Sunday, September 11, 2016

Have you ever rejoiced in the simple fact that you exist?

Have you ever rejoiced in the simple fact that you exist
Be....What does it mean to take time to just "be".....not to "be with" or "be for" or "let it be". Think about it, we exist in a habitable zone at JUST the right distance from the Sun, and have had JUST the right amount of time to evolve into intelligent beings (though levels of intelligence are sometimes in question with all the messes we get ourselves into as a warming, violence, world strife and poverty.) Just HOW lucky are we? Our Sun and our Earth are actually an unlikely pair for supporting life. As a habit, we take many things for granted, including our existence.We would like to think that they will always be there...or perhaps even worse, we go about our daily lives, more than slightly oblivious to the precious and fragile nature of our lives. It would be reassuring to know that our galaxy is full of clever creatures and others with technology and that we might hope for communication. In fact, we do hope. 

However, for the present time, we are all we know. 
Made in the likeness of a divine being, God, we exist
Let us give thanks!

What makes Earth such a perfect home? Well, here are some reasons. 
Take a moment and tell those you love that you love them. Take a moment to say thanks to God, to family, friends, teachers, mentors, pets, and yourself. Consider all that is and has been and will possibly be....and meditate upon the fact that you exist. Be kind to one another, even if you disagree. Be a good citizen. Be a good neighbor. Grant yourself permission to rejoice in the wonder of life itself, the joy in all of creation, and the joy in one another. 

We are temporary.
We are fragile.
We are here together on this Pale Blue Dot

If that isn't something to be happy about, I don't know what is! 

Friday, September 9, 2016

God is Here

As I finish my third week of classes at the Sewanee School of Theology, I am typing away some time in the computer lab while my laundry dries down the hallway :-) With this "free time" comes an odd I forgetting a meeting? Is there some place I should be right now? What should I currently be working on? This meme sums it up all too perfectly:
I am pondering the new environments into which I have come...
There are many. 
They are exhilarating.
They are intimidating.
They are a challenge.
They are an adventure.
They are God-filled.
- Chapel services in the COTA (Chapel of the Apostles): Morning Prayer, Eucharist, Evening Prayer, Taize, other. I am so lucky to have the privilege to worship at such a beautifully-organized and executed level and so regularly. The singing is terrific and the Anglican chants are moving smoothly. All the sermons I've heard have been excellent. I love to hear my fellow classmates read or to watch them serve as chalice-bearer. If only I had the stamina to attend everything! As it stands currently, I am doing what I feel that I can with regards to stabilizing my schedule, fatigue, homework etc. Still, I've gone to about 3/4 of the services thus far. There is simple beauty in sitting still and breathing before each service. Gathering your thoughts, opening up a space for the spirit to move. 

It didn't feel right not to go to Evening Prayer tonight and so...
I thank God for that!

- Classes: Each level of class has its own atmosphere (and humor), but everyone seems open to hearing from each other and all of my professors are BRILLIANT. In fact, my classmates are BRILLIANT and magnificently articulate. I love that there's a quote board and that our junior class has already populated it a bit!
- Classmate groupings: Sewanee is so so sooooooooooo welcoming and inclusive. It is idyllic in one sense and just plain friendly in another. There is also a community cookout each week, a community garden, a chess club, mission society, intramural football team, choir, and so much more for everyone. Nothing is forced either. I appreciate being asked to attend things, but also being understood if I simply need to chill on my porch and stare up at the treetops. (That's awesome, by the way.)
- Nature....literally the environment of Sewanee and the diversity of the Cumberland Plateau.....all the trees, bugs, and outside stuff! It's a TON of breathtaking diversity of creation and beauty.
As much as I love being outside....that lovely much nature.....well, let's just say I'm cool with it as long as it stays out of my apartment. 
(I love nature, really I do....)
The baby snakes inside the apartment, not so much.
Giant spiders....NOPE.
Spiders that apparently FLY/FLOAT on webs and puffs of air. I experienced this today.
Thanks, God.
But I didn't there's hope. 
And there was encouragement (and humor) from fellow classmates.
And there was God, turning my attitude a bit. Thank you, God.
I'm learning that the Cumberland Plateau is one of the most diverse areas of the US. I had rarely seen praying mantises before this week and now I've seen three. I had never seen Walking Stick insects and now I seem to live in the midst of a Walking Stick convention. Seriously. They are everywhere. 
Meet Jacques...

Video of Jacques talking a walk.....across the porch...

My awe in God's creation is being touched and renewed.
The space inside myself is slowly cracking back open as I get settled and make connections.

I'll end these ponderings with a few words from Fred Pratt Green and his hymn "God is Here". I'm singing it to the tune Abbott's Leigh. It fits what I'm not eloquent enough to my laundry is probably ready now...

God is here! As we his people
meet to offer praise and prayer,
may we find in fuller measure
what it is in Christ we share:
Here, as in the world around us, 
all our varied skills and arts 
wait the coming of His Spirit 
into open minds and hearts 

Here are symbols to remind us 
of our lifelong need of grace; 
here are table, font and pulpit, 
here the cross has central place. 
Here in honesty of preaching, 
here in silence, as in speech, 
here in newness and renewal 
God the Spirit comes to each.

When I am among the trees ~ Mary Oliver

In our New Testament Class, Dr. Bill Brosend opens by praying through poetry. I love this! Here is one of the poems he used recently.

When I Am Among The Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

- Mary Oliver (b. 1935)