Glimpses

My work in the Diocese of California this week was intense and enormously rewarding.  A lot of what I did was spend time in conversations–about ministry when resources are scarce and questions of viability hover just below the surface relentlessly.  I have seen all kinds of models of bivocational ministry this week and it strikes me that this is a good thing.  Financially, it is harder for someone who discerns a call to ordained ministry.  And the benefit is a kind of freedom–what my friend Joe calls spiritual freedom–to work with a faith community in ways that are less compromised because who among us wants to ask the hard questions that put our livelihood at risk?

On Wednesday evening, a group of Latino lay people and clergy visited with me and this time the conversation was about developing leaders.  Again, there was the sense of connection through the shared experiences of extraordinary strength in the midst of enormous vulnerability and powerlessness.  Thursday morning found me working with a group of clergy people who attend a monthly meeting because they are new in their positions–new rectors, newly ordained deacons, new associates.  This time the conversation was about the ways in which the Church borrows practices and concepts from the corporate world and the temptation to see what are only tools and resources as magic bullets that at best accomplish only superficial change.  At one point we had an incredible back and forth about “picking up the slack”, delegation, and discipleship.

The springboard for this particular conversation is a tool/practice from the Fierce Conversations book.  I think this is the first time I have actually been part of a group like this that successfully went into the foundations of our faith to give a very practical tool far deeper theological meaning.  I was exhausted and inspired at the end of this working session.

Yesterday, the work was very different.  I am helping my colleague and friend with a book he is writing.  Joe and his wife, Stefani, picked me up at the cathedral and we drove out past Point Reyes to a retreat center in Inverness, a small town on the Bay of Tomales.  Again, the work was intense, again the experience of deep, meaningful conversation was interspersed with laughter and merriment so I was tired and exhilarated all at once, when our work was done.

We had time to drive through redwood lined roads and out to see the Pacific ocean.  I had not had a real sense of where we were going until we got close to Point Reyes.  I know Point Reyes because for about 6 years now, I splurge at Christmas to get a set of cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery.  The “Cowgirls” make this exquisite artisan cheese with names like Mt Tam and Red Hawk and Devil’s Gulch that are simply amazing.  Stefani, who was driving, was gracious enough to stop at Cowgirl Creamery so I got to see the cheeses being made, and even bought that are now tucked in my backpack as I head back home.  I am glad to be Alabama-bound, glad to know I will get to see the spouseman by the end of today, if all goes well, and hang with my chickens. I am equally glad for the glimpses I have had of the church at work in a totally different context and world.  The Spirit moves where it will and enlivens in so many different ways…

A gate in front of a house on Knob Hill

A gate in front of a house on Knob Hill

One of the piers along the Embarcadero

One of the piers along the Embarcadero

The stairs leading up to Grace Cathedral

The stairs leading up to Grace Cathedral

Tomales Bay from St Columba Church and Retreat Center in Inverness, CA

Tomales Bay from St Columba Church and Retreat Center in Inverness, CA

The Pacific.

The Pacific and the fog.

Another way life has changed

One of the frivolous and fun ways I celebrated the two major feast days of the liturgical cycle, Easter and Christmas, involved shopping for a pretty new pair of shoes to wear under my vestments.  This Easter I will likely not have any liturgical responsibilities and that is really OK.  For now, the ebb and flow of serving as a supply priest and tending to the small and quiet chores of the farm on most Sundays is simply lovely.  Today, I did some more work with the move of the chickens out to their new digs.  I also ran over to the town of Millbrook, to one of my new favorite places, the Tractor Supply Store because I was running low on food for them.

While I was there, I saw these wonderous boots for $19.99. I will have to walk across a good bit of yard to feed the girls and tend to them daily, even when it is raining, so I got myself a pair.  These are more Easter than Easter shoes could be this year.  They tempted me to bring out the Alleluias a few weeks early but I didn’t.  Instead, I shall continue to “observe a holy Lent of self-examination, repentance and prayer…”   Too bad it’s supposed to rain tomorrow–I’ll have to wear my boots.

That day you find out what it means to be a chicken

DSCN2287

We rigged a piece of chicken wire so we could put the girls someplace safe while we brought the coop out to the chicken run.

DSCN2288

Now, what’s left is to cover the run, and install the door. I have to make little name plaques for each of them and I plan to paint the wood frame in some kind of sassy, saucy color.  At 6 weeks, my chicks are eating grit and cooked noodles, as well as regular chick starter food.  And especially Bitsy, the Orpington that was the frailest when they got here, is so tame that she comes to me so I can carry her around.  Love me some birds!

Blink

Forsythia in bloom

Forsythia in bloom

First cut flower from the garden

First cut flowers from the garden

The chicken run

The chicken run

You blink, this time of year, and you think pixie dust has been sprinkled on  the world.  My trip to DC did not happen so it has been a day of laundry and other “quotidian mysteries”, deeply reassuring  rhythms and sounds, the smell of things newly clean and fresh.  It was really hot (as in 80 degrees on Wednesday afternoon) and then we got lashing rains followed by one more bitterly cold front that raged through here so when I got up at 5 this morning, the thermometer read 25.  As the day has progressed, the sun has shone more and more brightly, warming us to somewhere around 50.  Sherod, and then Sherod and I, went to work on the ‘chicken run’ for the young ladies who have grown a lot and are now in serious need of more room.

Yesterday, I realized that just like that, a forsythia bush had burst into bloom and today, there were even more flowers to enjoy.  Lots of bulbs are pushing out new growth in several parts of the garden–have no idea what they might be and can’t wait to see.  But in the meantime, I can bring in cut flowers for the house. And that is just heaven.