50 years ago Martin Luther King Jr had a dream and marched on Washington. Today on the day set aside for the nation to remember his courage, vision and leadership,we re-inaugurated our first African American President, Barack Obama, and a gay, Cuban American man, Richard Blanco, wrote and read a gorgeous poem on our one-ness. So much about identity and belonging, hope and yearning for a better, more just future is woven into today. It will take time to think about and process them all in future blog postings. For now, I will just share Mr. Blanco’s poem: http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-inauguration-2013-richard-blanco-poem-20130121,0,5626688.story and feel grateful for all the committed, passionate people who have struggled for the truth throughout the ages, I am glad to have their legacies to guide my caravan’s journey now.
The gift of a Benedictine practice is the recognition that everything has the possibility to be sacred. The first cup of tea in the morning, cooking breakfast with my husband, the nutty, fruity light taste of almond banana blueberry pancakes, the sweet smell of these pancakes pervading the house all day, and greeting us on our return from an outside adventure. These are the sweet, tender moments that too easily go by unnoticed, and taken for granted. These are the moments I intend to notice and to celebrate, for the great gifts that they are.
Yesterday I discovered a new kind of cairn, just as meaningful as a cairn of stones…. This cairn is a Pancake Cairn. Who doesn’t love pancakes? I have always loved them, and they bring memories of teenage slumber parties, Sunday afternoons after church, and chilly mornings in the Canadian wilderness. For many different reasons, I have been exploring the use of almond flour for baking. Since I don’t have any nut allergies, the idea of using almond flour to bake is enticing and mouthwatering. I have also been searching for recipes that use up lots of bananas. I am guilty of letting bananas get a little more ripe than I like to eat them. To assuage my guilt, I throw them in the freezer, where they keep, and become perfect for baking. And then, a freezer full of frozen bananas began to make me feel guilty, so the discovery of this delectable recipe on “The Roost” (http://www.roostblog.com/recipe-options/) was a wonderful gift. Rick and I made this recipe yesterday by deleting the nutmeg (not a big fan) and adding lots and lots of blueberries. These pancakes are amazing. They are delicious.
This pancake cairn is a mouthwatering, sweet reminder of times spent with girlfriends giggling and dancing to the Go-Go’s most of the night, Sunday afternoons spent with my parents and siblings, crisp mornings on the sparkling lakes of the Canadian Shield and times spent lingering over a cup of tea at the kitchen table with my sweet sweet husband.
Last Thursday evening, my re-imagining group met with our wonderful facilitator, Susan Weeks, again and we had a lively conversation about where we were, and where we were going. I think we are getting close to finding a place to make our first cairn. We agreed our next step was to share a weekly lenten prayer practice, and that we would look for a public place to gather beginning on Ash Wednesday.
Here are some notes from our conversation.
We opened the conversation with reminders of feedback guidelines and Ephesians 4:12, 15-16, “To Equip Saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of…Christ” and with a quote from Joseph Campbell: “ If you can see the path before you step by step, you know it’s not YOUR path.”
After sharing what worked and what we wanted to change from our first stage of being together, some defining characteristics emerged.
- we are creating a truly shared ministry between lay people and clergy, all voices are invited and honored as move forward
- we have shared, and enjoyed creative, inclusive worship with expanded language, we want even more participation and mutuality
- we feel free to share our doubts and desires with one another without feeling judged for having them
- we are exploring radical Christianity and finding ways to go below the surface of things with one another.
Our hope is that this becomes something more than “one more meeting or group” that we all belong to. We want this to reflect what we know to be an inclusive and inviting Christianity that will be relevant to others who are still not sure about this Christianity business.
Most simply, a cairn is a pile of stones. Hikers are familiar with them on the trail. Other hikers place stones marking the path in places where it may get confusing about where to take the next step, either in wide open spaces, or to mark a place where the path turns. Cairns also mark ancient burial sites, or sacred places. Cairns are primal, timeless markers. For me, and for this blog, as a metaphor, cairns let you know that you are in the right place at the right time.
Today is the day I start this journey. I knew it when I woke up. It’s time to get in the caravan with my friends and family and partners in ministry and see where God is calling me. I created this blog six months ago when I left my cathedral job and entered the world of tent making and re-imagining. It was time for me to change how I was living my life. I wanted more time to spend with my still pretty new husband, I wanted time to practice a more balanced life, with time to pay attention to God. I wanted time to re-imagine how we can create Christian community in a post Christian culture. While praying with a group of people who wanted to support me in this new adventure, I had the image of a caravan going into the desert. It resonated with the image that a priest friend had given me of following God’s call the way Abraham and Sarah did: going out into the desert without a clear destination, but trusting that there will be many sacred and probably not so sacred places along the way. I love the image of a pile of stones marking a special place. I have collected rocks my whole life, in the footsteps of my mother who has collected an entire beach over the course of her life. I married a geologist, my rock, and he has helped me find home for myself. Abraham and Sarah went into the desert as the ultimate spiritual adventurers.
This is my yearning, to be on an adventure with God and with other companions. Abraham and Sarah did not go alone. I imagine them as part of a lively caravan with a cranky camel or two, a beautiful colored tent, and a group of people to keep them company and make sure they didn’t get lost. So, today I am heading out, with my lovely sweet husband, the cranky camels, a lively colored tent and who ever else would like to come along. I hope that we will find many sacred places where we can leave a pile of stones.