Anything is Possible!

With Hope, Faith, and Perseverance


26 Comments

A Pet Peeve and Other Admissions

socsbadge2016-17

I admit that I get annoyed with people who can’t admit they are wrong. Especially when they are wrong. It just makes me want to stay away from them. Being open-minded (when it comes to beliefs, and theories, and possibilities, but not as much about my own behavior anymore) tends to make me say things like, “I think…..” or “I believe….” instead of “This is the way it is.”

I’ve known a couple of people in my life who stated their opinions as indisputable fact. They were so sure sounding, that I almost started to doubt myself. Almost. I think (there, see) it was about the location of a certain agency that had moved. I knew they’d moved, but the other person said they were located at the old place. There was a policy change, too, that the other sure of herself individual didn’t know about. She stated the old policy as fact with great confidence. Of course, I just dropped that one. Except that in both cases I looked it up to make sure. Even though I knew I was right.

I admitted that I was powerless over other people and trying to have power over others has made my life unmanageable at times.  I know I need to focus on me.

I admit that I forget things sometimes, like where I put my checkbook, where I put my phone, that I’m not thirty something anymore, or 40 something, or even 50 something. But I remember the important things, like feeding the dogs, making sure the door is locked at night, checking the stove before I leave the house, and then checking it again, because maybe I was thinking about something when I checked it the first time and didn’t really LOOK at the knobs, and checking it one more time, just to be sure.

I admit that I’m a tree-hugger, and proud of it, and that I’m a Christian, but I don’t believe that stuff about women submitting to their husbands. That’s why I go to an Episcopal church.

Sometimes I think about calling myself a follower of Jesus, instead of a Christian, because “Christian” has such a negative connotation (in some circles) because of  people who can not admit they might be wrong and believe their truth is the only way. It’s so hard to love some people.

I admit that I don’t love everybody. But Jesus does. 😉 Even when we are too sure of ourselves, or forget to pray, or get irritated at arrogant people who think they know everything, like what Jesus looks like.

buddah and jesus

Well, I’ve been saying I want to be more authentic, so there you have it.

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt was, “admit.” For more info, visit our host, Linda G. Hill:

https://lindaghill.com/2017/06/09/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-1017/

Here are the SOCS rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours. Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

 


25 Comments

Serving at Cursillo: a Spiritual Weekend

 

Trinity Center pond

My weekend was intense, busy, and very social. I knew it would be outside my comfort zone, but I was asked to be on the music team, and I wanted to give back for all the blessings I’ve received. Leaning heavily toward introversion, I’m more comfortable finding my spiritual moments alone in quiet places, but thankfully, I found God in many varied moments during my four days serving at “EC 95” (The 95th Cursillo weekend of the East Carolina Episcopal Diocese.)

Cursill is a three day adventure for 20 pilgrims who are there to learn about Christian leadership and to be loved and served by the team. One of the common experiences shared by pilgrims was a deeper relationship with Jesus and one another. As a team member serving the pilgrims, I felt this deepening, too. Even with the lack of sleep from late nights and early mornings, even with my occasional discomfort from being around  many people who I didn’t know well, I felt the deepening. I felt the love for people who became family.

It helped that our Cursillo weekend was held at Trinity Center, a place close to nature and close to my heart, where they build around the trees.

Tree in deck

Trinity is an Episcopal retreat center nestled on the North Carolina coast between Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunset at Sander's Point (2)

ocean from the pavilion

One of my favorite places at Trinity Center, besides the beach….  and the sound….. and the pond….

pond throug trees (3)

Trinity Center pond

…is the tunnel that runs under the main road and leads to the beach.

tunnel sign

tunnel entrance

tunnel with turtle

The tunnel is a great place to sing. Imagine the echo. Or is it called reverb?

On Friday afternoon, as I walked the wooded road to my room during a short break, I stopped to admire the light shining through the leaves ahead.

path of connection with Mom and Dad (2)

It was here that I felt the powerful and undeniable presence of my parents. They “told” me (in feelings more than words) of their joy that I was there serving with my husband, and that they are proud of us both. My parents had a long history of ministry in soup kitchens and working with veterans. This is the first time I’ve felt them both together since my father died in January. The confirmation that they are together still makes my heart sing.

djembe purple background

I finally got me a Djembe!

And I did a lot of singing at Cursillo. As part of the music team, I sang, played my guitar, and got to experiment with the new drum I bought for this occasion.

Cursillo music is mostly folksy with some contemporary praise songs. When somebody requested “Wade In the Water,” we had to hunt for the music because it wasn’t on our song list. But it turned out to be such a big hit, we sang this powerful spiritual three times during the weekend. This article explains that “Harriet Tubman used the song “Wade in the Water” to tell escaping slaves to get off the trail and into the water to make sure the dogs slavecatchers used couldn’t sniff out their trail.” 

The following arrangement, while different than the simple version we sang, gives a feeling close to what I felt during our closing service singing with about 50 people and three guitars as I kept a strong, steady beat on my drum.

In spite of the intensity, I’m thankful to have served at EC 95. But some day,  I want to go to Trinity Center just to relax. I bet I’ll do some singing and wading, too.

Silver beach (2)


17 Comments

Not the Scary Kind of Christian

Coexist-bumpersticker by Patrick Byrne via wmc

Image by Patrick Byrne via Wikimedia Commons

 

 “I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.”             _____Mahatma Gandhi

I found this version of the Gandhi quote at  Skeptics Stack Exchange,  where they seem to have done a some research. I can understand why Gandhi might have said this.

I am a Christian.  An open-minded, progressive, tree-hugging Christian.

I’m writing this because I want you to know we exist.

Sometimes I wonder if I should even call myself a Christian because of what that label has come to mean to so many. The media likes to celebrate controversial, often negative, people who call themselves Christians, (and maybe they are – it’s not for me to say) people who are not open-minded, not progressive, and certainly not tree-huggers. They are the kind of people who scared the Christianity out of me and drove me to fierce agnosticism when I was in my twenties.

I don’t want to be one of the scary Christians.

It wasn’t until after I became a parent, working in a challenging, bureaucratic  social service agency, that I took a chance on a church, because I knew I needed something more than my agnostic, nature loving philosophies with a side of sci-fi.

I was skeptical. But the little Episcopal church welcomed me with open minded intelligence and introduced me to their “three-legged stool” of scripture, tradition and reason. My questions and doubts were accepted without condemnation. They loved me. This love and acceptance allowed me to become open to learning more about Jesus. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn about him.

This past Sunday, one of my church friends, a young college student (younger than me anyway) shared that most of his friends are atheists, and he is trying to show them that all Christians aren’t like the conservatives they see in the news.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that it’s anyone’s right to be a conservative Christian if they want to. I have beloved friends and family members who are conservative Christians. To tell the truth, I’m becoming more conservative, in my  behavior as I get older. But I’m still liberal and open minded in my beliefs. Maybe that’s why I have beloved friends and family members who are Buddhists, pagans, agnostics, atheists, new agers and eclectics.

I believe in the love of the Jesus who hung out with the poor and the prostitutes and loved them, the revolutionary Jesus who raised women and children up as people to be cared for and listened to instead of property.  I love the Good Shepherd who seeks his lost sheep, not with condemnation, but with love .

GS close up

Open minded, progressive Christians don’t make the news much, but we’re out here.

Oh, and I still like a side of sci-fi, now and then.

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

A Man of Hope, Heart, and Spirit

“Black lives matter, because all lives matter.” __Bishop Michael Curry

Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry of the Episcopal church gets things moving. He has the power to unite us, to help us find common ground.

I’ve had the privilege of hearing Bishop Curry speak on two occasions in his role as the Bishop of North Carolina. Sometimes, Episcopalians can lean a little toward the intellectual. Bishop Curry speaks from his heart of love with power to shake up the intellect and infuse us with the Holy Spirit. I’m excited and hopeful about his election as the Bishop for the Episcopal Church of the United States. I’m not at all surprised that he won by a landslide.

I ask that you watch this powerful five minute video of the newly elected Bishop Michael Curry speaking at the Bishop’s march “Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence” on June 28 at the convention in Salt Lake City:

 

“So walk together children. Walk and change this world.”___Bishop Michael Curry

 


3 Comments

Let the Light Shine Through

All Saints CandlesThis morning at church we celebrated All Saints Sunday by lighting candles in memory of saints and loved ones who have passed away.

In his sermon, Father Banks told us a story of many years ago when people were being confirmed as members of the Episcopal church and were asked questions by the visiting bishop. All those being confirmed sat in the front pew and answered the questions correctly until the last young man. The bishop asked him: “What is a saint?” There was only silence as the young man looked around nervously. He didn’t remember learning this in catechism. Then he looked at the stained glass window behind the bishop depicting Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The young man grinned and pointed over the bishop’s head to the window. Those are saints up there, right behind you! The saints are the ones who let the light shine through!

Father Banks reminded us that saints are ordinary people who have an extraordinary relationship with God. Ordinary people who are not perfect, who make mistakes, but they let the light shine through.

When it was my turn to light a candle, I lit one in memory of my sister who died in a car accident in 1975.  My sister was on her way to celebrate her 16th birthday with her boyfriend. They were both killed by a drunk driver on their way to the restaurant.

We were just starting to get over our sibling rivalry. My sister and I were polar opposites in many ways.Mary_Kay

 She was outgoing and rebellious. (I rebelled later.) She skipped school a lot, pan-handled to buy cigarettes, and who knows what else, and she even ran away from home a couple of times.

This same sister also loved animals and volunteered at a small group home for handicapped children. She loved to take care of the Carobel kids, especially the bedridden boy who’s huge hydro-cephalic head had to be turned often. Until today, I had not thought of my sister as a saint, but she was. She was not perfect, but she let the light of God shine through her, if only for a short time.

A lovely beam of light shines through the big stained glass window at the back of  our  church.  I didn’t realize, until today, that this light beam is only visible because it comes through a broken place in the window.

Beam at church

We are flawed. We make mistakes. But we can still let the light shine through. We let the light shine into our hearts. We are blessed that way.

 

 

 


2 Comments

Prayer, Support and Healing

red tealight

We got a phone call, last Thursday night, that my two year old grandson, 700 miles away, was in the hospital with a bad case of pneumonia. A little while later I found out he had been helicoptered to a university hospital and was on a ventilator.
It was the night before our parish retreat at Trinity Center, where my husband and I would have leadership roles in morning and evening prayer services. Part of me wanted to get on a plane and fly to where my grandson was. Maybe I could help with something. But instead I prayed and tried to have faith that God had this covered. I asked for prayers on Facebook, something I don’t do often, especially for myself or some one in my family. Why is it easier for me to ask for prayers for some one outside of my family, or total strangers even? Maybe it’s the scary part of feeling vulnerable when I ask for prayers for myself or some one close to me.

The little guy was on my mind all day Friday. I’d called my Dad, the most powerful prayer warrior I know, to join the team. At times I was able to push away my fears and visualize my grandson healthy and strong, running and playing outside with a smile on his face.  That felt like the right thing to do.

Late Friday afternoon, at Trinity Center, my husband, David,  asked me to follow him. I figured he wanted to show me something. He took me to the little chapel where tea light candles rested in a bowl of sand, waiting.  Together, we lit a candle for my grandson, and David read from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer: A Prayer for Healing. I was moved that he thought of this. After dinner, at the Compline service, I asked my church family to pray with me. I prayed for my grandson’s healing, for wisdom for his doctors and nurses, and for comfort to his parents. I was worried, but something told me God was working on this.

On Saturday morning, we got up at dawn to watch the sun rise over the ocean, but the sky was overcast, so we couldn’t see the sun. Instead we watched pelicans dive for their breakfast. After our breakfast in the dining hall, we had Morning Prayer, discussion and meditation time. Then, I went back to our room to get an update on my grandson. His doctor had decided to use a scope to take a look into his collapsed right lung. They found an obstruction  that could not be removed with the scope, so surgery was needed. The obstruction turned out to be a kidney bean.

Kidney beans on a shelf

Use with caution!

 

Who knew kidney beans could cause that kind of trouble?

 

 

 

 

That night, during Evening Prayer, I was filled with gratitude as we sang “Amazing Grace” accompanied by simple guitar chords and the sweet rain dancing outside.

After the kidney bean was removed, my grandson’s condition began to improve right away. His right lung started to work, and he came off the ventilator. He was discharged from the hospital on Sunday. His mom said he was so ready to go, he almost ran out the door.

What a relief to know he was okay! But it was not a total surprise. I’d felt the fear, but there was much more hope. Being at Trinity Center, surrounded by nature, with my husband and members of our church family, was a big comfort. I realized how important it is to have good support and to have a relationship with a loving, caring power greater than ourselves.

Thank you, God!

For a look at Trinity Center, where we held our parish retreat:

http://joannesilvia.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/trinity-weekend-relax-restore-and-revitalize-with-nature/