Photo Credit: “Image from page 230 of “Sketches in duneland” (1918)”, © 1918 Internet Archive Book Images, Flickr | PD | via Wylio

As I sit watching through my north-facing window in the last thirty minutes, I have seen the trees stand perfectly still and I have seen them flail their branches. Every so often the glass rattles with such force that I wonder if it will break. All of this is in reaction to the heavy and gusting winds of this March 2 nor’easter.

This leads me to think about my own reactivity not only to gusting winds that blow through my life, but also in smaller ways. Last week, I especially found myself sucked into just such a vortex whenever I read or heard of the attempts to belittle and undermine the survivors from the Parkland school shooting. The problem in that last sentence lies here: “found myself sucked into.”
I do not have to be a mere pawn acting or reacting at the whim of others seeking to provoke an anxious response. Yes, I will be buffeted by winds and events. I will find myself rocked. The difference is in how I react or respond. I can pause and reflect on what has occurred, then choosing how I will respond. With enough practice, even in moments where a faster response is needed, I will hopefully choose a reply or action that resounds with my guiding principle. When I fail, which will most assuredly happen, I can acknowledge that, apologize, and make amends.

Several years ago, in a good amount of emotional and relational duress, I finally succumbed to advice I had received from a number of sources. Being stubborn, I resisted what I knew would be good for me. Finally, I had had enough wallowing in my self-pity and I began working with a family systems coach, specifically one well-versed in Bowen Family Systems Theory, and engaging in a purposeful study of BFST.

This engagement has been life-changing for me in many ways. Ask me when you have time and I will probably gladly expand and expound upon those many ways. Here and now, I want to comment on only one. We all need guiding principles in our lives and we all generally have them though often they are buried so deep we might not even be aware of how much they guide our choices and actions. Through much deeper cogitation and reflection on my life, I came to realize that my most basic guiding principle is I choose love.

This is the bone-deep bedrock confession of who I am. This does not mean I have always acted in a loving way. This means that I know I have a choice in how I act. Again, I say, I am not a mere pawn. I have agency. The agency I choose is the path of love—care and concern for the other as I have known and experienced what I believe is the self-giving care and concern of the One who is at the source of all that is.

Uniting Methodists

In this time of uncertainty in the United Methodist Church, I am what is called a progressive compatabilist (see Tom Berlin’s explanation). I believe that in the best of UMism we can live and work together even when we do not agree. To that end, I have signed the statement at Uniting Methodists, a convergence of lay and clergy folk who think a big tent is best.

Unexpected Conversations

I was having a cortado at Agora, a coffeeshop just a few blocks from my condo. It has the perfect name for the setup truly engenders people meeting each other.

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Mary of the Heavens

After a Sunday afternoon cortado at a new coffee shop here in town, I walked down to the river simply to enjoy the day. I went down the few steps to the walkway at the river’s edge, passed a woman looking at her phone while smoking, waved at a father and daughter canoeing, exchanged smiles with a young couple, and then I saw her standing a bit further on. An older woman, she stood quite still looking across the river. As I neared, she looked at me and we met with smiles.

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Charlene Ruth Beethoven

On Thursday, we celebrated the life of Charlene Ruth Beethoven as we proclaimed the hope of resurrection.

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In the Fullness of Time…

In the fullness of time…

Have you ever had a desire to do something and you wanted to do it now, or there was something you wanted and you wanted it now, however for whatever reasons, known or unknown, now was not the time? I have certainly experienced the frustration that can go with the thwarting of my desires. I have also faced questions when something seemed the perfect answer or direction, yet I could not go there at the time. It then comes as a surprise almost when it does open up in the fullness of time.

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Random Thought in the Midst of Transition

Random thought in the midst of transition:

My sister-in-law Barbara and I were close to finishing our journey with Frodo and Sam to the fires of Mordor where the ring of power could be unmade. As they stood overlooking the valley which they had to traverse, orc encampments with their fires nearly filled the space. The two hobbits were daunted by the sight, wondering how they could possibly make it to Mount Doom, when Sam said simply, “Let’s start by going down this hill.” Every journey, no matter how long or hard, starts with a single step. I was reminded of a piece of sage advice from 12-step programs—“one day at a time.”

As I stand at the beginning of this next phase of my pilgrimage, I find myself peering ahead with Frodo and Sam wondering how I am going to make it through all the changes which loom before me. Like them, and those who have gone before me, all I can do is take one step, one day at a time, trusting that the One who is the Ground of my being will accompany me.

The Goal Is Not Agreement

“For Bowen[i], the goal is not agreement.” This statement made me sit up and take notice. While I believe this, and wrote my doctoral paper from the perspective that unity does not mean unanimity, hearing it so simply stated felt like a blast of cold water on a hot day. It got my attention.

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grief does not end; neither does healing

This week at the Festival of Homiletics has been amazing—deep, rich, challenging, and so much more. I have met new people. Last night, a new friend from England and I continued sharing talk and stories. We had been brought together during an impromptu prayer time in response to an incredibly vulnerable and healing sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber. My friend is a newish priest in the Church of England, working fulltime in publishing, and caring for her husband who had a stroke a few years ago. I shared a bit about my journey with Jeff through his cancer and death.

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Holding Loosely

There are different ways to hold on. Standing while riding on the the Metro sometimes requires a firm, if not tight, hold onto the bar. For me, riding a roller coaster leads to a death grip on the bars. Firmly holding the hand of a young child while crossing the street is prudent.

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