A Warm and Tender Hand

Recently, members of the Pastoral Care Ministry team and I shared a workshop, “Creating a Caring Community” with some other church members (and we are repeating it in two half-day sessions on July 11 and 25).

We focused a lot on listening.

Listening is the most therapeutic, spiritually healing, thing we can do for each other.

Really listening. Listening so much the other person actually feels heard . . . I mean truly feels heard.

Would not the world change if everyone felt that way?

Henri Nouwen
Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen writes, “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds [and, I would add, our joys] with a warm and tender hand.”

Let me be such a listener, such a healer, today, God.

Enough, for now

As I lay in bed this morning, on my day off, I asked God to help me rest, or at least take it easy, today.

A little later, as I knelt at my prayer desk, I received a response–today’s meditation in a book for caregivers I read every day.

“Sometimes it takes courage to admit to others that I need rest.”

I need rest.

Still, there are so many things I want and need to do. I am a walking set of contradictions. Rest. Work, Rest. Work . . .

My backdeck Shangri-la
My backdeck Shangri-la


Right now, though, as I sit on our back deck, I listen to birds and watch squirrels (and remember the deer that walked through an hour ago).

That’s enough, for now.

Original, by God

Recently, in “Spirit & Truth,” a monthly publication from Sunshine Cathedral MCC, I read this statement from Judy Garland: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

Judy was a troubled person, and her death from alcohol and drug overdosing was tragic. But she was an original, not a copy. 

Adam God Sistine ChapelI believe with all my heart that I am doing the work God calls me to do; but there are parts of me that still do not express themselves fully.

Emmet Fox says, “God has not made you without a definite purpose in view.”

I pray today to live more fully into all that God has for me. Help me, God, to be the original you design.

MCC at The White House

Many of us saw the video, “Call Me Troy,” this past weekend. The film vividly shows the powerful witness for justice of Rev. Troy D. Perry.

Troy Perry et al at WH June 29 2009
Phillip de Blieck, Troy Perry, Candy Holmes, and Darlene Garner outside the White House

So we should not be surprised to learn that he, and his husband, Phillip de Blieck, were among LGBT leaders invited by President Obama and the First Lady to the White House this past Monday to celebrate Stonewall and Gay Pride.

Many of these folks are angry with the president because they feel he is letting the LGBT community down. They want immediate action to overturn “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and the “Defense of Marriage Act.”

Darlene Garner and Candy Holmes in the East Room
Darlene Garner and Candy Holmes in the East Room

I share some  of the frustration, even as I am convinced he is our ally and friend.

This President knows enough of our history to celebrate it.

Vice President Biden, President Obama, and Rev. Candy Holmes (right)
Vice President Biden, President Obama, and Candy Holmes (right) in the Oval Office

In addition to Troy and Phillip, the invitees included Rev. Candy Holmes and her partner (UFMCC Vice Moderator Rev. Elder Darlene Garner).  Candy was there, and also at an earlier White House event, wearing two hats–as a leader of LGBT federal employees and MCC clergy.

One way or another, equality is coming. And MCC is in the forefront.

A Beautiful End to an Ugly Start

Yesterday, my day got off to an ugly start.

I was short of sleep. I had too much to get done in one day. I had been working too hard for too long with not enough down time.

My inner tapes started running, the ones about how no one really appreciated me, how my job is impossible and everyone else has it easy compared to me, how the guy behind me on the road is too close, how even the traffic lights are against me . . . . .

Then, I talked to a friend on the phone. I met with a colleague for coffee.

Between the friend on the phone and the colleague over coffee, things began to shift. Then, I thought: pray!

As soon as I began to pray, the tape recorder stopped, and things got a lot better . . .  fast.

joyI made some adjustments in my day. I worked hard, yes, but with Jay Irvine, and several members and leaders–including Sara Fleming, Linda Redmond, and Rev. Cheryl–it was joy. And later, I watched a video with Jonathan.


Once again, prayer works.