Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Media Release

The Episcopal Church 
Office of Public Affairs

Letter to the Episcopal Church From Presiding Bishop, President of House of Deputies

Letter to the Episcopal Church
From Presiding Bishop, President of House of Deputies
Jesus tells us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves
[June 28, 2016] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have written the following letter to the Episcopal Church.
June 28, 2016
Dear People of God in the Episcopal Church:
We all know that some things in holy Scripture can be confusing, hard to understand, or open to various ways of understanding. But some essential teachings are clear and incontrovertible. Jesus tells us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, and he tells us over and over again not to be afraid (Matthew 10:31, Mark 5:36, Luke 8:50, John 14:27).
There’s no confusion about what Jesus is telling us, but it often requires courage to embody it in the real world. Again and again, we become afraid, and mired in that fear, we turn against Jesus and one another.
This age-old cycle of fear and hatred plays out again and again in our broken world, in sickening and shocking events like the massacre targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Orlando, but also in the rules we make and the laws we pass. Most recently, we’ve seen fear at work in North Carolina, a state dear to both of our hearts, where a law called the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” has decimated the civil rights and God-given dignity of transgender people and, by extension, drastically curtailed protections against discrimination for women, people of color, and many others. We are thankful for the prayerful and pastoral public leadership of the North Carolina bishops on this law, which is known as House Bill 2.
North Carolina is not the only place where fear has gotten the better of us. Lawmakers in other jurisdictions have also threatened to introduce legislation that would have us believe that protecting the rights of transgender people—even a right as basic as going to the bathroom—somehow puts the rest of us at risk.
This is not the first time that the segregation of bathrooms and public facilities has been used to discriminate unjustly against minority groups. And just as in our painful racial past, it is even being claimed that the “bathroom bills,” as they are sometimes called, ensure the safety of women and children—the same reason so often given to justify Jim Crow racial segregation.
But we believe that, as the New Testament says, “perfect love casts out fear.” On June 10, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church stood against fear and for God’s love by passing a resolution that reaffirms the Episcopal Church’s support of local, state and federal laws that prevent discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression and voices our opposition to all legislation that seeks to deny the God-given dignity, the legal equality, and the civil rights of transgender people.
The need is urgent, because laws like the one in North Carolina prey on some of the most vulnerable people in our communities—some of the very same people who were targeted in the Orlando attack. In a 2011 survey,78 percent of transgender people said that they had been bullied or harassed in childhood; 41 percent said they had attempted suicide; 35 percent had been assaulted, and 12 percent had suffered a sexual assault. Almost half of transgender people who responded to the survey said they had suffered job discrimination, and almost a fifth had lost housing or been denied health care due to their gender identity or expression.
In keeping with Executive Council’s resolution, we are sending a letter to the governor and members of the North Carolina General Assembly calling on them to repeal the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act.” When legislation that discriminates against transgender people arises in other places, we will also voice our opposition and ask Episcopalians to join us. We will also support legislation, like a bill recently passed in the Massachusetts state legislature, that prevents discrimination of all kinds based on gender identity or gender expression.
As Christians, we bear a particular responsibility to speak out in these situations, because attempts to deny transgender people their dignity and humanity as children of God are too often being made in the name of God. This way of fear is not the way of Jesus Christ, and at these times, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our belief that Christianity is not a way of judgment, but a way of following Jesus in casting out fear.
In the face of the violence and injustice we see all around us, what can we do? We can start by choosing to get to know one another. TransEpiscopal, an organization of transgender Episcopalians and their allies, has posted on their website a video called “Voices of Witness: Out of the Box” that can help you get to know some transgender Episcopalians and hear their stories. Integrity USA, which produced the video, and the Chicago Consultation are two other organizations working for the full inclusion of LGBT people in the church. Their websites also have online materials that you can use to learn more about the stories of transgender Christians and our church’s long journey to understand that they are children of God and created in God’s image.
When we are born anew through baptism, we promise to respect the dignity of every human being. Today, transgender people and, indeed, the entire LGBT community, need us to keep that promise. By doing so, we can bear witness to the world that Jesus has shown us another way—the way of love.
Faithfully,
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry             The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
Presiding Bishop and Primate                President, House of Deputies

On the web:

Monday, September 15, 2014

"White Owl..." by Mary Oliver

I make no pretense about how I feel about Snowy Owls.  I had previously posted this to Facebook but since not all my peeps "do" social media, it simply made my heart happy to repost it to my blog which is in reawakening-mode.   To whit...




Mary Oliver, “White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field"


Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings — five feet apart —
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow —
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows —
so I thought:
maybe death isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us —
as soft as feathers —
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light — scalding, aortal light —
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Evening of the Senses

My office/library is a calming green.  It's 10:30pm and the neighborhood is quiet.  Sometime in the evening, a neighbor hung a plastic shopping bag with Cherokee Purple tomatoes on the door knob.  No wonder the security light came on...showed them the way...

The night air is cool and fragrant.  Honeysuckle vines are long past blooming, sending their intoxicating perfume across the street from the alley and right into the yard...I remember it well in June and July.  Sometimes it is a melding of the sunshine heat rising off of the pavers in the late evening with the ever-present light pinesome blanket of cypress essence mixing with that coolness that creates a kind of air I wish I could inhale all night without exhaling it ever.

The windows are open.  The moon-tinged air moves back and forth in the room on the gentlest of breezes.  It is very quiet now...the street is empty, asleep, except for the silent traffic of mice, cats and the slightly heard swoosh of an owl or the squeak of the little bats around the street lights.

Under the old English laurel hedge, knurled old root stock and weighted, thick branches, are layer upon layer of old, dried leaves...and there is life there, where all appears dead in the daylight.  I sit here, and hear the delicate rustle and rearrangement of this leaf or that twig, as life moves beneath.

Owls live in this neighborhood.  I've posted about them on social media.  They are fearless little hunters, and have no fear of humans--apparently.  I have become quite enamored of them.  I admire them for their intense gaze, their ear tufts and the startling way they become part of the hedge trunks. Oh, and the scrub jays, how they complain!  But even they move on, leaving the owl to its' nap...

The sun sets in summer are long in the Rogue Valley...and the blue gold light that rises over the western mountains, spreads under the cerulean sky like water, an ocean all its' own, over our heads.  And it is as if God needed a flashlight, and turned this sun set on to see....The sides of the valley covered in the darkest of green trees, yet we can see the hue and count the crowns.

I shall miss this summer in ways that can't be explained with words...it was a much better one than last year...clear, fresh skies of pure azure.  White puffy clouds ever elegantly twisting and turning in their dance.  I could watch clouds all day.  I could stare into the infinite blue that becomes black with  pinpricks of various sizes dotting the darkness...but mercifully, we are special, in that we are in a kind of heaven on earth, full of conflict, cruelty, greed, hatred...it is all we have right now...and it is abounding in mercy, compassion, goodness, sharing, and love, too.

This year has been particularly full of war and invasion, and the news has been terrible and deeply troubling.  Prayers for peace and end to suffering and conflict abound.  The hope endures.

There are crickets now...the hummingbirds and little songbirds are all tucked into the hedge for the  night.  There is a calm about it, the quiet night, where there is --at last -- a kind of peace.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I knew Kay Atwood at Trinity Episcopal Church less than four years and only saw her once a month when we, as members of a team, prepared the altar and church for our monthly Contemplative Eucharist Service.  




Kay was soft-spoken and funny, modest about herself but always on the ball with her part in preparing our Danish Modern sanctuary and chancel with her assignment.  Whether candles, or icons, a reading or sitting quietly by the table in the vestibule ready to greet those who attended with lighted candles, programs and accepting love offerings, she accomplished these things with grace and gentleness, yet with a strength right under the surface, shining the Love of God toward everyone, all the time.

Kay is a well-known local author and authority on the history of the southern Oregon area.  

Among her titles are Illahe:  The Story of the Settlement of the Rogue River Canyon,   Mill Creek Journal:  Ashland Oregon 1850-1860,    Ashland Community Hospital:  A Century of Caring,   Jackson County Conversations,   Chaining Oregon: Surveying the Public Lands of the Pacific Northwest, 1851-1855.  

No doubt I have left some titles out but Kay was prolific in her writing and we are the richer for it.  As a professional researcher, she often mentored others in the art of researching and digging for the minutae of a particular subject's fine points.






Kay will be missed for all she did quietly in the community, for friendships made, wisdom shared and her love and dedication to family, including her church family.  I am thankful for getting to know her as much as I did and for the way she graced all of our lives with her presence, and consequently, the world was richer for her being in the world, and for that I give deep thanks.  Blessings to you Kay on your new adventure.  We know where to find you...on the other side of the veil.

 ~ Catherine ~

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Long time, no see

Life is time-consuming, hence the big blank between July of last year until now. Life still goes on but how does anyone find time to blog? Oy! I'm working on that as you can see…it's not much but it is a start….I'm working on a few topics so be patient a bit longer!

Catherine

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spiritual Rhythms and Medievalists...

I have always enjoyed and benefited from the wisdom and the sharing of resources of Christine Sine's blog, Godspace.  Her most recent entry is on spiritual rhythms that create resilience.  I commend it to you, dear readers, as it reminds me that I need to recreate my sacred space which I have had to move due to changes in the domestic rhythm of Sequoia House [the name given to this house that had a giant sequoia planted in its' backyard in 1947 by the original owners and is not more, since 1999].  These are very wonderful and happy changes, but still there is a need to maintain one's center.  This article regarding spiritual practice and how such practice helps us to bounce back to a holy balance no matter the changes going on in one's life.   To read it all, please click on the link above to Godspace.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

The response to my post Enhance Your Spiritual Resilience – Five Practices that Make a Difference made me realize that this is a topic that needs to be fleshed out in more detail. This post is designed to help flesh out some of the practices. It draws from my book Godspace which specifically addresses some of these issues.

According to Christian anthropologist Paul Hiebert there are two types of rituals, habits or practices we need in our lives, what he calls rituals of restoration and rituals of transformation.


Rituals of restoration are the most common. These are the practices that restore our faith in the beliefs that order our lives. They also connect us to and anchor us in the religious communities in which these beliefs are expressed. Restorative practices are highly structured & do not change from day to day or year to year. They reaffirm our sense of order & meaning in the universe, our community & our own lives.  Most importantly, they intentionally connect our daily activities to the life, death & resurrection of Christ.


Possibilities include a rhythm of prayer that reaffirms what we believe, sabbath practices, weekly church gathering, taking communion, following the liturgical calendar and the use of liturgical symbols like the sign of the cross, candles, and incense. I even find that writing prayers for Facebook each morning and preparing my blog posts is a stabilizing and restorative ritual.


The thing about Medievalists is that they find nuggets of wonder in history, art, music and philosophy that we rarely touch upon.  I was delighted to find an obscure link that someone posted on Facebook that lead me to their FB page and also their website where I could sign up for a weekly newsletter.  Oh, now I remember.  FB friend Barbara B had posted a link that led me there.  The articles have left me wanting for more, and more I shall receive!  The articles touch on all aspects of life as we know it, but in the Middle Ages, some of the ideas were borne of interaction with foreign countries and the ideas of those places...for instance:

Theorizing the Crusades, The Jew Who Wasn't There, Medieval Pet Names, and Real Tennis and the Civilising Process.  True, not the most tantalizing-sounding topics, but then I didn't include all of each title...it is truly amazing stuff, gems of history, of life that brought us to the present as we know it, and yet we don't know it all.

You can read more on all the various aspects of how we got to where we are by visiting the website,
Medievalists.net and reading all the obscure good stuff yourself.  

Spiritual rhythms of resilience and reading about the Middle Ages...I personally can't think of better stuff to read or write about at the end of a long day.

Humbly, your servant,
Catherine

Credits:  the image of the candle and icon are from Christine's blog post of July 11, 2013, and the series of stained glass windows are from Hakuba.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Living in the Mercy...

It is 12:51 am this very early Tuesday morning.  This insomniac night happens when I have a lot on my mind, or in my heart and body, when thoughts refuse to hear the last bedtime story with any solace, and begin murmuring after the lights should go out, but they don't, and busy themselves with suppressed little jobs like posting an entry to a much neglected blog...and of course Thoughts think they can help moping moaning Muscles to lower their voices, so here is where those busy little thoughts have brought me.

I pulled a book of poetry off the library table in the living room, careful not to knock over or bump this candle, or that tiny brass incense burner, seemingly and haphazardly placed alone along the spines of books by Oliver, Shelley, Cummings, Spenser, Wyatt, Browning, Hopkins, Rumi.  Dickinson, Donne, Milton, Tennyson, Housman.  No,  I choose Levertov.  And here is what she said to me because the Spirit spoke it to her, and she had to pen it down:

To Live in the Mercy of God

To lie back under the tallest
oldest trees.  How far the stems
rise, rise, 
               before the ribs of shelter
                                          open!

To live in the mercy of God.  The complete
sentence too adequate, has no give.
Awe, not comfort.  Stone, elbows of 
stoney wood beneath lenient
moss bed.

and awe suddenly
passing beyond itself.  Becomes
a form of comfort.
                            Becomes the steady
             air you glide on, arms
stretched like the wings of flying foxes.
To hear the multiple silence
of trees, the rainy
forest sepths of their listening.

To float, upheld,
              as salt water
              would hold you,
                                      once you dared.

To live in the mercy of God.

To feel vibrate the enraptured

              waterfall flinging itself 
              unabating down and down
                                                     to clench fists of rock.
              Swiftness of plunge,
              hour after year after century.
                                                           O or Ah
              uninterrupted, voice
              many-stranded.
                                             To breathe
              spray.  The smoke of it.
                                              Arcs
              of steelwhite foam, glissades
              of fugitive jade barely perceptible.  Such passions~
              rage or joy?
                                                 Thus, not mild, not temperate,
              God's love for the world.  Vast
              flood of mercy
                                         flung on resistance.

 Much mercy has been shown to me these last 2-3 years, especially from very close friends and from my parish.  I know I would not made it in many ways without them and their apparent love for me.  So, the mercy shown to me, experienced by me, has reached sunless depths within my heart, soul and mind.  It is my prayer and hope, I can really begin to give back and reciprocate all of the kindnesses shown me.

Right now others deserve very special kindness with the loss of loved ones, living the memory of they who will await our arrival at the Gate.  The Stream and the Sapphire is a volume I recommend highly.   Much to point to and ponder, pray about and contemplate.