In the Interim: 12/14/18

terri-burnorThere’s a line in an old U2 song that goes, “You’ve been running away / From what you don’t understand.” Bono is singing about love and telling us again and again in the chorus that “it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright.”

Whether it’s love or next steps or the how or the why, it’s natural and normal to feel a little lost in the swirl of uncertainty. It’s natural to want to run away or hide or even ignore what we don’t understand. It’s alright. That’s human nature. Continue reading →

In the Interim: 12/7/18

meg-rileyThe worship arts ministry team told me it would happen, but I didn’t really believe them.  They told me that, while I was to plan two services “for all ages” in November, families would not actually attend them.

I’ve been in many congregations where non-parents duck out on the “For all ages” Sundays.  But I’ve never been to one where the parents do!  So I planned two services with short pieces, no sermon, lots of music, activity…things that I thought all ages would enjoy.

And, very few families attended.  I looked out and saw that there were maybe five intergenerational groups sitting in the congregation.  And I wondered just what was going on. Continue reading →

In the Interim: 11/23/18

arif-mamdaniBy the time this column reaches you, Thanksgiving will be over, and we’ll be looking ahead to the winter holidays. Some of us will be looking ahead with joy, while others may have a somewhat different relationship to this time of year. What I know to be true is that however we relate to these winter holidays, this can be a complicated time of year for many of us. And so, echoing the advice of spiritual teachers throughout the ages, I’d like to invite you to join me in stepping up your spiritual practice, and making a commitment to practice every day for the next 40 days.

In many traditions, 40 days of practice is sort of a “magic number,” and in my life, I know that I’ve found 40 day practice commitments to be transformative in ways that often took me by surprise. The first time I did a 40 day commitment, it was a shared commitment with my wife to do a short yoga practice together every day. We knew that we needed to put more energy into our spiritual life, and figured that working together, we’d have a better chance of keeping a commitment that had felt elusive to us separately. Turns out it “worked.” Not only did we keep the commitment and deepen our own spiritual lives, but we also found that the shared practice created a deeper connection in our relationship. Continue reading →

In the Interim: 11/16/18

terri-burnor“Memory is never a precise duplicate of the original … it is a continuing act of creation.” — Rosalind Cartwright

Most of the time, I feel like I have a terrible memory. I’m baffled by the gaps in my childhood memories. Over the years, I’ve come to realize my challenges in retaining details given verbally and to embrace my need to see or touch or feel things. My memories surface best through odd connections, random jolts, messy fragments that swirl around like paint on canvas before a picture emerges. Perhaps that’s true for you too.

For the past month, I’ve been particularly focused on ancestors — those real people in our personal history who have influenced who we are, our place in the world, our choices, those within our literal and figurative DNA. These are our given and chosen relations and also our mentors and figures who have helped us plot our way in life. As someone who is adopted and who experiences big holes in my memories, I really wrestle with the concept of ancestry. I know the truths they share and the importance and power they often hold. Yet I feel a need to approach ancestors, memories, that which I come out of, from an angle, a little sideways. Continue reading →

In the Interim: 11/9/18

meg-rileyMemory is a blessing and a curse. As the days shorten and I dig out my warmer coats, hats and mittens, I find myself greeting each day with less than enthusiasm.  And as snow makes it slippery to walk and drive, something akin to dread creeps in.

It’s not a dread based in present day reality, really. It’s dread remembering past winters and how long and miserable they become.  It’s memory of times too cold to breathe, or walk, of my body stiffly and awkwardly shuffling from house to car, of that one year when a tumble down stairs led to an ankle break that didn’t heal right and just gets worse and worse with age. None of which is fair to these November days, which in and of themselves are not unbearably cold, are usually sunny, and have a crisp beauty all their own.  Continue reading →

In the Interim: 10/26/18

arif-mamdaniIf you’ve been reading the news recently, you’re sure to have seen that the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing to change the federally recognized definition of gender to be based on “immutable biological traits identifiable at or before birth” and that a person’s sex – yours, mine, people we love and others we don’t know, will be determined by what is listed on “a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued” which will “constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

This might seem like not such a big deal if you’re cis-gender – that is to say that your sense of personal identity and gender corresponds to the sex you were assigned at birth. But, for millions of our transgender siblings and their families, it means not just that they are rolling back the recognition of a more fluid gender identity recognized by the prior administration, but that with the stroke of a pen, are preparing to quite literally erase several million Americans. Continue reading →

In the Interim: 10/19/18

meg-rileyI was inspired to go into ministry while working in a residential shelter with abused and abandoned children under the age of 5.  I was inspired by the resilience of their spirits, and the power of love to heal what was broken in them.  (I also saw clearly the limits to what love could do, when they were sent back to their families of origin, and the violence cycle repeated and they came back, over and over again.)  I became a minister because I wanted to make a life where I could unapologetically make it my priority to contribute more love into the world. Continue reading →