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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Words Fail Me

Racism and anti-Semitism again raising their voices and engaging in violence. I am thoroughly disgusted with the white supremacists, the rhetoric they feed upon, and especially the overt destruction of the civil progress our nation has actually made (and I know we have a long way to go). This feels like it's basically a form of terrorism. As humans, we are far, FAR more alike than we are different.

Words fail me, maybe they fail us all, but I pray that there is an end to the violence and the belief that violent acts can foster an end to the marginalization that any group feels or experiences. When it is enough to make us all speak out simultaneously? How many violent acts resulting in injuries (to body or spirit) equal a reason that touches each of us enough to react as a whole? What is the point at which we can no longer stand the persecution of our friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens *of the human race*?

I realize offering prayers might not feel right for some, but it feels right for me right now. I realize it might seem like more failed or distant words, but I believe common prayer can have communion of spirit and maybe that's what I can hang onto tonight while I mull over and try to understand the "why" of it all.

I offer this prayer for Social Justice from the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, who hast created us in thine own image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

I also offer this prayer from “A Year of Prayer to End Racism” from the Diocese of West Virginia:

“Creator of all people, in our amazing diversity of size, shape, color, and giftedness: guide us, by your grace, to recognize the beauty and fitness of all whom you have made in your own image. Give us gifts of humility and generosity of spirit to recognize in all people, the face of our Savior, Jesus, and to practice his commandment to “love one another,” toward the end of bringing harmony and peace among persons of all colors, origins, and abilities, for the sake of your Kingdom.” Amen.

Racism is NOT ok.
Bigotry is NOT ok.
Intolerance is NOT ok.
Violence is NOT ok.

My Summer 2017 - CPE and NYC

HA!...of course I forgot to share this so......my last few days in NYC were FANTABULOUS, especially my last day. I'm back in Sewanee now, have taken a personal retreat in two parts, and classes have begun - TODAY! More info on classes I'm taking at the very bottom of this post. 
Howdy y'all! :-)
Having only three days left here in NYC, I decided to put some of my thoughts of CPE and living in NYC mixed into a generic update on my summer. I've been way from home since the end of the spring semester in April and it's been pretty nonstop busy, but I do love that.
Back in the spring, I received two grants (Seminary Consultation on Mission and Episcopal Church Global Missions) to travel to the Philippines. With faculty support, I scheduled my exams early to make the trip. I'm in the process of writing about my journey and the work I did there so stay tuned to this blog (you can sign up via email on the right-hand side of the screen). I spent three weeks there and was able to visit and work with small remote villages, attend the national synod and write an ENS article about it, and learn about The Episcopal Church in The Philippines. It was FANTASTIC and I do hope to return!

Two weeks before I left though, my mother had a stroke in Charleston, SC. She was in and out of the ER for four days and it was an extremely stressful time. My brother and I worked hard to make sure she was receiving the care she needed for stroke recovery and other issues. After a month of waiting on certain documents, we finally received necessary paperwork and my brother was able to get things rolling with placing her in an assisted living facility. During my CPE (explained below) unit, I flew down from New York to clear out some of the house and move Mom’s things into storage while my brother dealt with other things on Mom’s behalf. In July, he was able to help her get to a facility in NC. She is doing extremely well in her new place and seems happy. I am also happy and grateful that she is receiving the care that she needs, has friends, and is enjoying activities there!!
In light of my Mom's health, I did discern much about whether or not I should go to the Philippines, but I had some help and advice and in the end, I decided to go. After returning, I immediately began my CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) program in New York on May 22. All Episcopal seminarians must complete a unit of CPE and it’s usually done the summer after the first year in the MDiv program. My CPE placement has been in New York at NYU Langone-Brooklyn Medical Center and I have been living in a room in East Williamsburg in Brooklyn. NYUL is a Level I trauma center and is widely known and respected for its stroke response and medical teams. Working here, I've been able to be part of rapid response teams and witness the efficient, caring, and holistic care the hospital provides. I've gotten to know patients and their families, some staff, and some docs. I've listened, prayed with and for, distributed communion, sat in silence, cried with, laughed with, been at bedsides where last breaths were taken, been at cribs where new babies cooed, and been there as fiances screamed at the sudden loss of their beloved. My CPE program consisted of 300 hours of volunteer chaplaincy work and 100 hours of class – not to mention the books, presentations, and papers! I was placed in the stroke/neurological wing and that was very interesting, but tough. The summer has been challenging, emotional, intense, filled with holy moments, and I have learned so so sooooo much. Many say that CPE is transformative and indeed it has been. Knowing that most of us had similar experiences is also an amazing part of the communal nature of the journey to priesthood in The Episcopal Church (and other denominations). I'm grateful that we can share threads of these deep experiences, similar challenges, and mutual growth in self-awareness and pastoral identity with each other and with our future congregations.

I finished both the class and volunteer hours as of August 1st, but stayed a little on as an NYUL chaplain for a bit. I love the work and I love living up here so I was excited to stay on! 

Some of the things I have loved while working at NYUL:
- Meeting patients from around the world and being a chaplain to them
- Feeling more affirmed in my pastoral identity
- Learning tools for interacting with people when they are in distress and/or grieving
- Establishing personal learning goals for working with people in ministry
- Learning more about interreligious chaplaincy as it pertains to healing
- Developing better self-awareness on many, MANY levels
- Being ok with silence in togetherness with patients
- Being part of the RRT - (rapid response team) and what helps make NYUL known for a center that provides holistic healing
- Learning from my CPE colleagues, my supervisors, patients, and hospital staff
- Being on-call in evening shifts...I found that I liked this very much.

Some of the things I have loved about living in New York are:
- Not having a car
Iced coffee. I always disliked iced coffee until, quite suddenly, this summer, I began to love it and have become rather used to having it often!
- Student tickets to museums and some Broadway shows
- Cafes and shops on almost every corner

- Attending St. Mary the Virgin Church. It became apparent that many people didn't understand why I attended the same church each Sunday. I've been coming to NYC fairly often since 1989 so have attended many of the ones they recommended and after a whole year of attending a different church almost every Sunday, I REALLY felt like attending the same church all summer long and it was worth it. Lovely church, excellent rector (Stephen Gerth) and music (David Hurd, director). "Smokey Mary's" www.stmvirgin.org
- Many parks and quiet spots can be found...one simply has to look
- Seeing friends I know from New Orleans and New York
- The pizza (of course!)
- Having work here and feeling like I'm part of things and have a non-touristy purpose
- The diversity and hearing different languages all around me
- The many flowers I've found on my walks
- People don't look down upon you for using social media here
- People DO NOT care what you look like
- Free lunches for volunteers at the hospital. These have enabled me to save money all summer long and see shows and go to museums!
- There are beaches here...I had forgotten that!

Some things I don't like:
- It's ridiculously expensive
- Summer is HOT and I say that having lived in NOLA, Columbia, SC, and Atlanta, GA
It's MISERABLE though, b/c it seems as if few places have adequate air conditioning. While most subway trains are cool inside, the standing platforms where you wait are like OVENS. I am not exaggerating one bit
- Crazy people on the subway who ruin perfectly good rides
- Those times when well-meaning people have lists of things they think you should do in NYC, but you either can't or have differing tastes and motives
- Climbing all the steps....there are so many....tooooooo many

- Daily motion sickness riding the trains. Mine has always been pretty bad. I can handle most short train rides, though I sometimes feel a bit nauseous and exit with a really bad headache. I was glad for the 10-12 minute walk from the subway station to the hospital so that I could feel better each day before starting work
                     
I am very grateful to my host, an experienced staff NYUL chaplain. She let me afford living in her place this summer AND she let me bring my dear sweet Bluebell kitty up with me! She has two sweet kitties and everyone gets along :-)

When I return to Sewanee, I will do some much-needed apartment cleaning, finish getting books for the semester, have a couple of meetings, hopefully view the solar eclipse (it had better not be cloudy!), and more. One thing I am especially grateful for is that I have planned a personal retreat during the week before classes begin. YIPPEE! I’ll get to have an actual peaceful much-needed break, thanks to some very caring friends. 

We have a Quiet Day on Monday, August 28 and classes begin on Tuesday, August 29.
I'm taking the following classes:
- Pastoral Theology I
- Systematic Theology I
- A course on C.S. Lewis
- A ministry course called Transforming Congregations
- Foundations in Preaching and the preaching lab that goes with it
- I am attempting to take Arabic lessons this year, but not for credit
I'm very excited and have happy butterflies about returning and this second year!
                     
               

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Summer 2017 update for St. Paul's

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

It’s time for an update from your Sewanee seminarian! First, I’d like to thank you for keeping me in your prayers and for your support of all that I am doing and learning. Much has gone on since I last saw you in December and wrote to you in the spring. First, I received two grants (Seminary Consultation on Mission and Episcopal Church Global Missions) to travel to the Philippines. With faculty support, I scheduled my exams early to make the trip. I am in the process of writing about my journey and the work I did there so stay tuned to this blog (you can sign up via email on the right-hand side of the screen). I spent three weeks there and was able to visit and work with small remote villages, attend the national synod and write an ENS article about it, and learn about The Episcopal Church in The Philippines. 


Two weeks before I left though, my mother had a stroke in Charleston, SC. She was in and out of the ER for four days and it was an extremely stressful time. My brother and I worked hard to make sure she was receiving the care she needed for progressive dementia and stroke recovery. After a month of waiting on certain documents, we finally received paperwork that was necessary to establish power of attorney and were able to get things rolling with placing her in an assisted living facility. I flew down from New York to clean out the house and move Mom’s things into storage while my brother dealt with selling the house on Mom’s behalf. In July, he was able to do that and Mom is now in a facility in Durham, NC, near my brother. She is doing extremely well in her new place and seems happy. I am happy and grateful that she is receiving the care that she needs!!!!Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, outdoor
I discerned much about whether or not I should go to the Philippines, but I had some help and advice and in the end, I decided to go. After I returned, I immediately began my CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) program in New York on May 22. All seminarians must complete a unit of CPE and it’s usually done the summer after the first year in the MDiv program. My CPE placement has been in New York at NYU Langone-Brooklyn Medical Center and I have been living in a room in East Williamsburg in Brooklyn. NYUL is a Level I trauma center and is widely known and respected for its stroke response and medical teams. Working here, I have been able to be part of rapid response and witness the efficient, caring, and holistic care the hospital provides. My CPE program consisted of 300 hours of volunteer chaplaincy work and 100 hours of class – not to mention the books, presentations, and papers! I was placed in the stroke/neurological wing and that was very interesting, but tough. The summer has been challenging, emotional, intense, filled with holy moments, and I have learned so so sooooo much. Many say that CPE is transformative and indeed it has been.

Image may contain: outdoor
I finished both the class and volunteer hours this past week and was asked to stay on as an NYUL chaplain until I leave New York in ten days. I love the work and I love living up here so I was excited to stay on! Our CPE unit graduation is this coming Tuesday, May 8th - please keep all chaplain residents and interns in your prayers.

Some of the things I have loved while working at NYUL are:
- Meeting patients from around the world and being a chaplain to them
- Feeling more affirmed in my pastoral identity
- Learning tools for interacting with people when they are in distress and/or grieving
- Establishing personal learning goals for working with people in ministry
- Learning more about interreligious chaplaincy as it pertains to healing
- Developing better self-awareness on many, MANY levels
- Being part of the RRT - the rapid response team and what helps make NYUL known for a center that provides holistic healing
- Learning from my CPE colleagues, my supervisors, patients, and hospital staff
- Being on-call...I found that I liked this very much. 
- Iced coffee. I always disliked iced coffee until, quite suddenly, this summer, I began to love it and have become rather used to having it often!
Image may contain: outdoor Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor
Some of the things I have loved about living in New York are:
- Not having a car
- Student tickets to museums and some Broadway shows
- Cafes and shops on every corner
- Many parks and quiet spots can be found,one simply has to look
- Seeing friends I know from New Orleans and New York
- The pizza (of course!)
- Having work here and feeling like I'm part of things
- The diversity and hearing different languages all around me
- The many flowers I've found on my walks
- People don't look down upon you for using social media here
- People DO NOT care what you look like
- Free lunches for volunteers at the hospital. These have enabled me to save money all summer long and see shows and go to museums!
- There are beaches here!
Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, outdoor and water
Some things I don't like:
- It's ridiculously expensive.
- Summer is HOT and I say that having lived in NOLA, Columbia, SC, and Atlanta, GA. It's MISERABLE though, b/c few places have adequate air conditioning and while most subway trains are cool inside, the standing platforms where you wait are like OVENS. I am not exaggerating one bit.
- Crazy people on the subway who ruin perfectly good rides.
- Those times when well-meaning people have lists of things they think you should do in NYC, but you either can't or have differing tastes and motives.
- Climbing all the steps....there are so many....tooooooo many.
                       Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and water
I am very grateful to my host, an experienced staff NYUL chaplain. She let me afford living in her place this summer AND she let me bring my dear sweet Bluebell kitty up with me! She has two sweet kitties and everyone gets along :-)
Image may contain: skyscraper, sky, ocean, outdoor and water 
When I return to Sewanee, I will do some much-needed apartment cleaning, finish getting books for the semester, have a couple of meetings, hopefully view the solar eclipse, and more. One thing I am especially grateful for is that friends of mine will let me use their mountain cabin for a few days during the week before classes begin so I’ll get to have an actual peaceful much-needed retreat break. We have a Quiet Day on Monday, August 28 and classes begin on Tuesday, August 29. 
I'm taking the following classes:
- Pastoral Theology I
- Systematic Theology I
- A course on C.S. Lewis
- A ministry course called Transforming Congregations
- Foundations in Preaching and the preaching lab that goes with it
I'm very excited and have happy butterflies about returning and this second year!
I will be visiting New Orleans and St. Paul’s over Labor Day weekend and attending that Sunday’s 10:15 AM service so I hope to see you all in person!
                        Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text
                 No automatic alt text available.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Trees by Joyce Kilmer


Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Trees by Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

I think that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree. 

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed 
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; 

A tree that looks at God all day, 
And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 

A tree that may in Summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair; 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain. 

Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Moment

I needed a moment today. A big one. So, I'm eating out for the third time since May 22. 
I spent HOURS trying to finish scheduling things and making phone calls. Yesterday, I just finished my last CPE class session so I was supposed to take today OFF and tomorrow as well. Instead, I worked on things all day....things that will make life much easier when I get back to Sewanee for a bit before classes begin. I did it though - and remotely got a great start to being back at home. So, I'm rather excited to say that not only did I finish my final CPE course yesterday, but I finished my hours on Tuesday. I decided a while back that I'd stay in NYC a week longer than graduation (August 8) for a couple of reasons. First, I want to see friends I haven't gotten a chance to see up here since I've been so busy! Secondly, I was not sure at the time whether or not I'd be finished with my hours and it was recommended to me that I get a one-way ticket and wait to decide upon the return date. 
 Image may contain: food
                   My dinner of chicken pad Thai at Sage in Brooklyn                       
Once back at Sewanee, I'll have a couple of days to bomb the apartment to get rid of spiders etc., get the new tires I needed last October and see if my car even still runs, and join a one-day Orientation trip to Memphis with the incoming class of seminarians. I hope to then experience the solar eclipse and...AND....AAAAANNNNND.... I need a retreat. 
I really REALLY need it. It's been nonstop since spring break and much of the time super intense. SO, I planned one. I did it. I picked a tiny little town in an undisclosed location....somewhere not too far away, yet AWAY, and a place that has peace, activities, views, water, etc. I PLANNED IT! I'm so excited! It's just two days, BUT who cares, right?! I cannot wait!! YIPPEEEEEE!!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Little Tuft That Grows

This triumphant little tuft of grass: stepped on or stepped around, but green and healthy, resilient, perhaps even determined, and able to grow and thrive! It reminded me today of overcoming many hardships in my life and how as much as I see those things, I also see the beauty around me. I'm so grateful to have seen this little green patch and to experience in myself the rush of feelings and excitement in life. I am so so sooooooooooooooo happy to be on the path to priesthood, attending seminary at Sewanee, and to have the capacity to love the adventure before me as it unfolds. It has been a long and difficult road - with plenty of things that have thrown me off or sent me on wild goose chases. It has also been harried with anxiety, both in family and personal matters, BUT, I'm enjoying the ride!

I love my own journey and I want to say thank you to all you reading this for your part in my life! 😊❤️ Have a lovely evening!
Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mary Magdalene's Rather Creepy Hair Suits, Portrayed by Early Renaissance Painters

Today (July 22, 2017) we commemorate the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene. I saw the first image on Instagram and thought "wow, that looks like a pantsuit....painted in the 1430's and referring to waaaaay earlier, my how progressive...what's up with that?" 
THEN saw the second image which revealed to me it's actually her hair! Wow!
Hair suits...
Ponder that for a moment...
The imagery is both grotesque and amazing.... It was Mary Magdalene (in many interpretations) who used her hair to wipe her tears from Jesus' feet and anoint them (instead of Mary of Bethany, Martha's sister), thus her hair was an important feature. Perhaps she did have red hair and perhaps she didn't, but many Italian painters portrayed women with red hair. Here is an interesting blog post on red haired Italian women. 
Nice (and a bit creepy) touch of modesty here in these paintings though, covering Mary's naked form with suit-like long hair. First image: a master of Gdansk, an unknown painter circa 1430. Second image: Giovanni Pietro di Birago (Italy, active from 1471-1513).
Third image: Antonio Vivarini (active from 1440-1480). These images are almost akin to modern hairy images of the mythical Bigfoot in some ways, but as I stare at the paintings, I think they're growing on me. If I can love early Renaissance music and the sackbut, krummhorn and shawm, I can surely make the stretch to strange paintings of hair-covered saints!

Here's a very interesting and informative article link Who Framed Mary Magdalene?
Mary Magdalene Raised by Angels in Glory, Unknown from Gdansk, 1430.
Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Pietro di Birago, Italy ca. 1500
Mary Magdalene by Antonio Vivarini, ca. 1460