  His kind eyes seemed to pierce through all of the other comments and I really do believe he has a strong sense of connection with the Divine. So much history, pain, and hard won wisdom in that face. And, it also occurs to me that if I had seen him, or any other of these gentlemen, on the street I would not have noticed his eyes. Because I would not have looked him in the eye. I would have been afraid to. And, I would have missed something special.

I am not the good samaritan. I’m too selfish. Too scared. Too blind. I’m very thankful, though, to be able to journey with this group a bit. It’s unsettling, convicting, heartbreaking, and inspiring all at once. They are my mirror. We are the same. Created and sustained by the power of Love that holds us through anything. The Love that calls us Home. I’m learning what happens to them in some way happens to me.

I hope they all have a cool place to be and something that gives them purpose today.

Something to chew on…



Posted in Christ, community, connection, Lessons Learned, life purpose, Uncategorized, unconditional love | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

perspective in pink 

I’m sitting in a Catholic chapel tucked back on a busy street. I pass it every day, but today I sit in it’s embrace. It’s beautiful, crisp and clean with white, purple, pink, and gold. 

It looks like Kate Spade in spiritual architecture. 

Yet, this is not for show or fashion. This is a place of reflection, meditation, quiet worship and prayer. A place to simply be still and know that God is…

I’m here because there are so many people I know and love who are hurting. And, my heart hurts with and for them. Some are facing uncertainty. Some pain. Some loss. Some death. All burdens too big to carry alone. I want to fix and know I can’t. I can sit. I can pray.

I’m here because I’m aware of the fragility of life and humanity, and I want, no need to be re-minded of the orientation of leaning in to God’s loving presence in all things.  I need to re-member God’s manna comes for each day.

There’s such a peaceful awareness of God in this place. I can hear the cars rushing past, and wonder, if those driving by are awake to It as well. I’m skeptical about that.

I can hear the hums of mowers and I’m reminded of how ordinary life really is. And, how extraordinarily beautiful that truly is.

I’m here because it’s my birthday. 63. How did this happen?! I’m at once grateful. And surprised. So much joy, much more than I could possibly hope for. And, so much grace. Oh, so much grace!

I slept through so much of it. Rushing and fretting. Not slowing down to take it all in. To savor it’s richness. Please God don’t let me miss a second more. I’m here to have that prayer re-membered in my soul. 

What to do with my Now? I want to be a part of the beauty and do what I can to ease the pain. To do my part. To love with abandon. I don’t want to forget. I want to stay awake to it all. To be present. 

I don’t know what you are doing today. But, I pray that no matter what, you are wide awake. In the midst of whatever uncertainty, pain, loss, or joy you are experiencing, I pray that you will take a moment to re-member the marvelous, beautiful gift of grace you are from and to God and to the world. 

Something to chew on…

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a matter of taste

On Easter Sunday our five year old granddaughter, Eloise, took her first communion at the Episcopal church where they belong and Tom and I are presently attending with them. She could have taken it earlier but she and her parents had really wanted it to be special and Easter Sunday seemed like the perfect moment to partake at the table!

Always before she would approach the alter, kneel, and bow her head over her hands, waiting for a blessing. Watching her do that was beautiful, sweet, endearing.  The priest would kneel down, touching her head and bless this little angel. And from the look on the priest’s face, he thought it was a sweet as I, and the rest of her family always did.

This was such a routine on Sundays that on this Easter Sunday when she kneeled,  holding her head high, and extending her open palms I noticed the surprise on the priest’s face as Eloise jolted him from routine. His surprise was quickly replaced with a grin as he gave her the bread of heaven. When the cup came by she dipped the wafer into the wine and put it in her mouth. What a special moment! Something the Episcopal tradition does every single Sunday, and yet, this particular Sunday seemed to me like such a momentous occasion as Eloise made this rite of passage in the family of faith.

On the way home Eloise was asked how she liked taking communion after all this wait.

“I liked the chip but I didn’t like the dip.”

She also told her mom that she had to ball the wafer up in her mouth just to be able to swallow it. When I heard this I realized I too usually have to maneuver it around a bit before I can swallow those dry cardboard like discs. Why do we grownups lose this level of transparent honesty?

I’m not sure if Eloise is all that excited about taking communion now. Not sure if it was all she had built it up to be in her mind. It occurs to me that many things in life are like that. How often the anticipation is greater than the actual event.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since Easter. The big feast of God, a central point of our Christian worship. The coming to the table in remembrance and celebration of the sacrificial love of Christ until he comes again. The participating together of this beautiful body of love. Shouldn’t an event of this proportion be greater than what we imagine? Every single time?

One of the things I was most looking forward to in being ordained as a Presbyterian Minister of Word and Sacrament was being able to preside over communion. To be able to tell the story of the night Jesus was betrayed when he shared a simple meal with his disciples, one that was steeped in eternal love and significance. The anticipation of being able to do that paled compared to the worshipful experience it has been to actually be able to share this moment with a congregation. Or, with a group at a retreat. Or, anytime I get the chance to serve “the meal”.

Not long ago, the Thursday study group I have mentioned before changed meeting locations for one meeting from my house to the home of our beloved friend who has been fighting pancreatic cancer for over a year now. I’ve told you about her before. How she loves to dance. How she didn’t let a little chemo bag and bald head keep her from coming to our group. She has been an inspiration of joy in the face of difficulty for all of us. Since she had also suffered a major stroke recently and was unable to move the left side of her body she invited us all to her house for this particular Thursday so that she could be a part of the study that day. When I got there her sister had taken care of everything that this woman would have normally done, coffee and cookies, served on china. We were all touched at the generous hospitality she showed us. We all sensed this was a significant and bittersweet moment for the group, and no one took it for granted.

I’d had a last minute thought on the way to her house that we should celebrate communion together. So, I’d stopped at the grocery store for Hawaiian bread (because I was determined it should taste sweet not pasty), grape juice (like a good Presbyterian, although I debated myself on this) and dixie cups. The kind you put in a child’s bathroom for them to use when brushing their teeth.

I was clumsy as I presided over and served this meal but it may have been the most significant communion in my ministry history. We were gathered, Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and NonDenominational. Gathered in the love of Christ. And, the love of our friend. And, everyone partook! Our hostess said something about how it had tasted good, and how it should taste good. Truer words were never spoken.

It will be a long time, maybe never, before I don’t think of her when I take communion. She’s on hospice now and is on the suffering road home. I went to see her yesterday to pray for her but she was too sick when I got there. I prayed with her husband. Most likely I won’t be able to see her again. But, I will always see her in my heart.

The thing is, she is right. It should taste good! It should be a feast like no other. I’ve always thought this but I’m convinced more than ever now.

 I used to lead a communion and prayer service on Wednesday evenings at one church where I served. I got this hair brained idea that I would try a different kind of bread each week. One week cheese bread. Another week challa (Jewish ceremonial bread). One week it was rye, which was a bit of a mistake as it got stuck in some peoples’ throats. People were patient with me. But,the point was, I thought our communal experience of God’s grace should be something with taste. Something to satisfy hunger, both physical and spiritual.

At another church I served, one Sunday the person responsible for bringing the elements forgot to bring the bread. She was regretful and nervous to tell me. We were having a luncheon that day so I asked what we had available. Someone had brought baklava, a filo filled pastry filled with nuts and honey. Have you ever had baklava? Tastes like heaven! It was the best tasting communion ever. People came forward to receive the “bread” and dip it into the cup (that’s called intinction) and it made me smile, really big, to see them walk away, licking their fingers and grinning. Oh sure, there were a few ruffled feathers. But, really, how can you not like baklava. And, I was an interim pastor so they knew I wouldn’t be there long.

I mean no disrespect against the worship practices in any tradition by any of my observations . It’s just that life, and faith, and our love for grandchildren and beloved friends who are ill, and the strangers we worship with….it’s all mixed up together. And shouldn’t we do what we can to bring the goodness of all it to the surface? To make life as palatable as we can for one another? To make our worship as meaningful and fulfilling as possible? In doing so, I think we get a little closer to what Jesus was talking about that night he fed his disciples. If we are commanded to share these meals in remembrance of Christ, shouldn’t they really taste like the feast of God for the people of God? The feast of our lives. To be shared. In love.

So, I’m determined, if I have the honor to serve another church again as their pastor, we will have baklava. Or, at least, good tasting bread. And, I am fairly confident my granddaughter will like it a lot better.

May your worship and life and loves be sweet to the taste and fulfilling always.

Something to chew on…

Painted in Waterlogue

Posted in Christ, Christianity, community, Easter, Faith, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

a little night cha cha

I suppose it started when I was about three. When I started taking dance. And, of course, when you’re three you perform. For all. Right there in the living room. Or, in the high school auditorium where the recital took place. For as long as I can remember I have loved to dance. All kinds. Anytime, anywhere.

I took tap, ballet and jazz. My specialty was tap. Did my first solo at 5. I was a crow dancing among scare crows. I’ve got a picture somewhere. I remember they had to make my costume a little lower in the back to cover my cheeks. There was quite a bit of discussion about this. Still holds true.

When I was in the fourth grade I did a duet. With a drummer. He would drum the beat and I would follow in my tap shoes. It was a precursor to Dueling Banjos. He was a college guy. I, a peep squeak. But, I felt really cool. Until I saw a picture from the recital of the pin curls in my hair.

That next fall I started helping to teach a little. I was in my element and thought myself quite a prodigy. In January we moved to Houston from Lubbock. The big city turned out to be quite a bit more sophisticated. No more tap. Only ballet. Oh, there was some studio in town that taught tap but my mom found this one more acceptable. The other one was owned by the mother of Patrick Swayze…and he was the star student!! Who knows what might have happened.

Anyway, turns out I was not sophisticated enough for ballet. Not graceful enough I suppose. I kept taking ballet and then jazz until my senior year in high school but it never was quite the same. I missed my tap rhythms….I became part of the chorus. I was a fern among the flowers. Literally, in the recital.

One of my most favorite memories as a young child was of my parents rolling up the braided rug in the living room teaching my sister and her boyfriend how to cha cha. I was right in the middle of it all. That is still one of my favorite dances today! I also love anything by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I’m instantly a kid again watching my parents. My mother and dad were the best dancers I ever knew. They simply melded into one when they danced.

Much later, after my mom had passed away, I remember dancing with my dad at a formal event. He was ever the gentleman, but a little less sure on his feet. This time he depended on me. It was heart breaking and sweet all in the same breath.

Naturally, in the 80’s, I taught aerobics. It was a way for me to legitimately dance. In public. Complete with leg warmers and headband. I was a bad ass. Well, maybe only in my mind. But something about it brought me back to those old rhythms and I loved it. I taught first in a community gym and then in a health club when we moved to San Antonio. For about ten years I either taught or did personal training. It kept me fit. And thin. For a while I sort of lost track and lost so much weight that my tail bone stuck out. Definitely not the case now!! I couldn’t find my tail bone if my life depended on it.

All through our almost 42 years of marriage I have dragged Tom on the dance floor whenever I can. He’s a good dancer. And, I think he likes it more than he puts on. In our younger days we would go country western dancing. It was something to see the boy from Brooklyn dance the two step like a native. A real urban cowboy.

Our daughter, Lauren, took up the dancing tradition and she could tap circles around me. She also could sing and spent a large part of her formative years in musical theatre. Her dancing career was also “interrupted” when we moved to Houston. We hold hope for this next generation?

When Eloise was really little, first walking, we would have dance parties in the den. She would squeal with delight as we danced to Disney tunes. Now, she and Avery entertain us with their lively interpretations of the latest Kidz Bop songs. She doesn’t seem as thrilled as she used to when I join them…But, she is a natural. Avery, maybe not so much. The jury is still out. But, oh, I’m so excited about their recital this year!

I don’t know what made me think of all this tonight. Maybe it was the Amazon Prime Santana album I am listening to. Did you know there is a cha cha beat to many Santana songs?

Right now I’m thinking about a friend who is fighting a fierce battle with pancreatic cancer. She also recently had a major stroke and she now has no movement on her left side. Her beautiful spirit is trapped inside a tiny and stubbornly frozen body. She loves to dance too. A few weeks before she had the stroke we were at a fund raiser together and I watched her enjoy dancing with her husband. First and last ones on the dance floor. Her smiling face belied the seriousness of her health condition. I’m so glad she had that moment of sheer joy on the dance floor. I think she felt a bit of heaven in those few minutes of rhythm. It has been rough going for her since.

I know some might think of heaven as a quiet place. Not me. I think of lots of music and lots of dancing. Everyone moving and smiling together. The perfect line dance! At least I hope there is some of that.

So, tonight. Right here in my living room I dance. I dance by myself and for my friend. And, for all the times I have ever danced and took it for granted. There’s no braided rug to roll up. I simply cha cha with my whole heart.

Now is the time we have to dance.

Something to chew on…

eloise dancing

Posted in dance, life and death, life purpose, people, Relationships, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

at home here

It’s been a year since we moved “home” to Corpus Christi. In some ways it seems like we have always been here, like we had not been away for thirty years. There’s one street in particular that has not changed a bit and when I drive that street I feel a little like I’m in the twilight zone. Until I look in the mirror. And, things are definitely not the same as they were thirty years ago!

So, here we are back at home, and really at home. The house we bought was built in 1939, a bungalow set back in the lot between two larger homes. A cottage with a big front porch. Being old it needs some work, a new roof, some updating. Kind of like me! It is already my dear friend in a way no other structure has ever been.

It’s kinda crazy but when I walk in I feel as though I have been hugged by an old friend. I love to sit on the front porch and drink coffee. Or wine. I love to sit on the back deck, in the tiniest of backyards. And drink coffee. Or wine.

The kitchen needs updating and I’m guessing many would begin by getting rid of the bright yellow cabinets that have been painted with one too many coats of shiny paint. Not me though. The yellow is cheerful and I like not having to worry about them getting chipped. They already are! The previous owner had installed mesquite countertops and I love the warmth they provide. Don’t exactly know if I’m caring for them correctly but I’m doing my best to honor and protect them. This old house and I are doing our best to care for each other.

When I’m not sitting outside I’m usually looking outside through one of the many windows. Some of which, I am noticing right now, need washing. Someone had thoughtfully landscaped the small yard and when we moved in the bougainvilleas were in full flame. They pretty much stayed that way until the two day freeze we had this winter. They’re stubbornly coming back. I love their tenacity!

Tom has to travel most weeks with work and when he arrives home on Thursday evening I love to see the expression when he walks in. Tired but happy and ready to sit in the kitchen or on the porch and talk about the week.

So, I’m chewing today on this notion of home and while home for me has really never been about the structure but more about the people who gather in it, there is something about this particular structure that speaks to someplace deep in my heart. And, like all things, I’m seeking where God is in all of this.

One area I don’t yet feel quite at home is in any one particular church. I’m going to the Episcopal church we were a part of thirty years ago. My daughter and son in law were recently received into that church and they have a wonderful community of friends there. My granddaughters attend the pre-school there at the church and will be able to go there through the eighth grade. It is both their church and their school home. And Tom and I have cherished friends there. Family and friends, the reason we made this move home. I think Tom feels that he has come back home to this church. It’s a beautiful church and feels familiar in wonderful ways.

As much as I love this community of faith, I struggle with thinking of it as my church home. As an ordained Presbyterian pastor, who is no longer serving in an official capacity, I keep searching for what my church home is supposed to be now. I attend a weekly book study at a nearby Presbyterian church and they have welcomed me and made me feel at home in the same way the community of the Episcopal church has. I also have the occasional opportunity to provide a pastoral and preaching presence for surrounding Presbyterian churches when their pastors need to be absent for one reason or another. These churches are always very welcoming. And, yet, while all are wonderful, none are home. I keep striving to figure out where my church home is supposed to be.

This past fall I started a book/scripture study group in my home, inviting any and all to join. For nearly eight months now we have gathered on Thursday mornings. There are a possible sixteen and usually there are anywhere from six to twelve who come. I wanted it to be something no one had to rsvp for or feel obligated to. Something to come to when they could. I make a pot of coffee and light a couple of candles and wait in anticipation of who will be able to come.

Each week there is a different mix with a different energy. And each week I’m amazed and thankful for what I have learned and for what their hearts have shared. For the ways God is moving in our lives. We are from late thirties to early seventies and all in between. We come from different faith backgrounds, Catholic, Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian… All are dealing with the challenges of life. Some are in serious battle with cancer, their own or a family member. Some have recently experienced the death of loved ones. Others are in the midst of raising children in this crazy world. Others assimilating into the life of retirement and all the emotions involved. And, others trying to love on adult children and care for aging parents at the same time. And, all of us are trying to navigate our lives in the most faithful way possible. I have grown to love this time, and these people, as a most heart felt and holy time of the week.

I’m wondering as I write. While I am sure I will continue to seek to balance attendance and involvement between the Episcopal and Presbyterian communities, maybe, for now, I can stop striving so much to find my church. Maybe, for now, this place, this house, is the structure of my church home. Maybe, for now, providing and participating in these Thursday morning times of sabbath is right where I’m supposed to be. At home.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes we strive and search for what has been right before us all along.

Maybe that’s why so many of us miss what Jesus was about…the incarnation, the structure, of the Love that had been there all along.

Something to chew on…


Posted in community, connection, Easter, Faith, Lessons Learned, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments