Pieces and Parts

We are pieces and parts,

particles and bits,

scattered like broken

seashells and seagrass

on a spread of beach sand;

each life tossed, storied,

too many discarded,

disregarded and left

to the gulls for picking.

So often we miss —

in our anxious living

— our connection

across the sand:

grain by grain, the very

stuff of which we’re made

making us one:

your brokenness

and mine together.

IMG_20140718_162107Praying for the parts and pieces that are Gaza and Israel, Ukraine and Russia, children at borders and children in our hometowns, families and friends of those who died on MH17 as well as those who shot the plane from the sky, the citizens of Detroit and the citizens of Iran, teachers and school administrators, judges and lawyers and plaintiffs and defendants, IRS and #IamJada, loved ones and strangers, and all of the particles and bits that are you and me.

Summer Reading: Streams Run Uphill

We need each other’s voices. We do not need numbers. We do not need quotas. We do not even need goals or standards. We need each other. We need each other’s experiences. We need each other’s dreams. We need each other’s stories. (64-65)

51c+Dw5+FeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Church would do well to listen to the stories of Streams Run Uphill: Conversations with Young Clergywomen of Color (Judson Press 2014), edited by Mihee Kim-Kort. In these pages there is camaraderie for women of color striving to answer God’s call into ministry. In these pages there is truth-telling about the Church’s conflicted intentions toward diversity. In these pages there is affirmation of God’s gifts of and through the particularities of our flesh — age, gender, culture, language. In these pages there is dedication to the struggle, to the uphill swim, of living into the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes I wish I could just hang out with people like me. But ministry was never meant to be that way. Ministry is not a social club. Most of us are not called to minister to sameness. … Ministry is often a constant cross-cultural exercise, with each ministry setting having a unique culture shaped by its history and identity. (53-54)

My copy of Streams Run Uphill is heavily dog-eared and underlined — places where I paused to listen more closely, moments when I resonated with the joys & struggles of ministry, words that lingered to challenge me. I feel simultaneously encouraged and disheartened by the stories shared by clergywomen whose divine call and ministerial leadership were/are received by the Church through the harsh filters of racism, sexism, ageism, and general xenophobia. Through their stories and their ministries, these clergywomen are leading the way toward a vision of wholeness as one diverse Body of Christ. In order to follow their lead, Streams Run Uphill is a must-read.

Where streams run uphill, there a woman rules.
(Ethiopian proverb)

Sunday Prayer

Ah most holy and abundant God:
Praise is due to you for the beauty of the earth! Praise is due to you for the relationships that change our lives! Praise is due to you for the work that we are gifted to do.

We add our gratitude and joy to the tribute sung
by the cry of the swallow and the gurgle of the stream, by the bark of the fox and the sigh of the wind and even the buzz of the fly.

We offer thanksgiving and many prayers for
the relationships that are full of love and warmth, those relationships marked by tension and conflict, the relationships we miss, the ones that have changed, and the ones that are all of the above.

We ask for faith and perseverance in all we do:
to continue in hope and creativity the work that feels like a dead-end; to show up faithfully for the work that feels beyond our control; to welcome others into the planting and harvesting alike; to listen and watch closely for your Spirit in all things.

Give life and renewed life to this flesh, we pray.
Refresh our voices for praise and our spirits for work and our hearts for love. In the full power of Jesus’ name. Amen.

This prayer is cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals.

Summer Reading: Mary Poppins

“Mary Poppins,” Jane said, looking very hard at her, “were you at the Zoo last night?”
“Certainly not — the idea!” said Mary Poppins. “And I’ll thank you to eat up your porridge and no nonsense.”

The delight of P. L. Travers’ Mary Poppins (the original, not Disney’s remakes) is the marvel of unusual happenings that never receive or require explanation. What did happen at the zoo last night? The children swear that the animals of the zoo provided a great birthday part for Mary Poppins under the full moon, but the mystery is never acknowledged by Mary and the children’s wonder must be whispered between them.

IMG_20140705_120057Mary Poppins is a fierce and vain character — without any of Julie Andrews’ softness, much as I love her in the movie — but also the “unusual happenings” in the book are even wilder than the movie portrays: gingerbread cookies for stars, trips around the world by a spinning compass, an ancient woman whose fingers are sweet candies.

Those who only know Mary Poppins through the lens of Disney may not be familiar with Jane and Michael’s younger siblings, twins John and Barbara, who have one of my favorite scenes in the book as they discuss with Mary Poppins why their older siblings no longer understand the language of the wind and the starling. It’s a dialogue that I quote in my upcoming book, Sacred Pause, for its reminder that adults (even and especially adults of faith) need to cultivate a spirit of curiosity and wonder.

I love including (so-called) children’s books in my summer reading, and I often return to a handful of favorites to re-experience the fanciful spaces that capture and uplift my spirit’s imagination! What youthful books are you enjoying this summer?