Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
By Burton D. Carley
I do not know if the seasons remember their history or if the days and nights by which we count time remember their own passing.
I do not know if the oak tree remembers its planting or if the pine remembers its slow climb toward sun and stars.
I do not know if the squirrel remembers last fall's gathering or if the bluejay remembers the meaning of snow.
I do not know if the air remembers September or if the night remembers the moon.
I do not know if the earth remembers the flowers from last spring or if the evergreen remembers that it shall stay so.
Perhaps that is the reason for our births -- to be the memory for creation.
Perhaps salvation is something very different than anyone ever expected.
Perhaps this will be the only question we will have to answer:
"What can you tell me about September?"Photo "Oak Tree Sunrise" by Ansel Adams.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Today's sermon is from Mark 9:38-50“Have salt in yourself, and be at peace with one another.”
When I was a teenager, I raced small sailboats on San Francisco Bay. Our favorite stretch of water was near what we called “the Salt Pile,” which technically speaking is the Cargill Saltworks.
The salt pile was as big as a mountain and could be seen from 20 miles away on San Francisco Bay.
We used to race our sailboats around the salt pile, and it gave me a lot of time to think about salt and what the pile of salt represents.
I am not sure Jesus ever saw a salt pile like this one, but he knew exactly what he was talking about when he mentions salt.
Jesus is not talking about salt as a condiment on your French fries, although he cracks a little joke along that line: “If salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it?”
Jesus is talking about salt as the essence of life. Our life is dependant on salt. Seawater is about 3.5 percent salt. That is same proportion as salt in your blood. We are literally from the sea, and we cannot live without salt.
But go a little deeper than that. Jesus is talking about more than just maintaining your biological functions.
Jesus is declaring we should live our life to its fullest promise, as God gives us this life. Life is supposed to be salty, not stale. Jesus throws all kinds of images our way to make the same point. He is practically shouting at us:
Rather, Jesus is telling us to live, and be bold about it. Sprinkle some salt on it. Maybe a little pepper, too. Spice it up. Do not be bland.
God gives us this tremendous gift of life. We greet this gift of life one day at time. Use your gifts, use them vigorously. Put some salt in it.
Throw away the things that get in your way from living life to the fullest as God would have you live. If you need to make changes in your life, make the changes. If your salt has lost its saltiness, find new salt.
This is not about self-indulgence. It is about honoring God by honoring your health, and bringing healing and hope to all who need it. Live a life that brings life to yourself and all those around you. You are never too old or young to start.
How? The clues are right here with you. “Have salt in yourselves,” Jesus says.
All that you need is within you. God has given you and I everything we need, all the salt we need to live fully, abundantly, joyfully. God provides, we lack nothing, and blessings upon blessings are ours forever.
Yet, sometimes we don’t notice what is in front of us.
Sometimes all we need do is pause long enough to notice the salt right here. The idea of slowing down, resting – noticing – is the idea of Sabbath. The idea is to let the salt pile up a bit and then we might see it.
Sunday – today – by the way, is not the Sabbath day. It is a feast day, and the first day of the week. The Sabbath day is traditionally the seventh day, and that would be yesterday, Saturday. I hope your Sabbath yesterday was wonderful and full of saltiness.
As Jesus points out elsewhere in the gospels, Sabbath is not meant as an obligation; Sabbath is a gift to us so that we might notice our blessings.
Let me suggest we give ourselves Sabbath every day. Look for the gifts of Sabbath along the way in your daily travels. Take moments to look, to listen for the Holy. Slow down, pause, ask yourself: What gives me life right now? Where is the salt? Take stock.
If there is something not giving you life, get rid of it, cut it off. And then embrace that which gives you life. Salt is all around you and inside you:
“Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” AMEN.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Does thinking about health care reform give you a headache? Are the rhetoric, the cross messages, and the overflow of information — and misinformation — tempting you give in to the pessimistic thought that the sick who are most in need of health care, the poor, the marginalized, the immigrant, don’t stand a chance, “as always,” in front of powerful financial and political interests? Do you question getting involved at all?
The task seems daunting, but this is not the moment to give up or disconnect. The debate has reached a critical moment when the Catholic voice needs to be heard clearly and strongly.
The US Catholic bishops have spoken with one voice on the principles that should guide the discussion. They have been advocating for decades for the reform of a fragmented health system, one that is currently expensive, filled with inefficiencies and leaves too many people out.
The introduction of several bills in Congress this session (there are several different versions circulating in the House and the Senate as this is being written) acknowledges this reality. This has provided the opportunity to present the Catholic teaching on this issue and, in light of the tensions and complexity of the debate, has made the clear outlining of certain basic moral principles more necessary than ever.
A Catholic in good conscience cannot blindly vow support for one proposal or another without first measuring it against the fundamental principles of subsidiarity, solidarity and the common good.
Following Catholic social teaching, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
* Supports universal health coverage which protects the life and dignity of all, from conception to natural death, especially those who are poor and vulnerable.
* Opposes any efforts to expand abortion funding, mandate abortion coverage, or endanger the conscience rights of health care providers and religious institutions.
* Supports effective measures to safeguard the health of all of society by expanding eligibility for public programs such as Medicaid to all low income families and vulnerable people, and by offering adequate subsidies for cost-sharing of insurance premiums and out of pocket expenses. Legal immigrants and all pregnant women and children, regardless of immigration status, should be included.
The urgency of the matter has seen many bishops present these principles in order to educate the faithful and the public, encourage them to get involved and also ensure they are aware of the dangers, subterfuges and subtleties hidden in the different proposals.
Locally each bishop has put emphasis in that which concerns him the most but, in the end, the message is always the same: it is urgent to reform the US health system, but don’t do it at the expense of the poor, the children in their mother’s womb, or the consciences of doctors, nurses and other health workers. We can do better than this.
There are different ways to achieve access for all. We can debate and compromise on the proper role of government.
Let us find solutions where all the stakeholders can play a role and do it according to their religious convictions.
Let us stop the noise and the finger-pointing and turn to the issue at hand: the health of the nation. As one of our veteran Hispanic bishops, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, New Mexico, put it recently: “in our public discourse, let us not allow anger to suffocate wisdom, nor let slogans replace solutions.”
If there is a country where the means exist to remedy the health care crisis, it is this one. But, is there a will? Solidarity and the common good come at a price.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
My Life Before I Knew It
By Lawrence Raab
I liked rainy days
when you didn't have to go outside and play.
At night I'd tell my sister
there were snakes under her bed.
When I mowed the lawn I imagined being famous.
Cautious and stubborn, unwilling to fail,
I knew for certain what I didn't want to know.
I hated to dance. I hated baseball,
and collected airplane cards instead.
I learned to laugh at jokes I didn't get.
The death of Christ moved me,
but only at the end of Ben Hur.
I thought Henry Mancini was a great composer.
My secret desire was to own a collie
who would walk with me in the woods
when the leaves were falling
and I was thinking about writing the stories
that would make me famous.
Sullen, overweight, melancholy,
writers didn't have to be good at sports.
They stayed inside for long periods of time.
They often wore glasses. But strangers
were moved by what they accomplished
and wrote them letters. One day
one of those strangers would introduce
herself to me, and then
the life I'd never been able to foresee
would begin, and everything
before I became myself would appear
necessary to the rest of the story.
6:00pm Community Dinner
6:45pm Small Groups, Classes and Youth Choir (all these begin on Sept. 30th)
Come to all or any part of the evening.
Wednesday Evening Adult Small Groups: 6:45pm - 7:45pm beginning Sept. 30th
(1) Centering Prayer: meets 6:30pm - 8pm in the Youth Rooms
(2) Book Circle: Meets from 6:45pm - 7:45pm in the Library
Where is God in all this? – Have you ever struggled to find God in the ups and downs of life? Barbara Brown Taylor has authored an extraordinary book, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, about her own search for God in the ordinary moments of life, and her search in those harder times of pain and difficulty. She is among the most gifted writers on spirituality today, and she offers both practical advice on finding the sacred each day, and a commentary on her own challenges in doing so. Rector Jim Richardson will lead a discussion circle on Wednesday evenings on her book. Participants can purchase the book at most bookstores or a on-line booksellers.
(3) Listening as Spiritual Practice: Meets from 6:45pm - 7:45pm in the Lounge
In this series we will explore the Christian practice of "listening" -- to one another, to our own hearts and to God's leading. Please join us for any evenings you are able.
Sept. 30 & Oct. 7 Levels of Listening -- video and discussion led by Janet Legro
Oct. 14 - 28 The Listening Parent -- Led by Melissa Dean-Mckinney
Nov. 4 Active Listening in Communication & Mediation -- led by Phil LaMar
Nov. 11 - Dec. 11 Centering Prayer - the prayer of "loving attentiveness"
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
- Parents will only be notified if student is under 18 or if they might not make it.
- Police will respond to a 911 call, but only to ensure safety, not to report or arrest anyone.
- Bringing a friend to the hospital will not put you at risk for punishment if you are underage. It is better to come in so the doctors know exactly what happened; they will be better able to treat your friend!
Monday, September 21, 2009
In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss. In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving. You are our mother, brother, and savior. In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvelous and plenteous grace. You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us. You are our maker, our lover, our keeper. Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. Amen.
A Prayer for the California State Senate
Here is one of the prayers I wrote for the California State Senate in 2006. I wish it was out-of-date:
Almighty God, we pray that the leaders of all nations will work unceasingly for peace and reconcilliation in the many troubled lands of this earth. We pray especially for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we ask that all who are serving our nation will be protected by your embrace and will return safely home soon. Amen.
A Prayer by Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Lord, open our eyes, that we may see you in our brothers and sisters.
Lord, open our ears, that we may hear the cries of hungry, the cold, the frightened, the oppressed.
Lord, open our hearts, that we may love each other as you love us.
Renew in us your spirit, Lord, free us and make us one. Amen.
A Jewish Shabbat Prayer for Peace
You have given us the power, O God, to bring peace and justice into the world. May we always love peace and pursue it, and love our fellow creatures. Fill Your children with kindness, wisdom, and love. Then shall they learn to live at peace.
Blessed is the Lord, Teacher of Peace.
A Muslim Prayer for Peace
God made this universe from love
For Him to be the Father of.
There cannot be
Another such as He.
What duty more exquiste is
Than loving with a love like His?
A better task
No one could ever ask.
May all beings have happiness, and the causes of happiness; May all be free from sorrow, and the causes of sorrow; May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrowless; And may live in equanimity, without too much attachment and too much aversion, And live believing in the equality of all that lives.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
by Tony HoaglandPainting by Mandy Weathers.
Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—
the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,
the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me
and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.
The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,
and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.
Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk
Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts
but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
believe in the clean break;
I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,
I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back
and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries
like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.
Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?
You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.
I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:
trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.
Friday, September 18, 2009
A couple of months ago, when I started volunteering as a chaplain intern at Sojourn, the multi-faith chaplaincy at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), I noticed people wearing sweatshirts that had “As Real as it Gets – San Francisco General Hospital” written on the back. This tag line has stayed with me all summer. SGH is the public hospital for the City and County of San Francisco and is located in the Mission District of the city. Given that SFGH is a public hospital, there is a very diverse set of patients, including the marginalized, the homeless, and those who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse. It also is the Trauma 1 center serving everyone from northern San Mateo County to Napa County.
During the months I was a chaplaincy volunteer, I witnessed a wide range of illnesses, wounds, and other crises. At first I was afraid that the open sores or missing limbs would be the hardest obstacle I would have to overcome; however, I was wrong. For most patients the physical pain is eased with medication, but the emotional pain is left untouched. As a chaplain intern, my role was to help ease the emotional burdens that patients carried. Like all chaplains, I listened to patients tell their life stories. I heard their frustrations, the sadness and the loneliness they face, and the fear many of them hold about their futures. Chaplains take everything the patients will give—pain or fear or regret—and we hold it for them. Imagine going into a hospital room and carrying an empty basket. You sit down and are ready to fill your basket with whatever the patient gives you. The patient may give you anything from leg pain to fear about death. You gather all of that pain and fear and hold it in your basket, relieving the patient for a short time. Besides offering an empty basket, so to speak, we chaplains help the patients incorporate the injury or illness they are suffering from into their life story.
After a week or two of being a chaplain I realized how much I enjoyed working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I loved the urgency of the unit and, more importantly, I loved hearing the stories from the patients and their families. It was from the people I met in the ICU that I learned the most about being a chaplain. I learned that the simple act of listening can do wonders for a family member whose child is comatose. I learned that for some patients, just hearing a voice is comforting and reassuring. One woman I visited frequently had been intubated; that is, a tube had been placed down her throat so that she could not speak. Every time I went to see her, she would greet me with a big smile. At the end of our visit, after I had prayed aloud for her, she would not let go of my hand, and when I had to leave, her eyes would tear up. That woman also taught me that sitting with someone in silence can be just as helpful and comforting as a conversation can be. The stories I heard from family members in the ICU were humbling. The frustration I felt from that morning’s traffic jam would disappear when I heard from a family that was faced with taking a loved one off of life support. I heard lots of grief from family members in the ICU, but never before have I seen such strength in someone who was faced with such hardship. These families were so hopeful; they could see a light in a tunnel that most people would consider completely pitch black.
I later learned that all those sweatshirts, the ones that read “As Real as it Gets – San Francisco General Hospital,” are for a fundraiser for the ICU. The ICU is pretty ‘real’ and I definitely got a taste of reality when I was there. I am not saying that car crashes, head injuries, or the terminally ill are the only things that define what is ‘real,’ but rather, those things play a role in what reality can hold. Throughout my summer as a chaplain, I had the privilege of learning about a whole new world: a world of compassion and listening, of hope and faith, of strength. I saw a world that has light in even the darkest places imaginable.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
And it came to pass ... when I was 42 years and 7 months old, that the heavens were opened and a blinding light of exceptional brilliance flowed through my entire brain. And so it kindled my whole heart and breast like a flame, not burning but warming... and suddenly I understood of the meaning of expositions of the books...