Sisters in Scripture
The Space Within Time    5/18/2020


Victor Frankl writes, "Between a stimulus and a response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.” 

Herein lies our growth and our freedom. Within that brief millisecond, it is ours to determine the weight we will assign to what we have seen or heard and what impact it will have on us. It is ours to decide what will be our response. All in that millisecond. 

Because it carries so much portent, the space that Frankl describes, though brief, must, of necessity, be deep. Our western concept of time is irretrievably linear and, often, seen as in movement--swift movement at that. But in the stutter step of a paused movement, another dimension of depth opens up to us. 

"There's a world of meaning in every spade of earth." I still recall that line from one of John-boy Walton's neighbors. The young, would-be author was dreaming of far-flung places but paused to talk with an elderly black woman, up to her elbows in earth from her garden, a woman who'd never traveled 50 miles away but imbued, nonetheless, with enviable wisdom. 

What if we're missing something? What if there's "a world of meaning" if we but bend down and dig deep? What would that look like? 

Once upon a long-ago time, a chance encounter with a long-lost friend first introduced me to the idea of deep time. She'd moved some distance away and I'd not seen her for years. But there she was, out and about, and looking good, and I was surprised, for I knew she had a chronic and ultimately, terminal disease. Her son whom I remembered as a boy, was now going away to college. She smiled, "I sure enjoyed his graduation. I know I may not be there for his next one, but I know he's going to make it." I asked about her health. "Not good," she said, "but here's the thing. I may not get to dance with Jamie at his wedding and I may never get to hold a grandchild in my arms, but God has given me so much now and has taught me that time does not have to be long if it is deep.” Her hope, she said, came from 2 Peter 3:8. "Do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” She lived with the promise and the expectation of each given day being a thousand years deep. "I may not have been given length of days, but I have been given depth of days." 
Depth of days. What would it mean to live that way? This kind of awareness often comes to us from those whose lives are at risk; Frankl survived Auschwitz and Dachau and Kit lived daily with the knowledge that she was terminally ill. But what about those of us caught up in the routine of day to day living? What if we could bring such awareness to bear in our lives, and in that space or millisecond that Frankl describes? 

It seems impossible. The span is far too short, that space between stimulus and response. How can we possibly discern all that seems necessary? Only by recognizing in this brief space, the opportunity for a sacred pause, a place where we can enter deep time, God’s time. 

Here we exist in a subliminal, eternal space where length of time is irrelevant, for Eternity, God, is not bound by time. Here we may pause ever so briefly and be intentional. We can choose to align ourselves and our intentions with God’s larger Purpose for ourselves and beyond ourselves. This space is not about discerning or arriving at understanding—God’s Purpose is beyond all that. It is about acknowledging there is more here than meets the eye, that "it’s not about me,” that God is afoot in this world and in my life, that I can choose to participate in God’s grace—whatever that is. Our response, then, is the decision to cooperate in all of the above.

We need not be held hostage to the conditioned response, the knee-jerk reaction, the patterns or habits of old. We can choose differently. This was the wisdom that Frankl gained. Even in the dehumanizing conditions of a Nazi death camp, where everything else was beyond his control, he retained the ability to choose his response to whatever was done. The gift of free will is ours as well in the lesser challenges of our days. We can and do receive the grace to respond differently, authentically when we pause and remember what we are here for. We are not alone in that moment, that brief, deep moment where God abides.

Try this just once today.


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Mary Magdalene: Fact and Fiction.    5/14/2020
Mary Magdelene by Ivanov


Fact & Fiction - what would Snopes say?

Saturday, May 30, 2020
9:30 AM - 11:30 AM PDT
at the invitation of St. Placid Priory, Lacey, WA
Our last Zoom presentation, May 2nd, on Hildegard of Bingen was SO MUCH FUN! Great participation, great conversation and, in Hildegard, a really great topic. Thanks to all who joined me!
Only one problem...who can follow an act like Hildegard? Spun my wheels for just a bit before realizing the obvious. Who else but....Mary Magdalene!
Until the last few years no one had even heard of Hildegard, but who hasn't heard of Mary Madgalene? And we have heard a lot. In the second century, Hippolytus of Rome first conferred upon her the exalted title, "Apostle to the Apostles." Four centuries later she was designated the Patron Saint of Prostitutes. Which is she? Fact or fiction, saint or sinner, the object of veneration or vilification? We certainly know of her but do we know her? Here's our chance to at least sort through some of her story. We'll look to scripture, history, apocryphal texts, literature and art to enhance our understanding of her story and of her.
To register or learn more, click on: Mary Magdalene

EVEN BETTER - Before you join me for Mary Magdelene: Fact and Fiction, join my friend, Betsey Beckman, for a fresh, totally different, but complimentary, take on Mary Magdalene. If you are familiar with my work, you know that Betsey and I frequently co-present. We have led retreats together such as ONCE UPON A TIME IN A TOWN CALLED NAZARETH and WITNESSES ON THE WAY.
Betsey has been invited by St. Placid Priory to present a Zoom session, DANCING WITH MARY MAGDALENE
Saturday, May 16th
1-3, PDT
Betsey's creative presentation of Mary's encounter with Jesus in the garden will inspire you and stir you to learn more. I do believe much of my own creativity around Mary Magdalene has been inspired by this presentation of Betsey's. Hope you can make it and then come back and learn more in our time together on the 30th. To register or learn more about Betsey's Zoom presentation click here: Dancing with Mary Magdalene.

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Viriditas    5/5/2020
The picture  to the left was taken Saturday morning from our back deck just before my Zoom session on Hildegard. Certainly, greening, or HIldegard's term, Viriditas, was very much in evidence that day. Nature, so central to Hildegard's theology, provides us with much this time of year to contemplate. 

Richard Rohr defines contemplation as "a long, loving look at what is real." In preparation for my presentation, I spent a lot of time doing exactly that, especially out-of-doors--taking a long, loving look. A marvelous awareness, deepening, sense of peace, and deep gratitude accompanied these times. 

It is migration season here for orioles and rose-breasted grosbeaks. They have done us the favor of stopping by our feeders and adding their brilliant color to that of the bluebirds, goldfinch and cardinals. The view outside our window one recent morning was filled with the flash of color and flurry of feathers. In the spontaneous way that makes sense to birds, they abruptly retreated to the overhanging branches and from there continued their song. It occurred to me to close my eyes and give "a long, loving listen" to the symphony around me. The trills, whistles, calls, tweets, songs, and chirps were every bit as exhilarating as the visual display. My first experiment in contemplative listening.

It turned out however, that God had more to teach me. It was glorious to contemplate beauty but what of that full definition? What if the "what is real" is not beautiful? Can I take a long, loving look at that? There is much that is real and not at all lovely these days. What I discovered is that I could focus my loving look on that as well. For me, novice that I am, I could only do so for one thing at a time. I could not, for example, bring to mind the many and varied, complex and troubling images that Covid-19 evokes. I could, however, choose one image, a nurse holding the hand of someone on a ventilator, a subway worker disinfecting a car, and I could, indeed, give to that my full attention, a long, loving look. 

If what we discussed in our Hildegard session is at all true, the looking made a difference. It was not fretting or worrying or solving. It was not even intercessory prayer. It was just loving and looking...and somehow enough.  ...
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