Wednesday, August 7, 2019

2019.08.07 For The Beauty Of The Earth

My birthday is today. So is my husband’s We are Leos in love. What I want for my birthday is that we all notice Beauty. It stuns and it saves. We see it in all living things, even when it’s obscured or dimmed by pain. Creative people know this. God is creative and creating all the time—with our help—making and illuminating Beauty. There is nowhere God is not. 

I see it as it looked one afternoon
In August,-by a fresh soft breeze o'erblown.
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.
The shining waters with pale currents strewn,
The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove,
The semi-circle of its dark, green grove.
The luminous grasses, and the merry sun
In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,
Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp
Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,
Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep
Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.
All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.

    “Long Island Sound” by Emma Lazarus  born in New York City (1849).

I never noticed the beauty of Long Island Sound. It was too familiar a sight to me as I grew up on its banks and splashed in its waters. I think I would die of grief if it were not there to behold—ever again.

Emma Lazarus, a Jewish poet who was concerned for the plight of her people, the plight of the poor, and the plight of refugees and immigrants, knew about the spiritual power of Beauty. She is most remembered for her famous lines published in a poem, commissioned for The Statue of Liberty, gracing New York Harbor since 1886: “The New Colossus”: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

So did English hymnodist and poet Folliot Sandford Pierpont (1835-1917) who wrote the words to this hymn in 1864 when he was only 29.

For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth over and around us lies. 

Lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.

Our current 1982 Hymnal changed the refrain to read: “Christ our God to thee we praise . . .” I guess they wanted to showcase Christ. But the above refrain is the one I grew up singing in the children’s choir at the Presbyterian Church in New York City, and “Lord of all” best expresses God as Creator of all for all. I believe we must seek beyond— way beyond—our religious preferences for the Beauty of the Earth.

When American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts left this Earth and headed for the moon on their spaceships, they looked back. Here is what they saw.

And this is what they all returned to tell us: this Earth is worth saving, and it has no nationality.

Only from a distance—time or space, physical or emotional— can we get perspective enough to realize what is worth expending every ounce of life, individual and collective, to save—with the help of the cosmic Artist who created it and gave it to us.  BEAUTY.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

2019.08.04 Who Taught You To Walk?

Today’s scripture readings began at home and continued in church.

Some people abstain from looking at the morning newspaper before they come to church to worship. They say it’s a practice that protects their minds and hearts from being stained by reports of violence, and more violence. Violence sells newspapers. It’s also a fact. I read the paper as I drank my morning coffee before I headed to church.

Today’s lead stories in the Boston Globe: One detailed more mass shooting in El Paso Texas and Dayton Ohio; another was about a man who buys then runs "sober houses" where recovering addicts get support and safety while they recover from the disease of addiction. Many of these places are unsafe, unclean, and extremely costly. Families of addicts empty their wallets and bank accounts in hope. Residents are instructed to stop taking any and all prescribed medications and “find a Higher Power.” Death happens, because God fails. Not only is this bad and errant theology, it is CRUEL THEOLOGY, motivated by greed camouflaged as health care treatment.

I longed for hope and different headlines. In church I heard more of the same about human behavior. AND, I also heard the voice of God speaking tenderly through the Old Testament prophet Hosea (11:1-11) about loving Israel as a parent loves a child from birth—embracing, leading with “cords of human kindness, bands of love,” teaching the child to walk, and, even when the beloved turns away, refusing to “execute fierce anger.” Why? “I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.”

Nowhere is there a suggestion of divine abandonment or wrath. These are human fears only.

In Luke’s gospel story (12:13-21) there is a dispute about dividing the family inheritance. Money again! Someone in the crowd wants Jesus to instruct a brother to divide the family inheritance. Ah, the inheritance! Jesus replies: “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” Then he warns them to guard against “all kinds of greed”—ALL kinds. 

Then Jesus offers a parable about a rich man whose harvests are so abundant he has no place to store it all. He, notably, does not think of sharing but decides to build larger and larger barns to lay up his goods, saying: ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ Oh, how familiar this sounds today. This is not what I was hoping for. I felt as if I were reading the daily news reports. Are we in America now storing up every privilege, every claim to greatness, every imperialistic ostentation, every violent strategy (war), even reiterations of policies that equate compromise, aka diplomatic dialogue, with appeasement, aka losing?

What is God’s policy? Jesus tells the self-satisfied Soul in the parable what God, Creator of all wealth, said to the greedy Soul: “You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared whose will they be? So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

It is left up to each one of us and all of us collectively to discern what being “rich toward God” means. (One of my ways is to counter cruel theology, even if it’s in scripture. It breeds spiritual poverty.)

May I gently suggest you remember who taught you to walk? Who let you fall down and who picked you up to try again with tender encouragement—all your life. Who loves you in spite of yourself?

Life is short. We do not have much time to gladden the hearts and minds of those who travel the way with us. So be swift to love and make haste to be kind. Be rich toward God, O my Soul. Be rich.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

2019.07.28 Do You Pray?

Let us pray. Let us pray. Let us pray. Oh God, let’s pray. Do you pray?

A teenage granddaughter once asked me, with a flounce of her head and a challenge in her voice: Grammy why do you pray? I was suddenly stunned and stumped and said the first thing that popped into my mind: I pray because I love. She made no comment but I kept on obsessing. Maybe I should have said I pray because GOD loves. Then I thought: Well, what is the difference? Aren’t we immersed in God’s love all the time? And God in ours? Is all Creation not God’s prayer?

Most prayer is lowly, earthbound, unsteady, even precarious. At the same time it deserves the highest reverence and the greatest praise. Sometimes I wonder if we take it for granted.

All living things pray in particular ways as everything reaches and stretches for love and life. Prayer is paying attention to that desire, noticing its variations, sinking into it, allowing its energy to connect you with what/who really matters to you and to God. 

Prayer, however, can be a touchy topic—loaded you might say. News commentator host of the WGBH’s nightly Greater Boston, Jim Braude, recently commented that to pray, as Speaker Pelosi did for our president and our nation in divisive times, was “smarmy.” Smarmy? I became immediately indignant and fired off a letter telling Braude his comment itself was smarmy and that he knew nothing about prayer.  I heard nothing back of course. Maybe he thought that all such prayer was condescending. How does he know?

Word nerd that I am, I looked up the words. Did you know that the Latin root for prayer is the same as the root of precarious?  Precarious prayer?  If I pray because I love, then it is precarious as hell, because love is precarious. I put my soul on the line when I really care, care enough to pray, to risk exposing my heart. And then what? I never know.

Abraham, for example, checks with God about Sodom and Gomorra. What’s God’s plan here? Is it really to destroy everyone in these putatively evil cities? Is God vengeful, wrathful? Some people today assume this is how God is too? Abraham “comes near” to God with his questions. NOTE: God listens AND responds as Abraham argues his case, over and over he asks: what if not everyone in these cities is sinful as charged? Abraham is assured that the God, who has made covenants of belonging and love, will not destroy everyone if just one measly righteous person is therein alive. We think God tests Abraham? No, it is Abraham who more often tests God.

Abraham’s prayer style is conversational, an inner dialogue. Mine is the same. I, like Abraham, learn something about myself, about love, and about God when I pray this way. Outcomes are rarely exactly as I pray. The same is true for Jesus. He taught his disciples to use the basic structure of the Jewish prayer we call The Lord’s Prayer. He also elaborated about love-on-the-ground: if your child or someone you love asks for fish would you give a snake? No. For the sake of love you’d bend heaven and earth to give what is asked, even if it has to be stale bread or peanut butter because you can’t afford fish. You give in the spirit of love as you pray like crazy.

You know how to work this ethic in your personal life. You know how to work this ethic in your politics. Prayer may be precarious as love is, but it is not loving when energized with the spirit of venom. Listen to Rachel Maddow. Listen to Rush Limbaugh. Their causes and goals differ, but the venom behind their “preaching” is the same.

Prayer is a precarious love song. Ask, incessantly for exactly what you want. Heck, even our  public communal prayers are direct and bold, in manicured language, yes, but still we ask: God save the world, heal the sick, love the sinners, bless the dead. These are down-to-earthly love prayers. Pay attention to what happens, however small and however obvious. 

One of my sons, John, moved recently into a new neighborhood. He has two children Phoebe, 11 and Dylan, 5. They all felt the initial awkwardness of being strangers in a brand new neighborhood. The children sat with TV and their tablets, and Dad wondered and worried. Then the doorbell rang. Phoebe jumped up and ran to open the door, Dylan hot on her heels. There on the front stoop stood a group of young children. They chirped in chorus: “Hi. Do you play?”

Do you pray? Do you let it be precarious, wholly true, bold and direct?  “God, please be with my newly divorced son. He didn’t want this. Now he’s grieving, and trying to be a single dad to two young kids who miss their one-and-only home and so wish their parents were together, and they can’t make it happen.”
Who knew God would appear at the door and say: Do you play? 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

2019.07.21 The Man In The Moon

Fifty years ago in July of 1969, I was thirty-one and the young mother of three children: two daughters, ages six and five and a son, age two. My then-husband and I were on Nantucket vacationing with some friends. All the children had gone to bed and were all, finally and mercifully, asleep at once. We adults, however, were more awake than we wanted to be after a drowsy beach-day in the sun. We sat huddled around a small radio, the only communication available in our rented cottage, and strained to make out voices through the static. It was barely possible to believe that the radio voices were speaking to us from the moon, the same moon to whom, or to which, we nightly bid “good night” reading the favorite bedtime story, Good Night Moon.
This night was not like any other night. It was so unusual that not one of us bedraggled parents was drinking a goodnight beer. Nor did we repair to the porch to gaze at the stars-and-moon show, which on a cloudless night was panoramically visible thanks to the absence of ground light.

This night we strained to hear American astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, deliver a newscast from the moon on which they walked, or more accurately toddled or wobbled in their moon-suits. We kept silence before, during, and after the broadcast was over for some time. No one commented at all, but our faces shone—alive with wonder. Then we went to bed without comment.

Who knew awe could be so unitive—electrifying and soothing at the same time? 

The next morning we told our children what we had seen. A daughter comment offhandedly: “Oh yeah, the man in the moon. I’ll have Cheerios.”

Details and speculations about further space research and travel are available and most beautifully presented in the 7/19 issue of National Geographic. I was fascinated to read about the array of meaningful earthly objects the astronauts took with them into space.
    -Alan Shepherd (Apollo 14) hid in a sock a six-iron clubhead, which he attached to a tool handle to hit two balls on the moon. [Wonder if they’re still orbiting, and if so does this count as an everlasting cosmic hole-in-one?] 
    -Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11) brought a piece of the Wright Flyer’s wooden propeller. [Never forget those on whose shoulders you stand as you make advances into uncharted territories.]
    -Deliciously, John Young (Gemini 3) smuggled on board a corned beef sandwich to share with his crewmate, Gus Grissom, who stuffed the treat into his pocket when crumbs began to float around the cabin. [Not till after he got a huge mustardy bite, I hope.] 
    -Closest to my heart was the offering of Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11). He brought wine, bread and a chalice to celebrate Communion on the moon before he walked on it. NASA kept a lid on the gesture to avoid negative reactivity, and later Aldrin wondered if he’d done the right thing celebrating a Christian ritual in space. He wrote in his 2010 memoir: “We had come to space in the name of all mankind—be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists. But at the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the Apollo experience than by giving thanks to God.”

Before Aldrin and Armstrong disembarked, Aldrin asked the ground crew on Earth to keep a moment of silence to contemplate what was happening and to give thanks in their own way. Many future space travelers have memorialized awe in words and gestures of their own traditions.To this day Lunar Communion Sunday is still celebrated at Webster Presbyterian Church in Houston where Aldrin was an elder. Aldrin’s impulse is easy to understand. Only the small of mind and heart would think he was trying to colonize the moon for any one religion!

“In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup.”  Aldrin wrote.  Here is the cup. Interestingly, he read the New Testament parable of the vine and the branches not the Last Supper  story.
To me his description of the wine's movement is just how the divine Spirit moves about in the world, curling slowly and gracefully—like a snake but neither biting nor poisonous, though it may nip a bit to make sure we are awake. 

Future space research and travel will continue I’m sure and, I hope, build a spirit of collaborative awe not competitive grandiosity. The National Geographic article interviewed Russian cosmonauts as well as Americans: “Interestingly, the cosmonauts I met in Russia seemed to share two perspectives with their American counterparts. First, their time in space made them profoundly more interested in protecting the Earth. Second, they think the idea of permanent colonization of space is bonkers.”  (p. 95)

Bonkers indeed. I’ll have Cheerios while I appreciate the lovely moon from right here on this  glorious Earth, praising human ingenuity right alongside divine creativity.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

2019.07.14 A Runcible Spoon Of Course No Less

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea

   In a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,

"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
   What a beautiful Pussy you are,
        You are,
        You are!

What a beautiful Pussy you are!"


Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!

O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
    But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
    To the land where the Bong-Tree grows

And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
        His nose,
        His nose,

With a ring at the end of his nose.


"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
    Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."

So they took it away, and were married next day
    By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
    Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
    They danced by the light of the moon,
         The moon,
         The moon,

They danced by the light of the moon.

When I was a little girl I adored this poem. I still do. It feels like year-round, summer-like, whimsical nonsense that makes great sense for no good reason whatsoever.

Logically, I would have queried without ceasing about what a runcible spoon was, but I have no memory of getting stuck on “runcibility,” having figured that it was just a special spoon that we didn’t happen to have in our kitchen drawer. I looked. Besides, why would we, we were not owls or pussycats? [Clever silversmiths through the centuries have indeed designed made-up runcible spoons.]

Early on, my ginormous imagination, aided by expansive curiosity and self-help investigation, swallowed things whole or made them fit into my life’s schematic, including the outrageous idea of God. My mind was logically nonsensical. Still is. This can be a dangerous modus operandi, of course, but it can also be fun, and for me at least, it didn’t crush my soul, but gave me God along with many other wondrous mysteries.

I’m sure the poet Edward Lear must have had a logically nonsensical mind like mine, although here he looks more eccentric, as one might expect of a proper Englishman born in 1812, than whimsical.
Lear was the penultimate of 21 children, raised by his eldest sister Ann, 21 years his senior, after the post-Napoleonic war and the resultant collapse of the family business. As if that weren’t enough to douse a soul, Lear suffered from epileptic seizures, bronchitis and asthma, partial blindness, depression he called “the Morbids,” and the pains and pangs of unrequited affections in attractions to both sexes. Still, or therefore, he made stuff up, and called his writings and illustrations: "nonsense literature for children." I was charmed as a child. I remain so as an adult.

Can’t you just picture the dancing duo off to a honeymoon by moonlight in a pea-green boat with honey and money and quince and mince, and a ring to seal the deal—forever and ever amen?
All this whimsy might augur a mystical moment, prescient of my early ascent toward sainthood. OR it might simply be the beginning of my slide into a deliciously runcible dementia.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

2019.07.07 Are We Free Yet?

America has just celebrated its big National Holiday. I hear the echoes of firecrackers and take in all the flags that suddenly popped out everywhere. We think it’s our birthday as a nation, the time we gained our precious national independence and identity. I celebrated with cookouts, friends, sitting by a pool, thinking of my children, loving the world, and feeling thankful and free. This flag image is rigid. I chose it for that reason.

Now that fireworks and celebrity have died down, I wonder: have we celebrated with integrity the spirituality of this great holiday/holy day? What IS the spirituality of independence anyway? How do we live it? Does it mean independence FROM one another? Or does it mean independence TO make local decisions that guarantee state’s rights. OR maybe it means that we have lost sight of our INTERdependence? Have we forgotten how to be ONE nation indivisible yet supple?

At a high school graduation we attended recently we all stood to sing the national anthem, and I wept—yes for the sheer sentimentality of it, but also with grief over our self image. Have we lived up to our song’s vision?  Or have we used it to justify making one more war somewhere? Are we the land of the free and the home of the brave of which we sing? Are we free to be who we say we are and want to be according to our national vision?

I think this holiday is stuck in its original historical context: winning the war and getting rid of Brit rule. We thought we were free. By proxy right now, we are cleansing ourselves of other foreigners and strangers in our midst, especially those who might threaten our political and legal stability, deplete our resources, and present a moral and spiritual challenge we do not have the courage to confront. 

We are stuck, it seems to me, in a rigid habit of thought. We think in opposites, personally and globally. Our mentality, reflexively, is oppositional, frozen-in-place. Whoever we imagine to be our opposite has power over us. We could think appositely. We could ask: what stance, position, or way of thinking is apt in the realization of our vision of collective freedom?

Here’s a word I just ran across: misandry.  It means dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men (ie the male sex). It’s pronounced MISS-andree from the Greek miso- (hating) + aner,  andr man—on the pattern of misogyny.  Hey, there’s a word I bet we all recognize: misogyny, the opposite of misandry. Misogyny is recognizably popular right now in church and state.

I’ve been tempted at times to nurture a bitter misandry, especially in this patriarchal world and church. But I don’t hate men. I love them, well, most of them. And I need them to compliment and to enrich my femaleness. Some of Dick's and my best marital moments grow out of our spats, which, ironically, serve to boot us from opposition to apposition. Really!

Whenever I’ve expended too much energy on hating men, using patriarchy as my cover, I’m not free to be FOR much of anything, including my self. Still, I admit the men I know and love are apposite to my religion and politics, not opposite. I hang out with the proverbial “choir”—appositely aligned.  Am I too afraid to find real opposites? Sometimes. 

America does not feel free to me right now, fireworks aside. Americans are stuck in spat mode, either FOR or AGAINST our current president. That’s how we think. It’s how we talk. It’s in the air and on the air. People talk about how to “cope.” Many opt out of the fray. Others fight. Some pray. Some get lost in cotton candy positivity. But few honestly pretend this is not going on.

My Christian faith helps me. Christ’s compassion has no borders—no borders on the human heart. Divine generosity is limitless, its signature vast. The spirituality of freedom and true independence is scandalous open-heartedness.

Yes, I know this spiritual vision is extremely demanding. I also know that we have no right to give God a nationality—ours.  Nor do we have a right to give God a gender—anyone's.

What do we dare to want for our birthday, America? What will be apposite to freedom?  How can we soften our flag, our souls, and our borders? With what gift?

Today I saw a small boy with his pregnant mom and another woman perhaps a grandmother. He was restless, shifting his weight around and clutching a towel and a set of goggles. I smiled at him and said: "Hi, you ready to go swimming?" "Yes, I've been waiting to come to this pool for years. This is my big moment."

Sunday, June 30, 2019

2019.06.30 Leaving and Grieving With Grit and Grace

It is hard to say goodbye and harder to make that goodbye authentic, that is, with feeling but not sloppy. There’s only one way to do it—just do it. The apostle Paul called it speaking the truth in love. I call it leaving and grieving with grit and grace.

We have been priest associates at a parish in Charlestown Massachusetts for seven years. Today was our last Sunday. We’ll be moving on, not because of anything negative, but because it is time. A bit of the process:

Our notice in the parish newsletter, June 10—Holy Spirit season takes hold.
Dear Parishioners of St. John’s,

In conversation with one another and in communication with the parish wardens and Canon Carol Gallagher, the regional canon for our area of the diocese who has oversight over transition processes, we have decided that it is time for us to move on from St. John’s parish. Our last Sunday in the parish will be June 30th.

The Priest Associate arrangement was made under the appointment of the former rector, and we have served in that capacity over seven years with gratitude. Your gracious hospitality gave us an altar and a pulpit  whereby we could function as priests during our early retirement years. Thank you.

You are entering a transition time when you will be discerning your future and new leadership. It’s the right time for us to move on. We are making plans for our next retirement phase which will have us moving out of Massachusetts.

With deep appreciation and gratitude for this community, we bid you all farewell and bless you with grit and grace as you go forward. Thank you.


The Rev’ds Lyn G. Brakeman and Richard J Simeone, aka Lyn and Dick

A Gracious Response

This Sunday June 30, we say farewell to Rev. Lyn Brakeman and the Rev. Dick Simeone, who have been an integral part of St. John’s for many years.
Together with us:
    They have preached, celebrated baptisms, officiated and been a spiritual balm at funerals, heard and healed us, and called us time and time again to the Eucharistic table.
    They’ve broken bread with us, laughed, cried, fussed, found things that were lost, and sat with us when we were feeling lost.
    They’ve visited those of us who were sick, dying, grieving, newly parenting, struggling, or confined.
    They’ve inspired and provoked us to look within ourselves and without ourselves to the needs of the whole world.

Lyn and Dick—we will miss you. We wish you oh so well in the next stage of your lives. We send our love, our prayers and our knowledge that we are all and always a part of the community of Christ.
         Catherine and Sarah, Parish Wardens.

What I love most about this response is that it acknowledges that parish ministry happens together. 

Final Blessings  On invitation from the Interim priest, we offered the closing blessings—dual but not dueling. As we said our favorites heads nodded and lips moved in recognition. We felt warmed.
Lyn: Time is short and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts and minds or those who travel the way with us, so be swift to love and make haste to be kind.
Dick: And, as you go forth to life and ministry, the blessing of the eternal and ever-living God, Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit, sustain, strengthen, challenge, and renew you this day and forevermore. Amen.

Party Time This parish specializes in food glorious food. There was enough to feed those 5000 hungry stragglers on the hillsides as Jesus did. (I’ve often thought it would be a great idea for St. John’s to start a small cafĂ©/tearoom ministry. Then I remembered we don’t have a dishwasher.)

Many people shed tears of love, offered goodbyes and remembrances of beauty and humor, even a little anger. One man remembered that when his mother was sick and lonely and uncertain about God’s judgment, he’d asked if I’d give her a call. I gave her many calls. She called  me “her spiritual advisor,” and, after she’d read my memoir, declared: “Well! I guess if this woman did all this acting up and is a priest, I must be fine with God.”

Parting Words  We each offered parting thoughts—humorous, wise, and into the future. I am only qualified to share my own.

Well, we are soaring up, up, and away with Elijah in the whirlwind, but according to a typo in today’s bulletin we’ll be back again next week.
My two favorite spiritual gifts are grit and grace. [Grit and grace! they repeated knowingly.] A lot’s been said about grace, God’s, yours, ours, so I’m going to zero in on grit. I know some of you worry about the future of this parish, but let me assure you, you have what it takes in your DNA to thrive. I call this grit your blunt force determination and resilience. Two iconic examples:
    -Years ago a fire threatened to burn down the sanctuary. The rector, the legendary Mr. Cutler, placed his body between the stained glass apse window of Christ presiding at the Eucharist and a fireman wielding a large axe, ready to demolish the window. The window survived and the sanctuary didn’t burn down. Grit and grace.
     -Once a diocesan bishop was thinking of closing this parish. A small group of stalwart gritty parishioners, some of them here today, raised a great fuss, organized, and, as legend would have it, actually barred the bishop from entering the sanctuary.  I love the legend, but, in this case, the real story is even better: the gritty small group organized, went out into Charlestown, and rallied as many people as they could ambush to come to church that Sunday. The poor bishop arrived to a full house. He didn’t dare close the place after such a show of Christian zeal! Grit and grace.

The challenge this gritty and graced parish faces today, I think, is twofold: trust mightily in your DNA and simultaneously, slow down, listen to your self, to God, to one another, even a bishop. Christ isn’t presiding over a horse race, you know.

Carry on with grit and grace, beloved. You got this one.