rebuilding

I am now a month into living in my new hometown of Montgomery, Alabama and I’m pretty sure I’ve run more here than I did in the last 10 months at home (part injury-part life.) I’ve lived in lots of different communities all over the country and I’m always grateful when I can find the common ground in running. (Also church…and starbucks.) So now that I’ve met a few people, found the local running store, found one or two routes, ran a race, and will sign up for a few more–what does that mean for my training? Will I finally, after years off from serious training, actually regain the long lost discipline?

I would like to. My body and mind will be stronger if I nourish them with miles. I will gain energy. I will possibly fit better in my pants. My back will hurt less. So, what will it take? How does one finally get the intrinsic motivation to rebuild after so much time away? I don’t know the answer right now. I do know that there is a run tonight. I do know that there is a 10 miler in November (and a training program to go with it.) What I don’t know is how to re-fall in love with running. I want to. I need to. I want to bottle up the joy I felt a few weeks ago at the Chewacla Tri and remember it. I want to use it as a catalyst to move forward.

IMG_4680this sort of joy….

Have you had to rebuild? What brought you back? What motivated you? I’ll take any ideas. And I’ll keep you posted. XO.

#37

37

photo source (perfect that it’s a Yankee #)

I am finally my favorite number! For years, my lucky number has been 37. I have three seven’s in my birthday and it always seemed like a logical reason to make it my favorite number. Also, there are a lot of interesting math things around 37. I’m #4 in our group of 7 cousins (7-4=3), I’m one of three sisters, and Ken’s classroom number in 2nd grade (his Mom’s class) was 7, so it just fits.

Starting a fresh new year of life in a new place doing new things is just what the “doctor” ordered after a tumultuous 36th year. I will officially get an Alabama license today and have officially sent my “back to school” letter to faculty today. So both feet are firmly planted for a great new year in the South.

For your interest, here are some cool facts about the #37 I think my Mom will be most pleased by the Shakespeare reference and I’m pleased that I’m the fifth lucky prime. I think K would be pleased that this is Casey Stengel’s retired Yankee number. Also, because some people have too much time on their hands, the interwebs found me this 37 Factoid site. My favorite factoid from this site is:

  • The winner of the 1996 Ironman Triathon World Championship, Luc Van Lierde of Belgium, was entrant #37. (Sweet.)

Also, not to get all morbid, but apparently Dylan Thomas died at the age of 37 (no plans for that for me…) but since he wrote one of my favorite poems, I give it to you here. (His wife was named Caitlin, also appropriate.)

So that is enough of me for one 37th natal day. Have a Sofia or an IPA today and tell your family you love them.I continue to feel overwhelmed by the grace which I’ve been given by my friends and family in the last nine months. Honor each day as a gift and a step forward in faith and joy.

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good morning baltimore

My heart is breaking for Baltimore today. While not my hometown, I have spent many a day in the city-learning at Hopkins, cheering the O’s, running the marathon, hearing and singing with the BSO, and introducing family and friends to the science center, aquarium, and Ft. McHenry. But these are not the parts of Baltimore that are on fire. These are not the parts of Baltimore that cry out in pain from decades of oppression and violence.

As Baltimore burns this morning, I push away from the easy rhetoric; the “those people should behave” talk. Rather I seek the whole story. I seek to understand what drives people to lose their will be peaceful and pushes them to rage. I am not an historian. I am not a theologian. I am not a journalist. So instead of my own words, I share the words of others who are helping me glean perspective today.

David Simon-creator of The Wire

Two States of Emergency in BaltimoreThe Atlantic

Non-Violence as Compliance, Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

God was Born on the Streets of Baltimore, Jason Chesnut, Faith Interrupted

John Angelos, Orioles COO, perspective

An historical approach-MLK’s Speech in Gross Pointe, MI 3.14.68

Why Baltimore Burned, Forbes

Double Standard of Riot Coverage

I beg you, before you rant about unrest or attempt to place blame, try to get a 360 view. Turn off the cable news (all the channels, not just one.) Try to glean as much information as you can to understand the root causes. And pray, my friends, may we pray so fiercely for clarity, peace, healing, and justice—FOR ALL.

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searching for sunday.

This week’s past Gospel, we call Thomas the “doubter”-he wants the evidence of things unseen to prove the resurrection of Jesus. I’m not going to debate the word doubt and Thomas’ need for tangible proof in the risen Lord. However, I find the timing of this Gospel perfect as I wrap my head around the brilliance that is Rachel Held Evans’ new work, searching for sunday: loving, leaving and finding the church.

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In the vein of Barbara Brown Taylor’s Leaving ChurchRachel guides us through her crisis of faith with stories that will challenge us to consider our own doubt. Her authentic tale of evangelical upbringing, running away, and returning to the table is accessible to both the cradle believers and those who still seek. She walks us through this journey through the sacred sacraments of Baptism, Confession, Holy Orders, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing the Sick, and Marriage.

We are challenged to think–is everything I’ve been taught or I’ve thought I believed true? Is it real? Is there room at the table for all? Are our churches limiting the scope and reach of Jesus by making judgments on people, places, and things? Are we losing the millennial generation because making church a rock concert or serving hipster coffee isn’t making the great commandment relevant for us?

As a cradle Episcopalian, I am lucky I didn’t have to answer a lot of the questions with which Rachel has grappled. I grew up in a home and church that preached inclusion. I never knew a life without women in leadership at the highest level. I never heard anti-LGBT speech from my pulpit. I grew up steeped in liturgical tradition that honored reason as a part of one’s faith formation. However, as a college student in the Midwest, I gained an eye-opening baptism of my own in the world of evangelicalism. (Or as my Mom liked to call it “fundamentalism”—aka, Republican and Baptist.) This was a gift to me in a sense as it opened up scripture in a way that I hadn’t seen in my upbringing. It taught me the phrase “personal relationship with Jesus” and opened my mind to see the myriad of ways people worship and perceive God, Jesus, the Bible, and the Church. It made me appreciate my moderate, intellect loving background, but also respect the traditions and beliefs of others. It made me appreciate that doubt was an integral part of the journey.

To write a review of this book is hard. It is a “nugget” book for me. A book filled with so many quotables, that I found myself splicing the larger ideas into tastes. By doing so, I don’t want to undercut the message of inclusion that I think is at the heart of this book. Yet at the same time, I want YOU to read it, so I will offer you a few tastes with an encouragement to join our conversation.

Dawn

“We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask.”

Baptism

“The Spirit that once hovered over the waters had inhabited them. Now every drop is holy.”

“It was the 80’s, so all my earliest memories of Jesus smell like hairspray.”

“The good news is you are a beloved child of God; the bad news is you don’t get to choose your siblings.”

“Grace has been out of hand for more than two thousand years now. We best get used to it.”

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image source

Confession

“But no one really teaches you how to grieve the loss of your faith. You’re on your own for that.”

“I wanted to believe with my intellectual integrity and intuition intact, with both my head and heart fully engaged.”

“In the company of these friends, questions and doubts were met with sympathy, not fear. No one felt the need to correct or understand or approve. We just listened, and it was sacred.”

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Holy Orders
“Ultimately, we are all commissioned. All are called. All belong to the holy order of God’s beloved.”

“…go first, to volunteer the truth about their sins, their dreams, their failures, and their fears in order to free others to do the same.”

“When Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, he was showing them what leadership in the upside-down kingdom of God looks like.”

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Communion

“clamorous manducation.”

“Something about communion triggers our memory and helps us see things as they really are. Something about communion opens our eyes to see Jesus at the table.”

“Communion doesn’t answer every question, nor does it keep my stomach from rumbling from time to time, but I have found that it is enough. It is always and ever enough.”

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Confirmation

“I didn’t know how to tell them this was exactly the sort of thing that made me doubt.”

“The journey comes with baggage, yes. And heartbreak. But there are also many gifts. In a sense, we’re all cobblers. We’re all a bit like Brother Joseph, piecing together our faith, one shard of broken glass at a time.”

“And the notion that a single tradition owns the lockbox on truth is laughable, especially when the truth we’re talking is God.”

“My Mother always said you don’t have to believe much to be Episcopalian” (this one made me laugh so so hard.)

Anointing of the Sick

“The annoying thing about being human is that to be fully engaged with the world, we must be vulnerable. And the annoying thing about being vulnerable is that sometimes it means we get hurt.”

“The thing about healing, as opposed to curing, is that it is relational. It takes time, It is inefficient, like a meandering river…..Walking with someone through grief, or the process of reconciliation, requires patience, presence, and a willingness to wander, to take the scenic route.” (This was the most meaningful chapter for me entitled Healing. A stunning connection to grief and loss.)

anointing the sick SFS

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Marriage

“We must be careful, then, of idolizing the institution of marriage on the one hand and discounting its kingdom-reflecting potential on the other.”

“Perhaps she would talk about being underestimated, about surprising people and surprising herself. Or about how there are moments when her own strength startles her, and moments when her weakness–her forgetfulness, her fear, her exhaustion–unnerve her.”

“Sometimes I think the biggest challenge in talking about the church is telling ourselves the truth about it–acknowledging the scars, staring down the ugly bits, marveling at its resiliency, and believing that this flawed and magnificent body is enough, for now, to carry us through the world and into the arms of Christ.”

***

Hopefully, something in those words triggered your desire to dig deeply with RHE, as she is often called in our Launch Team circle. She is not a super-hero, she is not selling snake oil. She is opening our hearts and minds to the possibility of what the church can/could be. This book has encouraged my walk and I can’t recommend it to you enough.

Come to the table, you are welcome here.

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opening day

Mid day today, the gates will open up.

Fans with hats and gloves rush to catch a glimpse of #2 or #25 as they stretch and stride.

The smell of green grass, the breeze, the bright sun.

The bustle of vendors heavy laden with cotton candy, hot dogs, and beer.

The child’s wide eyes as she sees the field for the first time.

The father taking her hand amid the crowd.

The long walk to the upper deck provides a sensory overload.

Hands on hearts, everyone sings, a moment of pride.

The charge of the field, the wind up, and crack of the bat.

And so begins a new season sure to delight and thrill, madden and sadden.

For the stalwart and the fair weather, today marks the start.

Play Ball.

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authentic reality.

It has been five months since my beloved left our Earthly home. In that time, I have continued to experience the ups and downs of the new reality. In the midst of my continued grief process, I am making plans for a new adventure in Alabama, renewing my love affair with Pure Barre, and coaching track. I must go forward and grow, even if it feels like burrowing into the hollow would be the better choice.

There have been words and voices around me that make me feel confident in this growth. Two weeks ago, my amazing Rector, Sari, spoke of re-birth. If we want to experience being truly re-born and experience God, we must go through a passage from one reality to another and we cannot go back. This is terrifying and true and amazing and horrible. It is real. Yesterday, his sermon focused on vulnerability and love. True love exists when we demonstrate that which is our inside on the outside–with another person. When we open our hearts and souls to allow someone in, it is then we experience God. And this, too, can be a wounding experience.

I would not give up this experience of having been vulnerable and experiencing love with Ken for anything, despite the current wounds that may never fully heal. I rejoice in this passage that has been given to me, even if it is the most difficult passage of my life thus far. I choose to live this passage with great vulnerability on the outside, so that others around me know that it is ok to be real. In our society, we view vulnerability as weakness, but I see it as a chance to be honest.  Super-hero Brené Brown writes: “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” (The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You AreIn this time of trial, change, and renewal, I can be nothing but authentic. For anything else would be something and someone that I am not.

forward

a new regard for poetry

I read this article tonight in the nytimes: Bringing a Daughter Back From the Brink with Poems. It is an incredible essay by Betsy Macwhinney about her subversive use of poetry to open her daughter to mental and physical healing. It is amazing. It is an incredible example of maternal love that is only matched by that of my own mother. (And I’m sure yours too, but really, mine is the best.)

I would encourage you to read the article and the poems to which she links. But…this says it all for me:

“At some point, I knew she had come out of a long dark tunnel. I also knew it wouldn’t be her last tunnel.”

I’ve never been one for poetry. My connection to Tennyson came less from his works and more from the way Megan Follows recited them as Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables. I am not a Shakespeare girl, much to my mothers chagrin. The words of Frost and Teasedale have been appealing but only when they have been set to music. e.e. cummings and Emily Dickinson have some appeal but have not typically captured my mind and soul in the way of prose authors.

But, I am the daughter of an exquisite poet and my respect for words is immense. So I’m not terribly surprised that poetry has turned a new light for me. Emerson, Rilke, now Neruda, are helping me to walk out of the tunnel of the dark and into the light. The gifts of words of those more wise than I provide a balm to my tumultuous spirit.

I leave you with this one for your heart. peace.

If Death is Kind

Perhaps if death is kind, and there can be returning,
We will come back to earth some fragrant night,
And take these lanes to find the sea, and bending
Breathe the same honeysuckle, low and white.

We will come down at night to these resounding beaches
And the long gentle thunder of the sea,
Here for a single hour in the wide starlight
We shall be happy, for the dead are free.

Sara Teasdale