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Aging Gracefully

Posted by Pierce, May 13, 2012

Every year, we celebrate National Older Americans Month in May. When I was younger and wrote about such things, I did it mostly from imagination. Now I’m on the other side of the slope with a total hip replacement and other adjustments I won’t go into. I used to have a body that did my bidding without having to ask twice. But those days are long gone. I also thought I could do anything. Anything! A lot of water has gone under the bridge since those days. I still believe I can do anything and everything, but there are moments when all the parts don’t quite work the way they used to. The only option might be to let something happen to me that I used to scorn – namely, to become a person who didn’t seem to be totally in charge. I’m not that far away from relying on a handful of pills to keep me alive for one more day, that is, if I remember to take them! The other thing I notice is that many people are now smarter than I am: frankly, I didn’t think there used to be many. Today, people are born knowing how to do things confound my best efforts to master them. My own children are starting to forbid me from doing things, but in a nice way. They sometimes think I bite off more than I can chew. But what I do have to give, I remember getting when I was younger. There’s nothing like the wisdom of experience. I have been lucky enough to get it from many and it might just be my time to dispense it, even and in spite of the fact that not everything is working. Blessed aging!

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Taking the Bible Challenge

Posted by Heather, May 12, 2012

I know this won't surprise you. There are a lot of bibles in my house. We have study bibles, bibles in Greek (both of ours) and Hebrew (David's), old family bibles, and a few art bibles, one with medieval artwork in it and one with modern art and medieval-style hand calligraphy. We have a variety of translations, from the King James Version to the NRSV (that's what we read from in church) to a new translation, the Common English Bible, that is meant to be scholarly and contemporary to American English idioms as they are in the 21st century so far. We also regularly use online versions of the Bible, such as at bible.oremus.org, and David has a free Bible app on his phone. But most of the time if there is a Bible being read in our house, one of our daughters is reading it.

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Fathers & Daughters

Posted by Pierce, March 14, 2012

The day my daughter invited me to join her Indian Princess troop (pre-Girl Scout training), it changed our relationship. The two of us met once a week with eight other pairs of fathers and daughters, a group designed to do something fathers and their daughters don’t often do enough: spend time together. We had campouts and a lot of fun picking our Indian names, but we also had guest speakers talk about messages the media sends to girls about how their bodies should look, domestic violence, depression, and one night, we learned to swing dance. That came in handy years later at my oldest daughter’s wedding. The relationship between fathers and daughters is often caricatured as one in which a clueless dad is stunned as his eye-rolling progeny blows past him on her way to the mall. But of course, the interaction between dads and daughters is far more complex. It not only sets an example for the kind of partner a girl may choose as she gets older, but also affects the way she sees herself. Research shows that fathers who are close to their daughters early on still eventually drift apart as the girl hits her teenage years. So I’m glad instead of being an onlooker during her early years, we found a way to communicate and exchange wisdom built upon experiences together. I remember one time when my younger daughter asked me if I thought she was fat. I stumbled through the answer, realizing that the answer wasn’t as important as the question. It led me to realize that the influences around my daughter telling her she had to look a certain way were more powerful than her mother and I. It was then I decided to read Margo Maine’s book entitled Father Hunger: Fathers, Daughters, and the Pursuit of Thinness. In it, she discovered that since daughters were generally disconnected from their fathers and desperate for approval and not getting it, it often led to food disorders. As a result, I stayed close and was clear that what I said mattered to her. Even the most innocuous comment from a father about his daughter’s appearance can be injurious. Better yet, all the dads in the group began writing CEOs of companies insisting they pull ads that perpetuate negative stereotypes for girls. I always ended mine with “Is this the message you want to send to your daughter?”

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Lenten Blog: Christian Practices

Posted by Pierce, March 2, 2012

Last week, I had coffee with a neighbor of mine who is a devout Muslim. He was asking me questions about the faith of an Episcopalian. Mind you, I was talking to someone who practices his faith. He, just like most Muslims, prays five times a day at certain hours, he reads his sacred scripture frequently, attends services weekly, and gives away 20 percent of his income to charitable causes. I remember an Islamic (Christian) scholar once telling me, “everything you think about Muslim life is inaccurate.” My neighbor reminded me of these misconceptions in our conversation about his faith. When he asked about Episcopalians’ prayer life and what I knew about it, I told him most people tell me they pray when they are in the car or during a crisis, sometimes grace at meals and I know a few who actually get down on their knees before bed at night. When I finished my outline describing the practices of Episcopalians, I felt a dagger enter my heart when he observed: “Episcopalians seem to live like atheists.” 

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Lessons Learned from Our Chidren

Posted by Heather, February 28, 2012

On Maundy Thursday, I was surprised by the reaction of my daughters to the end of the worship service. Similar to many Episcopal churches, Christ Church does a stripping of the altar. The communion ware is removed to the sacristy, as are the altar book, frontal hanging of the altar, and a few kneelers. The stoles that the clergy wear are removed and given up. Even the cross, which sits on the altar at Christ Church, is removed. My daughters were really disturbed by this. I could see them in the front pew, mouthing to me "What is going on? Why are they doing this? Why are they taking away the church things?" At the same time as trying to kneel and pray myself, I was mouthing back to them, "It is all okay. Everything is fine. We will talk about it later."

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Just Talk!

Posted by Ann, February 11, 2012

Just finished reading the in-depth and very disturbing piece in the February 6 New Yorker, The Story of a Suicide by Ian Parker. It provides much background to the suicide of Tyler Clementi, the young Rutgers freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge in October of 2010, after his roommate posted images online of a romantic encounter with another man. Of course it reveals much more nuance than Clementi was outed and was the victim of a hate crime. But the most astonishing thing we learn is that the two roommates barely spoke to one another.

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Lost In Motion

Posted by Ann, February 11, 2012

This clip is such a glorious metaphor for how God works in our lives. At the height of each of his leaps, he is suspended, upheld in midair by some unseen force. I have always felt that God asks us to leap first, and then we are carried through somehow, often with more grace than we could ever muster or imagine alone. Ok, so yeah, he’s totally easy on the eye and a gorgeous dancer. I admit I am confounded by the title, though. Rather than Lost in Motion, I think it should be called, Found in Motion.

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For the Sports Minded

Posted by Pierce, February 10, 2012

Time magazine recently observed that what wins football games is not the quarterback or the offensive line: it’s God. Joel Stein reported that if he wants to know who’s going to win the Super Bowl, he goes to the people who serve as middle-men between God and the players. He concludes the team with the best chaplain doesn’t simply win, but totally covers the spread. What else to NFL chaplains do? Well they run Bible studies, hold short services on Saturday night before games, and warn against the dangers of gambling. Chaplains claim their sermons are not about God helping the players win the game, but more about safety, health, and the strength to play with passion. Oh and they also like to talk about fatherhood for those who may forget to tuck their darlings in at night with prayer. As it turns out, the Patriots are one of the very few NFL teams that do not enjoy the counsel of a chaplain and they lost! Go figure.

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On Confession

Posted by Pierce, February 2, 2012

The story goes that a certain Father Magillicutty heard the confessions of nuns from a nearby convent for years upon years. One day, a friend asked the priest what it was like to hear the confessions of the religious week in and week out. With a twinkle in his eye, he replied: “It’s like being stoned to death with popcorn.” 

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The Time is Always Right to do Right

Posted by Pierce, January 20, 2012

Sometime ago, I attended the birthday party of one of our parish youth. When it came time to open presents, a friend of the honoree gave him a thin legal-size manila envelope with a bow around it. What could this be that did not come in a box?

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