I wrote the text and a musical sketch for ‘You Are Present’ months ago but returned to it a few days after the mass shooting in Orlando. The initial feelings of shock and disbelief had given way to anger at the perpetrator and a broken political system that refuses to enact sensible gun control legislation. Anger melted into sadness for the victims, whose lives were ended far too soon, as well as their families and friends.Read More
Is it a creeping tension in your neck and back? Perhaps you're finding it hard to focus or can't quiet your thoughts? Maybe your stomach is upset, your head aches, your teeth are clenched? Maybe you find yourself hyper-vigilant or distrustful of others in public spaces? You are feeling the subtle and insidious presence of anxiety, which seems to affect us all in these difficult days.
While I don't have a quick fix to our collective unsettledness or the anxiety that ebbs and flows, I have noticed that singing settles us. Perhaps one of the ways we can defuse anxiety and diffuse peacefulness is through song, specifically songs that remind us who we are and whose we are.
Invitation means opening the door of our churches, of our choir rooms, and organ lofts so others can tentatively, confidently, or curiously step through. It requires a willingness to put our agendas aside and meet people where they're at. It's more than a handshake with a guest or visitor but instead taking time to know them and to affirm that their presence really matters to us. Invitation includes the possibility of carving out new spaces for others' gifts and talents, rather than assuming they will fit neatly into existing structures or schedules. Invitation is doing the hard work of opening our lives and hearts to all those God might bring to us, not just when it's convenient.Read More
While Advent marks the beginning of the new liturgical year, I often experience it as a hinge, a transitional space that holds past and future in tension. It invites us to awareness and discernment, to notice where God is at work in our world and in our lives.
This year the tension has been especially strong. Violence and terror persist. The peace foretold by ancient prophets seems illusory in face of ongoing wars, economic instability, and political hubris. The justice that makes valleys low and rough places plain seems far off in face of oppressive, racist systems that scapegoat immigrants and devalue lives of color. And then add our personal challenges and pains, those of our families and friends. Sometimes it can be overwhelming.Read More
The writings of Julian of Norwich (c.1342– c.1416) have nourished my spiritual imagination since I first encountered them. Perhaps the best known of her words are from Showings, a series of visions that she received in the midst of a near-death experience.
“…but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’
Like many mystics, Julian’s experiences led her to name God in new and surprising ways. Months ago, I came across these striking passages from her Revelations of Divine Love and found them both challenging and insightful.
“The Second Person of the Trinity is our mother in nature, in our substantial making. In him we are grounded and rooted, and he is our mother by mercy in our sensuality, by taking flesh.”
“Thus our mother, Christ, in whom our parts are kept unseparated, works in us in various ways. For in our mother, Christ, we profit and increase, and in mercy he reforms and restores us, and by virtue of his passion, death, and resurrection joins us to our substance.Read More