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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

This Thing I Wrote

This is a "Thing" I wrote for my CPE program.  It's really my statement of faith, I suppose; a statement of my theological understanding of the world.

God is Love is at the center of my spirituality.  I understand God as “that which created us, fills us, and connects us all.” God is All That Is.  As I seek to reconcile my Christian education with my “alternative” religious experiences, I have come to understand the concept of the Trinity as Creator (the Creator of all things), Walker (the most perfect reflection of God’s Being in human form, known to many as Jesus – yet I believe there have been others), and Spirit (The continuous flow of God’s Presence that is beyond the physical, yet can be experienced, felt, invoked, and directed.  It is known as the Christ, the Holy Spirit, Spirit, Energy, Chi, Power, and many other names).  Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  His actions and his parables reflect his expectation that his disciples would see all other human beings as our neighbors, no matter who they are or what they do.  John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, reinforced these teachings of Jesus.  While I am no longer a United Methodist, I find Wesleyan approach to understanding how to apply the teachings of Jesus to life very helpful.  Wesley encouraged the study and reading of the wisdom of other faiths to understand who our neighbors are.  He held that scripture is the first place to look for answers, but that experience, tradition, and reason were also to be taken into consideration when making decisions about right actions.  Further, he wrote of the universality of God’s love as the core of all faith.  St. Francis and John Wesley both found God’s creatures to be worthy of honor and respect.  In fact, Wesley approached health and the environment in a holistic manner.  The new/ancient practices of Neo-Paganism & Wicca draw on similar interpretations of the place of humans in the world.  After so many years of practicing as a Wiccan Priestess and wrestling with my upbringing in Christianity and my study of other cultural expressions of the Divine, I come to the conclusion that at the core of it all is the ineffable Something we cannot describe.  I do not wish to describe that ineffability through the Via Negativa approach (by describing what It is NOT); therefore, all I can say is that It IS Love, though of course this is not sufficient.
            I honestly feel the connection between myself and all other creatures, particularly my human brothers and sisters.  This sense of connection, along with my experiences in life, is the foundation for who I am becoming as a pastor/chaplain.  Using Wesley’s approach to decision making, I reason that my reading and understanding of scripture (which includes, but is not limited to, the collection of books we call “The Bible”), my experiences in life that have led me to understand pain, fear, isolation, anger, etc.; my personal mystical experiences which allow me to see beyond boundaries of denomination, religious and cultural context, etc., and my inherited tradition of Protestant Christianity and adopted tradition of Eclectic Wicca all come together to make me a potentially excellent chaplain.  In fact, it is as if I have been called toward this position all along.  I am able to speak to most “versions” of Christianity, including Catholicism, and speak with, pray with, or just sit with patients and family members who practice any of these traditions.  I am able to openly discuss spiritual concerns of practitioners of Neo-Pagan traditions, and have done so in the hospital.  I am not uncomfortable being present with those who claim no religion, and feel no compunction to talk them into adopting a faith.  My interpretation of what some Christians call “The Great Commission” is not to proselytize but to actually be a disciple myself and an example of the kind of life that Jesus lived.  In seeking to do this, I become a better person and a better pastor/chaplain.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Deepest Place

I’ve found it.  That place.  You know, that place Frederick Buechner calls “the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.”  My place.  It’s been there all along, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to find it.

A few weeks ago I started my first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education.  CPE is a combination of classroom learning and discussion and hands-on experience as a Chaplain Intern in a hospital setting.  On one of my early regular shifts, I knew.  I only had a couple of hours to work, so I went to one of my assigned floors to introduce myself and see a couple of patients.  Mine are the baby floors.  Labor and Delivery, Ante-Partum, and Couplet Care, where the mommies and babies go before they leave the hospital.  Of course, when I’m On Call, I am all over the hospital.  This day, though, with as little time as I had, I was on my own floors.

That night, I found myself praying for a baby, born too soon, and her mourning parents.  I had hardly left the room when I was paged by the On Call Chaplain to provide a viewing of someone who had passed away for a loved one.  One would think a night like that would send a newcomer reeling, but instead I found myself rejuvenated, knowing I had been given the chance to be with someone in their deepest hour of need.

Since that night, I’ve rejoiced with birth parents and adoptive parents, prayed with adult children who have lost their parents, and sat with people recovering from surgery, others preparing for surgery, and yet others who would be out of the emergency room before the night was through.

No matter what kind of day or night I have at the hospital, I know that I will bring peace to at least one person.  I give something, yet I take away so much more.

The day I walked down the hall in the hospital, holding on to my bright pink folder, and realized that I had come to the crux of my spirituality, the trajectory of my life changed.  The trajectory of my ministry became clear.  The clarity of this vision brings a change to the mission of St. Brigid in the Desert.

I will be spending some time in prayer as I discern where St. Brigid will be heading.  Certainly, I will continue to offer Spiritual Direction and Life Celebration services.  How I will approach this from the standpoint of the church will reveal itself in time.

I’d like to share with you a poem I wrote from my experiences in chaplaincy so far.  It is as yet untitled.

I’ve seen the pallid
Face of death
Eyes mere shadowed
Memories of dreams;
Once imagined thought
Of what might have been
I’ve heard the screams
Of midlife child
Unprepared for loss
Of reconciliation, door
Closed for half a life
Will never open now
I’ve held the hand
Of childless mother
Once-filled womb now empty,
A nd arms aching to hold, and
Tears shed for the
Life that might have been
I, who lend my ear, my hand
My heart, pray
Spirit brings peace
When even I cannot
Feel Her Presence
In other rooms, beyond
Newborns cry
And mothers shed
Tears of joy and fear
For the fragile life
Placed in their hands
New Hope
In the midst of sorrow

© 18 September 2014

Blessings to all of you as we enter into a new season.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Into Autumn

As the Wheel of the Year turns, so do the Wheels of our lives.  The western world has lost many of the celebrations of special milestones in our lives.  Beyond birthdays, there are the times when we reach a new phase in our life on earth.  Each new phase brings the culmination of experiences, learning, and impact that we have on others and others on us.  As we grow older, we gain insights and wisdom that can be of great value, not only only to ourselves, but also to others.

On September 13, I will be facilitating a Sophia Ceremony.  This ritual and liturgy will center on one beautiful woman's attainment of an age of wisdom.  In Wiccan traditions, this ceremony might be called a "Croning."  This is a celebration of the value of a woman as she embraces the attainment of the status of Elder.  It is a reflection on her spiritual path and growth; a recognition of what she has to offer the Universe during the next phase of her life. This private event is by invitation, hosted, organized, and planned by the individual to be honored with my guidance and assistance.

On the tail of this special ceremony comes the Second Harvest at Autumn Equinox.  The Wiccan name for this spoke on the Wheel is Mabon, named after a legendary Welsh character, Mabon ap Modron.  Some call this the Harvest Home.  It is a time of thanksgiving for and the sharing of the gifts of the earth given for our sustenance through the coming winter.  According to some sources, ancient Autumn Equinox celebrations were replaced by the celebration of Michaelmas, the feast day of the Archangel Michael, which is traditionally on September 29.

St. Brigid in the Desert will acknowledge the Mabon/Michaelmas holy days on Saturday, September 20th this year.  Time and place will be announced once schedules have been synchronized.  Watch for announcements here, on Facebook, and on the website!

Dragonkin by Walter Bruneel - This piece speaks of Sophia to me.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bread for Lammas

Bread baked for Lammas. Sadly, I admit to cheating. It was a Martha White package of a kind of coffee cake drop biscuits. Tasted good, though. Some crumbs given to the ancestors and the Old Ones. An offering of grain back to the earth. I hope next year to bake real bread. No corn dollies this year, either.  Still, as I crumble bread beneath the tree, I say a prayer for all that there will be good harvests in all the areas of your lives this year!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Blessed Lammas!

Being Inter-Spiritual has the benefit of many celebrations. This weekend is one of them. Smile, the Wheel is turning! The River of God is flowing!

Blessed Lammas! Lammas is a festival celebrating the first fruits of harvest, the fruits of our labours, and seeing the desires that we had at the start of the year unfold.  It's a time for bread-making and corn-dollies.  This time brings memories of making corn-dollies with my children and friends during our Wiccan days, wrapping corn husks for bodies, tying knots, and smoothing soft corn-silk hair.  Thinking of the things we hoped for at the last Samhain, the beginning of the cycle, and reinforced at the calendar New Year, we fashioned corn-people made of our dreams.

Lammas is an early Christian festival, "lammas" means loaf mass and represented the first loaves baked from that years crop. These were taken to church and laid on the altar.  For Pagans, this day might also be called Lughnasadh, and be commemorated as a feast day for the God Lugh, sacrificed when the grain ripened.

Goddesses celebrated around this time include Demeter and Ceres. Trees associated with Lammas are Hazel and Gorse and herbs are Sage and Meadowsweet. Colors associated with lammas are golds, yellows and orange for the God and red for the Goddess as mother. (From website The White Goddess)

There are a few saints who have feast days around this time as well.  In the Antiochian Orthodox tradition, August 5th is the feast day of St. Nonna, the mother of Gregory the Theologian.  She is remembered as a model wife and mother, yet also as a strong woman who lived a life for God and for others without neglecting her other obligations.

Due to schedules and the like, we are not having a gathering this weekend; however, there may be bread-making shenanigans before the end of the weekend. Anyone connected to St. Brigid in the Desert is encouraged to bake away, and share your offerings here!

St. Brigid is an Inter-Spiritual House Church without walls! Anyone who feels a connection to what we are doing here is a part of the virtual St. Brigid in the Desert. Baking bread? Celebrating the gathering of the grains? Brewing beer? Share photos! Blessed Be, my friends!

Photo from:  Book of Mirrors