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, June 10, 2017

I'm a fan of Bill Maher


I am a fan of Bill Maher. 

Yes, he's crass and vulgar but he's also politically astute and fearless in exposing hypocrisy in all its many and varied forms - political, religious, governmental, financial, personal, etc.  - and on all sides of the political spectrum - Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

I also appreciate the fact that it is dangerous to stand at the intersection of political commentary and humor. But, Maher doesn't just stand there. He dances - "like a special kind of monkey" - as he describes comedians. He pushes the boundaries of the intersections. 

He's got "ovaries". Or, as my favorite friends in New Jersey would say, "cojones". He makes me think, opening places in my mind with humor that I wouldn't be able to access otherwise.

I was a fan before he said the "n" word last week. 
I am even more a fan after last night's show.

He invited three African Americans to "school him behind the woodshed" on race: Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, actor-rapper Ice Cube, and Symone Sanders, a Democratic strategist and former press secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

That was after his sincere apology. He also apologized again - and again - and again, to each of the three guests as well as his viewing audience in general and African-Americans in particular. That took enormous courage and integrity. I admire him for that because that set up an opportunity for everyone in his audience to learn along with him.

Yes, what Maher said was racist but he, himself, is not a "racist".  It is important to understand the subtle, often unseen influence of white privilege - especially as more and more of us have deeper, more intimate relationships and friendships with people of color.

No matter how hard we try, there are some experiences we simply do not share - and there are some words that hold those experiences that we can not understand and must never use.

I recently spent some time with two white men - one older, one younger - who are strong allies in the movement for reproductive health, rights, choice and justice. 
 
They insisted that we should clear the slate and all get on board working for "reproductive justice". 
How white and male of them, right?

Some of us took it upon ourselves to "school" them about the unique movement for reproductive justice which was begun by Black women as the framework from which they work for reproductive freedom. (Google "Sister Song" for a history of this movement and the framework from which it works for reproductive freedom).

It's easy enough to do. We're part of the movement for reproductive freedom. We're working for justice in sme form. So, it's easier to say, "reproductive justice", right? 

And, it certainly doesn't prohibit white women and men and women and men of other races and cultures to work with and for organizations like Sister Song.
 
Some of us are working on different frames for that freedom.  It's important to honor and respect our differences. It's what helps us work better together. 

Some of us come at it from the issue of health, emphasizing the particular health needs of women and our bodies. Others come to the issue from the perspective of rights, working the legal implications of the moral autonomy of women. 
 
Still others - mostly white women who stand on their societal perspective of privilege as white women - insist that the issue is that of choice. 
 
Women of color, who have to struggle for bodily sovereignty and moral autonomy in concert with the struggle against the formidable foes of racism and sexism and all other forms of oppression, have their own framework.

We must honor and include all these four frames and the places where they intersect. We are stronger when we do that. We can not - must not, should not - appropriate language that belongs to others - especially people of color.

In listening to last night's program, it became clear to me that Maher's "accidental racism" came not from a place of bad or evil intent but of the assumption of privilege. 
 
"What made you think you could use that word?" asked Ice Cube. 
 
"I used it without thinking," said Maher. 

"Some people get too familiar and they cross the line," said Ice Cube. "That's our word and you can't have it back."

I can't imagine a clearer depiction of white male privilege than that. 

(You can watch segments of the program here, )

When the news hit the fan last week, there were good, white, liberal folk who called for Maher's immediate firing. 
 
The apology was not enough for them. They conflated their disdain for Maher's brand of humor with their disdain for racism and called for his dismissal, thereby killing two birds with one stone. 
 
I get that. I disagree - I don't think it's right - but I get it.

It's the "holier-than-thou" components of the liberal spectrum which concern me the most. In my estimation, they are no different from the extreme other end of the spectrum on the right. 

In their chants all over social media, from "Bill Maher is a Racist" to "Fire Bill Maher" I distinctly heard echos of "Lock her up."
 
There is absolutely NO conversation with these folk - on the Right or on the Left. It's hard, you know, when you're sitting on your high horse to allow yourself to come down and talk with folk who hold different perspectives.

What really distresses me is that these righteous Liberals hide behind their good intentions and Christianity to defend and define themselves against those on the radical right. 
 
It doesn't work. Not with me. It's too important to them to be seen as a politically correct uber-Christian with zero tolerance for prejudice. 

It's interesting to me that people of color are willing to demand accountablility while simultaneously offering forgiveness and seizing the opportunity to use a "teachable moment" - which Maher was obviously not only willing to experience in full public view but requested and used all of his resources to achieve.

We could learn alot by keeping our mouths shut and listening more and learning from people of color and people who are otherwise oppressed. As my blessed grandmother would say, "There's a reason you have two ears and only one mouth."

First thing: Stop appropriating language. And cultural or religious expressions. And, dress. And, land.
 
Anyone who actually watched Bill Maher's show last night knows that he did not get a "pass". 
 
It is clear that racism is still with us - will probably always be with us - and that racism is enhanced at the intersection of all the other prejudices, especially white privilege. 
 
If you were watching and paying attention last night, you might have learned something about Maher's integrity -  as well as your own. 

There were hard lessons to be learned in last night's program, some of which made me embarrassed at my own "benign ignorance" and others which made me laugh - right out loud - at myself and the human condition.

Which is why I'm still a fan of Bill Maher.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Pentecost: New ears, new heart, new spirit

Steve Wickham

A Sermon for Pentecost  - June 4, 2017
St. Philip's Episcopal Church, Laurel, Delaware
(the Rev'd Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton)


What can I say about Pentecost that you haven’t heard before? Maybe 10 times before?

That it’s the birthday of the church? Well, that has always struck me as a little too Hallmark-card sentimental by a half. When we listen to the story of Pentecost in the Book of Acts, I don’t see anything there that even remotely looks like the church today.

People talking in different languages and yet everyone understands?

Nope. Not in any Episcopal church I’ve ever attended.

Are there Medes handing out bulletins in the back of the church, while the Parthians prepare for the coffee hour and the Cretans and Arabs warm up in the choir? Are there Elamites, Cappadocians and Asians puting on their cassocks and light their torches?

Um, I don’t think so.

It’s also said that this is the day when God’s people received the gift of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul wrote to the ancient church in Corinth that, No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.”

But, that was back in the day when saying “Jesus is Lord” meant that you were denying the sovereignty of Caesar – a very dangerous thing to do. Seriously dangerous. It could get you killed. So, only by the grace of the Holy Spirit would you even dare to say such a thing. There are still places in the world where saying “Jesus is Lord” can get you killed or tortured or jailed.

But, not here. Not in the United States of America, despite what some people might want to tell you about “religious freedom” by which they mean having the liberty to discriminate against certain people because they claim “the Bible tells them so”.

It’s also a day when preachers like to riff on the themes of peace and forgiveness which we heard in John’s gospel this morning. We also like to sing songs about the Holy Spirit which have lyrics that invite the Holy Spirit with “the murmur of the dove’s song,” and talk about the Third Person of the Trinity as a “Sweet, spirit, sweet heavenly dove.”

Which is not untrue.

The Holy Spirit can be like a dove bringing peace and love and forgiveness and gentleness and sweetness. It’s been my experience, however, that those are the gifts of the spirit. 

We heard some of them in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: 

wisdom, understanding, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, talking in and understanding spiritual tongues – spiritual expressions that seem foreign to us.

In my experience, gifts of the spirit come after the ground is broken open and rocks and old roots are removed and the seed is planted deep in rich, fertilized soil where the seed has to break itself open before new growth can spring forth.

Then, that new growth has to push its way through the hard, dark soil where it must be warmed by the sun and watered by storms that may also bring thunder and lightening and high winds that swirl all around it and above it. And yet, still it pushes its way toward another breakthrough and poke its head above the ground and into a strange new world.

But, that’s not the whole journey. It is still far from bearing fruit. For some plants, it must further transform itself from that small, safe contained seed that put forth a new, green shoot only to go through another yet transformation into a plant. 

That plant must continue to grow and mature, still reliant upon the soil and the sun and the rain to even further dependence upon other creatures like bees to pollinate its flowers. That calls for yet another transformation from flower to fruit or vegetable. 

Sometimes, the fruit or vegetable grows differently. It doesn’t look like the others. Still, it is the same inside. It just looks different. And, it has more work to do, still.

That fruit or vegetable then has to ripen on the vine or tree before it can finally be picked so that it may provide nourishment and sustenance – not for the seed which gave it birth, or the vine which brought it to maturity or the tree on which it ripened.

No, the fruits are to be picked by others and given to others so they might grow and be nourished and sustained. 

Doesn’t seem quite fair, does it? That provides, perhaps, one of the first and most important lessons in life: Life is not fair. That’s not “nice” or “gentle” or “sweet”, but it’s what I know to be true. And, somewhere inside you, in your place of knowing, you know it, too.

So it is with the gifts or fruits of the Spirit. They don’t often just fall into your lap, gently descending like manna from heaven. Oh, they may seem to arrive that way, but that’s the seed of the gift. In order to open and use the gift, you’ve got some hard work ahead of you.

It’s more like what the disciples experienced on Pentecost – something like the combination of the strong winds of a tornado mixed in with the teeth-chattering, bone-shaking effect of an earthquake. It can leave you so thoroughly disoriented that you may appear inebriated and intoxicated. Or, at least, you may find that some will seriously question your sanity.

I’m about ¾ of the way through reading “Always Kristen,” a book by one of your former rectors, Rita Beauchamp Nelson. It’s her story of the journey she made with her transgender daughter as she traveled from, in her words, “It’s a boy!” to “Mom, I’m a girl!”

Now, I don't know about you, but I can't even begin to imagine such an event in my life. I would hope that I would act with as much honesty and authenticity, courage and compassion, love and grace as Rita has. 

There’s one moment in the book that strikes me as “Pentecostal” – well, there are a few (life is like that) but I want to talk about the first time her son Christopher came to dinner as Kristen (at the time she called herself Wendy) – dressed as a woman – because that’s how she understood herself to be. A woman.

Everyone at the table tried very hard to keep it light and not too deep but finally, Kristen blurted out, “Mom, I’m a girl.” There followed some very difficult moments with hard-to-ask questions and harder-to-hear answers. And then, Rita writes:

“Finally, we rain out of questions and answers, and the uncomfortable silence around the table was our signal that it was time for us to say goodbye. We walked down the walkway to the elevator and I hugged Christopher especially long and tight as we said our goodbyes and I love you’s this strange night. I desperately wanted this beautiful boy to know that I loved him and that this turn of events would never change that. I wanted him to know that he would be accepted, always. But loving him and accepting him as a girl still had to be sorted out in my heart. I guess I am still sorting it out, because, to this day, I sometimes question if I have accepted his being a girl or am simply resigned to it.

The elevator doors opened, and I watched Christopher walk in and the doors close. Then William and I fell into each other’s arms and, in the solitude of the empty walkway with only the stars to watch, I quietly broke down and cried as he comforted me. It no longer mattered to me whether anyone was watching. I had started out years before with a concern Christopher might be gay, then a cross dresser, both of which were mild compared to what I had learned this evening. Where, I wondered, would we go from here? Where would Christopher go from here? Even now, when I least expect it, a tear will silently slip down my cheek for the son I lost and the son I wish I still had but never will again.”

I know. That’s probably not the Pentecost story you were expecting to hear this morning. It’s probably not a Pentecost story you’ve ever heard before - or, will hear again.

I stand before you to say that this story, for me, is evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit. If you take some time to look back over your life with this new lens, you may discover that the Holy Spirit has often appeared in moments that, at the time, neither felt holy or sacred.

But, in that moment, something happened. Something that left you with no more questions to ask - no more answers to give. 

Something that broke your heart, but broke it open so that there was more room than you could have ever asked for or imagined. 

Something that stretched your mind past self-imposed and formerly sacred boundaries. 

Something so strange you didn’t have the words or even a language to express it. 

Something that made you sound crazy or inebriated or intoxicated to others.

Love can do that to you. Love can change you and transform your life. Love is a gift of the Holy Spirit that you don’t always seek much less choose but it, rather it seeks and finds you.

And though you may still have some question – some doubt – about what really happened and why it happened, there is no question that it happened and that your life has been forever changed by it.

That’s not the question. The question is, “What will you choose to do about this moment? With this moment?” 

Will you allow yourself to surrender to the process so that you might continue to grow and be transformed by it so that it might bear fruit? Or, will you let it die?

I will leave you to consider these things and offer a prayer that came to me from a friend. She meant it to celebrate the Feast of the Visitation which, this year, was May 31st

I think it’s an especially appropriate – if not a wee bit unorthodox – prayer for Pentecost. I think it echoes the prayer of Jesus who appeared in that upper room and said to his disciples, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Here’s my Pentecost prayer for you. May you hear it with new ears, a new heart, a new spirit.

“May you never be subservient. May you never fall prey to fitting in. May you always swirl in all the directions the sacred winds want to take you. May you never hush your laughter nor your tears. May you breathe without restriction. May you show up every single day to the calling that is you and may you always know the courage of your own heart.”           

Amen.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers

Sometimes, mothers wake up grumpy.

Other times, they wake up in a foul mood.

Sometimes they call to their children from bed,
"There's cereal in the cupboard and milk in the fridge.
Don't spill the milk. I don't want to clean up a mess
When I get up. . . . .
 . . . . ..  . . . If I get up."

Sometimes mothers say stuff that makes no sense
Like, "Eat the old fruit before the new fruit."
And, "Shut the door! Were you born in a barn?"
And, "Are your legs broken?"
And, "Someone better be bleeding."

Sometimes mothers embarrass their children.
in front of their friends
by saying something like,
"Bring your jacket, it's going to get chilly."
And, their kids roll their eyes and say, 
"Mooooooommmmmmmm!"

And mothers say, "I'm sorry. 
When you get older,
work it out with your therapist
the way we all have to."

Sometimes, life is hard
and, relationships are complicated
because we're human.

Sometimes we mess up
and betray each other
and our best selves.

Sometimes blood isn't thicker than water.

Being a mother is more than biology.

It's a work in progress best accomplished
in spite of biology, or in the absence of it
not perched on a pedestal
but right here,
in the middle of the middle of life
where the rest of humanity dwells
close to tissues to wipe noses a little too hard
and tie sneakers a little too tight
and button sweaters a little too high
and say, "Don't slam the door" a little too loud
and sometimes forget to say, "I love you"
even when they were thinking it
but were busy putting in another load of clothes.

Being a mother is the toughest job you'll ever love.

I suspect even the Mother of God had her days. 
c Elizabeth Kaeton

Friday, May 12, 2017

There is no hate in heaven



Tomorrow, Saturday, May 13th is Birth Mother Day, a worldwide celebration dedicated to the biological mothers of adopted children.

It is always the Saturday before Mother's Day - this year, Sunday, May 14th.

And, according to a note I read, it is one of the most controversial days on the calendar of secular observances.

Yes, controversial. Are you really surprised?

The official line is that, "This holiday was created by birth mothers in Seattle, USA, in 1990... to reflect the choices and to cope with feelings like remorse and grief. However, it is also a day to educate and honor. 


Here’s the way the controversy is explained
“But many mothers who gave up their children have feelings of remorse, and often guilt. Many don't want a special day. And, of those mothers who want to be remembered, they don't necessarily want a special day, aside from Mother's Day. They feel they should remember, and be remembered, on Mother's Day. "


"From the child's perspective, adopted children understandably have a high level of anxiety over this topic. A fair number of them don't want a relationship with their birth mother, adding more controversy to this day."
Are we really surprised that Birth Mothers bear the burden of shame and blame?

Women can’t ever catch a break. If she has an abortion, she’s shamed and reviled as a “murderer”. 

If she places her child for adoption, the adoptive mother and the child she birthed often shun her. 


There is an assumption that if a woman decides to terminate her pregnancy or place her child to be adopted that she is, somehow, deficient as a human being and derelict as a woman.   

How could a human being “kill an innocent child”? How could a woman “give up her own flesh and blood”?

Women who choose not to have children are also considered suspect as decent citizens of the human race. Isn’t that what women’s bodies are made for? Isn’t that against God’s will? 

On the other hand, women who are unable to conceive or bear children are to be pitied. Women who adopt other women’s children, however, are considered heroes. Angels. Super women.  Demi-gods. .

And, the Birth Father? What of him?

Crickets. 

It is my observation that this pattern of guilt and shame for women and reproductive health, choice, rights and justice is not only common, it is inextricably tangled into unexamined and unexpressed grief. 

Yes, grief.

The source of grief is sometimes around remorse about the decision. Other times, it’s around not having felt any other real option, or having felt pressured into the decision. 

But mostly, it’s the grief of never really having been allowed to grieve. 

I want to tell you a story about a Hospice patient I had a while back who has since died. She was 94, almost 95 years old. During one visit, she asked if I heard confessions. I assured her that I did but asked if she wanted to talk about it to be sure she had actually committed a “sin” that needed to be confessed.

She took a deep breath and began, “When I was 14 years old, I was raped by my uncle. It was horrible but made worse by the fact that I became pregnant. I was scared. Terrified. I didn’t feel I could tell anyone. I didn't know what to do."

"One day," she continued, "my aunt walked into my room and found me crying. I ended up telling her and she immediately arranged for me to have an abortion. Which was, of course, illegal.”

Her words tumbled out of her mouth in a rush; almost as if she thought that, if she slowed down, she might stop. 

“It wasn’t bad enough that the decision about when and with whom to have sex was taken from me. I also lost the ability to make the decision about whether or not to get pregnant, and, when pregnant to make the decision about whether or not to continue with the pregnancy, place the child for adoption or have an abortion. The decision was not about me or my life, but protecting my uncle and the family from shame. ”

“No one knows about this story,” she continued, “not my mother or my sisters, not my husband or my children. Just my aunt – who took the secret to her grave – and now, you.”

Then, she took a deep breath and blotted the tears that were welling up in her eyes and said, “What I want to know is this: 

"When I get to heaven, as you have assured me I will, will the soul that I aborted hate me?

I looked at this woman who had been carrying around this guilt and shame and grief for eighty years, and with all the love and compassion I had in my heart and said, 

“I know this much to be true: There is no hate in heaven.”

Saturday is Birth Mother’s Day. Sunday is Mother’s Day. Whether you or someone you know has given birth or chosen not to have children; 

          or had an abortion or had a child placed in foster care or placed a child for adoption; 

          or adopted a child or you are a foster mom;

          if your mother is alive and well or ill and infirm or dead and buried; and

          you enjoy a good relationship or your relationship is strained or complicated or alienated

however you observe the day . . . 

…. please, be kind. Please exercise compassion. 

Allow yourself to grieve. 

Create a space where your grief and the grief of others can be honored and respected and expressed.

It’s one way to begin to unhook yourself - and help others disengage - from the grip of shame and blame, remorse and regret which complicate and compound grief. 

I don't believe there is any hate in heaven. 

Neither is there any shame or guilt or remorse.

May it be on earth as it is in heaven. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Where do broken dreams go?

Where do broken dreams go?
A Sermon preached at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Willmington, DE
Easter III - April 30, 2017 
(The Rev'd Dr) Elizabeth Kaeton 

As Joe Biden would say, “Here’s the deal”. Let me put the gospel into context for you.

“Now on that same day” – that day being three days after the trial, torture, crucifixion, and death of Jesus

– that same day – “at early dawn” – when Luke reports that the women had gone with their spices to the tomb and found the stone rolled away

– that same day when they found the tomb empty except for two men in dazzling white clothing who terrified the women and said, “He is risen”

– that same day when Luke reports that the women told what they had seen and heard and been told “to the eleven and all the rest”

 – that same day when none of the men believed them and Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb and stooped to look in and see for himself and was amazed at what happened….

Now on that same day – later in the day, we presume – “two of them” – two of his followers (but, apparently, not one of the eleven) – were going to a village called Emmaus.

Now, Emmaus is about 7 miles north and east of Jerusalem – at a leisurely pace, that’s about a 2-hour walk. That’s not a bad walk for just getting out to clear your head and get away from the places where everyone else was hiding for fear of persecution. 

Luke says they were “walking and talking” with each other about everything that had happened just three days before. I’m sure they were just trying to wrap their heads around what the heck had happened in a week’s time.

– only just a week’s time, we should remember -

– since the glorious entry of their beloved Jesus into the city of Jerusalem when everyone cheered him and threw palms and their cloaks beneath his feet and waved palms in his honor.

How could the world have turned upside down in just a week’s time?

How could everything they knew and understood about the future be taken away so suddenly?

What about all the miracles they had witnessed? Wasn't God in those miracles? Where was God now?

What about everything Jesus had taught them? What about all their dreams of a new way?

Where do broken dreams go to die?

Now, on that same morning, that’s the question I want to stay with this morning, all those many centuries later. Where do broken dreams go when they die? Where do they hide while we bring spices to the empty tombs where we thought we had them buried? Where do they wait to be resurrected?

I have a hard time believing this myself, but I have been ordained a little over 30 years (I was just a child). I have worked as a college chaplain, a vicar of a small, struggling inner city congregation, a rector of an affluent suburban congregation, a Canon Missioner, and an activist in The Episcopal Church around issues of institutional prejudice and oppression.

These last five years I have been working as a Hospice Chaplain. In this position, I am surrounded daily by dying and death, sorrow and sadness, broken hearts and released spirits. It is intense work but it is deeply satisfying to my soul, yea, even unto the very marrow of my bones.

I am richly blessed to be able to do this work. I think I finally know enough stuff - and know how much I don't know - to now be able to do this work.

I am often asked, “How DO you do it?” And, just as often, “How CAN you do this work? Don’t you get depressed? Doesn’t it make you sad?”

My short answer is, almost always, “I couldn’t do this work if I didn’t believe in the resurrection.”

And, that is not a lie. That is absolutely the truth for me.

The longer answer is that I am one of those ancient followers of Jesus; I am still walking the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, talking with fellow followers of Jesus, trying to get my head wrapped around all the events of that week - from cries of “Hosanna” in Jerusalem to shouts of “Crucify Him” on the road to Calvary.

- from the last three days from “It is finished” at Calvary to the silence of the empty tomb.

- from the upper room in Jerusalem, filled with the ice-cold silence of fear, to the road to Emmaus where everyone asked, “What has happened?”.

And then, back to that upper room in Jerusalem where the women were first to shatter their walls of anxiety and grief with the Easter proclamation, “He is risen!”

I have come to understand even more deeply the words of the Eucharistic prayer we say at funerals in which we proclaim that “life is changed, not ended.”

Hear that again, “life is changed, not ended.”

That is not sappy Hallmark sentimentality or new age poetry. That, my friends, is a bold statement of faith in the power of the resurrection.

Hospice has taught me to love the empty tomb because I know it is only as empty as the limits of my faith. And, that’s what I believe the women and Peter saw when they looked into that empty tomb. 

What they saw was not the end. What they saw was possibility. What they saw was hope.

What they saw was the truth that faith sees beyond fate.

Let me say that again, faith sees beyond fate.  

It didn’t take Hospice to learn that life can sometimes turn on a dime. Some of you already know that the end of the time of this life can come swiftly and unexpectedly, but no matter how long it takes – an hour, a day, two weeks, a month, a year – death always comes too soon for some of us and not soon enough for others.   

And, no one knows or has control of that time.

Sometimes, in order to cope with the uncertainty of life, some of us wander off the beaten path – to the road less traveled – to journey just seven miles north and east – a mere two-hour walk – of the epicenter of things, where we try to understand. 

I am reminded that JRR Tolkein once wrote, “All who wander are not lost.” At some points in our lives of faith, we need to wander in order to find ourselves – to find what is truth for us.

Sometimes, in order to cope with the uncertainty of life, some of us need to build shelters and sanctuaries for ourselves. 

Using as an illustration the story of Noah's ark, when the entire world was being destroyed by flood except for those on the ark that Noah built, the philosopher and writer Noah benShea wrote about some of the lessons we can learn from that story.
He writes, “….  In the story of Noah, even in the flood of death, it is the flood that supports the ark of life.”

Even in the flood of death, it is the flood that supports the ark of life. 

Can you take that in?  Even in the flood of death, it is the flood that supports the ark of life.

Look at the architecture of this church. See the roof? Ever notice that it looks like the inside of the bottom of a boat? That’s intentional. It’s an illusion to Noah’s ark and the promise of God that the earth would never again be destroyed.

Even the architecture of a church reminds us of the sacred stories of our faith and reminds us that this building, this church, is a safe place – a sanctuary – against the forces of destruction in the world.

Hospice has taught me that we all need sanctuaries. For many of us, that is the church. But, others of us build our own sanctuaries – in addition to or the exclusion of – the building or the structures of the institutional church.

benShea writes,  
“The lesson of Noah teaches us that there comes a time in each of our lives when it is necessary to build an ark, to create a structure in which we can hide – a habit or a place or an attitude within ourselves that will shelter us – if we are to survive life’s terrible storms.”

“Noah was told to put a window in the ark so he could tell when the rain had stopped, and so we can remind others who have struggled to survive that they, too, should put a window in their ark, so all of us will know when it is time to come out from behind the habit of walls we build to survive.”

“And (then) we will see that the world is not always filled with a flood.”
Hospice has taught me that whether there is an empty tomb or a window in the shelters and sanctuaries of our lives, I - we all need community - people with whom to walk and talk in order to find a faith that sees beyond fate.

We need community - to walk and talk with others - to find a faith with a heart to embrace the mystery and paradox that even in the flood of death, it is the flood that supports the ark of life.

We need community - to walk and talk with others - in order to place a window in our ark, so that we will know when it is time to come out from behind the habit of the walls we build to survive.

We need community - to walk and talk with others - to find a faith with a mature soul which is a window to allow us to see that the world is not always filled with a flood.

Where do broken dreams go to die?

Here's the deal: I don’t believe they do die. Well, not all of them.

Neither do I believe they stick around, lurking like ghosts, locked in tombs of death.

I think they find a way to roll back the stone or make their way to the top of the waves of the flood where we see them through the window, dancing in the light mist of the white sea foam.

I think they go somewhere out there, hiding just behind twinkling stars in the sky. Indeed, I think it is the brokenness of dreams - the cracks which let the Light shine - which cause stars to twinkle. (The disciples were only able to see Jesus after the BREAKing of the bread). I believe our dreams are somewhere along the road, not far off, where they wait to be discovered and resurrected.

These weeks of Eastertide before Pentecost provide us a time to find and rediscover and resurrect broken dreams. Now. Today. Right now. On this same day -

– is one of those times -

- to allow your eyes to be opened to see the truth which has been walking along side of you, just seven miles to the north and east, a mere two hour walk from the epicenter of things.

To rediscover the hope that comes from choosing to believe.

And, if I’ve learned nothing else from Hospice, it is that belief is a choice.

And, what of faith?

Faith is the gift we are given for making the choice to believe what we believe.

What broken dream are you grieving this morning? Everyone has them. What are yours?

What has died in your life that you are waiting for resurrection?

What is dancing in the mist of the floodwaters that you thought destroyed your dream?

Where is the window in your ark? Look outside. What do you see?

What is the empty tomb in your life? Run to it. Stoop and look inside. What do you see?

Now is the time. Today is the day.

Now, on this same day, walk the road to Emmaus with some friends and find your broken dream.

It will be right there, walking right beside you. 

Waiting to be reborn. Waiting for new life.

Waiting to tell you all the stories that brought you to the point where you could dare to dream the dream.

Your dream is waiting – now, on this same day – to discover the joy that the disciples first knew.

He is risen! Alleluia! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Amen.