Saturday, April 15, 2017

An Easter Reflection

"Easter" is a derivative of "Eostre", the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess. Eggs (a sort of tomb from which chicks emerge) and hares (known for fertility) were not only pagan symbols for life but were also adopted by Christians as symbols of resurrection. Spring celebrations are joyous and filled with hope. As a Christian I am bothered by those who worship violence (crucifixion) and attribute such cruelty to God, but I very much celebrate  resurrection...the affirmation that cruelty and injustice cannot have the last word.

The cross was meant to silence Jesus; it failed. That's the glory and power of Easter. As Presbyterian theologian Delores Williams said, "there was nothing of God in the blood of the cross." But the cruel torture of the cross did not destroy the hope, courage, or love that Jesus embodied. It continues to live. That's the beauty of Easter. 

Death and violence and cruelty cannot ultimately win. Love and life are forever. So every Easter I joyfully proclaim, Alleluia! Christ is risen; Christ is risen indeed. It doesn't mean what worshippers of violence say it means; rather, it is the answer to violence and cruelty. Love wins! With that good news, we all are uplifted (risen). 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Heart Thoughts

Heart Thoughts:

The Anglican chamber of my heart values reason as much as tradition and sacred texts (yes, valuing all three, in tension and conversation with one another).

The Humanist chamber of my heart affirms human potential, goodness, and the need to respond to human need.

The Universalist chamber of my heart sees something sacred in every culture, tradition, and sincere endeavor to commune with the holy.

And the Mysticism chamber of my heart trusts that all life is connected and therefore our attitudes, habitual thoughts, and purpose filled words can influence how we experience life and can even influence many events.

In these days when reason, compassion, diversity, and hope are under constant attack, my heart with its many spiritual components struggles to maintain its highest ideals, to celebrate its most treasured truths, and to remain courageous enough to resist cruelty and injustice without sacrificing what it holds most dear.

#ConfirmedEpiscopalian #OrdainedProtestantMinister #OrdainedNewThoughtMinister #SelfDeclaredSpiritualHumanist

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Healing Prayer

I need to say that I believe in healing. Not just the body's natural impulse to strive toward wholeness (though that is pretty amazing), and not just medical procedures that ease pain and prolong life (thought that, too, is fabulous!), but in something more mysterious.

I have prayed for decades for people to experience healing, and so many have. Often that healing includes remission or cure, other times, the healing looks like courage or peace or restored relationships or a quality of life that defies circumstances or a gentle release at the end surrounded by loving hearts. I don't get to choose how the healing shows up, but I've witnessed it in many ways, and each of them are profound, beautiful, and even magical.

I've experienced healing in my own life, from living decades with a chronic (and once considered fatal) illness, to living an active life without surgery in spite of spinal birth defects (lots of massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, and the occasional aid of a cane have been been part of making the active life possible), to a seemingly miraculous remission of cat allegories and asthma, to having a retina reattached that over time (and a couple of surgeries) left me with better vision than before the detachment! There have been some biopsies along the way as well, but so far, so good. I must admit I always get a little anxious when those come around, but somehow the anxiety passes (and isn't that a great healing?!). I have also battled depression for most of my life, but even so, I have known great joy. The depression returns, but it has learned it will not be allowed to stay uninterrupted (not as long as I have insurance and a pharmacist!).

There are also the "rare" instances we all hear about...the person who comes out of the extended coma, the person for whom there are no more treatment options who somehow survives, the person who was never supposed to walk again who somehow does at last, the spontaneous remissions that can't be explained. And even though these "Lourdes"-like cures and second chances may be rare, that they happen at all seems to give us permission to hope that they will happen again, and again.

I'm sitting with these thoughts of healing because so many people are facing health challenges right now, or maybe for personal reasons I am particularly aware of them right now. And so I have been praying a lot for people in need of healing. As I said above, I don't get to decide how the healing shows up, but I trust that the energies of prayer are carried on currents of compassion that do reach those for whom we pray and that our prayers make a difference. When I know someone is praying for me, the comfort is as real as it is indescribable.

I have prayed for people and marveled at their recovery; and I have prayed for people and grieved that their situation did not improve as I had hoped. And yet, I trust that the loving energy emitted by prayer was a gift every single time, and that somehow, in ways I may never know, something was better because I took the time to wish someone well and to affirm possibilities that might not be obvious to everyone.

I believe in healing, even when I don't see it, even when it happens in ways that I may not recognize, even when it comes in ways other than I would have chosen if the choice were mine to make, I believe in healing, and I am stubborn enough to hope for miracles.

During my AIDS ministry in the 90s, I learned that it cost me nothing to summon hope for someone. In those days my promise to people was, "as long as you hope, you can trust that at least one other person is hoping with you." I am resurrecting that promise for whoever needs it today. If you are trying to summon hope, I will hope with you. I can't promise any particular result (I don't sell snake oil, but hope is free and I will cling to it stubbornly on your behalf).

I really do believe that hope, compassion, and prayer make a difference, and at least sometimes, that difference may even seem miraculous.

(Durrell Watkins - prayer companion, dealer in hope)

Monday, March 06, 2017

An End of Day Prayer During Turbulent Times

I worry that environmental protections are being rolled back, but I assume and hope that such myopic actions are temporary and will one day be corrected.
I worry that dictators may try to take advantage of an unprecedented lack of experience in the executive branch of US government, but I hope the judicial and legislative branches will intervene to keep us safe.
I worry that hard won victories for marginalized and vulnerable people are being targeted and attacked, but I trust that Justice will have Her say and that ultimately, fairness will prevail.
I worry that xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and transphobia will destroy human lives, and even cost lives, but I also hope and believe that human kindness is indomitable and will eventually save the day.
And, on top of these "big" concerns, I am aware of people who are hurting, who are facing loss, who are dealing with great personal challenges, whose futures seem uncertain, and for them I wish comfort, strength, courage, and the sustaining power of hope. I wish them peace of mind, and even a miracle or two.
My concerns are many tonight, and so it is that I invoke grace which is equal to every need to enfold us all. Amen.

(Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Liberal? Left? Lovely!

Left of center, liberal, progressive...I hear these used as insults, but I embrace them and hope they are true of me. Here are other synonyms for those words that can be hurled at me without my objecting one bit: high minded, thoughtful, compassionate, fair, inclusive, generous. I never tire of being "accused" of being a good person. I may not always live up to the estimation, but I appreciate it nevertheless.

Not Liking the News Doesn't Make it Fake News

News is news. If something happens, or if there is strong evidence to suggest something may be happening, and it is reported, that is not "fake" news. Now, commentary about the news can be biased, leaning to the left or right, and it can be verbalized in a way (with "dog whistle" words) that is meant to stir interest or even emotion in certain groups, but if a thing happened and it is reported, that is simply "news."

To try to discredit the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, MSNBC, PBS/NPR, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Mother Jones, Al Jazeera English, The Guardian, The Independent, or even Fox (whose commentary I detest, but if they say a plane landed or an earthquake occurred, it probably did...when they say it was all a liberal conspiracy-that is commentary we can call b/s, but the news part is just news) as "Fake News" is ridiculous. Calling major news outlets "fake" is just a way of trying to keep the populace ill-informed and ignorant. Let's not fall for it, please.

By the way, there is "fake" news...they are tabloids (Enquirer), racist blogs, YouTube videos that any dweeb can post, etc. If they lie about a thing happening (pope runs prostitution ring out of Sistine Chapel, Big Foot top donor to the Clinton Campaign, Pat Robertson considered for Ambassador to Heaven)...then that is fake news. But those with long histories of journalistic integrity are not fake news, even if what they report isn't to (y)our liking.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

I Am a Product of Public Eduation

#proudproductofpublicschools

My graduate schools were all private (Goddard College, MA; Union Theological Seminary, MDiv; Episcopal Divinity School, DMin), but my success in graduate school was made possible by my public school foundation:

Carver Kindergarten
College Hill Elementary School (1st grade)
Liberty-Eylau ISD (2nd - 12th grades)
Texarkana College (public community college)
Henderson State University (BA)

Additionally, my parents were graduated from Arkansas High School (my dad was an alum of both Henderson State Teachers College, later known as HSU, [BME] and Louisiana Tech University [MAE])...all public schools.

My grandmother was graduated from Wickes High School, Magnolia A&M College (later known as Southern AR Univ [Teaching credential]), and Arkansas State Teachers College (later known as University of Central Arkansas [BSE])...all public schools.

My dad taught public school music for 7 years, my grandmother was a public school elementary teacher for 36 years, and her sister, my great-aunt was also a public school elementary and special education teacher.

My husband's MDiv and DMin are both from private seminaries, but his K-12 years were also in public schools.

Both of my brothers and all of their children went to public schools (one brother went to private school for a few years but graduated from public high school).

My entire family benefited from public education.

Additionally, my education has been enhanced by PBS/NPR (just saying).

None of this may matter to the billionaire class oligarchy in charge right now, but it has meant the world to me.