Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fulfillment and Hope for Clergydom

Gratitude Note:  For fulfillment and hope in the cycle of “clergydom.”  That may seem a little odd for anyone who doesn’t wear a “collar.”  Today I met with the Episcopal clergy in the Northeast Region of Oklahoma for the last time as Dean of the NE Region.  In that role I have been essentially a convener and not much responsibility.  None-the-less this was my last time to call them together, and because it was at St. Luke’s, I also led our group in celebrating the Holy Eucharist.  There were eleven of us.  Four of my colleagues are relatively new in their churches.  Six of us are retired or almost so.  Life is good in some places and challenging in others, but the desire and commitment to serve was evident in each priest and deacon.  The bond of love, support and prayer was experienced once again.  Granted, I am a bit reflective these days, but looking back on our four hours together today, I have a sense of fulfillment and hope.  I am grateful for the privileged of knowing and serving with these servants of God and the Church.  Thanks be to God!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Sacred Joy of Kiddie Park

Gratitude Note:  For the one and only amazing Kiddie Park of Bartlesville!  I had not been to Kiddie Park in a while, but when Savannah (8) and Landon (5) came to town it was a must.  The weather was perfect and the crowd had to be in the thousands.  All the rides were cranked up and going with long lines at many of them.  JOY was everywhere – I mean everywhere.  For sure the children were excited, but the parents and grandparents were delighting in the joy of the children.  Of course being with our grandchildren we were caught up in the excitement and joy.  However, I think that might have happened even if I had just gone out on my own to experience the crowd, the children, the atmosphere – the unbridled joy.  Excuse me for saying so, but I had a sense that this is the way life should be – I know that isn’t real – but then what is real?  Perhaps the rest of life tends toward the “unreal” while Kiddie Park is a glimpse of heaven on earth.  Meanwhile, thanks to all the volunteers over the decades who have made Kiddie Park what it is – an amazing amusement park of joy – a glimpse of sacred Joy.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Chores and Joy

Gratitude Note:  For an unusual day of chores and anticipatory joy.  The windows are washed.  Weeds are pulled and bushes are trimmed.  Everything is watered and the hose coiled.  The house is clean and the wash done.  Wrinkles in the rug are straightened again.  The cat box is clean.  The refrigerator is full.  Lynda and I sat back to rest and watch the Olympics.  Sterling (the cat) and Lord Mason (the other kind) looked at each other and then at us like “Who is coming?”  How do they know these things?  Yes, the two non-twin grandchildren, Savannah and Landon, are coming for a visit tomorrow – plus Erica and Jason.  We are full of anticipatory joy.  Sterling will hide and Lord Mason will go crazy.  Kiddie Park here we come!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

John Hood's Faith Story

Gratitude Note: For a wonderful story of faith shared and successful surgery -- several thin places. Worth the read -- fresh and true.
John Hood
Dad's surgery was a success today. He has a new heart valve and one bypass. I didn't know what to expect and was overwhelmed more than once. As I reflect, I want to share a thought of gratitude.
The nurse had been in the room earlier and her demeanor gave us confidence that Dad was in good hands. She was going to look after him. She was a young woman of Asian descent. She wrote Dad's answers to some of her questions in black marker on her scrubs. She was efficient yet joked with Dad telling him that if he had any coffee today that she would send him home. This was after he requested a cup.
Before she wheeled Dad off to surgery, Mom suggested that we say the Lord's Prayer. As we began to gather around Dad to pray, he said to the nurse, "you are welcome to join us." She did. We held hands. Bill Monson said a few words of prayer and then we recited the Lords Prayer in unison.
Dad asked this nurse to join us; not because he wanted to push our beliefs on her but because he wanted her to feel welcome. He couldn't imagine excluding this woman, regardless of her own faith or no faith at all from our circle. This is the way we do things in our church, but it is also reflective of the man that is my father.
The Episcopal church welcomes you. That is the sign you will see as you enter many towns across America. And so does my Dad. After surgery, the doctor said that they needed a big valve to replace the one in a man with such a big heart. Yes they did! Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Clean White-board

Gratitude Note:  For a blank white-board – no patients or deaths.  Generally we are healthy parish and rarely have more than one or two in the hospital at a time and few deaths.  For the last couple of months that has not been the case.  The white-board in the Parish Secretary’s office for tracking people has been full – at times actually running out of room.  At last that unusual run is over and we are back our healthy normal – or at least not in the hospital or rehab.  Our long-suffering Glenn Blackburn went home yesterday – thanks be to God!  Of course people also struggle at home as well.  St. Luke’s folks are good about caring, praying and providing – another source of gratitude for their priest.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Another Remarkable Cursillo

Gratitude Note:  For another remarkable Cursillo experience.  This two and half day spiritual retreat is an amazing process that fans the flames of faith consistently and in a variety of ways.  Christ’s presence was everywhere.  Love flowed freely.  Thin places kept happening.  Fr. Sean and I played “young priest – old priest” and had a lot of fun and joy.  Becky was a terrific Lay Rector (the weekend is lay-led) and the team was one of the best.  From time to time I was reminded this was likely my last Cursillo – time for more younger priests to step up.  But this experience helped to form a renewed trajectory for my spirituality – wow!  So, I am grateful in many ways – especially for my colleagues Fr. Sean and Deacon Karen; Becky and the Team; and the Pilgrims – five of them friends from St. Luke’s.  Plus, another shared experience with Lynda.  And most of all, thanks be to God!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cursillo Again

Gratitude Note:  For another Cursillo experience starting tomorrow.  The team has been preparing for months and this is the weekend when we give it all to the pilgrims on this journey – and to God who will grace us time and again.  This spiritual retreat is always amazing – and often in different ways.  Cursillo for all its structure just happens.  I think this is the tenth time I have been a Spiritual Advisor for this Lay-led experience.  Every time I have seen wonderful things happen in people’s lives.  And without fail, I come away blessed and with a fresh faith trajectory.  Please pray for us.