Saturday, January 30, 2016

Like Coming Home

Long travel day for us today. Arrived in Columbia, SC after six this evening. Driving pretty easy except for some delays north of Charlotte. There was snow covered ground all through the state of Virginia and in the mountains in North Carolina.

It was 64 degrees when we arrived here in South Carolina's capitol. We lived here from 1979 to 1983 while I attended seminary at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary on Main Street and whenever we return it feels like coming home. Our two oldest girls, Carla and Susan, remember our time here with fondness. This evening we ate supper at "Rush's" which was one of our family favorites.

Tomorrow we will attend worship at the church,, where I served as an intern for one year and as a pastoral assistant for the second year. The people there were so supportive of our family and the experiences in that congregation shaped me as a pastor.

Much has changed about the area and the traffic is very congested now. We did not stop at the Seminary campus this time but just being in the neighborhood brings back many memories.

Friday, January 29, 2016


We are on our annual pilgrimage to Weeki Wachee, Fl. I feel so blessed that we have this opportunity at this season of our lives. It is amazing that this is our 9th year to make this trek and our 6th year in Weeki Wachee.

The trip has been without incident so far. The further south we go, the more snow there is on the ground. Here in Virginia, Winchester received 31 inches last week, the ground is still covered in white. We drove through a few snow squalls over the mountains on I81 in PA.

This evening finds us in Strasberg, VA. We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant next door. The food was delicious. I had spaghetti and meatballs, Mary had a Buffalo chicken stromboli (huge), and John had cheese pizza.

Tomorrow we drive to Columbia, SC.

Monday, January 11, 2016


Richard Rohr describes the aging process as "ripening". I find this to be both a challenging and comforting way to think about this stage of life.

Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation
You Are Being Led
Monday, November 3, 2014
“The life and death of a human being is so exquisitely calibrated as to automatically produce union with Spirit.”Kathleen Dowling Singh
Ripening reveals much bigger or very different horizons than we realize. The refusal to ripen leads to what T.S. Eliot spoke of in “The Hollow Men,” lives that “end not with a bang but with a whimper.” I hope that you are one of those people who will move toward your own endless horizons and not waste time in whimpering. Why else would you even read this? Perhaps these meditations may help you trust that you are, in fact, being led. Life, your life, all life, is going somewhere and somewhere good.
Ripening, at its best, is a slow, patient learning, and sometimes even a happy letting-go—a seeming emptying out to create readiness for a new kind of fullness—which we are never totally sure about. If we do not allow our own ripening, and I do believe it is somewhat a natural process, an ever-increasing resistance and denial sets in, an ever-increasing circling of the wagons around an over-defended self. At our very best, we learn how to hope as we ripen, to move outside and beyond self-created circles, which is something quite different from the hope of the young. Youthful hopes have concrete goals, whereas the hope of older years is usually aimless hope, hope without goals, even naked hope—perhaps real hope. Such stretching is the agony and the joy of our later years.
Old age, as such, is almost a complete changing of gears and engines from the first half of our lives and does not happen without slow realization, inner calming, inner resistance, denial, and eventual surrender, by God’s grace, working with our ever-deepening sense of what we really desire and who we really are. This process seems to largely operate unconsciously, although we jolt into consciousness now and then, and the awareness that you have been led, usually despite yourself, is experienced as a deep gratitude that most would call happiness. Religious people might even call it mercy.
Adapted from 'Ripening,' Oneing, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 11-12

Friday, January 08, 2016


In these cold and gray days of January I am focused on preparing to preach and teach at an event for new pastors in their first call. This annual retreat is called “The Leadership Guild for First Call” and I have had the opportunity to participate as chaplain, workshop leader, and preacher for a number of years. In 2016 the event will take place during the final week of January at a retreat center in Hartford, CT.

One of the things that I stress in the “preaching workshops” is the importance of recognizing and naming how often God feels absent for both our listeners and ourselves. No one speaks to this experience of the absence of God more profoundly then the author, Frederick Buechner. Today I came across this challenging quote that I think reflects the reality of living a faithful life.

“If you tell me Christian commitment is a kind of thing that has happened to you once and for all like some kind of spiritual plastic surgery, I say go, go, you’re either pulling the wool over your own eyes or trying to pull it over mine. Every morning you should wake up in your bed and ask yourself: “Can I believe it all again today?” No, better still, don’t ask it till after you’ve read The New York Times, till after you’ve studied that daily record of the world’s brokenness and corruption, which should always stand side by side with your Bible. Then ask yourself if you can believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ again for that particular day. If your answer’s always Yes, then you probably don’t know what believing means. At least five times out of ten the answer should be No because the No is as important as the Yes, maybe more so. The No is what proves you’re human in case you should ever doubt it. And then if some morning the answer happens to be really Yes, it should be a Yes that’s choked with confession and tears and …great laughter.” [Frederick Buechner, The Return of Ansel Gibbs, 303]

Sunday, January 03, 2016


"The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer.  Minute by minute they lengthen out.  It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change.  It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour."
-  Vita Sackville-West

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:5

January, the first month of a brand new year; clean, new, open;
            pregnant with hopes……dreams………anxieties……possibilities.

Cold, getting colder……………………………………………..dark, getting lighter!
            Light pushing back darkness,
                        sunshine reflecting off snow covered lawns,
                                                             slippery ice beneath my feet.

Nights under quilts created and crafted by loving hands
                                                            keep me warm in body and heart.

Each January the light slowly, intentionally, forcefully wrestles each day
from the darkness; bringing with it, the promise of warmer days. (cs 1/3/16)

Friday, January 01, 2016

New Year's Day Prayer

A Prayer for New Year’s Day (from “Guerrillas of Grace” by Ted Loder)
Patient God, this day teeters on the edge of waiting and things seem to slip away from me,
as though everything was only memory and memory is capricious.

Help me not to let my life slip away from me.

O God, I hold up my life to you now,
As much as I can, as high as I can, in this mysterious reach called prayer.
Come close, lest I wobble and fall short.

It is not days or years I seek from you, not infinity and enormity,
But small things and moments and awareness,
Awareness that you are in what I am and in what I have been indifferent to.

It is not new time, but new eyes, new heart I seek, and you.