Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Saturday, May 19, 2018

It takes a village to elect a bishop

Today, the Episcopal Diocese of Newark elected the Rev'd Carlye J. Hughes as its eleventh bishop.  The election was won on the first ballot.

There were three candidates: Carlyle J. Hughes of Ft. Worth, TX, Lisa Hunt of Houston, TX and Scott Slater of Maryland.

There were 116 clerical and 241 laity ballots that were cast. A simple majority was required concurrently in both orders. That meant 59 votes in the clerical order and 121 votes from the laity.

Bishop-elect Hughes won with 62 (out of 59 needed) clerical votes and 141 (out of 121 needed) votes from the laity. You can find all the details here.

She is the first woman and the first African American woman to be elected bishop in the Diocese of Newark. She joins one other diocesan bishop who is an African American woman (Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows) and two others who are Bishops Suffragan (Barbara Harris, retired and Gayle Harris).

My phone has been blowing up. Social Media has been absolutely agog.

There is great joy in The Episcopal Church today.

This morning, our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, the first African American man to be elected Presiding Bishop, was privileged to deliver the sermon at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

We have gotten more than our "market share" of PR from these two events.

Update: Even SNL's Weekend Update featured a parody of a visit from Michael Curry. Okay, they didn't get him exactly right and they said he was "the bishop from Chicago" but it's a parody, for goodness sake.

Amid the many congratulatory messages I received from Episcopalians and non-Episcopalians alike, came the same question, over and over again: How did you do it? How did you get a woman elected? And, an African-American woman at that?

The expected answer, of course, is "the work of the Holy Spirit". As Bishop-Elect Hughes said in her acceptance remarks, "I am well aware that moments like this do not come in a vacuum. It takes a village to discern a call to the episcopacy."

My answer to that is not an answer but to make a few observations.

First, I think it's much easier to imagine something when you've seen examples of it. I think it's much easier to imagine a black woman as your bishop once you've seen other strong, black women in the role of leadership.

So, yes to the three African American women who are already bishops and especially to Barbara Harris, the first woman to be bishop in The Episcopal Church who is also a woman of color; but I'm also thinking about strong, black women who are leaders like Sandye Wilson (pray for justice), Teddy Brooks, Nan Arrington Peete, Stephanie Spellers, April Alford-Harkey and a growing contingent of amazing others. (Please feel free to add the names of other women in the comments).

I also don't want to discount women like Michele Obama, Kamala Harris, Maxine Waters, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and, of course, Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordon. We see and hear these intelligent, wise women leading our government, some of them against odds that are daunting.

We also see and hear strong women of color, especially African American women, who are doctors, lawyers, judges, scientists, teachers, professors, and yes, astronauts.

And, go ahead and snicker, but I wouldn't minimize the impact of the recent Beyonce Mass held at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco which was a celebration of the spirituality of Black Women. Or, Oprah Winfrey who has a program on her own network about spirituality.

The word is out that the stereotype of Black women is cruel and wrong. The word is out that Black women are intelligent, strong, skilled, capable and wise.

I think, when "the word is out," that is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working.

And, people pay attention to that.

The week after the "Walkabouts" the Newark Episcopal Clergy Association (NECA) reorganized itself and gathered together to discuss the candidates. The word was out about that.

Two weeks later, just this past week, the women clergy gathered to discuss the candidates and develop a strategy for election. With two women out of three candidates, there was a definite 'buzz' to the word that went out about that.

The word was also out that the Newark Chapter of The Union of Black Episcopalians had also caucused.

Now, some would call that 'politics'. Some would say that with more than a bit of obvious disdain. As if 'politics' were a vehicle too tarnished for the Holy Spirit.

That is not to say that anyone sent out word that one candidate was favored over another. Indeed, people were pretty tight-lipped about what was discussed or if any concenses had been reached.

That is also not to say that the other two candidates weren't qualified and might have also made good bishops. The Search Committee did  a good job presenting us with a qualified slate.

And, it's absolutely not to say that folks were working purposefully AGAINST anyone. I didn't hear or see any evidence of that. And, even though I live in DE, my heart is still in the DioNwk and my ear is still pretty close to the ground there. The network of relationships among the baptized is "the tie that binds our hearts" and will do so forever.

It is to say that I think that, when "the word goes out" (even when that was not the intention), that is evidence of the work of the Spirit.

And, people begin to pay attention to that.

I'm sure Bishop-Elect Hughes (or any of the other candidates, in fact) probably didn't know about these groups meeting, but it might have been part of what she meant when she said that "moments like this don't come in a vacuum."

I think that is at least part of what she might have meant when she said that "it takes a village to discern a call to the episcopacy."

She called out the Diocese of Ft. Worth in general and the church where she is presently rector, Trinity Episcopal, as well as her fellow candidates and the Diocese of Newark, in general and the ministry of Bishop Beckwith in particular for being integral parts of that "village".

Yes, yes, yes and, yes, of course.

And, I think when "the word goes out" that specific demographic groups are meeting, the Holy Spirit moves in powerful ways.

What do you think happened when "the word went out" that the disciples were "hiding out" in that Upper Room for a couple of days after the crucifixion? Do you really think those guys were just up there, shaking in their sandles the whole time?

Do you suppose it was Monday or Tuesday after the resurrection when Peter slapped his hand to the table, got up and said, "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going fishing!"?

And, the word went out.

And, people paid attention.

And, with that, the Jesus Movement began to take its first few steps.

Tomorrow is Pentecost, the day when the people of God were given the gift of the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus in the power of The Holy Spirit.

I think we, in The Episcopal Church, have had a "Pentecostal" moment today, in the powerful preaching of our Presiding Bishop - the first African American man to hold that position - and the election on the first ballot of a new bishop for the Diocese of Newark - the first African American woman to do so.

It does take a village to discern and elect a bishop.

But it takes the Holy Spirit, working through all sort and manner of people in a great variety of ways.

Including "politics".

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Conscience + Tolerance = Unity

General Convention is just around the corner so, of course, we're going to talk about sex in general and homosexuality in particular,  marriage - especially "gay marriage" (which, you would correctly assume is not about a "happy" marriage), selling 815 and moving it someplace to the middle of the country (which surprisingly gives rise to heated debate) or revising the Book of Common Prayer.

It's as predictable as General Convention happening every three years.

This year - probably because there are several resolutions proposing "expansive language" and the Rites of Marriage for Same Sex Couples as part of the BCP - when it is revised, the heated discussion is around revising the BCP.

This year, a fascinating thing is happening: the same lament is being heard from different ends of the spectrum for Prayer Book Revision. There's even a special and different FB page entitled: "Prayer Book Revision: Discussion and Debate".

Those who don't really want to engage in the discussion, much less the process of revision - mostly bishops who have a firm grasp on the power and authority of their office but not on the reality of the people they are called to serve - are claiming "No one really wants to revise the BCP".

As if.

But, some Very Anxious people are believing them, anyway.  

I'm not hearing that. At all. Just 5 minutes on the FB page linked above will prove that point. Revising the BCP seems to be hot on everyone's lips - all representing their own particular perspective.

What I am hearing is that there seem to be two camps: One large group of feminist men and women are making the argument about inclusive/expansive language. The other, smaller but more vocal group wants a return to the language of Rite I and 1928 BCP.

I know, right? Couldn't get more binary than that.

I'm also hearing another small group of folks say that the mistake of the 1979 BCP was returning the primacy of the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist (they want to be more like the RCs and have "seven sacraments" vs our "two sacraments and five sacramental rites). 

They also say that having Eucharist as the normative Sunday service is a "hardship" (seriously) because there are not enough clergy to preside at Eucharist on Sunday morning; they claim the situation is worse with the "clergy shortage".

So, my question is "What clergy shortage?" I see lots of clergy more than willing to serve congregations. I see some congregations unable/unwilling to pay clergy a fair wage. I also see a shortage of congregations - and BISHOPS - who are willing to think creatively about the collaborative efforts of the ministry of the laity and the ministry of the ordained. 

So, they want to change the BCP because it's easier than changing themselves.

Or (gasp) "What we've ALWAYS done".

Finally, the other argument/concern I'm hearing raised is: "BOOK of Common Prayer?? How passe! We don't do BOOKS anymore. We are in the age of technology. Don't buy BOOKS. Save the planet! Save the forests! Buy TABLETS or KINDLES or NOOKS, install WiFi in the church and download what you want and need in the service."

So, I am hearing some - some, not a lot - in the middle saying, softly, "Hmmm . . . . maybe this is a can of worms we don't want to open. Maybe we can make the point another way."

I'm also hearing the argument that this is what "Mother Church" (meaning CofE) is doing - keeping "the original" BCP and just authorizing supplemental texts.

That could be a typical batch of Anglican fudge. Or, it could be a more accurate reflection of the reality of the great diversity that has become The Episcopal Church. 

Me? While I love the theological improvements of the 1979 BCP, I do admit that I'm weary of having my gender italicized. I can't imagine what that must feel like for folks who are gender trans or fluid. 

I'd like the normative language of the prayers of this church in terms of God and the people of God to be expansive and inclusive.

Originally, I came down on the side of our needing a revised BCP. Now. Yesterday, in fact. 

I know. It's going to take at least three General Conventions before that's a reality.

After listening to and engaging in several conversations, I'm actually now leaning more toward a "smorgasbord" approach like that of the CofE. Instead of trying to please everyone with a revision of the 1979 BCP that "is inclusive of everyone" (an impossible task, anyway), it might be better to offer a whole host of additionally authorized texts.

The tipping point in my thinking process came when someone on a FB page wrote simply: "manifold sins and offenses". 

I don't know that person or how she meant it. I took it as snark. And, it stung. Just my experience. That's not important or even the point I'm trying to make. Bear with me here.

Now, that's not my theology of sin or God or God's people. That's waaaay too Calvin for me. 

But, I know and love people who love that language. The poetry. The meter. Funny thing is, that language doesn't really express their theology of sin or God or God's people, either. It is the language that they know and love. The language they learned when they were children. It brings them a sense of comfort to say the same words they've been saying for decades.

Let me try to explain it this way: I see in their faces my face when I was at the airport in Bangkok, Thailand and couldn't find a cab driver who spoke English. When I did, I had that same look on my face: Relief mixed with comfort. It wasn't WHAT he said. It was THAT he spoke "my language". 

Does that make sense?

Okay, one other example: Ms. Conroy is a nurse with national credentials in Hospice/Palliative Care. In the 80s she was deeply involved in caring for people who were dying in the AIDS pandemic. She would attend 8 AM Mass at a High Anglo-Catholic church which used the 1928 BCP.  And, OBTW, loudly proclaimed that they "neither believed in nor accepted the ordination of women."

When I asked Ms. Conroy why she would attend that church, she said, "Look, no matter what I do, my patients die on me. I need one hour, once a week, where I can hear the language of my youth that provides me with the illusion that God is in control. I'm surrounded by painful realities. Please don't take away this one hour of illusion. It helps me make it through the rest of the week and it's the way I'll get through this plague."

We say that we want revision because we know that liturgy and language are powerful tools for shaping and forming faith and belief. And, they are. Absolutely. 

And yet, when we mock or want to eliminate older forms of the BCP, we totally disrespect what has already been done. We can't change that. We are not powerful enough to change that. Besides, it's not so much about belief as it is about respecting that language of a formative culture that is different from our own.

And, what of those who want Rite One and even the language and theology of the 1928 BCP? Can we demand changes WE want to see without making room for the changes others want to return to what once was? Even if we think they should "know better"?

So much for "inclusion".

I don't want to forget this point: Blessed Dan Stevick, who was on the SCLM that gave us the 1979 BCP, was my liturgy professor. He liked to point out the effort for inclusion in the 1979 prayer book while simultaneously admitting that it was out of date the minute it hit the printing press. 

He pointed out that there were three forms - Rite I, II and III - and 7 authorized Eucharistic forms in the 79 BCP:

Rite I: Prayer I and Prayer II (most like 1928 BCP)

Rite II:
Prayer A - most like Rite I with "modern language".
Prayer B - most like the Roman Catholic form
Prayer C - a nod to the Evangelicals in our church, with the more penitential nature and more congregational participation.
Prayer D - most like the Orthodox form of prayer.

Rite III - Follows the "shape of the liturgy" while allowing for more individual, creative, spontaneous prayer using whatever language "the traffic would allow" (as he said, tongue in cheek, meaning not "traffic" but "bishop".)

Is it enough? No. Dan admitted that. But it was a start. We need to continue, as Dan encouraged us to continue, reminding us not to fall into the trap of "worshiping the worship" but continuing to worship God in "the common language of prayer".

So, to revise the BCP or to leave the "good intentions" of the 1979 BCP in place as the "normative" while making it abundantly clear  to bishops that clergy need to provide for their congregations the liturgy that will be most nourishing for them, where they are, at this time in their life cycle?

I was always taught that the one thing that holds the Episcopal Church together is not theology or the constitution and canons but the BCP. There is great wisdom and truth to that. The same is true around the Anglican Communion with each their own authorized individual BCPS. 

Imagine! A church held together by prayer! What a concept, eh?

That is really what is at the heart of being Anglican: Some agreed upon norm of "common prayer" with tolerance for other forms of prayer. 

This strikes at the heart of one of the principles of Anglicanism: Tolerance. And, tolerance flows from the Aquinas' notion of the primacy of Conscience. 

Conscience is especially important to keep in mind, especially as we consider the various Christologies there are from all of the wonderful diversity that has blossomed and taken root in our church. 

In your spare time, check out "Christology: A Global Introduction" by Veli-Matti Karkkainen. 

If you haven't already, be introduced to the differences in Western Christologies (Barth, Bultman, Tillich, Zizioulas, Rahner, Moltmann, etc.) and Contextual Christologies (Process, Black, Feminist, and Postmodern Christologies, as well as Christology in Latin America, Jon Sobrino's Christ as Liberator, African Christology as a Search for Power, Benezet Bujo and Christ as Ancestor, Christology in Asia and the Search for Meaning as well as Stanley Samartha and Christ the Universal Savior). Make sure to read the Epilogue:  "The Future of Christology".

So, before we start talking about "norms" and which and whose "norms" ought to be "normative", we need to back up - way, waaay up - and have a conversation - hell, many conversations over great pots of tea or glasses of single-malt scotch - about what it means to be 

(1) a Christian who is 
(2) Episcopalian with all of our cultural diversity and 
(3) part of the Anglican Communion. 

That will bring us into a deep dive into the history of our formation (especially Reformation history - not freely offered at many Episcopal seminaries) which will lead us into what I trust will be rich discussions about theology and philosophy.

Then, maybe - just maybe - we'll be able to settle on conversations that will take us long into the night about what Jesus meant when he prayed the high priestly prayer, "that they all may be one" as he and God are one. 

And, we'll talk about UNITY and how that is achieved.

And, maybe we'll remember what St. Paul said which one of the early Lambeth's proclaimed (? 1938?) about what it means to be an Anglican - the "norm" of making theological decisions as Anglicans: that we "seek the mind of Christ".

So, for me, it's not so much about language which suits me but what makes me part of the whole that tries to live into the high-priestly prayer of Jesus for UNITY while balancing Acquinas' notion of CONSCIENCE and practicing Anglican TOLERANCE, all the while "seeking the mind of Christ."

Not easy. Been trying to do it all my life. It's a lovely thought to think that it could all be changed through revision of our BCP. I fear it isn't. But, as St. Paul's says, "it will be perfected in the doing."

So, if you haven't been having this conversation in your circles, please consider it. I hope it will expand your perspective and maybe even change your mind. 

Just know that you are going to piss off some of the people some of the time, just by raising this as something to be discussed. They'll say, "Oh, NO ONE wants to revise the BCP."

If you're lucky, maybe you'll even change your mind a couple of times.  

Like, I'm just thinking: Maybe we'd best start with the 1980 hymnal. There's more yucky theology and offensive language in there than there is in either the 1928 or 1979 BCP. 

See what I mean?

Friday, May 11, 2018

Twenty-one Ways to Fight Sexual Assault, Harassment, Rape, Violence and Oppression in The Episcopal Church

Twenty-one ways to fight sexual assault, harassment, rape, violence, and oppression in The Episcopal Church

1. Declare a National, International and Diocesan Zero Tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, rape, violence and oppression in The Episcopal Church.

2. In the local congregation, have the priest, deacon and laity create a zero-tolerance statement and post it beside or near the church’s mission statement: Example: If any abuse – to anyone but especially women and children – occurs in this church, we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law no matter who the offender might be.

3. Commit to equal representation of women in leadership and decision-making positions in the church, which special attention to women of color and young people.

4. Have various groups in the church sponsor a #MeToo evening to listen to stories of survivors.

5. Use the hashtag #MeToo on the church and diocesan outdoor sign, church bulletin/diocesan announcements and web page.

6. Require all leaders – laity and ordained – to study the issue of sexual assault, harassment, rape, violence and gender-based oppression.

7. Post domestic violence and sexual assault hotline numbers in church/diocesan restrooms and coat rooms.

8. Post warning signs of domestic abuse and abuse of children in the church/diocesan newsletter or announcement section of the service bulletin.

9. Raise congregational awareness about the “grooming behaviors” of predators.

10. Take regular offerings for a local community domestic violence shelter and add the name of the shelter to the weekly Prayer List.

11. Intentionally use the word ‘sexual violence’ in prayers, sermons, adult education and public conversation instead of “misconduct” or “boundary violation”.

12. Focus liturgies and educational programs about sexual violence on injustice/justice instead of just healing.

13. Hang posters in April for Sexual Assault Aware¬ness Month and in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

14. Plan education classes/adult forum/liturgies on these issues during April and October.

15. Invite a victims’ advocate to lead an adult education class or series.

16. Preach a sermon or teach a series on biblical “texts of terror”*, such as Tamar’s story.

17. When the topics of human sexuality in general and sexual violence in particular are spoken in the church or preached from the pulpit, do so in a frank and forthright manner without using code words or making inappropriate jokes.

18. Maintain and update safe church child protection policies and review regularly with staff and leadership along with Zero Tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment, abuse, violence and oppression.

19. Establish a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” in dioceses as well as nationally and internationally to allow those who have been harmed the opportunity to tell the truth of their stories and raise awareness about the scope of the problem of sexual harassment, abuse, violence and oppression.

20. Review all congregational and diocesan compensation and benefit policies and their applications among male and female clergy employed in the diocese.

21. Establish a diocesan/national and/or international HR Committee where issues of discrimination in compensation may be brought for arbitration and negotiation.

Adapted from “A pastor's #MeToo story”, Ruth Everhart, Christian Century, 12/4/17.

PLEASE NOTE: The list was compiled from suggestions from many women on several social media sites. It is suggestive, not prescriptive. It is not presented in order of priority or establishment of a planned approach. What may work well in one community of faith may not work well in another. Women must be involved in all levels of the discussion of this issue and especially in the decision-making of the planned actions. This list is not exhaustive. If something has worked well in your community of faith, if you have developed a liturgy – in whole or part – or an educational model, please make it known and share it with others.

* “Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives” by Phyllis Trible.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Greatest of These is Love

Note: Once a year hospice chaplains are usually charged with developing an Interfaith Service of Remembrance for the families and friends of our patients who have died. In my experience, the fatal flaw in interfaith services is that the seek the "lowest common denominator" which inevitably leads to the kind of bland, boring service that is like unto eating Twinkies and singing Kumbya. This service is not like that. It's a lovely layering of several cultural expressions about faith, hope and love. We conducted this service tonight and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The prayers were led by a variety of staff. The music was led by our Music Therapist who did a few solos along with one of our Chaplains who sang "Portrait of My Love". I post this here mostly to save this service for myself for future reference but also for your consideration and use.

An Interfaith Service of Remembrance
May 10, 2018

Prelude “Breaths” (Sweet Honey in the Rock)    


Opening Prayer and lighting of Candle    

At times our own light goes out
and is rekindled by a spark from
another person. Each of us has
cause to think with deep gratitude
of those who have lit the flame within us.  AMEN.

“Beautiful Life”         (solo)                                 

Reading together                                        

A Prayer of Remembrance             from the Jewish Prayer Book

In the rising of the sun, and in its going down, we remember them..
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.
So long as they live, we, too, shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them. 

"Tell your Heart To Beat Again"  (solo)
     On the Death of the Beloved     by John O’Donohue

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul's gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

We sing together:     “Blessed Be The Tie That Binds”  (John Fawcett)

1.Blest be the tie that binds                            4. When we are called to part,           
our hearts throughout our love;                      it gives us inward pain;
the fellowship of kindred minds                     but we shall still be joined in heart,
is like to that above                                         and hope to meet again.

2. Before the holy throne                                5. This glorious hope revives 
we pour our ardent prayers;                           our courage by the way;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one            while each in expectation lives
our comforts and our cares                             and waits to see the day.

3. We share our mutual woes,                         6. From sorrow, toil and pain,
our mutual burdens bear,                                and sin, we shall be free;
and often for each other flows                        and perfect love and friendship reign
the sympathizing tear.                                                through all eternity.

A Reading from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13                
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

“Portrait of My Love”          (solo)    

A Reading         They Are with Us Still         By Kathleen McTigue
In the ­struggles we choose for ourselves,
in the ways we move forward in our lives
and bring our world forward with us,

It is right to remember the names of those
who gave us strength in this choice of living.
It is right to name the power of hard lives well-lived.

We share a history with those lives.
We belong to the same motion.

They too were strengthened by what had gone before.
They too were drawn on by the vision of what might come to be.

Those who lived before us,
who ­struggled for justice and suffered injustice before us,
have not melted into the dust,
and have not disappeared.

They are with us still.
The lives they lived hold us steady.

Their words remind us and call us back to ourselves.
Their courage and love evoke our own.
We, the living, carry them with us:
we are their voices, their hands and their hearts.

We take them with us,
and with them choose the deeper path of living.

Images of Our Loved Ones         A special video prepared by our Volunteer Coordinator

We invite you to share a memory of your loved one.

We sing together:                 “Let It Be”                 The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And in my hour of darkness
she is standing right in front of me
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when he broken hearted people
living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.

For though they may be parted there is
still a chance that they will see.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be. Yeah.
There will be an answer, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,
there is still a light that shines on me,
shine on until tomorrow, let it be.

I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.

There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
Closing Prayer                                                        

The Sacred Hoop by Black Elk
Then I was standing
on the highest mountain
of them all,

And round about beneath me
was the whole hoop
of the world.

And while I stood there
I saw more than I can tell

And I understood more
than I saw;

for I was seeing
in a sacred manner
the shapes of all things
in the spirit,

and the shape
of all shapes
as they must live
together like one being.

And I saw that the sacred hoop
of my people
was one of many hoops
that made one circle,
wide as daylight and as starlight,

and in the center grew one
mighty flowering tree

to shelter all children
of one mother
and one father.

And I saw that it was holy.

Closing Blessing                                           
My friends, life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who make this earthly pilgrimage with us, so be swift to love and make haste to do kindness. And, the blessing of God be upon you and remain with you this day and forever more. AMEN

Postlude: “I’ll Be Seeing You”  (Fain & Kahal)    (solo)

     The entire staff and administration would like to thank you for joining us this evening for this service of remembrance. Please consider stopping by our fountain place a stone in the fountain in memory of your loved one. You are welcome to stay and enjoy some light refreshments and conversations with each other and the staff.


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

National Nurse's Week

Note: I work with some of the B.E.S.T. nurses. Seriously. The. Best. I am in awe of them. Every day.

At work today, we honored our nurses with a wonderful luncheon, complete with cake and cookies, a lovely potted plant for each nurse, and a lunch box and water bottle - you know, that new kind you can put fruit into (like oranges or lemons or limes) to naturally flavor your water. Our staff physician also had a special gift for each nurse.

Of course, I thought they all should get a $100,000 raise, but, that not being either possible or probable, the luncheon was lovely. 

The following is the meditation I used for the occasion. We each took a quote and read it aloud. 

Ms. Nightengale was quite a woman. In addition to founding nursing as a profession, she was also a theologian. I have a book of her theology somewhere but I couldn't put my hand on it. So, these are quotes from her book, written in 1859.

Pleae feel free to share with a nurse in your life. Or, at least thank them for what is often a thankless job - well, except for the enormous satisfaction they get from living out their vocation.


Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820. Part of a wealthy family, Nightingale defied the expectations of the time and pursued what she saw as her God-given calling of nursing. During the Crimean War, she and a team of nurses improved the unsanitary conditions at a British base hospital, greatly reducing the death count. Her writings sparked worldwide health care reform, and in 1860 she established St. Thomas' Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. A revered hero of her time, she died on August 13, 1910, in London.

Here are just a few of the things she wrote in “Nursing: What it is and what it is not” (1859):

Wise and humane management of the patient is the best safeguard against infection.

A dark house is always an unhealthy house, always an ill-aired house, always a dirty house. Want of light stops growth and promotes scrofula, rickets, etc., among the children. People lose their health in a dark house, and if they get ill, they cannot get well again in it.

The symptoms or the sufferings generally considered to be inevitable and incidental to the disease are very often not symptoms of the disease at all, but of something quite different—of the want of fresh air, or of light, or of warmth, or of quiet, or of cleanliness, or of punctuality and care in the administration of diet, of each or of all of these.

All disease, at some period or other of its course, is more or less a reparative process, not necessarily accompanied with suffering: an effort of nature to remedy a process of poisoning or of decay, which has taken place weeks, months, sometimes years beforehand, unnoticed.

The amount of relief and comfort experienced by the sick after the skin has been carefully washed and dried, is one of the commonest observations made at a sick bed.

If a patient is cold, if a patient is feverish, if a patient is faint, if he is sick after taking food, if he has a bed-sore, it is generally the fault not of the disease, but of the nursing.”

The only English patients I have ever known refuse tea, have been typhus cases; and the first sign of their getting better was their craving again for tea.

It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm.

No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other definition of what a nurse should be than this – ‘devoted and obedient’. This definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse. It would not do for a policeman.

Women should have the true nurse calling, the good of the sick first the second only the consideration of what is their ‘place’ to do – and that women who want for a housemaid to do this or the charwomen to do that, when the patient is suffering, have not the making of a nurse in them.

Every nurse ought to be careful to wash her hands very frequently during the day. If her face, too, so much the better.

The greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.

How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.

I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.

The world is put back by the death of every one who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality.

Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.

Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.
I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.

So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.

To understand God’s thoughts one must study statistics… the measure of his purpose.

Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head (not, how can I always do this right thing myself, but) how can I provide for this right thing to be always done?

There is no part of my life, upon which I can look back without pain.

The craving for ‘the return of the day’, which the sick so constantly evince, is generally nothing but the desire for light.

I do see the difference now between me and other men. When a disaster happens, I act and they make excuses.

The first possibility of rural cleanliness lies in water supply.

Live life when you have it. Life is a splendid gift-there is nothing small about it.