"If we have never experience what it is to give sacrificially, we may approach it like our first dive from the high diving board, a major moment at the time but really ordinary after that, a new and richer way to approach life."
"For to be judged by Jesus is to stand before Jesus naked, just as I am, and to allow him to look at us with love, and love us into repentance for our sins, and to receive his loving words of forgiveness--and then to be set free, and even know taste the first fruits of eternal life."
"The people of God have always known days of laughter--and days of tears. And we will, too. That may not sound like good news, but let me assure you, it is. It is good news because God is up to something. It is good news because God means us nothing but our good."
"Some of us Christians are too eager to find in current events evidence that will tell us when and how the world will end and the Son of Man will return. Others of us have lost our hope in God's promise and come to believe only in ourselves and in our human institutions. The Gospel challenges us all. "Watch, be alert, keep awake," it warns us. Christ will surely come."
"Hope is unruly. Hope floats, when it shouldn't. Hope, simply defined, is the capacity to imagine a future. Like memory--which I would define as the ability to rightly recall the past--hope is an essential element of what it means to be fully human and fully alive. Without hope, we die."
"We feel so ineffective in a system where money buys power. What can we do in the midst of this great travesty? Perhaps we just need more faith in the triumph of small things, the little that we can do."
"The spiritual journey is a journey towards God in which we discover that we are beloved children of God and in which we learn to live our lives grounded in that reality. The Scriptures are given to instruct and guide us along this path."
"When we say 'yes' to God, our 'yes' echoes that of Mary's and 'the Word [becomes] flesh and [lives] among us' here and now and we, like Mary, become God bearers and our eternal destiny is fulfilled for all time."
"The real quest for our prayer is to learn to pray our lives. It's to practice the presence of God in every moment, every place that we move, every person whom we touch, every word that we speak or hear."
"We often refer to God's presence in our hearts: in a sense, the Divine Presence is the heart of our heart, the core of our core. For the Christian, the Divine Presence is something that grows within us, like the Christ child in the Virgin's womb, we might say. Or, as Paul puts it, it is not our own life that we live, but Christ's life in us."
"Take time each day to gaze. Sit on your porch. Take time to savor what is now in your life, today. Pray and practice today the living and enjoying of your life in every way you can, especially given what you cannot change." -Br. Curtis Almquist, Society of Saint John the Evangelist
That's right, Advent ... NOT Christmas. Don't know what Advent is? Well you're in luck! There just happens to be this handy dandy little video you can watch to clear things up for you (hooray!). You can find the original YouTube video here. Enjoy!
"Today is a new beginning, as we gather to wait and watch for the coming of the Lord in the person of the Babe of Bethlehem, just as parents wait for the birth of their child. Like them we wait with eager longing, mixed, I'm sure with fear and dread, as to what this child will mean for them and their lives."
Anthropologist Margaret Mead recorded this curious little saying of the Arapesh
people: “Your own mother, your own sister, your own pigs, your own yams that
you have piled up, you may not eat. Other people’s mothers, other people’s
sisters, other people’s pigs, other people’s yams that they have piled up, you
Obviously there are several directions a sermon might
take off in from here. Up, somehow, is probably what you’re hoping. For our
purposes, we’ll just note that Arapesh women seem to have been commodities. But
the Arapesh hardly have a corner on that market. In fact, right there in the
Bible you can read about the leaders of one tribe making peace with another
tribe by giving them their daughters for wives. Apparently it was polite for
the other tribesmen to return the favor. Although I guess it wasn’t very polite
to the daughters.
That was a long time ago in a faraway land. But if you
think that this kind of “giving away” of a daughter in marriage has nothing to
do with the blubbering dad who “gives his daughter away” in a modern wedding,
well, bless your heart.
To wit, in the 1994 edition of Emily Post on Marriage
(not exactly an ancient text) we find that the well mannered bride, possibly
because she still functions as the gift of one tribesman to another, has a
special role to play. She must, and I quote, “try to understand and accept the
attitude of her future family (whatever it may be), and she must not stand
inflexibly upon what she unwittingly considers to be her own family’s rights.”
Ms. Post, as you may have guessed, gave no such instruction to the groom.
Haven’t tribesmen always given away their daughters as peace offerings to
create a little goodwill?
Now if you’ve long dreamed of having your father walk you
down the aisle here at Christ Church and deliver you to the arm of a handsome
beau, don’t worry. Forbidding this practice isn’t a liturgical ditch I’m
willing to die in. Otherwise by now I would be… well… dead. But it still seems
worthwhile to note that the roots of some traditions aren’t as deep or as
distant as we’d like to believe, and they’re anything but obscure.
To be fair though, we should balance things out by poking
something in the eye of modern, liberated folks too. About the same time Ms.
Post’s book was published, this advice appeared in the style section of the New
York Times: “Women on the way up should avoid associating with ‘unsuccessful
turkeys,’ even if they happen to be friends. Leaving your friends behind isn’t
disloyalty. You are going to be judged by the company you keep. Seek out the
people who can help you. Men have known this for years, and we are playing in
their arena.” Of course. We can deal with the age old problem of making women
commodities by making everyone a commodity. Man, woman, friend, stranger, tell
me what you can do for me, and I’ll tell you whether I have any use for you.
Fortunately yams and turkeys aren’t the only options
available to us when it comes to the treatment of women or any other person
really. We could actually love them, you know.
Kate has created this one for all of the advanced Yogis to test their strength, balance, and good humor. In fact, all the joints are strengthened by this sequence and it is a rigorous workout for all the muscles. Have a good time with it.
Beginners: Dancing Shiva, when taken with a light heart and from an experiential viewpoint, is a challenging and fun practice to attempt. Don't push the poses. Take baby steps with the more challenging postures. If you enjoy them, return to them over and over! The Earth-Rain breath body link pulls grounding energy from the earth while showering the mind and body with positive energy flow. Elbows seal as you lift your hands on the inhale. Drop shoulders and release tension on the exhale breath. Keep your weight balanced on both elgs and feel grounded in your feet through the link.
Advanced: Dancing Shiva is an empowering practice for the advanced yogi. It will test your strength, balance and sense of humor. This is a great workout for all the muscles. Enjoy the sequence and it will teach you as much about your spirit as it will your physique! The link is Earth-Rain. Focus on creating energy in the palms of the hands and as the forearms and elbows connect on the inhale lift. Drop the chin and left from the head as your arms rain down on the exhalation. Feel grounded in your feet and tuck your tailbone gently under.
Earlier this year, during Lent, I took on the discipline of veiling or wearing a headcovering of some sort full-time from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. It was a practice that evoked many questions from my friends and peers, and I think it brought an awareness that did not previously exist. When one of the priests from my church asked me how my Lenten discipline was going, I responded that it did not bring me as much joy as I was expecting. I think, though, that it had less to do with the spiritual aspect of veiling and more to do with the practical, everyday stuff... like keeping my veil in place on a windy day or not passing out from heat stroke when it was unseasonably warm for about two weeks or chickening out at the airport when I went to visit my mother-in-law for spring break. These were all key reasons why I didn't love my full-time veiling discipline for Lent, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't do it again. In fact, maybe they are reasons why I absolutely should try it again for Lent next year.
In any case, Lent has long since passed and I am living life uncovered.. which is a good thing since there is no sign of this heat wave ending any time soon. However, I have chosen to continue veiling when I go to church. Instead of the long and flowy scarves I used during Lent, I have opted instead to wear a lightweight and lacy chapel veil. So far, no one at church has said much to me about it except to compliment me on how pretty my veil is. The question of WHY that I've been dreading for the past few weeks has yet to come up and I'm beginning to expect that maybe it never will. Episcopalians are far too polite for that. However, the fact remains that I cannot properly verbalize just why I feel like I should wear a veil at all. To be perfectly honest, I can't verbalize it because I don't know. I don't have a reason. It just feels like something I should do.
While browsing the retail website where I purchased my veil (I'm toying with the idea of getting another one), I happened upon this article explaining the rationale for why Christian women of all denominations should veil during worship. It made reference to the same pieces of Scripture that I had read at least a dozen times during Lent, but it presented a slightly different (or may just easier to understand) perspective about veiling that I really enjoyed. So I'm going to share it with you here in the hope that it will finally put into words what I have been unable to.
"Although the arm balance may pose a challenge, the fun is giving it a try. This flow of movements uses balances, twists and side bends to tone the waistline and increase flexibility in the back and hips. All levels with care." Kate Potter
Beginner: Have fun with the challenges presented by this sequence. You will find familiarity in some poses, and will explore how to approach them when they are changed. Bring your confidence, observe the results of your efforts, then let it all go! The Sun Moon breath body link will call you to take control of your oppositional forces - strength in the legs and feet as you stretch your arms and spine. Be mindful of your alignment on the inhale - tuck your tailbone under and focus on pulling your belly and chest up. On the exhale, contract your belly and use the strength of your arms to bring the calm energy of the moon back to you.
Advanced: Explore balance, arm strength and overall upper body flexibility in this sequence. Focus on expressing each pose fully, being aware of the nuances that increase the benefits of each position. Confidence and a playful approach will make it a lot more fun! upon exhalation in the sun-moon breath body link, feel the earth energy rising through you, lifting with the bandhas. On the inhale, stretch your arms and upper body outward and up as the lower body reaches down
"This sequence starts standing and moves to the floor to take us through the variations of Sage Post and the Sitting Head to Knee. The spine, the shoulders, and the hips are all deeply stretched. Caution to beginners. This is an intermediate/advanced practice." Kate Potter
Beginner: Lord of the Fishes is a challenging sequence. It is designed to teach you to "go with the flow," so bare that in mind as you attempt the postures. It doesn't matter how far you go into each posture, just breathe, and be comfortable and enjoy! The breath body link is Lotus Link. Stretch arms overhead and cross the wrists on the inhale. Arms descend on the exhald and the elbows bend as the wrists and hands begin to open. Keep your shoulders low and body aligned as you move through the link.
Advanced: Lord of the Fishes is invigorating and inspiring. Focus on expressing each pose fully. Use the deepening movements to check your alignment. Lift and open through the torso to keep the breath full. The Lotus Link will draw your attention to your hands, their grace, strength, and fluidity. As you are comfortable with the timing of your breath, focus on using the energy from your center to lift the arms and provide graceful support to the hands as they express the unfurling of the lotus flower.
"Core strength as well as shoulder sand leg flexibility are increased with the practice of this sequence. The dynamic interplay between Sunbird Bow and One Legged Down Dog gives boldness to the phrase and welcomes all attempts. For strong players only." Kate Potter
"The side arm balances in this sequence make it an advanced practice, although with easy modification, everyone is a welcome student. The pace is steady, and the postures stay close to the floor with plenty of hip openers and leg stretches for all levels of experience." Kate Potter
"The Swan Sequence was a cast favorite, with the rhythm and grace of its namesake. The postures flow together with elegance and include all the spinal curves of Cat and Swan rolling, to the deep hip flexor stretches of Pigeon, and One Legged Down Dog. All levels must try." Kate Potter
"This standing sequence starts with easy poses, and then follows with two difficult balances and returns to ease. The challenge is to keep the integrity of the breath throughout. Strength, flexibility, and grace all feature in thsi immediate work out." Kate Potter
Well I made it through my first year of nursing school. Yay me! Surprisingly enough it actually went by much faster than I expected it would this time last year. I ended the semester with a trip to Orlando to attend the annual NTI conference hosted by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. It was a really amazing experience and I'm glad I went. I met a lot of influential nursing leaders, but I also got to meet other critical care nurses. Oh, did I forget to mention that I was accepted to a prestigious nursing externship for the summer? I will be working in a combined medical intensive care unit/cardiac care unit. I am so excited!! I'm really hoping to fine tune my assessment skills and learn a lot about some of the high-tech ICU equipment (ventilators, chest tubes, etc). Earning a paycheck will be AMAZING, but the learning experience with be priceless.
Eternal Lord God, you hold all souls in life: Give to your whole Church in paradise and on earth your light and your peace; and grant that we, following the good examples of those who have served you here and are now at rest, may at last enter with them into your unending joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 253)
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 823)
"The Seated Twist Sequence has a slower pace of moving which is excellent for deep, full breathing and a workout for the lungs. This is a floor sequence featuring hip openers, and spinal rolling. A terrific energizer for all levels." Kate Potter
"Moving with grace through this flow will encourage flexibility while strengthening the legs, shoulders, and abdominal muscles. Intermediate students will find this one both challenging and encouraging." Kate Potter
The following sermon was written by the Reverend Scott Walters of Christ Episcopal Church and is published here with his permission.
“Nobody here likes a wet dog.” That’s what Billy Collins
says. He says,
No one wants anything to do with a dog
that is wet from being out in the rain
or retrieving a stick from a lake.
Look how she wanders around the crowded pub tonight
going from one person to another
hoping for a pat on the head, a rub behind the ears,
something that could be given with one hand
without even wrinkling the conversation.
But everyone pushes her away,
some with a knee, others with the sole of a boot.
Even the children, who don’t realize she is wet
until they go to pet her,
push her away,
then wipe their hands on their clothes.
And whenever she heads toward me,
I show her my palm, and she turns aside.
O stranger of the future!
O inconceivable being!
whatever the shape of your house,
however you scoot from place to place,
no matter how strange and colorless the clothes you may wear,
I bet nobody there likes a wet dog either.
I bet everybody in your pub,
even the children, pushes her away.”
Billy Collins titled that poem “To a Stranger Born in
Some Distant Country Hundreds of Years from Now”. And I’m pretty sure he gets
something just right in it. Our own dog isn’t at her most lovable when she’s
wet. The kids don’t cuddle much with Annie when she steps dripping from the
bath. Nobody is instinctively drawn to a damp, often sour, dishrag that wanders
around begging for approval. And I bet nobody ever will.
So finally, we’ve found one simple thing we can all agree
upon, even across cultures and time: wet dogs are unpleasant. Maybe the unity
of all humankind will follow. Because nothing unites people more naturally and
more completely than agreement about who should be excluded. And nobody here
likes a wet dog.
There are no wet dogs in the book of Acts. But to really
appreciate a turning point we read about today in the story of the early
church, it might help to get our wet dog aversion reflex going strong. And
here’s why. From the distance of all these centuries, it’s easy to assume that
what was being debated among the early followers of Jesus was just a collection
of ideas. Was Jesus the messiah? Was he resurrected? What is a resurrection if
it’s not resuscitation? What’s a Christian? Can a Gentile be one too? Strange
as these questions actually are, reasonable people have debated them for a long
"Although the Triangle sequence is not easy to do perfectly, it is one which will give great benefit to those who give it an honest effort. The emphasis is on lengthening the spine , as the hamstrings are stretched, and strengthening the knees while the hips are loosened." Kate Potter
"This posture sequence stimulates flow of energy from the core to the limbs, and moves through classic standing postures in an easy, gentle manner. Bring comfort and steadiness to your whole body with even breath while exploring the ideas of openness and balance." Kate Potter
The following sermon was written by the Reverend Kate Alexander of Christ Episcopal Church and is published here with her permission.
Easter last Sunday was wonderful. The church was packed. The music was
glorious. The liturgy – beautiful. The roses on the altar – spectacular. Of
course the food at coffee hour was a feast. This is not an exhaustive list of
all that was great last Sunday, but I will add that I’m sure that a new record
was set by the number of children hunting competitively and sometimes
aggressively for eggs in the garden. What a glorious celebration all around.
Not to boast about Easter at Christ Church or anything,
but at the 10:30 service we had over 450 people here. Which leads me to an
issue I want to address. If you do the math, that’s about 225 people, give or
take, drinking wine out of each of the two chalices. Which brings up a question
that silently plagues Episcopalians far and near. It’s the question of germs.
Be honest, we’ve all thought about it. Other denominations bypass the issue by
serving wine or grape juice in individual glasses or even in hermetically
sealed “to go” cups. But we profess to be one body because we all share one
bread and one cup. Which leads us to worry about germs as we drink or dip from
the same cup.
For those who have wondered, studies have actually been
done about this. You’ll be relieved to know that the combination of heavily
fortified wine, like the port we use here, and the sterling silver of the
chalice kills just about every little organism. Plus, we have conscientious
Eucharistic ministers who carefully wipe and turn the cup after each use. So
all in all, there’s basically no chance of catching something communicable from
the cup of wine.
"The Sunbird Sequence wakes up the spine, and energizes the limbs. Have faith in your own abilities as you rise through this practice. Sunbird provides a moment to open the heart with no further expectation than to expand our own capacities." Kate Potter
The following sermon was written by the Reverend Scott
Walters ofChrist Episcopal Churchand is published here with his permission.
What’s your dream about being unprepared or ill equipped?
When you were in grade school, maybe you had that dream in which your teacher
is handing out a test on material you’ve never seen before. Or the one in which
you’ve shown up for the same class, but for some reason, you’re not wearing
pants. Either dream is pretty effective at producing a feeling of inadequacy,
Of course, Freud said that we have those embarrassing
naked dreams because we’re all born exhibitionists. And it’s true that pants
aren’t strictly necessary to the task of writing an essay on the Louisiana
Purchase or reciting the multiples of seven. But I still say the dreams are
really about the fear of being unprepared.
When I was a carpenter I dreamt of working frantically to
finish a job. But when I tried to make a cut, I was suddenly holding my five
year old son’s plastic Fisher-Price saw. It made a nice growling noise when you
pulled the trigger, but it wasn’t much good on a 2X4.
Anxious priests have an archetypal “I can’t find my place
in the prayer book and the whole congregation is looking at me” dream. An added
complication in mine one time was that the chancel had become a huge set of
organ pedals that I was trying nonchalantly to make my way across, honking all
And that’s another curious element in these dreams: our
nonchalance. We try to play it cool. We’re slightly relieved that somehow no
one has noticed our predicament. And the future that we dread—be it a failed
test, horrified stares at our uncovered nether parts, irate clients, or glaring
congregants—the future that we dread has never quite arrived in these dreams.
So we hold on to a little hope that nobody will notice how sadly ill equipped
we are to face whatever it is that’s coming. Maybe the world will return to
normal before they do. Maybe we’ll somehow be prepared for the future when it
“Waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.” It is a small phrase. It is taken
from today’s gospel. But it may be the phrase that lives on long after our loud
and rather brassy “hosannas” of this day have echoed into silence.
what we all spend so much of our lives doing, sometimes with expectation,
sometimes with expectation that something holy will come out of the messes in
which we find ourselves. Waiting in line at the grocery story. Waiting for the
economy to turn around. Waiting for a return to health or a better
relationship. Waiting for the child to return home. Sometimes simply waiting to
always those among us who wait. Period. The gospel story of the Passion of
Christ is filled with waiting, primarily people waiting for death. Pilate is
waiting for Jesus to die. The story tells us that he starts making inquiries as
to whether or not this convicted criminal is dead. Something must be done with
anyone who would challenge the power structures of the day.
religious officials are waiting for Jesus to die, no doubt. Those of us in the
official religious world are never quite comfortable when someone comes along
and questions how we have always done things. Today’s gospel should be sobering
for members of the clergy.
And I bet
Peter is waiting for Jesus to die. Each of us knows only too well how painful
it is to face someone whom we have let down, as exemplified when Peter denies
his friendship with Jesus. We simply want the injured party to go away so we
will not feel shame any longer.
Why didn't anyone tell me how much I would LOVE working as a labor and delivery nurse?! Today I had the first clinical day of my "Nursing Care of the Childbearing Family" course. Over the course of six weeks we rotate through three different units: labor and delivery, postpartum, and the NICU. Today I spent my 12 hours on the labor and delivery unit and it was AMAZING! I've never attended a live birth before, so the whole experience was entirely brand new to me. I can't give any details or tell you any stories without violating patient confidentiality. But I can say that I got to assist in a delivery, watched another delivery, and helped a laboring mom as the anesthesiologist placed her epidural. I can't explain what exactly it is that I love so much about labor and delivery. I think it was partly the atmosphere of women helping women (sorry guys). Both of the residents working today were women and all the nurses were women. I've had this vision in my head of a nurse practitioner-run women's clinic for a while now. I am in love with the idea of an holistic women's health center run by nurse practitioners that includes general health care, obstetrics and gynecology, nutritional counseling, birthing classes, parenting classes, prenatal yoga, and a natural birthing center. Maybe that is the direction I want my nursing career to take....
For the many Americans who are not personally affected by the conflicts overseas, it can be easy to forget the price paid by so many soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors... and their families. On the Fourth of July and September 11th, people will express a surge of patriotic sentiment. But how many of them will still feel the same way in a week or a month? If you've never known someone lost to war, it's difficult to explain the weight of the grief that you carry with you. Remember to keep our service men and women in your prayers EVERY SINGLE DAY. Don't let the media confuse you. We still have husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and friends protecting and defending our freedoms overseas. They are risking their lives RIGHT NOW. Thousands of families here at home could lose a loved one at any moment. Many of those who do make it home do so with debilitating physical and psychological wounds. They will carry their experiences with them for the rest of the lives. Please consider making a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project as they work every day to honor and empower our wounded heroes. Don't just turn a blind eye to their struggles and pretend like you support our troops when it's convenient for you. Put your money where your mouth is. That magnet on the back of your pick up truck doesn't help anyone. We want to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history. They're not a tool for political grandstanding. They're people. And they need your help. Pray for their safe return to their families and pray for peace around the world.
It's been a while since I wrote anything about my experience with veiling, so I thought I would give you all a quick update on how things have been going. I'm sure there are a few of you who are eagerly awaiting my epiphany on all the spiritual gifts of veiling and how I may have grown in my relationship with God. But I'll be completely honest in saying that I cannot wait for Easter Sunday to be here. I don't know what I expected this veiling experience to be like, but it has not satisfied me the way I thought it would.
One of my primary motivations for veiling this Lent was as an act of penance for my vanity and to humble myself a little. The problem is that instead of spending lots of time and energy on my hair every morning, I'm spending it on selecting the perfect scarf to wear and making sure it coordinates with whatever outfit I have on that day. I feel like I spend most of my day fussing with my scarf either because it's super windy and the stupid thing won't stay in place, because I'm overheating and I want to re-position it so I get good air circulation underneath, or some other equally ridiculous reason. The intention was for it to make things simpler and take attention away from my appearance, but I feel like it's had the exact opposite effect.
In contrast, I will say that I have enjoyed veiling at church. I feel like it helps keep me from being distracted by the other parishioners by acting kind of like blinders. However, I think that I might actually be more of a distraction to others than I when my "glory" (my hair) was showing. In retrospect, I think the whole exercise of veiling would have been more effective and more rewarding if I had chosen to veil only at church and if I had purchased either a black or white chapel veil to wear instead. That would turn my practice of veiling into a symbol of the sanctity of the sacraments and our corporate worship. I am still considering this for myself for after Easter.
One thing that has been fun about veiling is having the opportunity to talk about it with some of my peers. For the most part, no one from nursing school has really asked me about veiling. I was actually quite surprised by this for the first few days because I had assumed that people would be curious about it. But I am very proud to say that my fellow students are very culturally competent, something which is pretty much beaten into our heads from day one, and those who have asked me about it have been very polite in doing so. Others have been reading this blog. Either way, it has been rewarding to introduce others to the idea of veiling. Even if none of them ever pick up the practice, they will be better informed should they ever encounter a patient or patient's family member who does.
As for me, I am trying to figure out a good solution for when the hubs and I take our little man cub down to Florida to visit with Grandma next week. I'm thinking I may go with some wide-brimmed sun hats in place of my lightweight scarves so I don't pass out from the heat. Oh, and did I mention how I'll be traveling via airport with the baby by myself? That should be fun. I wonder what the TSA agents will think of my headcoverings?